By David Spratt: Antarctic Tipping Points for a Multi-metre Sea Level Rise



  • West Antarctica ice loss is now unstoppable, regardless of human CO2 emissions.
  • Expect 1-2m of sea level rise by 2100.
  • Expect 3-5m of sea level rise by 2200.
  • East Antarctica ice is also destabilizing, if this continues expect an additional 5m by 2200, and 10+m later.

I observe that sea level rise predictions worsen with each new major study. I therefore interpret these predictions as best case.

We have known about this threat for 50 years. More evidence in support of Varki’s denial theory.

Recent studies, surveyed in this report,  suggest that WAIS passed a tipping point for large-scale deglaciation decades ago.

This should not be surprising, because such an event was foreseen almost 50 years ago. In 1968, pioneer glacier researcher John Mercer predicted that the collapse of ice shelves along the Antarctic Peninsula could herald the loss of the ice sheet. Ten years later, Mercer contended that “a major disaster — a rapid deglaciation of West Antarctica — may be in progress … within about 50 years” (“West Antarctic ice sheet and CO2 greenhouse effect: a threat of disaster”, Nature 271:321-325).

He said that warming “above a critical level would remove all ice shelves, and consequently all ice grounded below sea level, resulting in the deglaciation of most of West Antarctica”. Such disintegration, once under way, would “probably be rapid, perhaps catastrophically so”, with most of the ice sheet lost in a century. Credited with coining the phrase “the greenhouse effect” in the early 1960s, Mercer’s Antarctic prognosis was widely ignored and disparaged at the time. Now in seems uncannily prescient.

The author warns that reality may worsen as scientific understanding improves.

The general view amongst scientists I have communicated with is to expect a sea-level rise this century of at least 1 metre, and perhaps in excess of 2 metres in light of the work surveyed above.  Scientists have found the business of putting a true upper limit on how much ice could melt — and how quickly — is a difficult one.

Amongst a myriad of devastating global impacts, a 1-metre sea-level rise would inundate up to 20% of the land area of Bangladesh and displace 30 million people, wipe out 40-50% of the Mekong Delta, flood one-fourth of the Nile Delta, and depopulate some coral atoll small states.

Meanwhile, the majority of citizens around the world deny this issue exists and do not discuss, let alone act, on possible changes to their lifestyles.

And Obama sets an example by taking his second long distance vacation in as many months.

By NOAA/NASA: Annual Report: 2016 was 3rd Successive Record-Warm Year


2016 was the hottest year on record, setting a new high for the third year in a row, with scientists firmly putting the blame on human activities that drive climate change.

Direct temperature measurements stretch back to 1880, but scientific research indicates the world was last this warm about 115,000 years ago and that the planet has not experienced such high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for 4m years.

Arctic ice melt is ‘already affecting weather patterns where you live right now’.

In 2016, global warming delivered scorching temperatures around the world. The resulting extreme weather means the impacts of climate change on people are coming sooner and with more ferocity than expected, according to scientists.

The natural El Niño climate phenomenon, which helped ramp up temperatures to “shocking” levels in early 2016, has now waned, but carbon emissions were the major factor and will continue to drive rising heat.

Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said: “El Niño was a factor this year, but both 2015 and 2016 would have been records even without it.” He said about 90% of the warming signal in 2016 was due to rising greenhouse gas emissions. He expects 2017 to be another extremely hot year.

The new data shows the Earth has now risen about 1.1C above the levels seen before the industrial revolution, when large-scale fossil fuel burning began. This brings it perilously close to the 1.5C target included as an aim of the global climate agreement signed in Paris in December 2015.

Noaa also found Arctic sea ice fell to its lowest annual average extent on record and Antarctic sea ice to the second smallest extent on record. The warming in the Arctic in 2016 was “astounding”, Schmidt said.

How many more years of records before scientists break through their inherited denial and admit we are spinning out of control?

By Louis Arnoux: Twilight of the Oil Age: Out of Gas by 2030

The easy oil is gone. The oil that remains is hard and getting exponentially harder to find and extract, and to make a profit doing so. Each year it takes more energy to produce the same amount of energy meaning each year there is less energy left over for society. This is why people who think we have an energy glut are wrong.

Think of a coyote forced, because rabbits are becoming faster, to burn 2 rabbits worth of energy to catch 1 rabbit. Even though there are plenty of rabbits, the coyote is in serious trouble. The coyote could switch his diet to mice (solar & wind energy) but then he’d have to burn 3 mice of energy to catch 1 mouse. The coyote is able to lead a fairly normal life for a while because he burns fat (debt) that he built up in previous good years. The coyote knows it could make do with less food if it quit fighting, played slower games, and had fewer pups, but prefers not to change its lifestyle. Over time, the coyote becomes weak and sick, and then decides to change, but he no longer has the strength to catch any food.

