Shame On Them

It’s been about 7 years since Tim Garrett published a paper that explains everything anyone needs to know about the cause of climate change: US$1 (1990) = 10mW.

Or in words, wealth is proportional to energy consumption, and since 90+% of energy is fossil carbon, and since all “renewable” energy depends on fossil carbon, climate change is proportional to total human wealth.

Almost all climate scientists ignore this vital relationship and pretend we can address climate change without shrinking the economy, our lifestyles, and our population.

Now with this recent paper we see a hint that climate scientists may be just starting to understand reality.

Climate scientists have wasted many years by not speaking the truth about our predicament. Most don’t even set good examples in their personal lives.

Shame on them.

Maybe in another 7 years they will understand the equally important relationship between net energy, economic growth, and debt. Although I suspect they won’t due to inherited denial of reality.

Titled “Modeling Sustainability: Population, Inequality, Consumption, and Bidirectional Coupling of the Earth and Human Systems“, the paper describes how the rapid growth in resource use, land-use change, emissions, and pollution has made humanity the dominant driver of change in most of the Earth’s natural systems, and how these changes, in turn, have critical feedback effects on humans with costly and serious consequences, including on human health and well-being, economic growth and development, and even human migration and societal conflict. However, the paper argues that these two-way interactions (“bidirectional coupling”) are not included in the current models.

The Oxford University Press’s multidisciplinary journal National Science Review, which published the paper, has highlighted the work in its current issue, pointing out that “the rate of change of atmospheric concentrations of CO2, CH4, and N2O [the primary greenhouse gases] increased by over 700, 1000, and 300 times (respectively) in the period after the Green Revolution when compared to pre-industrial rates.” See Figure 1 from the Highlights article, reproduced below.

“Many datasets, for example, the data for the total concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases, show that human population has been a strong driver of the total impact of humans on our planet Earth. This is seen particularly after the two major accelerating regime shifts: Industrial Revolution (~1750) and Green Revolution (~1950)” said Safa Motesharrei, UMD systems scientist and lead author of the paper. “For the most recent time, we show that the total impact has grown on average ~4 percent between 1950 and 2010, with almost equal contributions from population growth (~1.7 percent) and GDP per capita growth (~2.2 percent). This corresponds to a doubling of the total impact every ~17 years. This doubling of the impact is shockingly rapid.”

Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, who was not a co-author of the paper, commented: “We cannot separate the issues of population growth, resource consumption, the burning of fossil fuels, and climate risk. They are part of a coupled dynamical system, and, as the authors show, this has dire potential consequences for societal collapse. The implications couldn’t be more profound.”

6 thoughts on “Shame On Them”

  1. I know about the Garrett paper and the story behind it’s delay in being published. Shame on the editor and a few others, but overall, I disagree that scientists must be advocates. We pay people with tax dollars to act upon the policy recommendations from scientists. They, the bureaucrats and politicians, are the ones who are at fault. Throw in Big Oil and the legions of PR people they pay billions every damn year for their denial and muddy the scientific waters schemes. You could even go further and blame all the soft denialists like Trudeau and tens of millions of Canadian consumer-citizens who claim to “believe” but have made no real lifestyle changes. Pulling the full recycling bin, full of plastic packaging from all that shit they do not need, out to the curb once a week is their “do good”. If all of these believers actually did something, or less of everything, it would show up in the aggregate economic numbers. If they all cut consumption by even just 10 – 20% we would see it and the BAU legitamizers (econOpriests) would be frantic. It seems to me that everyone has a share of the shame. Are they all bad people or are they really controlled by evolutionary forces that predate them by billions of years and ones the naked ape recently evolved? As stupid as the denier crowd is, at least they are honest. Hell they might be the most honest people among us.

    Picked this up from Cohen – thought you would find it interesting.

    New discoveries about the human mind show the limitations of reason.


    1. I agree we all share in creating this predicament.

      I think relevant experts have a professional responsibility to clearly communicate the facts. They don’t need to be advocates but they do need to paint a clear picture of reality.

      That means climate scientists should understand Garrett’s theory. They should not present models that depend on BECCS. They should not have permitted an already impossible goal of 2 degrees to be changed to 1.5 degrees. They must not say it is possible to address climate change without dramatic changes to our lifestyles.

      Those that choose to be advocates for carbon reduction policies should set a good example in their personal lives.


      1. There is definitely something going on with the scientists. Methinks it’s a combination of factors: subtle pressure from the higher ups, not wanting to be the bearer of bad news (folks been scapegoated and killed for that throughout history) job security, groupthink and their individual inherent denial and cognitive biases. Being trained up in the scientific method makes one less prone to denial and biases, but it does not make them invincible; especially if they have a spouse and kids and mortgage. There could be more that I have not thought of. One of the braver scientists is Kevin Anderson and he says what myself and others, including you, have been thinking and what data has confirmed. For the last few years it seems the majority of papers contain some version of the phrase, “faster than previously expected”

        5 years ago

        Climate Science Predictions Prove Too Conservative

        Checking 20 years worth of projections shows that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has consistently underestimated the pace and impacts of global warming

        By Glenn Scherer, on December 6, 2012 34

        4 years ago

        Kevin Anderson: “Scientists are Cajoled into Developing…Politically Palatable Messages” on Climate
        By Guest • Tuesday, July 16, 2013 – 09:27

        Just over a year ago

        Top Climate Expert: Crisis is Worse Than We Think & Scientists Are Self-Censoring to Downplay Risk

        If I was betting on it, I don’t think humans will make it out of this century, but that is academic as we must live for today and the near term future. I also don’t hold out much hope that our overlords will do much to protect the populous from the long list of consequences of overshoot. Even now with the very obvious consequences of AGW most of the humans are living BAU. Using history as a guide, there will be no significant changes until after society collapses and the old elite are swept away. Even then there is no guarantee that things will get better, since history also shows they do not always get better for sometime after the fall.

        Rob, what do think are the chances that any of the heavy hitters will use their nukes in the scramble for the remaining resources?


        1. I understand your points about scientific peer pressure, groupthink etc. but I am not talking about a small point in the weeds. Being a climate scientist and not understanding US$1 (1990) = 10mW is equivalent to being a rocket scientist and not understanding F=M*A. It’s such a huge disconnect from reality that it demands a really big explanation, like Varki’s MOR.

          I have followed Kevin Anderson for years and he is one of my favorite climate scientists but even he succumbs to denial on a regular basis as I wrote about here:

          With regard to the chances of nuclear war my reading of history suggests the probability is high. A country with nukes but no access to fossil energy (or food or water) will not simply roll over and resign itself to collapse while a more fortunate neighbor with fossil energy (or food or water) does much better.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. As always, just enjoying your ‘calling it like it is’ here! I particularly also liked Apneaman’s comment: “Being trained up in the scientific method makes one less prone to denial and biases, but it does not make them invincible; especially if they have a spouse and kids and mortgage.” I used to think that I was doing way better than everyone else at having a small footprint, and that if everyone just did what I did, we’d be much better off. It took a while for me to realize that what I was doing was not nearly enough, and that I’m just biased and denying like everyone else. Eventually, I decided that I have much to work on myself and that I wouldn’t spend too much energy trying to convince others that they should or shouldn’t do certain things. Your and Varki’s thoughts on denial have helped me understand what’s going on. It seems people might have different levels of denial that they need to cope. I am trying to break through my own denial as much as is possible.


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