ARE WE COOKED?                        

                                                                      by  Michael Hammerschlag


                                                                                                                                               updated 2022



Recent facts show global warming4 will be much worse than thought...  and detailed analyses of 4 km. of Antarctic and Greenland  ice cores show catastrophic temperature changes of 5-9C happen fast, as quickly as a few years. Over the last 25 years climatologists have drilled 5 cores down through 900,000 years of history, through 8 complete ice ages, revealing temperatures, weather, dust, pollen, bacteria, and the actual atmospheric gases trapped in the yearly tree-like layers- the most detailed record of the earth's history ever seen. The big one- the full Antarctic record (EPICA)- was only finished in 2004.  [all temps are C]


According to the book  ICE , by Newsweek reporter Mariana Gospel,  the shock was the startling abrupt shifts: 20 times in the last 100,000 year ice age, temperature spiked upward 5-9C (70% up towards current warmth) in as little as 5-10 years in the Northern hemisphere. Climate changes apparently often aren't like mountain building- slow grinding changes that take thousands of years. They are sometimes more like earthquakes- sudden sharp convulsions that totally change life on Earth; or maybe more like a seesaw, that, slowly overbalanced, finally slams to the other side. After the 1300 year Younger Dryas return to Ice Age weather 12,500 years ago after the spastic start of the current interglacial warm period (probably due to massive glacial Lake Agassiz- covering Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Mn- venting it's fresh water into the Atlantic when the Ice Cap dam broke, and interrupting the Gulf Stream), the end was explosive- temperatures extremes went up 9C  in in a decade.

          -140,000 yr ice core temp records [links to full size charts at end]

"I cannot insist that the climate changed in one year, but it certainly looks that way," says UNH Greenland ice borer Richard Alley. The start of the Younger Dryas was harsh too- the temperature plummeted 8 C in a few years, but the rises have always been incredibly precipitous. The last warm Interglacial 115-135,000 years ago, the Eemian (Sangamon), was also punctuated by sudden severe coolings, less stable than ours. [Most warming numbers here refer to the most extreme changes, not the world average.]


The evidence is sobering: the spiking charts of temperatures over the last million years (measured by the amount of heavy Oxygen-O18) exactly match the peaks and valleys of CO2 and methane concentrations, but the current CO2 levels are off the chart, 49% higher than preindustrial levels, and 32% above anything seen in a million years1, and the entire unprecedented rise has been since 1750, the official cutoff for before industrial greenhouse gases-but actually since 1910). The 100,000 year ice age cycles are believed to be mainly due to several regular variations in Earth's orbit (changes from circular to closer to Sun ellipse during Interglacials), but potent greenhouse gases can amplify or alter them.


Average world warming is quite deceptive, since the effects increase enormously with latitude, so the 1.0C (1.62F) average rise, the number, over the last 110 years (from 1907 to 2017 a 1.1C rise in annual averages), can mean a .5C rise in the tropics, 1-1.7C rise in Europe, and 3-8C change in the Arctic, especially in the night temperature minimums, which reduces ice formation. "You have a factor of 3 between the tropics and the highest latitudes," says the NASA Goddard Director, climatologist Gavin Schmidt. Some places have "warmed much more than normal in the last 50 years. There's been a huge warming in Siberia and Alaska, but if you go to the Labrador Sea, it's very small."


We are cranking out 9 billion tons* of CO2 a year, and emissions are now increasing 2.5% every year (fluctuates), now 419 (3/2022) ppm and rising by 2-3 ppm (depends on fires) a year, and economically booming China's (and soon India) CO2 generation is exploding- a new power plant in China that could alone supply San Diego built every 7-10 days, burning coal- the worst fuel (their only), creating only carbon dioxide (and a little soot and sulfur). Just since 1960, atmospheric CO2 has increased 33%! Every ton of burning coal makes over 3 tons of CO2 ! 2 After being stable for 8 years, Chinese coal burning in the 2 years up to Dec 2004, increased 46% (using 10 times as much as all of Africa), leading to a worldwide coal use increase of 16%- they passed USA as the worlds greatest atmospheric polluter in 2006, and since increased their annual emissions 2.5-fold, more than US, EU, Canada, Japan + Australia combined! And per capita, the Chinese are now only using an eighth the electricity of Americans. For now. Even America's use of coal has gone up 54% from 1980 to 2000- 90% for generating electricity, it was expected to rise another 20% by 2020, but the explosion of fracked natural gas has reversed that. In the 1990's CO2 emissions increased by 1-1.5% a year, so coal's effect has been catastrophic.    *[metric ton=2200 lbs= room of 1 Atm CO2 8 M3=27 ft3=volume of a small summer house, so we emit maybe 9 billion houses full of CO2 a year]. The emissions weight refers to only the Carbon (standard practice), if you see 31gt/year, that refers to actual CO2 weight!

Yet carbon dioxide isn't the worst actor- Methane has a warming effect 84 times that of CO2 over 20 years- it breaks down into CO in 9-15 years2 (normally used number is 28 times over 100 years, but I'm more interested in flipping the see-saw), and we've been dumping this in the air like mad too- from rice paddies, tilling soil in farming, leaking natural gas pipes or oil wells, cattle and sheep- atmospheric methane has increased 2.7 fold in 250 years. Luckily for us there is 220 times less methane in the air than CO2- 1.86 parts per million, but that could change fast with the explosion of fracking and likely leaks from fractured shale fields. Less than half of methane is generated naturally- in volcanoes, peat bogs, organic decomposition- altogether 600-800  megatons a year, but that's uncertain.


