The Day After…….

3 07 2016

Australia has voted, and we have business as usual. I shouldn’t be surprised of course. The ignorant electorate has spoken……

What the ignorant electorate had to choose from was Blue Jobs and Growth (BJG), Red Jobs and Growth (RJG), Green Jobs and Growth (GJG) and now the X Men (and one woman). The X men, Nick Xenophon’s Party, also want jobs and growth (XJG), specifically in Whyalla.

As I said to someone who congratulated themselves for campaigning so well, at the end of the day, we’ll have business as usual. At the end of the day, we also appear to be heading for a hung parliament, possibly the best result under the circumstances, none of them deserve to be in power….hungparliament

The lack of understanding of the true future in store, the kow towing to the Matrix, the influence of the Murdock Press, and the sheer momentum of the monetary system has led us to utter lack of vision.

Even with their best ever campaign performance, the Greens hardly made a dent. When I stood for election in 2001, I was thoroughly congratulated for getting 6% of the vote. I was bitterly disappointed. A solid month out of my life, campaigning every day, for 6%..? And here we are, fifteen years later, and the vote’s gone up by 4% (more in some seats obviously..), and the Greens are still congratulating themselves. In one election, the X Men have done better than the Greens have done in four or five….. you’d think that by now it’s clear the electorate does not care. The Greens’ message has reached saturation point, and unless you’re a dyed in the wool greenie, you ain’t gonna vote for them, not even when thoroughly pissed off with the rest.

hungdemocracyEven if they fall over the line in Batman and Melbourne Ports, their influence will be very limited, the reds and the blues will just gang up on them…. The Greens’ leader Richard Di Natale says Australians are looking for a change, but all they’re doing is more of the same only a different colour. The change we need, as we fast run out of time, is on such a scale nobody even dares to contemplate it……

In the last few days of the election campaign, everywhere I went on the internet was peppered with Greens ads. I was impressed actually. The three word slogan (which is about all the electorate understands) “Save the Reef” was everywhere. Clearly, Australians don’t care if the reef dies. All they care about are Jobs and Growth. They don’t, seemingly, even care about green jobs and growth much at all.

Malcolm Turncoat may be finished over this result. He backstabbed the Abbott over bad polls, and now with the poll that really counts not coming good for him, possibly a ‘worse’ Senate (for the BJG Party) than before the double dissolution, a leadership challenge is in my view on the cards. God help us if the Abbott makes a comeback, he was by far the worst PM we’ve ever had, and that’s really saying something….

Not that I care. I realised the other day just how much ‘past caring’ I am….. apart from what happens to my family and closest friends, I’ve stopped caring.

The way things are going, by 2020 we’ll all be driving over cliffs in solar powered electric cars. China appears to be heading for a depression, the Saudi oil industry has laid off 50,000 to 77,000 workers, many of whom have not been paid for several months, and now, according to the IMF, the Brexit vote will have negative repercussions that will spread beyond the U.K. and Europe to the global economy. Good. All these good outcomes might slow emissions down.

How the Australian Jobs and Growth Parties deal with these issues will be mildly interesting, but nothing will happen ’til we have a major banking collapse, and that might even begin with Deutsche Bank, described by some as the world’s most systemically dangerous bank…….

How the jobs and growth parties will fund their promises under a banking collapse will be interesting to watch. The similarity between what happened to Lehhman in 2008 and DB today is simply amazing….. by then, jobs and growth will be a thing of the past, no matter what colour.

As far as I’m concerned, we’re on our own, and we should be actively planning for this. Plan your future, then work your plan…….. Voting no longer counts for anything, nobody elected in Parliament knows what they are doing.

ME?  Cynical…?  Don’t make me laugh……..

Tactical Senate voting

22 06 2016

I don’t usually do this, especially as we are so fast running out of time to turn this sinking ship around, voting at elections is quickly becoming a farce…. however, having said that, and seeing as voting in Australia is compulsory, here is a little bit of information on how to vote in the most worthwhile way for our Senate that I discovered just yesterday.

