Is Switzerland Safe From Climate Change?

I have just returned from a two day visit to Zürich to discuss the making of a film focused around the 6 Degrees Centigrade predicted rise of temperature that Switzerland is facing by the end of this century. As Professor Reto Knutti at the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science ETH Zürich pointed out, 6C is the upper estimate of predicted temperature rise but with emissions still rising from burning coal, oil and gas worldwide, we are most certainly on the the upper estimate trajectory. This upper limit also does not account for positive feedback loops that could amplify the warming further.



cPESETA Temperature projections for Europe


Predicted Temperature Rise For Europe By End Of Century (Source: The Prudence Project)

How does this affect the Swiss? It’s a question my Zürich friend, Edwin Moser has been concerned about for sometime. Swiss people do not seem too worried about the impacts of climate change. Is this because there is a sense of immunity? Perhaps there is a good case for why Swiss people might not fear climate change as much as those living in Miami, Bangladesh, or Africa, for example. Switzerland sits up high, out of the way of sea-level rise. It has a good history of sitting just out of the reach of conflict with a disciplined approach to external turmoil. Add to that the untold vaults of wealth adding to the confidence of the Swiss that they will survive, whilst others struggle.

If one was to do a climate risk analysis for Switzerland, one might start by looking at the country’s location. What is happening to the glaciers that are the heritage of this alpine nation state? It’s a simple question because when ice heats it melts and turns to water. One big issue for the Swiss is that all the white surface area of snow will be replaced by a dark surface area of land and the loss of reflectivity will cause the heating to increase more than in other countries (the global business as usual mean temperature rise is estimated at 4 degrees centigrade by the IPCC). Six degrees is extreme and should be of a concern to all Swiss as it means a very different future.

One thing is for certain, the winter ski season will no longer exist as there will be very little, or no snow. Even today, hotels that once stood on the edge of the glaciers are now a long way from the snows edge. The glaciers are in decline. I used to Ski outside Zürich with my school as a child on trips from England. We always associated the Swiss with their alpine culture and envied the kids from here, who were literally born onto the slopes. Even in conversations with Swiss friends in later years, it seems obvious that being able to ski and enjoy these wonderful natural beauty spots was a great source of pride and natural identity for the Swiss. But now we have to ask ourselves, for how long?

Of course skiing is an activity that doesn’t itself spell catastrophe for the nation, however, the loss of a whole industry and source of tourism will be felt. Professor Knutti did make the point that the climate models show a greatly increased likelihood of rain. Being a Brit, I can honestly say that extended periods of rain can cause a different kind of obsession with the weather… “anything but rain” syndrome is the best description!

UK Floods in 2014 from ongoing rainUK Floods in 2014 From Exceptional Rain

Perhaps one of the biggest problems to effect Switzerland is the one that is a common concern around the world: climate refugees. The outlook for Europe, and especially southern Europe is extremely dire for the next 20+ years. With temperatures set to rise right across the continent much of the southern areas will become unlivable. As history has proven, when one place becomes unlivable, people up and move. Switzerland is perfectly placed as an attractive haven for people seeking safety and when they turn up in their hundreds of thousands or millions, it would take every citizen to enlist as a border patrol officer to fend them off.

The truth is that there is no immunity to climate change and when a country is landlocked in the heart of a changing continent, any hardship beyond the borders will quickly spread within the borders. As a combination of sea-level rise and temperature rise cause a global collapse of agriculture, it is clear that the current system of food production will no longer function.

These are all issues that face us all in coming decades. Any “end of century” predictions are not scheduled just for then. The steepening ramp up to these conditions has already began. This is worrying because climate impacts are not meant to have started yet. We are currently faced with severe global food shortages within the next few years due to drought impacts all around the world. People are having to think about moving. All the other factors such as the collapse of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are just the nails in the coffin.

These are bleak scenarios and they are very real. Many scientists are now not prepared to talk about “solutions” to climate change. It is certain that we have some or all of these effects in the pipeline. How severe they become is down to all of us. If we respond to this crisis now and with an iron determination then we can become resilient and put in place measures that will guarantee our food supplies, our energy needs, shelter and transport.