 Then there is nitrous oxide, 265 times more potent CHG than CO2, and this lasts 114 years, created from fertilizer, farming, deforestation, and car exhausts (increased 18% by man but only .31ppm); ozone, 03, protecting from ultraviolet 25km up, but a deadly irritant and powerful greenhouse gas at the surface; and the worst stuff- the artificial man-made CFC's- chlorofluorocarbons and  halocarbons used in cooling and propellants, 2000-23,000 times stronger than CO2 , and lasting thousands of years. Taken together, the many halocarbons contribute about double the warming of NO, ozone roughly 2 times more and methane about 2.5 times more than halocarbons, and CO2 2 times that of methane. These gases reinforcing and coordinate effects on warming haven't really been taken into account. Talk about the "carbon load" often means just CO2, but the Equivalent CO2 number of all the gases together is 490 ppm!. 


Methane may be the time bomb that does us in. Maybe 1400 billion tons of carbon exists as organic material in the tundra peat bogs and permafrost  of Siberia, Greenland, Canada, Alaska, immobilized in the frozen ground. The worst in the world warming is in the Arctic: 3-8C  (5-14F) in the night, and it's suddenly melting a 115,000 year stable tundra the size of France and Germany into a patchwork of mud and lakes; allowing the natural decomposition of all that organic matter into methane. Russian scientist Sergei Kripotin said, it was "an ecological landslide that is probably irreversible, and undoubtedly connected to global warming" (which) has all happened in the last three or four years."


"If it's waterlogged and low oxygen environment,   you'll get methane; if it's aerated, not soggy, it'll aerobically decompose and you'll get CO2," says UCLA hydrologist Larry Smith, who has extensively studied Siberian lakes and rivers. His research says Siberia is drying because the permafrost barrier is melting, allowing some lakes to drain away (6% loss of lake +area) through porous deposits, "like pulling the plug out of a bathtub. "It's a lot faster when it's dry, cause then you have more oxygen to use- the bacteria get more energy," says Univ. Alaska's Katey Walter. Those holes in the permafrost also allow methane reserves below to outgas.


 In 3 half years in northeastern Siberia, Walter's joint Russian/American team found methane hot spots, bubbling to the -40C winter frozen lake surface so fast that it couldn't freeze, an effect that indicates there's much more organics than thought. "We think it's biological decomposition.. of the rich Pleistocene grasslands that the mammoths, bison, and lions were eating," she said from her office at the Prince William Sound Science Center. "It was the Serengeti of the North, really organic rich, and all the grass and dead animals are decomposing. It's constantly bubbling up like the lake is boiling!" Exploring the geological cross section of recentvast Siberian sinkholes (NOVA), apparently ancient sub-permafrost methane has pierced the frozen layer, causing 600 ft deep land collapses!!


In a May 2006 presentation to the US Senate, she estimated a breathtaking 500 gigatons of carbon in the Siberian Yedoma Ice Complex alone, almost as much as all the vegetation on Earth (650gt), and doubling all known Arctic carbon! Worse, she claims if thawed it could mostly decompose within a century. The YIC is an 25 meter layer bigger than Texas that is 50-90% ice, soil, and 2.6% organic remains (20 times that of normal deep soil), formed from loess, a strange windblown dust that afflicted the end of last Ice Age, according to Sergei Zimov of the plushly outfitted Russian Northeast Science Station near the Arctic Ocean 800 miles west of NW Alaska. The carbon isn't in a narrow 2M band like the peat bogs. "The grasses were growing", clarifies Walter, "but they had a high accumulation rate (of loess), and the surface was riding higher and higher. We're talking about 80 feet (thick layer- 25 m.) for a million square kilometers."


"It's complicated- when it thaws out you get a longer growing season, more vegetation and they're going to uptake more CO2," explains Smith. "As far as CO2 exchange, there are huge magnitudes of influx and e-flux (absorption by oceans and plants, and emissions) from the earths surface going in both directions (about 215 gigatons/yr); the difference between the two (and that of human emitted) is a small margin." The perilously declining plants and trees net remove about 1.5-2 gigatons/year of human emissions, and the oceans another 2 gt.


Historically, before man mucked things up, there was supposedly about 3 gigatons a year more CO2 absorbed than emitted- a cushion for fires and volcanic emissions. Now there's 3-4 gt. excess carbon a year, much more than can be absorbed by all the sinks. Excluding limestone, the total amount of carbon in the earth's cycle is about 47,000 gigatons:  40,000 in the oceans, 4000 in the fossil fuels, 1600 in the soil, 900 in the tundra, 750 in the atmosphere, and 650 in  the vegetation, with maybe up to 8000 gt. uncertainty.


