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. Nice work, Scott! I’m an astronomy professor in California and was invited to be on a public panel discussion with Guy McPherson a couple years ago. I’ve also got a PowerPoint debunking GM’s claims, which is worth a look by others as well. One good point which I don’t see mentioned in your debunking (perhaps I missed it because the search term was wrong), was his claim that Earth is on the bare inside edge of the “Habitable Zone”, citing a very colorful and often circulated plot whose original purpose was to narrow the look at exoplanets who might have life. The author of the study explicitly says that the HZ he illustrates is for a simple cloud-free model planet, and that the existence of clouds extends the HZ on both the hot inner edge AND the cold outer edge. So, we’re NOT on the edge of the HZ and 1% ready to tip over to oblivion. I highlight this in my PP, and Archer’s Arctic methane hydrate calculation showing the “methane apocalypse” has been postponed indefinitely, and more.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Indy22, thanks for this post. I’ve wondered about that for years now, and it’s good to have your viewpoint. Would you care to tell us where we are exactly in the Habitable Zone based on your studies and those of the author of that study? I’m curious to know. Thanks! Also, thanks for link to your PPT. Interesting.


      1. On slide 29 he talks about a cosmology paper co-authored with Sandra Faber. They envision a sustainable future with a human population of around 50 million. Isn’t that wonderful?
        Whether I believe him or Guy McPherson, I’m dead. The only purpose of these thought experiments (that I can see) is to help me choose how I want to live my life.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you, INDY222. I was almost certain I had seen that idea of Earth being on the edge of the habitable zone discredited a year or two ago. McPherson is probably aware of it, but since he knows his audience is unlikely to be thus aware, he continues to use it.

      He is now just a traveling performer, but his extinction “message” continues to have an appeal, no matter how often it is debunked.


    3. July 2017 Time has marched forward making this article obsolete and wrong .I am sad to say that Dr. Guy McPherson seems to be more right than wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I keep seeing these vague claims like “McPherson seems to be more right than wrong”. Right about what, exactly? That climate change is really bad and getting worse, as most climate scientists have been telling us? Or that human beings will be extinct by 2025, which is McPherson’s only real “selling point” and something he cannot be “kinda, sorta right” about? Please be precise.

        Liked by 2 people

    4. California is on fire, the entire state. You can pick Guy apart all you want, but everything he predicted is coming true even faster. I’m planting a garden, installing solar, and securing my water supply. Will I be much worse off if Guy is wrong? In addition to the out of control fires proving that Climate Change is indeed real, the 2 strongest hurricanes in our history appearing suddenly might also signal this as well. Maybe start planting a garden yourself.


      1. I disagree. Plant a garden, yes, but the end of the world within 7 years because of CH4 release – not gonna happen. GM is infamously notorious for hyping not just CH4, but any cherry that will supports his agenda of ‘full collapse’. Sad. It disables and immobilizes people instead of galvanizing them into action because, if you’re doomed, what’s the point. Even Micaheal E. Mann, the most famous of all climate scientists says as much, and more about GM. Even Bill McKibben, leading climate change activist has harsh words for pariah GM. It’s a shame the left has to deal with such eco-ideologues that sully the waters for honest scientists doing incredible research.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Balan,

        Two points: (1) As with all natural science, this discussion is not about any absolutes, but about PROBABILITES. All competent scientific research takes probability into account. In some fields, such as atomic physics, probability plays a critical, fundamental role. This remains a critical scientific issue that I see rarely taken into account and discussed anywhere regarding these ecological breakdown issues, perhaps least of all on this blog. Thus you make your absolutist statement “…but the end of the world within 7 years because of CH4 release—not gonna happen.” If by “end of the world” one means a huge percentage of humans dead (no one will ever know whether they or their group is the last of the human species to die) it seems to me a very high probability, indeed, of the “end of the world” within seven years. By the way, how do you come by that knowledge so confidently and absolutely stated? That strikes you as a valid, scientific statement? When, where, and how did you develop the ability so confidently (and reliably?) to predict the future behavior of our infinitely complex, chaotic, living Earth systems?

        (2) You also wrote, with absolutist certainty, that “It disables and immobilizes people instead of galvanizing them into action because, if you’re doomed, what’s the point.” Really? This statement blatantly contradicts the evidence we all see around us. How so? Based on this reasoning, since we have all known with near certainty since we were eight or so years old that we will die, we must all be “immobilized” because “if you’re doomed, what’s the point”? Yet I have not met anyone I know of who feels “immobilized” because they see no point in life because they ARE doomed to die just as all living things do and just as all physical systems change continuously. I don’t see most people committing suicide because, obviously, there is no point in living because we know that we will die. (But then, perhaps you take the ever-so-popular religious view that, as humans, you are very special in the universe and neither you, your wife, nor your children will REALLY die because your “souls”, your allegedly “nonphysical consciousness” will presumably live forever in heaven at the right hand of God. Now there’s a strongly science-based concept!) So, how do you account for people knowing they will die yet continuing to live long, joyful, productive lives? And how do you account for the fact that many of us who DO believe that in all probability MUCH more likely than not we WILL be extinct as a species very soon, with irreversible, complex systems, global-scale processes, yet we live happy, joyful, extremely productive lives, yes, with many of us continuing to fight to save what we can of nonhuman life and Earth? Perhaps most of us will be gone in five or six years. Perhaps ten. Perhaps 20. But PROBABLY quite soon. In my natural science-based judgment and opinion, the evidence trends strongly suggest a vastly higher probability of Near Term Human Extinction than they do that we will, with magical, human supremacist, technological and/or permaculture glory, repair the damage we have done to Earth such that many humans can, and will, live happily ever after.


      3. Well, Bud, there is ample evidence that very few people care about the future (i.e. decades or more ahead) rather than the present. If Guy is right, then there is no reason for anyone to change that behaviour. I’ve often said that all responses to the imminent extinction of the species are reasonable, so there is no reason to try to do anything about the environmental destruction we’re causing, if you don’t want to. The imminent extinction of the species is very different from knowing each of us will die some day. Perhaps not if you are the only person you care about, but there are probably very few such people. Even if you were such a person, there are likely some things you’d like to achieve before you peg it. So your arguments there are very weak.

        I don’t think there is any way to defend Guy’s views or Guy’s behaviour in defending those views or his continuing to espouse those views, perhaps influencing some people (though hopefully no more than are already as convinced as he is in his beliefs).

        Guy, how’s that clathrate gun going? If it fired in 2007, why haven’t we seen drastic effects by now (as opposed to increasingly worse effects from climate change, as was happening before 2007)? Although it’s impossible to be certain of this stuff, there is almost no chance that extinction (and, Bud, there is no degree of extinction, a species is either extinct or it is not) of humans and all other life will happen in the next decade (his more extreme suggestion) or by 204x (can’t remember the exact date predicted by that debunked self published paper by Malcolm Light which Guy based his earlier prediction on and still pretends that it might have been a valid calculation). Does that mean we’re not in trouble? No.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Mike Roberts, I will respond to your comments in brackets [[[ ]]] within a copy of them:

        Well, Bud, there is ample evidence that very few people care about the future (i.e. decades or more ahead) rather than the present. [[[Really? Most people I know have great concerns about the future decades ahead. Many people, even in the United States, do have concerns about their children’s and grandchildren’s lives. How do you come by this knowledge stated with such certainty? I would like very much to see the sociological research that demonstrates this claim—which I doubt exists.]]] If Guy is right, then there is no reason for anyone to change that behaviour. [[[As I emphasized in my comments to Balan, this is obviously not true. Most people manage to live reasonably happy and productive lives (if physically given the chance) despite knowing with near certainty that they will soon die, and it can happen at any moment.]]] I’ve often said that all responses to the imminent extinction of the species are reasonable, so there is no reason to try to do anything about the environmental destruction we’re causing, if you don’t want to. [[[I strongly disagree. This has logical, moral, and behavioral equivalency with claiming that “All responses to our imminent deaths are reasonable. Hey, I’m gonna die, and that may happen an hour from now, and you will die too, so anything at all you or I want to do or not do is reasonable.” You certainly have a right to your values and opinions, as long as you don’t impose them on me or others, but I strongly disagree and I think most other humans do too. Even in the most horrific conditions, say the Nazi holocaust, most victims fought to live for as long as possible. Only a small percentage of people opt for suicide, even in the most horrific conditions. With rare exceptions, all life simply fights tenaciously to live. The fact that we WILL die, and it may happen at any moment, does NOT make it “reasonable” for us to respond to this predicament in any way we may wish. Sorry. We won’t let you murder, rape, pillage, and plunder no matter how “reasonable” you may consider it to do those things.]]] The imminent extinction of the species is very different from knowing each of us will die some day. [[[Not true at all. Research on beliefs and attitudes concerning death demonstrate that most people use two main ways to cope with their terror of death: (1) believing that they, literally, will never die (for example their “soul” or “non-physical consciousness” will live forever in heaven, as most people do) or (2) they will live on symbolically after they have died by leaving a legacy in the form of works done, children, and so on (as many people also do). The very high probability of NTHE negates this second, symbolic way to “beat death”. This makes NTHE for a huge percentage of people the equivalent of one’s personal death.]]] Perhaps not if you are the only person you care about, but there are probably very few such people. Even if you were such a person, there are likely some things you’d like to achieve before you peg it. So your arguments there are very weak.

        I don’t think there is any way to defend Guy’s views or Guy’s behaviour in defending those views or his continuing to espouse those views, perhaps influencing some people (though hopefully no more than are already as convinced as he is in his beliefs). [[[In my most recent comments here, the first in a couple of years, I did not write anything about Guy McPherson. Even so, I do agree with him that a VERY HIGH PROBABILITY exists, not an absolute certainty, that most humans will soon die. PROBABLY all of us, but, as I mentioned to Balan, no one can or will ever know whether they are the last humans on Earth, so it seems to me a silly, irrelevant, and distracting waste of time to argue about that. It seems to me that the extremely high probability that most of us will soon die is all that really, for all practical purposes, matters in this conversation, not whether we will become extinct—which no one can or will ever know.]]]

        Guy, how’s that clathrate gun going? If it fired in 2007, why haven’t we seen drastic effects by now (as opposed to increasingly worse effects from climate change, as was happening before 2007)? Although it’s impossible to be certain of this stuff, there is almost no chance that extinction (and, Bud, there is no degree of extinction, a species is either extinct or it is not) of humans and all other life will happen in the next decade (his more extreme suggestion) or by 204x (can’t remember the exact date predicted by that debunked self published paper by Malcolm Light which Guy based his earlier prediction on and still pretends that it might have been a valid calculation). Does that mean we’re not in trouble? No. [[[Given the evidence trends related to global ecological collapse, nuclear pollution, mass species extinction, and human caused global warming with abrupt climate change, among many other related issues, I do not understand how you can conclude that “there is almost no chance that extinction of humans will happen in the next decade”. In writing this, you make it clear that you have no understanding of how complex, chaotic systems behave. They remain in a stable configuration for some time and then change suddenly, rapidly, radically, and in completely unpredictable and irreversible ways. Massive and compelling evidence suggests that such changes are happening in Earth’s biosphere approaching this global-scale, massive change tipping point, which certainly can result rapidly in human extinction. Probably not the extinction of all life on Earth within ten years, or even 100 years, but Earth certainly could, and may, become another Venus within a very short period of time on the geological time scale. Yet you, like Balan, make these certain statements about how Earth’s complex, chaotic biosphere presumably will or will not behave. Please help me to understand how you or any other human comes by this certain knowledge, especially given the consistent global data trends? Of COURSE there is no “degree of extinction”. Neither I nor anyone I presently know of has suggested any such thing. But as we die, by the billions, because of the lack of transportation and communication, which we have come automatically to take for granted but can come to a grinding halt literally within seconds under the impact of, say, of a large electromagnetic pulse (EMP), none of the last survivors will know whether all other humans have died and that they are, indeed, the last on Earth. But, by all means, do continue to carry on your extinction vs. no extinction arguments if doing that helps distract you from and manage your terror of death.]]]

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Bud,

        To me, there is no equivalence between “knowing” all humans will be dead within a decade and knowing each of us will die some day. In the former case, one “knows” that there is no future for any human living today (including your family members) and no reason at all to have children. None of this is true in the latter case, so no equivalence. With imminent extinction, there is no reason to plan for your children’s, granchildren’s and great grandchildren’s future (or the future of any current or future family members). Those who don’t want to exit early may still want to try to ensure the most comfortable existence possible for the few years left but the “knowledge” that no-one else has any more years left is completely different to contemplating the next few years when you “know” there will be many further generations ahead of you. If you think the two cases are identical, then that is up to you but I couldn’t disagree more.

        As far as the possibility of extinction within this century (never mind decade) is concerned, there is no scientific research that I’ve seen which points to the even remote likelihood of that. Of course, it’s always possible that some new information could arise, or some human caused or natural catastrophe could change the picture but that is an unknown (not even the chances of that are known) and so don’t really come into the calculations of almost all humans alive today.

        The evidence that most humans don’t consider the future, for me, is the continuation of people electing governments that don’t promise to put the future first (that is, don’t promise to put the environment first, before economic considerations). The evidence is that, even though we’ve known about human caused climate change and agreed to do something about it for over 25 years, the situation has just gotten worse, because we place the present (and short term future) ahead of the long term future. It’ll always be the problem for some future generation to solve. One thing I do agree with GM is that for every year I’ve been alive, the environment has gotten worse. With Guy McPherson’s prediction, though, it is quite reasonable to consider only the present and near term future, because there isn’t anything else. I sincerely disagree with him.

        Some native American tribes consider the effects on 7 generations ahead. With NTHE, there is not even one (or maybe only one) generation ahead. So you can see the difference between NTHE and the knowledge that we will all die someday.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I think this blog appeals to some people, perhaps most, mainly because it helps them to deny, avoid, and otherwise manage their terror of death. It uses science as a rationale for that avoidance, denial, and management, and as a distraction from their terror. Might I recommend a book written by three psychologists? The Worm At The Core, On The Role of Death in Life by Solomon, Greenberg, and Pyszczynski, 2015.


      7. Michael Mann doesn’t tell the truth. He is way too conservative, like the IPCC. Argues that we can still use solar panels and wind turbines to get out of this mess


      8. You can hold opinions on mitigation that run counter to the published research if you want, but I’m not hosting accusations that scientists are liars because they don’t agree with you.


      9. Nothing in your comment shows that “everything Guy predicted is coming true”, never mind “even faster”. Please show where Guy predicted anything that has come true.

        Liked by 2 people

      10. Looks like he was right about Arctic sea ice. Not much left now, and with current temps, won’t be much left at all by September 2018. The ice thickness appears to be thinning by at least a centimetre a day, and much of it is less than 50 centimetres thick. 2 or 3 metres at the most, around the Canadian archipelago.


  2. To correct; I was not co-author with Sandy Faber on her Presentation on our long term future, but instead on some purely astronomy papers back in the ’90’s. Faber’s “50 million” isn’t a prediction so much as it’s a calculation of where we would aim if we want to have a representative and unobtrusive presence on our planet amid the other species. Right now, we take more than 1/3 of all the sunlight energy arriving at Earth, just for one species. No, not for solar panels, but for growing forests and crops and pasture which support us and our livestock. Oh, and the fish we cleaned out of the oceans.

    On the habitable zone width, I don’t have a reference for a more realistic one. It depends so intimately on the exact atmospheric composition. I wouldn’t worry about it. We’re not close to the edge and won’t be for hundreds of millions of years of steadily increasing solar luminosity.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You write:
    “Nummer zwei. The latest IPCC report projects roughly 0.3 to 0.7C of warming by 2035”.
    Are we not up to 0.85 now end of 2016?


    1. The link in the next sentence is meant to clarify: “The report says that global temperature averaged over the time period from 2016 to 2035 is likely to be 0.3-0.7°C (that’s about 0.5-1.0 °F) warmer than the average from 1986 to 2005.”

      Basically, just trying to compare the projected near-term warming to McPherson’s claims of much, much faster warming. Sorry if that wasn’t clear!


    2. Please kindly note you are nor comparing like with like … Those warming figures are relative to different bases: “the average from 1986 to 2005”, and average temperatures before industrialization !!


    1. Becoming vegetarian, vegan, or weekday vegetarian can dramatically solve that problem, starting with you as soon as you finish this sentence. Steps in China are already being taken to reduce meat consumption and improve the choices available. You might also try googling “restorative agriculture”. Cheers!


  4. .”..I’m a geoscience educator, hydrogeologist, and freelance science writer contributing at Ars Technica. I am also Science Editor for Climate Feedback. This is my personal blog… ” Excuse me Scott K. Johnson, but where did you study/publish in GeoScience(?) and HydroGeology(?). Sounds like you have just enough qualifications to authoritatively pretend to refute a legitimate biology/climate expert like Guy McPherson. Great looking website though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Neither my MS in hydrogeology nor Guy’s PhD in ecology tells you anything about his climate science claims.

      I think I showed a number of examples where Guy’s statements about a study didn’t match the contents of that study, or where his source is actually an evidence-free blogger. I recognize that checking every study he references would be a tall (or even impossible, given paywalls) task for a reader, and that still wouldn’t give you the whole picture. All I can do is try to show you the problems with his claims, and hope that helps your assessment.

      But really, I don’t think even that’s necessary to realize that Guy’s claims are radically different from those of climate scientists—Guy says so himself. That’s why he accuses climate scientists of being cowards and liars.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Quite right, SJ. Michael doesn’t need to know your qualifications to assess your critique here. It sounds more like a way out of doing that assessment. Indeed, Guy is also not a climate scientist and maybe that’s why his interpretation of the climate science is so awry (and clearly so, in some cases you and others have shown).

        Michael, check some of Guy’s interpretations yourself. If you do enough, you’ll see that he is wrong or simply speculating in enough cases to throw his whole hypothesis of near term human extinction into question. Guy never seriously engages with his critics, which is another pointer to how much importance you should place on his interpretations of the science.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. MichaelZeno:

      Before you continue digging into Scott’s quals, let me ask you humbly, how much of the blog have you actually read? As someone who has read 90% of it, i think it’s of import as I value my time and would prefer doing other things than fact-check those unwilling to do the work.

      As a follow up, if you really think you need greater authority, which is understandable, your efforts to seek out Bill McKibben and Michael E. Mann will reveal very similar outcomes to Scott’s critical review.

      Just trying to save you time.


      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, certainly near term human extinction doesn’t appear to be borne out by the science, contrary to McPherson’s claims. But don’t get complacent, there are a lot of scenarios between where we are now and extinction, many of which don’t look rosy at all!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. All of this is very interesting, and at the same time not a bit surprising (though saying that is in no way an attempt to demean it at all). What I find FAR MORE fascinating is the apparent desire, even a yearning, an aching, that so many people have, that they WANT to believe such things. They seem to really be full of a special kind of self-hatred, extended to other humans. The obvious counterpoint is that no one is forcing any of them to be one. And I wonder just how many have indeed chosen the suicide option because of such beliefs. I just wonder what’s behind this kind of psychology, and how many have slipped into it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Maybe some people want to believe such things, maybe some people are in denial. I tend to think no one really can say with any accuracy what projections will manifest with what time lines. What I hate to see is scientist arguing with each other rather than with the facts alone. Why attack GM? What if he is only half right? We are still in trouble and most models seem to be behind the actual data. An important prediction to watch will be the melting of arctic sea ice by 2016 plus or minus 3 years.

    With the gas & oil industry funding the deniers I think it is helpful to have some extreme voices on the other side to balance the false info saying everything is normal. Does anyone really believe we can have continual growth in a finite system and not suffer any consequences?

    People working to dissuade the public of the current difficulties already faced by populations in low lying and coastal areas and the impending tragedy should be likened to environmental Nazi. They will be responsible for the deaths of 100’s of millions and probably the decline or end of civilization as we know it.

    Time will tell, and a note to those who think GM’s info leads to suicide…When diagnosed with a terminal disease most choose not to end their life but to finally start living in a way that seems self-directed instead of living for cultural expectations. Since coming to the conclusion that “the times they are a changing”, I have found myself acting with more kindness and compassion to my fellow humans.

    “Come gather round people, where every you roam,
    and admit that the waters around you have grown.
    And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone,
    and if your life to you is worth saving?
    Then you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone…”

    Sincerely, Ron

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What if he is only half right?

      Then he would be half wrong, and highlighting of inappropriate sources and misinterpretation of studies should be helpful in improving that fraction.

      With the gas & oil industry funding the deniers I think it is helpful to have some extreme voices on the other side to balance the false info saying everything is normal.

      False information is not balance, it’s added confusion. I think you counter misinformation with accurate information, not with polar-opposite-misinformation.

      Does anyone really believe we can have continual growth in a finite system and not suffer any consequences?

      No, and I don’t think I or any commenters here have said that.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. “Why attack GM? What if he is only half right?”

      You mean, what if we are only “half extinct” by 2026? It’s amazing that so many are willing to give GM a pass on his pseudoscience and his indefensible predictions just because the effects of climate change are becoming more visible, as any rational person expected they would.


    3. Good comments Ron. Some will have to wait until their noses are underwater before admitting climate change is having a real, present impact on our civilization. More and more scientists are coming to believe Guy is more than half right. Mother Nature seems to be showing just how right he is after all.


      1. Bob (or Ron), could you define “half right”? Also, can you name any scientist who has come to believe that Guy is more than half right?

        If “half right” means “humans are adversely affecting the environment” but not “all life on earth will become extinct within the next 30-odd years”, then, yes, Guy is half right. Otherwise, these seem to be empty words, unless defined more clearly along with evidence that any scientist has shifted his or her view towards Guy’s.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ‘Half-right’ with regard to NTHE would be a 50% reduction in the human population. GM’s scenario involves failure of the world grain crop, followed by starvation. Is it controversial to claim that civilization is dependent on our ability to grow and store grains?


      3. “‘Half-right’ with regard to NTHE would be a 50% reduction in the human population.”

        That is not correct. Extinction has a precise meaning. A 50% reduction in a species’ numbers does not mean that the species is “half extinct”, a term that has no meaning. Many scientists think it likely that there will be a substantial fall in the human population within this century.

        “Is it controversial to claim that civilization is dependent on our ability to grow and store grains?

        No, it is not controversial, and “failure of the world grain crop”, or just repeated failures of regional grain crops, would lead to starvation and general upheaval. Again, those are scenarios that are visualized by serious scientists. They are not concepts originating with GM and do not involve human extinction in a matter of years.


      4. Who here questions that “climate change is having a real, present impact on our civilization”, and what does that have to do with GM’s specific “message” of extinction within (now) nine years?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Folks, thanks for replying, good questions.

    What I really mean by “half right” is that I think climate science is, as our president would say, “complicated”.
    With all the variables in the mathematical models I feel all should approach the results with caution. We could be overestimating the effect as conversely we may be under estimating the effect. Why do any of us believe we are so much more qualified to draw conclusions than any other scientist. Again, why attack the messenger, it makes it sound like a personal vendetta instead of arguing for different conclusion based on data.

    That is why watching predictions, such as arctic ice melt, will be important. The question about how current impacts relate to the message of NTHE, is answered by the technique of observation of data following predictions leading to conclusions. I also do not see where GM is using pseudo science, I just see him drawing different conclusions from the sets of data.

    Plus I think we are dealing with 2 issues here. 1 is what will the climate impacts be? 2 How will this affect civilization? 1. I am receptive to the hypothesis GM makes concerning climate impacts, 2. not so sure how it will play out, however GM does provide some scenarios which are worth considering. As a life long rescue professional I find it better to “prepare for the worst and hope nothing happens”. It is sadly comical that there are now debates on how catastrophic the impacts of global warming will be. Is it not already bad enough for the low lying islands of the world, including Tangier in Virginia, where by the way around 80% of the residents do not “believe” global warming is caused by humans.

