Today, I’m taking you back to the year 1896. A Swedish man by the name of Svante Arrhenius asks himself: “What could be the cause of the cycle of ice ages?” He came up with a new theory: Maybe it’s caused by a lack of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
And then he began to think to himself: “Well, we’re burning a lot of coal right now, for the industrial revolution. If we keep doing this, we’ll end up killing ourselves off thousands of years from now, because we’ll warm up the planet too much.”
He was not very worried however. In fact, he thought the warming would be pretty nice initially, it would gradually green the Earth, expanding the regions that humans can use for agriculture. He was mostly right in this assumption. During the 20th century, human food production increased massively. In part, this is because we increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which made plants lose less water to moisture and gave us warmer weather, particularly at night and during winter.
But as with any nutrition, too much of a good thing eventually stops being good. Imagine you suffer starvation. Consuming more calories initially makes you feel better. But as you steadily increase your calorie budget, eventually it becomes detrimental to your health again.
What Arrhenius did not anticipate, is how much the human population would grow and how much coal and other fossil fuels those people would end up using:
Most people forgot about Arrhenius theory again. CO2 hadn’t varied a lot in the atmosphere during their lifetimes and there were various other theories circulating too. However, something began to change rapidly around 1950. That’s when people began to figure out that all the carbon wasn’t ending up in the ocean: Most of it was ending up in the atmosphere.
But still, there was not a lot of worry. After all, there was another issue to consider too: Burning all these fossil fuels produces massive amounts of dust. This dust blocks the sun and so the warming effect was largely offset by the decrease in sunlight, an effect called global dimming. That’s why a number of people thought the blockade of sunlight would exceed the warming from carbon dioxide, leading to global cooling.
However, global dimming is largely coming to an end, because human beings don’t like to die from air pollution. In 1952, air pollution in London was so bad that anywhere around 10,000 people died, over a period of four days. Even today, 8 million deaths every year are thought to be due to air pollution. In other words, air pollution is not about to bail us out.
And so as time went on and we dealt with the air pollution, we ran into a new problem. Long before any of your politicians had any clue what was going on, the American oil companies were worried. From the 1970’s onwards, Exxon was busy studying how its business would affect our climate. They rapidly figured out that the carbon dioxide they were producing would have long term effects and would make our planet warmer.
And by 1982, they were pretty massively worried. They released a memo to upper management, that was “not to be distributed externally”. I’m going to cite to you here, from the internal report of Exxon Mobil:
“It is postulated that part of the Sahara Desert in Africa was quite- wet 2,000 to 8,000 years ago. The American Midwest, on the other band. was much drier, and it is projected that the midwest would again become drier should there be a temperature increase of the magnitude postulated for a
doubling of atmospheric CO2, (see Flgure 7).”
“CO2 induced warming is predicted to be much greater at the polar regions. There could also be positive feedback mechanisms as deposits of peat, containing large reservoirs of organic carbon, are exposed to oxidation. Similarly, thawing might also release large quantities of carbon currently sequestered as methane hydrates. Quantitative estimates of these possible effects are needed.”
“There is a need to be sure that “lifetime” exposure to elevated CO2, poses no risks to the health of humans or animals. Health effects associated with changes in the climate sensitive parameters or stress associated with climate related famine or migration could be significant, and deserve study.”
But they had a glass-half full kind of conclusion: It’s not as a bad as nuclear war and we’ll have to deal with it somehow:
“In terms of the societal and institutional responses to an increase in CO2, the AAAS-DOE workshop participants felt that society can adapt to the increase in CO2 and that this problem is not as significant to mankind as a nuclear holocaust. or world famine.”
I think this should become Exxon-Mobil’s new slogan: “hey at least it’s not a nuclear holocaust!”.
But amazingly, they also made a scenario, where they look at what could happen. Here you find their “high scenario”:
Pretty impressive, don’t you think? They figured out what the CO2 concentration in 2015 would be and they’re pretty accurate with the temperature increase too. Take a look at this: The baseline scenario is 1979, at 0 degree. Then in 2015, you’re 0.84 degree Celsius above that, with 409 parts of CO2 in the atmosphere per million:
So here you have what happened to global temperatures. In 1979 they were at -0.2 below the 1961-1990 average. Then by 2015, they’re at around 0.6. So that’s a 0.8 degree Celsius increase. For CO2, the concentration was accurate too. In other words, Exxon in 1979, had figured out what Joe Sixpack in the United States who comments on my blog, is still denying today! Pretty amazing don’t you think?
But here’s the real question to ask yourself: Do you think it’s coincidence that Exxon had figured out in 1979, what you are in denial about today? Of course it isn’t, rather, what the fossil fuel companies began to do, is that they began to sow doubt and resentment among working class conservative Americans. They’re the ideal fertile ground: They are skeptical of the society they live in, particularly of their government. These people know this, so they abuse you like a puppet on a string.