Large portions of the 8000 mile weakened tundra coastline are eroding and collapsing into the Arctic Sea and releasing their stored gases (including unknown amounts of clathrates- below). "During winter you have sea ice attached to the shore; it's called fast ice- as warming continues it's open water.. and waves are crashing against the shore," clarifies Smith. "There's a lot of erosion taking place." Up to 20 m. a year disappears in Alaska, says Walter's paper. The potential danger from methane is immense- if just  1/2 % a year of the 500 gigatons of carbon in the organic material in this Yedoma Ice Complex (2 1/2 gt/year) fermented off as methane, it would create a century long warming effect over  double all the net human-caused emissions in the world. 3 Take that, see-saw.


But it gets worse: immense amounts of methane are locked up in a solid crystalline hydrate ice (or clathrate) form on the bottom of the ocean and in sediments, below 500 meters (or 204M in the Arctic): they only form under great pressure and extreme cold (what was clogging the Deep Water Horizon leak). USGS scientist Tim Collett, who has studied them for 20 years for commercial production, is bullish: "If we could produce gas from only 1% of all the hydrates, we (the US) would have enough gas to last more than 170,000 years."  There is supposedly twice as much clathrate methane as all other fossil fuels combined. "They're enormous," agrees Smith. Schmidt concurred. The Japanese funded a well, Mallik, on the Mackenzie River delta in northern Canada and found the clathrate (they call it "gas hydrate" or just "hydrate") 1000 m. down, and successfully extracted it with heat or vacuum, and now they and the Indians are drilling on their own coasts. Methane hydrate contains 168 times more gas than it's volume, meaning this entertaining guy to the right just could blow his hand off!


From a drilling ship in the Indian Ocean, Collett replied that clathrate was found as shallow as 300 M under permafrost in Alaska-Canada, but his charts show it could theoretically exist as shallow as 80 M Huge deposits exist off the Carolinas, Washington, the North Slope, Western Central America, Japan and 50 other places. Solid hydrate ice should float to the surface, but gaseous methane tends to dissolve in the ocean in a few hundred meters, whereupon, "bacteria eat the methane, and produce CO2", says Walter.



If the oceans warm enough to set this stuff free, we are talking hothouse horror, which they believe happened 55 million years ago, in the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), when the earth heated 15C hotter than today. North America was tropical, redwoods grew over Greenland, and one could go swimming on the North Pole. The entire ocean was heated 8 C down to the bottom and 40% of the micro-shellfish species perished from the lack of oxygen. They believe a methane belch occurred because of an absence of heavy carbon 13 in all the living limestone sediments, which is reduced in clathrates. Gavin Schmidt thinks that's impossible today. "The ocean is so large and has such a large heat capacity, that it takes an enormous amount of energy to warm it," said the editor (one of several) of the readable resource from his office in NYC.

It seems these devastating superheating eras happen about every 100 million years, so there may be an astronomical source like the Sun's rotation around the Milky Way near an unaffiliated hot cloud or star, or some insanely long-period orbital or solar oscillation. They say the Milky Way's rotation takes 200 million years, but who knows. If all the CO2 in carbonate rocks- limestone, cooked off (impossible, they say), the Earth would look like the Dantesque hell of Venus, which has a CO2 atmosphere 100 times thicker than Earth, as much pressure as 3300 ft below the ocean, and 500C surface temperatures that would melt lead. Oh, and sulfuric acid clouds.                                                     

                                                          Vertical river into mile thick Greenland ice sheet -

UCSB's Jim Kennett, author of the Clathrate Gun Hypothesis thinks the lower continental shelf clathrates are responsible for the abrupt heating spikes in the middle of the ice ages too, because the 105M drop in ocean levels may have reduced pressure enough for them to break down and changes in the proto-Gulf Streams suddenly exposed them to much more heat. "In ocean sediments offshore of California, colleagues at Woods Hole recently found geochemical traces of clathrate releases coincident with warmings in the Greenland ice core records," says Schmidt in a long paper. Clathrate bubbling out of the sediment can cause immense undersea landslides, like one (the Storegga) that happens 260 m. thick and hundreds of km long periodically off of Norway, relieving pressure on the buried hydrates and than causing an immense further methane release. 2008 research has found high levels of methane along the Arctic coast, presumably from holes in the ocean bottom ice cap over clathrate or already released methane- a potential for massive releases as the frozen fresh water runoff cap layer is melted (salt water freezes ~1C lower). UCSB scientists have recently witnessed blowouts of methane from the sea floor in the Santa Barbara Channel. Doing an aerial survey of Alaska, Katy Walter-Anthony found 150,000 methane outgassing sites!


Schmidt and Co. think methane has been vastly underestimated, probably accounting for a third of all warming, because of reaction with nitrogen oxides and sunlight to create the irritating pollutant ozone in smog, another potent greenhouse gas that has been tied to extreme warming in the Arctic (latest estimate 36%). The worldwide exposion of fracking for natural gas that has made America an exporter is another disturbing trend- in a first survey NOAA discovered 4% leakage from Denver area fields of fractured shale, making fracking much worse than burning coal (balancing point was 2%). A recent study showed only 2.3%, however others have indictated much higher loss.