    I never said I interpreted GM’s conclusions as false, so I stand by my statement that it is helpful to have voices on the other extreme from the paid climate deniers. Plus these voices are growing, Professor V. Ramanathan, Dr. Dahr Jamail, Aaron Thierry, Paul Beckworth, are just some who are adding an increasing urgency to the tone of possible impacts from global warming. Even the more conservative voices (Al Gore, John Kerry) start with dire predictions only to come to a rosy scenario based on things we don’t have and will not have in time to forestall the impacts.

    Thank you for the serious debate.


  8. Thank you for offering serious critique of GM’s analysis. Critique is key to the scientific method, and there has been little so far. GM has attempted what no one else has: analyzing all the major feedback loops and assessing the probable impact on ecosystems and as he says on species we love and our favorite species, Homo sapiens. I’m not given to grieving, although perhaps I should. Perhaps I can’t really grasp the exponential curve and our point on it given planetary and technological limits. No one wants to believe GM is correct in his assessment, and we all including GM want him to be wrong. Every critic I’ve encountered who’s countered some portion of GM’s analysis goes on to elaborate on the seriousness of the predicament, showing me GM’s analysis is essentially on track with what’s already happening: mass extinction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. showing me GM’s analysis is essentially on track with what’s already happening: mass extinction

      But his analysis is not on track. Yes, a mass extinction is probably underway, though it will likely take centuries or millennia to fully play out – GM thinks it will happen within a two or three decades, at most, and be total. So, please, it’s not accurate to say GM is half right or his analysis is on track; he mischaracterises the science and gives out an incorrect message. Don’t mistake the fact of environmental degradation everywhere with GM’s being right with his take on the situation. He isn’t. Because of human behaviour, environmental degradation was always inevitable but total extinction of every life form on this planet within a few decades is not at all likely.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed, how many thousands of people do you suppose are speaking out about environmental issues? Why bother with one who is telling you things that are mostly incorrect just because he also says some thing that are generally acknowledged?

        I have to disagree with this: “GM has attempted what no one else has: analyzing all the major feedback loops and assessing the probable impact on ecosystems“. While it’s certainly true that there are difficulties in combining factors, Guy hasn’t done this analysis. He has simply provided a very poorly supported opinion about it.

        Liked by 3 people

  9. “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.”

    Scorch the planet? I don’t think Guy has made that claim (yet). He says the habitat humans survive in will disappear. Scorch not included. Further, runaway global warming Venus style is not possible on Earth. The atmosphere is not dense enough. I haven’t read further. I prefer taking bullshit in small doses.


  10. Last night I listened to a GM talk on some alt media site, and took it more as a call to ‘live as though you are about to die”, which can be a very good thing. There are numerous possibilities for “THE END” of civilisation…there never was one that did NOT collapse…but, I prefer to get my facts straight rather than preach doom. Just as no human knows when exactly he or she will end, nor do we know exactly when we as a “Civilisation” might end, however unsustainable our current paradigm may be. Know the risk factors, and mitigate those risks as much as possible…but, certainly, live with intent. This is what I take from GM’s talks. If only our civilisation at large could mitigate it’s addiction to exponential growth, rampant consumerism, and the carbon basis of all commerce…well, then we might get through the changes that are afoot…no matter that any one-or all of us could cease at any moment.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with you. He certainly has a very Buddhist approach to it all. Everything is impermanent …. so enjoy each day to the fullest. Ironically, GM actually encourages not worrying about all the little problems in your life, cause they just create suffering for you. I have seen this when people have a terminal illness …. problems don’t matter anymore. Here is the thing, we ALL have a terminal illness, even if GM is wrong. To me, GM has a very calm perspective of someone who has accepted their fate. He doesn’t seem alarmist to me at all. He talks very calmly about this. I think he believes what he is saying.


  11. The problem is that reading takes so much time. 28 July (yesterday) I spend about 8 hours reading through Guy McPherson’s blog. Today I read the article The uninhabitable earth which was published this month July in the New York magazine and garnered a great response and discussion. I started reading through the annotated version of that article. That led me to buying the book ‘Climate Change’ by Joseph Romm which gives a proper overview of the current conclusions of the IPCC. That allowed me to see how far-fetched Guy McPherson’s idea is that we have less than 10 years before we go extinct. At page 50 out of the 242 I started Googling and found rebuttals to Guy McPherson’s claims. I was pleased to see that of the two rebuttals I saw both had comments running till the present day (roughly). Anyway: In my case it took 2 days. Maybe 10 years ago I had read a report in the form of a book by the IPCC on climate change. At the time I was reading many things about climate change. I gave up on the subject. It was too tiring especially as it seemed there were credible sources who said that global warming was a hoax meant to get our tax money. Guy McPherson managed to get my attention again for which I am thankful. Climate change will disrupt society in many ways. I will keep a close eye on melting ice in the Arctic and Antarctic which is a huge factor which due to the several meters of rising sea level will disrupt society. My concerns are also climate mass migration due to heat and drought. What we are experiencing in Europe with all the refugees coming in, must just be the beginning. An article of 2009 in the Scientific American states: “We don’t understand the modern oxygen control system that well.” An article on says “: Tiny ocean plants called phytoplankton contribute 50 to 85 percent of the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere”. Environment Canada says: “On average, one tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year. Two mature trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four.” Ocean acidification leads ultimately to a loss of 50 to 85% of Oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere. Foliage on land seems to be the other 15 to 50%. The scary part is that I wasn’t able to read a refutation to Guy McPhersons claim that we might run out of oxygen. The reassuring part is that he hasn’t convinced me that it will happen fast. My question is actually: What will disrupt society the soonest? 1. climate migration due to unbearable heat and drought? 2 drastic rise of sea-level? 3. world war III? 4. massive earthquake in Los Angelos and the associated risk of local nuclear accidents? 5. Superintelligence (AI which endangers the human society)? 6. collapse of the financial system and current world economy? Enough to think about I would say.


  12. The writer of this blog critiques McPherson’s work, but fails in a number of respects. First, his use of ‘numero uno’, ‘Nummer zwei’ and so forth, which seem adolescent, a bit grandiose, silly, and makes me wince that I should be expected to believe someone who cares so little about annoying his readers, or impressing upon his readers that he can count in languages other than English. Second, the author fails to cite chapter and verse, the exact references for his critiques of McPherson, such that on numerous occasions he says “McPherson cites…” or says, but fails to show us that in fact, McPherson does in fact cite or say (i.e., date) what the author says McPherson says or cites. So I can’t even track his critiques to ensure that McPherson is being quoted directly (and correctly), or whether the author has made an inference about McPherson’s words, or whether what he says about McPherson’s claims, and evidence, is mere gossip, bullshit, or the absolute truth.

    My feeling is, if the author is trying to emulate a scientific argument, he should do so in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, where standards for writing and exposition of argument are clearly laid out (rather than post a personal blog) wherein critiques of ambiguity, imprecision, and bloated arguments can be fairly assessed. As a blog post, he has committed himself to precisely the same kind of imprecision he ascribes to his victim, McPherson. I didn’t finish reading his critique because, simply, it was ‘unfollow-able’ – a bit like trying to follow casual gossip between undergraduates or 1st year graduate students at a lunch table.


    1. You’re kidding, right? I’m glad you’re not a follower of McPherson, but, if you were, you’d realise that whatever poor language is used here, McPherson is much much worse, when responding to critics (not that he addresses his critic’s arguments, preferring to insult them).

      As for Scott using a peer reviewed paper to critique McPherson’s use of scientific research, well, you’re kidding aren’t you? McPherson doesn’t really base his arguements on peer reviewed papers, often misreprepresenting them, but prefers blog posts from anonymous posters.

      You claim things about Scott’s blog post that you didn’t even finish reading. I think that says it all.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I need Scott to use pointers, and links to lead me to the places where McPherson makes these claims so I may cross reference in a plodding, methodical fashion. Otherwise, I’m forced to ‘trust’ the writer doesn’t have an axe to grind. Surely I can’t be expected to read all of McPherson’s work and ‘know’ Scott has represented McPherson accurately. I don’t see a review committee for this blog, and I don’t see a review committee for McPherson’s blog. What I see is a blog, with a lot of writing, and I do detect, though I’m not a paid scientist, considerable hubris, considering the paucity of data and the immensity of the risk. If this were a peer reviewed source, I could ‘trust’ in the authoritative guidance of the reviewers to give me confidence that the paper is indeed worth finishing, but since that isn’t present, I’m forced to rely on the ‘writer’ to make his case to me, the reader.

        Assuming I’m an average internet reader, am I asking too much for Scott to revise his blog such that it compels me to accept his critique and read it to the end? Don’t journals require ‘readability’ from their writers?

        I’ve never read to completion the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, because I didn’t find the case made to be compelling enough to inspire me to read it to the end. The same statement can be made for this blog post.

        I don’t take McPherson’s claims to be true, and I don’t take Scott’s claims to be true, because neither has made the case that I should accept their claims as true. So if you’re asking me to suffer through Scott’s points 4, 5, 6 or 7, where he may invoke 4 more languages in his numbering scheme, you are asking too much of my time, and I require compensation for my suffering.

        I suppose this might be a case where one person’s ‘lazy reader’ is another person’s ‘judicious time manager’.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “I don’t see a review committee for this blog, and I don’t see a review committee for McPherson’s blog.” . Seriously? So maybe stop reading blogs?


  13. I am neither fan nor follower of McPherson, as I find his words like many bloggers glib and superficial, but I would like to add that on CBC news in Canada (August 2, 2017, it is said “In 2015, the region experienced a deadly heat wave that killed roughly 3,500 people in Pakistan and India over a few months.” If true, wouldn’t this suggest that for these folk in Pakistan, the ‘end’ was, indeed, ‘nigh’? If true, it suggests, for this reader, that McPherson’s work, though perhaps not scientifically rigorous, was at least metaphorically true, and literally true, for these 3500 Pakistanis. I submit if McPherson is not to be read ‘as science’, then viewing it ‘as poetry’ or even ‘hyperbole’ might be a useful catalyst for more thoughtful focus on the problem of climate change.


  14. Here’s my lazy reader solution. Rather than complete Scott’s post, I elect to visit this website, because here, I find a full name, address, for a publisher, full financials over time, donors. It suggests a multidisciplinary team to write the suggestions. The writing has forced me to imagine a 12 hour clock and it appears from what I can gather from this particular blog, assuming 1 o’clock means ‘safe’ and 2.5 minutes to 12 midnight means ‘danger’, I’m inspired to read further. I find that this aggregate of people have reviewed the ecology of the planet and concluded that potential destruction of the planet ecosystem is serious enough to ‘alarm’ readers.

    The simple clock metaphor isn’t literally true, but it’s scientifically reasonable, in the opinion of these people, to present the metaphor. Further, when you read through the site and click on their links, the group presents readers with immense resources to learn and focus on climate change issues and data that they believe are relevant to the problems of or questions surrounding human survival.

    It appears from their website that there are a lot of hands responsible for the writing of that website and for the enterprise over (what they say) is a 70 year history. I don’t know if Scott’s 401K has stock in BP or Kinder Morgan, for example, or if his university is one in Texas that relies heavily on donations from the oil industry, for example, but I can take from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that they’re kind of not joking around with climate change – rather than count out rebuttals for McPherson in languages other than English, they present a simple metaphor with serious tone, rigor, and multidisciplinary breadth.

    So Mike where do you think I should spend my time reading? Should I stay on Scott’s website and finish Scott’s blog? Should Scott perhaps rewrite his paper and lead me more by the nose to the conclusions he wants me to reach? Or should I spend more time on the Bulletin of the Atomic Sciences website?

    I leave it to you to suggest our next steps together for you, me and Scott. How shall we three spend our time, assuming we have 2 1/2 minutes to spare?


    1. Well, maybe Scott could have pointed to McPherson’s lengthy climate change update post up front, but at least he added it in the Errata section. Most of the points addressed are in there. If McPherson hasn’t provided HTTP anchors for each of his points, it would be impossible for Scott to point to them. Try reading McPherson’s post, if you have a spare hour or two, then come back here for a refutation of some of the points, with Michael Tobis providing more rebuttals (also pointed to by Scott).

      If you don’t want to believe either Scott or Guy (or, indeed Tobis), then don’t. Just check out the latest climate change science and make your own mind up.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I think Scott should start by re-titling the paper to reflect the gist of his paper thus “Chill people, because we’ve got this climate change thing handled”


    1. I have no idea why you would think such a title would better reflect the content. You won’t be able to point to anything Scott has written that would suggest he thinks “we’ve got this climate change thing handled”. Not accepting Guy’s misrepresentation of the science in no way means that only good things can happen.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Mike fair enough.

        Let’s start with the easy stuff, case observation. Visual inspection of everyday experience, for many of us in the world, is that relying on institutions to resolve this climate matter is a fool’s bet. In Canada, for example, 40 years ago, it used to be that very few locations would permit the growth of concord or California grapes. The Niagara Region has, for years, been able to grow these varieties. Fast forward to 2017, folks can grow these varieties in say Ottawa with some success. Now if you check the latitude and longitude of these points, I’m sure you’ll see that such a shift in vegetation can have quite a significant impact on say farming. Farming, economic systems, supply chains,…all interconnected.

        James Gleick’s book Chaos is quite informative – I’m sure you’re aware of it and how it speaks to notions of immense complexity – when you consider not only the measurements we’ve taken over the years, against the error of these measurements, and those who ‘would not’ or ‘have not’ released these measurements, maybe you can view the Drs claim in a new light.

        I submit the problem of climate change is intractable, due to institutional, economic and societal resistance. But I don’t think it is the only thing to fear. Numerous authors publishing in quite respectable journals, have urged action to prevent human disaster – here’s a link to one from the 1960’s for your edification, from the journal ‘Science’, from a mathematician, not a climate scientist, but nonetheless worth considering. He could be off by 20 years or a thousand, but nonetheless, it deserves a read.

        Consider say the millions and billions of dollars that have gone into central electricity power units like nuclear reactors. The units require output lines that carry significant load. From these main lines, other lines connect to ‘grid’ via various lines and stations positioned throughout the state or whatever. That grid system has to be balanced, so connecting up new wind or solar contributions makes balancing the load on that grid slightly more complex, and complexity, I have discovered, sometimes is costly in terms of risk. Consider too that of the say 4 or 500 nukes around the world, the safety risks are added to the complexity equation. It is a fact that rates say in my locale are slated to rise 25% in four years, a significant cost for folks who live on the boundary between surviving (economically at the very least) and not, and a significant cost for employers which means either layoffs and/or price increases. And consider too that it is a well known joke that the engineers and managers of these nuke plants purchase houses ‘upstream’ from the outflow waters. I’ve been inside a calandria during construction and looked down to see the incredible scale of these objects. Have you, or Scott? Do you guys have a good feel for the scale of these objects? Or the quantity and potential of the waste material to cause harm? Why do you think nuclear security guards are equipped with significant armaments? Terrorism, a new concept which came onto our awareness only post 9/11 looms large on our horizon.

        Tritium has escaped from these ‘very safe’ systems. Reassurances about tritium were that tritium does not pass through the skin. However, it can be consumed. Does it pass into the blood? What are the risks of consumption when combined with say mercury, pesticides, fertilizers, hormones? Strontium 89, and of course 90, for example, as well as numerous other by products of the reaction, have been found in alarming quantities in the teeth of children in New Jersey, USA – one state of 50, 1 nuclear location of perhaps 100 in the US. I wonder how that stuff got into their teeth? I wonder about cancer, health insurers, and people. I suspect Dr. McPherson wonders too about the other 400 or so reactors around the world. And of course you are aware that it is suspected by the Atomic Bulletin, see post link above, that 20 or 30 others do possess nuclear weapons.

        Consider too that perhaps Dr. McPherson’s message can be read from a variety of interpretive points of view. I read Scott’s portrayal of Dr. McPherson’s work as one of doom and gloom. But I read Dr. McPherson’s work with hope. I now suspect a worst case scenario, and I do indeed hope for the best. Rather than gloom, the good doctor is suggesting love. I think that’s a perfectly valid proposition. Love is I suspect a universal worth noting.

        Ecology involves far more than climate. Climate is just one factor, among a practically infinite variety of other possibly relevant factors. Our earth has been treated as a live experiment, I assure you, conducted by experimenters who care little for the consent of their subjects.

        A good book Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist and Nobel prize winner for economics, writes about both kinds of thinking. It is a worthwhile read. Do politicians like Trump or Kim Jung Un value fast, or slow thinking? Which kind of thinking ‘appears’ decisive. I leave that question in your hands.

        Are you or Scott considering that in an emergency, or even not, if you try to call your wife to say “I love you”, or you want to call 911, that a General just might want to, and be able to, blow away your telephone call and the calls of everyone on the system, or the country, with ostensibly the push of a button? So everyone’s phones go dead, except the General. The general has priority, not you. Another complexity issue that most people don’t consider. Issues like this bear directly upon your security and safety, as well as mine. So I think we ‘should’ share the same concern.

        Let’s now add a new variable: North Korean waters. And no coal for North Korea thanks to UN sanctions, for example. The military ecology is changing rapidly. Check out which US battle groups are locating themselves. How much movement has there been in say the last 6 months? I doubt you’ll find data for subs. And why is Tillerson visiting Duterte I wonder?

        I cut McPherson some slack because academics often are bound by confidentiality agreements when they work on consulting or research projects, and I suspect he knows well how information can be suppressed by institutions.

        The links ‘suggest’ at the very least, that suppression of information is indeed possible.

        Here’s my second language summary of our ‘orderly’ new world: ceteris parabus is an ecological illusion.

        Thanks for reading and best wishes.


      2. None of that justifies your silly description of what Scott wrote, or GM’s nonsense prediction of human extinction by 2025.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. The old Science article you linked to clearly got a lot wrong, as infinite population is nowhere on the horizon. I’m not sure why you referenced it. And, yes, it does matter whether the date is 10 years away or several thousand. For this global society to survive long enough for infinite population to be an issue is impossible.

        I don’t cut McPherson any slack when it comes to misrepresenting the science and it is not a matter of confidentiality as the papers he links to are publicly available, as are the blog posts. McPherson may suggest love as a response to imminent human extinction but that is irrelevant as any response is a valid response to such a prospect. Sadly, McPherson doesn’t even practice love when replying to his critics (it’s more often hate).

        Of course, anyone can have an opinion, including McPherson, but this article, here, is about his interpretation of the science. If you can find anything wrong with the critique, then please point these out.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. You all are completely right. I stand corrected! I did a little more research and now I understand better, your points of view. And I do understand why Scott led the attack on McPherson on radio and so forth. I get you.

        I love you guys, I just wanted to say so publicly. The debate has been enlightening.


      5. I think it approaches infinity.

        The image is from

        The reason I cited the article from Science is because I believe it is relevant to McPherson’s case, as fewer humans means less energy, more humans means more energy produced, greater competition for limited resources, so greater likelihood of ecosystem contamination from nuclear war, or other means.

        So for example, if only 1 billion people spray some CFCs, the ozone depletion will be smaller than if 8 billion people do so, for example. CFCs are just a simple example of the fact that human footprints on the planet are not trivial.


      6. Sorry, Rick, I don’t think the article has more than a very slight relevance to what GM has been saying. Of course human’s have touch every part of the globe and more humans means more damage but GM thinks all life will go extinct soon, but not because we’ll approach infinite humans but because of the damage the few billions of humans have already done.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Ok I suggest regarding the critique in particular, that the author show strikethrough characters in the title, and retitle the paper How Guy McPherson gets it right, and wrong. Second, I’d just say First, second, third, and so forth. That’s how I’d critique the title and the initial paragraphs. In all likelihood I wouldn’t even use Dr. McPherson’s name – rather, if I wanted to make the case that there was alarmism I’d say so in the title. I might follow up the paper with a 2nd paper on the same blog page, entitled “How Trump gets it right, and wrong, about ‘clean coal'”….just to balance the argument for the public. I can imagine the societal costs for switching from coal to clean energy in Wisconsin might be problematic and it’s a tough spot to be in as voters.

    Here’s a recent paper on science literacy and is suggestive I think of how voter behavior might be say altered by people’s perceptions of risk.


    It pertains to nuclear risk but is nonetheless probably relevant for climate change risk too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t get a feel for the specifics of what GM is being accused of, nor was there any link to the supposed public domain evidence for his misbehaviour. So I can’t really pass comment on that. However, I found it strange that GM was described as “a recognized authority in the field of climate science”. I wouldn’t regard that as accurate at all, given his frequent misrepresentation of the science.

      Some interesting signatories, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. How many users of the Internet still take Scott Johnson seriously. He is in that “never never land” where William Happer (Bill Happless) and Judith Curry (Judy Currywurst) also reside. They do it for the money – I don’t know why Johnson persists or what his motivation is. These people have totally lost their connection to reality. It even seems that the horse’s ass Trump is approaching total unreality. Have they no shame, not that it really matters. In a couple of decades at least, all our geese will be cooked. The highest level of complexity of extant life on Earth will be nematodes. Even they will eventually die out. Why are you people deluding yourselves?


      2. I really respect Scott Johnson. He’s been challenging GM on his shoddy collating of science since long before the recent revelations of GM’s bilking supporters for money and lack of professional ethics. GM’s years of harassing young female acolytes didn’t start coming to light until the sexting scandal that emerged last week. Scott Johnson has been right all along about the science. However, it’s taken the revelations of GM’s lack of character for GM to start losing his credibility – except among a rabid group of defenders.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks, FoggySunset.

        That about sums it up for me…and…

        SJ is a tireless defender of climate science, the IPCC, and has spent the past nearly four years debunking the many many errors and intentional fabrication of GM. It took me nearly 1.5 years of intense research on this blog before reaching the conclusion that GM is not a climate scientist, but instead an ecological ideologue hell-bent on bringing down “civilization” for all its ills by any means necessary, including using psyops on his listener-students! GM is to climate science as Exxon is to climate science, except at opposite extremes of the ends of the spectrum. He gives climate scientists a very bad name, save for the fact – thank God – he isn’t one!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That’s quite a long comment for one that has zero content applicable to the post. I’d almost think Richard Smith was a pseudonym for Guy McPherson, as it’s the type of reply he gives, except that it’s much less insulting than the stuff Guy comes up with when he deigns to respond to criticism.

        If you have a critique of Scott Johnson’s post, then please explain where it is wrong, instead of throwing around insults with no basis.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi, ALL. Just like to point out that with 2,600+ posts on this thread the arguments and analysis has already happened, and guess what? GM lost. As someone who has read all of them, GM’s proven to be a an eco-ideologue that does pys-ops on his students – in the likes of Exxon’s denying science, GM goes to the opposite extreme. For details, go to Discussions on this blog, most recently Discussion #5. Cheers, Balan


    1. Wow Franklin! Powerful statement. A little too deprecating to SJ perhaps but nonetheless true.
      I don’t know what his problem is. He’s not rejecting Guy and coming from a place of ignorance of science. SJ will reply that his problem is that he is concerned with the Truth!
      And so it goes…


  18. Anyone google the term global warming today?? A few words will come up from legit news sources such as worse than expected, faster than we thought, and 5 degree Celsius rise is likely….. interesting.


