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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Email to IPCC focal points

We are writing to you along with all other focal points at the coming IPCC meeting (August 15th onwards) to discuss the implications of a 1.50C temperature increase. We wish to offer a necessary course of action that has a genuine chance of success and which can break the deadlock that we are already trapped in.

As we are sure you are already aware, there is no chance that the temperature rise can be held beneath 1.50C, even if we were to implement a zero carbon global economy tomorrow.

The clear, but brutal, evidence from every critical measurement is that runaway climate change has begun. This has been reinforced by the extraordinary temperature rises that have occurred since the Paris COP which have taken the global temperature almost up to the agreed target.

All the statistics reflect this hypothesis. Atmospheric CO2, oceanic and atmospheric temperatures, sea ice extent, methane emissions and precipitation are all changing at rates that exceed the worst case model predictions. In many cases, these continue to change at exponential like rates in spite of current efforts and discussions to implement a zero carbon economy.

We cannot afford to wait for critical temperature increases to occur before we take action, instead we must start action today based on the exceptional rate of change observed in the variables listed above.

We must also be realistic.

There is a significant time constant between a CO2 increase and a temperature response. We don’t know what this is, but it is likely to be significantly longer than 30 years and it is prudent for us to work on this assumption. As we are already about to breach the 1.50C temperature increase (see our warning here), then the emissions added in the last 10 years along with the time constant make it impossible to maintain a temperature rise below 20C. Thus, our current approach of controlling temperatures by relying on developing technologies for a low carbon economy and hoping these can out compete fossil fuels is quite simply inadequate on its own.

We are already seeing our global political system coming under strain before the temperature has even got to 1.50C. Mass migration, heat waves, floods, war, terrorism and land grabs have become the norm for news headlines. The result is that competition for resources is usurping co-operation for the common good.

As the warming that is already in the pipeline comes through, competition will increase and the chance of the mutual co-operation and discipline needed for a successful transition to a zero carbon global economy with all nations remaining in this state indefinitely reduces to zero for all practical purposes.

It does not appear to us that this inevitable increase in global competition has been factored into the COP agreements. This leads to an inherent and unspoken critical danger within its process. That danger is the illusion of success must be preserved at all times, even when this is impossible. If the COP process fails to do this, then the negotiations will break down and a deadly free-for-all will break out. The irony of this is that the currently failing strategy is adhered to in a tightening embrace as the situation worsens with the ultimate paradox that a free-for-all becomes inevitable. (You may want to read our experiments on the emergence of free-for-alls here).

The developing nations will be the first to suffer in the ensuing free-for-all. Their weaker economic and military strengths mean they are already suffering disproportionately from the climate change impacts caused by the emissions of the more powerful nations that have gained competitive advantage by continually subverting climate change agreements in the past. Thus, the developing nations have nothing left to gain by taking the risk of the mutual sacrifice needed to get to a zero carbon economy, especially if they perceive that control of climate change is about to be lost.  Ironically, the regular mantra from politicians and the media is how severely affected the poorest nations will be by climate change, thus backing up this assertion.  The result is that most developing nations are developing plans for new fossil fuel driven economic growth as a hedge against coming climate change loss, irrespective of the science of climate change and COP agreements. The reciprocal response from the developed nations is to continue with business as usual.

The result for the planet will be continued inaction in spite of the inevitable catastrophic consequence.

It is thus essential that we collectively embark on a different course of action that has a genuine prospect of success. The heart of this is a systematic climate restoration programme which is based on a three pronged strategy which consists of cooling the planet using marine cloud brightening, sequestrating CO2 using slow release of nutrients into the ocean and restoration of the Arctic ecosystem using ice thickening techniques. With the three interventions being deployed in the order given, we believe the climate system can be stabilised and runaway climate change avoided.

We summarise each of these below, and include a further extension of their application to address atmospheric methane accumulation, with  further details being available on our website,

  • We will cool the planet by Marine Cloud Brightening using a novel technique with a fluidic oscillator which allows seeding of marine clouds using salt water sprays.  This is the most energy efficient, controllable and safe way of increasing the planet’s albedo.  This replicates the natural formation of marine clouds, so it is inherently safe. By using it to block the heat flux into the planet at the subtropics, it will prevent excessive heat flowing to the Arctic and help the reflective ice cap to be re-established. It can also be used to protect coral reefs from bleaching and to mitigate extreme weather events.
  • We will sequestrate CO2 from the atmosphere by fertilising the ocean surfaces with buoyant nutrient flakes. This is the most rapid method of converting the excess CO2 in the ecosystem into biomass and exceeds by far the speed that can be achieved with any land based method. Converting CO2 into biomass also reverses ocean acidification. Without tackling this, most marine ecologies will not survive in anything other than a grievously impoverished state. The consequences of this would be starvation and a further diminution in the ocean’s ability to sequester CO2.

  • We will thicken the Arctic Ice Cap using renewable power systems which can be deployed over multiple years to pump water from below the ice sheet to its surface in the winter months. The restored ice cap will lead to an increase in the planet’s albedo, stabilise the jet stream, restore the Arctic habitat and trap methane emissions.  The act of pumping water onto the ice surfaces acts as a planetary radiator. This needs to be rolled out in conjunction with the MCB to be most effective.

  • We will bring atmospheric methane levels down using two methods. Firstly we will stop methane getting into the atmosphere by tailoring the nutrient recipes on the buoyant nutrient flakes to favour methanotrophs. Secondly, we will use the fluidic oscillator to disperse iron chloride salts which in the presence of sunlight which will convert methane to CO2 a thousand times faster than would occur in naturally.

It is critical that this programme is started immediately.  We are already heading for an ice free Arctic Ocean in September and once we pass this critical threshold, the effectiveness of our proposed strategy will rapidly diminish, with the risk that at some point in the near future it will be overwhelmed by events.  This is not an attempt to hold a gun to the heads of policy makers, but a sober and clinical assessment of the facts.

At the same time much work needs to be done - engineering and scientific validations are needed; approvals need to be sought; funding needs to secured; equipment must be manufactured and deployed and finally there is the time constant of response. All this must be completed before the heat in the pipe line strikes us and undermines our ability to co-ordinate a response. Thus, the consequences of delay are critical and have been outlined in a risk assessment we prepared in May. In the relatively short time since preparing this presentation, events have unfolded to support our worst fears associated with inaction.

It is thus absolutely vital that this intervention strategy becomes the subject of serious discussions at the coming meeting and we ask your support in enabling this. As a minimum we need clear and unambiguous political commitment towards this to enable us to secure seed funding for early development. If this is not forthcoming, the consequences are too dire to contemplate. Further to this, we need all the help that we can to secure that initial funding.

Thus we write to you not as pessimists who have given up all hope for the survival of higher forms of life on the planet, but as realistic optimists who believe that once the reality is clear and a feasible solution is evident, then better instincts will prevail allowing time to be safely bought and competition avoided to allow the types of ideals implicit in the COP 21 agreement to be realised.

We will be delighted to offer any support and information delegates wish and we will remain humbly at your service.

With kindest regards,

Kevin Lister and Sev Clarke.

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.