Tornados, killer heat domes, and tipping points: we have it all. Climate scientist Paul Beckwith and Alex cover the latest shocking climate news and science in a destabilizing the world. How, why, and when. Plus 2 AI climate songs: “One Hot World” and “Closing Soon”.

Welcome to Radio Ecoshock.

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Listen to or download my Public Domain climate song “Closing Soon”.


Listen to or download my Public Domain climate song “One Hot World”.




Why did the world just get hotter? Are there more tornados? Is something dangerous lurking in extreme weather? No one covers big-picture science and news like Paul Beckwith. Beckwith is a Canadian climate scientist. He taught it in Universities. Then he became the world’s biggest YouTube climate science teacher.  From Ottawa Canada, we welcome Paul Beckwith back to Radio Ecoshock.

In this interview we cover the latest science and news on: James Hansen’s latest update on global warming acceleration; terrifying tornados over America; impacts of earth tipping points on societal breakdown; slowdown of the Gulf Stream (AMOC); atmospheric rivers reaching the Poles; tides under glaciers – and other threats in the climate emergency.


We start with hot news that isn’t in the news. Mexico and all of Central America have been stuck for weeks under the most oppressive heat dome ever. Crazy heat records were shattered there for both days and nights. People are just trying to survive it, and some do not.  According to Bloomberg, 2.6 million inhabitants of Mexico had no electricity, following blackouts caused by the heat wave. They are suffering and in danger without air-conditioning or fans.

Recently, a powerful straight-line wind called a “Derecho” blew out windows in downtown Houston. Major Texas power systems were down, just as another triple-digit heat wave arrived. That violent weather is connected to the giant heat dome over Mexico next door.


For weeks, a big band of record-smashing heat lingered across the sub-tropics of the Northern Hemisphere. While the heat boiled Mexico and Central America, North Africa was too hot to go outside for long. Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and India during their elections – it was all hot as never seen before in May. Southeast Asia was even worse, stretching into the Philippines and even Pacific Island states – hitting the billions of people who contributed the least to climate change and got the least benefits of fossil power.

The only reason awareness and panic are so low: the heat is affecting poorer countries who are not at the heart of the global news and broadcasting industry. If this band was across North America, Europe, Russia and Japan – THEN it would be seen as the emergency that it is. As we continue to pollute the atmosphere, that will come.

More than half of Pakistan’s school-age children – about 26 million – will be locked out of classrooms for a week due to an ongoing heat wave, the latest in a string of countries to shut down education due to climate extremes, Save the Children said.


TWISTER TROUBLES: terrifying tornados over America

Here in North America, news outlets have plenty of juicy footage of tornados wiping out homes, little towns, and even big wind turbines. The U.S. has – by far – the most tornadoes of any country in the world. Unknown to most, Canada is second.

Paul did a feature on the twister mania of 2024 near the start of it, like May 11th: “Terrifying Tornado Turmoil Troubles USA over last Two weeks…”



Two weeks later the tornados kept on coming, with more deaths in little places like Greenville Ohio.  Paul made a second video on this: “Weird Things are Happening with Tornadoes”,



The strange thing: with all the news coverage, we think there MUST be more tornados now with climate change. Except a recent study shows that is not true, at least not so far.

America gets by far more tornados that any country on Earth. Spring 2024 delivered the most tornados in the U.S. since 2011. We will see if a new record is set. But over the last few decades the total number of these twisters has not increased. AccuWeather predicts that anywhere from 1,250 to 1,375 tornadoes may occur across the United States in 2024.


Here are two things that have changed as the atmosphere heats up.

1. Tornados are generally moving east in the U.S. – from “tornado alley” toward the mid-West and

2. It seems like there are more tornados but that is because they are clustering, spinning up in multiple places on the same day. So technically there are the same number of days when tornados appear, but when they do show up, there may be several to a dozen or more in one region within 24 hours. That is new.



