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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

We cannot leave geo-engineering any longer

Email to Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP

Dear Geoffrey,

Climate change has now reached an unprecedented level of danger. Today, the temperature at the North Pole is 42 deg C higher than normal. This extreme heating is driving the deep Atlantic lows that are rendering many of our ancient cities uninhabitable.

More ominously, the heating of the Arctic is already triggering methane releases. It is estimated that 50 Gigatonnes of methane trapped in the Arctic region is at risk. Only a small percentage of this needs to be released to tip the planet into unrecoverable runaway climate change. The dynamics are such that small percentages will not be released, instead it will be all or nothing. It is on this premise that we must work.

Policy makers and computer models have assumed that the transition of our climate from its previous equilibrium that supported life and allowed our economic development to a new hostile equilibrium would be smooth and predictable. Instead it will be chaotic  and unpredictable with increasingly large variance around the mean as we progress through the transition. This is what we are experiencing today.

Each swing around the mean  during the transition will act like a jack hammer inflicting more damage and accelerating the speed of the transition. For example, the warming of the Pacific Ocean in the  1998 El Nino led to a significant increase in atmospheric CO2 which further intensified global heating. The El Nino of this year is far stronger. These non-linear pulses are accelerating us towards the point of economic and ecological no return.

Today's extreme heat at the North Pole is a thunderous crack of the climatic jack hammer as it nears its break through to the new equilibrium.

We have nothing to counter this. Despite the hype, the #COP21 talks were a failure. No legally binding agreements were made and the CO2 targets that were agreed will lead to a temperature increase far in excess of 2 deg C. So great is the cumulative damage already incurred, that even an emergency attempt to go immediately to a zero carbon economy would be futile on its own.

In light of our inability to tackle the climate change problem at its source by cutting CO2 emissions, we are forced to manage its consequences by mitigation measures. However, events around the world are already showing this to be a failure. Those of tomorrow will expose the extent of this failure even more brutally.

In the short period of time that we have left, we must embark on a geo-engineering program that will simultaneously sequestrate CO2 from the atmosphere and cool the Arctic. The extreme events in the Arctic today mean that this must start this coming summer. After this, climate change will most likely have built up such momentum as to be unstoppable and the economic chaos in its wake may well preclude organisation of actions.

I would commend my colleague Professor Paul Beckwith (email:  to you and strongly urge you to watch his interview at .  He has long been advocating the seeding of oceans with iron oxide to encourage plankton growth and  whitening of clouds and SO2 injection into the atmosphere during the summer months to cool the Arctic.  

I would therefore urge you to act on this with the greatest of urgency by the following: 
  • Explore  how you can lobby for geo-engineering 
  • Press for government support of necessary research programmes 
  • Circulate  this message around other MPs. 
  • Press for a parliamentary debate on geo-engineering 
  • Contact the respective ministers who can advocate these actions on the international stage 
Kevin Lister

Further Reference: 

Warm Arctic Storm To Hurl Hurricane Force Winds at UK and Iceland, Push Temps to 72+ Degrees (F) Above Normal at North Pole:

