Wednesday, September 11, 2019

18 years of lies

Nearly 18 years after the tragedies that occurred on 9/11, the event is still serving as a massive wake up tool for humanity as more and more people become aware of the facts about our world that are hard to swallow. The good news is that awareness sparks change, and truth is a great catalyst to cause a shift in consciousness, a change in mass perception about what’s really happening on our planet. When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change. 
9/11 has woken up millions of people, as thousands of architects, engineers, scientists and firefighters continue to create awareness about why they question the official explanation given to us by the US government regarding the events that day. Not only that, but numerous academics have become involved, with multiple studies published in physics and engineering journals concluding that all three towers must have been brought down by a controlled demolition. For example, a University of Alaska Fairbanks study looked at building 7. You can access the full study here. A paper titled “15 Years Later: on the physics of high-rise building collapses” in the European Scientific Journal also presents evidence for a controlled demolition. 
Because of 9/11, other false flag attacks like what we saw in Syria with regards to the supposed chemical gas attacks were much easier to accomplish. At the end of the day, the evidence speaks for itself, and in this age of mass censorship, the people are taking it upon themselves to seek out information that the global elite does not want us to know about.
This is precisely why they’ve captured Julian Assange, because Wikileaks was publishing information that was not a threat to “national security,” but rather a threat to political and elitist agendas, agendas that are highly unethical, immoral and practically unbelievable. The fact that it seems unbelievable is why a lot of evidence and credible sources in support of 9/11 being a controlled demolition are often deemed “conspiracy theories.”

The Official Story of the Collapse of WTC Building 7 Lies in Ruins. Paul Craig Roberts.

A research team at the University of Alaska’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, led by Dr. Leroy Hulsey, Dr. Zhili Quan, and Professor Feng Xiao, Department of Civil Engineering, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, released yesterday for public comment their findings from a four-year study of the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 on September 11, 2001.  This is the first scientific investigation of the collapse of the building.   Here is the conclusion:

“The principal conclusion of our study is that fire did not cause the collapse of WTC 7 on 9/11, contrary to the conclusions of NIST and private engineering firms that studied the collapse. The secondary conclusion of our study is that the collapse of WTC 7 was a global failure involving the near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building.”

Notice three things: (1) it has taken 18 years to get a real investigation of the destruction of a building blamed on Muslim terrorists, (2) the only way “near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building” can occur is through controlled demolition, and (3) this remarkable finding is not reported in the presstitute media.

In other words, the study is assigned to the Memory Hole.  This is the way The Matrix operates. This is why you need this website.  The only purpose of print and TV news is to program you so that you insouciantly go along with the agendas of those who rule you.  Those who sit in front of TV news, listen to NPR, or read newspapers are programmed to be mindless automatons

9/11 After 18 Years. Paul Craig Roberts. 9/9/19.

I would appreciate hearing from readers whether they have come across a report in the print, TV, or NPR media of the highly professional four-year investigation of WTC Building 7’s demise.  The international team of civil engineers concluded that the official story of Building 7’s destruction is entirely false.  I reported their findings here:

I suspect that the expert report is already in the Memory Hole.  Popular Mechanics, Wikipedia and CNN cannot label a distinguished team of experts “conspiracy theorists.”  Therefore the presstitutes and assorted cover-up artists for the 9/11 false flag attack on the United States will simply act as if no such report exists. The vast majority of people in the world will never hear about the report. I doubt that the real perpetrators of 9/11 will even bother to hire their own team to “refute” the report as that would bring the report into the news, the last place the perpetrators want it to be.

The 9/11 Commission report was not an investigation and ignored all forensic evidence. The NIST simulation of Building 7’s collapse was rigged to get the desired result.  The only real investigations have been done by private scientists, engineers, and architects.  They have found clear evidence of the use of nano-thermite in the destruction of the twin towers.  More than 100 First Responders have testified that they experienced a large number of explosions inside the towers, including a massive explosion in the sub-basement prior to the time the airliners are said to have hit the tower.  Numerous military and civilian pilots have said that the flight maneuvers involved in the WTC and Pentagon attacks are beyond their skills and most certainly beyond the skills of the alleged hijackers.  Wreckage of the airliners is surprisingly missing from impact sites.  And so on and so on. That Building 7 was a controlled demolition is no longer disputable.

On the basis of the known evidence, knowledgable and informed people have concluded that 9/11 was an inside job organized by Vice President Dick Cheney, his stable of neoconservatives, and Israel for the purpose of reconstructing the Middle East in Israel’s interest and enriching the US military/security complex in the process.

Most people are unaware of Robert Mueller’s role as FBI Director in protecting the official 9/11 story from the evidence.  Paul Sperry reports in the New York Post the many actions Mueller took as FBI director to hide the facts from Congress and the public.

Patrick Pasin, a French author, provides additional evidence of Mueller’s misuse of his office to protect an official lie. An English language translation of Pasin’s book, The FBI Accomplice of 9/11, has been published by Talma Studios in Dublin, Ireland.

Pasin’s book consists of his organization of the known evidence, which has been suppressed in order to perpetrate a false story of 9/11, into a compelling account of how a false flag attack was protected from exposure.  He details the plan “through which the FBI tried to prove the government conspiracy narrative—no matter the cost.”  Keep in mind that Mueller is the one that the Deep State set on President Trump.  Dirty business is Mueller’s business.

Pasin collects the evidence and weaves it into a compelling story.  It is all there.  The insider trading in advance of the airliner hijackings, the impossibility of cell phone calls from airliners in 2001, the anthrax letters sent to senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy which paved the way for the PATRIOT Act, the effort to blame American military scientists for the letters once it emerged that the anthrax was unique to a US military lab, the total implausibility of finding an undamaged passport in the rubble of the twin towers where fires allegedly were so hot that they melted steel.

It is extraordinary that anyone could have believed a word of this.  Try to image such intense heat as to melt steel but not enough to burn a passport!

Pasin’s book is easy to read.  He just lays it out, revealing falsification after falsification, lie after lie.  The obviously false story is fed to the world, and the experts who expose it as false are called “conspiracy theorists” by people too stupid and uninformed to carry their books.

This is America in the 21st century, and apparently the rest of the world’s population is not any brighter.

In 3 days it will be the 18th anniversary of 9/11.  What have we learned in these 18 years?  We have learned that thousands of experts with hard evidence cannot prevail over a transparant official lie.

Two Hit, Three Down. Lynn Margulis. 
The Life and Legacy of a Scientific Rebel.

I comment here on the nanotechnology aspect of Jerry Mazza’s masterful review (Rock Creek Free Press, January 2010, page 6) of David Ray Griffin’s extraordinary 2009 book, The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 is Unscientific and False.


The scientific problem:
Why did three World Trade Center buildings (1,2, and 7) collapse on 9/11, after two (and only two) of them were hit by "hijacked" airplanes?

The scientific answer:
Because all three buildings were destroyed by carefully planned, orchestrated, and executed controlled demolition. Ignited by incendiaries (such as thermate) and high explosives (including nanothermite), the steel columns were selectively melted in a brilliantly timed controlled demolition. Two 110-story buildings (towers 1 and 2), plus one 47-floor building (WTC 7), were induced to collapse at gravitationally-accelerated rates in an operation planned and carried out by insiders. The apparent hijacking of airliners and the crashing of them into the Twin Towers were intrinsic parts of the operation, which together provided a basis for claiming that the buildings were brought down by Muslim terrorists. The buildings' steel columns, which would have provided irrefutable evidence of the use of explosives, were quickly removed from the scene of the crime.


The persistent problem is how to wake up public awareness, especially in the global scientifically literate public, of the overwhelming evidence that the three buildings collapsed by controlled demolition. (Much has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals). We, on the basis of hard evidence, must conclude that the petroleum fires related to the aircraft crashes were irrelevant (except perhaps as a cover story). We citizens of earth within and beyond the boundaries of the United States who demand detailed evidence for extraordinary claims agree with Griffin: the rapid destruction of New York skyscrapers on September 11, 2001, was planned and executed by people inside the US government.

Griffin's eight books about 9/11 are his call to his kind of truly patriotic action. They show in appropriate detail, accurately documented, that the official government conspiracy theory cannot be correct journalistically, scientifically, and morally. Muslim airline hijackers, in short, never triggered the collapse of high-rise steel-framed buildings at gravitational acceleration into neat removable pieces. They didn't remove the remaining steel girders before they could be studied as evidence for a huge crime. They were not described in telephone calls by passengers and crew members from the four airliners -- all the evidence for al-Qaeda hijackers on the planes dissipates under close inspection (for example, even the FBI now admits that the reported cell phone calls from 25,000 to 40,000 feet never happened).

And to me the most compelling and obviously incorrect accusation is that Muslim hijackers caused the pulverization of cement high-rise office buildings into tons of dust that contain crystalline thermate and other minute metallic particles not found in the usual charred remains of fire rubble. Minute iron-aluminum-molybdenum-rich spheres, steel perforated with swiss-cheese-type holes, and large quantities of unreacted nanothermite are not components of petroleum office fires. Besides the fact that building fire temperatures, even if fed by jet fuel, could not have risen beyond 1,800F, and hence they would be nowhere close to the 2,800F need to melt iron (or for molybdenum, which melts at 4,753F). The facile appeal to the presence of gypsum (calcium sulfate) in the office wallboard fails to explain why sulfur was found in the intragranular structures of pieces of steel. (There was no detection of calcium!) The New York Times, in a rare example of honest reporting about the WTC collapses, called this "the deepest mystery uncovered in the investigation".

Nor could "Muslim" terrorists have accessed and then planted in these buildings huge quantities of nanothermite. This recently developed high explosive was developed mainly in secrecy by professional scientists and engineers who enjoy government grant support for "nanotechnology" by the military. Significant quantities of red-gray crystals of nanothermite have been found in several independently collected samples of WTC dust studied by a team headed by physicist Steve Jones, formerly of BYU. Niels Harrit, a University of Copenhagen professor of chemistry who specializes in nanochemistry, is the first author of a peer-reviewed paper reporting the team's results.

The two mutually exclusive "9/11 conspiracy theories", the patently and nefariously absurd tale our government imposes on us and the true, criminal story yet to be entirely brought to light, deserve the attention of all literate people. Remember: only two airplanes struck, but three building collapsed at free-fall velocities on that same day. Begin with Mazza's review [below] and Griffin's book [The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 is Unscientific and False; see also: The New Pearl Harbor; in PDF] that detail the nanothermite scientific studies. Examine the government's reluctant late admission that WTC 7 came down in absolute free fall over two seconds to realize this is a scientific impossibility unless all the steel columns were partitioned into neat, removable pieces by explosives. Find out what happened to two men, Hess and Jennings, trapped inside WTC 7 in its abortive explosion before noon. Truth here, as David Ray Griffin tries to tell it, is stranger and far more dramatic than even the best fiction.

Book Review 

Just Say No to NIST 

A review of 
The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Official Report about 9/11 
is Unscientific and False, by David Ray Griffin 

Review By Jerry Mazza, Rock Creek Free Press. January 2010. p.6.

The headline, "Just Say No to NIST" (the National Institute of Standards and Technology) is purposely patterned after Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No to Drugs." In the case of David Griffin's new book, The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7, the NIST lies, half truths, omissions, and the outright corruption of honest science are the administrations' dope, administered by NIST, to lull inquiring minds into believing the fantasy of their lies.

NIST's violations of scientific method, as Griffin clearly explains, represent what he terms the "politicization of science," used to delude Americans to accept the Bush administrations' conspiracy theory. That is, the World Trade Center Tower 7, the Tower not hit by an airliner, fell into its own footprint in six seconds at 5:20 PM on 9/11 as a result of minor fires, not explosives planted in the 47-story steel-framed building to create a classic internal demolition — uncannily resembling so many we've seen in movies or on TV.