Swimming the kilometer across a local lake in 40C (104F) weather, I'm stymied from getting out by floating layers of algae/seaweed. Barely standing on a loose bed of the stuff, a plethora of bubbles pops to the surface, which I sniff. It has a slight delicate order- pure methane- not the foul stench from human or animal gas (which is other compounds), or the distinctive odor of natural gas, which is treated to keep people from blowing themselves up. Methane, not even recognized as a GHG 45 years ago, may become the most dominant and life-changing one. It has the power to fuel man's future or devastate his world (natural gas is easier to sequester carbon from).


Another stunner is the apparently true contention of the DIMMING the SUN  (PBS NOVA show) scientists, who proved that high altitude air pollution has blocked about 10% of the sunlight we normally would be receiving over the last 50 years. Most potent are the jet contrails that deposit reflective particles (esp. sulfur) that circulate in the low stratosphere, which they discovered in the 4 days after 9-11 when planes were grounded. The temps across the US went up 1 C just from that. A more intensive analysis of world weather since about 1920 shows that that is roughly the amount that stratospheric sulfur is reducing the temperature (1  C) all over the world, a little more than it's gone up in the last 150 years. In fact the cooling is over half that of the total global heating, which means the real global warming (if the cooling ended by stopping jet flights) is over twice what we see, and all calculations based on the observed warming are way too low.


This finally explains why the temperature rises are smaller than expected, and showcases the extraordinary risk if this cooling were quickly stopped (from massive plane groundings from bankruptcies, gas prices, recession, tsunamis, or war). With $115/barrel oil and the economic meltdown from the junk mortgage disaster, many major airlines were teetering on shutdown- Delta alone was losing $8 billion a year and several went bust, though they have recovered, especially with cheap oil. In fact, if this effect ceased we might be dealing with extreme effects, 3 C rise by 2050, from 5-10 C (9-18 F) rise by the end of the century, enough to totally change the ecology of earth. Even a 50% reduction of flights would have instant devastating effects, increasing AGW by 50% in a pop. High altitude (6-11 km) particulate pollution also cools by providing seed points for water droplets, which form in greater number and smaller size, thereby making clouds more reflective than with larger droplets. Dust from the Chichon and Pinatubo volcanoes cooled the whole earth by 1C for a year each in 1982 and 1991. Some scientists are skeptical, claiming only a 4% solar reduction from 1961 to 1990, but other are aggressively advocating deliberate high altitude sulfer injection to jet exhaust to "manage" and limit GW, an extraordinarily risky (consider damaging the Ozone layer) solution that probably will be enacted by default when the Great Famine first hits.


Nice to see that evil civilization does provide competing forces to deleterious change, but still this is a breathtaking development in climate science, and worrying because if high altitude pollution is reduced, that could cause quick large warming effects. On the other hand, NASA scientists have hypothesized that up to a fourth of the last century's warming could be due to soot landing on ice, making it darker, so it absorbs more heat- confirmed by the Scripps Institute at a third of all warming (including in the air). Temperate glaciers are thinning at 6 ft a year, 6 times the average of 1980-1999. Chinese coal soot has become a plague in the Western US, at pristine Lake Tahoe it's detectable in near-urban concentrations solely from Chinese emissions. Introducing modern scrubbing technology to China's abysmal coal plants could cause an immediate big reduction in warming by stopping this soot.

2007 Polar Ice relative to 2003 + '79-2000 avg

                 -  2009 Australian firestorm

The total warming is accelerated by 8-10 feedback loops, where the warming causes something that increases the warming. As ice melts off of the Arctic cap, the shiny white mirror that absorbs only 15% of the heat, becomes dark ocean that absorbs 90% or tundra that absorbs maybe 80%. That is a 6-fold warming increase when the polar ice cap disappears one summer, expected soon. The summer ice cap has shrunk by 43% from 1968-2010, but the summer ice volume has dropped 78% from 1979 to 2011, so what's left is thin. As more moisture is evaporated into the atmosphere, the most powerful GHG of all- water vapor- jacks up the temperature more (water causes about 40-70% of all GHG warming, but it generally is excluded because it's so variable, mostly a liquid, and not under man's control). Hurricanes cause more hurricanes. Every year since 1980 stratospheric water vapor has increased more than 1%, partly from methane breakdown and jet contrails. As the world bakes and dries; monster forest fires turn millions of acres of carbon sink forests into CO2. 10% of Alaska's interior burned in 2004 and 2005, says Walter. In it's worst natural disaster, Australia was subject to Dante's Inferno in Feb 2009, where Saharan 48C temperatures, weeks of drought, and hurricane force winds created a megafire in Victoria that incinerated many towns, killed +200 people, even those in open areas 100m from the flames or fleeing at high speed in cars. Then they were devastated by megafloods in 2011 the area of France + Germany, and more hellish fires. Video In almost comically bad news, the highest projected GW outside the extreme Arctic is in the Amazon basin, the world's great genetic storehouse of live organic carbon and generator of oxygen. By 2100 scientists expect it to be largely destroyed by drought, fire, and replacement.                                               Polar Summer Ice Shrinkage-


