Wednesday, April 1, 2015

THE CRUNCH - Are You Ready?

From US Dept of Energy lab, Dr. Steven J. Smith says we will get hotter faster. Paul Goddard on why sea level went up over 2 inches in New England in 1 year. Carolyn Baker: preparing our minds and hearts for the coming troubles.

The Radio Ecoshock train is all booked up, ready to leave the station. We have two science reports: how we know the world will get hotter faster, and why sea levels along Eastern North America went up a couple of inches in single year. But first, I worry how we will cope with the coming bottleneck, when the economy crashes, along with climate disruption. Are you ready inside?

Then let's turn to the scientists. First, why temperatures will go up almost 2 degrees in North America and Europe in the next 40 years. After that, we'll investigate a case extraordinary sea level rise.

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CAROLYN BAKER: Love In the Age of Ecological Apocalypse

Our next guest, Carolyn Baker returns to Radio Ecoshock. Carolyn is the author of many books, including "Collapsing Consciously", "Sacred Demise" and now a brand new book: "Love In the Age of Ecological Apocalypse: the Relationships We Need to Thrive". She has been a former psychotherapist, and currently offers life coaching.

Carolyn and I share news stories, although I get more than I give, being a subscriber to her amazing daily news service. We're kind of online friends, but we don't agree about everything. For example, I want my listeners to know that I don't agree that humans will go extinct this century.

But here's the thing. I think humans are in for some terrible shocks in the future. We are badly prepared, mentally and emotionally, to handle what is coming. Carolyn has some really useful inside tech to help us deal. We're going to need it.

We both agree that humans are approaching an awful bottleneck due to multiple causes. I would include the impacts of climate change, the economy, possibly a new plague, energy and food supply problems.

On Carolyn's web site, looking through the videos page, I was surprised, and not surprised, to find her interview with preparedness guru Chris Martenson. Chris probably has a lot of male listeners, some of them preppers with extra gold, food, and guns in the basement. Maybe they need Carolyn most, to realize relationships and community may be the survival tools we need most.

It's my theory that millions of Western people have become disengaged from fundamental human feelings. They experience emotions through characters on TV or movies. That's when they laugh or cry on cue, along with the sound-track. Soon, it's time to get real, and experience our own emotions.

Let's say we have the real economic crash we deserve. Money becomes almost worthless, and jobs disappear. Even if it's just a major depression, millions of people may find their emotions are left back in a child-like state. They didn't get or take the opportunity to feel real grief from real life.


I'm going somewhere with this. It seems obvious that an event or period where millions of people die is coming, possibly this decade, almost certainly during the next. I don't know if it will be famine, but there are just too many reasons why our population is unsustainable. What happens to the survivors, especially if they witness it all on TV?

Just think of the lasting emotional scar left by about 5 million human-caused deaths in the Holocaust during World War Two. Now let's picture millions of people dying, due to our wasteful lifestyles burning carbon, over-using pesticides and antibiotics, or filling the ocean with plastic. How would we handle it?

I think that post-traumatic stress disorder could become a result, but on a mass scale, almost viral. If we take those PTSD symptoms and draw them out on a big social scale, what does that look like?

The other possible reaction is seen in the medical diagnosis of "shock". The person becomes numb, may even fall asleep as the bombs fall, as happened in World War I. That is one of several reasons I called this program "Ecoshock". I think millions of people will go into a state of shock as the environment unravels from the stresses we have created. Can you picture that?

A third possibility arises, and that is the direction you take. We could learn to grieve and survive. How can grief help us get through things? The key question is: how do we stop grieving, and what follows next? Carolyn addresses all that in her book, and in our interview.

Carolyn has been counselling people, especially those newly aware of the coming challenges for years. A lot of that gets into this new book. A challenge we've talked about before, but which keeps coming up, is the situation where one person in a relationship sees the fragility of our system and wants "out" or at least want to prepare a fall-back position. The spouse, and it could be a man or a woman, doesn't see it, and wants to keep playing the role of debt and consumption. We talk briefly about handling that, but the in-depth material is in the book.

Is it harder to find friends and lover now, as the media and the economy encourages us to sit in our silos of the office and then the couch and TV?