Griffin points out that the only two other buildings in history to have fallen from fires were the steel-framed WTC Towers 1 and 2 earlier that morning. Any and all previous fires in steel-framed buildings, those that burned for hours, even days, did not fell the buildings, let alone explode them, like Towers 1 and 2, into a pyroplastic cloud that hung for months in the skies over Ground Zero and Manhattan, and rolled through the streets of the financial district, graying it like a huge graveyard.

In Griffin's steady hands, the story of WTC 7 becomes the fulcrum to understand how Towers 1 and 2 were felled with similar internal demolitions, as opposed to the fires caused by the jetliners impact, how Towers 1 and 2 then exploded into their own footprints as they fell within 10-second free-falls, which Griffin explains in great engineering and science-based detail.

Of course, Griffin reminds you that NIST itself is a government agency, working for the US Department of Commerce, subject to control by the White House, not unlike the 9/11 Commission, which was controlled by its White House author Philip Zelikow. Zelikow wrote the outline of the Commission's inquiry and findings before the group ever met.

Working with physicist Steven Jones and a battery of top scientists and engineers, Griffin has shepherded a vast amount of information into The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7, to present the explosive results of their findings. Jones, formerly a physics professor at Brigham Young University, was released from his job because of his studies. They were of samples of dust gathered from Ground Zero, at Tower 7, as well as at the Tower 1 and 2's sites. They all indicated the presence of super nanotech versions of thermite and/or thermate (thermite plus sulphur for added heat).

The nanotechnology allowed the thermate to be broken down into minute, even more potent particles which could be aerosolized and used to spray on or within the walls of the towers, to be ignited for later havoc. The fact that NIST refused even to consider nano-thermate presence and destructive potential, but rather summarily dismissed the use of it, is a sin against science, as Griffin points out. It is a sin, too, against the almost 3000 souls who were lost on 9/11, as well as all those Americans who innocently believe the administration conspiracy theory.

This is not to mention the second wave of slaughter, the many illnesses and deaths from cancer, pulmonary disease and body poisoning, which are occurring with first-responders who worked non-stop on the pile for up to eight months. These are not the illnesses of mere smoke inhalation, but of the massive number of toxic substances exploded into the air by the literal pulverizing of the three towers that each sunk in free fall to the ground into their own footprints.

Fire doesn't pulverize a million tons of concrete. High-powered explosives do.

Griffin brings a plethora of examples of NIST's violations of scientific method which ignore or skirt, omit or bluntly lie about the questions raised by the presence of these explosive substances, just as FEMA and the EPA denied their by-products devastation throughout the WTC and New York City, making it the greatest environmental disaster in US history.

Griffin documents the facts of the nanotech-thermate and its heat-generating energy. He describes how firefighters found streams of melted steel, molten for months under the debris, and pouring out, along with the presence of Swiss-cheese-like chunks of steel filled with melt-holes. This was lifted and shipped away as the debris .

Through all of NIST's obfuscation, which would bring most of us to our feet raging against the government-front NIST, Griffin, author of some 35 books, keeps a level hand and the cool rationality of the philosopher of religion, politics and science that he is. He deconstructs the falsehoods, page after page, chapter by chapter, with an impenetrable sense of logic.

In short, the black-on-black covered, 328-page The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7, seals the doom of NIST chicanery and lies, a disgrace to those who participated in creating them. As well as being an expose of the "politicization of science," this book is a history of perhaps the darkest time in Americas' history. It is a document driven by Griffin and his colleagues' passion for truth, a book that wishes to and succeeds in toppling the NIST lies like the ill-fated towers. ...

Person Honors The Dog Heroes Of 9/11 That Are Often Overlooked In A Beautifully Sad Twitter Thread. Bored Panda. Sep. 13, 2019.

links from: 2018 & 2017

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Climate Links: Sept 2019

World 'gravely' unprepared for effects of climate crisis – report. Damian Carrington, Guardian. Sept. 10, 2019.

Trillions of dollars needed to avoid ‘climate apartheid’ but this is less than cost of inaction

Join the Global Call to #AdaptOurWorld. Global Commission on Adaptation.
Climate change is upon us and its impacts are getting more severe. We must adapt. 
World leaders from the Global Commission on Adaptation are calling on governments, businesses and local community leaders to take urgent action to advance climate adaptation solutions.

ONLY A GREEN NEW DEAL CAN DOUSE THE FIRES OF ECO-FASCISM. Naomi Klein, The Intercept. September 16 2019.

What If We Stopped Pretending?  Jonathan Franzen, The New Yorker. September 8, 2019.
The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it.

Amazon Employees Are Walking Out Over the Company's Huge Carbon Footprint. Lauren Kaori Gurley, vice. Sep 9, 2019.
Nearly 1,000 employees have pledged to walk out September 20 to demand the company go to zero emissions by 2030.

What It’s Like Living in One of the Hottest Cities on Earth—Where It May Soon Be Uninhabitable. Aryn Baker, TIME. September 12, 2019.

World 'losing battle against deforestation'. Mark Kinver, BBC. Sept. 12, 2019.

Climate change: Electrical industry's 'dirty secret' boosts warming. Matt McGrath, BBC. Sep. 13, 2019.

WAR ON THE WORLD. Industrialized Militaries Are a Bigger Part of the Climate Emergency Than You Know. Muraza Hussain, The Intercept. Sept. 15, 2019.

Divining Comedy. Wen Stephenson, The Baffler. Sept. 5, 2019.

Amitav Ghosh’s new novel is set amid climate disaster—yet it steers toward the mythic and the comic

Amitav Ghosh: I must say, when I started writing Gun Island, it did sometimes seem to me that it was unwise to create a challenge of that kind for myself. I can’t say that it cramped me or worried me in any way, but as you know very well, once one starts thinking about this climate stuff, it just permeates everything; you can’t get away from it. It’s just so completely all around you.


AG: You see, one of the things which is so problematic about the world, which is again unraveling, is this idea of time as a progression. You know, that time is always taking you toward, as Obama used to say, “the right side of history.” Whereas anyone who looks at the climate stuff knows that, no, that’s the one thing that you can’t say. And so what do you substitute for that? It has to be some sort of cyclical idea of time, and disaster, catastrophe. That’s a part of it, if you like.


AG: I think one very important aspect of it would be simply to acknowledge how wrong we’ve been about everything. Just that. That we acknowledge that the dominant ideas and culture of our time have been wrong about everything.

WS: Everything?

AG: Almost everything, I would say.


AG: Until just last year, I’d say, 2018. But even now you have prominent Democrats saying this can’t be the main issue. It can be recognized as an issue, but there are bigger issues.

WS: Right. And yet, when one really comes to grips with the climate science, one realizes that to be serious about climate is to be radical.

AG: That’s right.

WS: In fact, even revolutionary. But until very recently, the left has been almost completely absent on climate change. It’s almost as though the implications of climate science are too radical, even for radicals. What do you make of that?

AG: I think it’s very important. It’s absolutely true that the left—and you’re talking about the American left, but I can tell you that in India, the left never even took local environmental questions seriously. Even after the Bhopal tragedy.

WS: But I feel like we have to ask ourselves, do any of us really take climate politics seriously? It’s easy for me to say, so-and-so isn’t serious because they’re not radical enough. But am I radical enough? I mean, our survival is at stake. A rational response would be a truly revolutionary politics, when we consider what is actually happening, and the amount of time we have to deal with it.


AG: I must say, I find Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion incredibly invigorating.

WS: And yet they’re only an extension of the kind of activism we’ve already seen. It’s not truly radical. It’s not revolutionary.

AG: Let me just say, I feel a lot of sympathy, especially for the people you wrote about in your book, and these young activists, my heart goes out to them. But you know, the thing that I can’t forget, because of the part of the world that I’m from, and that I think a lot of people involved in this often forget, is that this is not in the hands of the West anymore. This is going to be decided in Asia, and Africa.

WS: Absolutely. Although, if the United States and Europe were to embark on a crash program to decarbonize their economies by 2050, that would have some effect on the trajectory that China and India take.

AG: It would. But look, America’s addiction to fossil fuel energy isn’t just technological. It’s strategic. It’s through energy that America controls global strategy. If renewables could be adopted at scale, the whole strategic calculus of the world would be completely upended.

WS: Again, it’s unthinkable, right? But revolution is very often unthinkable to those in the historical moment in which it occurs. There are people right now who are absolutely certain that there’s nothing to be done, that it’s over, that all is lost, that we’re doomed. But, actually, there’s a lot of uncertainty still. We don’t know the future. We don’t know what is still possible. The human element, the political and social part, is highly uncertain. We actually don’t know.

AG: Absolutely. We don’t know.

WS: And how one responds to that uncertainty is everything.

AG: That’s right. It’s how bad it will be. This is what it’s about

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Propaganda and the American Myth

Empire in Decline - Propaganda and the American Myth. Cognitive Dissonance. Aug. 31, 2019.

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive…ourselves.” - With apologies to Sir Walter Scott.

If only life was as neat and orderly as my ancient history text book showed it to be. There it was on glossy paper, spread out across several sets of adjoining pages, maps of the ancient and modern world. Sometimes there were time lines top and bottom, along with countries helpfully outlined and identified. Underneath their modern English names were one or two older names in smaller stylized script, often including exact beginning and end dates. I remember one in particular caught my eye. “The United States of America” followed by the year 1776. But with no end date indicated, it looked like unfinished business to me. You’ve got to love those historians and their precise dates.

Of course, in reality there are no exact dates for the birth and death of city/states, other than in the historian’s mind. Children continue to be born, the old still die, and life goes on under ever changing circumstances. But you are rarely informed of the subjective nature of historical events when you’re young and impressionable, so they’re presented in the history books as cold hard facts. The last thing the reigning Imperial Empire wants is to appear uncertain about prior eons, epochs and echoes in time.

Long before we begin to read and comprehend on our own, we’re presented with the illusion of a specific beginning and end to everything, often accompanied with very clear lines of demarcation. This concept is continuously reinforced through our daily indoctrination via carefully scripted news stories, including political and social opinion presented as ironclad fact care of our modern corporate media saturated existence. Naturally, critical thinking is strictly optional and effectively discouraged.

Mix in a healthy dose of hard-core science, where you learn very early there are correct and incorrect answers to all your questions, and the pattern of modern social myth making emerges. Of course, all the important ‘correct’ answers are held for public safekeeping by our cultural high priests and authority figures, be they academic, governmental, corporate, scientific or religious. Lest you forget, cultural icons, heroes and authorities must always be revered and deferred to, so leave the difficult thinking to them.

Maybe now’s a good time to remember that most history books are written, and re-written, by those very same keepers of the public mythology. What we believe as a culture, sometimes called our public myth, is usually determined by those whose pockets are the deepest and most powerful, not by those who are the wisest and most knowledgeable.

Have you ever read a story or book written by the survivors of the vanquished, the so-called losers? I have, a number of times, and it’s usually very enlightening to see the world from the other side of the bloody divide. In their hands, our cultural myths are not treated with the same loving care and respect we afford them, nor should they be. But of course, they must be lying because they have an ax to grind.

Revisionist history is how those in power politely describe the writings of the marginalized and defeated, roadkill crushed and mangled by the leviathan in the head long rush of conquering empire. The public myth informs us the losers can do nothing but taut the victorious with their lies. Ignore them and they’ll fade away. Besides, the winners never lie about the facts, though we’re told there’s plenty of room for differences of opinion. And just about everything can be reduced to an opinion if you’re looking to malign and obscure.

Of course, one of the duties of the Empire’s leadership and servile sycophants is to distort the written record so it conforms to the public myth. This is the principle reason why recently retired or replaced holders of powerful governmental, corporate and military positions are handed (large) advances to write their memoirs and recollections. That, and to reward them with large legal payoffs for a job well done. While they are often declared ‘best sellers’ by the compliant mainstream media, it is not uncommon to find these books sitting in the remainder bin six months later selling for nickels on the dollar.

These sacred tomes of divine wisdom are quickly embraced by other propagandists as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help their Gods of propaganda. Once in their hands, the book’s cherry-picked facts, fiction and opinion-masquerading-as-fact are quickly woven into the fabric of the public myth as unimpeachable supporting documentation. Thus, another turn of the propaganda cycle is complete and ready for public dissemination and indoctrination.