As you hopefully know, the government has changed the way we may vote on our complicated Senate ballot paper, with the unambiguous ambition of getting rid of the small parties.  In my opinion, it’s the big parties we should get rid of, and here’s how we could do it, though I’m not holding my breath.Sample new senate ballot, showing voter-allocated above-the-line preferences

You can read the whole explanation here if you’re into maths (like me!) or just follow the strategic bit below……. and share as widely as possible, we need as many people as we can muster to do this and stick it to the laborals…!


What you should try to do is get your vote to the latter part of the count, where it may have significantly higher value because of the counting system deficiency. But you don’t want your vote to get there via excess transfer from an elected candidate, because that will have diminished its final value.

How? I suggest the following:

  1. Vote below-the-line. Above-the-line voting has lost all utility except for the lazy, now that you only have to correctly number six candidates with the sequence 1,2,3,4,5,6 for a below-the-line vote to be valid.
  2. Make a list of candidates whom you favour but don’t think will be elected. Vote for those first, in order from the least likely to the most likely to be elected, but respecting any candidate preference you may have.
  3. By way of insurance, and to increase the likelihood of a preferred candidate getting a six year term, make a second list of candidates you favour who are likely to be elected. After voting your first list, append your second list in order from the least likely to be elected to the most likely, again respecting any candidate preferences you may have.
  4. If you haven’t yet numbered at least six candidates, continue numbering candidates you favour until you have. Your vote will be informal if you do not number at least six candidates in the sequence 1,2,3,4,5,6. Continue numbering candidates you favour as you see fit, preferably up to at least 12 in accordance with the ballot instructions, but avoid mistakes². There are arguments for then proceeding to number candidates you don’t favour on a ‘least worst’ basis, but avoid numbering any candidate you viscerally despise; your vote cannot count towards their election if you don’t number them (‘putting them last’ achieves nothing).

Why? Voting for candidates you favour in reverse order of their likelihood of election gives your vote its best chance of making it to late in the count, where it will have most value, while respecting your core candidate preferences. But don’t forget the 6 year term effect.

Personally I’ll be voting in the state of Queensland and favouring Greens’ candidates … but, tactically, I won’t be giving The Greens’ Larissa Waters an early preference on my ballot. That’s because she’s certain to be elected and doesn’t need my vote. She will get a later preference from me by way of insurance and to increase her likelihood of getting a six year term. Instead I’ll have Andrew Bartlett (probable second on The Greens’ senate list) high in my preference list, because his chances of election are fairly small and I can vote tactically to increase them.

By the way, while I’m often a Labor supporter, I won’t be numbering any Labor senate candidates on my ballot because I strongly disagree with that party’s pro-coal policies, especially their support for new steaming coal mines.

A wake up call……?

9 06 2016

When I recently wrote about the spate of frosty mornings down here in Southern Tasmania, I mentioned that the high pressure system causing this was going to send bad weather to SE Qld, and that the rain might start again in the following week… what an understatement that was..!

Before settling on the Huon as ‘the right place’ to move to, I did a lot of research. This research told me that the Northern part of Tassie was more prone to fires and floods, and both have occurred in the past eight months since arriving here for good. In spades as it turns out.

While up north got hundreds of millimetres of rainfall, Geeveston barely received 65….. things have gotten soggy, the dam is full again, and I temporarily can no longer drive my ute as far as my shipping container – though I got close yesterday to store the last of the electrolyte I picked up in Hobart the day before… hardly worth a mention compared to the hardship, let alone the loss of lives others have had to endure through what has now been declared a national disaster. While it’s easy for me to gloat, this is clearly a case of when paying attention has actually paid off….

sydneystormThe whole East Coast of Australia copped it too before Tasmania was hit. The by now familiar pics of Sydney luxury houses teetering on the edge of the now not so Pacific Ocean have gone viral, and the arrogant “we will rebuild” mantra is making a comeback.

It’s difficult to not conclude that the people who lived in those multi-million dollar homes are climate deniers….  after all, nobody who understands climate change would, in their right mind, buy seafront properties like this.  Anyone in their right mind would be paying attention….  Anyone not reading The Australian would have known that the seas around the East coast were two degrees above normal and 20cm higher, and that the extra energy in those two degrees in the system would make the next storm event an extra bad one….. and it’s hardly surprising so many people look so surprised.

rain events

This is no one off either.  Elsewhere around the world, the weather has gone ballistic. Apart from floods, parts of India scorched under temperatures of 51°C. Yet, even now, climate change hardly makes a ripple in the running of the current election campaign. The Greens are making waves (sorry….) but all they can talk about is emitting more greenhouse gases to transition to 100% renewables.  Just as it’s fast becoming obvious, all emissions should stop, right now.