Dr. James Hansen, retired Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for the Study of Space Science, has published a new update in his blog. You can track Hansen’s new work here. The new piece (not peer-reviewed) is called “Comments on Global Warming Acceleration, Sulfur Emissions, Observations”, posted May 15, 2024.

In this update, Hansen and his usual co-authors again emphasize the role of cleaning up aerosols (air pollution) from the atmosphere has revealed more warming than expected. With his co-author Leon Simons, Dr. Hansen points to slashing sulfur from ship emissions due to international regulations. Sulfates in ship fuel had to be cut in 2015, and then really reduced in 2020 – for all ships destined for American ports.

So these changes primarily reduced sulfates in the atmosphere over the north Pacific Ocean, on the busiest trade routes between China and the rest of Asia to the North American markets. A lesser but observable reduction happened over the North Atlantic. As a result, there are fewer reflective sulfate particles in the atmosphere to turn away bits of solar energy before they reach the surface. That does not directly add to warming, but it removes a shield that was hiding some of the warming already caused by emissions and other human activity. The net result is that we get hotter.

I have covered this theory in several programs. Obviously, 2023 and now 2024 are much hotter than expected. But are ship emissions, and pollution reductions over China, enough to explain the big jump in heat? Our recent guest Gwynne Dyer, after talking to many experts, thinks there must be something more driving the heat jump – and the timing is problematic. Why would reductions in 2020 mean extra heat revealing itself now? James Hansen’s replacement at NASA, so to speak, is Dr. Gavin Schmidt. I asked him about this problem in a recent show.

Why So Hot So Fast?

I think the jury is still out. We don’t fully know why world oceans are so hot and why whole continents have been burning with weeks of heat beyond human tolerance – last year and this.

Paul’s video is here.




Paul and I talk about science, and with scientists. We have charts and numbers. But we know the majority of people now sweating out the heat from fossil-powered society don’t live in it. A recent guest talked about millions of families in India living in rude houses with metal roofs. One study showed temperatures inside such shack-houses (study in Ghana) can go over 140 degrees Fahrenheit or 60 Celsius. There is no shelter inside or out, and for millions, no electricity or air-conditioning. I don’t know how people can stand it, what they think about it, and how they will react as this goes on.

We also do not know how people in privileged societies will react as infrastructure they take for granted breaks down. What happens in a long-lasting grid failure during weeks of blistering heat? How will city dwellers and armed citizens react?

We discuss Paul’s recent video “IMPACTS of Earth Tipping Points on Societal Breakdown, Radicalization, Polarization, Anomie, Wars…: posted Apr 26, 2024.



By the way, as Paul says “Anomie is an old sociological term for individuals losing interest and touch and connection with their communities. “ His video description says:

“I discuss various case studies of interactions and connections between climate, physical changes, societal impacts, and effects for:
– AMOC collapse
– coral reef collapse
– Lake Chad drying up
– Amazon Rainforest Collapse
– Arab Spring

Basically, we are all connected. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Cascading domino like effects are all around us.

It is weird, but the people most vocal about climate danger are either young or old. Climate activism is bubbling on campus. Young people know. Yet social media is filled with old activists, well, like Paul and certainly me.

The working generation in between is trapped in debt, working for some corporation, and keeping pretty quiet – hoping the whole thing doesn’t collapse soon. Many stick to gas cars and diesel trucks even when their homes burn down, flood, or blow away. What will it take to get the average person into the streets and voting booths, demanding emergency climate action?

A while back Paul made a video explaining why we may collapse soon. I used to think that, but it seems this doomy civilization has a lot of diversity and staying power. The tragedy may not be that collapse comes in the next decade, but that it does not. Can you picture a wounded civilization still mining coal, pumping oil, and fracking gas in the 2050’s?


Paul’s video on this is “Cascading Tipping Points and Early Warning Signals showing a Critical Slowing Down” posted April 21, 2024.



In his description – and we hear this in our interview – Paul gives a hypothetical chain reaction as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation collapses in a warming world:

Let’s say the first thing that tips is the Arctic Sea Ice loss and then massive Greenland Ice Sheet calving. This would inject large amounts of fresh water into the Arctic, and the lighter water could shut down the AMOC. This would cool the whole high-latitude Northern hemisphere.