Napoleon Bonaparte is alleged to have declared history as little more than a set of lies agreed upon. His assessment is not that far from the ‘truth’ from my point of view.

Belief vs. Knowing

We all possess extremely complex belief systems and world views. How they develop and evolve is greatly influenced by external information sources we rarely question or challenge. After all, these sources are our cultural authority figures, the experts, professionals and intelligentsia that form our cultural propaganda delivery and support system. These sources cannot be seriously questioned, particularly from within, without being declared a heretic. Just look at how non-conforming individuals, web sites, YouTube channels, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts are treated as an example of how heresy is handled these days.

While we may not pay much attention to mainstream media playing in the background, our unconscious mind is absorbing it all, raw and unfiltered. This information feeds into, and broadly supports, our world view with little conscious thought or scrutiny. Regardless of whether it is ‘news’, game shows, sports or soap operas, ultimately it is all programming. This is the reason why constant repetition is so vitally important to both effective propaganda and commercial advertising. It must be true since it is repeated so often, a self-confirming conclusion all positive feedback loops share. Our mind absorbs and retains everything, even when we do not consciously look or listen.

It’s shocking to realize how seldom we change our basic beliefs or understanding when confronted with critical new information that normally would propel reassessment and modification. Instead, we bend or ignore input to fit our established world view. Economist John Maynard Keynes once said “When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, sir?” Sadly, most people don’t subscribe to this logical practice. Instead, confirmation bias, the desire to maintain our cognitive continuity (aka our worldview) and outright denial are some of the tools we use to manage and manipulate information to our liking.

And rest assured, there are plenty of governmental, religious, corporate and wealthy individuals and entities ready and willing to help us accomplish this through deliberate and targeted propaganda. The most common personal warning sign we may be sipping from the ‘wrong’ information straw is the emotional pain of cognitive dissonance, usually inflamed when new information is in conflict with our long established and dearly held beliefs and world view. We usually avoid this pain entirely by only watching or listening to sources of information we are in agreement with.

Rarely do we push through this emotional pain to reappraise our inventory of previously established ‘truths’ for validity or relevance. It’s so much easier to discard ugly deviations or cherry pick information that confirms our preferred vision, rather than conduct a top to bottom review that is called for when the facts change. Intellectual laziness is the polite term for this phenomenon. I think a more honest explanation is deliberate and mostly conscious denial.

However, even when I’m alert for and aware of this cognitive phenomenon, I’m still surprised how often I indulge. It’s frightening to recognize how deeply conditioned we are in the art of self-deception. The truth truly does hurts when it’s in conflict with what we believe we know. So, we employ the most powerful pain killer known to man, that of denial and self-deceit.

It’s extremely difficult to reject popular opinion and strike out on our own independent path. Group think is indoctrinated into us from birth and socially rewarded at every turn. It is emotionally safer and much more comfortable if we stay huddled near the center of the pack. The result is herd mentality in all its glory, corralled by the public myth of which we are complicit and dutiful keepers.

I often say all writers are essentially propagandists and this applies to myself as well. I’m using this forum to present information in the most compelling manner possible to make my case. In effect I’m feeding you my point of view to build a train of thought leading directly to my preferred conclusion. This is not necessarily good or bad, but simply a tool or technique of persuasion which can be used for all sorts of purposes and outcomes. Obviously, it can be used to educate or to subjugate, but either way the recipient is an active (and often willing) participant.

Check Your Premise

The most effective propaganda is one whose basic premise is slipped by the target so smoothly it is never recognized for what it truly is. Once the premise is planted and accepted, the hard work is done and the implanted meme can now be leveraged and expanded upon from there. The concept is the same regardless of whether one is teaching basic math before moving on to geometry or the virtues of ‘democracy’, which is then used as a legitimizing fa├žade for a ruling oligarchy or corpocracy.

What’s that you say? You’re too smart to let the wool be pulled over your eyes? That you can discern truth from lies and would eventually figure it out given enough time and inclination? Honestly ask yourself, how much time and effort would you put into thoroughly examining something you already believe to be true? Most would deem it a major waste of their time and not give it another thought. Given the choice between the pleasure of confirming our beliefs and the pain of confronting them, we cognitively caged humans are quite predictable.

Most people perceive complex information as bundles of facts compiled into conclusions and truths, most of which we believe we have originated in part or in whole. We have all witnessed another person take something they heard, saw or read, then modify and embrace it before declaring it their original idea or creation. This cognitive grooming and assimilation occurs so seamlessly and naturally that many ‘honestly’ believe they came up with it on their own and would be highly insulted if we challenged their supposition.

Rarely do we recognize that many of the truths we hold as impeccable are based upon long lines of previously assimilated information provided by others and embraced as our own. If at any point some of this information is proven false or misleading, the entire sequence is suspect along with our own impeccable truth. Consider a long string of numbers to be added together. Make a mistake at any point in the line and the final sum, or ‘truth’, is incorrect to some degree or another.

How we view our world is based upon many preconceived notions and beliefs. Change just one small piece we previously thought correct and everything changes to some extent, no matter how small. Change two or three and suddenly we have a crisis of confidence and a cognitive dissonance. Yet when we feel that pain, how often do we reboot and re-examine everything? And why would we re-examine what we ‘know’ to be correct, particularly when most everyone else in our section of the herd remains in agreement? Peer pressure and conditioning are hard to resist, even in the privacy of our own head.

“We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Deadly Debt

My basic premise, and the basis for this article, is that the American Empire is in decline. From my point of view, it’s become readily apparent the so called “American Experiment” has peaked and is now deteriorating. While I can’t produce an exact date for this change, it doesn’t diminish my argument in the least. I’d be hard pressed to give you the specific date for the decline of the Roman Empire, but clearly it followed the same trajectory. Did Rome’s downward spiral start when the capital was moved to Constantinople in 330 AD or when Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 AD? It matters little at this point, except to the propagandists and historians.

Actually, I would argue that while a succession of Empires has come and gone, the culture of human exploitation and destruction we call civilization has grown exponentially in efficiency and lethality over the last several hundred years. We Americans now stand proudly at the pinnacle of the insanity, picking up where the Greeks, Romans, Asians and Europeans left off. I’ll leave that thought for another day, but I think you get the picture.

America as a social and financial entity ceased to function with any semblance of efficacy or fairness decades ago. This reversal in trajectory is the primary reason behind the massive increase in financial engineering used to paper over fundamental socioeconomic problems and extract the last of the profits. To argue over this or that detail is to be in denial of the obvious. In fact, I consider the official bickering over these details as a deliberate attempt to distort and distract while the final looting and rape occurs.

Negative interest rates, now common in Europe and Japan (and coming soon to the US) are a perfect example of the financial wheels coming off the socioeconomic cart. When all incentive for prudence, precaution and personal responsibility are explicitly discouraged, even penalized, the decline and fall of civil society is a foregone conclusion. For example, prudence in the form of saving money is discouraged with near zero interest paid on any sums saved, while the use of ever more debt is encouraged with zero down and zero interest rates charged on the amount borrowed. Negative interest rates will only serve to fan the flames of the already raging fire.

Can you imagine the consumer feeding frenzy negative interest rates will ignite when a manufacturer of (for example) automobiles or trucks informs you they will pay you 1%, 2% or more of the outstanding balance on the ‘loan’ each year just to buy their vehicles? You would wind up paying less than the amount you borrowed. Of course, this isn’t really free money since the manufacturer will simply jack up the original price to compensate themselves and their finance partners for paying you to buy from them. Imagine the inflationary spiral this will create.

The unofficial socioeconomic policy is to delay the inevitable as long as possible, while promising the plebs ‘the authorities’ are on it and all will be well. Just fork over more money, power and control and everything will be right as rain. Unfortunately, perverse financial, cultural and political incentives dictate it’s in practically no one’s best interest to confront systemic socioeconomic issues and arrest the fall simply because great pain will come long before any gain is ever realized.

Those who already possess substantial wealth demand they not only maintain it, but expand it. This elite group controls ninety five percent of the global wealth and ninety-nine percent of the political power, but at best represents one percent of the global population. The entire middle class, decimated by decades of inflation without a corresponding increase in wages, desperately clings to what little they have remaining. Ultimately, for the vast majority, as it now stands this is a losing battle. So, we dither, delay and deny while remaining drunk on cheap credit and consumer pleasures.

And then there are the poor, aka the expendables, globally the largest group by far, powerless in every sense of the word and focused solely on day to day survival. With the middle class increasingly squeezed lower into their already tight quarters, the only place left for them is further down and out.

Those who can, won’t. Those who might, deny. Those who can’t, suffer.

Plausible Deniability and False Hope
Using so-called “experts” to push misleading information and outright propaganda along with other targeted psychological operations, our leaders are pushed, prodded, threatened and empowered by the elite one percent to outright lie about economic conditions both here in America and globally. The rest of the first and second world nations follow suit for their own political survival and personal economic enrichment.

They disseminate lies, half-truths and fake news; not because they expect them to withstand close scrutiny, but rather to enable those who wish to believe the lie a plausible excuse to do so while daring those who don’t to contest their power to do and say as they please. Remember our conditioning; when in doubt, defer to authority and suspend disbelief. This is quite similar to ‘gaslighting’, a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or entity seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and even their sanity.

A classic sales technique is the assumed consent close. Rather than directly ask you to purchase the new car, it is assumed you will purchase. The sales person goes in for the kill by asking closing questions. “Do you prefer the red four door we first looked at or the blue convertible with the leather interior? What is the maximum monthly payment you are comfortable with? Will one or both of you be applying for credit? Do you want the satellite navigation registration in your name or your husbands? May I have the keys to your car so we can determine your trade-in value?” You’d be surprised how many new automobiles, rooms of household furniture, whole life insurance, investment packages and pieces of expensive jewelry are sold in this manner.

Something similar to this technique is used by the mass media to sell us things we already want to buy. Only they aren’t selling the death of America, but rather America’s supposed remarkable resilience and miraculous comeback from near financial death in 2008, a blatant falsehood people only now are beginning to recognize. We’re being sold false hope with outright lies and opinion disguised as factual news and official declarations.

False hope binds us to impossible situations and debilitating conditions.

As long as we believe there is residual value in keeping America on life support, meaning we believe our personal financial situation hasn’t deteriorated significantly enough to push the panic button, we will continue to support this mess rather than clear the smoking debris, remove the leadership and much of the autocracy and start over again. As long as those in power can at least partially shield the majority from major financial reverberations and dislocations, meaning “We the People” slowly degrade rather than explode, we will take a path that best preserves our own personal interests.

As Mrs. Cog likes to say, it’s a recession when it crashes into someone else and a depression when is crashes into you and me. As long as we can defer to authority and demand someone else do something about ‘it’ while also maintaining our own status quo, we will do nothing to confront our fundamental socioeconomic problems. Throughout ancient and modern history, this is the usual path taken by the majority until it is far too late to do much more than sweep up the pieces and bemoan the loss of several generations to devastating financial, social and political distress. Because the nation’s wealth was looted long before the fall, there is little capital and resources to work with in order to rebuild. Thus, the reason for the loss of several generations.

This is the primary purpose of the constant propaganda messaging, to assure those who wish to remain safely within their fox holes (after all, ignorance is bliss) that they can indeed remain hidden in their fox holes. Desperate people do desperate things. The puppet masters do everything in their power to convince people it is best to duck and cower rather than stand up and push back. This is their leverage, as it has been for thousands of years of global history. Those who rule keep the population confused, divided and afraid (and lately, sick) but not so much that doing so reduces our productivity, thereby diminishing their power and wealth.

Wolves Among the Sheep

And the truly frightening realization, something I suspect most of us know deep down in our hearts but don’t actually acknowledge, is that the majority of people in positions of power and/or wealth are either sociopaths or harbor strong sociopath tendencies. Which means they do not think in terms of civic duty and public service, but rather about personal gain and ever more power. As conditions continue to deteriorate, less and less sane and well-meaning people will be willing to step up and attempt to lead, creating an even larger power vacuum the sociopaths are more than willing to fill.