  Non-snows of Kilimanjaro

As it gets hotter the gigundous amount of CO2 dissolved in the ocean (40 trillion tons- 5700 years of current emissions) starts to come out of the weak carbonic acid solution- 25-75% more warming than thought from 2 papers in May '07.The oceans are so vast that tiny changes have a huge effect. Oceans absorb 2/7 of the CO2 now emitted, but it takes hundreds of years to reach a balance, and we have overwhelmed the delicate equilibrium. Heat causes much more heat. As the oceans absorb CO2 they become more acidic, dissolving limestone shells and releasing more CO2. In 8 years the ocean pH (acid-alkaline rating) has fallen by .36, 23 times faster than expected. As the oceans acidify and warm, algae and diatoms diminish uptake of CO2. and output of oxygen- a threat to these foundations of the food chain threatens all species. As the warming Gulf Stream's possible shifts cause ocean clathrates to vaporize or the tundra to melt, hideous quantities of ancient sub-permafrost methane (23 times more potent than CO2) are vented or fermented into the atmosphere. As the glaciers shrink, rivers dwindle, vegetation dies, and evaporative cooling fades. In only one year, 2005- glaciers lost 1.4M of ice thickness. As forest and jungle are cleared for development and burned, the carbon drinking stops, and the equilibrium shifts towards a permanently hotter planet. Forest areas 4 times the size of Switzerland, or the size of Washington State are destroyed every year, causing 20% of anthropogenic global warming. Scientists now project man's parasitical use of Earth's land will exceed 50% by 2023 (now 43%), perhaps causing a cascade of extinctions. 


We are on track to be emitting 12 gigatons/yr of CO2 by 2030, 20 gigatons by 2100, according to The End of Oil.  If  CO2 reaches 550 ppm from it's current 419, the wheels will come off the car and devastating changes would occur, but we would reach 520 by 2100 even if we froze emissions at current levels, says Paul Roberts, pretty much impossible (I get 556ppm based on 15ppm rise in 8 years since 1998). Other studies showing that the heating effect of current releases will persist for many centuries, say AGW must almost cease by 2050 to save the earth. Paul Hansen, director of Goddard, has revised the target peak to avoid catastrophe down to 425 ppm, if coal use was phased out; and an eventual target of only 350 "if humanity wishes to preserve a planet on which life adapted". Without several more New Orleans, or many millions dead from food collapse, there isn't the political will to do the massive changes necessary- up to 2% of US GNP to control the US's 30% portion of anthropogenic global warming. Worldwide CO2 emissions are 5 times higher today than in 1950. That 425 ppm target would be reached by only 2024, at a 3ppm yearly rise.

Bill McKibben talks of 3 new terrifying numbers- 2 C maximum temp rise to avoid catastrophe, 565 gigatons allowed of new CO2 to reach that point, and 2795 gigatons, the amount of
CO2 produced if all the known oil, coal, gas reserves are burned - $27 trillion worth, and the near impossibility of preventing the carbon lobby from expending their "riches".  


The bulge of West Antarctica is actually 85% below sea level so 2 km. of ice sits on the ocean bottom- if sea water penetrates into the fresh water lubrication under it, the whole thing could slide in the ocean, raising worldwide levels 6.4 m. and inundating 100 million people in only 4 metro areas in China, India, and Bangladesh, according to Al Gore's superb book, An Inconvenient Truth. Even East Antarctica is riddled with holes, as much land as ocean (though most would supposedly rebound if the ice were removed). Altogether there is over 29 million cubic km (7 mil cu miles) of ice on the poles- about 68 m. (223 ft) in ocean rise if it all melted. Greenland glacial flow has over tripled in the last 5 years; the Helheim Glacier is sliding towards the ocean at  46 m. a day. A glacier in Greenland, whose movement usually was a few meters a year, recently slid 15km in 90 minutes. Although the ice mountain plateau interior (3300M avg altitude) of Antarctica has shown slight cooling, the oceans around it are another story. Big chunks of the Antarctic Wilkens Ice Shelf collapsed in 2006, the Larsen B shelf collapsed in only 40 days in 2002, and the Texas-sized Amundsen Sea Embayment (shelf) is thinning in "surprisingly rapid changes" due to warm waters flowing under it. Scientists are concerned about the massive Ross Ice Shelf, at 2000 ft thick, the size of Cal, which, with the Amundsen, holds back the continental sheets.

                                                                                                      real land surface of Antarctica!-

Imagine the effect of a 3 km thick 20 x 300 km chunk of ice (Long Island size) cracking off the continental shelf and tobogganing into the deep ocean at 200kph- it will make the Indonesia tidal wave look like child's play.. and it would happen over and over for centuries. [I HAVE been told this is impossible by the physics of ice sheets.] Over 600 million people live under 10 M altitude (height devastated by 2004 Christmas tsunami and 2011 Japanese 9.0 tsunami); about half the globe within 30M altitude. Or maybe the Northern hemisphere should be more worried about Greenland, where devastating melting is occurring and tsunami warning would be far shorter (1-4 hours)- on the southeast tip, the continental shelf is only 100 miles wide. On the 400M high conical island of Lanai off of Maui (I lived in HI 3 years), a yellowish bathtub ring is evident at 250M, from an ancient landslide off of the Big Island and the catastrophic tsunami resulting (this is a danger today with the entire eastern fourth riven by a huge volcanic fault). Except for 15-20 cities (including Kiev), every major city is on the coast, so even a 30M worldwide tsunami could virtually destroy civilization.

