As most regular CounterPunch readers know Robert Hunziker has over the past years provided excellent analysis on the latest climate catastrophe news. On March 24th I sent him an email regarding what I’m calling the Great Wobble Problem, which I was hoping he would dismiss and reassure me that I was just indulging in doom and gloom. Below is our email exchange:
I am a regular reader of your CounterPunch articles and always find them to be very well presented and informative.
Back in the early seventies when in high school the problem of the “hothouse” effect entered my awareness. In college my mentor Prof. Oliver Loud was on the first draft of his unpublished book, “Challenge of the Human Future”, where he argued that we had five generations to solve the world’s great problems otherwise we’d sink back to how things were a thousand years ago and would not be able to rise up again due to the damage we had caused to the environment. He was in his seventies and included his generation in the five.
For the past six years I’ve kept a Facebook page which has become a databank of the most important articles focused on the environment: “Pivotal Cleantech of Iran”. After reading all these articles, almost five hundred of them, it is hard not to be pessimistic.
The reason I’m writing you is because I’ve yet to come across any articles that specifically address the issue of things spinning out of control. Most projections and models have a linear outlook assuming that the temperature will steadily rise and storms, fires, etc. will get worse and worse and sometime around 2100 it will be three degrees hotter and sea levels will be higher.
But I have my doubts that things will happen in this way. Like a spinning top, things will approach a point where the top will start to wobble and go into a chaotic unpredictable drunken trajectory and suddenly collapse on its side. When the jet stream changes direction and all the other tipping points enter the red zone most likely it will become impossible to grow food like before because the seasons will quickly go out of whack. And when you can’t grow food except under artificial conditions then civilizational collapse is a certainty. Just look at how Ukraine’s supply of sunflowers and wheat is causing problems around the world.
The reason I bring this up is because our so called “leaders” are operating from the assumption that the top will continue to spin but gradually will spin slower and in a predictable pattern. But I think we are starting to see the first wobbles of the top, and each wobble will be worse than the previous one. The massive “abnormal” temperatures at the North and South Pole are actually a normal wobble.
I assume this issue has been studied and written about but somehow it does not seem to have entered the “mainstream”, or at least I’ve missed it. Just thought I’d bring it up, and also thank you for your great reporting.
I’ve reached the conclusion that things will only change when saving the planet is very profitable. Maybe that’s what we need to work on, rather than sound the alarm and assume “leaders” will see the light and change course.
Happy Iranian New Year,
Thanks for writing, and quite frankly I found your email message more interesting and indeed more profoundly accurate than any I have received in years. So, congratulations for that. You have an impressive grasp of the situation and understanding of the levers of mitigation, or lack of it.
And, yes, you are correct there is nothing published in the public domain that approaches your suggestion of the reality of the climate change imbroglio and of how soon it could evolve into universal pandemonium, and in part, that’s why it will occur, unannounced and with a viciousness that upends many traditional aspects of normal life behavior and patterns.
And, of course, that’s precisely what happened in 79 AD to the Roman city of Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius blew its top. The residents of Pompeii knew about the eruption but assumed it would blow over in time and thus carried on with their daily chores… which is precisely why today we can visit Pompeii, which I have done, and see perfectly preserved forms of Romans encased in volcanic ash. It’s an eye-opening experience to see. So, yes, as you seem to suggest, we’ll be blindsided, probably within a decade or two by sudden loss of crops, amongst other horrors, which is, by the way, what causes the mass exodus from Central American countries that have suffered extreme drought conditions, they pack up and head out for America, still somehow believing in the “land of opportunity” aphorism of yesteryear.
This is a fairly long response to your email, and I’ll close by informing you that I do have an article coming out tomorrow that delves into exactly what you are concerned about. The title is “The Truth About IPCC Reports.” Coincident with your timely email today, my article tomorrow addresses some of the same issues. I guess this proves that great minds think alike… At least, I’d like to think that is true.
All the best and thanks again for writing.
So, if The Great Wobble Problem is likely, or even worse, the first wobble is in progress, we must direct all our resources towards correcting this first and most critical wobble.
How to go about this is the issue because currently the assumption is that scientific evidence, reasoning, and common sense will prevail and the deniers, skeptics, and climate catastrophe criminals will come around and the problem will be solved. This is wishful thinking and has a very low chance of success because human greed, stupidity, political tribalism, and system wide built-in environmental destruction is pushing us over the cliff.
The fossil fuel industry has been making three billion dollars profit EVERY DAY for the past fifty years! Instead of pulling our hair out and ranting about how this has been a disaster for the planet we need to focus on how to quickly create a system where reversing climate catastrophe can be even more profitable, especially for corporations like the fossil fuel industry.
Instead of attempting to cure human beings of greed we need to use greed to save the planet. We need to use greed to clear away the microplastics that are now in our air, water, and body. Instead of writing laws and regulations with the assumption that enlightened individuals and corporations will comply and we will end up saving the planet we need to instead lead them to the trough and indirectly save the planet. We need to make greed-driven people like Trump turn green, and have him boast about it, and have him convince all his piggy supporters to turn green. Can you think of a quicker and more effective way to stop the wobble?
If you really think about this you can soon come up with all the ways that the system can be changed, and as an outcome environmental destruction can be reversed. Preserving the Amazon rainforest can be made to be more profitable than its destruction. De-growth can be made to be more profitable than growth – maybe a bit hard to make happen, but not impossible. Not spraying cancerous toxins on our food would be very profitable. The bee has been declared the most valuable creature on the planet, well let’s write the necessary laws and regulations to make this a reality.
At the moment causing climate catastrophe is highly profitable. Destroying the bees is very profitable. Poisoning ourselves with a deluge of unregulated chemicals is profitable. Essentially ecocide and our own extinction is extremely profitable.
There is only one word to describe this: stupidity. And we have legislated this stupidity and created a system of self-destruction. The question that needs to be asked is: Are we really this stupid?
Once again, and for emphasis, here is Robert Hunziker’s key response: “And, yes, you are correct there is nothing published in the public domain that approaches your suggestion of the reality of the climate change imbroglio and of how soon it could evolve into universal pandemonium, and in part, that’s why it will occur, unannounced and with a viciousness that upends many traditional aspects of normal life behavior and patterns.”