Those who claim “They would never do that” are hopelessly and dangerously deluded, mesmerized by the great American myth or just hopelessly deep in denial. For crying out loud, of course they’d do ‘that’, just as you and I are capable of doing just about anything when subjected to great stress and pressure. The difference is that in the grand scope of things, whatever we might do would harm mostly ourselves and maybe those nearest to us, while ‘they’ can and will harm thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, to maintain their status quo and position of power.

We don’t wish to face the stark reality we as a nation are in way over our heads. As long as we are not forced to look too closely at the terrible condition this country is in and where it’s headed, we are all too willing to do our part and avoid critical thinking. Like an old bull unknowingly led to slaughter because he thinks he’s off to mount the next cow, we’re desperately trying to keep alive the magical American myth of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness while shielding our eyes from the rotting corpse it is rapidly becoming.

That assessment is probably too harsh for the average American’s sensibilities. But let’s ask ourselves a few questions in an effort to discover the truth, or at least something approaching the truth as we know it. First, let me be clear on something before I get flamed for my harsh tongue. I’m not America bashing in the least; I am America myth bashing. The American myth of exceptionalism is enabling our self-destruction as we stand idly by, applauding and supporting the mythical facade our leaders and media display 24/7.

As long as we cling to the hope that all America needs is a tune up and some minor repairs, we’re condemned to a long and painful death spiral. We’re being told exactly what we want to hear because we’re desperate to hear it. To claim otherwise is to lie to ourselves and to each other.

America is crumbling from the foundation up, and yet all we talk about is a fresh paint job and a new screen door (both bought on credit) while handing our grandchildren a bill they’ll never be able to pay. The only way we can live with this lie, while handing suffocating debt to our own future family members, is to deny it’s even happening.

The big lie, one we must continue to tell ourselves, has taken on a life of its own and is consuming everyone and everything in its path. We are addicted to our own public myth. And to sustain the lie we must ignore the truth or face the cognitive consequences, a fate worse than death for a nation incapable of telling itself the truth.

The only way to break through the lie is to go back through decades of propaganda and myth and recognize these lies and our core self-deceit. Since this is too painful, both individually and as a society, we distort reality as quickly as we change channels or YouTube streams. Can you say cute cat videos?

It’s not just our leaders who are corrupt, but us as well. We all know something is seriously wrong, even if we don’t know precisely what is broken or how to fix it. And yet there we are, whistling through the graveyard under the guise of minding our own business…. as if America is none of our business. We think “Just leave me alone and let me live my life in peace” without acknowledging that doing so perpetuates the very system that is slowing suffocating us.

Contrary to popular belief, the fish doesn’t rot from the head down, but rather from everywhere and all at the same time. We comfort ourselves by saying it’s our leaders who lie to us, but the only way a long-term confidence game can succeed is for the ‘victim’ to fully participate. No one forces the victim to be conned… at least not yet.

The conman’s baited hook is the great America myth; you work hard, keep your nose clean, live a good life and retire sitting pretty. While some of the baby boomers are actually living the dream all the way to the end, this is occurring less and less these days and the future looks particularly bleak. Have you noticed how many elderly folks are working at McDonalds and Walmart? Do you ever wonder why this is?

Petulant Children

We have become cowardly, unwilling to commit to the difficult path of setting aside even a minimum of today’s self-gratification in order to assure our grandchildren a functioning society to live and prosper in tomorrow. This is the ultimate act of selfishness, compounded by the fact we self-righteously declare we’ve been hijacked by our leaders. The sad fact is our leaders are doing exactly what we want them to do, to continue perpetuating the lie while telling us it’s the truth.

“Daddy, tell me everything is going to be OK.”

“Everything’s going to be just fine honey bunny.”

“I love you daddy.”

Did we really think we could put our country’s toys, tools and war machines on the national charge card and not worry about the bill, just because some politicians said we could? What are we, 5-year old children, pointing our finger elsewhere when asked who broke the mirror? Even if we personally follow the path of fiscal prudence, we all swim in the same piranha-infested swamp. Therefore, as infuriating as it may be for some to read the following, we all share some responsibility, however small, for the present state of affairs. The only question now is, what do we do about it? Citizenship is about individual responsibility to ourselves and to our fellow citizen, something we’ve been avoiding for quite a while now; at least since we started collectively calling ourselves consumers.

Endless propaganda is used to lull us into a drugged stupor so we don’t dwell on what we’re doing to our children’s children. American flags wave in the background as chiseled men and sultry women expound on how wonderful we are for loving this great nation of ours. The great American love story, brought to you daily via TV and streaming soap operas. This is where the bad guys always loose, men are virile and women sexual objects to lust after. Watch closely children, this is the American dream.

And why wouldn’t we love America the myth? It’s everything we are told we want without the pain of actually creating and maintaining it. Nationalism is our unifying religion, an increasingly fatal addiction to our public myth that enables us to fiddle while America burns. Alas, the carnival ride is breaking down with increasing frequency. More drugs over here doctor, the patient is waking up.

Desperate for relief, we seek refuge with fellow like-minded herd dwelling walking wounded, a perceived safe haven inside occupied territory for the psychically-damaged and emotionally-demoralized, in the deluded belief hiding is an effective emotional pain reliever. Surrounded by lies and deceit, we are indoctrinated to such an extent we still speak the language of defeat and denial without even realizing it. One cannot become clean immersed in filthy shared bathwater, just less dirty than the one behind us and dirtier than the one in front.

So how do we deal with this, and what does this have to do with you and me specifically? After all, aren’t we all just ‘victims’ in a long line of walking wounded, exhausted from moving in and out of various stages of loss and grief? One moment we’re angry with zombie friends, family and neighbors, imploring them to wake up and see the insanity. The next we’re filled with self-righteous indignation as another patsy’s head is placed on the public pike, sated temporarily by the public flogging and bloodletting.

In my opinion we have no choice but to start at the beginning. While we must speak truth to power, first and foremost we must speak truth to ourselves, to talk openly and honestly about what has happened and where we are going. A significant component of the seduction of denial is the avoidance of personal responsibility. This must stop, thus my declaration we are all responsible for this mess. I have no doubt America can stop its decline, but the process begins with you and me, not they and them. Contrary to popular opinion political leaders do not lead, but rather follow the strongest stench coming from the biggest wallet.

Step One….

How do we as individuals tackle this seemingly huge and insurmountable problem? As a former financial planner and stock broker who still runs personal money, I try to use a modified version of my own trading rules in my personal life. They are as follows.

One; know ourselves, particularly our strengths and weaknesses. This is admittedly much easier said than done, simply because the disassembly (and reassembly) of our interlocking myths, beliefs and illusions is NOT a one-time event, but rather a long and laborious process. One or two particular insights or kernels of awareness are not sufficient to reveal the huge tangled mess. In fact, to believe it is a one-and-done event is actually more destructive than doing nothing, since we change very little about ourselves yet believe we have. Similar to Russian nesting dolls, where several more a hidden inside the first, the rabbit hole runs deep.

Two; understand this is far more about perspective than it is about facts, truth or knowledge, three words often used interchangeably and incorrectly. Facts are rarely more than pieces of information which may or may not be correct, truth is almost entirely based upon a point of view often (but not always) derived from arranging facts in a particular order. And knowledge is the inner awareness and acceptance that facts and truth are little more than moving parts in a general consensus reality. Meaning two people can use the same set of facts, yet claim different truths based upon those facts, while a third person, relying upon a large body of knowledge, understands facts and truth are at best subjective and at worst enslaving.

Three; always consider the possibility there is far more to learn about a subject (and ourselves) than we are aware of. The art of propaganda and manipulation is the leveraging of our own biases and assumptions, of nudging and sliding us one way or another. We dismiss the notion we are influenced by these forces because we believe we would recognize them when we see or hear them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Look intently, critically and repeatedly for gaps and weakness in our thinking, especially if we believe nothing is wrong with our thinking. I force myself to read/watch/listen to information I think is contrary to my settled opinions, and I’m always amazed to discover something new-to-me every time I do so.

Four; from time to time, mentally clear our minds from the 10,000 daily distractions that bombard us via every glowing screen we own…or more accurately, every glowing screen that owns us. Yes, I understand this is nearly impossible since so much of our necessary daily activity requires screen interaction. I still manage personal money, which means I must remain plugged in nearly all the time. The weekends are less hectic and afford better opportunities to at least attempt some decoupling from the matrix. Audio books concerning deep dive subjects we’ve always wanted to explore are a perfect alternative to the jibber-jabber intrusions of daily life and can be listened to while doing chores, driving and so on.

Five; trust our instincts and inner knowing more so than our heart and mind. My most shocking early revelation was that my mind lies to me and my heart (emotion) confuses and deceives me. This is not surprising since a lifetime of conditioning and programming instructs us to believe knowledge, truth and wisdom are found externally and only from official sources and authorities. This deliberately narrowed point of view has dulled, if not completely switched off, any intuitive connection we might have with our inner knowing self.

Since we are never taught to consult, let alone trust, our inner knowing, we have all been successfully subjugated to one degree or another by external forces. Worse, we consider this ‘condition’ to be completely natural and normal. Because our cognitive box is the only reality we’ve ever known, it is nearly impossible to ‘think’ outside of it. The more firmly we are chained to the existing reality, the more difficult it is to imagine any other. Therefore, we must attempt to disconnect as completely and often as we can.

These practices slowly develop (re-awaken might be more accurate) a clear-eyed view and a deeper understanding of ourselves, our fellow man and the real world, not as we wish to see it, but as it really is. Unfortunately, we still engage in wishful thinking way too often, constantly pushing the hope ‘dope’ button for increasingly meager superficial rewards. Considering the direction our world is headed, it’s going to be more difficult to think clearly unless we begin to make personal changes now. Old habits die hard because we desperately cling to them for emotional support. Understanding why we do this will go a long way to helping us jettison our old baggage. Even if we are trapped on the crazy train to hell, just because we can’t get off doesn’t mean we must fully participate in the insanity.


Cognitive Dissonance

Friday, August 16, 2019

Six Things that Citizens Around the World Urgently Need to Know

Six Things That Citizens Around the World Urgently Need to Know About Climate Change In Light of Several Recent Scientific Reports. Donald Brown, Ethics and Nov. 28, 2018.

This article identifies and explains six things that most citizens around the world, although particularly those in developed countries, need to understand about climate change in light of the most recent climate change science. These six things are:

  • The enormous magnitude of GHG emissions reductions needed to prevent catastrophic warming.
  • The speed of GHG emissions reductions needed to prevent catastrophic warming.
  • No nation may either legally or morally use national self-interest alone as justification for their failure to fully meet their obligation under the UNFCCC.
  • No nation may either legally or morally use scientific uncertainty as justification for their failure to fully meet their obligations under the UNFCCC.
  • Developed countries must legally, morally, and practically more aggressively reduce their GHG emissions than developing countries
  • Developed countries must legally, morally, and practically help finance mitigation and adaptation programs in poor developing countries.

The need for broad understanding among civil society of these issues follows from several recent scientific reports on climate change. For instance, on October 8, 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a Special Report on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial temperatures. This landmark report, along with several additional recent scientific studies published in the last few months including a paper published by the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences on July 21, 2018, Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene by Steffen, and a paper published in mid-August of this year in Nature Communications by Anthony et. al., 21st-Century Modeled Permafrost Carbon Emissions Accelerated by Abrupt Thaw Beneath, lead to the conclusion that the international community is facing an urgent existential crisis that threatens life on Earth. Preventing this catastrophe requires the entire international community at all levels of government (national, state, regional, and local) to engage immediately in an unprecedented effort to rapidly reduce GHG emissions to net zero in the next few decades.