One woman I saw in tears on TV was telling anyone who’d listen that the loss of her swimming pool into the ocean was ‘unfair’.  I put it to you that the Earth thinks all our emissions are unfair too…… but who’s listening?

Will we the poor people, especially those of us trying our best to reduce our personal emissions, have to fork out public money to rebuild these people’s insensitive dreams?  Is this not throwing good money after bad…?

The time to rebuild is over.  It’s now time to face up to our stupid errors, admit to them, and retreat up the hill.  I fear, however, that it might very well take a few more of these events for these fools to wake up to themselves.

For me though, it wasn’t the millionaires losing their cool houses that brought home the wake up call message….. it was the poor farmers who have no choice but to live near rivers for watering their crops and animals, losing, sometimes, the lot… the effect of this weather event on food prices will not be felt for some time I expect, but as more and more such disasters become regular newsworthy items on TV, the cumulative effects will begin to be felt, I am certain.

Meanwhile, next month, Australia will elect another brainless government hell bent on jobs and growth, and we’ll all await the next unnatural disaster to make us feel guilty.


Jobs and growth

26 05 2016

Many moons ago, I ‘met’ this guy on The Conversation who called himself Harquebus…. which is French (more or less) for a flintstock rifle.  Why he picked that word as his internet identity, not even I know, but what I do know is that we agreed on nearly everything…!  He found me by following the many links to DTM I had left behind, and now, as a result, I get a sort of ‘newsletter’ from him.  Here is his latest.

Lots of links, as usual….  enjoy.

Hi all.

We are less than three weeks into the Australian federal election campaign which, was called because the Australian Building Construction Commission legislation could not pass the senate. So far I have not heard it mentioned once. What I have heard ad-nauseam is the slogan, “jobs and growth”.

Our Prime Minister, his deputy and ministers can not string two sentences together without including this slogan. In the myriad of interviews that I have seen so far during this campaign, not one journalist has queried the need for pursuing this destructive ideology.

Rather than create jobs, no one has instead considered reducing populations. Not only would it reduce unemployment and put more in peoples hands and pockets, it will also reduce pollution, environmental destruction, urban sprawl, traffic jams, smog, inequality and poverty etc.

“Jobs and growth” is not being called for by the general population. It is being promoted by the very small minority that benefit from it. The rest of us will suffer from it until the point of no return when, rich and poor alike will perish because of it.

There are no vast habitable expanses left to inhabit, there are no large quantities of easily accessible resources to exploit and there is no cheap and abundant energy left to provide the growth that we have seen these past two centuries.

Every politician using the slogan “jobs and growth” is displaying their ignorance of the exponential function, the limited finite resources that are available to us and the consequences of our attack on the natural world.

Do you really want more traffic jams, more over crowding, more urban sprawl, limited access to resources, more pollution, more inequality, more poverty, more CO2, depleted fish stocks and more unemployment etc. until, we can not sustain ourselves any longer and have to endure the inevitable bloody consequences? This is what those that pursue growth at any cost will bring you.

I urge all journalists on my list, for all of our sake, query this destructive ideology before it is too late. As it is, the damage already done will take centuries to recover, humans surviving or not.

I have included an attachment listing various alternative news sources. A lot are already on my reading list, some I come across regularly and a few I have never heard of before.

If you are turned off by the endless trivia and propaganda being spoon fed to us by the corporate controlled main stream media (MSM), please take a look. The differences between MSM and the alternative media are large.

Here again is my list of various articles along with excerpts.



