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Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change

climate-change-frog-jumping

Preface. This is a summary of the National Research Council 2013 study of abrupt changes of climate change.

Related:

2019-12-6. Research reveals past rapid Antarctic ice loss due to ocean warming.  “…the sensitive West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsed during a warming period just over a million years ago when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were lower than today.”

2015-8-5. The Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here.  The worst predicted impacts of climate change are starting to happen — and much faster than climate scientists expected. Rolling Stone.

***

NRC. 2013. Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating surprises. National Research Council, National Academies of Sciences press.

“Abrupt climate change is generally defined as occurring when some part of the climate system passes a threshold or tipping point resulting in a rapid change that produces a new state lasting decades or longer (Alley et al., 2003). In this case “rapid” refers to timelines of a few years to decades.

“Abrupt climate change can occur on a regional, continental, hemispheric, or even global basis. Even a gradual forcing of a system with naturally occurring and chaotic variability can cause some part of the system to cross a threshold, triggering an abrupt change. Therefore, it is likely that gradual or monotonic forcings increase the probability of an abrupt change occurring.

Climate is changing, forced out of the range of the last million years by levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not seen in Earth’s atmosphere for a very long time.

It is clear that the planet will be warmer, sea level will rise, and patterns of rainfall will change. But the future is also partly uncertain—there is considerable uncertainty about how we will arrive at that different climate.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Climate Crisis is Upon Us

Climate Crisis is Upon Us

One of the more useful allusions hidden in plain sight in the recent IPCC / UN report on climate crisis is the distinction between the pre-industrial and industrial ages that defines the era of climate crisis. Industrial capitalism, a/k/a capitalism, is the cause of climate crisis. Plenty of pseudo-scientific rubbish about human caused and Anthropocene can be found in the report’s text. But industry— the integration of science and technology in capitalist production, is identified as the cause. No longer are goat herders in Turkmenistan as responsible as the executives of Exxon-Mobil for the unfolding debacle.

The report is striking in its urgency. Feedback loops and tipping points contradict any straight-line assurances of an orderly and knowable path forward. Behind pages of stark calculations can be found Gaia, the unknowable relations of Mother Earth that make a mockery of scientific certainty beyond the understanding that the environment of the planet is being destroyed and needs to be fixed. Missing is any semblance of a political program to move resolution forward. But also missing is the usual subtext of technocrats meeting in swank hotels to eat four-star meals, swap resumes and network. The stakes are now apparently too high.

Identification of the industrial age— capitalism, as the cause of climate crisis brings with it a host of related revelations. Capitalist wealth becomes a crude measure of its reciprocal in environmental devastation. The relation of wealth to political power makes timely and / or peaceful resolution improbable. Capitalist accumulation will hereafter be a measure of informed socio-pathology. The writing is on the wall. The American political ‘choice’ between the wealthy or their technocratic servants is a formula for environmental annihilation. The system crisis is a metaphor for the political crisis that makes resolution so intractable.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

‘Tipping Point’: These Charts Show Some of The Worst Currencies Of 2018

‘Tipping Point’: These Charts Show Some of The Worst Currencies Of 2018

Foreign currencies – especially the Emerging Markets – are having one of their worst years on record.

And investor anxieties aren’t easing up. . .

I wrote two weeks ago about the strong dollar and the chaos it’s creating for the Emerging Markets. But many don’t realize just how bad things have gotten. And it’s all thanks to the Federal Reserve’s tightening and quantitative tightening.

For starters, let’s just take a look at some of the worse performing currencies this year. . .

First – The Turkish Lira

I wrote a very bearish assessment of Turkey and their currency – the Lira – back in early March.

And since then, the crisis in Turkey has dominated the news stream.

A big reason for Turkey’s currency crisis stems from the fact that their external debt burden has soared over the last few years. This means that Turkey borrowed significant amounts of U.S. dollar denominated debts (and euros).

Remember: when the dollar gets stronger – and when the Federal Reserve raises rates – the external debt burden gets harder to service.

And because the country has had a plaguing inflation problem over the last couple of years – this caused the Lira to slowly depreciate on foreign exchange markets.

But due to the U.S. dollar’s shocking rally since March 2018, the Lira really started to collapse. For instance, more than a third of its value got wiped out in just the last 30 days.