When we talk about these issues in a national or global context, we tend to think that our governments only have the power to make the changes. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. The power to act must always come from the people and therefore the people must become “active”. There is a great deal of stigmatism around the word “activism” because it tends to imply some sort of conflict, or it conjures images of clashes with authority. However, when the need is so great that we decide we must take action, then that moment of decision is the moment when one become's an activist. Activism can start with simply thinking and assessing the risks for yourself. It can be as little as having a discussion with others about what they think and feel about it. In other cases it can be looking to join a bigger discussion online or in your city.

Ex-NASA Head Scientist Dr James Hansen & Author / Climate Scientist, Dr Michael Mann Discuss Activism

This brings me back to my visit to Zürich last week. I was very pleased to tag along with Edwin Moser as he met with his colleague Oliver to plan the Climate manifestation scheduled for this Saturday in Zürich. This meeting of concerned people about taking action on climate is in solidarity with the climate march being held in New York on Sunday and with others such as the one I am attending in London. Later that day we visited a bar in central Zürich to meet with Nicola Marcacci Rossi and his small gathering who meet every week to just discuss climate issues (Here is the meet-up web site). It was an intimate but very nice setting with a good cross-section of people concerned enough to come out and just talk. This is a form of “activism”that we can all partake in and is peaceful, insightful and intellectual. Learning something, no matter how great or small is just as valuable as knowing that other people are concerned too.

Edwin Moser Promoting The Climate Meeting Scheduled For September 20th In Zurich (

The next day I caught up again with Yadolah Dodge to discuss our filming project around this 6 Degrees subject. It seemed quite strange to be sat in such a gentle relaxed city talking about a film being made to highlight a danger that is coming up on us fast whilst the sun shone and people strode the streets near the Opera House and alongside the lake.

I was pleased to meet up with Zürich based climate scientist, Dr Thomas Phillips. Thomas I met with Edwin originally in Istanbul at the Climate Reality Conference held by Al Gore in June 2013. It was whilst the police were attacking protesters with tear gas that we found ourselves at the front of the crowd looking for a bar to discuss the Greenland Ice Sheet when all hell broke loose! Thomas’ work is varied but  he has an enormous knowledge of the risk of glacier melt that is worth listening to. I am looking forward to interviewing him on film about this very soon!

After a good chat with Thomas we both walked along the the lake side to Edwin’s weekly barbeque event where about twenty people had met, mostly all unknown to each other, to discuss climate and environmental issues. The event is called “Grilling Without Killing” and with wine flowing, it really was a good fun few hours, meeting people and chatting about all kinds of issues, hearing peoples personal anxieties and queries that weighed on their minds. Again, it is this sharing of personal experience and emotion that creates psychological resilience to the struggles that we know are just around the corner.

Through these meetings I really felt that I saw a different side of Swiss people. The normal feeling of “we’re safe” and neutrality was put to the side like a familiar mask and the unfamiliar feelings of anxiety mixed with desire to make a change. The Swiss media probably isn’t that good at talking about critical issues like climate change. It’s the same in Britain. This means we have to find our own ways of discussing and then demonstrating how we feel. In Switzerland there is a real opportunity to demonstrate that the people are serious about climate change and to call on the government and financial institutions to start investing in what is needed to make the big changes towards a better future for each citizen and succeeding generations.... and also, wouldn’t it be nice if something magic happened that meant we could go on skiing? Never lose hope, but don’t be afraid; act!

Reference Links:

20th/9th/14 Zurich -

New organisation in switzerland:

Zurich Climate Meet-up -

Bitcoin - Decoding The Cryptocurrency

by Nick Breeze


Many people who consider themselves financially savvy have touted the wisdom of buying up gold with their extra cash to insure against any looming financial catastrophe. The inevitability of another crisis means that some sort of wealth refuge acting as insurance against currency or stock market shocks, is simply prudence in excelsis.


Bitcoin article UK

Enter stage-left, amid the chatter in the global village, the biggest of all the “cryptocurrencies”, Bitcoin (BTC). Bitcoins appear nothing more than an encrypted sequence of numbers representing a certain amount of an anonymous, digital currency, created by techies and constrained by a complex algorithm, with no need for a central bank.

This virtual currency is mathematically generated based on a virtual “mining” process that can only go up to 21,000,000 BTC’s. With this limit to actual creation of BTC’s, inflation is kept in check because the intrinsic value of the coin is limited to the divisibility of the total known amount.

Bitcoin can also be traded between individuals face to face, or with those in far off foreign lands, using a digital wallet. The transfer of BTC’s from one wallet to another is relatively underwhelming but those who use it think differently. Exchanges are popping up everywhere allowing traditional currency purchases of BTC’s, either in large quantities or small fractions of a single coin.