“a well-established and rarely challenged narrative. “We must grow the economy to produce jobs so people will have the money to grow their consumption, which will grow more jobs…” Grow. Grow. Grow.”
“Contrary to the promises of politicians and economists, this growth is not eliminating poverty and creating a better life for all. It is instead creating increasingly grotesque and unsustainable imbalances in our relationship to Earth and to each other.”
“Humans now consume at a rate 1.6 times what Earth can provide.”
“Absolutely NOBODY up at the top EVER talks about what the REAL problems are, Resource Depletion and Population Overshoot.  “Growth” is constantly put forth by EVERY candidate of EVERY political persuation Lefty or Righty as the ULTIMATE solution to all problems!  We can GROW our way out of debt!  The fact this is a finite planet with finite resources is never discussed anywhere except on fringe websites like this one.  The reality is we can only solve our problems if we STOP GROWING and START SHRINKING!”
“The difference between “them” and “us” is they are in positions of power where they could effect change.  Sadly the only change they wish to effect is to “increase shareholder value” of the corporations they run, and then by extension increase their own compensation packages.  It doesn’t matter to them what the consequences are, child slave labor in 3rd World countries, topsoil depletion from unsustainable Industrial Agriculture practices, endangering the safety of the food supply with GMO foods, destroying the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico…none of that matters.  All that matters is the bottom line of corporate profits.
“Whenever somebody with a decent grasp of maths and physics looks into the idea of a fully renewables-powered civilised future for the human race with a reasonably open mind, they normally come to the conclusion that it simply isn’t feasible.

“Despite our widespread willful ignorance, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that a consumptive way of living that devours non-renewable “resources” with reckless abandon cannot last.”
“It is the sixth mass extinction event that gets little airtime in our truth suppressed world.”
“The planet cannot regenerate itself as quickly as industrial culture is destroying it.”
“If all the insects were to disappear from the earth, within 50 years all life on earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.”
Degradation of the world’s natural resources by humans is rapidly outpacing the planet’s ability to absorb the damage, meaning the rate of deterioration is increasing globally, the most comprehensive environmental study ever undertaken by the UN has found.”
“In rich countries, these problems have built up over decades and centuries while economic growth was pursued at the expense of the environment.

“new Green technologies designed to save humanity from CO2 may kill humanity through energy starvation”
“If we used more energy to get the energy we need to survive then we will surely perish.”
“ERoEI = energy gathered / energy invested” “net energy = ERoEI-1”
“An inevitable consequence of this aspect of human nature commonly known as greed is that we have already used up the highest ERoEI fossil fuel resources and as time passes the ERoEI of new resources is steadily falling.”
“The greatest risk to human society today is the notion that we can somehow replace high ERoEI fossil fuels with new renewable energies like solar PV and biofuels.”

“CO2 brings peak heat within a decade of being emitted, with the effects then lingering 100 years or more into the future.”
“low probability/high impact events such as a rapid release of methane currently stored in permafrost provide as much, if not a greater, urgency to reduce emissions.”

Nature has been wounded too extensively to heal herself. Apocalyptic change has already begun, and our only hope of averting our own imminent extinction is a gamble on geo-engineering.”
“We actually need to go carbon-negative, so that the net effect of our human activities is to take large amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere. Otherwise the temperature will continue rising rapidly, and will kill us all.”
“it’s astonishing how fast the polar ice, the glaciers, and the mountaintops are all melting now, after being frozen for so many thousands of years. Once they’re all gone, watch out! The rest of the world will start heating up a lot faster.
“runaway warming has already begun”
“We must stop basing our society on buying and selling everything.”

“Children living in agricultural areas are developing leukemia, brain tumors and other childhood cancers at an accelerated rate”

“any reduction in our corporate tax rate would result in US multinationals operating in Australia paying less tax to our Treasury and more to the US Internal Revenue Service”

“the 2016 Federal budget benefited the rich over the poor, and sole parents (among the nation’s least well-off) were the biggest losers of all.

“You want to cut tax breaks on my fifth investment property? Wah! You won’t give me more corporate tax cuts? Wah! You want working class kids to be able to sit next to my precious darling at university? Wah! Why won’t poor people stop interrupting the experts on Q&A? It’s a communist plot! Wah! Wah! Wah!
“It’s true that there is a class war in this country. But it is being waged every day of the week against workers and the poor, relentlessly, by these spoilt, entitled born-to-rule brats.”