  19. Thank you for enlightening me about Guy McPherson. The future we face from climate change is pretty dire. McPherson is right about that. But, to manipulate information for his own twisted purposes is despicable. He used to be a scientist, but is no longer. What a disappointing individual.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. The one and perhaps only thing of consequence the writer of this narrative demonstrates is that they have paid little to no attention to what McPherson has actually written and spoken of. It’s not worth the time or effort ort to point out all of the many errors here, but I will point out one glaring and insulting error. McPherson has never made any inappropriately disparaging or demeaning accusations toward other scientists with whom he finds points of disagreement. It is appropriate to point out who funds or backs the research of those who claim to be objective in their conclusion. That much can not be said of the writer responsible for this masquerade.


    1. Well, since there are “many errors”, it’s odd that you choose to highlight a non-scientific issue (“disparaging or demeaning accusations towards other scientists”) which I couldn’t even find in SJ’s piece. However, such a claim would be accurate, from various comments I’ve seen and on-line exchanges with him.

      If you can critique ANY of the scientific issues that SJ has raised, then you should do so instead of claiming there are many errors, without citing any.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. One need only read the first couple of paragraphs to understand this writer has no idea of what McPherson is espousing. Nor does the writer have even a rudimentary understanding on the subject of climate change. Right from the start the writer’s ignorance is displayed by statements such as this one. In regards to the release of methane he writes: “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.” Lets be clear, methane release has nothing to do with how warm the weather gets or got back then. It has everything to do with the amount of ice that remaines. In our present situation we are approaching a scenario where, at the present rate, we will experience an ice free Artic at some point soon. This did not occur 200,000 years ago so the methane stayed put. That’s just one example of the many foolish remarks abundant throughout this writing. You don’t have to read far to realize the writer of this nonsense has no clue about the subject or scientist he ridicules.


      1. Wow Franklin! Powerful statement.
        A little too deprecating to SJ perhaps but nonetheless true.
        I don’t know what his problem is. He’s not rejecting Guy and coming from a place of ignorance of science. SJ will reply that his problem is that he is concerned with the Truth!
        And so it goes…

        (This got misposted to Balan so I’m reposting it here.)


  22. I checked Guy Mcpherson’s blog just now, for the first time in many, many months. His latest (at the time of writing) video for Edge of Extinction seems to double down on his predictions. So we don’t have long to wait to see how wrong he (probably) is. he’s sticking with 2025-2026 for the extinction of all humans but has stated that a blue ocean event in the Arctic signals the end of habitat for humans (but doesn’t explain why) and he seems to expect that to happen this year or next year as apparently projected in one paper from a few years back (can’t remember which journal). This perhaps illustrates his penchant for cherry picking single pieces of research that appear to support his narrative. Also, though I may have this wrong, he seems to be suggesting that the blue ocean event will be followed extremely quickly by the deaths of great numbers of humans (from an unknown cause), so we may see sky rocketing death rates as soon as that blue ocean event occurs.

    This will all be over soon (the end of Guy’s ridiculous predictions or the end of us – a relief either way).


    1. You’re being completely ridiculous. Whether Guy’s near term predictions prove on the spot or not doesn’t change the fact that mountains of scientific frontline data screams at us that we’re in big trouble. An ice free arctic is no small deal. And it’s coming, soon.


      1. Anthony, you claim I’m being ridiculous and then seem to justify that remark with something that doesn’t follow from what I wrote at all. I have never claimed that we’r e not in big trouble. Please point out where I’ve written that, if you can.

        Many people have stated that we’re in big trouble but Guy doesn’t stop there; he’s predicting total extinction within a short time and loss of habitat for humans soon after we hit zero Arctic sea ice (which he states will occur within the next two years). Now THAT is ridiculous but not because it can’t happen (I don’t think it can) but because he’s never (repeat never) shown how the research he references shows what he predicts. His response to critics, when not insulting them, is to point to his massive climate change update essay, even though that doesn’t show that causation line at all (as well as misrepresenting some of the science he references). To Guy, an obviously deteriorating environment leads to extinction with a decade. If you agree, that’s up to you but can you say why you agree?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Almost exactly what I would have written, but I knew you would respond as you did. :) Funny how GM’s defenders assume that criticism of GM equates to climate change denial.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well, I don’t see any debunking of his hypothesis that we’re all going to die shortly after we have an ice free arctic either. The silence from the science community and government official with regard to this predicament is extremely alarming if you ask me and only gives Guy Mc Pherson’s predictions more credit. Also he explains perfectly how an ice free arctic will lead to loss of habitat and serves as the biggest self reinforcing feedback loop towards an abrupt climate shift in and of itself. Which leads to the inability to harvest the immense volumes of grains needed to sustain 1st world populations.


      4. If much of how he’s characterised the science is debunked (as per SJ’s post on which we’re commenting, along with Michael Tobis’s article linked there) then Guy’s conclusions are, by definition, also debunked. As it turns out, Guy has never, to my knowledge (and I’ve looked) explained the reasoning behind his prediction or how a blue ocean event leads very quickly (let’s assume within half a dozen years, though his video seems to imply the effect would be quicker than that) to a loss of habitat for humans. So it’s not even an hypothesis. Merely saying it does is not an explanation of how the science leads to extinction, even by 2050 (though he now claims by the mid 20s). Perhaps you could point to Guy’s reasoning, without simply pointing to his climate change update essay, which doesn’t provide the logic, and doesn’t accurately represent all of the science it references.


    2. It’s a sad commentary on humanity that some people still hold anything GM says as worthy of consideration (I’m still hopeful bc 99.9% don’t take him seriously and have never even heard of him – yeah). As a self-professed sociopath, GM readily admits to hoodwinking his followers and knows exactly what he’s doing – taking advantage of others’ ignorance leading them toward a death cult in which he takes advantage sexually of those he’s supposedly grief counseling. Sick. Sick. Sick.


      1. You know what’s a sad commentary to humanity? The fact that we’ve allowed things to progress this way DESPITE decades of hard scientific data urging us to change course drastically in order to avoid runaway greenhouse effect. Certainly not people who care enough to look at the evidence and decide to have an extremely alarmist perspective on this dire situation. Preposterous argument.


      2. Well, I can agree that we’ve done nothing to mitigate human caused climate change despite knowing about it for decades. But the science doesn’t yet point to a runaway greenhouse effect. And I’m not sure what you mean by your second last sentence. Do you mean that poisition’s such as Guy’s is not a sad commentary on humanity? I’d disagree with that; it’s sad that apparently intelligent people can come to conclusions that aren’t supported by the science. That includes deniers as well as Guy McPherson, even though they take diametrically opposing positions.


      3. What I am saying is that the scientific frontline data AT LEAST proves that we must act NOW as a collective if we want to salvage any of earth’s life support systems. Some 200 species are going extinct every day. That’s 1 000 000 % of background extinction rates. If that sole fact alone doesn’t warrant an alarmist demeanor I don’t know how laid back you people are.Maybe that’s what Guy is trying to do. Scare people into action. Which seems a reasonable position to take considering the blatant ignorance,lazyness and complete non action coming from the public masses ruled by corporate psychopaths who have indicated they have no intention of stopping their sacking ,pillaging and plundering of the planet for every last drop of resources that they then monopolize to expand their empire.


      4. Stop setting up this false dichotomy: Either we 1) (falsely) claim that science shows we’ll be extinct in a few years or we 2) don’t think climate change is a serious threat or support action. This is a straw man.

        Guy has lied about his sources, invented nonsense, and wrapped it all in conspiracy theory to avoid criticism. There are thousands of serious climate advocates you could choose to listen to over one guy’s blog. There is no reason to die on this hill.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Anthony, Guy is not trying to scare people into action. Show me one place he’s even alluded to that. According to Guy, there is nothing we can do about it. All he ever says is he’s simply giving out information about our predicament. All that remains is love, he states. The trouble with giving out false information is that critics can easily dismiss everything he says when much of what he says about the science is false. Your repeating his “200 species a day going extinct” meme is a case in point. That is one estimate. There are others, some even worse but most nowhere near 200 a day. Let me quickly say that all estimates that I’ve seen are bad, very bad. But when the picture is very bad, there is no need to possibly exaggerate and exaggerating can easily be dismissed, along with anything else Guy claims. It’s the same with temperatures. A rise of another 1 degree will be very bad and 3-4 degrees C rise over pre-industrial by year end will be catastrophic, if catastrophe has not already hit. But Guy thinks he knows the future for certain (something no-one can know) and temperatures are quickly going to rise way beyond livable anywhere on Earth.

        So when you say “the scientific frontline data AT LEAST proves that we must act NOW as a collective if we want to salvage any of earth’s life support systems”, you’re wrong. Sure we should act now, we should have acted decades ago, but the science doesn’t prove that all life will be extinguished (the logical result of removing the “earth’s life support systems”) and that’s where Guy gets it completely wrong.


      6. You are right about Guy. He’s dead set on his ” there’s nothing we can do” narrative.

        “But Guy thinks he knows the future for certain (something no-one can know) and temperatures are quickly going to rise way beyond livable anywhere on Earth.”

        That’s the thing, nobody dares to venture where Guy has gone. Adding up all the feedback loops and concluding on near term planetary omnicide based on the totality of the data.

        Name me ONE other climatologist or scientist that doesn’t hide under the guise of “we just don’t know” because they’ve not looked at every facet of the available evidence thoughtfully or they are unwilling to disclose publically how bad things really are. If the science is not conclusive about near term planetary omnicide right now, it’s definitely headed that way at blinding speed.
        It’s true, there are still many unknown variables.
        But to not presume most of those are going to be disadvantageous to us given the current course is irresponsible to say the least, if you ask me. Many of the statistics are already much worse than initially predicted.

        Call it setting up false dichotomy all you want, I think these mainstream media propagated time frames saying we have till 2050-2100 to turn this ship around are absolutely ridiculously and even criminally unjustified based on the weight of the evidence and the disastrous unfolding environmental decline as a result of anthropogenic activities since the industrialized revolution. Even if Guy’s worst case scenario of near term planetary omnicide has a 10% chance of being correct based on current data, we should take heed to it and not blatantly dismiss,ridicule it and carry on.

        Unlike Guy I still have hope for our future, but this geo-political state of total non action (except for the continued willful sacking of the planet of course) has to change because the risks are far too great to be neglectful about.
        As such we can agree to disagree I suppose.


      7. That’s the thing, nobody dares to venture where Guy has gone.

        Respectfully… that’s exactly what the post you’re commenting on and the links within it (and the thousands of comments) do. It’s been done ad nauseum.

        Name me ONE other climatologist or scientist that doesn’t hide under the guise of “we just don’t know” because they’ve not looked at every facet of the available evidence thoughtfully or they are unwilling to disclose publically how bad things really are.

        All of them. I have no idea where this notion comes form.


      8. This blog seems to me not so much about how Guy McPherson supposedly gets it (scientifically) wrong as about “Let’s personally attack Guy McPherson for committing the unforgivable sin of having elicited our terror of death.” (See The Worm At The Core, On The Role of Death In Life, 2016, by psychologists Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg, and Tom Pyszczynski for much more about this.)

        In the process of insisting that Guy McPherson supposedly should not predict the future of Earth’s biosphere in negative ways based on scientific evidence, most commenters here insist that THEY CAN predict the future of Earth’s biosphere in positive ways based on scientific evidence. A sweet double standard concerning prediction. In all of this I hear little or no mention of the scientifically fundamental and essential concept of probability. Regarding this, I hope someone here will explain how ecology, complexity theory, and thermodynamics supposedly support the grandiose, wishful belief that a high probability exists that we can, and will, significantly ameliorate or stop the massive, rapidly occurring, yes, irreversible, changes we have made in Earth’s biosphere, while ecology, complexity theory, and thermodynamic principles supposedly do not suggest a very LOW probability of our doing that. How do thermodynamic principles suggest that we supposedly can do this? Where will we get the energy to do it, and how will we do it without violating the fundamental principles of thermodynamics? Some evidence-based reasoning concerning this, please? And with no personal attacks on me for asking this, nor still more self- and other-comforting personal attacks on Guy McPherson for his persistently insisting on the very high probability of near term human extinction, please?

        I agree with McPherson that a very high probability exists that we will soon experience mass loss of human life on Earth, and probably with extinction soon following. I agree with this, not because he says it, but because what I know of ecology, complexity theory, and thermodynamics very strongly suggest that extremely high probability—plus I do not have any belief that humans supposedly have some “special” or “supreme” biological status on Earth. Meanwhile, arguing about whether this mass die-off and extinction will occur in one year, five years, ten years, or twenty, seems a pointless and irrelevant waste of time to me. The simple fact remains that we ALL WILL die soon, and we ALL MAY die within the next few weeks, all of our science and technology notwithstanding. But we love to distract ourselves from that reality, which we often find so anxiety provoking and painful. Meanwhile, personally attacking someone like Guy McPherson serves as a great distraction, indeed, as do our technologically utopian fantasies. Desperate times call for desperate distractions and desperate delusions. Hence this blog, which specializes in ad hominem attacks on people who disagree, especially personal attacks on Guy McPherson—all exactly as the authors of The Work At The Core describe.


      9. This blog seems to me not so much about how Guy McPherson supposedly gets it (scientifically) wrong as about “Let’s personally attack Guy McPherson for committing the unforgivable sin of having elicited our terror of death.”

        Again, a defender of Guy McPherson who completely misrepresents what is going on here. Guy McPherson is happy to insult people but has never engaged honestly with critics. There is no “supposedly” about it, Guy gets it wrong on multiple occasions, for the reasons given here and elsewhere. If you have any counter to the scientific criticism shown here and in Tobis’s piece (to name a couple) then maybe that word is justified. I have not seen Guy explain any of his conclusions. Nor have you, Alfred. You may be an expert in ecology but, if so, I’m surprised you can’t explain why the science shows extinction in a decade or three.

        Now there are some who are attacking Guy for whatever reason (unconnected to climate change science) but this is about the science. He gets too much of it wrong to be considered a useful source of information or prediction. You claim that people here see positives out of the science but that also is a false notion. As I’ve said, I’m pretty sure most commentators here don’t see anything positive about the science of climate change but they also don’t see that extinction is now built in.


      10. I agree with most of what you write, Anthony. In fact, most of what you say is not what Guy says, so I’m not really sure why you’re defending him. With regard to feedback loops, Guy may have concluded that they lead to extinction for certain but he has never shown how they do that. When his feedback list was in the mid 20s, I went through them all. Some seemed valid but at least half were either misrepresented or effectively double counted. And as Michael Tobis has said, Guy simply multiplies the feedbacks without explaining why. When you talk about a 10% chance of Guy being correct, you forget that he misrepresents and misinterprets a lot of the science so there is no chance of his being correct, at least in terms of the science or in terms of how he sees it playing out. If he turns out to be correct about extinction then there is nothing we can do about it anyway.

        So please don’t look to Guy for your information about climate change. Everyone here knows the situation is bad and that we should have acted decades ago. Guy’s message is not going to help climate change mitigation efforts one little bit. If you haven’t yet lost hope for the future and don’t want to, forget Guy McPherson.


      11. You are confusing alarmism and extremism, it appears to me. I’m very alarmed and wonder if we will make and take action in my own life to have an effect. However, after nearly a year and a half investigating GM’s claims, reading 90% of all posts on this blog on the topic, I’m convinced GM is as I say.


  23. Is there any way to change the coding on this blog so the text is actually readable? Best thing you can do now is copy and paste in word or notepad to read it.



  24. This fraud by no small means ruined a good part of my life and I’ll explain why. My parents were followers of Guy from his beginnings when he started to talk about climate science and how doomed we all were without verifying any of his claims and not looking up anything debunking his stupid arguments like this article. All it needed for them was to sound smart and to fuel their already nihilistic view of the world. Every day I walked into my house hearing this guy’s podcast on the living room sound speaker, talking about how we were all going to die soon for years as a younger person, draining any sort of happiness I felt when I walked in and having a noticeable impact on my parents moods. All the talk around the house had the same depressing tone that McPherson’s podcasts had, and arguments and unhappiness were constants in my house. The overall attitude dropped after my parents started to follow McPherson regularly but I only noticed how extreme it got now years after it started. I knew his claims were out there, but my parents were never ones to be skeptical and followed this guy like he was their idol, even allowing him to stay in our house during one of his tours where he slept in the same bed I still sleep in. He invited them to his homestead in Belize where he lives now as thanks and invited them to join them there. My step-mother already has moved there and my father is moving there after this year. This mess of psudoscience has taken a large portion of my childhood and my parents. And honestly, after seeing what they’ve become after drinking Guy McPhoney’s kool-aid, I don’t want them back.


    1. Hi, Schism. Thanks for sharing your experience here. I know many others who were part of Bud Nye’s (see his posts here, though he’s been banned from this blog but still insists on posting despite it, and SJ is too kind to not call him out on it.) so-called Permaculture group in Tacoma, WA, USA, years ago that was really for expounding on GM’s ideas and grieving the end of life for humanity and most other species. Invited to join before I really realized the truth about GM, I was happy to join online for emotional support. After participating I eventually reach a point of awareness, from April 2014 when I first learned about GM, to the end of 2015 when I finally realized GM is willfully misleading others for his extremist agenda. Time has bared that out with his sexual activities with his grieving students, and divorce from his wife. Also, GM is a victim of his own extremism in that it cost him his tenured position at the Univ of Arizona and he spent his life saving on his Doomstead located smack dab in the middle of ground zero for climate change extreme weather – the dessert of Arizona. The lesson I’ve drawn from GM are multitudinous. 1) Don’t trust a scientist with limited publications as GM has; 2) Don’t trust a scientist who lies about his or her own reputation within the climate science community; 3) Never take at face value any scientific paper published by a single author; 4) Focus on climate scientists who have 10,000+ citations, or at least 1,000+ citations, not just hundreds (use Google Scholar to check or Web of Science); 5) When reading a scientific paper, be sure to make sure it’s a reputable journal, not some fly-by-night one such as the Artic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG); 6) Better to trust a group of scientists on a paper than a single author; 7) Never trust just a single article in a scientific journal, but instead one is to triangulated multiple papers to prove a theory; 8) Even better than triangulating multiple papers to prove a theory, the National Academy of Science (NAS) make determinations on scientific issues, and they are well worth considering; 9) And the most convincing is when all NASs on Earth all agree on something, such as that humans are causing temperatures to rise through emissions of GHGs; 10) And most important of all, always remember you can make a difference and that what you do now matters, like not flying or flying less and eating less meat or becoming a vegan. There is always opportunity in danger. Try to find the rose in the garbage. I have. You can, too. Make your schism into a prism of wisdom. Thanks again for sharing. Balan

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just a note: I have not intentionally been too kind to maintain Bud’s ban. I think a couple posts slipped through the filter until I fixed it. He continues to occasionally submit posts that disappear into the filter…


      1. Hmm only 0.09 C of additional global average temperature rise from potentially hundreds and thousands of GIGATONS in methane released from subsea permafrost in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf? Are you kidding me?


      2. Actually this is what the Essay concluded. So up to 0.3 C additional global average temperature rise by 2100 given a 120 ± 85 Gt release of carbon from subsea permafrost. This is reduced to 0.05-0.15C of warming in the scenario closest to the 2 C IPC target. But let’s not kid ourselves. We are not going to avoid shooting considerably past 2 C of warming unless we do large scale carbon sequestration given the criminal socio political negligence with regard to climate change. The RCP 8.5 high emissions ,business as usual scenario, seems more likely.

        They also state there is at least 1700 gigatons of carbon in the permafrost and admit there is huge uncertainty in basically two areas that are critical to the accuracy of their entire projection…

        “Available estimates of the PCF indicate 120 ± 85 Gt of carbon emissions from thawing permafrost by 2100. This is equivalent to 5.7 ± 4.0% of total anthropogenic emissions for the RCP8.5 scenario and would increase global temperatures by 0.29 ± 0.21 °C or 7.8 ± 5.7%.

        For RCP4.5, the scenario closest to the 2 °C warming target for the climate change treaty, the range of cumulative emissions in 2100 from thawing permafrost decreases to between 27 and 100 Gt C and the impact on temperature to between 0.05 and 0.15 °C”

        “There are large sources of uncertainty in these PCF estimates that need to be quantified and reduced. The simulated permafrost extent and the loss of permafrost area for a given warming scenario is the largest source of uncertainty in these projections (Koven et al 2013).”


    1. I knew the study would get McPherson supporters to claim he was right, even though it’s clear that the study does nothing of the sort. McPherson thinks all life will go extinct by the middle of the century and humans within a decade or two. This study doesn’t support that in the least.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mike Roberts
        I don’t think you’ve seen the recent BS by McPherson. He claims the last human will die by 2015, and that the vast majority will die THIS year. It’s hard to watch this nonsense, but here he is with that claim:

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, a self-confessed sociopath at work. Great evidence to reinforce the fact that he’s dangerous to life on Earth in that he disempowers all that drinks his Kool-Aid. We need people that can see things as they really are, and respond by taking action, not grieving people living lives of excellence knowing they are the walking dead, and therefore not taking action to decarbonize modern industrial society. Thanks for sharing.


      3. Yeah, crazy reasoning by McPherson. Even with an ice-free arctic sea this September (which won’t happen), that’s not going to remove habitat for humans across the globe; the very idea is ludicrous. I would say, though, that I think you meant 2025, not 2015! :)


      4. Somebody needs to update their calendar (or fix their keypad) Ha ha
        That would be a safe bet nonetheless.
        All and all the 2025 New Year’s party looks like it is shaping up to be very sparsely attended.


      5. Guy is a scientist. Not an idiot. Or a sociopath. The people in our governments better fit that description. We are governed by clinically insane psychopaths. Clearly. In stead of whining about Guy’s message ruining your lives start worrying about those in power.
        He’s not making any money out of this. The only thing he’s getting is ridicule and probably death threats from people that don’t want him to panic the brain dead population.

        What he is saying in his latest videos while citing the scientific references, when at the same time half of the fossil fuel lobby paid liars in the US congress have the audacity to publicly deny anthropogenic climate change even exists should be extremely alarming.
        But nobody cares. Business as usual and hope for a miracle.

        Check out some of Paul Beckwiths youtube reports. His message is also getting increasingly more similar to what Guy is saying.

        The stock markets are a mess, the US government is 20+ trillion in debt, and we are due for an economic crash even worse than the 2008 one.
        Why people find it so difficult to imagine that the amplified feedback effects of an ice free arctic on crops can induce a collapse of an out of control capitalist industrialized civilization, is beyond me.
        I hope Ray Kurzweil is correct and we really are approaching the singularity before we destroy ourselves by turning the planet into something resembling Mars or Venus.

        capitalist civilization with 8 billion monkeys to take care off, is beyond me.
        I say we are in extremely perilous territory here. The US economy collapses and the rest of the world follows. Guy’s scenario is far more likely to occur than the idea that we’ll be able to work our way out of this abject mess we’ve created. Unless technology speeds up as quickly as Ray Kurzweil predicts and we’re approaching the singularity that’ll solve all these issues before we go extinct. There are no present politically economically and technologically viable solutions for ongoing climate change.


      6. His latest is just as bad. He cites some research in The Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, which I couldn’t find showing that a slowdown of “just” 35% in industrial activity would lead to a near instant warming of 1C due to the reduction in aerosols and McPherson thinks that would lead to habitat loss within a year. Not only that but he thinks “collapse” in any of the main industrial regions would lead to such an industrial decline, since each is about a third of the global economy. That is, he thinks an instantaneous “collapse” of any major economy would lead to total cessation of all industrial activity in that region.

        Ha must be off his rocker.