Take a look for example, at what Americans For Prosperity does, to get you very angry about the idea of doing something about this problem:
Behind much of this state-level pressure is money from Charles and David Koch, petroleum magnates who are increasingly notorious for funding far-right ventures such as FreedomWorks, a tea party organizer, and think tanks that traffic in climate-change denial. One of their organizations, Americans for Prosperity, is running a Regulation Reality Tour, which is trying to whip up outrage about the “EPA’s power grab.” Part of this Astroturf campaign involves political theater: fake “carbon cops” in little green Smart cars with flashing lights pull out badges and issue citations for carbon “crimes” like mowing a lawn.
So we can imagine how this goes: Joe Sixpack is barbecuing on his lawn and has a couple of Budweisers circulating in his bloodstream, and then up shows a guy dressed like a “carbon cop”, who starts handing out fake fines to Joe. And Mr. Sixpack doesn’t like this of course, but he is relieved to learn it’s just a joke.
But the seed has been planted: You now don’t think of climate change as a bunch of wealthy old billionaires poisoning your atmosphere to make themselves richer. No, you now think of it as “big government” trying to “impose tyranny”. This is not coincidence: These people know what makes you tick.
And when we look at how well all of this has worked out, to convince the average angry American white male that we should continue using the atmosphere as a waste dump, my recommendation to other American billionaires eager to make the average working class guy do their dirty work for them is as following:
-Hey Purdue pharma, go ahead and send a bunch of opioid cops into Joe Sixpack’s home. Tell him that he is getting fines for taking too many opioids for his back problems! Before you know it, every angry white male will demand that government stops intervening in his kids’ pill popping habit.
-Big government want to take away your job as a prison warden, by legalizing cannabis! The prison industry is vital to our economy, but the UN wants to get men out of jail for non-violent drug offenses because of some woke racial justice issue or something like that!
-The UN tyrants want to stop you from drinking microplastics! It’s my God given right to dump plastic bottles into the local river and if that stuff eventually ends up eaten by the fish I eat and starts clogging my blood vessels, then government has no business intervening!
And I know what you’re thinking now: “Alright Rintrah Radagast, you have made your point. But surely you see that the governments and Klaus Schwab and Bill Gates and all the other elites want to use this climate change issue to turn us all into neofeudal serfs?”
And that brings me to an important point: Climate change activists always knew it was going to be difficult to get everyone to agree to do something about it. And so James Hansen, who was the first to warn the US congress about what was going on, is adamant in the following solution: A revenue neutral carbon dividend.
This would look as following: Every fossil fuel company in the US has to pay a certain price per ton of CO2 they produce. This money then gets distributed equally to every citizen of the country. It’s very similar to what Henry George proposed with a tax on land. It also seems like the solution most compatible with the libertarian and conservative principle of a small government.
But let’s say for a moment, that you’re still not convinced. You still think this is some sort of giant UN global government WEF Klaus Schwab Bill Gates plot to make you live in a pod and eat bugs and pay your taxes directly to the Rothschild family.
Well I have a very simple challenge for you, you will love this one:
- Find a previous period in geological history, when concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere doubled in a period of less than 200 years.
- You get bonus points, if you can show that there was no global chaos back then: No mass extinctions, no sudden massive droughts, or any other sort of misery that involves mass death.
Because I have looked at this and let me tell you: I can’t find it. Whenever something remotely similar to what we’re doing now happened, the world went to shit. What we’re doing right now, is very unusual. Take a look at what our shellfish have to deal with:
We can’t really think of a period, when the ocean was acidifying as rapidly as it is today. This is very problematic for many lifeforms in the ocean, that have to deal with changes happening much more rapidly than they have ever experienced before:
“About 56 million years ago, a mysterious surge of carbon into the atmosphere warmed the planet and turned the oceans corrosive.
In about 5,000 years, atmospheric carbon doubled to 1,800 parts per million (ppm), and average global temperatures rose by about 6 degrees Celsius.
The carbonate plankton shells littering the seafloor dissolved, leaving the brown clay layer that scientists see in sediment cores today.
As many as half of all species of benthic foraminifera, a group of one-celled organisms that live at the ocean bottom, went extinct, suggesting that deep-sea organisms higher on the food chain may have also disappeared”
So the previous time this stuff happened, lifeforms in the ocean began dying out.
And keep in mind, this was an episode, where carbon dioxide doubled over a period of around 5000 years. We’re about to accomplish at least a doubling, in about 200 years!
So let me put it this way: Maybe you believe that you know something about the Earth’s climate and how it responds to carbon that basically nobody else has figured out. Maybe you are convinced that something is about to happen to the sun, that will cause a next little ice age to happen any moment now.
But do you really think you also have some sort of unique insight into ocean acidification, recognizing yet another hoax, where everyone else who looks at the problem thinks we’re doing something very dangerous and stupid?
My recommendation is really to just figure out that you have been duped by a bunch of billionaires, who have known about this problem now for at least forty years.
And what happens, when Americans don’t figure it out?
