What an exciting July 2022 its been on Earth and in the heavens!
We commemorated the birthdays of the father of genetics, Gregor Mendel 200 years ago and DNA detective Rosalind Franklin’s 102nd during climate extremes around the world.
Even now these climate events are more extreme than forecast with droughts and fires in Africa, Europe, the UK and heaven turning to hell in the USA versus melting glaciers in Italy, India and Tibet along with floods in Australia and South America. More people are being directly impacted by extremes as the global average temperature rises, forest canopies shrink, soils dry and the ocean reaches its heat storage capacity.
“Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath.”
On 26 July James Lovelock (of Gaia hypothesis fame) died aged 103 with his ghost likely tut-tutting at our lack of intelligence when it comes to seeing Earth as a complete, self-regulating complex system. At least the scientific data has now linked some of these climate extremes to jetstream changes so another climate denier view is undermined. Maybe worry less about AI and be more concerned more about human stupidity, stubbornness and sloth!
The IEA has said that no new fossil fuel developments should occur but Mr Didier Budimbu (Democratic Republic of Congo’s Minister for Hydrocarbons) didn’t get the memo saying (unhelpfully for the planet) “We will exploit it, we will extract it, we will sell it, we will commercialise it” referencing the sale of exploration licenses in the DRC’s Cuvette Centrale, a peatland area. Peat is old plant life, essentially buried sunshine - let’s leave it buried. If the carbon dioxide sequestered there were released as part of oil drilling it would be equivalent to 3 years of global emissions as well as damage habitats of (eg) mountain guerillas and The Infinite Monkey Cage Robin Ince’s favourite fashionista primates - bonobos.
Read Bart Crezee et al.’s July 2022 item from Nature Geoscience “Mapping peat thickness and carbon stocks of the central Congo Basin using field data” (see also https://congopeat.net/).
“Without the Congo Basin, the rest of the world couldn't breathe. We Africans provide an eco-systemic service for the whole planet”
Arlette Soudan-Nonault (Congo-Brazzaville's environment minister per a BBC report)
“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom…Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal.”
Edward Osborne Wilson
“How can we feed, house and clothe the abundant human race without destroying the habitats of other creatures?”
The DRC government does have a point. If the world wants to preserve the Cuvette Centrale and its environs then some substantive equivalent funding should be forthcoming to Congo and other countries (eg Zimbabwe has also found oil and plans to develop it with a company called Invictus) trying to use their natural resources to improve people’s living conditions per COP 26 and its precursors. Transparency International and similar entities’ do have issues regarding funding benefits not reaching intended beneficiaries in some countries, including the DRC, so how can people and institutions in rich nations best help those less fortunate to have good health and education services and a safe and satisfying life? The world had the Montreal Protocol to limit CFC emissions and we need a similar model to prevent new fossil fuel developments. We need better tracing and control of corruption as well as including the external costs of “cheap” hydrocarbon fuels into their price before their continued use makes our world even less biodiverse and pleasant to live on for all of us here (humans and other life - Alltheus) travelling around our untamed galactic black hole, Sagittarius A*.
"The costs of climate policy are also real to certain constituencies and certain communities who have a strong stake in stalling action, so that they can benefit economically in the short term at the expense of the social wellbeing of everyone in the medium term."
“What I’m saying is the planet’s on fucking fire. There are a lot of things we could do to put it out — are any of them free? No, of course not. Nothing’s free, you idiots. Grow the fuck up. You’re not children anymore. I didn’t mind explaining photosynthesis to you when you were 12. But you’re adults now, and this is an actual crisis, got it?”
The new JWST is already blowing our minds with the quality of its images allowing previously anxious astronomers to relax and enjoying the view. The new data will undoubtedly lead to new science and discoveries. Thank goodness too for the Hubble space telescope’s mother, Nancy Grace Roman, championing it as an amazing precursor to the JWST.
“New directions in science are launched by new tools much more often than by new concepts.”
“I was told by many people that a woman could not be an astronomer. I’m glad I ignored them”
Nancy Grace Roman
And 53 years this month after Apollo 11 landed on the Moon NASA has announced the scheduled Artemis 1 launch in August / September with the mission series promising to provide updated photographs of Earthrise a la Apollo 8.
It is worth mentioning that the hydrocarbon industry learnt some lessons from the success of the campaign that led to the Montreal Protocol to reduce CFC emissions and use leading to the issuance of the Global Climate Science Communications Plan after the Kyoto Protocol. This led to an actively resourced, long running disinformation campaign to cast doubt on science work and methods to undermine and block evidence of human induced global climate change.
Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming
2010 Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. (See video here)
[An ABC Big Ideas 2022 podcast with Professor Oreskes discussing “Do you trust scientists or question their independence?” can be found here]
“The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet” here
Michael Mann (Director at The Earth System Science Center
A good interview with Professor Mann is here
(A design inspired by his book is here)