YEAR 2015 BEAT HISTORICAL RECORDS
Last December’s climate conference in Paris set a goal—agreed on by the Earth’s most powerful mid-East, West and Southern nations—to hold our combined increase in the global average temperature to two degrees Centigrade (2ºC) /Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit—above pre-industrial levels.
Now February 2016 has already reached world temperature limit, see below.
If we continue at the rate we’ve been going, NASA’s climatology computer model shows dramatic swings happening in world temperature, volcanic activity, and rainfall—not in twenty years, but in two.
As the predicted temperatures rise, the same group of scientists admit that ‘model uncertainty’ grows: that means it becomes increasingly more likely that we will experience “unforeseen, often disastrous” events. Hurricane Katrina? Just a fond memory.
It’s doubtful we’ll hold the line at two degrees Centigrade, but we need to give it our best shot. With anything that exceeds that target, we’re talking about enormous changes in global precipitation and temperature patterns, huge impacts on water and food security, and significant sea level rise
NASA Goddard Climatologist P.Sellers
2015 hottest, wettest, & most active on record. Can we take it? Or will we break it? The Earth, that is.
Climate Summit—The Science View: We Submit—or Else
Reducing carbon dioxide emissions—”by 2050″ or a similar approximation is no longer acceptable. We are being asked to step up and be counted—to right some of the wrong we are/have been doing—and mend our ways.
Bite the Bullet or Die
‘I believe future generations will look back on 2015 as an important but not decisive year in the struggle to align politics and policy, with science. This is an incredibly hard thing to do. On the science side, there has been a steady accumulation of evidence over 15 years, that climate change is real’
Piers Sellers, NASA physicist/climatologist 1/17/16
Piers is convinced that if we continue unabated on this trajectory—i.e. make promises and do nothing—we could lead ourselves into a very uncomfortable, even dangerous, place.
Climate Ceiling Reached
The hottest on record is no joke in NASA and NOAA kingdoms. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration at Goddard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration take their newest computer science statistics seriously.
In perfect (space) timing, January 17th was launch date for Jason-3, the Space people’s answer to their weather-prediction prayers.
For this beauty*, NASA and NOAA cooperated with the French space agency to get their baby strategically placed in orbit—understandably—to monitor North American shores—impacting both Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Their data will also serve wider world systems on other shores.
Jason-3 adds to a twenty-three-year satellite monitoring of global sea surface maximum height levels—a measurement with scientific, commercial and practical applications related to climate change.
It is essentially a record of world currents and weather. Jason-3 data will be used for monitoring global sea level rise, researching human impacts on oceans, aiding prediction of hurricane intensity, and has marine navigation capability.
Its initial 2016 mission—is planned to last a minimum of three years.
*Sadly the Falcon-9 rocket, planned after re-entry to be recycled in the best Space Shuttle tradition, failed to land on its target—an unmanned platform in the Pacific—exploded and destroyed the platform. Oh well, another $1million down the tubes. Back to the drawing board for Vandenberg air base buffs.
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…
Instead of multiple repetitive wars among ourselves, it’s been suggested we combine our intelligence for a war on emissions.
Early 2016 has been a hard year for Earth-First proponents, particularly in the Pacific NorthWest where the lungs of the planet—the Giant Redwoods, Bristlecone Pine and Douglas Fir—reside. This ‘carbon storage unit’ of age-old trees has been functioning well until quite recently. Then some of the lumber companies—instead of respecting the tradition of replant, restore, regenerate—succumbed to the old dollar bribe:
success in any industry, it seems, is measured by the bottom line of the balance sheet.
Local so-called environmentally-friendly forestry interests—some calling themselves ‘Resource’ companies—have, over a generation, acquired tens of thousands of acres of ancient trees illegally from original California settlers, and are systematically felling them in the name of ‘harvest’.
CLEAR-FELLING OUR WAY TO OBLIVION
It happened to the precursor of the Sahara Desert. Now Namibia. And it’s occurring all over Brazil. More shocking, it’s happening in our own backyard—in the midst of the most-politically-correct university community in North America. And we seem blind to the signs, the gradual erosion of what was once a flourishing planetary breathing system—healthy ancient trees.
Our attitude to forests—their vibrancy, and consequently our own continuing existence—seems faulty.
In Europe during both world wars, all participating countries felled trees to build with, and to burn—as part of the ‘war effort’.
France decimated the Alsace region and felled throughout the Loire valley, regardless of ‘aspect’—the term used in gardens of great houses, when meshing planting with a pleasant view. In Germany—while many southern forests were left untouched—e.g. Schwarzwald, Poland, Eastern bloc, northern trees suffered in an endless drive for more war fuel.Scotland suffered heavily. Deterred from obliterating millennium-old giant yews in their own home counties, the English pounced on (what was left of) the Caledonian Forest in Aberdeenshire, Kincardine and Forfar, and finished off what raiders had begun centuries before.