  25. OK, so, I see alot of people completely disregarding this essay. So much so that it’s scary. Like, most of the comments are from GM’s followers, stating that this essay is outdated, misinformation, and just plain wrong and that Johnson is in denial and/or motivated by money. I also see many comments accusing Johnson of ignoring evidence. But, I thought this whole essay IS the evidence. If he’s responding to this essay, then how is he ignoring evidence. Is there some info that’s critical to GM’s theory that was reported outside of the update essay? Why are all of you so quick do disregard everything he says? What do you know that he doesn’t, that none of you consider worth telling him? Is there a comprehensive, scientific argument as to why Johnson is wrong that doesn’t involve him being a paid shill?


    1. Because, I just don’t understand why a group of seemingly intelligent, sophisticated people are willing to dismiss Johnson’s argument without depositing a scientific counter-argument.

      The only realistic possibility that I can think of is that I’m the one who’s missing something of vital importance that makes Johnson’s and Tobis’ essays irrelevant and GM worthy of following.


      1. OK, so, I contacted GM himself via email. To try and figure it out. He wasn’t very forthcoming, and I had to really push to get anything out of him. The best I got was this:
        “I stopped at 69 positive feedbacks. They deal poorly with 29.”

        His climate essay particularly the section having to do with feedback loops, has indeed gone through multiple updates. I compiled a long list of various feedbacks in the essay that either weren’t covered by Tobis, were added after he wrote his critique, or have undergone revision since.

        List starts now:

        1.) Ozone, a powerful greenhouse gas, also contributes to mortality of trees (Global Change Biology, November 2011). Tree mortality reduces uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide and instead accelerates the contribution of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Forest dieback resulting from atmospheric ozone is the primary topic addressed by Gail Zawacki at Wit’s End.
        Analysis of tropospheric data has linked elevated levels of ozone with Indonesian forest fires, according to a paper in the 13 January 2016 issue of Nature Communications. Like methane, ozone is a potent but short-lived greenhouse gas. As indicated in the abstract: “This study suggest a larger role for biomass burning in the radiative forcing of climate in the remote TWP (Tropical Western Pacific) than is commonly appreciated.”

        2.)It’s not just Antarctica spewing methane hydrates from beneath the ice. Ice sheets may be hiding vast reservoirs in the Arctic, too, as reported in the 7 January 2016 issue of Nature Communications. As reported in the abstract, “recent dating of methane expulsion sites suggests that gas release has been ongoing over many millennia. Here we synthesize observations of ~1,900 fluid escape features — pockmarks and active gas flares — across a previously glaciated Arctic margin with ice-sheet thermomechanical and gas hydrate stability zone modelling. Our results indicate that even under conservative estimates of ice thickness with temperate subglacial conditions, a 500-m thick gas hydrate stability zone — which could serve as a methane sink — existed beneath the ice sheet. Moreover, we reveal that in water depths 150–520 m methane release also persisted through a 20-km-wide window between the subsea and subglacial gas hydrate stability zone. This window expanded in response to post-glacial climate warming and deglaciation thereby opening the Arctic shelf for methane release.”

        3.) Forest and bog fires are growing (in Russia, initially, according to NASA in August 2012), a phenomenon consequently apparent throughout the northern hemisphere (Nature Communications, July 2013). The New York Times reports hotter, drier conditions leading to huge fires in western North America as the “new normal” in their 1 July 2013 issue. A paper in the 22 July 2013 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates boreal forests are burning at a rate exceeding that of the last 10,000 years. Los Alamos National Laboratory catches on during same month. 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. A comprehensive assessment of biomass burning, published in the 21 July 2014 issue of Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, explains most of the global-average increase in temperature and explains that biomass burning causes much more global warming per unit weight than other human-associated carbon sources. By early August 2014 tundra fires were burning just 70 miles south of Arctic Ocean waters and the fires were creating their own weather via pyrocumulus clouds. According to a paper published in the 14 July 2015 issue of Nature Communications, the length of the fire season has increased nearly 20% since 1979.
        Ignition sources are on the rise, too. According to a paper in the 14 November 2014 issue of Science, each 1 C rise in global-average temperature contributes to a 12 ± 5% increase in lightning strikes.
        According to a paper in the 6 October 2015 online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences comes a paper describing how the 0.5 C rise in global-average temperature associated with the Medieval Climate Anomaly — commonly called the Medieval Warm period — contributed to substantial increase in area burned. According to the abstract: “Warming of ∼0.5 °C ∼1,000 years ago increased the percentage of our study sites burned per century by ∼260% relative to the past ∼400 y.”
        According to a paper in the 16 March 2016 issue of Global Ecology and Biogeography, climate change is adversely altering the ability of Rocky Mountain forests to recover from wildfire. Specifically, warm, dry conditions in the years following fires impede the growth and establishment of vulnerable new post-fire seedlings. Not only does climate change contribute to more and larger fires in the region, thus killing the trees in the forest, but post-fire recruitment is reduced by the same conditions that contribute to the more and larger fires.

        4.) Exposure to sunlight increases bacterial conversion of exposed soil carbon, thus accelerating thawing of the permafrost(Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, February 2013). Subsequent carbon release “could be expected to more than double overall net C losses from tundra to the atmosphere,” as reported in the March 2014 issue of Ecology. Arctic permafrost houses about half the carbon stored in Earth’s soils, an estimated 1,400 to 1,850 petagrams of it, according to NASA, which is more than twice as much as already exists in the atmosphere. Peat chemistry changes as warming proceeds, which accelerates the process, as reported in the 7 April 2014 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

        5.) The microbes have joined the party, too, according to a paper in the 23 February 2013 issue of New Scientist. A subsequent paper in the 22 October 2014 issue of Nature illustrates the key role of a single species of microbe in amplifying climate change.

        6.) According to a paper in the 12 April 2013 issue of Science, a major methane release is almost inevitable from permafrost in Alaska, which makes me wonder where the authors have been hiding. Almost inevitable, they report, regarding an ongoing event. Trees are tipping over and dying as permafrost thaws, thus illustrating how self-reinforcing feedback loops feed each other. A paper in the 6 April 2015 online issue of Nature concludes: “The heat production is not only expected to accelerate the organic carbon decomposition and potentially the amounts of carbon emitted to the atmosphere but could be the tipping point that will lead to the loss of evidence of early human history in the Arctic, which so far has been extremely well preserved in the top permafrost.” The rapidly decaying permafrost is largely recent in origin, according to a paper in the 27 April 2015 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, and is leading to a “runaway effect.” The resulting carbon is entering “the atmosphere at breakneck speed,” according to an analysis published in the 27 April 2015 issue of Geophysical Research Letters. A paper in the 1 February 2016 issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences finally indicates the scientific literature is catching up to the reality of the dire situation: “our results suggest that this subarctic tundra ecosystem is shifting away from its historical function as a C sink to a C source.” Slowly catching up to reality, a paper in the 12 March 2016 issue of Climate Change Responses indicates “the large stocks of carbon stored in graminoid soils should be more susceptible to mineralization in a warming Arctic.” In other words, climate warming accelerates carbon release from thawing Arctic soils.
        A paper in the 20 June 2016 issue of Environmental Research Letters. According to the paper, permafrost thaw has risen fourfold in some Arctic regions during the last 50 years.

        7.)Summer ice melt in Antarctica is at its highest level in a thousand years: Summer ice in the Antarctic is melting 10 times quicker than it was 600 years ago, with the most rapid melt occurring in the last 50 years (Nature Geoscience, April 2013). According to a paper in the 4 March 2014 issue of Geophysical Research Letters — which assumes relatively little change in regional temperature during the coming decades — “modeled summer sea-ice concentrations decreased by 56% by 2050 and 78% by 2100” (Robert Scribbler’s in-depth analysis is here). Citing forthcoming papers in Science and Geophysical Research Letters, the 12 May 2014 issue of the New York Timesreported: “A large section of the mighty West Antarctica ice sheet has begun falling apart and its continued melting now appears to be unstoppable. … The new finding appears to be the fulfillment of a prediction made in 1978 by an eminent glaciologist, John H. Mercer of the Ohio State University. He outlined the vulnerable nature of the West Antarctic ice sheet and warned that the rapid human-driven release of greenhouse gases posed ‘a threat of disaster.’” Although scientists have long expressed concern about the instability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), a research paper published in the 28 August 2013 of Nature indicates the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) has undergone rapid changes in the past five decades. The latter is the world’s largest ice sheet and was previously thought to be at little risk from climate change. But it has undergone rapid changes in the past five decades, signaling a potential threat to global sea levels. The EAIS holds enough water to raise sea levels more than 50 meters. According to a paper in the July 2014 issue of the same journal, the southern hemisphere’s westerly winds have been strengthening and shifting poleward since the 1950s, thus quickening the melt rate to the point of — you guessed it — “results that shocked the researchers.” A paper presented at the late 2014 meeting of the American Geophysical Union concludes, “comprehensive, 21-year analysis of the fastest-melting region of Antarctica has found that the melt rate of glaciers there has tripled during the last decade.” The 16 March 2015 online issue of Nature Geoscience adds to the misery and identifies melting from below Totten Glacier. Specifically, a paper published in the 19 May 2016 issue of Nature finds the Totten Glacier capable of “repeated large-scale retreat and advance,” with the researchers concluding the glacier is “fundamentally unstable.”
        A paper in the 12 October 2015 issue of Nature Geoscience reports that the Antarctic ice is melting so fast that the stability of the whole continent could be at risk by 2100. No surprise about that long-into-the-future date, of course. But the paper uses two emissions scenarios to predict a doubling of surface melting of the ice shelves by 2050 and, with one emissions scenario, Antarctic ice shelves would be in danger of collapse by century’s end.
        According to a paper in the 2 November 2015 online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “if the Amundsen Sea sector is destabilized, then the entire marine ice sheet will discharge into the ocean.” This appears to be admission of “self-sustained ice discharge from West Antarctica.”
        According to a paper published in the 26 November 2015 issue of Nature Communications, “Outlet glaciers grounded on a bed that deepens inland and extends below sea level are potentially vulnerable to ‘marine ice sheet instability’. This instability, which may lead to runaway ice loss, has been simulated in models, but its consequences have not been directly observed in geological records. Here we provide new surface-exposure ages from an outlet of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet that reveal rapid glacier thinning occurred approximately 7,000 years ago, in the absence of large environmental changes. Glacier thinning persisted for more than two and a half centuries, resulting in hundreds of metres of ice loss.”

        8.) Surface meltwater draining through cracks in an ice sheet can warm the sheet from the inside, softening the ice and letting it flow faster, according to a study accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface (July 2013).
        It appears a Heinrich Event has been triggered in Greenland. Consider the description of such an event as provided by Robert Scribbler on 8 August 2013:
        “In a Heinrich Event, the melt forces eventually reach a tipping point. The warmer water has greatly softened the ice sheet. Floods of water flow out beneath the ice. Ice ponds grow into great lakes that may spill out both over top of the ice and underneath it. Large ice damns (sic) may or may not start to form. All through this time ice motion and melt is accelerating. Finally, a major tipping point is reached and in a single large event or ongoing series of such events, a massive surge of water and ice flush outward as the ice sheet enters an entirely chaotic state. Tsunamis of melt water rush out bearing their vast floatillas (sic) of ice burgs (sic), greatly contributing to sea level rise. And that’s when the weather really starts to get nasty. In the case of Greenland, the firing line for such events is the entire North Atlantic and, ultimately the Northern Hemisphere.”

        Based on data collected in 2011, a paper published online in the 13 July 2015 issue of Nature Geoscience finds: “Given that the advection of warm, moist air masses and rainfall over Greenland is expected to become more frequent in the coming decades, our findings portend a previously unforeseen vulnerability of the Greenland ice sheet to climate change.” Briefly, melting of the “Greenland ice sheet has been shown to accelerate in response to surface rainfall and melt associated with late-summer and autumnal cyclonic weather events.”

        9.)Breakdown of the thermohaline conveyor belt is happening in the Antarctic as well as the Arctic, thus leading to melting of Antarctic permafrost (Scientific Reports, July 2013). In the past 60 years, the ocean surface offshore Antarctica became less salty as a result of melting glaciers and more precipitation, as reported in the 2 March 2014 issue of Nature Climate Change.

        10.)Loss of Arctic sea ice is reducing the temperature gradient between the poles and the equator, thus causing the jet stream to slow and meander (see particularly the work of Jennifer Francis, as well as this article in the 20 November 2014 issue of the Washington Post). The most extreme “dipole” on record occurred during 2013-2014, as reported in the Geophysical Research Letters. One result is the creation of weather blocks such as the recent very high temperatures in Alaska. This so-called “polar vortex” became widely reported in the United States in 2013 and received the attention of the academic community when the 2013-2014 drought threatened crop production in California. Extreme weather events are occurring, as reported in the 22 June 2014 issue of Nature Climate Change. Also called Rossby Waves, these atmospheric events are on the rise, as reported in the 11 August 2014 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. A paper co-authored by Francis in the 6 January 2015 issue of Environmental Research Letters concludes with this line in the abstract: “These results suggest that as the Arctic continues to warm faster than elsewhere in response to rising greenhouse-gas concentrations, the frequency of extreme weather events caused by persistent jet-stream patterns will increase.” Regarding the Rossby Waves, a paper in the 24 April 2015 edition of Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres includes this comment: “We also found a positive feedback mechanism resulting from the anomalous meridional circulation that cools the mid-latitudes and warms the Arctic, which adds an extra heating to the Arctic air column equivalent to about 60% of the direct surface heat release from the sea-ice reduction.” Francis’ work was further validated in the 31 August 2015 online issue of Nature Geoscience in an article titled, “Two distinct influences of Arctic warming on cold winters over North America and East Asia.”
        As one result of the polar vortex, boreal peat dries and catches fire like a coal seam (also see this paper in Nature, published online 23 December 2014, indicating “the amount of carbon stored in peats exceeds that stored in vegetation and is similar in size to the current atmospheric carbon pool”). The resulting soot enters the atmosphere to fall again, coating the ice surface elsewhere, thus reducing albedo and hastening the melting of ice. Each of these individual phenomena has been reported, albeit rarely, but to my knowledge the dots have not been connected beyond this space. The inability or unwillingness of the media to connect two dots is not surprising, and has been routinely reported (recently including herewith respect to climate change and wildfires) (July 2013)

        11.) Extreme weather events drive climate change, as reported in the 15 August 2013 issue of Nature (Nature, August 2013). Details are elucidated via modeling in the 6 June 2014 issue of Global Biogeochemical Cycles. Further data and explanation are presented in the 27 April 2015 online issue of Nature Climate Change.
        “Explaining Extreme Events of 2014 from a Climate Perspective” was published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Societyin their December 2015 issue and draws on conclusions from 32 international teams of scientists who investigated 28 separate weather events. Findings of this report, released on 5 November 2015, include the following: “Human activities, such as greenhouse gas emissions and land use, influenced specific extreme weather and climate events in 2014, including tropical cyclones in the central Pacific, heavy rainfall in Europe, drought in East Africa, and stifling heat waves in Australia, Asia, and South America.”
        According to a paper in the 13 June 2016 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, atmospheric aerosols strengthen storm clouds, thus leading to extreme weather. An abundance of aerosol particles in the atmosphere — constantly added via industrial activity — can increase the lifespans of large storm clouds by delaying rainfall, making the clouds grow larger and live longer, and producing more extreme storms.
        For many years, scientists have cautioned that individual weather events couldn’t be attributed to climate change. Now, however, specific extreme weather events can be attributed to climate change. A 200-page, March 2016 report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine examinesthe current state of science of extreme weather attribution, and identifies ways to move the science forward to improve attribution capabilities.

        12.) Drought-induced mortality of trees contributes to increased decomposition of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and decreased sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Such mortality has been documented throughout the world since at least November 2000 in Nature, with recent summaries in the February 2013 issue of Nature for the tropics, the August 2013 issue of Frontiers in Plant Science for temperate North America, and the 21 August 2015 issue of Science for boreal forests. The situation is exacerbated by pests and disease, as trees stressed by altered environmental conditions become increasingly susceptible to agents such as bark beetles and mistletoe (additional examples abound).
        One extremely important example of this phenomenon is occurring in the Amazon, where drought in 2010 led to the release of more carbon than the United States that year (Science, February 2011). The calculation badly underestimates the carbon release. In addition, ongoing deforestation in the region is driving declines in precipitation at a rate much faster than long thought, as reported in the 19 July 2013 issue of Geophysical Research Letters. An overview of the phenomenon, focused on the Amazon, was provided by Climate News Network on 5 March 2014. “The observed decline of the Amazon sink diverges markedly from the recent increase in terrestrial carbon uptake at the global scale, and is contrary to expectations based on models,” according to a paper in the 19 March 2015 issue of Nature. ** Finally, according to a paper in the 1 July 2016 issue of Global Biogeochemical Cycles, the 2010 drought completely shut down the Amazon Basin’s carbon sink, by killing trees and slowing their growth. **
        Tropical rain forests, long believed to represent the primary driver of atmospheric carbon dioxide, are on the verge of giving up that role. According to a 21 May 2014 paper published in Nature, “the higher turnover rates of carbon pools in semi-arid biomes are an increasingly important driver of global carbon cycle inter-annual variability,” indicating the emerging role of drylands in controlling environmental conditions. “Because of the deforestation of tropical rainforests in Brazil, significantly more carbon has been lost than was previously assumed.” In fact, “forest fragmentation results in up to a fifth more carbon dioxide being emitted by the vegetation.” These results come from the 7 October 2014 issue of Nature Communications. A paper in the 28 December 2015 online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates Amazon forest could transition to savanna-like states in response to climate change. Savannas are simply described as grasslands with scattered trees or shrubs. The abstract of the paper suggests that, “in contrast to existing predictions of either stability or catastrophic biomass loss, the Amazon forest’s response to a drying regional climate is likely to be an immediate, graded, heterogeneous transition from high-biomass moist forests to transitional dry forests and woody savannah-like states.”
        The boreal forest wraps around the globe at the top of the Northern Hemisphere. It is the planet’s single largest biome and makes up 30 percent of the globe’s forest cover. Moose are the largest ungulate in the boreal forest and their numbers have plummeted. The reason is unknown.
        Dennis Murray, a professor of ecology at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, thinks the dying moose of Minnesota and New Hampshire and elsewhere are one symptom of something far bigger – a giant forest ecosystem that is rapidly shrinking, dying, and otherwise changing. “The boreal forest is breaking apart,” he says. “The question is what will replace it?”
        Increasing drought threatens almost all forests in the United States, according to a paper in the 21 February 2016 online issue of Global Change Biology. According to the paper’s abstract, “diebacks, changes in composition and structure, and shifting range limits are widely observed.”
        For the first time scientists have investigated the net balance of the three major greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide — for every region of Earth’s land masses. The results were published in the 10 March 2016 issue of Nature. The surprising result: Human-induced emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from ecosystems overwhelmingly surpass the ability of the land to soak up carbon dioxide emissions, which makes the terrestrial biosphere a contributor to climate change.
        An abstract of a paper to be published in the April 2016 issue of Biogeochemistry includes these sentences: “Rising temperatures and nitrogen (N) deposition, both aspects of global environmental change, are proposed to alter soil organic matter (SOM) biogeochemistry. … Overall, this study shows that the decomposition and accumulation of molecularly distinct SOM components occurs with soil warming and N amendment and may subsequently alter soil biogeochemical cycling.” In other words, as global temperatures rise, the organic matter in forests appears to break down more quickly, thereby accelerating the release of carbon into the atmosphere.

        13.) Ocean acidification leads to release of less dimethyl sulphide (DMS) by plankton. DMS shields Earth from radiation. (Nature Climate Change, online 25 August 2013). Plankton form the base of the marine food web, some populations have declined 40% since 1950(e.g., article in the 29 July 2010 issue of Nature), and they are on the verge of disappearing completely, according to a paperin the 18 October 2013 issue of Global Change Biology. As with carbon dioxide, ocean acidification is occurring rapidly, according to a paper in the 26 March 2014 issue of Global Biogeochemical Cycles. Acidification is proceeding at a pace unparalleled during the last 300 million years, according to research published in the 2 March 2012 issue of Science. Over the past 10 years, the Atlantic Ocean has soaked up 50 percent more carbon dioxide than it did the decade before, measurably speeding up the acidification of the ocean, according to a paper published in the 30 January 2016 issue of Global Biogeochemical Cycles. Not surprisingly, the degradation of the base of the marine food web is reducing the ability of fish populations to reproduce and replenish themselves across the globe, as reported in the 14 December 2015 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
        Diatoms, one of the major groups of plankton, is declining globally at the rate of about one percent per year, according to a paper in the 23 September 2015 issue of Global Biogeochemical Cycles.
        The Southern Ocean is acidifying at such a rate because of rising carbon dioxide emissions that large regions may be inhospitable for key organisms in the food chain to survive as soon as 2030, according to a paper in the 2 November 2015 online issue of Nature Climate Change.
        A paper in the 26 November 2015 issue of Science Express indicates millennial-scale shifts in plankton in the subtropical North Pacific Ocean that are “unprecedented in the last millennium.” The ongoing shift “began in the industrial era and is supported by increasing N2-fixing cyanobacterial production. This picoplankton community shift may provide a negative feedback to rising atmospheric CO2.” One of the authors of the papers is quoted during an interview: “This picoplankton community shift may have provided a negative feedback to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide, during the last 100 years. However, we cannot expect this to be the case in the future.”
        Further research on primary productivity in the ocean was published in paper in the 19 January 2016 issue of Geophysical Research Letters. Referring to the Indian Ocean, the abstract concludes, “future climate projections suggest that the Indian Ocean will continue to warm, driving this productive region into an ecological desert.”
        For the first time, researchers have documented algae-related toxins in Arctic sea mammals. Specifically, toxins produced by harmful algal blooms are showing up in Alaska marine mammals as far north as the Arctic Ocean — much farther north than ever reported previously, according to a paper in the 11 February 2016 issue of Harmful Algae. The abstract indicates, “In this study, 905 marine mammals from 13 species were sampled including; humpback whales, bowhead whales, beluga whales, harbor porpoises, northern fur seals, Steller sea lions, harbor seals, ringed seals, bearded seals, spotted seals, ribbon seals, Pacific walruses, and northern sea otters. Domoic acid was detected in all 13 species examined and had the greatest prevalence in bowhead whales (68%) and harbor seals (67%). Saxitoxin was detected in 10 of the 13 species … These results provide evidence that … toxins are present throughout Alaska waters at levels high enough to be detected in marine mammals and have the potential to impact marine mammal health in the Arctic marine environment.”

        14.) 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.

        15.) Sea-level rise causes slope collapse, tsunamis, and release of methane, as reported in the September 2013 issue of Geology. In eastern Siberia, the speed of coastal erosion has nearly doubled during the last four decades as the permafrost melts. And it appears sea-level rise has gone exponential, judging from Scribbler’s 4 May 2015 analysis. Considering only data through 2005, according to a paper published 28 September 2015 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the 500-year return time of floods in New York City has been reduced to 24.4 years.

        16.) Rising ocean temperatures will upset natural cycles of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and phosphorus, hence reducing plankton (Nature Climate Change, September 2013). Ocean warming has been profoundly underestimated since the 1970s according to a paper published in the online version of Nature Climate Change on 5 October 2014. Specifically, the upper 2,300 feet of the Southern Hemisphere’s oceans may have warmed twice as quickly after 1970 than had previously been thought. According to a 22 January 2015 article in The Guardian, “the oceans are warming so fast, they keep breaking scientists’ charts.”
        Another indication of a warming ocean is coral bleaching. The third global coral bleaching event since 1998, and also the third in evidence, ever, is underway on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. According to Australia National News on 28 March 2016, a survey of the Great Barrier Reef reports 95% of the northern reefs were rated as severely bleached, and only 4 of 520 reefs surveyed were found to be unaffected by bleaching.