Well then you get to suffer megadroughts. Whenever you bring up that the droughts in the Western United States right now are not normal, Americans will show up, who will insist that California was just unusually wet in the 20th century and now it’s just going back to its dry normal. Apparently they seem to think that turns it into a non-issue. But here’s the thing: The drought you’re dealing with now, is unprecedented in 1200 years:
You would still have had a drought without climate change, but it wouldn’t have been as catastrophic as it is today. Unfortunately, most right-wing American men have been trained to respond like Pavlovian dogs by the fossil fuel industry, to throw a hissy fit whenever you bring up that unprecedented changes to our atmosphere will have unprecedented consequences.
Part of the problem with all these droughts we face is as following: A forest works like a sponge. Whenever a lot of rain falls, the forest will absorb it and then release it when there’s a drought, so that the plants can survive.
On the other hand, human beings don’t produce food through forests: We produce food by taking one crop and planting it everywhere. When there’s a downpour of rain, these plants struggle to absorb the water. Then when there’s a drought, they’re screwed as well, because their roots don’t dig deeply and they can’t release much stored moisture.
As our planet warms, what we’re going to see is that the overall amount of rain doesn’t change much. Rather: When it rains, it pours. We’re going to see that in the future, we will have much longer dry periods, along with short periods during which we have massive amounts of rain, which can then cause massive flooding.
And so you might say “well who cares if a couple of hundred people somewhere die in flooding because of unprecedented rainfall”. But here’s the thing: Our own crops will now have to deal with these conditions as well. This is not good for agriculture, it will cause our food production to go down massively. And whenever it rains massively like that, fertile topsoil is washed into the ocean.
You can’t see what’s happening now around the world, with skyrocketing food prices, as separately from the simple fact that we’re facing unprecedented droughts in many places. The Western United States are dealing with their worst drought in at least 1200 years.
Morocco today is dealing with the worst drought in four decades. The Horn of Africa, is also dealing with the worst drought in decades. Afghanistan, is also dealing with the worst drought in decades. In Iraq, the drought reduced harvests by 40% compared to last year. And Chili right now, is having to cut off water to people living in Santiago, because they also face their worst drought in history.
So tell me: Is this normal? We know that the war in Ukraine is devastating food production. We know that the lockdowns of 2020 caused massive deficit spending, that is now leading to mass inflation. But do you really think it’s far fetched, to suggest that countries around the world dealing with massive droughts and being forced to import food elsewhere, could play a role in the escalating food prices we’re observing everywhere?
And while we’re at it, do you think this is going to get any better, anytime soon? The warming we face is going to continue to get worse, as long as we’re burning fossil fuels. If every country on the planet somehow reduced its fossil fuel use by 50% today, that wouldn’t mean the warming stops. Rather, the warming will still continue to get worse, but the speed at which it gets worse goes down.
I think we’re going to reduce our fossil fuel use in the years ahead, but not voluntarily. Rather, we’re going to reduce our fossil fuel use, because all of the problems we face are just going to escalate further. War, disease, famines, these are not going to go away. This is now the new normal.
But with that said, it’s time to look at the opposite arguments. What do those look like?
“YOU”RE A BETA SOYBOY LIBCUCK”
Alright cool you got me, congratulations, have fun with the global famines.
Yes, China burns coal too. I’m not a big fan of communist dictatorships in general. But hey, I just heard my neighbor beating his wife. Should I beat my wife too?
“My country is just 1.6% of global emissions so if we did everything right we would only reduce temperatures by 0.00000000001 degree”
Hey, your great-grandfather was just 0.0001% of the allied army. If he would have just stayed home with his thumb up his arse, Hitler would still have been defeated. In other words, everyone should just have ignored the problem.
“It hasn’t warmed since 1998”
Sorry this argument is dead. Same with the volcano one. You need to keep up to date with the programming, go back to Exxon-Mobil and ask them to update your brain-chip.
“It’s not going to be a catastrophe, you’re exaggerating”
Really? Well at 1.5 degree Celsius, we will have basically lost all of our coral reefs around the world. About a billion people worldwide depend on the coral reefs for nutrition.
Oh and there’s a 40% chance that India will see heatwaves that are too hot for humans to survive in the shade. By the 2030’s. In other words, that’s what we could already be facing ten year from now. How do you see Pakistan and India getting along with each other when the water becomes scarce as the snow in the Himalayas melts? Want to know what a nuclear exchange would look like?
Hey, if we’re acidifying the ocean faster than at any previous time in the past 300 million years, is it strange that I think the consequences of that would be catastrophic?
“Bill Gates has a big gut from his plant-based fake meat!”
Yeah. And Al Gore has a big house. Oh and Prince Charles flies around the world. Oh and Greta Thunberg uses a plastic straw. That’s it, nevermind, you’ve got me, I’ll wrap this thing up. Hey before you leave, be sure to buy some bitcoins, burning coal to produce fake money is good for the environment too.