Sunday, December 13, 2015

After the Euphoria of the COP 21

The world has been told again that a successful outcome from the climate change agreements has saved it, even though it agreed targets to guarantee a 3 deg C temperature increase and won't admit to knowing what is needed to limit this to 1.5 deg C. This is a green light for the world to develop fruitless computer models over the coming years to enable prevarication to take the place of action. 
This annual charade has developed its own unique process. It agrees nothing when at the same time every thinking being, from humans to earthworms, knows the crisis is worsening. It glorifies failure as shining success and does little other than provide a platform for the leaders of the industrialised nations to hide their motivation to continue with destructive business as usual.  
 So now let's get real and do some crystal ball gazing of possible future scenarios:
1. Climate change destroys us by 2050. The Trident crews and other equivalents from China and Russia are the only remaining people on the planet. (This is the logical conclusion of the policies that the world's most powerful  governments are pursuing, which is to avoid action on climate change and update nuclear weapon systems that will outlast the societies they purport to protect, and why this is at the top of the list).
2. A right wing dictatorship takes over the UK and gains control of our nuclear deterrence. It then links with other similar dictatorships around the world and wipes out anyone considered to be undesirable. When George Osborne refuses to support a ban on Donald Trump, is prepared to dismantle our legal system and gets into bed with the Chinese over a massive nuclear deal, we are closer to this than many think.
3.  Our economy collapses, Greek style, under the weight of accumulated debt and climate change recovery costs. We are forced to sell our Trident system to the highest bidder or our largest creditor (most likely Russia, China or India). This is made more likely because the huge cost of building, operating and defending Trident is funded by debt.
4. Our economy collapses, Greek style, for the same reasons as above, but Britain cannot sell Trident. Trident then suffers a major nuclear failure because we cannot afford to maintain it or train its operators properly. If this happens near the coast, it leads to  mass evacuations at a time when this is least possible to manage due to the issues of mass migration and economic collapse from climate change. In the worse case, it means millions of people are instantly incinerated as its warheads simultaneously explode. 
5. At a time of rising international tensions, a  captain on a Trident thinks that he is being followed by a new modern Russian Akula class submarine. Being the only submarine on patrol and knowing that spending cuts have resulted in no anti-submarine warfare capability he fears instant destruction. Being so worried, he makes a premature launch decision. After destroying Moscow and with London and New York suffering a retaliatory nuclear strike, he discovers that the acoustic trace was a false reading. 
6. Alternatively, a captain on a Russian Akula class submarine following a Trident thinks that with climate change intensifying international tensions a premature launch is to be made and he destroys it, leading to a retaliatory strike from the US. 
7. Because Russia is frightened by our Tridents, they build even more equivalent submarines. Events 5 and 6 above happen, but with the flags swapped around. The effect is still largely the same. 
8. As a result of the international disorder brought about through climate change, nihilistic terrorists have managed to obtain several nuclear warheads and detonate their first with a suicide bomber in the middle of London. Just as with 9/11 when America attacked anyone they could think of, the UK fires its missiles at anyone it can think of.
9. As climate change intensifies and nations around the world realise they will be destroyed by runaway climate change, everyone goes mad. This affects all links in the nuclear command and control chain, from the presidents and prime ministers at the top to the battle field commanders with their fingers on the button at the bottom. Somewhere within this chain, a sane man is driven mad by the news and decides to end the pain by firing the warheads under his control.
10. We avoid all of the above, but as soon as the new Trident is completed, we have to start building another 4 replacement submarines to keep the submarine building companies in business. This time we do succeed in bankrupting the country and any one of the above happens.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Green Party Annual Subscription

It's that time of year again – no, not Christmas, but the time when I get a reminder to pay my subscription to the Green Party.

For what it is worth, the Green Party is going to have to mange without me. I am sure they will continue what they are doing just fine without my contribution.

I did once think that it was vitally important that there was a credible environmentally focused political party. Today, I am not so sure. It seems to me that having a green party gives undue credibility to an election process that we confuse for democracy.

Our forefathers in Ancient Greece would never have considered our model of governance to be a democracy. They would brand it as an elected oligarchy far removed from their ideal of everyone having a say in all critical decisions of state.

The oligarchs that we have elected into power today would immediately counter with the assertion that the complexity of events and the speed decisions must be made means the direct democracy the Ancient Greeks practised would not function. They may have a point, but I doubt it. The very technology that is causing so many problems today can also allow fast communication from individual citizens to the points where decisions must be made. The flip side of the objections from today's elected oligarchs is that the very complexities and speed of today's events allows an abundance of opportunities for exploitation, and this they take full advantage of. The result is the revolving doors between government and big business.

Our process of selecting oligarchs also plays well to a society that has become lazy and hedonistic. It is basically much easier to limit ones contribution to the democratic process to a single vote every five years than it is to having to contribute regularly on specific issues, many which may contain difficult and uncomfortable choices. By contrast, when one's vote is cast in the booth for an oligarch, it boils down to a distillation of large sets of conflicting policies from one party compared with another, mixed in with a personality analysis of someone that you will never have had any direct contact with. A toss of a coin is as good a tool for decision making as considered thought, this is ultimately what many people are reduced to.

