In many ways, I’m sad about publishing this journal entry—sad not because I have been wrong about something, but because I have been so very right. And what have I been right about? Very simply, climate change. From the publication of Nature’s End in 1985 through the Key and Superstorm, I have been right.
An enormously important paper has now been published that adds scientific credibility to the superstorm scenario and warns that such storms are not only possible, but that they could take place within decades. I am very much afraid that the paper still errs on the side of caution. While it was being written, Greenland melt was accelerating more dramatically even than it suggests, and it is likely that this summer will see completely unprecedented melt events there.
Our Climate Watch section, which we could not update in the spring because of the unclear situation, now states clearly and with conviction that the danger originally outlined in Superstorm is clear and present. To be specific, there can soon be storms generated in the central Atlantic that are completely unprecedented in history. They could carry sustained winds of 300 miles an hour. In other words, the energy equivalent of an F-5 tornado sustained as straight-line winds over a period of days or longer.
When might this happen? James Hansen suggests that it could be within decades, but that could change at any time, depending on whether or not runaway melt begins in the arctic. Personally, I do hope we have some more time, but I doubt that we have much.
Our efforts to arrest global warming have always been founded on the flawed assumption that human activity alone is responsible for it. As I have been saying now for half of my lifetime, we are at the end of an interglacial and need to plan for inevitable change. While it’s true that human activity has sped the process up dramatically, even if we were not here, it was almost certainly going to happen.
We are not sure why our planet is caught in this long-term cycle of glaciations, but it has been for most of the past three million years. It coincides with the rise of the land bridge we now call Central America, and probably has something to do with the alteration of the global current flow pattern that was in place before this happened.
Unfortunately, powerful corporate interests, some of which are now under investigation for apparently intentionally lying about their own research in this area, spent a great deal of money and convinced many millions of Americans that there was nothing to be concerned about. I cannot tell you how much hate mail I’ve gotten about this and how many people have simply tuned me out rather that face the facts.
I cannot say that I blame them. They’re scared and they want to turn away rather than think and plan and prepare, and being told the truth makes them angry. Nobody likes to feel helpless.
On the other side of the fence, environmentalists want to believe that the problem can be solved by known means. They listen to people like Al Gore, who advocate what I call climate change gradualism and human responsibility. It’s entirely our fault and we can change it if only we take action.
There are two problems with this. The first is that the action proposed, which is reduction of CO2 output, needed to have started back in the 1980s to have had any chance of extending the peaceful interglacial climate regime that is now in place, and has been in place throughout human history. The second is that, even if that had been done, it would not have had the claimed effect of preventing climate change. It would only have delayed it.
So I have ended up without a constituency. Both the believers and the nonbelivers reject what I have to say. However, I should have a larger constituency than either the Koch Brothers with their climate change denial or Al Gore with his gradualistic fantasy. I should have the only constituency. This is because things continue to unfold in the ways that I have predicted from the beginning.
I think that the greater blame lies with people like the Koch Brothers, Exxon, Rush Limbaugh and the like, because reducing CO2 emissions would indeed have bought us some time. We no longer have that time, unfortunately, and there is nothing we can do to recapture it, not unless some new technology comes along that enables us to draw CO2 out of the atmosphere—a lot of it, and fast. While there are some promising ideas, there is nothing on the horizon that can be deployed fast enough and with great enough effect to make a difference.
Because of my position, this website has lost a great deal of support over the years. Of course, it has also gained support. But it needs its voice to be heard, and the more time that passes, the more true that becomes. If there is one place in the world that has any chance at all of predicting a superstorm in time for people in its path to take action, it is Unknowncountry.
I need to refurbish it in order to give it more impact, to enable easier user access to its incredibly rich body of content, and get it broader reach. I need a bigger staff to do more writing and research. To find out how you can help me with all of this, click here.
And don’t miss Climate Watch. The information it offers is not aggregated anywhere else in the world, or discussed with the candor and accuracy that we provide.