“Almost 2,000 West Papuans were arrested by Indonesian authorities in early May”
“Activists were separated from the main group and put in cells at the main police headquarters. They were beaten – police stamping on their chests and backs and hitting them in the head with rifle butts. They were threatened with death and stripped of their clothes.”

“5 Huge Stories the Media Ignored While Arguing Over Which Bathroom to Use”

“With no region of the Earth untouched by the ravages of environmental destruction, the state of the world’s natural resources is in a rapid downward spiral, a comprehensive assessment by the United Nations has found.”

“China’s debt is approaching $30 trillion. The fresh credit alone created since 2007 is greater than the outstanding liabilities of the US, Japanese, German, and Indian commercial banking systems combined.”

“Thanks to a combination of global warming and an El Nino, the planet shattered monthly heat records for an unprecedented 12th straight month, as April smashed the old record by half a degree, according to federal scientists.”
“The last month that wasn’t record hot was April 2015. The last month Earth wasn’t hotter than the 20th-century average was December 1984, and the last time Earth set a monthly cold record was almost a hundred years ago, in December 1916, according to NOAA records.”

“50,000 people are dying every year in Europe and the US from infections that antibiotics have lost the power to treat.

“Australia now has one of the biggest housing bubbles in history.”

“Of those at the top of food chain, so to speak, a small collection of families dictates both domestic and foreign policy — mainly through fueling war and conflict for the good of the military and pharmaceutical industries, and to a greater extent, corporate and central banks.”

Harry aka Harquebus
Salisbury North.
South Australia.

Arctic Sea Ice is Falling off a Cliff and it May Not Survive The Summer

3 05 2016

Near zero sea ice by the end of melt season. The dreaded Blue Ocean Event. Something that appears more and more likely to happen during 2016 with each passing day.

These are the kinds of climate-wrecking phase changes in the Arctic people have been worrying about since sea ice extent, area, and volume achieved gut-wrenching plunges during 2007 and 2012. Plunges that were far faster than sea ice melt rates predicted by model runs and by the then scientific consensus on how the Arctic Ocean ice would respond to human-forced warming this Century. For back during the first decade of the the 21st Century the mainstream scientific view was that Arctic sea ice would be about in the range that it is today by around 2070 or 2080. And that we wouldn’t be contemplating the possibility of zero or near zero sea ice until the end of this Century.

But the amazing ability of an unconscionable fossil fuel emission to rapidly transform our world for the worst appears now to outweigh that cautious science. For during 2016, the Arctic is experiencing a record warm year like never before. Average temperatures over the region have been hitting unprecedented ranges. Temperatures that — when one who understands the sensitive nature of the Arctic looks at them — inspires feelings of dislocation and disbelief. For our Arctic sea ice coverage has been consistently in record low ranges throughout Winter, it has been following a steepening curve of loss since April, and it now appears to have started to fall off a cliff. Severe losses that are likely to both impact the Jet Stream and extreme weather formation in the Northern Hemisphere throughout the Spring and Summer of 2016.

Melting more than Two Weeks Faster than the Early 2000’s

Since April 27th, according to a record of sea ice extent provided by JAXA, daily rates of sea ice loss have been in the range of 75,000 square kilometers for every 24 hour period. That’s 300,000 square kilometers of sea ice, or an area the size of New Mexico, lost in just four days. Only during 2015 have we ever seen such similarly rapid rates of loss for this time of year.

Sea Ice Rates of Loss Steepening

(We’ve never seen early season sea ice losses like this before. Severe sea ice losses of this variety can help to generate strong ridges and extreme heatwaves like the one we now see affecting India and Southeast Asia. Image source: JAXA.)

However, this excessive rate of loss is occurring across an Arctic region that features dramatically less ice (exceeding the 2015 mark for the same day by about 360,000 square kilometers) than any other comparable year for the same day. In essence, extent melt is now more than a week ahead of any other previous year. It is two and half weeks ahead of melt rates during the 2000s. And this year’s rate of decline is steepening.

Current melt rates, if maintained throughout summer, would wipe out practically all the ice. And, worryingly, this is a distinct possibility given the severely weakened state of the ice, the large areas of dark, open water available to absorb the sun’s rays as Summer progresses, and given the fact that Arctic heat is continuing in extreme record warm ranges. Furthermore, melt rates tend to seasonally steepen starting by mid June. So rapidly ramping rates of loss seen now, at the end of April and through to the start of May, may see further acceleration as more and more direct sunlight keeps falling on already large exposed areas of dark, heat-absorbing water.

