What is happening and what is coming? Alex’s guest is risk analyst, published author, and host of Robert Scribbler’s Blog. From the worst fears to faint glimmers of hope, the hunt for climate truth. Plus short clips of Dr. Michael Mann (when money buys anti-science) and Dr. Jennifer Francis (a new Arctic feedback). Radio Ecoshock 170125
I’ve got lots of goodies for you in this blog:
* a new You tube video from Radio Ecoshock “Climate Science Stunners”
* a link to Dr. Jennifer Francis video, revealing a new Arctic feedback
* links to every post we discussed this week, from Robert Scribbler’s Blog
* a link to the Commonwealth Club of California panel discussion “Is Climate Denial Destroying Our Planet?”
CLIMATE SCIENCE STUNNERS
Climate science is coming in so fast, we can hardly make sense of it. So I’ve begun a new series of You tube videos on the most important climate stories I covered in 2016. The first one is one the Arctic, where the greatest change of all took place.
There will be more Climate Science Stunners as I get time. Please subscribe to my You tube Channel and invite others to do the same. We’ve just got to get this information out there, whether Donald Trump likes it or not!
Before we get to the star of this week’s show, here is the video link for the 2 minutes from Dr. Jennifer Francis from Rutgers that I play in this week’s show. This was just posted on You tube January 16th by John Cook. It’s about a new Arctic feedback.
Let’s move on now with our guest, Robert Marston Fanney from Robert Scribbler’s Blog.
ROBERT MARSTON FANNEY – THE “SCRIBBLER”
In world where unreality is taking over, there is a floodlight to find the facts. It’s called science, but that’s not easy to understand. We need translators, we need scouts to call out from ahead. Robert Marston Fanney is one of those voices.
He has two great skills that helped him. Robert was a threat analyst for the world’s premier information group, Jane’s. He knows how to dig and research. Robert Marston Fanney is also the author of a popular science fiction series called “Luthiel’s Song“. Taking those skills to analyze danger, and his creative writing, Robert Marston Fanney has produced one of the world’s top hubs for disseminating climate science. It’s called Robert Scribbler’s Blog.
It’s a pleasure to welcome Robert Marston Fanney back to Radio Ecoshock.
It’s been a while, but now three years later, people are still downloading our first conversation in 2013 at a rate of about 200 a month. That was “I Have a Confession to Make”. It’s even more for our 2015 Radio Ecoshock show “Five Stories Seldom Told”.
To throw some light on the big picture, I’ve gathered together a few of Robert’s recent blog posts.
For people in a hurry, here they are:
INCREASING EMISSIONS OF GREENHOUSE GASES
SOLAR NOW A BETTER INVESTMENT THAN OIL
WHERE RESISTANCE TO FOSSIL FUELS WILL COME FROM NOW
HONORING A FALLEN CLIMATE SCRIBBLER
THE DREADED CHANGE IN THE ARCTIC
Here’s one you won’t find on CNN. I think it’s one of the biggest stories in the world, but it’s not big on Twitter or Instagram.
The total amount of sea ice on the planet is falling. That seems important. But in a recent interview on Radio Ecoshock, Canadian climate scientist Paul Beckwith complained the scientific community did not seem interested. I suppose, for a while it seemed ice loss in the Arctic was being countered by growing sea ice in the Antarctic. This year, they both crashed.
We are melting the ice right off the planet. Robert Scribbler’s blog captured the big picture on January 13, with this blog title “The Human World Has Never Experienced A Time When Global Sea Ice Was So Weak and Reduced.” There are not enough exclamation marks to capture this huge moment.
Robert tells us about the recent statement from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado. It may be the most desperate report that careful scientific group has ever issued.
A BIT OF A TRUMP-INSPIRED RANT FROM ALEX… DENIAL AS A TWISTED REALITY SHOW
We know the White House is filling up with the worst kinds of climate deniers. They are matched by Republican deniers in the House and the Senate. It’s time for them to play. How can any sane person deny what any satellite can see – that the poles are melting?
The people who promised to reduce or destroy every branch of government have been given power over them. We won’t talk about the billionaire Secretary of Education who hates the public school system, or the billionaire Labor Secretary who hates organized labor. But we have to talk about people who swore to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency and the Paris climate accord. Now the fossil fuel kings promise to make America into an oil exporter again. Damn the climate! Full speed into the apocalypse!