Thus, it would stabilize and regrow Arctic Sea Ice, Greenland, and slow down and even reverse permafrost loss. The Southern Hemisphere would warm, the ITCZ would shift southward, tropical monsoons would shift southward, the ENSO would likely change to a near permanent El Niño, and we would really be in a different world. Eventually, the warming in the north would re-establish itself and come to dominate the cooling effects with a vengeance.”



You hear about massive rainfall as “atmospheric rivers” hit places like California. It turns out with all the distortion of the upper atmosphere winds during warming, atmospheric rivers can travel all the way up to the Arctic and Antarctica. They are causing rapid melting and other damage there. For example, as Paul tells us, once surface rain refreezes into ice, that has a lower albedo (reflection ability) than white snow. The ice layer adds another slight warming for the whole Earth system.

I covered atmospheric rivers hitting Arctic Ice in this show “Why the Weird Weather?” posted March 1, 2023. The paper was “More frequent atmospheric rivers slow the seasonal recovery of Arctic sea ice”. I spoke with the lead author, Pengfei Zhang.

Why the Weird Weather?


Paul’s new video is called: “The Global Reach of Atmospheric Rivers: From the Arctic to Antarctica to the Equator and In-Between” posted on February 12, 2023.



Paul writes:

The Arctic sea ice is near a record low extent and area for its winter regrowth, and the Antarctic sea ice is at a record low by a long shot. It turns out that Atmospheric Rivers – ARs, which carry vast amounts of heat and moisture in thin ribbons of air stretching 1000s of km, are reaching the two polar regions and acting like garden hoses carrying near boiling water to etch out the sea ice, and even the on-land glacial ice.

A new peer reviewed scientific paper on the Arctic was just published clearly showing that atmospheric rivers reaching deep into the Arctic in the winter (when the sea ice is reforming) are responsible for 34% of ice loss, meaning that when the summer melt starts to occur the ice is already extremely weak, thin, and fragile. In fact very little ice makes it from one year to the next.”



A team of scientists led by Eric Rignot have discovered “vigorous melting’ at Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier. Essentially satellites were able to see tides of warmer water washing deep below the edges of the massive Thwaites Glacier – the glacier thought to hold several feet of sea level rise if it melts. This is new and disturbing knowledge. These warmer tides could speed up melting of floating glaciers that hold back big glaciers that could flood the world’s coasts.

The title of this new paper is “Widespread seawater intrusions beneath the grounded ice of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica”, as published in PNAS May 20, 2024.

You can read the helpful UC Irvine press release on what this means here.

Eric Rignot is currently at the other end of the Earth. He is on the high glacier in Greenland doing more research. UC Irvine tells me Rignot has just enough satellite coverage to put out a few social media updates, but not enough for an extended radio interview. Maybe when he gets back.

“Paul’s video: “Daily Tidal Flexing of Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier Bodes ill for Global Sea Level Rise” posted May 21, 2024.



Almost every day there is new science from what I call “the climate front”. Specialists find bugs, bats, or frogs are disappearing. Forrest experts worry the Amazon will not recover, changing rainfall across the world. Permafrost scientists are getting hoarse from shouting. Ice people are alarmed, and don’t get us started on undersea methane. My point: big changes on a planet are just too fast and too many for any of our small brains to comprehend.

You can use Beckwith’s video channel as a kind of climate science news service. He tracks new papers that matter and explains them. His channel is here and Paul’s web site is here.

Paul is also a regular contributor to the Facing Future TV series and the Climate Emergency Forum videos with Dr. Peter Carter.



Climate Killers Go on Holiday

A feature on American news: breathless reporters announcing new records for driving and flights on the holiday weekend. Three million a day pass through airports while 38 million people drive at least 50 miles from home. Will it be a new record – higher than 2005? How exciting! What a great sign “the economy” has recovered. Americans are confident. They have no clue.