This deliberate limitation of democratic involvement means that there is more opportunity available for the general population to party and play. It is something that many are grateful for as they select their oligarchs. It also supports the fundamental objective of the industrialised market states that we find ourselves in. That is the maximisation of opportunity for their citizens.

Unfortunately for any environmentally focused parties, the appointment of oligarchs is legitimised by the process they participate in, yet they have no chance of success. This would not be a problem if the elections could be fought on the basis of selecting parties that offer the best long term policies for human survival. But they never have and the never will. It is virtually impossible to find an example in any industrialised country were a government has been elected into power on the basis of it pursuing environmental policies designed to ensure long term human survival. By contrast, it is nearly impossible to find a government that has not been elected into power on the basis of its policies to extend industrialisation.

I fear that the Green Party today, with its talk of sustainable development, is merely offering another form of industrial development. It is so wedded to this that in the last election it was unable to speak the truth of the crisis facing the planet. Buried in the middle of its manifesto was its commitment to climate change. In a word for word copy from the Conservative Party's manifesto, it said that if elected it would work with the international community to keep global temperature rises below 2 deg C. This is now impossible. Little intellectual thought is needed to know that the worst nightmares of climate change can only be avoided with a zero carbon economy today, not in 10 years time. This emergency transition must be made when the impacts of climate change are biting increasingly deep into the fabric of our society. It will result in large scale social disruption and severe limitations on personal freedom. There is no way around this. Yet, the Green Party, like any other party that fancies a slice of power knows it cannot talk of these truths so it does what every other party does, it lies and presents policies that disingenuously offer false hope.

The only thing that differentiates one party from another is the quality of the lies they produce. The favourite lie of the Green Party and other environmental movements is “down with capitalism.” This is a good sound bite, until one considers that capitalism in one form or another has been around since the first days of human civilisation in Ancient Mesopotamia, so down with capitalism is unlikely to offer a solution in itself. By advocating this line of argument, The Green Party are simply making the mistake of many others; shouting down with something because it is easier to do than shouting up with its alternative. It is a lesson that the Iranians discovered in 1979, when they elected the Ayatollah Khomeini into power on a policy of down with the Shah, only to discover they had moved into an equally bad nightmare of no viable alternatives.

For the Green Party, the flip side of down with capitalism is “up with a rationing economy.” Ironically, a commitment to carbon rationing was once something they had in their manifesto, but now has been quietly dropped and in the last election none of the party's main speakers advocated this. The reason is simple, “up with a rationing economy,” means down with industrialisation and free choice. The Green Party is no different from any other in being afraid to advocate this philosophy.

If this is not good enough justification for allowing my membership to lapse, then I offer one final and controversial thought. That is ISIS, our new found enemy terrorising the world. By refusing to say what you stand for, and instead only what you stand against, you provide legitimacy for those who are prepared to destroy the thing you want actually destroyed but which you are afraid to acknowledge. When at the same time, you take the moral high ground and decide not to intervene in any way and under any circumstance, you give the green light to increasingly appalling attacks.

I am no fan of military intervention and every time it is used I understand it drives the world one step closer to disaster. But when those that are supposed to be standing against the system don't and refuse to be clear on the genuine alternatives, they contribute to making military intervention unavoidable.   

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Why the COP #21 will fail - among other reasons.

In a few days’ time the COP #21 climate change talks will start and in a few weeks’ time they will fail again.

They will fail not because of lack of ambition or lack of technology or anything else that we are told that is all that is needed to make them a success.  Instead they will fail because none of our global leaders want to tackle the underlying problems and no one wants to vote for leaders that might.

Firstly, as I have argued for many years, the cooperation needed on climate change is impossible when nations are on a permanent war footing with each other. This is exemplified with the nuclear weapons standoffs and the enormous military industrial complexes and expanding economies that these need.

