Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet


The reason some popular posts are tagged ‘no title’ is not because they have no title—they all do—but because the old Blogger embedded the title at the top of text, and the new software does not see that. You can see the titles in capitals at the start of each snippet. (It would be nice if Blogger introduced an upgrade program that could fix this little problem.)

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Wednesday 26 April 2006


A graph on page 62 of the April issue of the National Geographic magazine shows global carbon-dioxide emissions from the production of electricity from 1971 to the present, and projects them to 2030. In 1971 the emissions were 4 billion tonnes. Now they are 9.9 billion. In 2030 they are expected to be 16.8 billion. Coal, the worst offender, is expected to carry on being the biggest source of generation energy--in spite of its ruinous effect on the planet. Every kWh generated from the burning of coal puts another 265-360 grams of carbon-dioxide into the only atmosphere we can live in in the entire universe. Natural gas, which is second to coal in electricity generation, puts out 125-180g per kWh. Oil puts 220-250g.

We never learn. We never, ever learn. We never, ever learn.

In Tilden Town, when the stars fell down,
The folk did not remark.
They went their round with eyes aground,
Though nights were twice as dark.

Meanwhile, as the price of oil soars, the 775 million car-owners, who obviously care nothing for the fact that they are all participating in the trashing of the planet, are worried only about how much it will cost them at the pumps to do it...

And Monica, a Category 5 tropical cyclone (a hurricane/typhoon by another name) north of Australia, packed winds of up to 350kph (217mph) at what the Australian Met Office called its 'VERY DESTRUCTIVE core' (its capitalisation). The Daily Telegraph headlined it as perhaps the biggest storm ever recorded. Hardly surprising. The power of tropical storms comes from the temperature and the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere, and the hotter it gets, the more water vapour there is. Monica is just another playing of the overture to a long-running opera that will bring us scenes of terrifying power.

Saturday 22 April 2006


The most important part of the brain is the emotional centre, because that is where decision-making begins. Thus forming emotional attachments to inappropriate things is at best unwise and at worst dangerous, because the brain alters the neural wiring that relates to those things; then we become incapable of making good, rational decisions about them. We can no longer make decisions in our own best interests or in the best interests of the society we live in.

That is how things are with cars powered by fossil fuels. People are addicted to them--in particular to the sound they make. They are addicted to that brrrm-brrrm. They love the feeling of power when they flick the foot and a roar erupts from under the bonnet. They love to make that racket. They do not feel complete without it. Their addiction has modified their brains, literally damaged them, so they have become incapable of making rational decisions about cars, decisions in their own best interests or the best interests of society. They blithely carry on living in a way that guarantees them and their children a degraded, even fatal, future. They are like heavy-metal headbangers, who cannot give up their rowdy insanity because it has become necessary to their distorted being.

So kiss goodbye to the best we shall ever see of planet Earth. It went down the black brrrm-brrrm tubes of 775 million car-exhausts, carelessly flicked down by 775 million roar-addicted feet.

Monday 17 April 2006


An item on BBC Newsis yet more evidence that we are for it--that the consequences of global overheating will be far worse than suggested by the reassuring offical noises coming from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). The air over the Antarctic has risen a massive 2.5 degrees Celsius in the last fifty years, a rise that the computer modelling did not foresee because it uses a simplified model of the Antarctic's complexities. But it has long been plain that the predictions based on computer modelling are conservative. Indeed, those who do the modelling say that they take the middle line through the results. What they publish is not the worst scenario predicted, nor the best. The middle. But the actual readings are tracking along the top.

Now this latest study, using real readings from all over the Antarctic, underlines the point. And the matter is serious. If we lost all the ice in the Antarctic the oceans would be 60 metres higher.

But it should be no surprise that the Antarctic is heating up much faster than most of the rest of the planet. At the other end of the earth the Arctic is doing likewise, and it is agreed that that is due to human activity--burning the black stuff. So to suggest that the Antarctic's rise could be a natural phenomenon is just sticking the scientific head into the Arabian sands, the Canadian tar sands, the nearest coal mine...

Another recent item on BBC News quoted Britain's Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir David King, as saying that we are in for a rise of at least 3 degrees Celsius this century, and that that would put 400 million people at risk of starvation, up to 3 billion at risk of running out of water, and threaten forests all over the place. Curiously, before this blog could react with a posting, the page was revamped and all that bad news, except for the 3 degrees, was deleted. Very curious. But, as the old saying has it, truth will out. The full horror will come, ultimately, from official mouths. When, of course, it is many decades too late to do even a blind bit about it.

Sir David's expectation that we will reach 500 parts per million of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere should be enough to scare everyone. That is twice the 280ppm we had before we started burning solid black stuff (coal) in 1795, and way above the 380ppm we have got to now by adding liquid black stuff (oil). And at that level, said a high-powered scientific convention in London at the start of 2005, there was no safe increase. 380ppm is already monumentally insane: unadulterated, unstoppable global vandalism. So what do you call 120ppm past the point of no safe increase. What word is there for beyond insanity?

To say that 500ppm will bring an increase of only 3 degrees Celsius on average over the whole planet is beyond optimism. As this blog has already pointed out, the paleoclimatologists say that last time we had 380ppm the temperature was 6 degrees higher. The masking effect of solar-dimming and hysteresis have kept that to 0.6 degrees, so the worst scenarios of computer modelling--of 10 degrees of more--look a serious prospect. That means the meltdown of polar and glacial ice will be much faster than the optimists like to think.

Monday 10 April 2006


At last! The true horror of global overheating is starting to come into the general media. This item in BBC News underlines the fact that we are well past the point of no return, and that things are far worse than officialdom (officialdumb?) and governments and the UN are admitting or willing to take into account.

That has been obvious for a long time, ever since, for example, paleoclimatologists said they could not understand why there was only a rise of 0.6 degrees Celsius in the average global temperature in the twentieth century, because the last time there was the same amount of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere it was 6 degrees hotter. Now we know the reason (apart from the normal inertia inherent in change): solar dimming, which slowed the overheating. But if we leave the filth we suffer or die from pollution, then suffer or die from climate-change; if we clean it up we suffer or die from climate-change a bit sooner. A two-edged sword. One we forged. Well done us!

Now all our vultures are coming home to roost.