Although the October IPCC report on 1.5 degrees C warming received some significant notice in the US media, the recent US elections on November 6th in which climate change played only a very minor role at best, demonstrates a startling lack of understanding about the enormity and urgency of the climate threat facing the international community. Because of the immense ramp-up of programs and efforts needed to reduce the staggering threat of climate change depends on broad understanding of the scale of the problem facing the human race, and given the apparent ignorance of most citizens about the magnitude and urgency of the climate change crisis and other issues discussed in this paper, concerned citizens need to mount an aggressive educational program to inform civil society about aspects of the climate change threat that appear to be poorly understood. These issues include the following:

1. The Immense Magnitude of GHG Reductions Urgently Needed to Prevent Catastrophic Warming

The IPCC Special Report concludes that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. This is so because to limit warming to 1.5 C, CO2 emissions would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050 according to the IPCC Special Report. This means if global CO2 emissions have not fallen to net zero levels by 2050, any remaining emissions would need to balanced by removing CO2 from the air.

The Steffen et. al. paper also describes how the positive feedbacks depicted in the following graphic, once triggered could initiate other feedbacks creating a cascade of positive feedbacks, each of which could speed up the warming which is already causing great harm and suffering around the world. The paper claims this mechanism could make life on much of the Earth uninhabitable which could lead to social collapse on the global scale and ultimately to warming increases that human reductions of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions alone would not prevent additional warming until the global system reached a new temperature equilibrium at much higher temperatures than the human race has ever experienced. In other words, cascading positive feedbacks in the climate system could result in humans losing control over reducing disastrous warming.

The Steffen paper also explains how human-induced warming of slightly over 1.0 degrees C is already rapidly approaching levels that may trigger positive climate feedbacks which could greatly accelerate the warming already plaguing the world by causing record floods, deadly heat waves, droughts, increasing tropical diseases, forest fires, more intense and damaging storms, sea level rise, coral bleaching, acidification of oceans, all of which are contributing to increasing the number of refugees which are destabilizing governments around the world.

The Anthony paper also explains that, contrary to common assumptions previously made by many in the international community that positive feedbacks in the climate system that could cause abrupt temperature increases would not likely be triggered if warming could be limited to below 2 C above pre-industrial levels, positive feedbacks could be initiated between current temperatures which have risen slightly above 1.1 C and 2 C. Moreover, the additional warming caused by these feedbacks could initiate other feedbacks creating a cascade of positive feedbacks, each of which could speed up the warming which is already causing great harm and suffering around the world, phenomena which threaten life on earth.

For these reasons, citizens around the world need to understand the urgent need to reduce GHG emissions to net zero as soon as possible.

2. The Speed of GHG Reductions Needed to Prevent Catastrophic Warming.

Every day that nations fail to reduce their GHG emissions to levels required of them to achieve a warming limit goal such as 2 degrees C makes the problem worse because the carbon budgets for the whole world that must constrain global emissions to achieve any warming limit goal shrink as emissions continue. Therefore, the speed that nations reduce their GHG emissions reductions is as important as the magnitude of the reductions identified by any national GHG reduction commitment. For this reason, any national commitment on climate change should not only identify the amount of GHG emissions that will be reduced by a certain date, but also the reduction pathway by which these reductions will be achieved.

The following illustration depicts two different GHG reduction pathways for reaching zero emissions by 2050. Although the curve on the top achieves zero GHG emissions at the same time as the curve on the bottom, total emissions during the period are much greater following the emissions reductions pathway under the top curve compared to total emissions under the bottom curve because the lower curve pathway more quickly reduces emissions. Citizens need to understand that waiting to reduce GHG emissions makes the problem worse because waiting consumes more of any shrinking carbon budget that must constrain global emissions to achieve any warming limit goal.

3. No Nation may either Legally or Morally use National Self-interest Alone as Justification for Their Failure to Fully Meet Their Obligations under the UNFCCC.

Because GHG emissions from every country mix rapidly in the atmosphere, all nations’ emissions are contributing to rising atmospheric GHG concentrations thus harming people and ecological systems on which life depends all over the world. The above illustration depicts that the atmosphere is analogous to a bathtub in that it has limited volume and that all nations emitting GHGs are raising atmospheric concentration of GHGs to its current concentration of approximately 407 ppm CO2 (the second line from the bottom in the above bathtub) which level is already causing enormous harm in many vulnerable countries while threatening the entire world if the atmospheric GHG concentration is raised to levels which trip positive feedbacks discussed above (represented by the upper line in the above bathtub). Thus high-emitting countries such as the US may not formulate their climate change policies on the basis of costs and benefits to itself alone. Particularly those nations that are emitting high levels of GHGs must acknowledge and respond to the devastating climate change harms they are already contributing to in other countries and particularly harms to poor people and nations that are most vulnerable to climate change impacts. Thus in the United States, for instance, the Trump administration’s justification for withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement on the basis of “putting US interests first ” is ethically indefensible and tragic because of the damage the Trump climate change policy will cause outside the United States.

The following illustration depicts nations emitting high levels of GHG in red in the top half of the illustration while those countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts are indicated in red in the bottom half of the illustration.

For this reason, as a matter of law, given that nations under the UNFCCC agreed to stabilize GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. (UNFCCC, Art. 2), a nation may not fail to reduce its GHG emissions to its fair share of safe global emissions based on the cost to it because it has ethical and legal duties to other nations not to harm them.

4. Scientific Uncertainty is Not a Legally or Morally Defensible Justification for Not Adopting Aggressive Climate Change Policy Responses.

Although opponents of climate change policies have justified their opposition on the basis of scientific uncertainty, and despite the fact that the most prestigious scientific organizations have expressly stated their conclusions about the enormous threat of climate change with increasingly higher levels of scientific probability for over 40 years, scientific uncertainty is not a justifiable response for any nation’s unwillingness to adopt climate change policies as a matter of law or morally.

Under international law, including the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, Art. 3.3) which states in relevant part “where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty may not be used as a reason for postponing such measures,” and the “no harm principle”, a principle of customary international law recognized in the Preamble to the UNFCCC, nations may not legally use scientific uncertainty as an excuse for failing to take action to prevent dangerous climate change.

Also as we explained previously in 2008 in The Ethical Duty to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Face of Scientific Uncertainty, nations also have had a strong moral responsibility to take action to reduce the threat of climate change once it was scientifically understood that GHG emissions could cause serious harms even if the harms had not been proven with high degrees of scientific certainty.

Given, that numerous reputable scientific organizations beginning in the late 1970s, including the US National Academies of Sciences, (See Early Climate Change Consensus at the National Academy) and five reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change beginning in 1990 (See IPCC report timeline) have concluded with increasing levels of certainty that human activities are dangerously threatening people and ecological systems on which life depends, nations have been on strong notice for over four decades that human activities responsible for GHG emissions are dangerous to the human community, thus nations have been on notice about the dangers of climate change for over 40 years and therefore may not legally or morally use scientific uncertainty as an excuse for failing to adopt climate change policies that will reduce their GHG emissions to levels required of them to prevent dangerous climate change.

5. High Emitting Developed Countries, Including the United States, Must Reduce GHG Emissions More Aggressively than Other Countries as a Matter of Law and Practically to Prevent Dangerous Climate Change.

Hiigh-emitting nations have a legal duty under the UNFCCC to reduce their GHG emissions faster than lower emitting nations because they agreed to:

[P]rotect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind, on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. Accordingly, the developed country Parties should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof. (UNFCCC, 1992, Art 3.1)

These principles were re-committed to in the Paris Agreement , Art 2.2 which provides that:

This Agreement will be implemented to reflect equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.

Thus under law, high emitting nations, such as the US, have a legal duty under the concept of “equity” to reduce its GHG emissions more rapidly than most other nations. Although there is reasonable disagreement among nations about what “equity” requires of them, formulate its ghg emissions reduction target on the basis of equity is not only required by its legal obligations under the UNFCCC, practically the US and other high emitting nations must reduce their GHG emissions by much greater amounts and faster than poor developing nations because if they don’t the poorer nations will have to reduce their GHG emissions almost immediately to near zero CO2 so that global emissions don’t exceed the carbon budget available to prevent a warming limit such as 2 degrees C from being exceeded,

There is a basic set of shared ethical principles and precedents that apply to the climate problem…[and] such principles… can put bounds on the plausible interpretation of equity in the burden sharing context…[and] are important in establishing what may be reasonably required of different actors. (IPCC, 2014, AR5, WG III, Ch. 4, pg .317 )

The IPCC went on to say:

these equity principles can be understood to comprise four key dimensions: responsibility, capacity, equality and the right to sustainable development (IPCC, , AR5, WG III, Ch 4, p. 318).

As a matter of law, therefore, high-emitting countries such as the United States must reduce its GHG emissions to safe levels based on equity at faster levels than other countries as any reasonable interpretation of equity would require the US to make much larger and more rapid GHG reductions than almost all other nations given that the United States (under the concept of responsibility) emitted 5,011,687 metric kilotons (kt) of CO2 equivalent emissions in 2016, second only to China’s 10,432,741 kt CO2. (Netherlands Environmental Agency), also under the concept of responsibility the United States has emitted a greater amount of cumulative CO2 emissions, that is 29.3% of global CO2 emissions between 1850 and 2002, while China emitted 7.6% during the same period, (WRI, Cumulative Emissions) making the US much more responsible for raising atmospheric concentrations of CO2 to the current level of approximately 406 ppm than any country. Also, under the concept of equality given the US is responsible for 15.56 metric tons per capita CO2 emissions which is more than twice as much as China’s 7.45 metric tons per capita in 2016 (World Bank), as a matter of equity the US must reduce its GHG emissions much more rapidly and steeply than almost all countries.

The following illustration demonstrates why high-emitting nations must also practically reduce emissions more aggressively than other nations because it can be seen that if the high emitting nations such as China, the EU, and USA, depicted near the bottom of the illustration, don’t reduce GHG emissions much faster than the rest of the world, and if the international community is going to be restrained by the emissions reduction pathway needed to achieve a warming limit goal, such as the 2 degee C pathway depicted in the illustration, then there is quickly nothing left for the rest of the world. Therefore, high-emitting nations must more aggressively reduce their emissions than lower emitting nations not only as a matter of law but also to retain any hope for the international community to achieve warming limit goals agreed to in the Paris Agreement of as close as possible to 1.5 degrees C but no greater than 2 degrees C.

6. Developed Nations Have a Legal and Moral Duty to Provide Financial Resources to Assist Developing Nartions with both Mitigation and Adaptation Programs and this Financial Assistance is also Practically Indespensible to Prevent Climate-induced Harms in all Countries.

Under the UNFCCC, developed country Parties agreed to provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties in implementing the objectives of the Convention (UNFCCC, Article 4, §3). The Paris Agreement also provides that the developed countries shall provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention.(Paris Agreement, Art, 9.1)

Financial support of developing nation’s mitigation obligations under the UNFCCC mitigations is not only legally required under the UNFCCC but also practically important because large-scale investments are required to significantly reduce emissions and dangerous climate change will not likely be avoided unless developing nations reduce their GHG emissions to their fair share of safe global emissions. Financial support for developing nations by developed nations is also both legally and ethically required to meet the adaptation needs of developing countries, as significant financial resources are needed by many vulnerable countries to adapt to the adverse climate change.

Climate impacts, such as sea-level rise and more frequent droughts and floods, are already having devastating effects on communities and individuals in developing countries. These impacts on developing countries are already affecting developed nations because, for instance, between 2008 and 2011, approximately 87 million people were displaced due to extreme weather events which is causing a mass migration of refugees which is destabilizing many developed nations, particularly in Europe. (Climate Change in Developing Countries, Government of Canada) According to the World Health Organization, climate change is expected to contribute to approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress. (World Health Organization, Climate and Health) .

Developing countries are the most impacted by climate change. This is due to many factors, including the economic importance of climate-sensitive sectors for these countries (e.g. agriculture) and the limited financial and human capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change. (Climate Change in Developing Countries, Government of Canada). The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that by 2030, up to 122 million more people could be forced into extreme poverty due to the effects of climate change—many of them women. (Conflicts Fueled by Climate Change, The Guardian.)