Carolyn lost a friend, and in the process learned more about the hospice experience. She thinks with species disappearing daily, and beloved landscapes and natural experiences lost, we may all be in hospice. Does that mean we just sit around crying? Not at all says Carolyn. Some people in hospice find a new release, and learn to value every minute of every day. We can all learn from that. And yes, joy has an important place even in difficult times.

I'm always interested in how aware people use the media to get their message out. Carolyn writes books, pumps out a daily news service of headlines we all need to hear about, and she took over "The Lifeboat Hour" radio show after the passing of Michael C. Ruppert. The Lifeboat Hour had it's own share of collapsing, after the New York studio of the Progressive Radio Network (PRN) was flooded and badly damaged. PRN had to go to pre-recorded programs only, instead of popular call-in programs like The Lifeboat Hour.

Carolyn tried Global Collapse Radio out of the UK, but that folded when the founding partners split up recently. Now PRN is back with renovated studios, and The Lifeboat Hour is back with Carolyn Baker at a new time, Fridays at 2 pm. You can listen live at PRN, or download past shows here at

By the way, you can listen to Radio Ecoshock online on PRN every Saturday morning at 10:30 am Eastern Time. Listen to/download this Radio Ecoshock interview with Carolyn Baker in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Check out all things Carolyn Baker at her web site Speaking Truth to Power.


Scientists have predicted how hot Earth can become, depending on our greenhouse gas emissions. But they seldom say how quickly that happens, or how it will develop in the region where you live. As biologists can tell you, when it comes to survival of the species, the rate of warming may be as important as the final temperature.

What's true for the animals and plants is just as true for humans and our ability to adapt our civilization. Speed matters. Biologists have been saying for decades the rate of change is key. Plants, animals and insects can only adapt so far, and in the living network, they have to move together, or species and systems begin to fail.

That's why I welcome a new paper titled "Near-term acceleration in the rate of temperature change." The lead author is Dr. Steven J. Smith, a past lead author with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and currently a scientist with the Joint Global Change Research Institute, of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in Maryland. That's part of the U.S. Department of Energy. Dr. Steven Smith joins us on Radio Ecoshock to discuss this new research.

This paper finds the rate of heating, and therefore the actual impacts of climate change, is speeding up. The world is heating at a faster rate than at any time in at least the past 1,000 years, probably more.

Smith tells us: "What these climate models project is that we are on the cusp right now of a new state of climate where the models are projecting that the rate of change will soon start to speed up, and be outside of the range that we saw historically."

There has been too little research into this rate of change. Previous work looked at a rate on a century scale. This paper tries to quantify what is happening in shorter, more meaningful time scales, like 40 years, something "comparable to the life-time of much of human infrastructure.

Another factor to consider: new science has emerged predicting that heat sinks like oceans and forest may not function as well in the coming decades. If those land and ocean heat sinks are declining in their uptake of CO2, could that speed up the rate of temperature increase even more?

I am referring to the 2014 study, “The declining uptake rate of atmospheric CO2 by land and ocean sinks,” M.R. Raupach et al. Biogeosciences, 11, 3453–3475, 2014 Paper here.


In the paper "Near-term acceleration in the rate of temperature change" we find this, quote:

"Although global temperature trends are on of the most commonly used metrics of climate change, climate impacts will be driven by regional trends."

Why do regional results matter as much or more than global forecasts? Farmers, and all of us care more about what will happen in our area.

Let's talk about a few regions of the Northern Hemisphere. What did these scientists find about the rate of temperature increases in North America? "In North America, the models showed a change from about .7 to about 1.8 degrees Centigrade over a 40 year period.... that's about 1 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit over that period."

What about Europe? The scientists found predictions of increasing warming there are similar to North America.

The Arctic is already fantastically warmer the past few years. Will it get even warmer, even faster? Yes, according to this study. Temperatures in the Arctic will go up 1.1 to 3 degrees degree the year 2050.

What are the predictions about warming rates in Australia or New Zealand?

"Australasia has lower rates of change in both data sets". Due to the large amount of ocean in the southern Hemisphere, warming will come slower in places like Australia.


A key point I found in this paper is the concept that as this century progresses, the human fingerprint on climate change becomes easier to see. Right now we have a hard time saying that a certain violent storm or heat wave is due to human emissions, rather than natural cycles or variations. All that should become clearer by 2040 or 2050, although the whole question is still an active topic in science.