        17.) Small ponds in the Canadian Arctic are releasing far more methane than expected based on their aerial cover (PLoS ONE, November 2013). This is the first of several freshwater ecosystems releasing methane into the atmosphere, as reviewed in the 19 March 2014 issue of Nature and subsequently described by a large-scale study in the 28 April 2014 issue of Global Change Biology. Release of methane from these sources in the Arctic and Greenland, according to the 20 May 2012 issue of Nature Geoscience, “imply that in a warming climate, disintegration of permafrost, glaciers and parts of the polar ice sheets could facilitate the transient expulsion of 14C-depleted methane trapped by the cryosphere cap.”
        The mechanism underlying methane release in these systems is poorly understood. If sunlight drives the process, as suggested by a paper in the 22 August 2014 issue of Science, then amplification is expected over time as ponds and lakes are increasingly exposed.
        Water bodies within Africa’s interior are adding significantly to the overall release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, according to a paper in the 20 July 2015 online edition of Nature Geoscience. Specifically, “total carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse-gas emissions [are] … about 0.9 Pg carbon per year, equivalent to about one quarter of the global ocean and terrestrial combined carbon sink.”
        Large water bodies beneath deserts could profoundly worsen the situation. According to a paper published in the 28 July 2015 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, a large carbon sink or pool lies beneath the Tarim basin in Xinjiang, China. The hidden pool of water stores “more carbon than all the plants on the planet put together. While more water may sound like a good thing, researchers believe that if this carbon were to escape into the atmosphere, we would be in serious, serious trouble.” Specifically, the senior authored explained in an interview: “It’s like a can of coke. If it is opened all the greenhouse gas will escape into the atmosphere.”
        A paper in the 29 October 2015 issue of Limnology and Oceanography also addresses the issue of methane release from lakes. A write-up for the general public titled, “Global Warming Will Progress Much More Quickly Than Expected, Study Predicts” includes this line: “The findings suggest we have a ‘vicious circle’ ahead of us in which the burning of fossil fuels leads to higher temperatures, which in turn trigger higher levels of methane release and further warming.” This is a fine explanation for a self-reinforcing feedback loop.
        A study published in the 17 November 2015 edition of Nature Geoscience shows that lakes in the northern hemisphere will probably release much more carbon dioxide due to global climate changes. The investigation, based on data from more than 5,000 Swedish lakes, demonstrates that carbon dioxide emissions from the world’s lakes, water courses, and reservoirs are equivalent to almost a quarter of all the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels.
        Citing two recent journal articles, a paper in the 19 November 2015 issue of Yale Environment 360 concludes, “the world’s iconic northern lakes are undergoing major changes that include swiftly warming waters, diminished ice cover, and outbreaks of harmful algae.” The lakes include Lake Baikal, “the deepest, largest in volume, and most ancient freshwater lake in the world, holding one-fifth of the planet’s above-ground drinking supply. It’s a Noah’s Ark of biodiversity, home to myriad species found nowhere else on earth.”
        Further support for the importance of streams and rivers as sources of atmospheric methane comes from a paper published in the November 2015 issue of Ecological Monographs. The headline of the write-up for the general public tells the story: “Greenhouse gas emissions from freshwater higher than thought.”
        A paper in the 23 November 2015 issue of Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences found, according to the abstract: “A sediment upwelling at the end of the thaw season likely contributed to these [methane] emissions. We suggest that, unlike wetlands, shallow seasonally ice-covered lakes can have their highest methane emission potential in the cold season, likely dominating the spring methane release of subarctic landscapes with high lake coverage.” In other words, as with methane release from the Arctic Ocean, methane release is abundant during the cold season. According to a paper in the 16 June 2016 online issue of Geophysical Research Letters, “Our findings indicate that permafrost below shallow lakes has already begun crossing a critical thawing threshold approximately 70 years prior to predicted terrestrial permafrost thaw in northern Alaska.”
        As reported in the 16 December 2015 issue of Geophysical Research Letters: “In this first worldwide synthesis of in situ and satellite-derived lake data, we find that lake summer surface water temperatures rose rapidly (global mean = 0.34°C decade−1) between 1985 and 2009.”
        A paper in the 4 January 2016 online edition of Nature Geoscience finds, “lakes and ponds are a dominant methane source at high northern latitudes.” “By compiling previously reported measurements made at a total of 700 northern water bodies the researchers have been able to more accurately estimate emissions over large scales. They found that methane emissions from lakes and ponds alone are equivalent to roughly two-thirds of all natural methane sources in the northern region.”
        According to a paper in the 1 February 2016 issue of Nature Geoscience, ponds less than a quarter of an acre in size make up only 8.6% of the surface area of the world’s lakes and ponds, yet they account for 15.1% of carbon dioxide emissions and 40.6% of diffusive methane emissions.

        18.) Research indicates that “fewer clouds form as the planet warms, meaning less sunlight is reflected back into space, driving temperatures up further still” (Nature, January 2014)

        19.) “Thawing permafrost promotes microbial degradation of cryo-sequestered and new carbon leading to the biogenic production of methane” (Nature Communications, February 2014). According to a paper in the 21 October 2015 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,: “The observed DOC [dissolved organic carbon] loss rates are among the highest reported for permafrost carbon and demonstrate the potential importance of LMW [low–molecular-weight] DOC in driving the rapid metabolism of Pleistocene-age permafrost carbon upon thaw and the outgassing of CO2 to the atmosphere by soils and nearby inland waters.”

        20.) Over the tropical West Pacific there is a natural, invisible hole extending over several thousand kilometers in a layer that prevents transport of most of the natural and man-made substances into the stratosphere by virtue of its chemical composition. Like in a giant elevator, many chemical compounds emitted at the ground pass thus unfiltered through this so-called “detergent layer” of the atmosphere.Global methane emissions from wetlands are currently about 165 teragrams (megatons metric) each year. This research estimates that annual emissions from these sources will increase by between 17 and 260 megatons annually. By comparison, the total annual methane emission from all sources (including the human addition) is about 600 megatons each year. (Nature Geoscience, February 2014)

        21.) “Volcanologist Bill McGuire describes how rapid melting of glaciers and ice sheets as a result of climate change could trigger volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis” (13 February 2014 issue of The Guardian. According to a paper published online in the 5 February 2015 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, “underwater volcanoes defy expectations and erupt in bursts rather than a slow pace.”

        22.) Deep ocean currents apparently are slowing. According to one of the authors of the paper, “we’re likely going to see less uptake of human produced, or anthropogenic, heat and carbon dioxide by the ocean, making this a positive feedback loop for climate change.” Because this phenomenon contributed to cooling and sinking of the Weddell polynya: “it’s always possible that the giant polynya will manage to reappear in the next century. If it does, it will release decades-worth of heat and carbon from the deep ocean to the atmosphere in a pulse of warming.” (Nature Climate Change, February 2014; model results indicate “large spatial redistribution of ocean carbon,” as reported in the March 2014 issue of the Journal of Climate)

        23.) Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide causes soil microbes to produce more carbon dioxide (Science, 2 May 2014)

        24.) Reductions in seasonal ice cover in the Arctic “result in larger waves, which in turn provide a mechanism to break up sea ice and accelerate ice retreat” (Geophysical Research Letters, 5 May 2014). Further corroboration is found in the 27 March 2015 issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

        25.) A huge hidden network of frozen methane and methane gas, along with dozens of spectacular flares firing up from the seabed, has been detected off the North Island of New Zealand (preliminary results reported in the 12 May 2014 issue of the New Zealand Herald). The first evidence of widespread active methane seepage in the Southern Ocean, off the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, was subsequently reported in the 1 October 2014 issue of Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

        26.) As reported in the 8 June 2014 issue of Nature Geoscience, rising global temperatures could increase the amount of carbon dioxide naturally released by the world’s oceans, fueling further climate change

        27.) As global-average temperature increases, “the concentrations of water vapor in the troposphere will also increase in response to that warming. This moistening of the atmosphere, in turn, absorbs more heat and further raises the Earth’s temperature.” As reported in the paper’s abstract: “Our analysis demonstrates that the upper-tropospheric moistening observed over the period 1979–2005 cannot be explained by natural causes and results principally from an anthropogenic warming of the climate. By attributing the observed increase directly to human activities, this study verifies the presence of the largest known feedback mechanism for amplifying anthropogenic climate change.” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 12 August 2014) According to a July 2015 report in Skeptical Science, “water vapor feedback roughly doubles the amount of warming caused by CO2. So if there is a 1°C change caused by CO2, the water vapor will cause the temperature to go up another 1°C. When other feedback loops are included, the total warming from a potential 1°C change caused by CO2 is, in reality, as much as 3°C.”

        28.) Soil microbial communities release unexpectedly more carbon dioxide when temperatures rise (Nature, 4 September 2014). As a result, “substantial carbon stores in Arctic and boreal soils could be more vulnerable to climate warming than currently predicted.”

        29.) “During the last glacial termination, the upwelling strength of the southern polar limb of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation varied, changing the ventilation and stratification of the high-latitude Southern Ocean. During the same period, at least two phases of abrupt global sea-level rise—meltwater pulses—took place.” In other words, when the ocean around Antarctica became more stratified, or layered, warm water at depth melted the ice sheet faster than when the ocean was less stratified. (Nature Communications, 29 September 2014) Robert Scribbler refers to AMOC as “the heartbeat of the world ocean system.” As reported in the 23 March 2015 online issue of Climatic Change, the slowing of the AMOC is “exceptional” and is tied to melting ice in Greenland. This twentieth-century slowdown apparently is unique, at least within the last thousand years.

        30.) “Open oceans are much less efficient than sea ice when it comes to emitting in the far-infrared region of the spectrum. This means that the Arctic Ocean traps much of the energy in far-infrared radiation, a previously unknown phenomenon that is likely contributing to the warming of the polar climate.” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, November 2014)

        31.) Dark snow is no longer restricted to Greenland. Rather, it’s come to much of the northern hemisphere, as reported in the 25 November 2014 issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research. Eric Holthaus’s description of this phenomenon in the 13 January 2015 edition of Slate includes a quote from one of the scientists involved in the research project: “The climate models need to be adding in a process they don’t currently have, because that stuff in the atmosphere is having a big climate effect.” In other words, as with the other major self-reinforcing feedback loops, dark snow is not included in contemporary models.

        32.) The “representation of stratospheric ozone in climate models can have a first-order impact on estimates of effective climate sensitivity.” (Nature Climate Change, December 2014)

        33.) “While scientists believe that global warming will release methane from gas hydrates worldwide, most of the current focus has been on deposits in the Arctic. This paper estimates that from 1970 to 2013, some 4 million metric tons of methane has been released from hydrate decomposition off Washington [state]. That’s an amount each year equal to the methane from natural gas released in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout off the coast of Louisiana, and 500 times the rate at which methane is naturally released from the seafloor.” (Geophysical Research Letters, online version 5 December 2014)

        34.) “An increase in human-made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could initiate a chain reaction between plants and microorganisms that would unsettle one of the largest carbon reservoirs on the planet — soil” (Nature Climate Change, December 2014 )

        35.) Increased temperature of the ocean contributes to reduced storage of carbon dioxide. “Results suggest that predicted future increases in ocean temperature will result in reduced CO2 storage by the oceans” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, January 2015)

        36.) According to a paper in the 19 January 2015 issue of Nature Geoscience, melting glaciers contribute substantial carbon to the atmosphere, with “approximately 13% of the annual flux of glacier dissolved organic carbon is a result of glacier mass loss. These losses are expected to accelerate.”

        37.) According to a paper in the 20 April 2015 online issue of Nature Geoscience, ocean currents disturb methane-eating bacteria. “We were able to show that strength and variability of ocean currents control the prevalence of methanotrophic bacteria”, says Lea Steinle from University of Basel and the lead author of the study, “therefore, large bacteria populations cannot develop in a strong current, which consequently leads to less methane consumption.”

        38.) Arctic warming is amplified by phytoplankton under greenhouse warming (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 12 May 2015). Temperatures in the Arctic are warming considerably faster than the global average, largely because of diminishing sea ice. According to this research, the biogeophysical effect of future phytoplankton changes amplifies Arctic warming by 20%.

        39.) Cryptogamic covers, which comprise some of the oldest forms of terrestrial life, have recently been found to fix large amounts of nitrogen and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They are sources of greenhouse gases, notably including nitrous oxide and methane, with higher temperatures and enhanced nitrogen deposition contributing to amplification (Global Change Biology, 7 July 2015).

        40.) The impact of phytoplankton is not restricted to the Arctic, either. Rather, plankton in the Southern Ocean are responsible for creating nearly half of the water droplets in the clouds during the summer, thus serving as a cooling agent (Science Advances, 17 July 2015).

        41.) Observations show that glaciers around the world are in retreat and losing mass” (Journal of Glaciology, July 2015). According to the final lines of the abstract: “Glaciological and geodetic observations (~5200 since 1850) show that the rates of early 21st-century mass loss are without precedent on a global scale, at least for the time period observed and probably also for recorded history, as indicated also in reconstructions from written and illustrated documents. This strong imbalance implies that glaciers in many regions will very likely suffer further ice loss, even if climate remains stable.”

        42.) From a paper in the 1 September 2015 issue of Nature Communications comes evidence that increased ocean acidification drives irreversible, large increases in nitrogen fixation and growth rates of a key group of ocean bacteria known as Trichodesmium. Trichodesmium is one of the few organisms in the ocean that can “fix” atmospheric nitrogen gas, making it available to other organisms. It is crucial because all life — from algae to whales — needs nitrogen to grow. Climate change could send Trichodesmium into overdrive, with no way to stop, thus reproducing faster and generating lots more nitrogen. Without the ability to slow down, however, the bacteria has the potential to gobble up all its available resources, which could trigger die-offs of the microorganism and the higher organisms that depend on it. The change is projected to be irreversible and large even after being moved back to lower carbon-dioxide levels for hundreds of generations. According to the abstract of the paper: “This represents an unprecedented microbial evolutionary response, as reproductive fitness increases acquired in the selection environment are maintained after returning to the ancestral environment.”

        43.) The extinction of megafauna both at land and at sea has led to a shortage of mega manure (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 26 October 2015). As a result, the planet’s composting and nutrient-recycling system is broken. Other factors have contributed to extinction of large animals, too, but the role of megafauna poop in ecosystem function has been little studied in the past.

        44.) A paper in the 26 November 2015 issue of Science reports the rapid increase in coccolithophores in response to increased carbon dioxide. These algae make it more difficult to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the short term.

        45.) The “apparent sensitivity of respiration to nighttime temperatures, which are projected to increase faster than global average temperatures, suggests that C stored in tropical forests may be vulnerable to future warming,” according to a paper published in the 7 December 2015 online issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper suggests that hotter nights may actually wield much greater influence over the planet’s atmosphere than hotter days — and could eventually lead to more carbon flooding the atmosphere.

        46.) According to a paper in the 18 December 2015 issue of Science Advances, “Many large tropical trees with sizeable contributions to carbon stock rely on large vertebrates for seed dispersal and regeneration, however many of these frugivores are threatened by hunting, illegal trade, and habitat loss. … we found that defaunation has the potential to significantly erode carbon storage even when only a small proportion of large-seeded trees are extirpated.” In other words, climate change that causes loss of habitat for animals reduces the ability of tropical forests to store carbon, thus creating a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

        47.) From the 22 December 2015 online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences comes a paper pointing out the link between Arctic sea ice and regional precipitation. The abstract of the paper includes the following lines: “Global climate is influenced by the Arctic hydrologic cycle, which is, in part, regulated by sea ice through its control on evaporation and precipitation. … We find that the independent, direct effect of sea ice on the increase of the percentage of Arctic sourced moisture … likely result in increases of precipitation and changes in energy balance, creating significant uncertainty for climate predictions.” In other words, to quote the lead author of the paper, “If you remove sea ice from an Arctic area, you open up the ocean to the atmosphere, and evaporate more water, which forms precipitation.”

        48.) The terrestrial biosphere is a net source of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, according to a paper in the 10 March 2016 issue of Nature: “We find that the cumulative warming capacity of concurrent biogenic methane and nitrous oxide emissions is a factor of about two larger than the cooling effect resulting from the global land carbon dioxide uptake from 2001 to 2010. This results in a net positive cumulative impact of the three greenhouse gases on the planetary energy budget.”

        49.) The abstract of a paper published in the 14 March 2016 issue of Nature Geoscienceincludes these telling lines: “Ice wedges are common features of the subsurface in permafrost regions. They develop by repeated frost cracking and ice vein growth over hundreds to thousands of years. … We find that melting at the tops of ice wedges over recent decades and subsequent decimetre-scale ground subsidence is a widespread Arctic phenomenon. Although permafrost temperatures have been increasing gradually, we find that ice-wedge degradation is occurring on sub-decadal timescales. … We predict that ice-wedge degradation and the hydrological changes associated with the resulting differential ground subsidence will expand and amplify in rapidly warming permafrost regions.”
        Vladimir Romanovsky, a UAF geophysics professor who monitored ice wedge degradation for the study at a site in Canada, said the overall conclusions of the study were striking. In an interview coincident with publication of the paper, he said, “We were not expecting to see these dramatic changes. … Whatever is happening, it’s something new for at least the last 60 years in the Arctic.”

        50.) Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide makes rainwater more acidic. The result is a relatively weak form or carbonic acid. The rain falls on limestone and related carbonate rocks, thus releasing carbon dioxide from the rocks into the atmosphere. The stronger the carbonic acid, the more the limestone dissolves, hence releasing more carbon dioxide.

        51.) According to a paper published 22 June 2016 in Nature Communications, there’s a strawberry-colored algae blooming in the northern reaches of Earth. As more algae bloom, more snow thaws. And, nourished by the unfrozen water, even more of the microorganisms are able to grow. And so on. It’s a self-reinforcing feedback loop of the irreversible variety. I’ll quote from the abstract: “(R)ed snow, a common algal habitat blooming after the onset of melting, plays a crucial role in decreasing albedo. Our data reveal that red pigmented snow algae are cosmopolitan as well as independent of location-specific geochemical and mineralogical factors. The patterns for snow algal diversity, pigmentation and, consequently albedo, are ubiquitous across the Arctic and the reduction in albedo accelerates snow melt and increases the time and area of exposed bare ice. We estimated that the overall decrease in snow albedo by red pigmented snow algal blooms over the course of one melt season can be 13%. This will invariably result in higher melt rates.”

        52 and 53.) A study published in the 11 July 2016 online issue of Nature thoroughly documents one of the most profound planetary changes yet to be caused by a warming climate: The distribution of clouds all across Earth has shifted. Specifically, the shift has expanded subtropical dry zones, located between around 20 and 30 degrees latitude in both hemispheres, and also by raising cloud tops. Each of these changes worsens overall planetary warming. According to a story in the Washington Post accompanying the paper’s release, each of these two changes to clouds is a positive feedback to climate change.

        54.) A paper in the 25 July 2016 online issue of Nature Geoscience confirms and quantifies the long-held suspicion that the ability of land plants to store carbon declines as Earth warms. The reduced storage of carbon leads to higher atmospheric carbon dioxide, thus increasing Earth’s temperature and contributing to a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

        55.) As jet planes burn fuel and release carbon dioxide, the atmosphere warms and causes head winds to build up (Nature Climate Change, published online 13 July 2015).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Not sure who you’re directing your comments at as most here do agree with SJ. Some don’t but never show where he’s gone wrong. I’m not sure why you listed the so-called feedbacks that Guy did. Did you check them (I did, when the list was about 29)? Did Guy tell us why, even if his interpretation the research was accurate (I found a lot of issues with his interpretations, though many seemed OK), those feedbacks lead inevitably to extinction in short order. He has never engaged with his critics seriously.


      3. All of the numbered feedbacks are ones that Michael Tobis either didn’t cover im his own essay, or points that he did cover, but had been updated with new info, so I decided to if anyone would want to take a crack at all of this, even if it is a massive undertaking.

        I know GM doesn’t take his critics seriously. In fact, he can’t even handle criticism of any kind. He was pretty pissed off at me when I started arguing with him.


      4. Sam, no-one needs to take a crack at the list of feedbacks. As I said I did when the list was shorter. Some were fair representations of the research, some were essentially duplicates, some were projected by the reasearch (that is, have not kicked in) and some were just plain wrong. We still end up with a long list of feedbacks but that is not even the real problem with GM’s approach. The real problem is that he hasn’t shown how those feedbacks lead to his prediction of NTHE. If he refuses to show his workings then I think it’s safe to assume that he has none and that he’s simply using some gut feeling (like “look at all the feedbacks folks, how could they possibly not lead to NTHE?”)

        Guy hasn’t done the work, why should anyone do his work for him?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I mean, some if these aren’t even feedback loops, and there’s not much in the way indication of how much of an impact each one of these would have on warming. GM doesn’t clarify. It’s not really that valuable. The only reason I posted it here is because I wanted someone to tell me if the facts were correct.

      GM kind of throws them all at you and if your conclusion isn’t the same as his then in his eyes you’re either in denial, motivated by money, or spreading libel. It’s not really becoming of someone who paints himself as an evidence based truth-speaker.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I put together condensation of GM’s 50+ positive feedbacks and distilled it down to just nine years ago. While nine is still a lot, in my opinion, & characteristic of feedbacks is > # of them, I thought you should know. I can’t find them at the moment, but will post when I do.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Ok nice my comment got all messed up because the owner won’t fix his blog script..Goes to show you how much effort he put into this compared to Guy.


  27. Does anyone know what to make of the fact that GM was interviewed by Bill Nye on a National Geographic Special? Because I don’t. Why did Nye decide to lend him credibility like that? It’s kind of annoying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nye’s intention was to dismiss Guy’s findings. It backfired. People who had never heard of Guy McPherson suddenly got exposed to his “heretical” ideas.

      I attended a talk by David Suzuki recently in Santa Fe where he admitted that Guy’s ideas literally blew him away before cognitive dissonance set in. Even a bright guy like Dr. Suzuki just can’t put down his “Hopium” pipe!

      I asked himi, “What hope do you offer to the growing number of sober, concerned people who believe we are within no more than two generations of near term human extinction and the extinction of all complex life forms on the planet?”

      The good Doctor said that, after he heard Guy McPherson’s talk, he was in an emotional, depressed tailspin for a week.

      Suzuki then went on, without hesitation or further explanation, to state that he felt McPherson’s conclusions were the result of too much cherry picking of the data and that he had to ultimately dismiss him and his conclusions.

      He went on to conclude his answer to my question with an even more surprising assertion. “We must never underestimate the ability of Nature to find unanticipated, unimagined solutions.” Wow! If that last one didn’t sound like the same kind of magical thinking I hear so many anti-environmentalists engage in I don’t know what is.

      To hear this kind of BS offered up from the man I and many others regard as one of the best analysts of the situation we face today, and to hear such shoddy reasoning and conclusions was disheartening at best. To hear him summarily dismiss McPherson after saying that his initial impression was one of agreement, was highly puzzling to me.

      Suzuki almost seemed to unintentionally admit he couldn’t embrace McPherson’s unpalatable facts, even if they were true. His accusation of cherry picking seemed to me more like a rationalization and cognitive dissonance than any rational thought process.