This analysis by Louis Arnoux predicts we have between 6 and 13 years before society is out of gas.

This means that some time between 2022 and 2030, your gas stations and airports will be closed, and the global economy will be on its way to a complete collapse.

I’ve been following this issue for years and I think his prediction is in the ballpark.

I should point out that this oil centric perspective does not consider the current debt/growth instabilities of the economy. People studying that piece predict an economic collapse sooner than 2022. Nor a climate change centric view which suggests we have at best until the end of this century.

Let that sink in for a moment and then you might begin to understand why I am so fascinated by our inherited denial of reality. This information is available for anyone that cares to look, including the news media. No one looks.

Arnoux concludes the interview by pitching an alternate energy product idea he is trying to raise funds to develop. No information is disclosed on the technology but I did some searching to get the gist of it. It’s an interesting idea but has 0% chance of heading off the problem his research on oil depletion predicts.

His behavior is consistent with other researchers working on collapse related topics. For example, almost every climate scientist has a favorite scheme they think will save us whether it’s BECCS, or geoengineering, or nuclear energy. Most people would be unable to function in these roles unless they had some hope for the future. That’s our inherited optimism bias, the inverse twin of denial, at work.

Here is an audio interview with the author.

Here is the paper behind the interview:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Hat tip to Alice Friedemann.

By Alex Smith: Radio Ecoshock interview with Ajit Varki


I am a fan of Ajit Varki and his revolutionary theory that explains the singular emergence of a species with an extended theory of mind, the uniqueness of humans, as well as human optimism bias and denial of reality.

I consider Varki’s theory to be of similar importance to Darwin’s theory.

Radio Ecoshock is the best (and maybe only) weekly podcast that interviews experts on climate change and related issues. I suggested to the host, Alex Smith, that he interview Ajit Varki because I think it is important that we try to awaken our society from its deep state of denial on many important issues.

I am very pleased to report that Alex Smith interviewed Ajit Varki this week.

Congratulations and thanks to both Alex Smith and Ajit Varki for a fabulous interview that is even better than I had hoped for.

Alex Smith said to me:

“The man’s a genius. In addition to being one of America’s top medical researchers, he’s totally aware of the climate threat.”

As of this writing, I am the only amateur enthusiast of Varki’s theory on the planet that I am aware of. I’m hoping this interview might locate a few companions.

Here is the interview with Ajit Varki and an excellent essay by Alex Smith introducing it:

By Nafeez Ahmed: Brace for the Financial Crash of 2018

Good news!

Someone thinks we have another year.

And if this prediction comes true, CO2 emissions will fall.

80% of the world’s oil has already peaked, and the resulting oil crunch will flatten the economy.

A report by HSBC shows that contrary to industry mythology, even amidst the glut of unconventional oil and gas, the vast bulk of the world’s oil production has already peaked and is now in decline; while European government scientists show that the value of energy produced by oil has declined by half within just the first 15 years of the 21st century.

“In order to avoid the [oil] price affordable by the global economy falling below the extraction cost, debt piling (borrowing from the future) becomes a necessity, yet it is a mere trick to gain some time while hoping for something positive to happen,” said Meneguzzo. “The reality is that debt, basically as a substitute for oil, does not work to produce real wealth, as apparent for example from the decline of the industry value added as a percentage of GDP.”

Today, we are all supposed to quietly believe that the economy is in ‘recovery’, when in fact it is merely transitioning through a fundamental global systemic phase-shift in which the unsustainability of prevailing industrial structures are being increasingly laid bare.

By James Howard Kunstler: Forecast 2017: The Wheels Finally Come Off

Here is Kunstler’s year-end summary and predictions for 2017.

Kunstler does an amazing job of weaving many complex threads into an interesting, coherent, and (I believe) true story.

Long time students of overshoot won’t find any new ideas here but it’s an excellent refresher for experts, and a great place to start for newbies.

This year’s predictions are specific and very short-term so we won’t have long to wait to see if he’s right. If he is wrong, it will likely be in timing rather than outcomes.

Highly recommended.

“There is no other endeavor in which men and women of enormous intellectual power have shown total disregard for higher-order reasoning than monetary policy.” — David Collum

By Chris Martenson: Dave Murphy Interview – Glyphosate: Unsafe On Any Plate

This interview by Chris Martenson of Dave Murphy on the health dangers and wide-spread use of glyphosate is the most persuasive case I’ve heard for eating organic food.

I have for a long time been puzzled by gluten intolerance. Our civilization was founded on wheat. It seems to me something important has changed.

A friend speculated that the problem is not gluten in wheat, but rather the glyphosate used to desiccate wheat, a relatively new farming practice, that is damaging vital flora in our gut.

That makes a lot of sense to me, and could explain why some people feel better when they stop eating wheat.

I don’t eat much wheat but I’m cutting out Cheerios and switching to organic oatmeal for breakfast.

See also…