Secondly, and closely allied to this is the extraordinary transfer of wealth to the elites which is squandered on lavish lifestyles

None of the global leaders, who are representing their voters at the COP, seem to have cottoned onto the idea that the nations with nuclear weapons are generally the ones with the highest disparities been rich and poor.

There are basic reasons these two issues go hand in hand. To maintain a military industrial complex, fuel must be available. To ensure it is available, it is subsidised by the tax payers.  This leads to the unintended consequence that those who consume to excess have their energy subsidised and those who struggle to make ends meet are pushed deeper into debt to pay for this.  The other reason is that nations must maintain an economic and technological competitive advantage over their rivals. This forces the implementation of policies that favour industrialisation rather than environmental and human protection.  This also has the unintended consequence of benefiting the elites of society and penalising the poorest.

This competitive dynamic creates its own trends which will always drive the total income available to the poorest down and the total income available to the richest up.  In the zero sum world that we find ourselves in today, this means life become intolerably harder for the bottom quartile.

The following graph is calculated from the US Census data (table A1) and illustrates the consistency of these trends. Its basis is a conservative estimate that the maximum household income back in 1967 when the data collection started was $600k per annum and it has increased to $10,000k today.  A quick reading from the Forbes Rich list shows how conservative this is, but it serves for our illustration.

It shows the share of income to the poorest 40% has gone down consistently and is now about 5% of the total national income. By contrast,  the richest 5% of society have seen their share of the national income rise to about 65% of the total. Almost nothing affects this; certainly not the choice of government the masses make. This transfer of wealth from the poorest to the richest simply transcends everything else.

While this is based on US data, simply because US data is the most available, the same dynamic will apply to every other major industrial nation. By inference, it also extends to the wider global economy. 

This enormous concentration of wealth in the hands of the wealth is simply squandered on luxury toys such as ships, planes and houses. It quickly negates every bit of effort from the rest of the world to cut emissions.  It can only be stopped by strict personal limits being imposed on individual consumption, something that no political party has ever campaigned for. 

Without tackling the powerful high polluting elites, meaningful climate change agreements cannot happen. Given that we still can’t even get rid of their tax exiles, there is not much hope of this. It is highly dispiriting for those that try so hard to cut their own emissions and hope against the odds for something positive to come out of these talks. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Combating Terrorism

It's great to see Russia, France and US standing together against ISIS and jointly bombing them. It even looks like Britain is getting ready to step off its high moral soap box and join in the fray against this international scourge.

I hope  this new found co-operation will now extend to tackling that other class of far more dangerous terrorist - the uber-rich individuals. Their outrageously high carbon footprints that are the inevitable result of their excess consumption undoes in minutes the efforts and sacrifices millions of others are made to suffer. 

This small group is pushing billions over the climate change cliff making the few thousand that ISIS kills appear like small fry.  The uber-rich will of course use their wealth to ensure that they will be the last to go over, in the same way that ISIS leaders will be the last of their suicidal organisation to go.

But there are many other similarities between these two groups. 

Just as ISIS numbers have increased in recent years, then so have the numbers of uber-rich. Not only are there more uber-rich, but individually they also are massively wealthier. The huge proportion of global resources that this small elite lavish on luxury means that in our zero sum world the poverty stricken are deprived of the basics for survival and the resulting chaos is the perfect breeding ground for ISIS.

Just as ISIS have found sanctuary in the myriad of failed states around the world that climate change and resources wars have caused, then the uber-rich find sanctuary in the myriad of tax havens that the richest governments provide protection for.

Just as ISIS derives its wealth from the illegal sale of oil and through donations  from various Middle Eastern oil producers, then the uber-rich  survive on the illegal trillion dollar global annual subsidy for the fossil fuel industries that the world's tax payers must endure.  Without this, their energy intensive lifestyles would be impossible to sustain and they would be unable to relax in their tax exiles. 

So while we wait in vain to see the black and white images on our television screens of a precision bomb's cross hairs blasting apart a luxury pad in Monte Carlo or sinking a mega yacht in the Mediterranean that was belching thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, then we should at least start naming some names. 

A banker who did so well out of the financial crash by lying and cheating such as Bradley Wickens of Spinnaker Capital might be a good start, followed by some oil sheiks such as the House of Saud who have worked to stop climate change agreements. 