      Suzuki did not just fall off the turnip truck. He is one of the most informed ecologist we have today. He was fully able to hear and understand exactly what Guy McPhersom was saying. He didn’t have to run off to Google Guy’s sources to refute him on the spot. Why then was he in the dumps for a week, if Guy’s facts and conclusions were so egregiously, cherry picked, and false?

      It sounds like Suzuki’s no different than most of the others I have debated in the environmental movement. They cannot let go of their “Hopium.” It blinds even the best scientific researcher to any inconvenient truth.

      As bad as the situation turns out to be. As bad as the future looks, they still have to believe there is hope. Both the most intelligent and stupid alike just cannot conceive that the situation is more hopeless than we CAN imagine and our fate has probably been sealed for the past two decades. Asking a non-Existentialist to abandon all hope is as useless as asking a Christian to abandon Jesus. It seems Suzuki is no exception.

      His seeming clay feet has made me quite sad — almost as sad as the thought that there may no longer be Homo Sapiens on the planet in 30 years or so


      1. I’ve heard you and a number of other of GM’s followers talk about “unpalatable” facts and “irrefutable” evidence. Then, when confronted with an essay like Scott’s, or Michael Tobis’, then all you can even do is cry “hopium!” and speculate the motivations of people that you don’t even know. Not you, nor anyone else has actually produced a scientific argument against people like Suzuki, Scott, or Tobis. Even GM’s response to this essay is nothing but a vague, ad hominem attack. I think you’re the one that’s in denial. I won’t bother trying to figure out why, but I hope you come to your senses.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I only mentioned “inconvenient truth” in connection with the resistance some scientists evidence when having to confront ideas they may not like to acknowledge, like the fact that many of their models have proven far too conservative than they initially asserted. Climate chaos (if that is the correct word) is advancing far faster than anyone thought. How many more years of record breaking, death inspiring heat will we have to experience before Guy’s and others dire predictions begin to sink in?

        Also I used the word “Hopium” (Guy McPherson’s word) not to refute any real science but only by way of trying to understand what motivates some people to turn a blind eye to a proper analysis of our increasingly dire predicament and the prospect that we may not be able to reverse the situation we have set in motion.

        And refuting David Suzuki’s, Guy McPherson’s,Paul Beckwith’s, and even journalist, Dahr Jamail’s scientific credentials does nothing to refute the monumental amount of l study each has done of the literature on the topics of ecology, climatology, and extinction. By all means lets debate their findings. But we owe those who have tried to popularize the study of the terrible crisis we face a great debt of gratitude and we should not demean them.

        The only point I was trying to make within my David Suzuki experience was — I was granted a rare insight into one man’s possible motivation that might cloud his judgment and his indirect admission of the cognitive dissidence that might render certain facts behind his willingness to even examine. This is the very antithesis of an ad hominem attack BTW. The only difference between Suzuki and McPherson that I saw seemed to be Suzuki cannot embrace the consequences of his own research and McPherson can. One is a Hopium smoker, while the other is not.


      3. Perhaps you’d like to back up any of those claims with some evidence? Claims such as:

        “like the fact that many of their models have proven far too conservative than they initially asserted”

        “Climate chaos (if that is the correct word) is advancing far faster than anyone thought”

        “turn a blind eye to a proper analysis of our increasingly dire predicament”

        “And refuting David Suzuki’s, Guy McPherson’s,Paul Beckwith’s, and even journalist, Dahr Jamail’s scientific credentials” – what scientific credentials would those be?

        “By all means lets debate their findings” – what findings have they made, what climate papers have they published?

        “But we owe those who have tried to popularize the study of the terrible crisis we face a great debt of gratitude and we should not demean them” – in what way does GM popularize the crisis?

        “The only difference between Suzuki and McPherson that I saw seemed to be Suzuki cannot embrace the consequences of his own research and McPherson can” – except that the research done by McPherson involves plenty of mis-understanding of others’ research and involves getting 3 from adding 1 and 1. For hints of this, read Scott’s and Tobis’s article. If you can show where Scott or Tobis has gone wrong, I’m sure they and others would be very grateful to you.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Also, you’re whole bit about Dave Suzuki being an ecologist and therefore would understand everything that GM said? Being an ecologist doesn’t translate to being an expert in climatology.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. But that hardly even matters anyway, because David Suzuki isn’t an ecologist. He’s a zoologist, and a former professor in genetics. An author foremost and a scientist second. And I don’t mean that in any disrespectful kind of way. I admire his work. But, you bringing him up to reinforce your point is misguided.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. At least Suzuki understood that Guy McPherson cherry picked his data though perhaps he hadn’t really examined GM’s evidence or else he’d realise that much of it is a misunderstanding of the science, so creating his own cherries.

        GM can be very convincing when he starts off by letting you know what he apparently gave up to start spreading his distorted version of the truth. This may have disarmed Suzuki.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Inteeresting theory as to why Guy’s presentation may have disarmed Suzuki. I still don’t think it addresses my conclusion,

        “Suzuki almost seemed to unintentionally admit he couldn’t embrace McPherson’s unpalatable facts, even if they were true. His accusation of cherry picking seemed to me more like a rationalization and cognitive dissonance than any rational thought process.

        Suzuki did not just fall off the turnip truck. He is one of the most informed ecologist we have today. He was fully able to hear and understand exactly what Guy McPhersom was saying. He didn’t have to run off to Google Guy’s sources to refute him on the spot. Why then was he in the dumps for a week, if Guy’s facts and conclusions were so egregiously, cherry picked, and false?”

        Sorry to have to repeat myself but I don’t think you got my point or properly refuted it.


      8. Perhaps you should ask Suzuki why he took Guy’s claims at face value? If he had checked the facts, he would have seen that not only were facts cherry picked (Guy has admitted cherry picking anyway – sorry, can’t give a link, it was several years ago on his blog) but many facts were made up and many sources were unreliable (e.g. Sam Carana).

        Your point was that you thought Suzuki can’t stomach where the facts lead but Guy can. However, we’ve already shown how Guy distorts the facts and you’ve mentioned that Suzuki did ultimately see that Guy cherry picks. I think your points have been well refuted.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. It’s curious how fans of McPherson choose to ignore his sole claim to “fame” – his prediction that human beings will be extinct within a few years. They also like to mention him in association with Paul Beckwith and others who are using actual science to warn the public of the seriousness of climate change and its already observable consequences. And so we find people who are essentially in agreement on the climate change issue arguing over the credibility of an obnoxious little fraud and narcissist.

        In short, McPherson is a damned nuisance and ideally should be ignored by everyone.


      10. The nerve, the arrogance depicted on this crappy blog is astounding. Please provide us with your credentials and work in the field of climate science or extinction biology that enables you to call Guy Mc Pherson a “narcissistic little fraud”. It’s much more likely that the writer of this blog is some fossil fuel industry paid shill than Guy who lives in poverty and shame in comparison. So let’s stop these nonsense assessments of Guy’s supposed nefarious and dishonest motives. From hours of interviews I’ve watched with Guy, I’d say they are all false.
        What motives this blog writer lurking in the shadows has, is completely and utterly unclear to me however.

        The truth of the matter is that more and more evidence keeps piling up in favor of Guy’s position. Yes he might be jumping to conclusions based on the available data but his scenario is not even some worst case scenario that is extremely unlikely. We know there are a bunch of positive feedbacks going on and none of them are to our advantage so far. How people can engage in the wishful thinking about what hasn’t yet been quantified with regard to the climate feedbacks will not result in matters being worse than anticipated, is beyond me.

        Yellowstone erupting next week would wipe us all out as well but I don’t see anyone claiming the possibility of that happening being 0%.
        So it’s rather pitiable to continue this blind dismissal of an expert’s opinion in the field he’s talking about. With mountains of data pointing towards that direction. We’ll soon find out whether those conservative estimates of an ice free arctic by 2050 or later will hold up if we get an ice free arctic by 2020. But if we wait to “find out” as we’ve been doing all along it might already be too late to avoid disaster. I’m sure we’ll wait though.

        IPCC projections not even including ongoing methane feedbacks proves what a laughing stock their models are. And that we are seemingly being systematically pacified by mainstream institutions. I mean how on earth can anyone even back this blatant denial from the world’s biggest panel on climate change? It’s an utter scandal.


      11. You don’t have any eviden that Scott is a “paid shill”, just as I don’t have any concrete evidence that GM is sincere or not. It hardly matters on either side. Who cares whether or not Scott is motivated by money, denial, or possessed by the super-devil. None of that matters. Speculating the motivations of people on the other side of a scientific argument isn’t productive, and the fsct that you, and GM’s other followers use that unsupported point as your main criticism as opposed to scientific argument is telling.

        And, the IPCC does adress methane hydrates in their 2017 report (

        “Clathrates: Some economic assessments continue to emphasise the potential damage from very strong and rapid methane hydrate release (Hope and Schaefer, 2016), although AR5 did not consider this likely. Recent measurements of methane fluxes from the Siberian Shelf Seas (Thornton et al., 2016) are much lower than those inferred previously (Shakhova et al., 2014). A range of other studies have suggested a much smaller influence of clathrate release on the Arctic atmosphere than had been suggested (Berchet et al., 2016; Myhre et al., 2016). New modelling work confirms (Kretschmer et al., 2015) that the Arctic is the region where methane release from clathrates is likely to be most important in the next century, but still estimates methane release to the water column to be negligible compared to anthropogenic releases to the atmosphere. A recent review (Ruppel and Kessler, 2017) emphasises that there remains little evidence that clathrate methane is reaching the atmosphere at present. Although methane that is oxidised in the water column will not reach the atmosphere, it will have the effect of further lowering the pH of the ocean (Boudreau et al., 2015). A recent modelling study joined earlier papers in assigning a relatively limited role to dissociation of methane hydrates as a climate feedback (Mestdagh et al., 2017). Methane concentrations are rising globally, raising interesting questions (see section on methane) about what the cause is (Nisbet et al., 2016; Rigby et al., 2017; Schaefer et al., 2016; Turner et al., 2017). finally new measurements of the 14C content of methane across the warming out of the last glacial period (Petrenko et al., 2017) show that the release of old carbon reservoirs (including methane hydrates) played only a small role in the methane concentration increase that occurred then”

        Liked by 1 person

      12. Umm, excuse me? My precise point was that Scott and co have been using childish character assassination from the start in stead of engaging Mc Pherson in a factual debate. And that this has no bearing on the science Guy presented whatsoever. So now we have the pot calling the kettle black.

        I stand corrected on the IPCC methane assessment. What I wanted to say was that it has not been adequately accounted for in their projection/target models thusfar despite peer reviewed data being out there for nearly a decade. This proves how conservative the IPCC is.


      13. I’d hardly call it a character assasination. Scott’s entire point was to demonstrate that GM was sloppy when doing research; as he misinterpreted facts and cherry picked data- something GM has even admitted, amazingly enough. That’s not a character assasination, it’s just an observation of GM’s work on NTHE, which isn’t actually going to tell you much else about his character.


      14. On the conservative approach that the IPCC, has taken to Arctic methane emissions; don’t expect that to get any better. However, there’s good reason for that. There’s mounting evidence painting the Hydrate Gun Hypothesis as rather unlikely.

        There’s the Svalbard study by Hong et al (Seepage from an arctic shallow marine gas hydrate reservoir is insensitive to momentary ocean warming):

        “The results of our study indicate that the immense seeping found in this area is a result of natural state of the system. Understanding how methane interacts with other important geological, chemical and biological processes in the Earth system is essential and should be the emphasis of our scientific community” Hong summarized his research.

        There’s the also the work of Wallman et al (Gas hydrate dissociation off Svalbard induced by isostatic rebound rather than global warming)

        “Research by Klaus Wallmann et al. 2018 concluded that hydrate dissociation at Svalbard 8,000 years ago was due to the rebound of the seabed following ice-sheet retreat. As a result the water depth got shallower with less hydrostatic pressure, without further warming. The study, also found that today’s deposits at the site become unstable at a depth of ~ 400 meters, due to seasonal bottom water warming, and it remains unclear if this is due to natural variability or anthropogenic warming” (Clathrate gun hypothesis – Wikipedia)

        Not to mention the USGS metastudy (Gas Hydrate Breakdown Unlikely to Cause Massive Greenhouse Gas Release)

        As well as the IPCC 2017 report (…)

        “Clathrates: Some economic assessments continue to emphasise the potential damage from very strong and rapid methane hydrate release (Hope and Schaefer, 2016), although AR5 did not consider this likely. Recent measurements of methane fluxes from the Siberian Shelf Seas (Thornton et al., 2016) are much lower than those inferred previously (Shakhova et al., 2014). A range of other studies have suggested a much smaller influence of clathrate release on the Arctic atmosphere than had been suggested (Berchet et al., 2016; Myhre et al., 2016). New modelling work confirms (Kretschmer et al., 2015) that the Arctic is the region where methane release from clathrates is likely to be most important in the next century, but still estimates methane release to the water column to be negligible compared to anthropogenic releases to the atmosphere. A recent review (Ruppel and Kessler, 2017) emphasises that there remains little evidence that clathrate methane is reaching the atmosphere at present. Although methane that is oxidised in the water column will not reach the atmosphere, it will have the effect of further lowering the pH of the ocean (Boudreau et al., 2015). A recent modelling study joined earlier papers in assigning a relatively limited role to dissociation of methane hydrates as a climate feedback (Mestdagh et al., 2017). Methane concentrations are rising globally, raising interesting questions (see section on methane) about what the cause is (Nisbet et al., 2016; Rigby et al., 2017; Schaefer et al., 2016; Turner et al., 2017). finally new measurements of the 14C content of methane across the warming out of the last glacial period (Petrenko et al., 2017) show that the release of old carbon reservoirs (including methane hydrates) played only a small role in the methane concentration increase that occurred then”


      15. If you were actually familiar with the research, you would know there are no such things as “the IPCC models” and thus no way for your statement to be correct. There are many independent modeling groups out there working on climate models, they all compile their results (the CMIP projects) for use in the IPCC summary reports, which are written by a rotating cast of volunteer scientists. The projections are whatever the current state of the art is, and the reports put those projections in scientific context.

        Again, if you actually bothered to read the IPCC reports (or the most recent US NCA you would find what is actually said about things like carbon cycle feedbacks and find that your description is incorrect.

        (And for the record, I’m done responding to the accusation that I defamed Guy and refused to engage in factual debate… If you can’t read the words in the posts, I can’t help you.)


      16. Maybe if you fixed your damn blog people would be able to read through the comments. For christs sake.


      17. And for your precious and deep research efforts, we have posted in the blog extensively on that topic as well. I hear that Scott is accepting donations from posters like you for the effort. Care to donate for the cause? His Exxon backers just don’t pay enough! Well?


      18. My precise point was that Scott and co have been using childish character assassination from the start in stead of engaging Mc Pherson in a factual debate

        What an astounding comment. Anyone who has read Scott’s article and read most of the replies here could not claim the above. It is quite simply not true. If you can point to it’s validity with several examples, starting with the article and then some early comments, then please do so (of course, there will be the odd departure from civility as there always is in heated discussion but that doesn’t characterise the flow of comments here). This has actually been quite a subdued “debate” compared to many blogs that try to counter unpleasant information. On the question of debate, it’s remarkable that you turn the actual situation on its head; it’s GM who has refused to engage in a factual debate, not the other way round.

        Liked by 1 person

      19. Having read 90% of all blog posts here, I can tell you that Scott engages in evidence, which is why McPherson lost the argument years ago here, if not from the near beginning. Since newcomers do not take the time to read all the blog posts, they don’t see this. I stongly suggest you read them so we don’t need to reinvent the wheel and waste valuable time because you don’t want to do the work. At the same time, you could ask questions of those that have done this.


      20. Just because this claim entertains me so, I’m doing a pretty bad job at “lurking in the shadows” with my fat stacks of oil money when I provide my name and list all my jobs (two of which involve publishing all my work publicly) in fields widely notorious for poor pay… Absolutely anyone could read my work and prove to themselves that I’m pretty lousy at being an oil shill. But that would take a modicum of effort.

        And even if I was some Exxon mercenary writing to you from my secret bungalow in the Caymans, the posts I wrote would still be transparently and verifiably still correct! That’s the best part. You could read the damn papers yourself! It’s all been sitting there for years now, and yet I’ve never had a single person bring up a specific point from a specific study they think I’ve misrepresented. Instead I just get dozens of accusations of being an evil shill. So you’ll have to excuse me when I roll my eyes and get on with my day.


      21. Just just want to say, as a follower of this discussion, I appreciate SJ’s standing up for the real science behind the climate dilemma we face. In this age of so many lies, from the US president on down, it is reassuring to have people who tirelessly confront the BS with facts. I feel SJ has been exceptionally patient with commenters who are too lazy to familiarize themselves with the subject at hand and relentlessly toss out red herrings to derail the serious exploration of the massive environmental problem of climate change that we, as humans, must confront.

        Liked by 1 person

      22. It’s interesting that you say Guy lives in shame. He should. I’ve also listened to, watched and read tons of McPherson’s work but I’ve also looked at the science and I’ve also noticed his utter failure to engage his critics, such as with this article. If he responds at all, it is with insults and threats rather than addressing the specific criticisms made.

        If you’d rather take GM’s opinions over actual scientific research, then that’s up to you but, if so, you can’t really complain when others choose not to and call GM out on his outrageous claims of what the science shows. I did have a lot of respect for GM, in the early days, but his inability to listen to other viewpoints severely dented that respect until he really wasn’t worthy of any at all.

        Liked by 1 person

      23. Hi, there.

        I suppose your intellectual rigor has enabled you to read all 2,000+ blog posts here in response to Scott Johnson’s critique of Guy McPherson’s many (mostly false) assertions, yes? In addition, you might review the other blog post related to this post in the many hundreds. After you do that, why not post something intelligent and reasoned. In addition, many times people like you come on to this blog and assume that the first 20 comments constitute the blog’s quality when it’s really only about .05% of all posts. What’s more is that you deal in broad generalizations without bringing up any specific particular point. Why not ask a specific question on something you’d like to understand. Please consider that many here have done the above more times than we can count and hearing your words stimulates eye-rolling. At the same time, unlike GM who insists on spreading his misinformation despite his shame in leading a death cult, having admitted to having sex with a grieving student, and is a self-confessed sociopath that intends to mislead his students for his ideological goal of bringing down industrial civilization, why do you insist on giving him any attention when there are really great scientists and solutions focused experts doing their utmost to turn things around. I mean, of all the incredible intelligence on this amazing Earth we happen to inhabit, why focus your attention on a professor emeritus who his own uni despises, who is barely published in his own field of conservation biology, and consistently misleads on issues. Michael E. Mann, Stefan Ramstorf, Katherine Hayoe, who all are very aware IPCC is underestimating impacts and say so regularly.

        On top of all I said so far, there are millions and millions of humans (not McPherson) engaged in the race of a lifetime to ensure we have a livable future. Of all the things GM does best is to destroy hope and lead people to hopelessness, thus ensuring a self-fulfilling prophesy.

        Why not join those wanting to make the world a better place instead of watching it die?


  28. Why doesn’t the version of science you discuss here include the critical scientific concept of PROBABILITY while considering the evidence of a soon-coming mass human die-off on Earth? That seems to occur as a critically important, bedrock scientific concept unacceptable for discussion on this blog: to talk, not in terms of “the science”, but in terms of PROBABILITIES based on the scientific data trends.


      1. Actually, no. The version of science you discuss here doesn’t include the critical scientific concept of probability while considering the evidence of a mass human die-off occurring in the near future. I can say that because I scanned the entire present 36,577 words in “How McPherson Gets It Wrong,” and the only references to probability occur in comments made by the poster “Bud Nye” who appears to have been banned from further interaction here. If the only consideration of scientific probability in this whole discussion came from a polite and well-read poster that you’ve since banned. I’m curious about what rule Mr. Nye violated? Certainly not for asking tough questions?

        I for one am still interested to hear your rational, informed and honest response to Mr. Nye’s last request:

        “I hope someone here will explain how ecology, complexity theory, and thermodynamics supposedly support the grandiose, wishful belief that a high probability exists that we can, and will, significantly ameliorate or stop the massive, rapidly occurring, yes, irreversible, changes we have made in Earth’s biosphere, while ecology, complexity theory, and thermodynamic principles supposedly do not suggest a very LOW probability of our doing that. How do thermodynamic principles suggest that we supposedly can do this? Where will we get the energy to do it, and how will we do it without violating the fundamental principles of thermodynamics?”

        I await your thoughtful reply.


      2. Hi-

        After you’ve scanned, go ahead and read. Then get back to me.

        Then read the IPCC and NCA reports, and notice how thoroughly discussions of probability permeate them.


      3. Tim Garrett’s paper that Bud Nye keeps bringing up doesn’t have anything to do with human extinction.


    1. Bud Nye was banned because he was being rude and assigning psychological motivations to people that he didn’t even know. He never deposited a scientific argument. He never elaborated on how complexity theory, thermodynamics, and ecology support the high probability of a mass-die-off in GM’s time-frame. Most of his comments were just attacking people because he had it in his head that we were all simply in “denial”.


  29. Sam, Tim Garrett’s paper has everything to do with the very high probability that humans will go extinct as we attempt climate change “solutions” that revolve around increasing energy efficiency. He demonstrates that as efficiency increases, production follows suit, negating any environmental gains in the increased efficiency. Garrett’s formula illustrates that collapsing civilization is the only way to break the cycle (mass die-offs). However, as we know, the result of such a collapse is the cessation of global dimming (driving a 2˚C increase in global temps within weeks due to loss of the industrial aerosols), and the initiation of 450 NPS meltdowns. In other words, our economic success is the planet’s demise, and the planet’s demise is our own.

    If there’s any question about the implication of Garrett’s formula, see this excellent interview from 2017 in which he states “I doubt there are solutions but if there are solutions we won’t get at them by imagining fairy tales like improved efficiency and renewable energy.” When the interviewer asks, “Why is your work so unknown?” Garrett answers, “Humans have a deep-seated need for optimism and a belief that solutions exist.”

    Garrett is, of course, referring to the anti-science denial and cognitive bias on display when critics attempt to discredit Dr. McPherson, who does no original research on the topic, but merely cites published science from conservative sources such as the IPCC and the World Bank, and yes, Garrett’s paper published in Climatic Change (2009). McPherson is crucified here for interpreting the data trends which clearly suggest that there is a low probability that humans will overcome the laws of thermodynamics to avoid our own extinction.

    Scott, for you to make such brutal public attacks on a widely published scholar, and to ban from posting a well-spoken well-read contributor, you must surely have formulated a thoroughly-reasoned and well-cited explanation for how you determined that there is a high probability that humans will overcome the laws of thermodynamics. Rather than my reading the IPCC and NCA reports again, I’d prefer to read your answer to the question.

    It’s my experience that those who value scientific inquiry will address the research question. Those who seek to manipulate and obfuscate, will play games of distraction. Come on and impress me.


    1. the result of such a collapse is the cessation of global dimming (driving a 2˚C increase in global temps within weeks due to loss of the industrial aerosols)

      No, we don’t “know” that. Last best estimate I saw was that aerosols mask 0.5C of warming (I’ve seen some older references to 1.8C, though that was for Arctic warming only), but we don’t have enough information to “know” what the real figure it. Also, the term “collapse” has been used rather loosely. The Roman Empire took centuries to “collapse”. There will not be a sudden cessation of all industrial activity one day. If it did, we’d also see a complete stopping of GHG emissions but neither will happen so suddenly. Perhaps this crazy idea is what drives GM fans?