Making matters worse – the Turkish Central Bank Deputy Governor is rumored to resign. And Moody’s just downgraded the credit ratings of 20 Turkish financial institutions – such as banks.

Turkey’s increasingly fragile economy and currency signals that things are still far from over. . .

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trump’s Trade Tantrum: On Tipping Points and Authoritarian Peril

Trump’s Trade Tantrum: On Tipping Points and Authoritarian Peril

Photo by Graham C99 | CC BY 2.0

The Tangerine Tosser’s triple trade tiff – with China, the European Union, and the United States’ NAFTA partners (Canada and Mexico) – has the potential to spark an American and global economic meltdown.  Classic signs of a coming collapse have been evident for some time: wage stagnation for the many alongside skyrocketing wealth for the ever more absurdly opulent few (three of whom now possessbetween them the same net worth as the poorest half of the U.S. populace); colossal accumulated corporate, government, student loan, and credit card debt; rampant surplus and “fictitious” capital devoted to speculative rather than productive investment; capitalist profits far beyond real economic growth; wildly unsustainable stock market values (artificially buoyed by debt and corporate buybacks); the deregulation of financial markets and institutions.

As the astute Goldman Sachs veteran and financial commentator Nomi Prins noted last January, “There will be a tipping point – when money coming in to furnish that debt, or available to borrow, simply won’t cover the interest payments. Then debt bubbles will pop, beginning with higher yielding bonds.  Leverage is a patient enemy.”

The next financial “correction” could cut deeper than the last one, “the Great Recession.”  That’s because, as Prins argues in her latest book Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World, “there is no Plan B” this time. Interest rates can’t fall any further.

Collusionwas written before Trump started making good on his protectionist promises, which could tighten the noose.  The more immediate economic blowbacks are clear: the withering of foreign markets for U.S. agricultural exports (thanks to retaliatory foreign tariffs); rising prices (thanks to U.S. tariffs) for capital goods and intermediate inputs that U.S. producers purchase from foreign countries (China especially); the loss of U.S. jobs as corporations that make goods in the U.S. seek to circumvent retaliatory tariffs abroad by shifting production to foreign countries (Harley Davidson recently announced that it has decided to do precisely that).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Current Onset of Climate Tipping Points

The Current Onset of Climate Tipping Points

As extreme temperatures, the rate of sea ice melt, the collapse of Greenland glaciers, the thawing of Siberian and Canadian permafrost and increased evaporation in the Arctic drive cold snow storms into Europe and North America, and as hurricanes and wild fires affect tropical and semi-tropical parts of the globe, it is becoming clear Earth is entering a shift in state of the atmosphere-ocean system associated with destructive climate tipping points. As Arctic permafrost is thawing an analogy with geological methane-release events such as the 56 million years-old Paleocene-Eocene boundary thermal maximum (PETM) event is becoming more likely.

As is well known to students of the history of the climate, once a temperature threshold is breached, abrupt weather events ensue amplified by feedbacks such as decreased reflectivity of the Earth surface and enhanced release of greenhouse gases, often within short time frames.

Such abrupt changes are occurring at present. As mean global temperature has exceeded 1.2 degrees Celsius above 1880 temperatures (Figure 1), sharp reductions occur in Arctic sea ice from 45 percent in 1985 to 21 percent in 2017[i], when the ice cover was 8.5 percent lower than the average of 1981-2010[ii].

As the ice melts the near-total reflection (high albedo) of solar radiation from the ice is replaced by absorption of infrared radiation by open water; The flow of ice-melt water from the Greenland glaciers creates a large pool of cold water in the North Atlantic Ocean. The cold water region south of Greenland slows-down to aborts northward flow of the thermohaline Atlantic Meridional Ocean Circulation (AMOC), leading to cooling of the North Atlantic and adjacent North America and Europe[iii].

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Tale of Two America’s…Urban Rise, Rural Demise, Rationale to Hyper-Monetize

The Tale of Two America’s…Urban Rise, Rural Demise, Rationale to Hyper-Monetize

 (The following was written as an outline for a potential book.  To this point no publisher has shown interest and time and funds have run out.)

