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“Code red for humanity”

Article Published At:
Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus
Date of Publication:
November 6th, 2021

The climate crisis from the burning of the fossil fuels is bringing disaster after disaster this year. We have known for decades this was coming, but most societies have made promises but delayed action, so CO2 keeps rising. The first part of the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) was released in draft form in August 2021 in preparation for the COP26 meeting in Glasgow currently in progress. It was described by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres as nothing less than "a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable".

We understand why this is happening. The Fossil fuel Empire (led by Exxon-Mobil) were told by their own chief scientist in 1978 to change their business plan, since doubling CO2 would be disastrous for the planet. But Exxon silenced him and started the webs of lies to deceive the public, followed by the bribing of politicians to prevent action. Exxon is still being subsidized to destroy the Earth, so the Fossil Empire can greedily make trillions killing our children and grand-children and much of life of Earth.

Faced with the 2021 climate catastrophes, most people can see the obvious: that the climate crisis is out of control. Grasping this Truth sets us free to act. We must choose between the Earth and the Fossil Empire. The choice is obvious: we must choose the Earth. Indigenous people have known this for thousands of years, but ‘modern western society’ has done everything it could to destroy the indigenous mindset. The deep shift in consciousness to back the Earth, who is in charge, is still heresy. Indeed it is almost impossible for our society, obsessed with human power and greed, and business-as-usual capitalism.

Let us review the many 2021 climate disasters from the perspective of the Earth. Since evaporation goes up steeply with temperature, rainfall rates are also going up steeply. With slower moving mid-latitude weather systems (because the Arctic is warming rapidly), this means that heavy rain periods can now last much longer, and drive extreme flooding. The extreme mid-July floods in Europe and China stunned people and many were drowned. The huge Three Gorges dam in China came close to collapse. China has a power shortage as their coal mines were flooded.

On August 21 as Tropical Storm Henri approached, Central Park in Manhattan saw a new record rainfall rate of 1.94 ins/hr and a new daily record total of 4.45 inches; only to see this record shattered 10 days later on September 1 when the remnants of Hurricane Ida crossed the Northeast. The new Central Park record is 3.15 ins/hr with an event total of 8 inches. Many died in the massive flooding of NYC and New Jersey. Despite the warning of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the unprotected subways again flooded, and people drowned in their cars and basement apartments. The Earth will flood the NYC financial infrastructure, until it grasps that it is criminal ecocide to profit from funding the Fossil Empire to destroy the Earth.

The record-breaking Arctic cold that flowed deep into Texas in mid-February hit the Texas refining and petrochemical sectors as hard as any hurricane, causing lasting damage. The Texas power grid was shut down, and infrastructure was damaged at a cost that could exceed $100 billion. I do not need to tell readers how corrupt the Texas government is, and that it is a key focus of the Fossil Empire’s plans to destroy the Earth. The response by the Earth is fitting. The wake-up call for Houston was Category 4 Harvey in 2017, which damaged some drilling platforms and brought devastating flooding to the city. But they did not wake up – they just rebuilt at a cost of about $125 billion. The Texas and Louisiana coasts are a maze of pipelines from thousands of off-shore oil wells and drilling rigs. Many hurricanes will be needed to take them out. In 2020, hurricanes Hanna and (Cat 4) Laura and TS Beta hit Texas, followed by hurricanes Nicholas and Ida in 2021 (both Cat 4). To the east the coast of Louisiana was hit in 2020 by TS Cristobal and hurricanes Laura (Cat 4), Delta (Cat 2) and Zeta (Cat 3); and in 2021 by TS Claudette and Cat 4 hurricane Ida. For each major storm, rigs are often evacuated and damaged so they leak oil into the Gulf. Massive flooding and frequent power outages on-shore are making life very difficult. These states will do nothing to shut down this fossil fuel infrastructure, so the Earth system will destroy it with increasing storms and hurricanes.

This perspective is a challenge for us. I can hear the protests that the Earth has no perspective or intelligence to protect its interests. This is almost funny when it is obvious that humanity utterly lacks the intelligence to protect the Earth on which all of life depends. Pray the indigenous people are right and back the Earth.

My perspective as a climate scientist is that the climate system is a fully-coupled complex living system. It has an infinite number of modes, and from these the Earth system now appears to be choosing modes many months ahead to impact the infrastructure that is destroying the Earth. With our models we struggle to forecast climate one month ahead. This year, some forecasts a week ahead have been simply hard to believe. Oregon, Washington and British Columbia have typical summer high temperatures in the 70’s or 80’s, but in late June 2021 extreme temperatures as high as 110ºF occurred with a stationary ridge of high pressure. The small town of Lytton in southwest Canada was warmer three days in a row by more than 2oF until it reached 121 oF. Imagine Death Valley temperatures in a Canadian forest. On the 4th day it simply caught fire and burnt down. This extreme broke the all-Canadian temperature record, set during a drought in southern Saskatchewan 80 years ago, by an unimaginable 8 oF (4.6 oC). Canada was in shock, but will they shut down the massive oil sands development that is part of the climate crisis?

The truth is that the living Earth system is in charge, not human power and greed. If we do not choose the Earth over the Fossil Empire, global climate change will destroy many industrial societies.

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