      By the way, McPherson may be a “widely published scholar” but he is not a climate scientist and, as Scott and others have pointed out, doesn’t understand much of the research he cites. Please show where Scott is wrong, rather that flinging these unfounded accusations against him.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is nonsense. How long do you think it will take for a series of simultaneous climate change induced crop failures leading to global conflicts with nuclear weapons to collapse a highly interdependent industrial civilization with 8 billion monkeys to take care off. The analogy with the roman empire is completely unreliable due to the magnitude of difference in scale with regard to nearly every factor leading to a collapse of a civilization. We’ve already dodged the nuclear war bullet for over half a century, now climate change is an additional amplifier of all the issues we face. An abrupt domino effect collapse of industrialized militarized society doesn’t sound so crazy at all at this critical point in our advancements. I agree and it looks like all the evidence points to a high probability of our untimely demise. Funnily enough, many scientists inadvertently seem to support that hypothesis. Yet won’t make those conclusions in light of anthropogenic climate change.
        Not at the timescales Guy is referring to anyway.

        The truth of the matter is that we need vastly superior technologies to avoid climate catastrophe by the end of this century if not sooner.


      2. The reference to the Roman Empire was just to emphasise that so called collapses don’t happen overnight. The trouble is that the catastrophists seem to think that everything that can go wrong will go wrong at the same time. How likely is that? Do you think the powers that be will not try to dampen the effects of ? I’m not saying we’re not in trouble, deep trouble, but the meme of near term human extinction is not based on sound science, nor does it do anything to help mitigate the cascading crises. It is a completely useless idea. Completely useless. If it turns out to be true, then so be it, but I’d rather we stuck to what we actually know (which is probably not very much) than what some people seem to hope is the case.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Garrett has nothing to say about human extinction. Instead, he’s interpreted civilization as a manifestation of thermodynamic principles, inferred a close and simple relationship between the summed historical spending of civilization and its current required energy consumption rate, and verified it with real data. He’s then derived a quantitative climate/economic model, identifying its key variables – which differ from those of traditional economic and IPCC modelling. He then shows such traditional models are missing key connections which impose important constraints on our possible climate actions.

      His paper does not have “everything” to do with human extinction.


    3. There’s really nothing to argue in Bud Nye’s comment. It doesn’t actually make any helpful points or constructive criticisms. It’s entirely vague. It’s not a “research question”.

      Yes, GM does cite the IPCC and the World Bank. But, if you’d read Scott’s essay, then you’d know that his interpretations have nothing to do with what those sources were actually saying.


    4. Instead of throwing around terms like “cognitive bias” and “anti-science denial” it would be very helpful if you pointed out how exactly Scott is wrong here. Really, please do it!
      The “data trends” that you’re talking about- GM’s “evidence” I’m guessing- isn’t evidence at all. Nearly all of his points are founded on misinterpretation, cherry picking, and incorrect conclusions. If you want proof of that look at the essay above, as well as Michael Tobis’ essay (
      It doesn’t really matter how “well-spoken” Bud Nye is. Maybe it shows that he’s intelligent, but intelligent people are just as susceptible to cognitive bias as anyone else. Perhaps even moreso; afterall I.Q. measures a person’s capability to recognize complex patterns, even when there are none to speak of.
      I also used to be confused about how many intelligent people followed GM. Those in the doomer fringe tend to develop an epistemological wall against any outside information that doesn’t come from their own trusted circle, which is harmful.
      I’m not sure what you mean by “well-read”. Maybe you know Bud Nye in person, but nothing in his comments signified him with that description. His critiques were vague and unhelpful, nor did he cite any sources like you’re asking Scott to do.
      Plus, it hardly matters if you’re “well-read” as long as what you’re reading isn’t credible.

      Liked by 1 person

    5. I also don’t see how Tim Garret is referring to the kind of people who discredit GM, like you say. His paper demonstrates that renewables and increased efficiency aren’t a magic solution to everything; something I’m sure that most would agree with. GM has never made any strong scientific argument against those two things.
      I’m not sure why you linked to an interview with him. His opinions outside of his peer reviewed research aren’t really relevant. I say that with respect, and I’d even say it if this was Stephen Hawking we were talking about.


  30. GM has stated that other bloggers that share his views and present his “evidence” are prone to reporting that they’ve been hacked, as well as threatened before suddenly disappearing. He’s also stated that he’s been under surveillance by the NSA, the Australian Government, and the Deep State. GM, as well as several other NBL bloggers had also been corresponding with a NBL follower going by the alias “Mark Austin”, a self proclaimed homeland security contractor who GM has stated was at a level of government equal to that of Edward Snowden, and allegedly has connections to people on the level of John Mcain. Apparently Austin had presented proof of his credentials sufficient enough to convince GM, as well as several other NBL bloggers, some of which who know him in person. There’s even one claim that Austin had invited GM to D.C. to talk and the government “freaked out”. According to him, they know who GM is.

    I’d like to hear what some people who oppose GM’s so-called evidence, like myself, think of all of this.


    1. Where and when did GM state this? He’s been claiming that “they” are persecuting him for years. Whether he believes it or is just trying to boost his image among his fans as a courageous truth-teller who worries the ruling elites is hard to say.


      1. I can’t vouch for GM’s claims of persecution. I do know however there is a general crackdown occurring across the board on all alternative health and science sites as well as “subversive” political thought. You don’t have to be paranoid any more to think they are out to get you. You’re next Scott, so watch your ass.


      2. How about the folks who administer Google and Twitter for two?

        People in sites across the Internet are experiencing greatly reduced traffic. For example Google’s new algorithm has resulted in reduced traffic at progressive sites on the pretext of weeding out false news.

        My nephew who works for an alternate health and medicine site told me his site has been decimated by the reduced traffic far below what they normally experience.

        Some like Catilin Johnson have been experiencing temporary blocking of their FB and Twitter accounts.

        Caitlin Johnstone
        August 17 at 1:21 PM ·
        Twitter has removed my 33,000 follower @caitoz account for disrespecting John McCain. I’d been getting a flood of notifications from #Resistance accounts informing me that they were all mass reporting me ever since the popular Shareblue shill Caroline Orr (@RVAWonk) drew my McCain tweet to the attention of Centrist Twitter. Haven’t received any communications from Twitter yet, but I’m appealing it.

        Commentator Jimmy Dore regularly hears complaints from many subscribers that their notices and subscriptions have been cancelled without notice or warning. Jimmy has regularly been reporting on Internet censorship on Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

        and so on…


      3. Maybe these “alternate health” and “alternate science” sites are getting decimated by algorithms designed to weed out fake news because they are indeed fake news. No offense to your nephew, but “alternate health” is called “alternate” for a reason. It’s an alternative for people who feel they have due reason to mistrust advice from actual credible sources. And these “alternate health” sites spread can be harmful to people in need of actual medical help.

        Caitlin Johnson’s volatile commentary on John Mcain just a day after he died was needlessly inflammatory, disrespectful, and highly offensive. I’m not sure what you or her were expecting to happen.

        I’m guessing you were using that Jimmy Dore bit to try and reinforce your point of there being a “crackdown”. And I guess it’s true. These fake news sites are finally getting what they deserve.


      4. That is the kind of reply I sort of expected. Nevertheless your lack of appreciation of the essential value of free speech in a democracy is still highly disappointing. The First Amendment was not established just to protect speech and opinions we agree with but precisely for the protection of disagreeable, offensive, yes and even false speech.
        I am sorry you feel more sympathy for those intolerant intellectual fascists than you do for their victims.

        “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind… We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavouring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.”

        Judging by your words, I have to assume you find this opinion amusing and archaic. Perhaps you should stat a bolg entitled “How John Stuart Mill Got It Wrong.”


      5. No, I don’t find that opinion amusing, or archaic. I agree with it.
        I agree that opinions that run contrary to the status quo can be valuable in many cases, don’t get me wrong. I don’t agree when those opinions are based on misinformation, wrongful manipulation of facts, and outright lies. I also don’t agree when impressionable people are drawn into these circles of misinformation and begin to do themselves disservice by barring any outside information that doesn’t come for their “alternate” sources as unreliable.
        This isn’t a matter of democracy or the First Amendment. Google, Twitter, and Facebook are not government institutions. They have the right to bar anyone they feel has a voice that can in some way be harmful from speaking, or penalizing them for doing so. I don’t believe that it’s necessarily always justified, but I think the recent stand against fake news is for the better. It’s not perfect, obviously, but thems the breaks.


      6. And, after everything I’ve just told you, I’d hope that you understand why I sympathize with “intolerant intellectual fascists” (not sure what purpose the word “intellectual” serves there). Because I don’t see their “victims” as being handled unjustly.


      7. You have a right to free speech unabridged by the government. You do not have the right to have your harmful or misleading B.S. spread infinitely by the powerful reach of a software platform run by a private company. False claims are not just “opinions”. They are false.

        A quick look shows that Johnstone’s twitter account is up, and she is freely publishing dozens if not hundreds of posts saying whatever she wants about John McCain. It sounds like a nasty tweet went viral, attracted a lot of of reports, and she got a short timeout for violating the TOS. (And somehow free discourse still stands…) Twitter certainly does not have the most consistent or effective policies or enforcement, but I don’t find myself moved by this example in the slightest.

        “Alternative medicine” websites are indeed frequently full of blatantly false stuff. I have no idea if that’s true of the website you mentioned, but “Natural News” for example, is infamous for invented conspiritorial bullshit and dangerously false medical claims.

        I’m generally happy to see Google and Facebook working on their algorithms. (Don’t forget, I help run, where public statements and articles about climate change get fact-checked by scientists. Is that “intellectual fascism” or public service?) It’s misleading to say that “progressive sites” are getting reduced traffic because of it. There are two things going on here. One is Facebook’s de-emphasis on selling their platform to news outlets. This has affected EVERY site dependent on Facebook for their traffic (including Breitbart). The other thing going on is the work to to stop their algorithm from actively accelerating the spread of posts from extreme, unreliable sites. For some sites, I’m sure that’s been the dominant change, but it isn’t for most.

        I have no idea who Jimmy Dore is, but you can ask any youtube channel about the weird side-effects and changes to youtube’s platform over the last year. It doesn’t matter what the content of the channel is (except for the high-profile stuff like actions on InfoWars or some gun channels), everyone has been grousing about it. Only the conspiratorially minded think they are special and being targeted for their “dangerous views”…

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I’d echo this question. When people talk of the vague “they”, in terms of conspiracy, then it behooves them to clarify that. If you claim one or two actors, then that is very different from giving the impression that multiple agencies from around the world are out to get them.

        Regarding climate change, the facts are plenty scary in themselves without pretending that the situation is actually worse than the research shows it to be, if only people would listen to GM and his ilk. There is simply no need for this kind of disinformation and it actually does damage to the quest for mitigation; the whole climate change story is easier to dismiss by laughing at the ridiculous stories from the doomer crowd (ridiculous because, not being based on sound science, they can be easily ridiculed).


      9. After I had my FB account blocked by Mark Zuckerberg for the third time without cause, I contacted a lawyer who told me that, since FB is a private entity, I had no expectation any First Amendment protection. In spite of it’s almost universal use as one, FB is not a common carrier like my cell phone or landline and hence I could not sue over an unjustified interruption or termination of service. So that takes it strictly out of the realm of legal and into the moral. It is wrong for Google, FB, Twitter, etc. to censor their content even if it is legal. So technically you are correct in saying,

        You do not have the right to have your harmful or misleading B.S. spread infinitely by the powerful reach of a software platform run by a private company.

        I guess this is where we apparently differ is as to the rightness or wrongness of such an action. I hope I am not misunderstanding you that you think they are moral and have a right and duty to block otherwise protected speech they don’t like, whereas I think they should NOT do it. It is as simple as that.

        In support of my quote by John Stuart Mill I stand with the opinion that a healthy society in order to remain free and viable must allow the maximum amount of free speech. As previously stated The First Amendment was crafted not to protect speech we favor as much as to protect precisely the the harmful, misleading conspiratorial bullshit, and the dangerously false claims you seem to fear so much. It is my contention that the only permissible antidote to false speech is more speech, not less.

        I will not stretch your patience further by citing actual examples of the increasing number of situations where the government itself has unconstitutionally moved under the last three Administrations to silence voices of dissent.

        Thanks to you for making your position on the First Amendment clear
        to me and your readers.

        And as this discussion seems to have diverged radically from the topic at hand, I now return you to your regularly scheduled discussion.


      10. I don’t think you’re understanding what we’re saying.

        If the censorship was unjustified then we’d be agreeing. The point is that it was not unjustified at all.

        First of all, again, it’s still not a matter of the First Amendment at all. Facebook is not a government institution. It’s a private entity, as your lawyer told you. It’s not wrong for them to penalize people and/or organizations for spreading misinformation. If we were talking about differences in opinion in the realms of philosophy, politics, religion, and science that’s actually controversial, then this would all be a different story. Those differences in opinion can be constructive. In what way is an opinion that operates clearly on false evidence constructive or helpful in any meaningful way? One might argue that false information can help clarify what’s true, but that would be an argument from someone conspiratorially minded. Someone with an opinion like GM isn’t doing anyone favors. In fact, him spreading that opinion has done a number of people harm, both mentally and physically.

        At that point, when people and/or organizations spread misinformation to adopt harmful behaviors, to themselves or others, then it’s not longer an issue of freedom of speech. It’s a health issue.

        Alternative health and medicine sites can be dangerous for people that actually need real medical help. Say someone with a debilitating and/or deadly, but curable disease found one of those sites and thought it was the real deal, instead of getting the help they needed. That alternative opinion is not valuable in that case. It’s actually harmful to that person. Censoring that site that spreads that misinformation is not an issue of freedom of speech. It’s a health issue.

        Neither me nor Scott ever claimed that these private entities were run by saints. Obviously that’s not the case. But I don’t believe that they are necessarily wrong for not wanting people to use their own platforms for spreading information that is false, offensive, or in some way harmful.

        The first amendment was not crafted for harmful misinformation. The first amendment was crafted by our forefathers to avoid turning into an oppressive regime like they had escaped from. It’s so that people could share opinions that were actually valuable and helpful to society as a whole instead of just a few. You using it as justification for spreading nonsense is a perversion of their efforts.

        But, once again, this issue was never about the first amendment as you continue to assert.

        Neither me, nor Scott had opposed the First amendment in either of our comments, and I truly don’t know what you mean when you say that he’s made his position on it clear.


      11. I get the feeling we are sort of talking past each other from different centuries, I from the 18th and 19th centuries and you from the 21st. I feel my defense of the classic ideas of democracy and freedom are as archicaic today as they are irrelevant to the brave new world we inhabit.

        I hate to keep repeating that the idea precisely IS about freedom of speech and the First Amendment. Now I know the First Amendment only restricts government’s relationship with its citizens. Although, as I hinted at, the government, in it’s spy program, the repeal of most of the Bill of Rights guarantees and repeal of Habeus Corpus, is in a full throated bipartisan campaign to crush us under the boot of fascism. Fascism, as Trump has shown, is not just for Bush and Obama anymore.

        “It’s not wrong for them to penalize people and/or organizations for spreading misinformation.”

        This is the whole point. It is technically legal. From my 18th Century Enlightenment POV, it IS wrong. I really fail to see what you cannot grasp about that. Again we seem to be talking only into our own hats here.

        I have tried to conduct this discussion solely on the issue of the legitimacy of the rampant censorship occurring on the Internet and its platforms today. This censorship has been directed against agents like Alex Jones who I hope we can agree is a flagrant source of disinformation.

        (I hope you will not be too scandalized if I view with dismay his removal from the most accessible sites on the internet. Remember.?..When they came for Alex Jones I said nothing because I was not an asshole. Ha ha)

        Unfortunately it is under the rubric of “fake news” that any number of legitimate organizations like RT, The Empire Files, Truth Out, Telesur, etc. are being censored too.

        None of these proponents of censorship dare include entities like MSNBC, CNN, CBS, Washington Post, and the New York Times in their calls for censorship. Why has no one ever pointed out that the greatest source of fake news during the build up to the Iraq War was the NYT’s showcase editorial journalist Judith Miller who never wrote a true word in her whole life? Why don’t these righteous proponents take to task the liars in the mainstream media who keep trying to pin the false flag gas attacks on Bashar al Assad and not the “moderate” rebels and our allies? Or how about tying a can to Rachel Madow who constantly lies about the Russian connection to everything from leaked emails to Trump collusion?

        As bad as I think these propagandists of death and destruction are, I would never think of censoring them. I regret they (and you Sam) do not allow me the same privilege.

        “Mankind has no more right to silence these liars than they if they, if they had the power would have to silence mankind” (John Stuart Mill paraphrase)

        So far it is the liars who are LITERALLY trying to and succeeding in silencing mankind. And they seem to be winning hands down. I am sorry that you seem to me to be speaking so vehemently in favor of this despicable tyranny.


      12. Before I reply, I’d like to ask you, why would someone like you seriously still buy into GM’s message. I really don’t understand it. You’re obviously an intelligent guy. Neither you, nor anyone else in these comments, or even GM himself have deposited a scientific argument as to why Scott is wrong. Not one. So, how can you disregard everything he says so easily? What do you think you know and how do you think you know it?


      13. “Why don’t these righteous proponents take to task the liars in the mainstream media . ”

        That’s right, and there is no crackdown on alternative new sources?
        Give me a break are you living under a rock?
        Corporate bought media owns the news. These are the real paid liars and disinformation shills and the same people cracking down on “alternative news” sources who are actually reporting on every angle of the issue.
        It’s an utter scandal and a complete betrayal of journalism beyond what words can express. The same goes for climate change on mainstream channels. The Guardian is basically the only mainstream source actually genuinely reporting on climate change science and connecting the dots.

        Maybe this has something to do with it…

        Fossil Fuel Interests Have Outspent Environmental Advocates 10:1 on Climate Lobbying

        We live in an inverted totalitarianism induced by a highly corrupt US military government and a scientifically illiterate, apathetic and disorganized population. The knee jerk “conspiracy theory” reaction in light of this, is frankly, appalling. The public effectively policing each other and promoting their own doom. It’s absolutely astonishing. Conspiracies are uncovered one after the other. It has never been more important to NOT censor what we call “alternative” news sources as the mainstream ones have clearly been corrupted by a corporate state.

        “According to John Ayto, the phrase was originally a neutral term, but since around the 1960s, has often been somewhat derogatory.Lance deHaven-Smith has suggested that the term was deployed in the 1960s by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to discredit John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories.”

        Would you look at that. The CIA who is covertly and illegally spying on us all deployed this term to shame any who oppose the official narratives. Which have been repeatedly proven false and fraudulent with catastrophic humanitarian consequences. It’s amazing how people that seem otherwise intelligent are so adamant in inadvertently promoting their own oppression.

        It’s clear that “alarmism” on all fronts of our present societal aspects is highly warranted, given the evidence, even though it makes you sound crazy. That is because the situation is truly crazy , and nobody wants to talk about it. I will agree with you that Scott has provided a decent case to Guy’s assessment of the situation. With evidence from respected academic institutions. Very helpful.


      14. I was referring specifically to a time in 2014 when his website (I think it was his website) was having technical problems, which GM attributed to sabotage by TPTB. He was strongly encouraged in this by Michael Ruppert. When I expressed skepticism about this notion, Ruppert sent me a rather unpleasant personal message before blocking me. He killed himself a few months later.

        Needless to say the technical problems were resolved after a few days, but GM has continued to make vague references to sinister forces monitoring his activities. It adds a little flavor to his presentations.


  31. Not one of GM’s followers have shown themselves capable of refuting any of the claims that Scott Johnson made in his essay, no matter how well-spoken, sophisticated, or socially aware they appeared. It’s all just vague claims of mounting irrefutable evidence that Scott is just ignoring, or it’s speculation of Scott’s motivations behind writing the essay. No one that I’ve seen has refuted any of the points that he has made though, and no one has shown exactly what or where this mounting irrefutable evidence is. It’s also entirely unproductive to speculate the motivations of others when attempting to engage in a serious debate. Neither Scott’s, or even GM’s motivations matter. Who cares if Scott is under the employ of Exxon, the Koch brothers, the Antichrist, or he’s just plain in denial? None of that matters. All that matters is the data.

    And, I’d also like to refute any who claim that this entire essay is nothing but an ad hominem attack. While some things may have been derogatory let’s look at wikipedia’s definition of ad hominem:
    “(of an argument or reaction) directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining.”
    So, if this entire essay really was an ad hominem attack like GM and his followers like to claim, then Scott would have never bothered going through any of GM’s research. It only would have been an ad hominem attack if he said GM was wrong just because he was a loser and ended it there. But, if you’ve actually read the essay (and many of GM’s followers who complain in these comments actually haven’t) then you’d know that obviously this isn’t the case.

    I don’t understand how these people don’t understand that they aren’t actually producing a scientific argument. I don’t understand how GM’s followers can just completely disregard Scott’s essay and continue to follow him without any due evidence. And, no, obviously Scott is not ignoring evidence as many claim. GM’s essay, by my understanding, IS the evidence. If that’s what Scott is refuting, and it is, then how is he ignoring anything

    I just don’t understand how people who appear to be sophisticated, elegant, and intelligent are being so fallacious and unreasonable? It’s baffling to me, and I’ve actually contacted Scott a couple of times over it, yet I really still can’t fully wrap my head around it.

    The doomer fringe is mostly dominated by crack pots, conspiracy theorists, and cranks. People who are drawn into it aren’t likely to accept any evidence that they don’t hear from their own, trusted circle; so they form an epistemological wall against any outside information. The comments of GM’s followers on this blog post are a good example of this. Vague claims of “hopium”, ad hominem, and misinformation all suddenly make sense. They aren’t refuting these claims because they have some exclusive doomer knowledge that runs contrary to Scott’s essay. They are refuting Scott’s claims because it’s Scott that’s claiming them. An outsider.

    This was never about science. This is a matter of trust, and no amount of evidence will convince GM’s dedicated followers otherwise.


    1. You wrote “Not one of GM’s followers have shown themselves capable of refuting any of the claims that Scott Johnson made in his essay, no matter how well-spoken, sophisticated, or socially aware they appeared.” Are you aware that this blog is very heavily edited for content such that any such comments would be deleted and/or commenters banned? So, of course it looks as though no one is capable of effectively refuting Scott Johnson’s claims. Does this demonstrate good science? Of course not. Such biasing—lying through omission—serves as an all-too-common form of pseudoscience as well as a very common tactic in these Trumpian days.


      1. That’s utterly false. I think I’ve banned three people, each after posting, I would guess, over a hundred comments. Each had ample opportunities to make their points, but were asked to leave for violating rules of civil discussion. A serious, substantive comment has never been rejected, and I have never deleted a posted comment.

        First, discussion threads quickly become vile and exceedingly stupid places without moderation. Second, this is my personal blog, and I don’t have to let people scream at me and make demands on my time infinitely, just as I don’t have to let people walk into my living room and scream at me forever.


      2. Do you actually have proof that Scott is hiding scientific refutations of his claims?


  32. I would really appreciate someone responding to Robyn Wagoner’s 08/18/2018 comment as follows regarding discussion on THIS BLOG, which she obviously referred to, not in other places, which Scott referred readers to. Also, given your alleged openness to scientific argumentation I would appreciate an explanation for why Mr. Nye was banned from commenting here. Robyn’s comment:

    Actually, no. The version of science you discuss here doesn’t include the critical scientific concept of probability while considering the evidence of a mass human die-off occurring in the near future. I can say that because I scanned the entire present 36,577 words in “How McPherson Gets It Wrong,” and the only references to probability occur in comments made by the poster “Bud Nye” who appears to have been banned from further interaction here. The only consideration of scientific probability in this whole discussion came from a polite and well-read poster that you’ve since banned. I’m curious about what rule Mr. Nye violated? Certainly not for asking tough questions?