The economic imbalance these people cause is fundamental to the success of ISIS and other terror groups and fundamental to stopping climate change agreements. Unfortunately, changing government will not do any good, irrespective of doing this through the ballot box or through bullets. The only thing that will help is getting rid of the uber-rich.  So, feel free to add more names in the comments section below. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Able Archer and the near accidental destruction of planet Earth

This recently declassified report on the 1983 Able Archer military exercise is a must read for anyone with an interest in nuclear weapons or in staying alive.

If it were not so deadly serious, much of the report could have come from a comedy show. 

It concerns the near destruction of planet Earth in 1983 through an accidental nuclear war being caused by the Soviet's misinterpreting the annual announced Able Archer military exercise as a cover for the real thing.

The exercise was conducted against a background of escalating military tension between the US and the Soviet Union. In 1980 Ronald Reagan had come to power on a policy that the best way to ensure US security was to build military dominance rather than accept treaty restrictions such as d├ętente (by the way he was also warned that the Earth had only 40 years to go before imploding from climate change but decided the need to be able to destroy it first was more important - but that's another story).
Reagan's strategy built up on the first strike capability that the US had started to amass in the 1970s. A principle component of this was the new Trident missile system. Unlike its Polaris predecessor, it could rain down thousands of mega tonne nuclear warheads precisely on Russian military installations in little more than five minutes, rather than just a couple of hundred on Russian cities over 10 minutes. Make no mistake, first strike was what Trident was about then and what Trident is about today. Though it is also a second strike weapon of last resort, that is not its principle purpose, despite what the politicians might like to say.

Bob Aldridge - ex-Trident Missile Designer, responsible for re-entry vehicles.

The Soviets responded to Trident with a first strike weapon of their own, the SS20 missile system. Its 10 minute flight time meant it could destroy NATO forces in Europe and the rest of Europe within 10 minutes.

So the Americans responded to the SS20 by deploying the Pershing II missile system in Germany with a flight time of 5 minutes. This terrified the Soviets. They had a much stricter chain of nuclear command requiring the President and the Minister to Defense to jointly issue the command to fire. Given that Soviet presidents at this time were continually bed ridden, there was little chance the command to fire could be made within the warning time of a Pershing missile being fired from West Germany and hitting Moscow. Pershing and Trident together gave the US the ability to destroy much of the Soviet nuclear forces in a pre-emptive attack. This became an issue of indescribable panic to the Soviets, especially when Reagan had just branded them as the evil empire and made his famous joke that he was about to start bombing within an hour, thinking his microphone was switched off. 

Now for a funny bit - Footnote 15, page 39 of the report says the Pershing missiles did not have the range to reach Moscow. Moscow need not have panicked after all.

To try and get a measure of the risk they faced, the Soviets built a massive computer system (VRYAN) requiring a team of 200 people to operate. Despite its immense cost, it probably used at best a bunch of nebulous measurements and algorithms. Like many computer models, it took garbage in, mixed it around and what came out was considered gospel. Its output was a quantitative measurement of the US military and economic advantage over the Soviet Union. The US was given a benchmark score of 100 and if the Soviet Union's comparison measurement fell below 40, they would conclude that the situation they faced was untenable and so would automatically launch a first strike against the US and Europe.

Now for a not so funny bit; when it was first run it scored the Soviets at 45, just 5 points above the threshold to strike pre-emptively. Almost without doubt, one of the things that would have factored into these calculations was their false perceptions of the Pershing II missiles and their general first strike disadvantage against Trident. Pershing and Trident together, were creating exactly the environment they were supposed to prevent.

So when the Able Archer exercise came along and assisted by the VRYAN programme, the Soviets made all the logical assumptions that in hindsight the US military should have expected.  The result of those apparently logical assumptions was that the US was about to instigate a first strike, and consequently the Soviets should get theirs in first. 