Steven Smith says it will likely be easier to attribute heat waves to increased warming, than rainfall. Extreme rainfall events may have several complicated causes, so they will be harder to directly attribute to human caused global warming, he says.

But the scientists cannot predict how humans will react to this heating. As Smith points out, there are no laws of physics governing human behavior. So the paper cannot take into account things like a severe economic crash which slashes carbon emissions. However, their paper concentrated on the 90% most likely range, so extreme events might be found in the 10% tails on the prediction curve, which they don't cover. Let's call that a Black Swan event, which may or may not ever happen.

Download or listen to this key science interview with Steven J. Smith in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Sea level rise has been called the single greatest impact of climate change. But we are learning sea level can go up regionally for other reasons. Surprising new research shows the ocean rose along the coast of New England by almost 4 inches for a couple of years.

Here to explain why is Paul B. Goddard. He's working on his PHD in climatology and climate modeling at the University of Arizona. Most recently, Paul was the lead author of a paper in the journal Nature Communications titled: "An extreme event of sea-level rise along the Northeast coast of North America in 2009–2010."

I've been told by experts, including scientists on Radio Ecoshock, that the major cause of sea level rise in places like New York city was subsidence - that the land was still sinking along the coast after the glaciers departed. But this new research found the sudden higher sea levels was not due to land sinking, which is a very, very slow process.

That shows just how complicated assigning the causes of sea level rise can be. If it wasn't subsidence, what did cause New England seas to go up 128 millimeters, or about 5 inches, in some places? It all has to do with ocean currents in the North Atlantic. In particular, the Gulf Stream changed.

Regular listeners must be bored with my repetitive amazement that the sea is not level. It isn't. Anyway, in this case, the outer, Eastward side of the Gulf Stream was lower than it's Western edge, which helped pile up water on the New England coast.

I'm assuming this new work is closely related to another paper. That's the one in Ocean Science led by H.L. Bryden. The title is "Impact of a 30 % reduction in Atlantic meridional overturning during 2009–2010". Scientists call it AMOC for short. Our guest Paul Goddard gives us the clearest explanation of these ocean currents that's I've heard.

I was astounded to find in that Bryden paper that this North Atlantic ocean current system is, quote:

"accounting for 25 % of the maximum combined atmosphere–ocean heat transport necessary to balance the Earth’s radiation budget."

Twenty five percent is a huge number! What happens if this system slows down - as some scientists fear it might. That could happen if a whole lot of fresh water floods into the far north Atlantic, due to melting in Greenland and elsewhere in the Arctic. The big ocean conveyor belt depends on heavy salty water sinking, and more freshwater could throw that out. That's the theme in the overblown Hollywood movie "The Day After Tomorrow". Scientists do worry about this, but on a much slower scale, perhaps over a century or two. One side effect would be much colder weather for the UK and Europe.

Another key reason I thought this paper was important is: what if ocean circulation brings another big hike in sea levels - at the same time as a big storm-surge event like Hurricane Sandy. Wouldn't Sandy flooding have been much worse if it happened in 2009 or 2010? Yes it would, Goddard tells us.

This is one reason why I think the impacts of sea level rise are routinely underestimated. Ten or twenty millimeters of sea level rise in the near-term doesn't sound like much. But we have to couple that with things like a high Spring tide, storm surge, and now periods of change in ocean circulation.

The whole subject of how the ocean works is coming into a kind of renaissance. We are coming to appreciate two things: 1. how much we really don't know about the ocean and 2. the ocean is probably the biggest single factor driving climate in the coming centuries.

Download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock interview with Paul Goddard in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Here is a good article in Science Daily to follow up on this strange case of rapid sea level rise.


Thanks for sticking with it. We all need to feed our brains until we know what to do, without a doubt to stop us.

Next week we're starting a bit of change, as Spring arrives in the Northern Hemisphere. We'll talk with energy guru Richard Heinberg about his new book "Afterburn". And then Marjory WildCraft tells us about a big online summit on growing your own groceries. I hope this plants a seed in your mind.

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Thanks for listening, and caring about your world.

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