    I for one am still interested to hear your rational, informed and honest response to Mr. Nye’s last request:

    “I hope someone here will explain how ecology, complexity theory, and thermodynamics supposedly support the grandiose, wishful belief that a high probability exists that we can, and will, significantly ameliorate or stop the massive, rapidly occurring, yes, irreversible, changes we have made in Earth’s biosphere, while ecology, complexity theory, and thermodynamic principles supposedly do not suggest a very LOW probability of our doing that. How do thermodynamic principles suggest that we supposedly can do this? Where will we get the energy to do it, and how will we do it without violating the fundamental principles of thermodynamics?”

    I await your thoughtful reply.


      1. Thanks so much for your reference links. In reviewing them I can see HOW you banned Nye, but not WHY. From what I can see, he always commented thoughtfully and respectfully. Yes, also assertively and persistently as he made his arguments. But I see no good reason for banning a thoughtful, respectful, assertive, persistent commenter within a supposedly fair and open scientific discussion. Because he referenced Complexity Theory, a critically important theory in science—certainly regarding Earth’s outrageously complex biosphere!—which you appear to wish to ignore within “THE science” you prefer to focus on here? (The status of Earth’s biosphere does NOT exist as a simple, linear engineering “problem” to “solve” as so many commenters here seem to wish to believe. Indeed, on 8/16/18, Sam Iocano wrote “Being an ecologist doesn’t translate to being an expert in climatology”, an excellent distinction. Climate has such importance because of its critical impact on HABITAT for biological organisms on Earth—which, again, climatologists have little knowledge of, as Sam pointed out. While some climatologists may see climate as a linear engineering problem, no ecologist ever would.) Because he emphasized the unfortunate high probability (not certainty) of a soon-coming, mass human die-off, which the biospheric data trends strongly to suggest for us and most if not all other life on Earth? Because he suggested the possibility of some commenters here doing technologically utopian, human-supremacist reasoning? (We’ve got “the science” so we can fix this climate “problem”!) Because you and others prefer not to think about and respond directly to the questions he asked? Will you please explain your rationale for banning Nye, who appears never to have personally or disrespectfully attacked anyone? Not how you banned him. Why.

        You did not respond to my and Robyn Wagoner’s more important questions. Will you and/or others please thoughtfully and respectfully respond to these much more important questions, with no subject changing or personal attacks?


      2. I think this has been made quite clear, and I’m not spending more time re-explaining inconsequential things that happened years ago.


      3. No, Bud Nye was NOT respectful, nor were his arguments scientific.

        What I mean about Bud Nye not being respectful, despite seeming that way thanks to a somewhat sophisticated vocabulary, is the fact that instead of pointing out exactly how anything Scott said in his essay was wrong, he relied mostly on baseless, ad hom accusations of human supremecism, denial, and monetary motivation. He was constantly speculating the motivations of people that he didn’t even know. It’s extremely rude, and there’s nothing scientific about that.

        He did indeed cite complexity theory and non-equilibrium thermodynamics multiple times. He was also asked multiple times to elaborate on exactly how those subjects suggested anything to support his point, but he just continued repeating himself, even admitting that he didn’t know much about either complexity theory, nor non-equilibrium thermodynamics.

        It was not an “open scientific discussion”, and Nye was not “respectful”. In fact, he was actually pretty insulting, whether intentional or not. He was indeed “persistent”, but only in asserting the same, hollow argument over and over again.

        I wish you hadn’t quoted me to try and further your argument. Sorry if I’m wrong, but what I got from what you were saying is that an ecologist might have a different kind of insight/perspective that could differ and be equally valuable. I disagree.

        I have a friend who studied for a mathematical logic Ph.D (he didn’t get it). Other people whose expertise lied in different branches of math couldn’t have done the things that he had though. Even others who had also been studying in different branches of mathematical logic couldn’t have.

        People in climate science study for years to understand the things that they do. Someone with a Ph.D in atmospheric and oceanic studies isn’t necessarily well versed in the physics of melting terrestrial permafrost, even if it does have an impact on climate. To do that, you would need a Ph.D in geophysics as well. You aren’t an expert just because information is a Google search away.


    1. I hope someone here will explain how ecology, complexity theory, and thermodynamics supposedly support the grandiose, wishful belief that a high probability exists that we can, and will, significantly ameliorate or stop the massive, rapidly occurring, yes, irreversible, changes we have made in Earth’s biosphere, while ecology, complexity theory, and thermodynamic principles supposedly do not suggest a very LOW probability of our doing that.

      Well, the answer doesn’t have to come from ecology or any particular scientific discipline but it’s more likely to be answered by studying animal behaviour and, more specifically, human behaviour. How likely are humans to make significant changes to the way they live, given the characteristic species behaviour that they exhibit?

      If the changes are “irreversible” then that doesn’t mean the changes can’t be slowed or stopped, though, over geological time, there is no such thing as a stable biosphere.

      Note that the person asking the question in the quote never, himself, answered the reverse question but expected others to answer the quoted question. This smacks of hypocrisy. If you would like to find the answer yourself, then do some research. This is a blog post about how Guy Mcpherson gets it wrong and no-one has shown Scott’s analysis to be incorrect. The above question is irrelevant to the blog post.


  33. Let’s look at the thermodynamic reality of our self-annihilation predicament in this simple but powerful way, focusing on the forest and not getting lost in the trees: Let’s say that in the past 300 years humans have burned x petajoules of fossil fuel energy putting CO2 into Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. Per the fundamental laws of thermodynamics, regarding which we know of NO exceptions at any scale from the subatomic, to our Newtonian, to the cosmic scale, it will require x + y petajoules of energy to remove that CO2 and return the biospheric (mostly oceanic and atmospheric) CO2 to near-preindustrial age levels. Where will we get even the needed x petajoules of energy—which presumably does not further pollute and ecologically degrade Earth’s biosphere(!)—much less x + y petajoules? It exists as a simple and obvious reality that we do not now, nor will we ever, have access to any such massive quantities of nonpolluting, ecologically viable energy. Given these unfortunate realities, how can any atmospheric or oceanic CO2 removal scheme possibly work at any meaningful scale on Earth? I would sincerely appreciate someone correcting me if they notice any errors in my reasoning here.


    1. No scientists are proposing a carbon dioxide removal scheme on the scale of total current or cumulative emissions. The CDR studies I have seen have simply aimed to answer the question of whether one technique or another could be one piece of the puzzle, and help us squeak under a warming goal we would otherwise have minorly exceeded. Add multiple techniques together, and you can make a larger dent–simple reforestation, for example, can account for a chunk. And CDR techniques include agricultural soil management, biofuels with capture at the smokestack, and accelerating the weathering of certain silicate rocks–these are not processes where CO2 is removed by a machine powered by some fuel. No scheme I can think of involves supplying the energy to drive the combustion reaction in reverse, reducing CO2 to C. (Aside from photosynthesis, of course.)


    2. Gail, you got a response from Scott but I’m wondering why you posted your comment under this blog post. It doesn’t seem to be relevant to the points made in Scott’s article.

      However, you seem to be saying that the energy we got from burning fossil fuels was the energy it took to produce the CO2 from those fossil fuels. This is not right. Nor is it true that there is any suggestion that CO2 be converted back to the fossil fuels and oxygen that it originated from.

      Still, this isn’t relevant to whether Scott’s arguments about how GM got it wrong are, themselves, wrong.


  34. What about this example of a deleted comment posted 4/19/18 by Nye? I can provide many other much older deletion examples related to Tobis and other issues.

    This blog seems to me not so much about how Guy McPherson supposedly gets it (scientifically) wrong as about “Let’s personally attack Guy McPherson for committing the unforgivable sin of having elicited our terror of death.” (See The Worm At The Core, On The Role of Death In Life, 2016, by psychologists Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg, and Tom Pyszczynski for much more about this.)

    In the process of insisting that Guy McPherson supposedly should not predict the future of Earth’s biosphere in negative ways based on scientific evidence, most commenters here insist that THEY CAN predict the future of Earth’s biosphere in positive ways based on scientific evidence. A sweet double standard concerning prediction. In all of this I hear little or no mention of the scientifically fundamental and essential concept of probability. Regarding this, I hope someone here will explain how ecology, complexity theory, and thermodynamics supposedly support the grandiose, wishful belief that a high probability exists that we can, and will, significantly ameliorate or stop the massive, rapidly occurring, yes, irreversible, changes we have made in Earth’s biosphere, while ecology, complexity theory, and thermodynamic principles supposedly do not suggest a very LOW probability of our doing that. How do thermodynamic principles suggest that we supposedly can do this? Where will we get the energy to do it, and how will we do it without violating the fundamental principles of thermodynamics? Some evidence-based reasoning concerning this, please? And with no personal attacks on me for asking this, nor still more self- and other-comforting personal attacks on Guy McPherson for his persistently insisting on the very high probability of near term human extinction, please?

    I agree with McPherson that a very high probability exists that we will soon experience mass loss of human life on Earth, and probably with extinction soon following. I agree with this, not because he says it, but because what I know of ecology, complexity theory, and thermodynamics very strongly suggest that extremely high probability plus I do not have any belief that humans supposedly have some “special” or “supreme” biological status on Earth. Meanwhile, arguing about whether this mass die-off and extinction will occur in one year, five years, ten years, or twenty, seems a pointless and irrelevant waste of time to me. The simple fact remains that we ALL WILL die soon, and we ALL MAY die within the next few weeks, all of our science and technology notwithstanding. But we love to distract ourselves from that reality, which we often find so anxiety provoking and painful. Meanwhile, personally attacking someone like Guy McPherson serves as a great distraction, indeed, as do our technologically utopian fantasies. Desperate times call for desperate distractions and desperate delusions. Hence this blog, which specializes in ad hominem attacks on people who disagree, especially personal attacks on Guy McPherson all exactly as the authors of The Worm At The Core describe.


    1. Actually it was August 8, but I’m glad he’s documenting all the comments he submits and sharing that with you.

      You’re really asking me why a comment submitted by someone I banned from posting here 4 years ago was not approved?

      I said I had never deleted a posted comment, because it sounded like you were accusing me of erasing comments after a poster showed me to be a fraud, or something. Obviously I haven’t posted comments from banned people. What else would “ban” mean? I also haven’t posted vile drive-by single comments from people who hate me, hate Guy, or deny that climate change is real. (Comments from first-time posters require approval in the system.) I also haven’t posted spam comments linking to porn sites. Anything else you’d like to know?


      1. Many comments were retroactively deleted long after they passed moderation and significant discussion had occurred around them. Seems to me that you provide some “beautiful” justifications and rationalizations for maintaining a heavily biased blog that promotes the message: “See ‘the science’ really tells us that there is only a LOW probability of a soon-coming mass human die-off, NOT a HIGH PROBABILITY! So we can all relax and feel less anxious about our terror of death and the fact that with most or all humans gone the legacy we leave behind in the form of works done, children, and so on will mean absolutely nothing.” (See The Worm At the Core, On the Role of Death In Life as well as Denial by Varki and Brower.) That message seems, most fundamentally, emotionally, what most people like most about this blog, whether they present science-based arguments or not, and, as you well know, commenters often thank you for providing that message. It provides a kind of optimistic, reassuring, semi-religious faith in our future, presumably supported by “the science” as presented here. Of course you can do that, if you wish. Problem is you present it as supposedly scientifically unbiased while it is actually quite heavily edited and biased.


      2. Your claim is simply false. I can’t think of a single example of a post being deleted after being posted to the page, much less after it received replies.

        Today I learned that showing that Guy misrepresents all his scientific sources to push an extreme claim without evidence while asserting a global conspiracy of climate scientists means providing “a kind of optimistic, reassuring, semi-religious faith in our future”.

        You’ve vented what you wanted to vent, I’ve responded. It seems there’s nowhere else to go here, so I’m done talking about this.


      3. Please provide proof that Scott is deleting scientific arguments of his claims. I don’t think I’m asking for very much.

        Scott never made any predictions about the probability of a die-off. The essay isn’t about that, it’s about how GM gets it wrong. That’s the title of the essay.


      4. Gail:

        1) I agree with everything Scott & Sam have said referring to Bud Nye’s behavior on this blog and why he was rightly banned;

        2) You have not showed how anything Scott has said about GM is inaccurate;

        3) You have not done the work of reading all the blog posts to ascertain how Bud Nye behaved on this blog, forcing all of to rehash things four years old, which is a colossal time-suck/waste that serves no one expect GM himself in taking us away from things that matter – like doing things that can avert catastrophe;

        4) I know that Robyn Wagoner is a friend of Bud Nye, and I believe it’s probable that you are a friend of both Bud and Robyn in the synchronicity of your sudden posts of similar topics; is it true?;

        5) The argument regarding if GM is wrong is long over; not only is he wrong, he has been shown to be a self-admitted sociopath that intentionally misleads his students, has unethical sex with at least one using misogynistic language to demean her, & is more interested in inspiring his followers in death than preventing on-going destruction happening now;

        6) Michael E. Mann (the most well-known climate scientist on Earth), Robert Scribbler (who used to support Mann), Katherine Hayoe, and countless other confirm Scott’s simple multitudinous observations that GM is wrong again and again and again, mis-representing what a paper claims, using positive feedbacks irresponsibly, lying about his credentials – it goes on and on.

        Otherwise you’re not any better than Bud Nye.

        Ultimately, by not engaging in what SJ has said about GM, you do a disservice to all and are not worthy to engage in topics here. I don’t enjoy spending time on things unrelated to GM’s assertions or issues in the science generally. Why not cite a piece of the IPCC you think is faulty, or some error SJ has made in his critique of GM?


      5. About a year ago Michael E. Mann published this well-reasoned opinion piece I think you all would do well to read in which Mann says that the GMs of the world are equally as bad as Exxon’s, and actually mentions GM by name.

        Here is that article:

        For anyone here on this blog honestly engaging with evidence of if GM Gets It Wrong, so much has already been posted ad naseum here to conclusively demonstrate what GM is really about – a death cult. It is more imperative than ever that we break from Dommerism and Climate Denialism both and even Luke Warmerism and do the hard work of seeing things as they are and what’s needed to make them right. Immediate actions to take include illuminating or drastically reducing flying and eating meat/dairy, engaging politically to elect eco-social democrats, lobbying political reps at local, city, state levels to swiftly transition to as close to 100% decarbonization as possible in all sectors (electricity, transportation, buildings, & industry) using templates from highly qualified sources such as Paul Hawken’s Drawdown, or Mark Jacobon’s SolutionsProject.

        Irrespective if we survive, let alone thrive, so-called civilization is riddled with problems that require solutions, and I’m the first to admit this: vast corruption bc of money in politics, an equally corrupt media system, horrendous treatment of animals, and I could easily list ten plus more ills. Regardless, I feel so joyful knowing I’m making a difference and knowing it is not too late based on the minds of the best of the best scientific knowledge. And you know what, even if it were too late, which it isn’t, id still do the same I’m doing now – all I can to avert catastrophe. I’ll die with my boots on and guns firing, bc helping other is a life of excellence.


      6. Typo. Robert Scribbler used to be supporter of GM, not Michael E. Mann. Now Scribbler repudiates GM and supports Mann.


    2. Once again, Nye had already deposited that exact same argument multiple times. It hardly matters if that comment wasn’t approved; all the talk of thermodynamics, ecology, and complexity theory, as well as the speculation on the motivations of people that he doesn’t even know, are already present in other comments bu that poster.


    3. And, it doesn’t seem like Scott was trying to make any kind of predictions about the “future of Earth’s biosphere” at all. All he did was show that GM made mistakes when researching. He didn’t make any unsupported claims or predictions.

      Again, Nye never clarified as to exactly how completely theory, thermodynamics, and ecology support his argument. We can guess as to what he meant all day, but the only one who really knows is Nye himself. If we don’t know what he’s talking about then how are we supposed to hold a scientific argument?

      As a side note; Nye never clarified as to how those thre subjects assure a high probability of a mass die-off followed by extinction in GM’s time-frame. He continued to assert that this was the case, however.

      Don’t you think that’s just a little bit hypocritical? I mean, he claimed that the future of Earth’s biosphere was to complex to predict, but he was making some pretty bold predictions himself, based on the three subjects that he claimed took our future out of the realm of predictably in the first place.

      And seriously, you don’t think that it’s rude to speculate the psychological motivations of people that you don’t even know and actually letting them hear you? You think that it’s polite to throw around baseless accusations of human-supremicism, as opposed to depositing a scientific argument?


    4. Plus, if Scott really was omitting important info, wouldn’t any comments that accuse him of just that, including yours, not be approved?


    5. And, you criticize people for believing that only a low probability of a near-term mass-human die-off, yet you haven’t clarified as to why that’s worthy of criticizing. You’ve just claimed that we’re in denial without clarifying what exactly we’re in denial of. That’s not science.


    6. Gail, if you think you know of any refutations of Scott’s points in his article here, please feel free to email them to me at an email address I’ve created temporarily for the purpose (spelled out to avoid auto spamming): mike dot roberts dot temp at gmail dot com and I’d be happy to post it for you or at least post that there is such a refutation. Anyone else who knows of such refutations is also welcome to send them to me.

      Please also let me know of any examples were others here “predict the future of Earth’s biosphere in positive ways based on scientific evidence” because I can’t think of any. As Scott has already mentioned, probability comes into all scientific research (through error margins and confidence intervals). I’m not sure why you think all science mentioned here is to do with certainty. Perhaps you could elaborate?


      1. If Nye had anything to say about Tobis, wouldn’t it have been more productive to comment on his essay as opposed to here?


  35. Well, I’ve had no emails about how SJ got his critique wrong. I’m beginning to think that the claims of errors in SJ’s piece are just made up. Please, all you GM supporters or critical thinkers who’ve made claims of valid refutations of SJ’s post being deleted or not put up, send the facts to the email address set up for the purpose and I’ll try to post them or point to them here. That email address is: mike dot roberts dot temp at gmail dot com

    Come on. Put up or shut up (at least about spurious claims of injustice).

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Hi, Scott

    I was just wondering, I while ago, I think that you and some other commenters were talking about where the Arctic News Blog models fall short. I couldn’t find the conversation, but could you, or someone else remind me why they are unreliable? Or just link me to the original conversation if it’s any less trouble?


      1. That’s very generous of you, SJ. Those two “data points” weren’t even data points; just two estimates of the methane release rate, the first from much sparser actual data than that second (which itself wasn’t based on too much data, as I recall, and the data were from different areas each time). If there was a curve that could be fitted, it would be of where rough estimates of the release rate were going over time (itself a pointless exercise), not really of where the emissions might be going over time, since there weren’t enough solid data of emissions in particular areas over time..


  37. What baffles me is that whenever GM speaks, he sounds intelligent, calm, composed, coherent, and elegant. But what he says is completely crazy; not to mention wrong. I really don’t understand it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not only that, but his attitude in on-line responses to criticism is akin to a wacko! I’ve never read him answer criticism (except to say “read my climate change update essay”) except with insults and threats to sue (he never does). Of course, the lack of engagement with criticisms tells you all you need to know about how false even he knows his claims are (otherwise, he could defend them). Why does he want to encourage belief in false claims? I have no idea.


      1. To be honest, it hardly even matters whether ir not he believes a word that comes out of his own mouth. If what he’s saying is wrong then what he’s saying is wrong. Personally, I doubt that he’s gone off the deep end. No idea how he benefits, though.


      2. Why the hell did Bill Nye have him on his 2015 climate change documentary? They were real buddy-buddy. GM told him everyone in the world was doomed by 2026, they both laughed, drank whiskey, and smoked cigarettes. I was disgusted. Especially with how much GM must have been loving every second of that attention. Why would Bill Nye endorse him and lend him credibility like that?


      3. Near as I can figure Nye needed a straw man to knock over, someone who represented those of us who seriously refuse to smoke the hopium. All it did was get a whole lot of people to wonder if maybe there is something to this doomer business after all. Talk about being hoisted on your own petard! Ha ha


      4. Wow, it’s pretty convenient that any argument refuting GM’s claims can be dismissed as “hopium”!
        Seriously though; can I ask you why you’re so confident in GM’s claims? Because, if you are, then you must obviously see something critically wrong with SJ’s essay (as well as Michael Tobis’ essay). If you could point that out to me that would be great.


      5. Sam: I don’t consider myself competent to play science with the professionals. There are no lack of serious commentators and journalists who have studied the claims of scientists and science panels to come up with conclusions as dire as GM. The only difference between this multitude of science observers (David Suzuki,
        Dahr Jamail, Noam Chomski, Bill McKibben, the late Stephen Hawking, etc etc.) and GM is the hopium most cling to. I wonder how bad things will have to get before their “If we don’t abandon our carbon we will be doomed” becomes “We are doomed.” Besides, if Trump invades Syria all our arguments may be moot as early as the end of the week Ha ha


      6. If you don’t think that you can post it here for whatever reason, Mike Roberts has an email specifically so doomers like yourself can deposit your evidence against SJ’s essay, because apparently it’s not safe to do so here in the comments.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Whenever GM says we are smoking hopium, I redirect him to get off his cushy ass and do shit bc he can’t know for sure. Most scientist don’t know with absolute certainty that we won’t hit a tipping point, but one thing is certain – no one can say with definitive truth what will happen. Thus, get off one’s bloated ass and do shit. F GM for not doing so and leading the bewildered on a milk toast suicide mission. Same as Koch Brothers.


      8. We discussed this in detail in 2015 when it came out; Bill Nye pegged GM in denial stage. Most on blog, as I recall, found that appropriate. Whilst GM things he’s famous for being with Nye, actually Nye played GM the fool.


      9. I don’t consider myself competent to play science with the professionals. There are no lack of serious commentators and journalists who have studied the claims of scientists and science panels to come up with conclusions as dire as GM

        deboldt, I’m not sure which “professionals” you’re referring to but you seem to have been convinced by GM. Why? Did you simply accept his interpretation of the science? And yet SJ, here, has laid out many areas where GM’s interpretation is wrong. You don’t need to be a science professional to read and understand it. So why do you dismiss SJs article? Same for Michael Tobis’s article, which is linked.

        Can you point to anything written or said by the “serious commentators” you mention which is “as dire as GM”? Some realised we’re in a very bad place but that is not the same as saying total extinction is imminent.


      10. GM’s longterm reason for being is to bring down industrial civilization because of its harms to biosphere. That’s how he secretly justifies to himself that he can lie and use any means necessary to achieve his ends. He’s lost the connection of means and ends; he thinks the ends justify the means. Lies do not make a strong foundation for a civilization, but ours is founded in many, so yeah, he’s part of same eco-catastrophe he portends to try to be bringing down. He rails against the patriarchy, but has shown that it’s very well alive and well within him with his sex acts with a vulnerable grieving student. One just has to accept it as it is and be the light they want to see in the world and move on.


    2. Sam, that’s what sociopaths look like… and that’s what makes them have a literal cult following. It’s a deep lesson in not being fooled by charisma and clever smooth talking. Figuring GM for me was a life teaching in critical thinking. It changed me for the better. I’m so much more critical than before and able to discern fraud much faster and with much greater accuracy.


  38. In fairness to Bill Nye, He did give Guy a chance to put forth his best shot unedited.
    Nye even reinforced to some extent Guy’s major positive feedback loop hypothesis– the methane release data.


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