Extinction goes mainstream? UPDATED

The cover of the latest issue of Utne Reader. I bet their friends aren't speaking to them either.

The cover of the latest issue of Utne Reader. I bet their friends aren’t speaking to them either.

Some news regarding climate and predictions. The above cover was a wake-up call for me–I started blogging about ‘doomer porn’ almost three years ago. It has been a pretty lonely business being a Cassandra. But Utne Reader is a fairly mainstream print-media outlet–a few steps ahead of most lefty places, perhaps, but not out in the ether. I guess this was confirmation of some of the posts I’ve put out.

I was hoping that someone would provide definitive proof that I was wrong.

Instead, Harold Hensel, whose work I’ve cited before, posted the following charts yesterday. His quote sets the agenda.

We have reached the point where methane takes over the dominate controlling factor of the climate. C02, while still important, is no longer the dominate factor. Methane’s dominance projects out as being complete by 2022. “Natural’ climate system variability’s have been overwhelmed by methane and C02. The composition of the atmosphere has changed and so has the climate. Credits go to Dr. Malcolm Light, Sam Carana & NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. 

And these are the charts. This one shows methane presence in the atmosphere and its accelerating climb:

Methane is on runaway climb past C02 to dominate climate issues.

Methane is on runaway climb past C02 to dominate climate issues.

And this one, which shows the converging points that push methane past c02 as the greenhouse gas that will determine our future:

the convergence of carbon dioxide and methane and the firing of the clathrate gun.

the convergence of carbon dioxide and methane (among other factors) and the firing of the clathrate gun.

What does this mean? It means that methane, not carbon dioxide, will set the pace for future runaway warming. We could conceivably control carbon dioxide–the sequestering of carbon dioxide is a science problem we could possibly control. In this video, Dr. Hugh Hunt (among others) lays out the problems in sequestering a significant fraction of carbon emissions (skip to 3:30 to hear his statements, though you probably need all the rest for context). Such sequestration sounds nearly impossible for a whole set of reasons, but the variables are under our control to some extent. We know that the excess carbon comes from burning fossil fuels and burning fossil fuels is something under our control. The methane is NOT under our control–some 2800 gigatons of methane are under the ice at the poles, and there’s no way to capture it when the ice melts. There’s some indication that methane blew a hole in the Arctic Ice on October 11. If that happened, it’s pretty much over for preventing runaway warming. 

Along the same lines, the IPCC’s fifth assessment assumes we’ll have a way to sequester carbon dioxide–and that this sequestration will be sufficient to arrest warming. Reference the video above and go to Professor Kevin Anderson’s condemnation of the IPCC’s optimism (his statements start around 4:35). Thanks to Mr. Hensel, we know that methane is now in the drivers seat.

I end with this video. Somebody is pi$$ed, and they’re making it clear that they aren’t going to just go quietly into the darkness. Unfortunately, this video has been removed. However, this young woman and this young man are the vanguard of a new generation of protesters, and they won’t take extinction lightly.

Second update 11/15/2015 : the video is back. They’re angry, and they’re persistent.


  1. A rather empty “I told you so”. But don’t worry, people are too busy kevetching about red coffee cups!

    1. Hi, Annie. many of the climate deniers are also evangelicals, and one of them once told off my friend when he said that we were headed for certain extinction. She said that she believed in God and that God would come to our rescue. His response–If God’s gonna come back and rescue Earth, do you think he’ll be happy with what we’ve done to the place? Frankly, the red cups are easier to wrap the brain around than the idea that we’re short-term tenants here (current predictions are 2030 for earth to be human-free).

  2. What was that frongpage of the UTNE Reader issue about if it was your “wake-up call”?

    1. I thought of Utne Reader as a fairly mainstream publication, complete with a dead tree edition. The fact that they made near term human extinction their cover story (and thus took the chance that their granola-eating hemp economy readership wouldn’t revolt en masse) was a revelation. It was the breaking of the dam regarding the story of what we faced viz climate change, and how it wasn’t going to be solved by recycling and swapping lightbulbs.

      1. Could you direct me somewhere to that UTNE’s near term extinction article? Was it this one? https://www.utne.com/science-and-technology/10-billion-years-from-now-zm0z15fzsau

      2. Do you think I could find that UTNE article somewhere?I would love to read it.

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