Because climate change is already destabilizing developed countries due to refugees who are fleeing vulnerable areas of poor developing nations that have become inhabitable due to climate change-induced droughts, floods, loss of drinking water, and rising seas, if developed nations do not help finance climate change adaptation programs in developing countries, they will experience growing conflict and stress caused by vulnerable people and refugees in developing countries who are both creating conflicts in their countries and in developed countries they have or are seeking to enter. .

The following illustration depicts the number of refugees who are fleeing or who have fled climate change.

Conflicts Fueled by Climate Change, The Guardian.

For this reason, developed country financing assistance for emissions reduction and adaptation programs in developing countries is not only legally required but practically necessary to reduce climate change-induced problems and conflicts in developed countries.

By: Donald A. Brown
Scholar in Residence and Professor
Widener University Commonwealth Law School

IPCC has been Systematically Underestimating Climate Change Risk

New Evidence That Climate Change Poses a Much Greater Threat to Humanity Than Recently Understood Because the IPCC has been Systematically Underestimating Climate Change Risks: An Ethical Analysis. Donald Brown, Ethics and Climate. September 21, 2018.

Three papers have been recently published that lead to the conclusion that human-induced climate change poses a much more urgent and serious threat to life on Earth than many have thought who have been relying primarily on the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This paper first reviews these papers and then examines the ethical questions by the issues discussed in these papers.

I. The Three Papers

On July 31, 2018, a paper was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which should create a shiver of fear in all humans everywhere. The paper, Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene by Steffen, explains how human-induced warming is rapidly approaching levels that may trigger positive climate feedbacks which could greatly accelerate the warming already plaguing the world by causing record floods, deadly heat waves and droughts, increasing tropical diseases, forest fires, more intense and damaging storms, sea level rise, coral bleaching, and acidification of oceans, all of which are contributing to increasing the number of refugees which are destabilizing governments around the world. This paper explains that, contrary to common assumptions made by many in the international community that positive feedbacks in the climate system that could cause abrupt temperature increases would not likely be triggered if warming could be limited to 2 C above pre-industrial levels, positive feedbacks could be initiated between current temperatures and 2 C. Moreover, once triggered the additional warming caused by these feedbacks could initiate other feedbacks creating a cascade of positive feedbacks, each of which could speed up the warming which is already causing great harm and suffering around the world. The paper claims this mechanism could make life on much of the Earth uninhabitable which could lead to social collapse on the global scale and ultimately to warming increases that human reductions of greenhouse gases (ghg) emissions alone would not prevent until the global system reached a new temperature equilibrium at much higher temperatures than the human race has ever experienced. In other words, cascading positive feedbacks in the climate system could result in humans losing control over preventing disastrous warming.

Another recent paper published in mid-August in Nature Communications by Anthony et. al., 21st-Century Modeled Permafrost Carbon Emissions Accelerated by Abrupt Thaw Beneath Lakes, concludes that models used to predict climate impacts have failed to incorporate abrupt carbon feedback from permafrost decay that recent evidence has revealed is now possible happening. In fact, the paper claims that early stages of processes that lead to permafrost degradation are already underway, a phenomenon which leads to release of dangerous amounts of methane and CO2. This paper further concludes that carbon emissions from melting permafrost could increase soil carbon emissions by 125–190% compared to gradual thaw alone.

This paper summarizes major conclusions from a third recent paper which analyzes IPCC’s consistent underestimation of climate change impacts. This paper, What Lies Beneath: On the Understatement of Existential Climate Risk, (hereinafter “WLB”), recently published by the Breakthrough Institute, claims both that the risks posed by climate change are far greater than is evident from the conclusions of IPCC and examines why IPCC has frequently underestimated threats from climate change.

The WLB report also further concludes that climate change is now an existential risk to humanity, that is an adverse outcome that could either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and dramatically curtail its potential. (WLB, p.13)

Although the WLB report acknowledges IPCC has done “critical, indispensable work of the highest standard in pulling together a periodic consensus of what must be the most exhaustive scientific investigation in world history” however, the IPCC process suffers from all of the dangers of consensus-building in such a wide-ranging and complex arena. (WLB, p. 5) The report also attributes the overly "conservative" conclusions of the IPCC to the consensus building nature that IPCC must follow to get governments to approve IPCC final reports and to IPCC’s following scientific norms that condemn speculation. (WLB. p. 5) As a result, the report concludes that much of the climate research on which IPCC has relied has tended to underplay climate risks and as a result, IPCC has exhibited preferences for "conservative" estimates of climate change impacts. (WLB, p. 5) This practice the WLB reports labels as “scholarly reticence.” (WLB, p. 5)

This WLB report further claims that climate science has succumbed to the norm followed by most physical sciences to refrain from any speculation that cannot be grounded in empirically determined probability calculations. This epistemic norm, the report claims, is not well-suited to guide predictions about very scientifically complex matters such as earth system dynamics. The report calls this approach the Probability Obsession of science which is not well suited to predict future states of complex systems about matters for which there are no historical antecedents. (WLB, p. 2) [actually, there are historical precedents, but the models are not consistent with those episodes in paleoclimate record of abrupt climate change]

The WLB report also notes that a conservative approach to climate science began to dominate and as a result, the planetary future has become a hostage to national economic "self-interest" [I wouldn't say self-interest but short-sightedness or ideological blindness]. Thus, the paper claims it became “alarmist” to claim the climate change is an existential threat to life on earth. (WLB, p.4)

The report further notes that although “a fast emergency-scale transition to a post-fossil fuel world is absolutely necessary to address climate change…. yet this is excluded from consideration by policymakers because it is considered to be too disruptive.” And so the paper claims “we have a policy failure of epic proportions.” (WLB, p. 4)

The WLB report further notes that although it has widely been reported that if the ghg emissions reductions commitments or Nationally Determined Commitments (NDCs) made by governments so far under the Paris Agreement are complied with, the Earth’s temperature is expected to rise to 3 - 4 C by 2100 without taking into account “long-term” carbon cycle feedbacks. (WLB, p.15) Yet if the positive feedbacks are fully considered, the temperature path defined by the NDCs could result in around 5° C of warming by 2100 according to a MIT study. (WLB, p.13) Yet, the report claims that even if warming reaches 3° C, most of Bangladesh and Florida would drown, while major coastal cities – Shanghai, Legos, Mumbai – would be swamped likely creating larger flows of climate refugees. Most regions of the world would see a significant drop in food production and an increasing number of extreme weather events, whether heat waves, floods or storms. (WLB, p.13)

The WLB report concludes warming of 4°C or more could reduce the global human population by 80% or 90%, and the World Bank reports “there is no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C temperature rise would be possible.” Quoting Professor Kevin Anderson, the report claims a 4°C future “is incompatible with an organized global community and is likely to be beyond adaptation by the majority of people.” (WLB, p. 14)

The WLB report also claims that the often-quoted prediction of likely temperature increases if current NDCs are complied with of approximately 3° C rise does not take into account the considerable risk that self-reinforcing feedback loops could be triggered when certain thresholds are reached leading to an ever-increasing rise in temperature. These potential thresholds include the melting of the Arctic permafrost releasing methane into the atmosphere, forest dieback releasing carbon currently stored in the Amazon and boreal forests, with the melting of polar ice caps that would no longer reflect the light and heat from the sun. (WLB, p. 14)

The report cites a recent study by the European Commission’s Joint Research Center found that if global temperature rose to 4° C that extreme heat waves with “apparent temperatures” peeking over 55 C (131 F) will begin to regularly affect many densely populated parts of the world, forcing much activity in the modern industrial world to stop. (WLB, p.14)

The paper claims that one study found that even a 2° C warming “would double the land area subject to deadly heat and expose 48% of the population to deadly heat.” (WLB, p.14)

According to the WLB report, a 4° C warming by 2100 would subject 47% of the land area and almost 74% of the world population to deadly heat which could pose existential risks to humans and mammals alike unless massive adaptation measures are implemented. (WLB, p.14)

The WLB paper also explains how IPCC’s understatements of likely climate change impacts affect what is generally claimed among climate policy-makers about elements of climate science including climate models, climate tipping points, climate sensitivity, carbon budgets, permafrost and carbon cycles, arctic sea ice, polar ice-mass loss, and sea-level rise. The following summarizes some of the main paper’s conclusions on these matters, although we recommend that interested parties read the WLB’s full description of these issues. The full paper also should be consulted for footnote sources of the following conclusions.

Climate Models

Climate modeling is at the core of the work by IPCC, and in developing future emission and warming scenarios a 2007 report by the US Center for Strategic and International Studies Center for New American Security recognized the that: “Recent observations indicate the projections from climate models have been too conservative,” and “the effects of climate change are unfolding faster and more dramatically than expected,” and, “multiple lines of evidence support the position that the 2007 IPCC reports’ projections of impacts are systematically biased low.” (WLB, p.18) For instance, the paper concludes:

The models used to project future warming either omit or do not account for uncertainty in potentially important positive feedbacks that could amplify warming (e.g., release of greenhouse gases from thawing permafrost, reduced ocean and terrestrial CO2 removal from the atmosphere, and there is some evidence that such feedbacks may already be occurring in response to the present warming trend. Hence, climate models may underestimate the degree of warming from a given amount of greenhouse gas emitted into the atmosphere by human activities alone. Additionally, recent observations of climate system responses to warming (e.g. changes in global ice cover, sea level rise, tropical storm activity) suggest that IPCC models underestimate the responsiveness of some aspects of the climate system to a given amount of warming. (WLB, p.18)

Climate models simply omit emissions from warming permafrost, but we know that is the wrong answer because this tacitly assumes that these emissions are zero and we know that’s not right. (WLB, p.18)

The WLB report characterizes IPCC reports as presenting “detailed, quantified (numerical) modelling results - such as feedbacks that the models account for in a descriptive non-quantified form. Sea-levels, polar ice sheets, and some carbon-cycle are three examples. Because policymakers and the media are often drawn to the headline numbers, this approach results in less attention being given to the most devastating, high-end, non-linear and difficult to quantify [possible] outcomes.” (WLB, p. 19).

The WLB report concludes about this tendency: “The emphasis on consensus in IPCC reports has put the spotlight on expected outcomes which then become anchored via numerical estimates in the minds of policymakers.” (WLB, p. 19)

The WLB report also notes that one of the problems with IPCC is the strong desire to rely on physical models. (WLB, p. 20)

Tipping Points

A tipping point may be understood as the passing of a critical threshold in the earth climate systems component – such as major ocean and atmospheric circulation patterns, the polar ice sheet, and the terrestrial and ocean carbon stores – which produces a steep change in the system. (WLB, p. 21) Progress toward a tipping point is often driven by positive feedbacks, in which a change in the component leads to further changes that eventually “feedback” onto the original component to amplify the effect. A classic case is global warming is the ice-albedo feedback, or decreases in the area of polar ice change surface reflexivity, trapping more heat, producing further sea ice loss. (WLB, p. 21)

In some cases, passing one threshold will trigger further threshold events, for example, where substantial greenhouse gas releases from polar permafrost carbon stores increase warming, releasing even more permafrost carbon in a positive feedback, but also pushing other systems, such as polar ice sheets past their threshold point. (WLB, p. 21)

In a period of rapid warming, most major tipping points, once crossed are irreversible in human time frames, principally due to the longevity of atmospheric CO2 (a thousand years). (WLB, p. 21)

Climate models are not yet good at dealing with tipping points. (WLB, p.21) This is partly due to the nature of tipping points, where particularly complex confluence of factors abruptly change the climate system characteristics and drive it into a different state. (WLB, p.21) To model this, all the contributing factors and their forces have to be well identified, as well as their particular interactions, plus the interactions between tipping points. (WLB, p.21) Some researchers say that “complex, nonlinear systems typically shift between alternative states in an abrupt, rather than the smooth, changes, a challenge that the climate models have not yet been able to adequately meet. (WLB, p. 21)

Risks associated with tipping points increase disproportionately as temperature increases from 1° C to 2° C and become high above 3° C. Yet political negotiations have consistently disregarded the high-end scenarios that could lead to abrupt or irreversible climate change. (WLB, p. 21)

IPCC has published few projections regarding tipping-point thresholds, nor emphasized the importance of building robust risk-management assessments of them in absence of adequate quantitative data. (WLB, p. 210)

The world is currently completely unprepared to envision and even less deal with the consequences of catastrophic climate change. (WLB, p. 21)

Climate Sensitivity

Climate sensitivity is the amount by which the global average temperature will rise due to a doubling of atmospheric greenhouse gas levels, at equilibrium. IPCC reports a focus on what is generally called equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS). The 2007 IPCC report gave a best estimate of climate sensitivity of 3° C and said it is likely to be in the range 2° C to 4.5° C. (WLB, p. 22)

The 2014 IPCC report says that “no best estimate for equilibrium climate sensitivity can now be given, because of lack of agreement on values across lines of evidence and studies” and only gives a range of 1.5° C to 4.5° C. (WLB, p. 22)

The IPCC reports fail to mention that the ECS measure omits key “long-term” feedbacks that a rise in the planet’s temperature can trigger. (WLB, p. 22) These include the permafrost feedback, other changes in the terrestrial carbon cycle, a decrease in the ocean’s carbon-sink efficiency, and the melting of polar ice sheets creating a cold ocean-surface layer underneath that accelerates the melting of ice shelves and hastens the rate of ice-mass loss. (WLB, p. 22)

There is a wide range of literature that suggests that climate sensitivity which includes these feeedbacks-known as Earth System Sensitivity (ESS), is 4-6 C. (WLB, p. 22).