So is it used as a real currency? There is a taxi driver in Hereford, pubs in London, online ecommerce stores, professional services, and now even Virgin Galactic will promise to take you to space in exchange for your BTC’s. Property agents are getting into it, as well as street market traders. The attraction might be anonymity for some but for the mainstream techno consumer, it is the long-term philosophical view that a decentralised monetary system offers more value and security than the central banking system.

Bitcoin accepted


Another question often asked is whether gold is about to be replaced by Bitcoins as the new store of wealth for contrarian investors? At a time when London buses have just stopped accepting cash and the bulk of our conceptual reality is relocating to the interconnected digital landscape, it does seem unlikely that we’d enter into another era of hoarding physical gold to manage our affairs.

Currencies function because we trust them. If we don’t trust them, we don’t want them. The abuse of the American dollar through quantitative easing to bail out careless bankers, leaves many people distrustful of the value attributed to such currencies.

In the case of the USD, it might take only a sea port refusal by China to accept payment for goods in anything but their own currency (or anything but dollars!). That could cause widespread belief that the greenback is worthless and lead to the exchange value of the dollar collapsing. This, so called, “reserve” currency would become the little brother to the big beast of inflationary failure, the Zimbabwean Dollar.

How much more sense does it make to implement a decentralised monetary system that is secure, democratic and, by design, finite, to avoid the temptations of bankers and policymakers to make bad judgements at the expense of the masses?

Right now, the most dated object I keep about my person is my leather wallet. My barcoded library card has relocated to my key ring, whilst my car key has relocated to an App on my phone. My smartphone is a powerful multi-use computer performing endless tasks combining, personal, professional and social. Strikingly, all my plastic cards from the Oyster to the credit and debit cards are still little changed from their prototypes that I recall from my childhood in the late 1970’s and early 80’s.




So will it work? Will we transition? It seems from my research, that Bitcoin is already working and people are transitioning already. It’s value has risen compared to mainstream currencies. The emergence of new exchanges, directories of traders, service providers, and a vibrant idea sharing community of entrepreneurs, mean that this is a very exciting area that looks set to change our perception of money and value.

However, I doubt very much that there will be a day or a month where one currency fades and another becomes the norm. What we tend to see is the bell-curve effect where those that see the potential jump in early and lead the charge. Eventually the benefits and widespread use expand out to the herd, increasing confidence and reducing fear. Government legislation will form alongside, in what we hope will be a more durable, robust and fair monetary system.

Let’s watch and see.

Nick Breeze


Book Review: IDP:2043 A Graphic Novel Depicting The UK Ravaged By Climate Change Impacts

by Nick Breeze



Dystopian projections of the future for human civilisation can hardly be called optimistic but should they be taken seriously?


Contributors to IDP:2043: Enfant terrible of Scottish letters and author of Trainspotting Irvine Welsh and graphic artist Dan McDaid, celebrated French graphic novelist and illustrator Barroux, Costa Award winner Mary Talbot and artist Kate Charlesworth, ‘godfather of British comics’ and creator of 2000AD Pat Mills and graphic novelist Hannah Berry, graphic novelists Adam Murphy and Will Morris. Story editor: crime writer and graphic novelist, Denise Mina.


Fiction certainly does not have to adhere to any rules of fact but our identification with it usually implies some kind of connecting cord from the imagination. In the case of the new literary genre, known as “Cli-FI”, shortened from “Climate-Fiction”, authors are increasingly depicting the world as it might be towards the end of the century, or perhaps even a decade or two away. Needless to say, the depictions are seldom desirable, but are these storytellers reflecting an unnecessary internal pessimism, or are they derived from visible seeds of decay, visible now in our current existence?

Having spoken to many scientists about their findings on climate change I am intrigued by the often appended line to the dialogue that goes something like, “…but I am an optimist and I am confident humanity will make the necessary changes before it is too late.” Of course, the trouble is, instead of slowly turning the carbon effluent monster of human civilisation around towards a sustainable future, the rate of consumption, and thus pollution, is actually going up.