I ask Robert Marston Fanney what he thinks the new captains of the American government will do? Fanney says the best case scenario is the sheer momentum of American climate research counters Trump slashing, so we end up kind of in the same place. Not much progress, but not much worse. The worst case is: we go backward, spewing out gross amounts of fossil fuels, leaving America behind the rest of the world, and leaving the environment ruined.
In addition to his former position as a professional risk analyst for Jane’s, Robert is an established fiction writer. His Luthiel’s Song series sold very well. Many people know Robert just for that. So I ask, in his wildest imagination, could he write a plot so outrageous – a climate-denier President leading America back into the dark ages of disbelief? Are we living in a twisted Reality Show now?
The thing is: it is hard to believe that air from our tailpipes, and invisible emissions of methane from fracking, could be enough to change the atmosphere and the climate. Most of us lived innocent of this knowledge until about 1990. But we could have known.
Let me tell you a short story. It was the early Irish scientist John Tyndall in the 1850’s who discovered the radiant properties of the atmosphere. He didn’t have computers, and didn’t use electricity. Tyndall carefully blew gases into glass orbs and tested the heat properties. That is when he discovered that tiny, tiny amounts of certain gases, like carbon dioxide, could tip the whole performance of air, when it comes to heat retention. The famous UK climate lab, the Tyndall Centre, was named after him.
I have a good friend and Radio Ecoshock supporter at the Tyndall Center. (Hi there!)
That discovery by John Tyndall was almost 170 years ago, and most of the public still doesn’t know. It’s like the German philosopher Nietzsche said: there is a time lag in human knowledge comparable to the time it takes light to travel from distant stars. How can we overcome that dangerous time gap between scientific knowledge and public acceptance?
It’s too easy for people in the Northern Hemisphere, the “us” that talks so loudly on social media these days, – it’s too easy in winter to forget about the heat that will drive millions of other people from their homes. Characteristically, while “we” are fixated on winter, Robert Fanney warned about new uninhabitable zones, not just in North Africa, but in countries who earn their huge riches by exporting the fossil fuels. Their products will ruin their home climate. We talk about that blog posted in December about the great heat.
I wonder what it takes to drive people out. Probably the majority of people in those regions do not have air conditioning. Their buildings are built to help with heat, but what is the point when thousands, and then hundreds of thousands, have to leave?
Now it looks like Britain, the United States, and most European countries, are closing up. Robert Marston Fanney, what happens when millions of people can’t stay, but can’t find anywhere to go?
OK, now I have to yell a bit, not at Robert, but at all of us. We have a fixation for records. There have been plenty broken in the last few years. But now, if something really dangerous continues, but if it’s not an all-time record, we feel relieved or bored. We’ve lost the appropriate emotion: rising fear. 2016 was not a record year for increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Does that mean we are OK?
All it means is that our INCREASE was less than a couple of years ago. We are still increasing our emissions to the atmosphere. Even if we somehow leveled off, we are dumping so much every day, every year, that we are wrecking the atmosphere and the planet as we know it. Only a reduction matters at all – a big reduction!
A LITTLE GOOD NEWS PLEASE!
Now and then I feel guilty on Radio Ecoshock. I haven’t scoured the Earth to find some good news in all this darkness. Robert seems to find it better. We talk about his great blog “Solar Now Produces a Better Energy Return on Investment Than Oil”.
Despite the shadow of Trumpiness creeping across America and the world, Robert also found a counter-point of light. I love his blog drawing together the sites of resistance. We learn where it is happening, where can we win a little.
My theory is that the more the super-billionaire oligarchs cement power at the top, the more that power falls apart at the bottom. They break the chain of human belief and agreement. Recent polls show human trust in the media, the government and corporations at an all-time low. Maybe that just sets us free to take action right where we live. What do you think?
I’m building a greenhouse this Spring. I plan to extend our fresh food for a much longer season. I going to try for a ten month growing season even in Canada. There’s a lot of local action to make local food again. I think that’s part of our resistance. Is it futile or sane?
THE PERSONAL SIDE OF CLIMATE REPORTING
Robert and I, we are scribblers and talkers. The comments section of Robert Scribbler’s blog is an intense pool of information. I’ve a regular visitor. Please check it out – Robert’s comments section is a rolling education and news feed all in one.
