Much is happening on a global scale as climate breakdown accelerates and new climate extremes are reached everywhere. Record temperatures in South Asia, reaching up to 120oF, have made life desperate for millions in India, where few can hide inside with air conditioning. Spreading droughts are increasing wildfires. In the U.S., a large fire near Las Vegas has blackened 170,000 acres. It was a prescribed burn lit by the Forest Service that got out of control in a region of extreme drought! The NOAA drought map from May 3, 2022 showed large regions of severe to exceptional drought in the western U.S.
Very little is now under our control in both the natural and human worlds. Let us step back and start with the truth that sets us free, since the living Earth system, after waiting for decades for humanity to stop destroying the Earth for profit, is taking over the climate system. The creation and the living Earth system are inseparable from the truth that sets us free, even though this is heresy to human power, trapped in webs of lies. Everywhere we look, human society is lost in these webs of lies. These come from politicians, the fossil fuel empire, business-as-usual capitalism with its consumer growth model that is destroying the Earth, all the way to Putin’s war based on lies that is destroying Ukraine.
In the Vermont world, I have spent five months rescuing the West Haven Community Solar Array from bankruptcy, neglect and theft by the Clean Energy Collective a corrupt business that stopped maintenance and stole all the assets of the array.
Readers of G.E.T. will understand that truth and integrity are central to business, but few can see the many levels of deceit in our society. But in the climate world, the direct intervention of the living Earth system gives us no choice. We have to wake up fast, take a deep breath, dump the social webs of lies and cooperate with both the truth and the difficult reality ahead.
The extreme stunning event in late March was in Eastern Antarctica. Our COP26-politicized world has believed that the melt of the vast thick cold ice-sheets of Eastern Antarctica was far into the future – maybe centuries. We can just go on making money for now! The Earth however is exploring how to deal with the human menace. On March 19, 2022, a new temperature record was set at the Concordia weather station on the East Antarctica plateau that was 70oF (40oC) above the 30-year climatology, just by sending warm air down from the deserts of Australia (see graph).
This was a shock to scientists who said: “If you had told me 3 days ago this would happen, we would never, never have believed you.” For the first time a small ice sheet broke off from E. Antarctica. Overnight, we glimpse a new world, where a 20-to-30-foot global sea-level rise from the combined melt of the Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets becomes a possibility in the next few decades. There is nothing we can do about it, except connect more deeply with the living Earth system, and reverse course at once. Note that the Antarctic is warming more than four times as fast as the Northern Hemisphere.
In Vermont in mid-May, temperatures went into the 80’s. The speed of the transition has been stunning, as I was still watching out for frosts in early May! My spinach and lettuce wintered over under glass and a wide range of cool weather crops (peas, chard, kale, broccoli and brussels) are growing well. I have replanted potatoes, and yesterday I planted our summer and winter squash, since minimum temperatures in the next 10 days range from 40 to 60oF! Growing our own food is valuable, as the global commercial agricultural system is a many-sided disaster impacting forests, soil quality and generating methane to drive climate change. As commercial food exports from the Ukraine have been cut off, some have realized it would the wise for the peoples in Africa to shift back to the rich variety of indigenous foods they can grow themselves.
Everything is interconnected, including the latest lying political maneuvers to force women to have children they cannot support to keep our population of capitalist consumers growing to make more money and destroy the earth even faster.
It is better that we step into the sunshine and connect to the living Earth instead.
Dr. Alan Betts of Atmospheric Research in Pittsford, VT is a climate scientist. See alanbetts.com.