Corporations have taken over our democracies, assuming the status of living entities (extremely wealthy entities), and proceeded in buying up vast quantities of the natural world, before converting it into carbon pollution and wasteland. Conflict among humans and the number of failed states is rising. The amount of food being produced is required to go up to feed our burgeoning populations but it can only go down due to pressure from climate change and poor use of land. Corporations are manipulating seeds, patenting them and desecrating the future potential for organic agriculture. Water is running to all time lows as fossil acquirers that supply much of China, India and other regions are drying up. Huge food baskets like California is collapsing to drought. The Ukraine is being destroyed by war. The list goes on and with it the hopes for a stable, secure and plentiful future  diminish.

It is hard to comprehend the reality of all this when one lives in a wealthy western culture like the UK (where I am), and the supermarket shelves are stacked with plentiful supplies of everything and anything. Stalls on the street are bursting with colourful fruit and veg, whilst restaurants and coffee shops are everywhere. The UK imports around 40% of its produce, a figure likely to rise as the government offers up more agricultural land to housing developments. The impacts on food prices from a range of impacts, largely all with a root cause of climate pressure, will be a steady rise with some shocks along the way. Conflict around the world will continue to rise and be exacerbated by these issues. We in the west may feel safe from harm now but the seeds of dystopia are most definitely being sown around us.

In this graphic Cli-Fi novel, titled IDP-2043 (IDP standing for Internally Displaced Person/’s), a number of distinguished writers and graphic artists have contributed to one flowing storyline. Perhaps the most recognisable name in the list is Irvine Welsh but this is very much a collaborative effort and each contributor makes a mark. The story extrapolates out all the trends of our current course, starting with massive sea level rise that leaves the UK about half its current size in area. The government is largely a corporate dictatorship ruling with fear and hardship, with dark plans to save it self.




The lead character in the story is a woman from the ghetto who’s growing celebrity and outspokenness is causing problems for her superiors. Even the hit men sent to execute her have some logic to their own psychotic disposition as they lament the burden of human population. The unfolding story is fast paced and makes for good entertainment. It would be great to see many more of these stories being published with strong links to the challenges that we can see in our own societies. For instance, the restriction of education and fairness, and the subjugation of democracy for corporate power, in order than money can continue to flow into the hands of those who least deserve it.

The narrative points to one conclusion, which humanity should try to grasp sooner rather than later. True value does not reside in the blind acquisition of inanimate objects. True value will always be in the balance of human life with nature, the ability to feed to satiety, to sup water when thirsty, to remain warm when outside it is cold (and vice versa), to be stimulated intellectually and to live our lives with respect for the social dynamics of our society, as much as for the individual private worlds which we inhabit.

Cli-Fi is a growing genre and this graphic novel is a worthy contribution, beautifully packaged with its own tapestry of talent to embroil oneself in. It is available to order online from Freight Books:

by Nick Breeze

Geoengineering Debate - University of Cambridge

Cambridge University geoengineering

On the 10th July we were able to attend and record the Geoengineering Debate in Cambridge. Here is the list of participants in the debate and the link where each segment can be watched. The following quote is from Professor Martin Rees's preface to the Royal Society report on geoenegineering (read by Dr Hugh Hunt in the opening):

"The continuing rise in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, mainly caused by the burning of fossil fuels, is driving changes in the Earth's climate. The long-term consequences will be exceedingly threatening, especially if nations continue 'business as usual' in the coming decades. Most nations now recognise the need to shift to a low-carbon economy, and nothing should divert us from the main priority of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. But if such reductions achieve too little, too late, there will surely be pressure to consider a 'plan B'—to seek ways to counteract the climatic effects of greenhouse gas emissions by 'geoengineering'"


Watch the debate here:

For the motion:

Oliver Morton is The Economist's briefings editor. Before coming to The Economist as energy and environment editor in 2009, he was the chief news and features editor of Nature, the international scientific journal. He specialises in the energy business, climate science and policy, and other green issues. He is the author of "Eating the Sun: How Plants Power the Planet", a study of photosynthesis, its meanings and its implications, and "Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination and the Birth of a World".

Peter Wadhams is Professor of Ocean Physics in the University of Cambridge, and is an oceanographer and glaciologist involved in polar oceanographic and sea ice research and concerned with climate change processes in the polar regions. He leads the Polar Ocean Physics group studying the effects of global warming on sea ice, icebergs and the polar oceans. This involves work in the Arctic and Antarctic from nuclear submarines, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), icebreakers, aircraft and drifting ice camps. He has led over 40 polar field expeditions.