Sadly, extreme weather is causing flight cancellations and rerouting. Should I do a special on how extreme weather is threatening the airline industry? We could get experts on. This shows how upside down our view of reality is, the extreme danger of our unreality. The real story: record air travel will certainly help create not just more extreme weather, but uninhabitable and starving areas around the world.

As CNN frantically described the record numbers of travelers on the road – almost 40 million Americans expected to drive 50 miles of more over the weekend – they compared gas prices, talked with folks in traffic jams and advised driving early in the morning or late at night to avoid clogged roads. In a sign from the Universe, the crawl below said “Six killed in Northwest India in the heat. Temperatures rise up to 122 degrees and heat expected last another five days”. Perfect disconnect. Not a clue the two stories are DIRECTLY connected. We are driving poorer people into climate chaos – for a holiday!

There is your tableau on live TV: record holiday travelers, heat deaths overseas, NOAA predicts a terrible hurricane season due to the hot Atlantic, killer tornados cluster, straight-line winds blow out downtown towers and wind turbines, hail on the gardens and crops, smoke from northern forests infesting American cities thousands of miles away. We are in the climate emergency RIGHT NOW and still don’t know it. The pot is boiling, and none of us frogs feel like jumping out.

Perhaps we can withdraw from this travel addiction gently while community resources and moving family members closer together can happen. So: just two flights per year, per person. Anyone taking more than two flights a year receives significant penalties with community service times for repeat offenders. Exceptions would be made for essential services like air ambulance flight crew. No exceptions for wealth. No private jets at all. Stop flying – we are wrecking Earth!

Concurrent with stringent flying limits, corporations need to institute online meetings instead of travel immediately, as they did during the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Companies, not individuals, need to be given strict goals to reduce commuting and enable online work from home or local walkable/bikable work centers. Stop burning fossil fuels to work.

Individual cars need to become quickly a thing of the past. Shared cars and community trucks are the mid-step toward ending combustion engine transportation completely. Production of combustion engines for vehicles needs to stop this year or next. We already have billions of engines and each one commits to another decade or two of fossil fuel burning, which is not possible if we want a habitable world. End combustion engine production. Electric engines only.

The world needs to slash fossil fuel production and burning by at least 10% a year, starting with countries with the highest per-capita use and historical burden of carbon: so all the developed countries go first and hardest in reductions. If we do not cut by 10% a year, it looks like Earth will become 3 degrees hotter around 2100 and keep getting hotter after that. The tragic new realities at that level of warming are difficult to imagine. It includes super-cities on the coasts abandoned to the sea, along with agricultural deltas feeding hundreds of millions of people. It includes mass migration from drought and heat gone beyond the “human niche” – the environmental limits for human bodies. It includes massive floods and wildfires along with the spread of tropical diseases. It includes a string of social collapses and likely civil wars or gang rule. It includes a broken future where population reduction is forced by Nature.

Chances are millions of you will soon be living in the emergency anyway in a fossil-powered world. You may be on wildfire alert or forced to evacuate. You may flee floods or have homes torn apart by super hurricanes. You power will go out as heat overloads the electric system. You may have to huddle inside your home, assuming you still have one. Make sure there is room for a few climate refugees. That is the luxurious life we pretend to conserve as we keep on polluting as “normal”.


If you are thinking: slashing reductions requires a dictatorship or “nobody will do that” – then you agree this civilization will continue until it reaches an extinction point, with generations of suffering along the way. Sign on the dotted line that you agree to damage the future to continue your present. Tell your kids and grand-kids about your decision to wreck their future. Pin that declaration on your social media page and post it with your photo on a placard outside your house. “I want to wreck the future” should be painted in large letters on any remaining gas vehicles. You will enter the infamous record of climate criminals as your legacy.

If you really don’t care, if you really want to inflict suffering and death on millions of people, be up front about it. Tell it like you are.

Harsh truths for harsh times, this is Radio Ecoshock.

I’m Alex Smith. Thank you for listening, and caring about our world.