Huge Holes in the Beaufort

All throughout the Arctic Basin, these sunlight-absorbing regions take up far more area than is typical. The Bering has melted very early. Baffin Bay is greatly withdrawn from typical years. Hudson Bay is starting to break up. The Barents and Greenland seas feature far more open water than is typical. However, there is no region showing more dramatic early season losses than the Beaufort.

Beaufort rapid melt 2016

(This Beaufort sea has never looked so bad off so early in the year. High amplitude waves in the Jet Stream continue to deliver record warmth, warm, wet winds, and record sea ice melt to this region of the Arctic. For reference, bottom of frame in this image is around 600 miles. The wispy threads you see in the image is cloud cover, the sections of solid white are snow and ice. And the blue you see is the open waters of the Arctic Ocean. Open water gap size in the widest sections is now more than 150 miles. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

There, ice continues to rapidly recede away from the Arctic Ocean shores of the Mackenzie Delta and the Canadian Archipelago — where a large gap has opened up in the sea ice. Now ranging from 70-150 miles in width, this area of open water consistently sees surface temperatures warm enough to melt sea ice (above 28 F or about -2 C).

This great body of open water the size of a sea in itself has now created a new early season edge zone for the ice. A place where a kind of mini-dipole can emerge between the more rapidly warming water surfaces and the cooler, reflective ice. Such a zone will tend to be a magnet for storms. And a low pressure system is expected to ride up an extreme bulge in the Jet Stream over Alaska and Canada and on into this Arctic zone over the next few days. Storms of this kind tend to hasten melt and break up of ice in the edge zones by generating waves, by pulling in warmer airs from the south, or by dropping liquid precipitation along the melting ice edge. And the fact that this kind of dynamic is setting up in the Beaufort in early May is nothing short of extraordinary.

Arctic Heat Like We’ve Never Seen Before

Further to the north, high pressure is expected to continue to dominate over the next seven days. This will generate further compaction of the already weak ice even as it allows more and more sunlight to fall over that greatly thinned white veil.

Freezing Degree Days Cross -1000 threshold

(The Arctic is now so warm that this graph is now too small to capture the excession of extreme heat in the region. Freezing degree days are now more than 1,000 less than during a typical year and the already much warmer than normal 1980 to 2000 period. Image source: CIRES.)

Temperatures for the Arctic are expected to range between 2.5 and 3.5 C above average over the next seven days. Very warm conditions that will continue to hammer freezing degree day totals that have now exceeded an unprecedented -1000 since the start of the year in the High Arctic region above the 80 degree North Latitude Line. In layman’s terms, the less freezing degree days the Arctic experiences, the closer it is to melting. And losing 1000 freezing degree days is like removing the coldest month of Winter entirely from the heat balance equation in this highest Latitude region of the Northern Hemisphere.

From just about every indicator, we find that the Arctic sea ice is being hit by heat like never before. And the disturbing precipitous early season losses we now see in combination with the excessive, extreme warmth and melt accelerating weather patterns are likely to continue to reinforce a trend of record losses. Such low sea ice measures will also tend to wrench weather patterns around the globe — providing zones for extreme heatwaves and droughts along the ridge lines and related warm wind invasions of the Arctic that will tend to develop all while generating risk of record precipitation events in the trough zones. To this point, the North American West is again setting up for just such a zonal heatwave pattern. Extreme heat building up in India and Southeast Asia also appears to be following a similar northward advance.






Climate Reanalyzer

Earth Nullschool

Arctic Sea Ice Graphs

Hat tip to DT Lange

Sarc. Hat tip to Exxon Mobile (For its failure to report scientific findings on the impacts of climate change, and for its never-ending political and media campaign aimed at preventing effective climate change mitigation policy over the past 40+ years)

Warming? What warming……?

19 03 2016

February 2016 was the hottest month ever measured on Earth. The Earth broke a heat record for the 10th month in a row in February, and it was broken it by a record margin as well.