Long-term feedbacks have already begun to appear on short time frames, climate-carbon cycle coupling is expected to add carbon to the atmosphere as the climate warms, although the magnitude of feedback is uncertain. (WLB, p. 22)

Conclusions about climate sensitivity should take into account that:

Biogeochemical feedbacks (such as less efficient land-ocean sinks, including permafrost loss) effectively increases carbon emissions to 2100 by about 20% and can enhance warming by up to 0.5°C, compared to the baseline scenario. (WLB, p. 23) Warming has been projected to increase methane emissions from wetlands by 0 – 100% compared with present-day wetland methane emissions. A 50% increase in wetland methane emissions by 2100 is expected in response to high-end warming of 4.1 – 5°C which could add at least another 0.5°C warming. (WLB, p. 23) It is important to use high-end climate sensitivity because some studies have suggested the climate models have underestimated three major positive climate feedbacks: positive ice albedo feedback from the retreat of Arctic sea ice; positive cloud albedo feedbacks from retreating storm track clouds in mid-latitudes, and positive albedo feedback by the next phase (water and ice) clouds. When these are taken into account the ECS is more than 40% higher than the IPCC mid-figure, at 4.5 to 4.7° C. (WLB, p. 23)

Some recent research concludes that climate sensitivity is higher in warmer, interglacial periods (such as present) and lower in colder glacial periods. Based on a study of glacial cycles and temperatures over the last 100, 000 years one study concludes that in warmer periods climate sensitivity is 4.88 C. (WLB, p. 23) The higher figure would mean that an atmospheric concentration 450 ppm CO2, a figure that current trends will reach in 5 years, would be around 3 C in rather than the 2 C number bandied about in policy making circles. (WLB, p. 23)

Carbon Budgets

A carbon budget is the estimate of the total future human-caused ghg emissions in tons of CO2 or CO2 equivalent, that would be consistent with limiting warming to a specific figure, such as

  • 1.5 C or 2 C with a given risk of exceeding the target such as 50%, 33%, or a 10% chance. (WLB, p. 24)

Carbon budgets are usually based on mid-term climate sensitivity numbers of around 3 C. (WLB, p. 22)

Yet there are reasons to believe climate sensitivity is closer to 4 C. In fact, as we have seen, climate sensitivity may be between 4-6 C. (WLB, p. 22)

Carbon budgets are routinely proposed that have a substantial and unacceptable risk of exceeding specified targets and hence entail large and unmanageable risks of failure., (WLB, p. 24)

Research in 2017 the compared role climate models used by IPCC with models that are “observationally informed” produce 15% more warming by 2100 than IPCC claims and therefore supports the conclusion that carbon budgets should be reduced by 15% for the 2C target. (WLB, p. 24)

The IPCC reports fail to say that once projected emissions from future food production and deforestation are taken into account there is no carbon budget for fossil-fuel emissions for a 2C target. (WLB, p. 24).

There are also problems with carbon budgets which incorporate “overshoot” scenarios, in which warming exceeds the target before being cooled by carbon drawdown. (WLB, p.24) Pam Pearson, Dir. of International Cryo-sphere Climate Initiative, said that most cryo-sphere thresholds are determined by peak temperatures, and the length of time spent at the peak warning rather than “later decreasing temperatures after the peak are largely irrelevant, especially with higher temperatures and longer duration peaks.” Thus “overshoot scenarios” which are now becoming the norm in policymaking hold much greater risks. (WLB, p. 24)

Permafrost and the Carbon Cycle

The failure to adequately consider long-term feedbacks in IPCC models, and hence in projections of future warming, lies at the heart of the problem with the IPCC reporting process. (IPCC, p.25) Over century time-scales, amplifying feedbacks may ultimately contribute 28-68% of total warming, yet they comprise only 1-7% of current warming. (WLB, p. 25)

The land sink (storage capacity) for CO2 appears much smaller than is currently factored into some climate models. Thus future patterns of warming may be distinctly different from past patterns making it difficult to predict future warming by relying on past observations. (WLB, p. 25)

Soil Carbon. A 2016 study concluded that a soil carbon cycle feedback “has not been incorporated into computer models used to project future climate change, raising the possibility that such models are underestimating the amount of warming that is likely to occur. (WLB, p. 24) The projected loss of soil carbon from climate change is a potentially large but highly uncertain feedback to warming, however, there is likely to be strong carbon-climate feedbacks from colder northern soils. (WLB, p.24)

Forests. At the moment about one-third of human-caused CO2 emissions are absorbed by trees and other plants. But rapid climate warming and unusual rainfall patterns are jeopardizing many of the world’s trees, due to more frequent droughts, pest outbreaks, and fires. (WLB, p. 25) This is starting to have profound effects on the Earth’s carbon cycle. (WLB, p. 25) In 2009 researchers found that 2° C of warming could cut in half the carbon sink of tropical rainforests. Some tropical forests – in the Congo and Southeast Asia – have already shifted to a net carbon source. The tropics are now a net carbon source with losses owing to deforestation and reductions in carbon density within standing forests being double that of gains resulting from forest growth. Other work has projected a long-term, self-reinforcing carbon feedback from mid-latitude forests to the climate system as the world warms. (WLB, p. 25)

There has been an observed decline in the Amazon carbon sink. Negative synergies between deforestation, climate change, and widespread use of fire indicate a tipping point for the Amazon system to flip to non-forest ecosystems in eastern, southern, and central Amazonia at 20 – 25% deforestation. Researchers say that severe droughts of 2005, 2010 and 2015-16 could well represent the first flickers of this ecological tipping point and say the whole system is oscillating. (WLB, p.25)

Permafrost. The world’s permafrost holds 1.5 trillion tons of frozen carbon, more than twice the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. On land it covers an area of 15,000,000 km². The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere on earth, and some permafrost degradation is already occurring. Large-scale tundra wildfires in 2012 added to the concern, as have localized methane outbursts. (WLB, p. 25)

The 2007 IPCC assessment on permafrost did not venture beyond saying “changes in snow ice and frozen ground have with high confidence increase the number and size of glacial lakes, increased ground instability in mountain and other permafrost regions and led to changes in some Arctic and in Antarctic ecosystems. It reported with high confidence that methane emissions from tundra and permafrost have accelerated in the past two decades and are likely to accelerate further. It offered no projections regarding permafrost melts. (WLB, p.25).

The effect of the permafrost’s carbon feedback has not been included in the IPCC scenarios including the 2014 report. (WLB, p. 26). This is despite clear evidence that “the permafrost carbon feedback would change the Arctic from a carbon sink to a source after the mid-2020s and is strong enough to cancel 42 – 88% of the total global land sink. (WLB, p. 26)

In 2012, researchers found that, for the 2100 median forecasts, there would be a 0.23 – 0.27°C of extra warming due to permafrost feedbacks. Some researchers consider that 1.5°C appears to be something of a “tipping point” for extensive permafrost thaw. (WLB, p.26)

A 2014 study estimated that up to 205 billion tonnes equivalent of CO2 could be released due to melting permafrost. This would cause up to 0.5° C extra warming for the high emission scenario and up to 0.15° C of extra warming for the 2° C scenario. The authors say that; “climate projections in the IPCC Fifth Assessment report, and any emissions targets based on these projections, do not adequately account for emissions from thawing permafrost and the effect of the permafrost carbon feedback on global climate. (WLB, p.26)

Recently attention has turned to the question of the stability of large methane hydrate stores below the ocean floor on the shallow East Siberian Arctic shelf. (Methane hydrates are cage-like lattices of ice within which methane molecules are trapped). (WLB, p. 26)

These stores are protected from the warmer ocean temperatures above by a layer of frozen sub-sea permafrost. The concern is that warmer water could create taliks (areas of unfrozen permafrost) through which large-scale methane emissions from the hydrates could escape into the water column above and into the atmosphere. (WLB, p. 26)

A deceptively optimistic picture is painted when the potential impacts from the degradation of permafrost and methane hydrates are underplayed. (WLB, p. 26)

Arctic Sea-Ice

IPCC has consistently underestimated the rate of Arctic sea ice melt. (WLB, p.27)

Arctic sea ice is thinning faster than every IPCC climate projection, tipping points have been crossed for sea ice free summer conditions, and today scientists say an ice-free Arctic summer could be just years away, not many decades. (WLB, p. 27)

The loss of sea ice reduces the reflectivity of the planet and adds to warming but this feedback is not fully incorporated into models in circumstances where the rate of sea-ice loss is more rapid than expected in the models, as is occurring now. (WLB, p.27) To keep global temperature increase below 2 C, global CO2 emissions would need to reach zero 5-15 years earlier and the carbon budget would need to be reduced by 20-51% to offset this additional source of warming. (WLB, p. 27)

Because climate models are missing key real-world interactions and generally have been poor at dealing with the rate of Arctic sea ice retreat, expert elicitation’s play a role in considering whether the Arctic has passed a very significant and dangerous tipping point. But the IPCC has done none of this. (WLB, p.27)

Polar Ice-Mass Loss

2001 IPCC report said little change in Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet is expected over the next 50-100 years. (WLB, p. 28)

Greenland Ice Sheet

The 2007 IPCC report said there were “uncertainties in the full effects of ice sheet flow” and a suggestion that “partial loss of ice sheet on polar land could imply meters of sea-level rise… Such changes are projected to occur over millennial time scales.” The reality is very different. (WLB, p. 28)

IPCC said in 2007 that current models suggest virtually complete elimination of the Greenland ice sheet and a resulting contribution to sea-level rise of about 7 meters if global warming were sustained for millennia in excess of 1.9 to 4.60 C relative to pre-industrial values. (WLB, p. 28) This was despite that two 2006 studies found that the Greenland ice cap “may be melting three times faster than indicated by previous measurements, warning that we are close to being close to being committed to a collapse of the Greenland ice cap and reports that rising Arctic regional temperatures are already at “ the threshold beyond which glaciologists think the [Greenland] ice sheet may be doomed.” (WLB, p. 28)

In 2012 then NASA climate science chief James Hansen told Bloomberg that: “our greatest concern is that the loss of Arctic sea ice creates a great threat of passing over two other tipping points – the potential instability of the Greenland Ice Sheet and methane hydrates…These latter two tipping points would have consequences that are practically irreversible on time scales of relevance to humanity.’ On this very grave threat, IPCC is mute. (WLB, p. 29)