My theory is that when Joe Romm drew back from his famous “Climate Progress” blog, and it got rolled into something else – the educated commenters became homeless for a while. They became fired up by Robert’s blog.
My web guy just told me that the Radio Ecoshock web site has a script that has fended off 36,000 spam comments. That’s how intense the cyber war is out there. I figure every major oil, coal, gas, and pipeline company either has an office full of social media hacks, or hires some other company to stuff every channel and our brains with doubt and nonsense. Just look at the American election, for a glimpse of where this is going.
I admired the consistent wealth of information coming from one of Robert’s blog commenters, David T. Lange. I was really sorry to see his stream of links stop, and to hear that he passed away. Robert tells us about David Lange, and what he gave us.
I can’t capture that story as Robert does. But in addition to hundreds of climate info posts, David Lange often reported on air pollution. He was on the spot for the great fires in the Pacific Northwest a couple of years ago. Now we learn that David had long-term lung problems. It’s likely the pollution made him another statistic, one of at least 7 million people killed by air pollution every year. It’s a big loss.
Robert also talks about why the well known Arctic ice blogger Neven decided to stop.
Way back in 2013 – it seems so long ago, so much has happened – in October 2013, Robert and I published our full hour talk based on something he wrote. It was called “I Have A Confession to Make”. That program has been downloaded countless thousands of times ever since.
Well, I have a confession to make. When I started broadcasting Radio Ecoshock in 2006, my idea was to campaign hard to stop climate change. I was idealistic. I believed communication of the science of climate change was a key barrier. Once the people knew, they would demand action, and start making changes to their own lives!
Now in 2017, some scientists tell me it’s too late. The world is committed to a lot of warming. We are likely well past the danger line for humans and our co-species. Sometimes I wonder, am I just here to chronicle the inevitable horror? Do I have to report the coming times of mass death, and mass extinction? Am I a horror-writer now?
I worry we are, you the listener and I the interviewer, a bit like ghouls telling scary stories by the campfire, to scare the kids. But that’s not true. The ghouls are the people wrecking the kid’s future, while telling their fairy tales about capitalism or Trumpism. I say we are on the side of truth and reality.
I didn’t signed up to be a horror reporter. I’m basically a happy person if left alone. I have thought of quitting, but I can’t. What about you?
WHAT IT TAKES
Perhaps a late observation. I feel a kindred spirit in Robert. I think part of what makes both of us keep going is actually a sense of what well-being is and can be. You have to know what good is, to realize how badly things are going.
The other necessary job qualification is the ability to repeatedly have one’s mental jaw drop. I keep seeing news, or reading new science, that breaks my mind, again. How could this be? Can’t everyone see what this means? If I lose that, if I become jaded, then I’ll lose this show. I’ll lose what makes Radio Ecoshock.
Well, it hasn’t happened yet. I’m astounded almost daily. We live in interesting times, to say the least.
DR. MICHAEL MANN AT THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB OF CALIFORNIA
I want you to hear a short clip from a great podcast from the Commonwealth Club of California, broadcast January 15, 2017. On radio, I just play a clip that features famous Penn State climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann. Michael describes the case of Dr. Frederick Seitz. Seitz rose as a prominent physicist, and was even President of the American Academy for the Advancement of Sciences. And yet he founded an institute that denied tobacco could kill smokers, and attacked physicians who said it could.
What could bring an eminent scientist to deny such an obvious truth? Apparently, Michael Mann tells us, money can. Mann told the Commonwealth Club that the RJ Reynolds tobacco company paid Frederick Seitz about $70 million.
Then, surprise surprise! – Seitz and the George c. Marshall Institute he founded, became well-known climate deniers as well. No amount of climate science can persuade people who are well paid to think otherwise.
You can get that podcast “Is Climate Denial Destroying Our Planet” from the Commonwealth Club of California free on Itunes. It was recorded in San Francisco on December 12, 2016 with four panelists, and host Greg Dalton. Or watch the full program free here.
We are out of time. I’m Alex. A special thank you to the people who helped fund Radio Ecoshock this week! If you want to help, here is where to find out more.
Please join me again next week on Radio Ecoshock.