The heat was nothing short of amazing with Alaska averaging out at over 6 degrees C above normal. That is nothing less than stunning. The odds that this warmth is part of a natural cycle have been shown to be at least 1500:1. More likely several thousand to a million to one. This heat is the result of rising greenhouse gas levels and the strong El Nino in the Pacific. El Nino events are always warm years globally, but to beat the record by this much is certainly caused by greenhouse gas levels being the highest in millions of years.

201602 (1)

More from NOAA:

The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for February 2016 was the highest for February in the 137-year period of record, at 1.21°C (2.18°F) above the 20th century average of 12.1°C (53.9°F). This not only was the highest for February in the 1880–2016 record—surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.33°C / 0.59°F—but it surpassed the all-time monthly record set just two months ago in December 2015 by 0.09°C (0.16°F). Overall, the six highest monthly temperature departures in the record have all occurred in the past six months. February 2016 also marks the 10th consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken.

The average global temperature across land surfaces was 2.31°C (4.16°F) above the 20th century average of 3.2°C (37.8°F), the highest February temperature on record, surpassing the previous records set in 1998 and 2015 by 0.63°C (1.13°F) and surpassing the all-time single-month record set in March 2008 by 0.43°C (0.77°F).

Most of Earth’s land surfaces were warmer than average or much warmer than average, according to the Land & Ocean Temperature Percentiles map above, with record warmth notable across various areas of South America, much of southern Africa, southern and eastern Europe, around the Urals of Russia, and most of Southeast Asia stretching to northern Australia. Of significance, a vast region stretching from central Russia into eastern Europe, along with most of Alaska, observed February temperatures more than 5°C (9°F) above the 1981–2010 average, beyond the upper bounds of the Land & Ocean Temperature Departure from Average map shown above. A few pockets in Asia were cooler than average, including part of Far East Russia, with one area record cold in the upper Kamchatka Peninsula.

Select national information is highlighted below. (Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data):

  • Australia observed its ninth warmest February since national records began in 1910, with a mean temperature 0.92°C (1.66°F) above the 1961–1990 average. The average maximum temperature for the country was eighth highest, at 1.43°C (2.57°F) above average.
  • New Zealand observed its second warmest February and second warmest month of any month since national records began in 1909, at 2.2°C (4.0°F) above the 1981–2010 average and behind February 1998 by only 0.1°C (0.2°F).
  • Strong west and southwest winds contributed to an average February temperature in Germany that was 3.0°C (5.4°F) above the 1961–1990 average.
  • February was the second warmest for Austria, behind 1966, since national records commenced in 1767, with a monthly temperature 4.1°C (7.4°F) higher than the 1981–2010 average. On February 22nd the temperature reached 23.2°C (73.7°F) in Pottschach in Lower Austria, tying the record for the warmest February day recorded in the country.
  • February was mild in Sweden, where monthly temperatures were generally 2–4°C (4–7°F) higher than the 1961–1990 average. In northeastern Norrland, February temperatures were as high as 6°C (11°F) above average. However, 2014 and 2015 were both milder than February 2016.
  • In Canada, both minimum and maximum temperature records were set during a “roller coaster” month, according to the Ontario Weather Review. Early in the month, on February 3rd, the temperature in Toronto reached 16°C (60.8°F), the highest February temperature ever recorded for the city. A little over a week later, during February 13th–14th, cold air shot down from the north, breaking minimum temperature records across southern and part of northeastern Ontario. The temperature drop over that 10-day period was extreme. Among the most extreme, the town of Beatrice, to the east of Georgian Bay, went from a high temperature of 8°C (46°F) to a minimum of -41°C (-42°F), a difference of 49°C (88°F).
  • In the United States, Alaska reported its warmest February in its 92-year period of record, at 6.9°C (12.4°F) higher than the 20th century average. The contiguous U.S. was seventh warmest in its 122-year period of record, at 3.18°C (5.72°F) above average, with the west and extreme northeast observing the highest departures from average.
  • The average February temperature was about 3.0°C (5°F) higher than the 1981–2010 average in Venezuela and northern Colombia, while temperatures were about 0.5°C (0.9°F) below average in southern Argentina.