Antarctic Ice Sheet

The 2007 IPCC assessment proffered: “Current global model studies project that the Antarctic ice sheet will remain too cold for widespread surface melting and gain mass due to increased snowfall.” (WLB, p. 29) However, the net loss of ice mass could occur if dynamical ice discharge dominates the ice sheet mass balance. Reality and new research would soon undermine this one-sided reliance by IPCC on models with poor cryosphere performance. (WLB, p. 29)

By the 2014 IPCC assessment, the story was: “Based on current understanding from observations, physical understanding, and modeling, only the collapse of the marine-based sectors of the Antarctic ice sheet, if initiated could cause global mean sea level to be substantially above the likely range during the 21st Century.” (WLB, p. 29) There is medium confidence that the additional contribution would not exceed several tenths of a meter of sea-level rise during the 21st Century. And “abrupt and irreversible ice loss from the Antarctic is sheet is possible, but current evidence and understanding is insufficient to make a quantitative assessment.” This was another blunder. Observations of accelerating ice mass in West Antarctic were well established by this time. (WLB, p. 29) It is likely that the Amundsen Sea sector of the West Antarctic ice sheet has already been destabilized. (WLB, p. 29) Ice retreat is unstoppable for current conditions, and no acceleration in climate change is necessary to trigger the collapse of the rest of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, which comes with a 3-5 meter sea level rise. (WLB, p. 29), Such an event would displace millions of people worldwide. (WLB, p. 29)

In 2016, another significant study concluded that: “Antarctica has the potential to contribute more than a meter of sea-level rise by 2100 and more than 15 meters by 2500.” Compare this to the IPCC report, just a year earlier, that Antarctica’s contribution to sea levels “ would not exceed several tenths of a meter…during this century. ” (WLB, p. 29) As well, partial deglaciation of the East Antarctic ice sheet is likely for the current level of atmospheric CO2 contributing ten meters or more of sea-level rise in the longer run, and five meters in the first 200 years. (WLB, p. 29)

A 2018 study showed that ocean-driven melting has caused rates of ice-loss from West Antarctica to triple from 53 + or – 29 billion to 159 + or – 26 billion tons per year from 1992 to 2017. (WLB, p. 29) Forty percent of the total mass loss over that period has occurred in the last and five years, suggesting a recent and significant acceleration in the loss rate. (WLB, p. 29)

Over the same period, ice-shelf collapse had increased the rate of ice loss from the Antarctic Peninsula almost five-fold from 7 + or – 13 billion to 33 + or- 16 billion tonnes per year. (WLB, p. 29)

Sea Level Rise

In the 2001 assessment report, the IPCC projected a sea-level rise of 2 millimeters per year. By 2007, the researchers found that the range of the 2001 predictions were lower than the actual rise. Satellite data had shown that sea levels had risen by an average of 3.3 millimeters per year between 1993 and 2006. (WLB, p. 30) IPCC did not use this data to revise its projections. (WLB, p. 30) James Hansen warned of “scientific reticence” in regard to ice sheet stability and sea-level rise. (WLB, p. 30) In 2008, the US Geological Survey warned that sea-level rise could top 1.5 meters by the end of the century. And by the end of 2009, various studies offered drastically higher projections than IPCC. (WLB, p. 30) The Australian government identified research that estimated sea level rise range from 0.5 to 2.0 meters by 2100. (WLB, p. 30) Yet in 2014, IPCC reported a smaller figure (0.55 meters compared to 0.59 meters in 2007) despite mounting evidence of polar ice-mass loss. (WLB, p. 30) Noting inconsistent evidence, IPCC said that the probability of specific levels above the likely range cannot be evaluated. (WLB, p. 30)

An NOAA sea level report in August of 2017 recommends a revised worst-case sea level scenario of 2.5 meters by 2100, 5.5 meters by 2150, and 9.7 meters by 2200. (WLB, p. 31)

Today the discussion among experts is for sea-level rise in this century of at least one meter, and perhaps in excess of two meters. (WLB, p. 31)

Goals Abandoned

The WLB report claims that the warming levels already reached at approximately 1.10C are already “dangerous” and that future warming would need to be limited to 1.20 C to save the Great Barrier Reef. (WLB. p. 37) Therefore, the WLB report concludes that the UNFCCC process has already abandoned the goals of the UNFCCC of “preventing dangerous interference with the climate system.” The report also argues that other key goals of the UNFCCC including that “food production is not threatened’’ and “achieving reductions in a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change” have been abandoned for all practical purposes.”

Conclusion - Ethical Issues Raised by IPCC’s Consistent Underestimation of Climate Change Impacts.

A. Failure to Apply a Precautionary Science

As we have seen, the “What Lies Beneath” Report attributes IPCC’s consistent underestimation of climate change impacts to both the consensus process that IPCC follows in which governments must approve aspects of final IPCC reports and to IPCC’s following norms often followed by scientists which eschew making any claims that cannot be supported by empirically tested observations.

As we have claimed before in, there is a potential conflict between IPCC’s mission to synthesize the peer-reviewed climate change scientific literature, which normally requires adequate levels of scientific proof before drawing conclusions, and the precautionary principle stated in article 3 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which requires governments to act despite scientific uncertainties. A precautionary science would identify all scientifically plausible impacts, not only those impacts that can be identified with high levels of scientific certainty or impacts about which quantitative probability statements derived from empirical observations can be stated. If the precautionary principle is to be taken seriously then decision-makers should be informed about all potentially dangerous impacts even if quantitative probability statements about these impacts can’t be derived from observations of how a physical system works. Since the UNFCCC expressly adopted the precautionary principle, a strong case can be made that IPCC should identify all scientifically plausible impacts. If it were to do this, IPCC should, of course, be clear that some impacts are less certain than others.

Identifying all scientifically plausible climate impacts is also required as a matter of ethics once there is a reasonable basis for concluding that certain human behavior is dangerous to others.

Who should have the burden of proof and how much proof should be required to satisfy the burden of proof in the face of scientific uncertainty about dangerous behavior are fundamentally ethical questions, not ‘value-neutral’ scientific matters, yet scientists are rarely trained in ethical reasoning and very rarely spot the ethical issues raised by decisions about dangerous human behavior that must be made in the face of scientific uncertainty. Given that the potential harms from climate change include an existential threat to life on Earth, as a matter of ethics, those who claim that scientific uncertainty is justification for not taking strong action to reduce the threat of climate change should have the burden of proof of demonstrating with very high levels of proof that ghg emissions levels are safe.

Ethics would require higher levels of proof of those who are engaged in dangerous behavior to prove their behavior is safe in proportion to how potentially dangerous the behavior is especially for harms to others who have not consented to be harmed and for behaviors that become more dangerous the longer one waits to reduce the uncertainty. Given that climate change actually threatens life on Earth including billions of people who have not consented to put at risk, and given that waiting to reduce ghg emissions makes the problem more threatening, ethics would shift the burden of proof to those who are most responsible for raising ghg emissions to prove with very high levels of proof that human emissions of ghg are safe even if there is some uncertainty about the amount of warming that different levels of ghg emissions will cause. For this reason, the problem created by IPCC’s underestimation of climate change impacts may not be exclusively the fault of IPCC. The problem may also be the fault of policymakers who fail to respond to the enormous potential harms entailed by human-induced warming by demanding that opponents of climate change policies shoulder the burden of proof by demonstrating with high levels of proof that ghg emissions will not cause serious harms.

This website includes many articles which explain why policymakers and citizens have a strong duty to reduce ghg emissions in the face of some scientific uncertainty about climate change impacts. See, for example:

1. The Ethical Duty to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions the face of Scientific Uncertainty;

2. On Confusing Two Roles of Science and Their Relation to Ethics.

Policymakers have a vital need for scientists to explain all scientifically plausible harms that may result from human activities even if the magnitude and creation of potential harms are uncertain. In fulfilling these responsibilities, scientists may not ignore potential harms because they are unable to determine probabilities about the likelihood of their occurrence based on empirical observations. Yet because scientists often follow the epistemic norms of their science when engaged in scientific research which usually require adequate levels of proof before making causal claims, policymakers need to be clear when interacting with scientists that their policymaking responsibilities require that they, the policymakers, protect citizens from all plausible harms. Therefore policymakers need scientists to identify all scientifically plausible harms. Because IPCC’s mission is to synthesize the existing peer-reviewed climate science, which very likely does not include scientific conclusions about plausible harms partly based on speculation, IPCC cannot fulfill the role of science that policymakers need when policymakers are seeking to protect citizens from all plausible harms, namely to inform humanity about all plausible climate change impacts. Thus, there is a basic conflict between IPCC’s mission of synthesizing peer-reviewed climate change science and providing policy-makers with information about all scientifically plausible climate change impacts.

This need of policy-makers to understand all plausible harms creates an enormous challenge for mainstream scientific institutions which usually rely on peer-review in which scientists normally review scientific claims by comparing claims to empirically tested observations which are the ground of the scientific enterprise. Yet, as Hans Jonas explained in The Imperative of Responsibility, In Search of an Ethics in a Technological Age, the power of modern technology to create catastrophic harms such as those harms now foreseeable from human-induced climate change, ethics requires that policy-makers approach these matters with a “heuristics of fear,” replacing the former “projections of hope” that traditionally guided policy (Jonas, 1984, p.x), Yet, mainstream science is often uncomfortable with conclusions not grounded in scientific observations. If this is so, ethics requires that IPCC’s mandate be amended to synthesize scientifically plausible conclusions about climate change outcomes.

B. The Ethical Bankruptcy of Arguments Which Demand High Levels of Certainty Before Taking Action to Reduce the Threat of Climate Change

The WLB report also claims that quoting a 2014 article in the Guardian increasing evidence ‘that policy summaries on climate impacts and mitigation by the IPCC were significantly “diluted under political pressure from some of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, including Saudi Arabia, China, Brazil, and the United States.” (WLB. p. 34)

The WLB report consistently argues that the remedy to IPCC’s tendency to underestimate climate impacts is to allow or require more speculation about uncertain but plausible climate impacts. However, those governments that seek to restrict discussion of all impacts to those that have been proven with relatively high levels of proof would likely argue that speculation could lead to an overstatement of climate impacts. Yet following a precautionary science that identifies all plausible climate change impacts including those that have been based on speculation can guard against overstating the seriousness of climate impacts by allowing those who claim that the plausible impacts have been overstated to provide reasons for their claims so that policymakers can judge whether some of the plausible but not fully proven impacts are arbitrary or without any plausible scientific support. This would place the burden of proving harm appropriately, as a matter of ethics, on the parties that seek to justify continuing dangerous behavior.

Nations which have demanded high levels of proof before reducing their contributions to climate change have failed to abide by their ethical and legal duties to not harm others and not abide by the 
“precautionary principle” which they agreed to UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement.

C. Ethical Problems with Economics Arguments Against Climate Change Policies

The WLB report also claims that some governments have advocated policies that would not be sufficient to achieve the goals of the UNFCCC to prevent dangerous climate change because they thought policies that achieve safer levels of warming 
“were too economically disruptive.” (WLB, p. 39). This report claims that in so doing, policymakers are complicit today in destroying the very conditions which make life possible.” (WLB, p. 39) Further, the WLB report claims “There is no greater crime against humanity.” (WLB, p. 39)

An ethical analysis of those nations that refuse to adopt policies that may be necessary to prevent catastrophic harm on the basis of their economic interest would also strongly condemn these nations as deeply morally bankrupt.


Anthony et. al., 2018, 21st-Century Modeled Permafrost Carbon Emissions Accelerated by Abrupt Thaw Beneath Lakes, Nature Communications.

Breakthrough Institute, 2018, What Lies Beneath, On the Understatement of Existential Climate Risk.

Jonas, H, 1984, The Imperative of Responsibility; In Search of an Ethics for a Technological Age, University of Chicago Press.

Steffen, 2018, Trajectories in the Earth System in the Anthropocene, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

By: Donald A. Brown
Scholar in Residence and Professor
Widener University Commonwealth Law School
Harrisburg, Pa.