Who is James G. Anderson and What Does He Know About Climate Change?


Recently, I had an opportunity to repost a video which I viewed several years ago from Harvard Professor James G. Anderson regarding climate change. I have actually watched the video two or three times in the past, but there are certain parts that have now become more interesting as time has moved forward. 

In the video, Anderson reveals why the term "global warming" is very inappropriate and doesn't accurately describe what is really happening. Then he describes what will happen as times moves forward with warmth and moisture entering the stratosphere as a result of climate change - as ice continues being removed from both poles, eventually the temperature difference between the tropics and the poles will disappear. This is a hugely important distinction, as the global climate system today utterly depends on those temperature differences for the way it behaves. I will go into more detail regarding this phenomenon in my next article and how it will affect the planet's oceans. The existence of plants and animals relies not only on this climactic behavior, but also on having an intact ozone layer. Essentially, climate change is eliminating BOTH the current climactic behavior AND the ozone layer. No ozone layer means that staple crops will be fried with UV radiation along with everything else sunlight shines on. No staple crops means no food. Stratospheric moisture caused by climate change is causing more damage to the ozone layer, but so are extreme wildfires (also caused by climate change). 

Once the information seeps in, it becomes obvious that trees will die off as well. No trees and no plants means very little life will remain on the planet. It is made clear that just like many Arctic, Antarctic, permafrost, ice sheet, and glacier experts attest to; once the ice is gone, so too will we vanish. It is also explained that these changes will reach tipping points, which are IRREVERSIBLE in nature. 

Anderson further reveals that extreme weather events over the Great Plains of the US are capable of injecting water into the stratosphere in the summer. This point now is also being seen in other areas such as over the Pacific Ocean as seen in this article. Here is another similar study pointing to the moistening of the stratosphere causing a reduction of ozone and and increasing climate change impacts, among other things. Yet another new article points to a larger than usual ozone hole.

The part I disagree with (along with many other scientists and professors) is his stance on energy requirements and/or current infrastructure being able to be powered by "renewable" energy. The only way society could be powered by current forms of "renewable" energy is if we existed on about 15% of current global energy usage. Mostly, this is due to the current electrical grid being unable to transmit the sheer level of energy necessary to replace the energy being supplied currently by fossil fuels, especially liquid fuels. Needless to say, this isn't likely to occur until the fossil fuel platform can no longer be maintained. Some improvement in the capacity of the electrical grid may occur in the near term, but energy and resource decline render the idea of anything more substantial fairly remote at best. More on this particular topic can be found in Tom Murphy's new book, Energy and Human Ambitions on a Finite Planet or Alice Friedemann's new book, Life After Fossil Fuels.

Another topic which Anderson explains about climate change is that the method of measuring climate change, the global mean temperature change, is the least articulate way of describing what is occurring. He goes on to explain oceanic thermal storage and the latent heat of fusion of water to point out why measuring global climate change through global average temperature differences is the worst way to describe the severity of climate change. 

Finally, the three things Anderson concludes are necessary quantitatively to ameliorate climate change are:

1) Terminate adding more carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide to the atmosphere [where we are already over 500 PPM CO2e];

2) Draw carbon dioxide levels back down to 300 PPM to reach stability; and

3) Cool the planet to reform and stabilize the cryosphere.

Anyone who follows climate change seriously already can tell you that not one of these is actually feasible today. Now that natural positive feedback loops are pouring more emissions into the atmosphere, terminating emissions becomes impossible. See also articles about ocean heat uptake and a study regarding permafrost thaw. There is no known technology which can draw CO2 levels down on a relevant scale in a timeline necessary, and natural negative feedbacks are in serious decline. There is also no known technology which can cool the planet without serious side effects to climatic patterns and possible agricultural disaster causing massive starvation for millions if not billions of people. 

So, this takes us back to the fact that those 3 required items to ameliorate climate change are in actuality denial of reality. Those who think they are possible are suffering from optimism bias and not comprehending what it would take for humanity to experience radical transformation. Further evidence points to a lack of agency to accomplish these tasks in the first place. At the end of the day, we see that this is precisely why we are looking at NTHE as the eventual outcome of these predicaments. The one item which I haven't mentioned (yet) is because Anderson didn't bring it up, but which has even worse prognostications for climate change and extinction - hydrogen sulfide - and this is the topic for my next article!

More info and research: https://www.arp.harvard.edu/our-research


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