Against the motion:

Helena Paul works with EcoNexus on the impact of emerging technologies on biodiversity, communities, food sovereignty. Technologies include synthetic biology, geoengineering, GM crops and trees. I also focus on the impact of biofuels, biomass production, bioenergy generally on land and biodiversity. EcoNexus researchers are concerned that not enough account is taken of the complexity of natural systems when making interventions.

Matt Watson is a Reader in earth Sciences at the University of Bristol.  He is the Principle Investigator for SPICE (Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering). His research involves inversion of remotely-sensed data to retrieve physical parameters of volcanic plumes and clouds over several spatial scales, using both ground- and satellite-based techniques.

In the chair:

Hugh Hunt is a Senior Lecturer in Engineering at the University of Cambridge.  He leads the "Delivery Methods" part of SPICE and is the engineer in charge of the 1km testbed that was cancelled.  His other research interests include wind-turbine reliability, tidal power and flood defences, noise and vibration from railways, gyroscopes and boomerangs.  He has also made several documentaries for Channel Four and PBS Nova on subjects such as Dambusters' bouncing bombs, the Colditz glider and WW1 Zeppelins.


Debunked Or Defunct; Is Clive James Really An Able Commentator On Our Times?

By Nick Breeze

I must admit to not having heard of Clive James for a couple of decades or more. Last I saw he was hosting a television talk show series that featured a Cuban singer called Margarita Pracatan. So it was with an open mind that I read this review of a biography of the political theorist Thomas Robert Malthus by Robert Mayhew in Prospect Magazine.


Clive James And Margarita Pracatan

Clive James and Margarita Pracatan

James immediately states that “Malthus was wrong that population growth would lead to famine” and asks “Why are his ideas still popular?”. Alarm bells chime in the distance. Malthus is very famous for his conclusions about population growth and natures ability to feed it. The human population has gone from 2bn to 7bn in 85 years [1]. What makes his conclusions more prescient is the enormous body of scientific research that estimates that the Earth’s human carrying capacity has exceeded its resource capacity to sustain us. We are now in exponential population growth, whilst all of our life support systems (forests, oceans, agriculture, water, etc.) have become stressed and are at risk of collapse. Although James would undoubtedly describe this as alarmist, I would certainly assert that it is alarming!

What becomes quickly apparent is that James does not care much for any form evidence in making his grand put downs of the scientific establishment. He prefers statements alluding to his own wisdom instead, such as “… I know quite a lot about mass media, having worked in that area all of my life.” The reader should be reminded that James’s mass media career peaked over two decades ago and, from a media perspective, the pre-internet world was a very different place. The contemporary world, he seems to have no knowledge of at all.

There are so many incorrect statements (with no citations of evidence except “…all the statistics agree…”) that I’ll only highlight a few. James is certain that food security on the planet “will be abundant for years to come.” This seems quite opposed to what is coming out of the scientific studies that show that increased soil erosion, weather anomalies, water and energy shortages, have put the global food baskets under considerable stress. [3, 4].

James cannot abide the author of the book, Robert Mayhew, seemingly because he, himself, does not believe in the seriousness of climate change. All criticisms are framed around this premise, existing without any evidence and with (oddly amusing) demonstrations of James’s own wit in tackling the subject. One of the best lines is as follows: “… I speculated aloud that the famous 97 per cent consensus among scientists was perhaps only a consensus among climate scientists…” [5]. It begs the question, which branch of scientific specialism would he prefer us to trust in analysing the state of the Earth’s climate? Dentists?

James goes on to describe the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as “an unfailing source of alarmist propaganda…”, following up that they have somehow backtracked on their assessment of the global impacts that we can expect from a hotter planet. The truth could not be further away. The past few months has seen IPCC lead authors stating that we are on track for a global average of 4C rise in temperature by the end of century that will cause resource scarcity, increased conflict and sea level rise to name but a few outcomes [6]. He then goes on to state, “the emphasis had clearly shifted from mitigation to adaptation.” There is an element of truth to this but not because the problems we face are any less dangerous (as he implies). It is rather that the political and corporate will does not exist to take the necessary precautionary action. Therefore the world population at large are forced into the only response available: try to adapt.