 1880-2010 Global Temp Rise

I made many of these points in a 1998 Maui Time global warming article (Alt.), and advocated to VP Gore huge subsidies to the beautiful new electric cars, like the GM EV-1, created to meet Cal. 2003 0% pollution standard (but of course, that was the year of Monica). When the auto industry overturned that rule in 2002, they recalled all their leased electric cars and crushed them in contempt, no matter how much people were willing to pay. Electric cars would prevent global warming and ease the oil crunch in 3 different ways- reducing GHG's by  80-85% compared to internal combustion engines (because of the efficiency of scale in large power plants and the 50% efficiency of electric motors on wheels compared to 12% for internal combustion engines, most of which goes up as heat). Electric cars would eliminate the incredible GHG cost of refining, distilling (with coal), fertilizing + harvesting (with alcohol),transporting, storing.... a liquid fuel- the electrical grid is a costless invisible existing distribution network. 5 new models are just reaching distribution, but the much heralded GM Volt, is very expensive and only has a range of 40 miles, 45% of the 1996 EV1.

I long believed the US corn alcohol craze demands so much energy that it isn't better than using gasoline to begin with (29% better, says Gore). Now stories are that huge swathes of forest are being clear cut for fuel crops, making alcohol twice as bad as oil. Converting food into fuel also has explosive moral consequences in an increasingly hungry world, as evidenced by the latest food price rises, which cause ever more forest destruction. To fill a 50L alcohol tank takes 232kg of corn, enough to feed 2 people for a year, and the US is now diverting 30% of their inefficient corn to make fuel (sugar cane is 3 times more efficient). This may come to be regarded as a crime against humanity. Insanely the US and Europe are mandating increasing food to fuel conversion. T Boone Pickens was investing $10 billion in a truly massive scheme of 2700 wind turbines across the Texas Panhandle, and wants a national program of building them in a swath from south to north, with solar from Texas to Ca. across the southwest, what Obama should have committed half the TARP stimulus to- $400 billion, instead of agreeing to a $300 billion tax cut. An enormous opportunity to lead the world and set America towards energy independence was squandered.


For 2-3 hours in 1987 I photographed the insides of the famous Paradise Glacier Ice Caves 2000 m. up on Mt. Rainier, Washington (w 260 sq. km. of glaciers; Paradise receives up to 28 m. (93 ft) of snow in a season as the wet Pacific winds soar up 4 1/2 km- the greatest annual snowfall in the world), every shade of blue from light sky to deep indigo, screaming bright bubbles trapped in ancient icy cages, as Volkswagen-sized blocks of roof crashed down around me. Outside Magazine paid for the uncopied originals, then promptly lost them. Within 5 years, the century old tourist attractions had melted into history, along with glaciers all over the world. 2018-20 Paradise snowfalls were half the max. Gore's book show an enormous Patagonian glacier from the 1920's, maybe 300 m. thick filling a valley 48 by 16 km., now melted away into a small lake 250 m. lower.


SPURIOUS REPORT: And lastly, to throw a huge monkey wrench into everyone's preconceptions,  recent reports from Nature Magazine have incredibly, the Gulf Stream dropping 30% in the last 8 years . The loop that brings life giving heat to the arctic latitude Northern Europe and Russia (England, France are up at Newfoundland latitudes- only Gulf Stream makes them and Scandinavia temperate) is partially splitting off into a southern loop that only goes up to Spain (red). This is perhaps due to the long-feared dilution of heavy evaporated salty water by massive quantities of fresh melt off of the Greenland ice cap (21,000 cu. km. extra in 40 years), so it doesn't sink and complete the loop underwater (blue). This has long been hypothesized to be the trigger for previous ice ages- which I reported on in 1998, the previous hottest year in history. This should have been front page news all over the world- The Gulf Stream is part of the mobius strip of connected currents that circle the globe. Such a huge change in it means weather changes everywhere. The 10-20 temperature spikes of the last Ice Age "were almost certainly related to ocean circulation changes," says Schmidt. And any changes in hot currents could expose methane clathrates to liberating heat- there are deposits off NE Brazil near the new southern loop. NOTE: Since this 2005 report, I have found no follow-up or any other confirmation, so I think it is best ignored, but it shows spurious reports exist. Unfortunately it is the only news that might counteract AGW.

        blue=fresh water; red=saline


Maybe it's possible to have enormous warming in some places and arctic cooling in others- the accumulation of 4  km. ice sheets would seem to require much heat to put that moisture in the atmosphere initially, though the Arctic has been subject to much more warming than anyplace else and ice age records actually show extraordinary dryness, and this is quite impossible with all the GHG's now- even if AGW was stopped now the temperature would rise for 1000 years! Ukraine has had 3 bitter winters in a row, along with record sweltering summers- 2010, then 2011, and probably 2012 were each yet another hottest year in history.