As for those assumptions that so nearly tipped the world in nuclear Armageddon; the Soviets had been preparing their own first strike strategy for years, despite claiming at the time that they weren't, so they expected the US to be doing the same. The US had after all had developed a massive lead in first strike capability and with the introduction of Trident were about to leave the Soviet Union even further behind, so why would Soviets not come to the conclusion of an imminent attack? The Soviets war plan had always been that they would prepare for a first strike under the cover of a military exercise,  so when NATO organised a mass exercise from the Arctic Circle to Turkey, involving  B52 bombers and the roll out of dummy nuclear warheads, what were they supposed to think?

The Soviets did the only thing that was logical to them. They loaded their nuclear weapons and forward deployed their fighters, bombers and submarines and prepared to make a first strike. Their leaders having convinced themselves that war was inevitable decided to get the first strike in.  
News of the strange (and highly dangerous) Soviet behaviour started to reach US commanders. Fortunately they were so badly trained they did not understand what was happening and missed the significance. Purely as a result of their shear incompetence they did not respond. Their unintentional delay gave the Soviets time to pause and step back from launching a first strike nuclear attack on an unprepared NATO and Western Europe.

I guess you can call this one of the funny bits.

Probably what is not so funny is that all the issues this report covers still exist today. Yet, there are more nuclear armed states and all operate first strike attack strategies supported by various stealth technologies. They all face a common mode threat of climate change, yet it does not seem that any of the lessons have been learnt. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Now is the time for your tears

Some interesting (and sobering) numbers - your comments are welcomed:

In a desperate attempt to keep economic growth going, the US Base rates have plunged to 0.25% and UK base rates are at a similar level of  0.5%. The central banks have both decided to keep these unchanged and possibly reduce them further.  The doubling time at 0.25% is 277 years and at 0.5% it is 138 years.  At these rates, young people will never be able to save up for a pension.

As well as not being able to save for their pensions, young people will have to pay for the pensions for those that have just retired. Unfortunately, they will realise that this will be the least of their problems.

CO2 has already exceeded 400ppm. Its rate of increase is increasing and will soon pass 450ppm.  The heating it causes is already collapsing the ice caps. Our young people will have to spend all their future building flood defences, rather than saving for their pensions and paying for existing pensioners.

They won’t have enough food to do this because the global population is continuing to grow at 1.13%. At this growth rate, the population will double in 60 years. As many people will be born in this time as has ever been born up to today. To feed them, the same amount of food will have to be grown in the next 60 years as has ever been grown. This must be done while crops are being simultaneously scorched through climate change driven heat waves or flooded through sea level rises.

Expenditure on the world’s military is at its highest level ever and increasing. It is also being used - especially against the poorest. In theory, we should be adding the reconstruction costs to the global economy, but we won’t as we will never rebuild what is being destroyed today. The scale is too great and the resources are already too few. So as we move towards the crisis of climate change, we have already collectively set the process in motion of pulling down much of our critical infrastructure before nature gets chance to do its worse.

This year, 23 million people will be on the move in high-carbon luxury cruise liners across the planet trying to escape the stresses of a high technology society. Meanwhile, 1 million displaced people who are trying to escape the destruction that high technology and climate change can bring are moving through Europe and destroying its ideals of integration and fueling nationalism. The number of displaced people will soon be in the billions unless they are killed by war and starvation first.

Even though sea levels are rising, nearly 400 nuclear reactors remain operational at sea level. Today, Japan is still unable to clean up one flooded nuclear site and the UK is getting into bed with China to build more, despite China’s record of violating international law and policy of implementing global ecocide.

An extra 8 million tonnes of plastic are accumulating in the ocean every year. As this breaks down, a plastic soup is forming and poisoning the entire ocean food chain. The ocean dead zones are joining together to make dead oceans. Soon the only living thing in them will be the crews of nuclear submarines. New fleets of nuclear missile submarines are being planned by all the nuclear weapons states. The only exception is Pakistan, which is fortunately too bankrupt to afford them.

Despite this, governments and political parties still claim that they can deliver economic growth and prosperity and people still vote for those that offer the best hope of achieving this.

Now is the time for your tears. Now is the time to offer your shoulder to your loved ones to cry on.