Most ‘recently’, Robert the Bruce, self-crowned king of Scots, began his march a.k.a. tree-burning at the Battle of Barra, 1308, in central Aberdeenshire and burned his army’s route thirty miles to the North Coast. The Caledonian forest—pine in particular—never recovered.
The Caledonian Forest had only just revived after Roman burning!
North Britain Conquest and Retreat
In November of AD83, as winter began its icy grip, Roman general Agricola pushed for one more battle in North Britain, before retiring to the comfort of Rome. It is said he took the Caledonians by surprise, but it is more likely Roman foot soldiers had more leverage on steep mountain terrain than the antiquated wooden chariots of the Picts. Rallied by the piercing cry of their battle-horn, the fearsome gold boar-headed carnyx, thirty thousand Caledonians gathered on the slopes of Bennachie. Ten thousand bodies were left dead after the battle.
Solitudinem faciunt Pacem appellant
They create a Wilderness and call it Peace—Calgacus exhorting his Caledonian tribes to battle at Mons Graupius
Tacitus could not possibly have known what Calgacus said to his troops before the battle of Mons Graupius—GRAMPIAN mountain range in Aberdeenshire—even the Chieftain’s name fails to appear in any Kinglist. Yet this one particular phrase from his speech has a genuine feel about it, as if Tacitus had heard it himself from the lips of captured Pictish warriors, and was moved to write it down. Publius Cornelius Tacitus’s job on the march was that of recording the exploits of his father-in-law, Gnaeus Julius Agricola (AD40-93), on the British campaign. They returned to Rome long before the snows took hold, leaving devastation behind.
Heartland of the Caledonian Forest—Aberdeenshire—was historically hit hardest. Unlike Westcoast Scotland, soil and climate here are receptive, rich and varied. The balmy Gulf Stream circles the Orkneys and Ultima Thule and then streams towards these ‘lowland’ hills, bringing balanced seasons to an already rich environment.
Climate, soil and people are more fertile/kindly than in rocky west coast ravines. Caledonian Scots pine, pinus sylvestris thrives. So does farming.
When the Romans burned their way north, they were looking for gold. They found rebellious tribes and left them for dead, along with their forests. Robert the Bruce, in the summers of 1308-1310, burned the hunting (pine) forests of his rival for the throne, Comyn Earl of Buchan, and left nothing behind.
Two world wars finished off what was left of minimal remaining Caledonian pine stands.
Now, centuries on, Scotland’s Forestry Commission helps smallholders and landowners to replant oases of indigenous forest—pine, birch, oak and hazel—with maintenance grants to keep them sheep-and-deer-free—not an easy task in what are now (2000 years later) rich agricultural rolling meadows.
Other private agencies—like Trees for Life Scotland—have initiated their own planting programs, restoring pine, birch and aspen in deer-free ‘exclosures’, to encourage regeneration of natural understorey. Pine marten, snowy owl, crossbill, goldfinch and crested tit have all returned to such reclaimed woodland.
Biomass—Use or Abuse of Alternative Fuel
Biomass, seen as waste from a single campfire, may be relatively harmless to our atmosphere. Big business biomass, however—the University declares it will run its whole energy program on biomass fuel, instead of conventional statewide power sources—comprises woodland waste: milling detritus, forest-floor leftovers, mixed in a suitably nice cocktail of machine oil, sawdust sweepings, with an occasional drop of diesel—to go.
The Humboldt climate group’s cry has not gone unheard. They are supported by European and international interests, embodied in Friends of the Earth, who are pushing for cancellation from the (higher—U.S.) Senate!
There is hope—if the state’s most northern university changes, the rest of California’s campuses will follow their lead. There is already considerable antipathy in the county towards the underhanded way in which funding from a local forestry giant has been offered as bait.
After it was pointed out to them that more carbon is stored by older/larger trees, than by acres of smaller young saplings, the company’s tree-felling operations have been temporarily halted by popular demand.
Global Temperatures Already Rising
Now statistics for February 2016 already show a marked upward trend, with unprecedented temperatures in both hemispheres.As March brings spring growth, the climate question will come up again and again. Earth Day—April 20th—celebrating John Muir‘s birthday and his “wilderness America”—is targeted by tree sitters, EarthFirsters and volunteer forest guardians in Pacific NorthWest, in their march for the trees.
Earth Mother is indeed listening to our cries this spring. And if we choose to mend our ways, she might even forgive us and bring back her beauty—or her Beast.
It’s our choice. Our future.