In January and February 2006, Europe and Russia, from Italy to the Urals suffered  one of worst cold waves on record with perhaps 1000 people dead for 5 weeks. For 3 weeks it didn't break -18 in Russia. Maybe the onset of bitter ice age cold comes fast too- but we don't have to guess- the tale is written in the ice cores. According to ICE, the end of the Eemian warm period came hard and fast 115,000 years ago, and Neanderthals back then found themselves flung from warmth to Ice Age... in only 50 years. One scientist theorized that the ice sheets mostly didn't roll down from the North but were formed in place- the stupendous recent rainstorms- 1 m. in Bombay in a day,  1.54 m. in 2 days in Haiti, would be 10-15 m. of snow.


The thinking in Russia and Canada has often been that global warming is mostly good:  leading to longer growing seasons, milder winters, a Northern Passage from Asia to Europe; but the possibility of catastrophic climate shifts from the interruption of the Gulf Stream illustrate the extraordinary danger of tinkering with the planetary balance. Gore's book shows a nighttime photo of the eastern hemisphere with Siberia blazing with light from the hundreds of medieval torches of flaring gas in oil fields, a destructive practice stopped most places; but ironically, considering the greenhouse power of methane- better than venting it directly.


"The latest election (US 2010 -of Tea Party Republicans, who took over the House), you could almost interpret .. as a death knell for the species," intones wisest man Noam Chomsky, "Nobody else is going to do very much unless the United States does alot- takes the lead." Many of the new Representatives, some heading committees, are Global Warming deniers- fools or corporate prostitutes, but in few decades, they may be considered.... mass murderers. With a $15-30 trillion carbon infrastructure at stake, billions to bribe and propagandize are small change, and have been horribly effective. Maybe a third of Americans now doubt GW is human caused! The collapse of the Copenhagen Climate talks due to complete Chinese intransigence, who rejected even voluntary European targets, (you don't want us to get ours) was indicative.

The future is coming clear with the catastrophic US 2012 drought (where corn is being plowed under), and Russian 2010 harvest- 40% below normal due to searing drought that smoked Moscow like a sausage for a month. Every one of the 5 food growing regions has had 2 or more +50% drought-caused crop collapses in the last 20 years! There will be a drought like no one has ever seen- 40-50C (104-122F) for 2 months across America, Canada, Europe, Russia, Northern Africa; and suddenly there will be 40-50% less food for the world, prices will skyrocket 4-10 times, those with food will start hoarding for the future... and a billion people will starve. They will be the poorest people in India, China, South America, Africa- and civilization will start to unravel. The millions of weakened and dying people will provide a fertile field for epidemics and superbugs- and the next Bird Flu will rip through the world. I see this happening within 10 years, definitely 25. The astronomical zone of habitability is very narrow, and the Earth is about to radically reduce the presence of man. [We may see a little version of this from the Ukraine Invasion removing 30% of the grain + fertilizer]


A few years ago, geneticists tracked back the Y-DNA transmitted unchanged from man to man to find the so-called Adam, the first man. They thought it would lead back hundreds of thousands of years and were stunned when it only showed Adam living only about 65,000 years ago, among the famous Bushmen (San) people of the Kalahari. Within the same year, other geologists investigating an unknown massive supervolcano (Toba) in Sumatra, Indonesia (near the origin of the 2004 tsunami), that had left very thick ash layers all over the world, dated it to 73,000 years, and found it was the largest eruption in many million years (2800 cu. km. ejected). In other words, this monstrous eruption and the 6 years of global winter and 2000 year bitter cold it provoked* in the depth of last ice age may have come close to wiping out the human race- but they all came back from one tribe in Southern Africa.   *(lowest red dip in the exact middle of the first graph)


It's likely all these new findings mean that warming will be at least double what was expected in the worse case, maybe much more, and that all margin for delay is gone. The earth's climate is an enormous system with a huge amount of inertia. It will resist change, and resist movement until the pressure is overwhelming... when it will swing unseeing and unstoppable, like a wrecking ball towards our civilization. We have engaged in a massive reckless experiment by deforesting the earth and altering our atmosphere, thinner proportionally than the skin of an apple, and the results are coming like a freight train. 


---- "The consequences of deforestation were starvation, a population crash, and a descent into cannibalism. Surviving islanders' accounts of starvation are graphically confirmed by the proliferation of little statues called moai kavakava, depicting starving people with hollow cheeks and protruding ribs. Captain Cook in 1774 described the islanders as "small, lean, timid, and miserable." ---- Easter Island after they had eradicated 11 species of trees, 12 of seabirds, and lost 85% of their population. - Collapse by Jared Diamond

Copyright  2006-2022 Michael Hammerschlag 



1  278 to 411= 133/278= 48%;    highest CO2 seems 303ppm  320,000  years ago= 108/303=35%; Ocean sediment indicates highest CO2 in 6-20 million years

2  Atomic weight of Carbon = 12;   Molecular Wt. of CO2  = 12+16+16 = 44  (3.66 times more)

3  This is conservative; if one considers that emission without the atmosphere over 20 years, the effect of that much methane (4x more than current emissions) could create a warming 23 times that of all the CO2 humans emit, but these things operate by atmospheric concentrations and increase only by the square root..

4"Climate Change" as a label came from a successful Republican Oil/Coal campaign to confuse the issue. The problem is GLOBAL WARMING; Climate Change is the result, rarely it might be cooler in some locations; but monster storms and rainfall are consistant with much more water in the atmosphere..

  -- If you want see how complicated this stuff can be see this chart.



