THE BIG PICTURE – Like It or Not
Radio Ecoshock | 16 July 2014
SUMMARY: In “best of” Radio Ecoshock interviews, Dr. Tim Garrett says civilization must collapse to avert devastating climate change. Dr. Peter Ward says Nature may not have friendly plans for us.
You want the big picture? Here it comes. I’ve picked two of my favorite power interviews from years of interviewing scientists, authors and experts.
Or listen to it right now on Soundcloud.
PROFESSOR TIM GARRETT: ONLY COLLAPSE OF CIVILIZATION COULD PREVENT CATASTROPHIC CLIMATE CHANGE
You will hear a little-known Professor from the University of Utah, Dr. Tim Garrett. He’s a cloud specialist. But Garrett published a paper published in America’s most prestigious journal, after being championed by the father of “global warming” Wally Broecker. It still took two years to get out.
Why? Because Garrett worked out that according to the laws of physics, only a complete collapse of civilization could save us now from devastating global warming. We’d rather keep on driving around that hear about that.
I’ve tried. I got help from a Pakistani film maker to put out a You tube video version of our 2010 interview. I spent hours typing out a transcript. We did a second interview, even more dynamite than the first. Hardly anyone has heard about it. You will.
Here is a link where you can download or listen to the first Tim Garrett interview (17 minutes) from Radio Ecoshock February 5, 2010.
Here is the description for that interview:
“University of Utah Associate Prof. Tim Garrett says carbon burned = civilized wealth. We must either construct a nuclear reactor a day, or experience harsh economic collapse, to have a habitable climate. Interview from Radio Ecoshock 100205 17 min CD Quality 16 MB or Lo-Fi 4 MB This one shows link between growth economy and climate doom. Stays in the mind.“
Read an article about Tim’s science “Is Global Warming Unstoppable?” here.
The audio of the You tube version has been muted, claiming that the copyright holder did not authorize it. I am the copyright holder, I did authorize it, and I have complained to You tube. Here is the link, although you will have to wait until this is corrected to hear the interview.
Here is a description of that interview:
“University of Utah Physics Professor Dr. Tim Garrett explains why fossil-based wealth leads to both hyper-inflation and a ruined climate. All from a published, peer-reviewed paper in Journal “Climatic Change”. According to our energy and wealth equation, only a sudden economic collapse could save us from 5 degrees Celsius global temperature rise (or more) by 2100. And we’ll get over 100% inflation along the way. One of the most important interviews of the year.“
His paper is titled “Are there basic physical constraints on future anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide?”
The basic thesis, tested against past industrial development, is that neither population nor standard of living have to be included in modelling prediction of climate change. Garrett concludes that civilization, as measured by gross domestic product, is directly related to the amount of carbon burned. More emissions, more wealth. Fewer emissions, less economic production.
Here is the exact description of the theory, from an abstract of Garrett’s paper:
“Here, it is shown both theoretically and observationally how the evolution of the human system can be considered from a surprisingly simple thermodynamic perspective in which it is unnecessary to explicitly model two of the emissions drivers: population and standard of living. Specifically, the human system grows through a self-perpetuating feedback loop in which the consumption rate of primary energy resources stays tied to the historical accumulation of global economic production—or p × g—through a time-independent factor of 9.7 ± 0.3 mW per inflation-adjusted 1990 US dollar.”
By applying his formula, Garrett says it would take a new nuclear plant built every single day to keep up our current standard of living. As that isn’t happening, and may be impossible, the only other solution is economic collapse. In our interview, Garrett suggests a horrible economic crash, which I imagine as diving perhaps to Medieval standards of life, is required just to reach 450 parts per million of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
In the conclusion of that paper we find:
“Viewed from this perspective, civilization evolves in a spontaneous feedback loop maintained only by energy consumption and incorporation of environmental matter.
Because the current state of the system, by nature, is tied to its unchangeable past, it looks unlikely that there will
be any substantial near-term departure from recently observed acceleration in CO2 emission rates. For predictions over the longer term, however, what is required is thermodynamically based models for how rates of carbonization and energy efficiency evolve. To this end, these rates are almost certainly constrained by the size and availability of environmental resource reservoirs.“
THE SECOND PAPER (PARTLY INSPIRED BY OUR FIRST INTERVIEW)
Garrett published a second paper in the journal “Climatic Change”. During our interview, he suggests one of my questions stimulated the new work. Namely, what would it take to keep emissions to the relatively safe 450 part per million CO2 level? The title of the second paper is: “No way out? The double-bind in seeking global prosperity alongside mitigated climate change”.
The new paper not only suggests that isn’t going to happen, not with all the good will dreams and schemes in the world. It goes further. Using Hurricane Katrina as an example, Tim explains why the on-going pounding of our civilization by a disturbed climate will lead to horrible inflation. How does climate change lead to inflation? I asked, he answered. You must read the whole transcript here. It’s from Radio Ecoshock November 19, 2010).
The audio for that interview is available as a separate mp3 file here.
DR. PETER WARD: HOW GLOBAL WARMING LEADS TO MASS EXTINCTION
Then we’ll go back to one of my favorite climate scientists, Dr. Peter Ward. He’s got the history of life on this planet in his back pocket. Some of the long-term future too. Peter Ward says nature isn’t nice, and really there isn’t much of a plan. We can dream of an intelligent Gaian God already in command of the future. But the biological record, says Ward, is more like Mr. Bean is in charge. We need to get a grip on who we really are, and where we really are.
Dr. Peter Ward with his Medea hypothesis, the mad drive of blind biology, was from the Radio Ecoshock show October 16, 2009. This is from my Radio Ecoshock blog for that program:
“Gaia – the great interconnected force of living things on a minor planet called Earth. British scientist James Lovelock wondered how life created it’s own space, with the oxygen and nutrients we all need. It’s a soothing idea. Some Greens took it further, suggesting Gaia is a super-consciousness that watches over balance and survival. A few worship Gaia.
Dr. Peter Ward, a deep time digger and climate investigator says Gaia, if there is one, can also be a mass murderer. The rock record shows at least 5 great mass extinctions before us. Ward offers us a different Greek myth: Medea – the wife of Jason the Argonaut, who swiped the Golden Fleece. In a fit of rage against her husband, Medea killed her own children. In a new book, the Medea Hypothesis, Peter Ward says Gaia is out.
Bountiful Nature can become ecocidal, and only intelligent life can stop the death cycle we are now approaching.“
Dr. Peter Ward still teaches at the University of Washington, while continuing his research trips all over the world. The broad public still hasn’t absorbed his ground-breaking explanation of why land animals were killed off in such great numbers, in past extinction events.
Peter’s more recent book is “The Flooded Earth: Our Future in a World Without Ice Caps“. I highly recommend this book as visionary, and I still think his first big climate book “Under A Green Sky” is one of the most frightening, readable, and informative books you can find on what our past history tells us about the future hot Earth and our prospects of extinction.
Here is a Youtube video of me interviewing Peter Ward about the coming “Flooded Earth”.