Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Climate Catastrophe Past and Future


Washington University's Peter Ward specializes in the 4 past extinctions from global warming. He's appeared on TV, author of 14 books, and warns rising seas will change America forever.

Dr. Morgan Schaller of Rutgers tells us about a sudden heating event 55 million years ago when Earth warmed 9 degrees in 13 years. Could it happen again?

Plus Stephanie Goodwin of Greenpeace on the "Arctic 30" protesters being held for months in a Russian prison, after climbing on an Arctic drilling platform. Why are they charged with "piracy"? Radio Ecoshock 131023 1 hour.

Download/listen to this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)


It's been another week of trouble on Planet Earth. Multiple cyclones hit Asia, plus tropical storm Wipha dumped so much water on the blown reactors at Fukushima, struggling utility owner TEPCO announced the highest radiation reading on record, 400,000 becquerels per liter near one of their storage tanks. We were told that was all over, everything under control.

Down under in Australia another fire season has hit earlier than ever, following that country's hottest year ever, and hottest September ever recorded. Naturally the new Abbott government is doing all it can - to dismantle every carbon control and climate change law in Australia. Nice work fellas - enjoy your hot new times.


Dr. Peter Ward

Of the five great extinctions, many people know a meteor crashed into Earth killing off the dinosaurs. The other four were caused by global warming - a fact that hasn't penetrated the minds of the public or our legislators.

Dr. Peter Ward is an expert on past climate and mass extinctions. He's an author, reseacher, paleontologist, and professor of Biology and of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington. Among his 14 books, we find recently "Under A Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future"; "The Medea Hypothesis: Is Life on Earth Ultimately Self-Destructive?"; and "The Flooded Earth: Our Future In a World Without Ice Caps".

You can download or listen to this 25 minute interview with Peter Ward here in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

I strongly recommend you watch this great Peter Ward video. It from the Brown Bag Lecture Series at Edmunds College in Seattle Washington on Apr. 11, 2013.

For the awful truth about rising seas, watch Peter in this National Geographic special 'Earth Under Water - Worldwide Flooding".

Peter assures us that rising seas, not heat, will be the most devastating impact we will feel under the new changing climate.

Or try this Radio Ecoshock You tube version of my previous 8 minute interview with Peter Ward about rising seas.


What would happen if world temperatures jumped 5 degrees Centigrade, 9 degrees Fahrenheit, in just 13 years? Impossible says mainstream science. But a new paper published this September, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows a rapid wild heating event struck before on this planet, 55 million years ago. Could it happen again?

Our guest Dr. Morgan F. Schaller is from the Wright Labs, at the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Along with James Wright, Morgan is co-author of the paper “Evidence for a rapid release of carbon at the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum."

This is a hugely important paper. Joe Romm did an excellent article about it at Think Progress. Please take a look at it.

Listen to or download my interview with Rutgers scientist Morgan Schaller in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


I need to add this note about numbers. In this interview Dr. Schaller uses figures of elemental carbon emissions of all types emitted by humans, and in the atmosphere, rather than carbon dioxide only.

For example, while I was correct estimating the current mass of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at 3,000 gigatons, Schaller sees that as 800 gigatons of elemental carbon, which is also correct.

We emit around 30 gigatons of carbon dioxide a year, but scientists consider this as the elemental mass of about 8 gigatons. There is no conflict in these numbers, but a different language and perspective.

I was confused, because Schaller says (7:50) we are releasing carbon into atmosphere at about 8 GT a year. But this article, apparently sourcing Alan Robuck, says we are releasing 30 GT a year.

That is based on this table from the EIA, the U.S. government Energy Information Administration, with a country by country total.

North America alone emits about 8 GT a year from energy consumption.

But remember, this is a case of apples and oranges. Morgan Schaller is not calculating the total mass of carbon dioxide, but just the carbon (in various forms) in the atmosphere. For me, it was another learning moment, as we attempt to translate deep science into the public domain.

You can find good graphics on the amounts of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere here.


We finish with an up-to-date issue: about a month ago, the Russians seized the Greenpeace ice-breaker "Arctic Sun Rise" - plus all of it's crew and journalists on board. They are being held in a jail for months, while prosecutors try to work up a case of "piracy". Piracy!

In reality, a few climbers tried to mount a Russian Gasprom oil rig, one of the first to drill in the Arctic for oil. Of course drilling there is very dangerous. An oil spill could last years, even decades, in the cold Arctic environment. The microbes that helped eat up some of the spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, after the BP Deep Water Horizon disaster, do not thrive in cold Arctic waters and ice.

But the real kicker is nobody would be drilling in the Arctic if the oil companies had not aleady triggered so much global warming that the Arctic Ocean experience record sea ice melt-back. Now they want to create even more global warming to finish the job?

Listen to or download my interview with Stephanie Goodwin, BC director for Greenpeace Canada in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Greenpeace isn't against the Russian government, or any government. They just want to protect the Arctic, and our children. Putting a few protest ropes on a giant oil derrick is hardly "piracy". The Russians have way over-reacted. Even President Vladimir Putin commented he thought piracy charges were not appropriate.

The Executive Director of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo, grew up with resistance to Apartheid in South Africa. He bravely offered to go live in Russia, as a guarantee the protesters and crew would return for trial. That offer was not accepted.

Even a couple of journalists were dragged in to jail, and languish there. If an American citizen was taken in Iran, we'd hear about it forever. What about the American, and people of conscience of all nationalities taken from the Greenpeace ship, in international waters, and held for months?

Finally Hilary Clinton's office called for their release. The Dutch government has protested, and asked for the ship's release - but then a Dutch representative was strangely beaten up in Russia. It's a tough dirty game out there.

You can help free the Arctic 30 by going to Greenpeace.org, selecting your country, and following the suggestions there, asking for their release.

Here is a rare photo of Alex Smith, on the bridge of the Rainbow Warrior III in Vancouver in October.

Too bad my eyes were not open! But trust me, I'm not asleep at the wheel.

The Warrior III is a custom-built ship which can use sails instead of oil to cross the Pacific. It's a fast unique design, with a new type of mast, that any sailor would envy.

While the Warrior was in Vancouver, it launched an action against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline from the Tar Sands to the Port of Vancouver. Hundreds of tankers would to through the port, carrying diluted bitmumen. Unlike oil, "dilbit" sinks to the bottom as a gooey mess. What will they do to clean up the inevitable spill? Dam up the First Narrows and drain the whole port, to scrub the bottom?

One of the world's most gorgeous cities is under threat from the Tar Sands. But then, all cities are threatened by the Tar Sands, as our first speaker Peter Ward explained.


A small group of donors and members keep me going with Radio Ecoshock. We need a few more monthly members. Please join us, here at ecoshock.org.

While you are at the site, feel free to download a ton of free mp3's. Pass them out far and wide.

Background music for this program was provided from album "Deafmix" by Shane Philips from Vancouver Island. Thank you Shane. Check him out on You tube. Shane is a one-man band beyond belief.

We are out of time. Thank you for listening.

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