February’s global temperature spike is a wake-up call

17 03 2016

Steve Sherwood, UNSW Australia and Stefan Rahmstorf, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Global temperatures for February showed a disturbing and unprecedented upward spike. It was 1.35℃ warmer than the average February during the usual baseline period of 1951-1980, according to NASA data.

This is the largest warm anomaly of any month since records began in 1880. It far exceeds the records set in 2014 and again in 2015 (the first year when the 1℃ mark was breached).

In the same month, Arctic sea ice cover reached its lowest February value ever recorded. And last year carbon dioxide concentration in our atmosphere increased by more than 3 parts per million, another record.

What is going on? Are we facing a climate emergency?

February temperatures from 1880 to 2016 from NASA GISS data. Values are deviations from the base period of 1951-1980.
Stefan Rahmstorf

El Niño plus climate change

Two things are combining to produce the record warmth: the well-known global warming trend caused by our greenhouse gas emissions, and an El Niño in the tropical Pacific.

The record shows that global surface warming has always been overlaid by natural climate variability. The biggest single cause of this variability is the natural cycle between El Niño and La Niña conditions. The El Niño in 1998 was a record-breaker, but now we have one that looks even bigger by some measures.

The pattern of warmth in February shows typical signatures of both long-term global warming and El Niño. The latter is very evident in the tropics.

Further north, the pattern looks similar to other Februaries since the year 2000: particularly strong warming in the Arctic, Alaska, Canada and the northern Eurasian continent. Another notable feature is a cold blob in the northern Atlantic, which has been attributed to a slowdown in the Gulf Stream.

The February warming spike brought us at least 1.6℃ above pre-industrial global average temperatures. This means that, for the first time, we have passed the 1.5℃ international aspirational goal agreed in December in Paris. We are coming uncomfortably close to 2℃.

Fortunately, this is temporary: the El Niño is beginning to subside.

Emissions still increasing

Unfortunately, we have done little about the underlying warming. If unchecked, this will cause these breaches to happen more and more often, with a greater than 2℃ breach perhaps only a couple of decades away.

The greenhouse gases slowly heating the Earth are still increasing in concentration. The 12-month average surpassed 400 parts per million roughly a year ago – the highest level for at least a million years. The average rose even faster in 2015 than previous years (probably also due to the El Niño, as this tends to bring drought to many parts of the globe, meaning less carbon is stored in plant growth).

A glimmer of hope is that our carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels have, for the first time in decades, stopped increasing. This trend has been evident over the past couple of years, mainly due to a decline of coal use in China, which recently announced the closure of around 1,000 coal mines.

Have we underestimated global warming?

Does the “spike” change our understanding of global warming? In thinking about climate change, it is important to take the long view. A predominant La Niña-like situation over recent years did not mean global warming had “stopped” as a few public figures were (and probably still are) claiming.

Likewise, a hot spike due to a major El Niño event – even though it is surprisingly hot – doesn’t mean global warming was underestimated. In the longer run the global warming trend agrees very well with longstanding predictions. But these predictions nevertheless paint a picture of a very warm future if emissions are not brought down soon.

The situation is similar to that of a serious illness like cancer: the patient usually does not get slightly worse each day, but has weeks when the family thinks he may be recovering, followed by terrible days of relapse. The doctors do not change their diagnosis each time this happens, because they know this is all a part of the disease.

Although the current El-Niño-driven spike is temporary, it will last long enough to have some severe consequences. For example, a massive coral bleaching event now appears likely on the Great Barrier Reef.

Here in Australia we have been breaking heat records in the past few months, including 39 straight days in Sydney above 26℃ (double the previous record). News reports seem to be focusing on the role of El Niño, but El Niño does not explain why oceans to the south of Australia, and in the Arctic, are at record high temperatures.

The other half of the story is global warming. This is boosting each successive El Niño, along with all its other effects on ice sheets and sea level, the global ecosystem and extreme weather events.

This is the true climate emergency: it is getting more difficult with each passing year for humanity to prevent temperatures from rising above 2℃. February should remind us how pressing the situation is.

The Conversation

Steve Sherwood, Director and ARC Laureate Fellow, Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW Australia and Stefan Rahmstorf, Professor of Physics of the Oceans, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.