 Michael Hammerschlag's commentary and articles ( have appeared in New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Seattle Times, Providence Journal, Columbia Journalism Review, Honolulu Advertiser, Capital Times, MediaChannel; Moscow News, Tribune, Times,  and Guardian + Novaya Gazeta; Kyiv Post, Weekly, Business Ukraine, He was a chemist, worked on a Mauna Kea telescope, and has written on the energy crisis and global warming over 3 decades. He broke the first comprehensive story on media mistakes in the 2000 election, spent 15 years in Russia + Ukraine back to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and has covered 6 Presidential campaigns.





REFERENCES - Global Warming Worse than You Think 




EARTH: CLIMATE EMERGENCY - Superb PBS Doc that lays out all the feedback loops I do here

Sources of Human GHG's: 


140,000 Yr temp, different cores chart


800,000 Yr Ice Core temp-CO2 chart


World Coal Use (EIA)


450,000 Yr melt multi chart- temp, CO2, methane, solar chart 


CO2 highest now:


Solar Cause Ice Age:


Greenhouse Gases and exact effect:

CO2 Now:

CO2 (Mauna Loa) 1958-2010

GHG increases:

2007 GHG rises:

Larry Smith's Site:  INTERVIEWED




Clathrate Gun Hypothesis: 


Clathrate Wells- Collett:  QUESTIONED




500 million PETM temp chart: 


Tundra melting:,12374,1546824,00.html  

                Smith says this is grossly inaccurate and misquotes him saying "70gt of methane", rather than "carbon"

Mining Methane Hydrates:


Everything Methane (Schmidt):   INTERVIEWED 4X


Katey Walter's Senate Presentation:    INTERVIEWED 2X


Methane bubbling in lakes:

GW terrifying numbers:

Antarctica True Land (amazing):  


Carbon Dioxide coming out of ocean:

CO2 acidifying the oceans:

Water Vapor increase:


Old Growth Deforestation:


Black Soot warming:


Methane's effect 2x more:


Volume methane, halocarbs, NO emissions:

Fracking methane leaks:

Dimming the Sun:


BBC Dimming Sun (text):

Hansen- 350 ppm target-
Zero Emissions by 2050-
Is Alcohol a scam-

We drive, they starve-

The Clean Energy Scam-,9171,1725975,00.html

T Boone Pickens' Wind Scheme-

Australia Firestorms- 2 Days of Hell

Earth Use +50%:

Gulf Stream Drops 30%:,3605,1654803,00.html

Bitter cold kills 181 in Ukraine Records fall as cold grips Europe:
Astronomical Ice Age Cycle: 

The Heat is On(line)- 

Peak Oil and a Changing Climate - The Nation video


TOBA eruption:


Prof. Stanley Ambrose near-extinction theory:

Paying to Not Cut Forests-

Compressed Air Cars-


Michael Hammerschlag's articles


Energy For the Long Run- 1980 -----"Creating alcohol from grain is very inefficient, and in 25-30 years a starving world won't sit idly by while we waste foodstuff on a massive scale just to run our cars..'"

A WARM + BRIGHT FUTURE ARCHIVE  In the News part 1-(Maui Time- Sept 1-14, 1998) + part 2 (9/15-28)  Evidence and results of worldwide unprecedented warming- hottest ten years in last 2000 all since 1981. 1998 hottest year ever, 1997 hottest before that, each month a new world's record (inc 2005). Discusses nitrogen oxides, methane, + water vapor's huge contributions (3-5 TIMES what we've been computing).  Part 1 - Evidence for worldwide global warming- may cause a possible ice age   PART 2 (only) What we can do + what we will do; Weather extremes + resulting deaths..       Letter from VP Al Gore about article (jpeg)            HTML FULL Article     US NEWS cover story on Global Warming 2/28/00 - Antarctic Meltdown    WEST ANTARCTIC ICESLIDE        4800 Cu. Mi. ARCTIC ICE MELTED- 2-17-05   POINT of NO RETURN - 9-16    GULF STREAM DROPS 30% 12-1-05   COLD WAVE KILLS THOUSAND IN EUROPE - 1-20-06    ICE AGE HERE?   DIMMING the SUN- pollution has stopped 2 rise




The Last Days of the Ocean
VERY IMPORTANT HUGE SERIES (below) about the widespread destruction of ocean's fisheries in MOTHER JONES. Essentially we've wiped out the base algae eating fish that all other carnivorous fish eat- the oily foot-long menhaden



Caribbean Coral Suffers Record Death Mar 30, NYT

A one-two punch of bleaching from record hot water followed by disease has killed ancient and delicate coral in the biggest loss of reefs scientists have ever seen in Caribbean waters. Early conservative estimates from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands find that about one-third of the coral in official monitoring sites has recently died.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

BARROW, Alaska - Ridges of sea ice packing car-sized chunks of the cold stuff slammed onto a road in this northern Alaskan town in quantities not seen in nearly three decades.     Two ice surges, known to Alaska Natives as ivus, stunned residents who had never seen such large blocks of ice rammed ashore. Ivus are like frozen tsunamis and crash ashore violently. They have killed hunters and are among the Arctic's most feared natural phenomena.