America is in the midst of an ongoing and accelerating shift in demographics and population growth.  These trends, long in place, are at a tipping point that are simultaneously driving urban economic growth (plus associated asset bubbles) and rural economic declines (plus associated asset collapses).  The spin up and spin down are mutually interconnected, the result of movement in a zero sum game.  But for select regions (and rural America in general), there is a surging quantity of sellers and a dwindling quantity and quality of buyers that will result in the primary asset of most Americans, their home, transitioning from an asset to an outright liability.

Many will point to record stock market valuations as an indicator of positive economic and/or business activity to refute my claims.  Instead, I argue it is the Federal Reserve and federal government policies, in place as a quasi “life support” for the negatively affected regions and rural America at large, that are driving the asset valuation explosions of equities (chart below, representing all stocks publicly traded in the US) and urban housing.  I will outline why the situation in the affected regions will only get worse and thus the Fed believes its hands are tied.  Why any amount of normalization will only induce localized collapses across much of the nation.  The total market capitalization ($ value) of the Wilshire has nearly doubled the acknowledged “bubbles” of 2000 and 2008 and is likely to continue rising further, precisely due to the worsening issues I detail below.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Eric Peters On Tipping Points: “It All Worked Incredibly Well, Until It Blew Up”

Eric Peters On Tipping Points: “It All Worked Incredibly Well, Until It Blew Up”

Two years ago, long after we first suggested that the transformation of VIX from a measure of implied market volatility to a reflexive instrument that can be traded – and thus influence the underlying assets whose volatility it was supposed to measure – allowed the VIX to serve as the “fulcrum security” for broad asset manipulation, first the FT, then the WSJ confirmed what we said, namely that pervasive market manipulation was not only possible, but took place on a regular basis, courtesy of the VIX (see “Conspiracy “Fact” – VIX Manipulation Runs The Entire Market” and “Another Rigged Market: Scientific Study Finds Systemic VIX Auction Manipulation“).

Today, one of our favorite hedge fund commentators, One River Asset Mgmt CIO Eric Peters, discussed various market “tipping points” in his latest weekly notes, which emphasized why volatility is no longer a “measurement”, as much as a “target.” More his latest Sunday anecdote:

 “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure,” said the Englishman, stepping outside of himself.

“That’s Goodhart’s Law.” Charles Goodhart observed that central banks measured money supply, and found certain M1 growth rates to be optimal. But once they targeted that optimal range, M1 lost its value as a measure.

Market and economic actors adjusted their behavior to game the M1 system. So central bankers shifted to M2, then M3, and M4.

“Investing is obviously not a science, but if it were, we would say that you can’t act on something and observe it at the same time.” French colonialists discovered this in rat infested Hanoi, when they offered a bounty for killing rodents. To receive the reward, the Vietnamese were required to produce severed tails. Soon thereafter, tail-less rats scurried throughout the city. The bounty hunters removed their tails and released them to the filthy sewers to breed. Boosting their bounty.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Michael Klare, Tipping Points and the Question of Civilizational Survival

Tipping Points and the Question of Civilizational Survival

In mid-August, TomDispatch’s Michael Klare wrote presciently of the oncoming global oil glut, the way it was driving the price of petroleum into the “energy subbasement,” and how such a financial “rout,” if extended over the next couple of years, might lead toward a new (and better) world of energy.  As it happens, the first good news of the sort Klare was imagining has since come in.  In a country where the price of gas at the pump now averages $2.29 a gallon (and in some places has dropped under $1.90), Big Oil has begun cutting back on its devastating plans to extract every imaginable drop of fossil fuel from the planet and burn it.  Oil companies have also been laying off employees by the tens of thousands and deep-sixing, at least for now, plans to search for and exploit tar sands and other “tough oil” deposits worldwide.

In that context, as September ended, after a disappointing six weeks of drilling, Royal Dutch Shell cancelled “for the foreseeable future” its search for oil and natural gas in the tempestuous but melting waters of the Alaskan Arctic.  This was no small thing and a great victory for an environmental movement that had long fought to put obstacles in the way of Shell’s exploration plans.  Green-lighted by the Obama administration to drill in the Chukchi Sea this summer, Shell has over the last nine years sunk more than $7 billion into its Arctic drilling project, so the decision to close up shop was no small thing and offers a tiny ray of hope for what activism can do when reality offers a modest helping hand.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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