But the change is happening and in the US we see a huge willingness by the Obama administration to show courage in squaring up to this very real issue [7]. With wildfires, drought, incredible sub-zero conditions and dangerous hurricanes as Sandy becoming a real threat to the wellbeing of the nation, it is sad that the likes of Clive James wish to remain in a silo of ignorance. Many of the poorer nations around the world are feeling the dire effects of manmade climate change, with low-lying islands and coastal areas facing direct threats from rising sea levels and extreme weather. To them, the idle jokes and mass media wit of a has-been like James would sound galling if ever they heard it [8,9].

From this point on James’s mask is off as he invokes the memory of the famed non-scandal tagged “climategate” by the media, representing vested business interests, propagating similar myths as James himself [10]. The inquiry that followed the non-scandal exonerated all those scientists whose emails were illegally hacked and misrepresented to the press to discredit their work. But the damage was done. The most important conversation we needed to have in 2009 (James says it was 2007 but that is incorrect) was dropped from the agenda altogether. That itself will be seen as a far greater scandal in the years to come [11]. It seems odd that our “mass media” expert was unable to decipher the truth from the loud shrills of tabloid mania that scoffed at innocent men.

Although I was compelled to smile at James’s peculiar rant against something he can’t seem to grasp despite mountains of evidence, his case against Malthus, climate change and associated risks, do carry an undertone of sadness. For James is not inheriting the Earth, he is bequeathing it to future generations and it is in a terrible state. To shrug and insinuate that the problems we face collectively, as a result of the mistakes made in the preceding decades, are just an illusion, is disrespectful and ignorant.


Thomas Robert malthus
Thomas Robert Malthus (pic. Wikipedia)

Clive James’s appraisal of ‘Malthus: The Life and Legacies of an Untimely Prophet’ [12] seems to fall away somewhere in this piece of writing. But between the lines of his misty views, he has done us some service. His message is clear but our reading of it should be clearer: the book is likely to be a very good insight and analysis of a man who, over 200 years ago, diagnosed the problem that we today are facing: population really does matter!

Nick Breeze

12 June 2014















UK Shale Extraction Series - Part 1

Earlier this year I heard Prof. Mike Bradshaw speaking on #Shale #Gas extraction at the Royal Geographic Society (#RGS).

His talk was so impressive and dispelled so many myths put forward by the government that I contacted him and filmed an hour long discussion of all the points he made from an independent perspective. This is the first in a series of clips that we'll be releasing.


Food insecurity ~ 2014-2015

Analysis of an existential national security threat multiplier1
(Or, shall we choose to argue with retired military officers – a 100 year war?2)

- By any business or military standard of risk assessment the world stands at the precipice of a food crisis.


- The probability of a crisis, on that basis, is now so high that it should be considered nearly unavoidable, and given the interconnected variables, this may become our new and very unpleasant normal. One consequence would be a gradual reduction in the planet’s carrying capacity, another would be the potential of extreme global unrest, and whether or not our fragile financial systems could withstand this is highly debatable at best.


- Non-linear changes in climate (unacknowledged: see explanation – page 4) could first spark, then perpetuate food crises, leading to non-linear societal events worldwide (riots, etc.), putting increased pressure on an already fragile financial system prone to non-linear reactions. If these non-linear parameters start to interact, they will act as multipliers, ultimately threatening the national security of most nations.


These events are unequivocally looming on the immediate horizon – decades ahead of forecasts – and we are ill prepared. The only positive outcome is that they could function as an essential ‘wake- up call.’


On April 3, 2014, the UN FAO Food Price Index (FPI) reached 212.8:

- This is 2.8 points above the 210 level identified by the Complex Systems Institute3 as the level that triggered the 2008 world food riots and the 2011 Arab Spring.


- The analysis (attached) of the trends in the FPI, in tandem with data from the UN4, shows that the current level is now ascending; absent change this portends even greater unrest.

In the short-to-medium term, there is nothing to suggest that this trend will reverse. However, there are several factors suggesting the upward trend will not only continue but ultimately reach an unprecedented level. Combined with several interrelated variables it becomes existential national security threat multiplier. At a minimum, it is a wake-up call for immediate and concerted action.

One notes that commentary by the UN FAO on the jump in March prices points to ‘geopolitical tensions in the Black Sea region’ as a partial cause; there are no indications of supply interruptions from Ukraine at this time, but Ukraine is on the edge of bankruptcy, and, as the year unfolds, there may be a repeat of Egyptian dysfunctionality, due to internal turmoil (note that Ukraine is a major grain supplier to the worlds’ markets)5. The primary and current root causes of the upward trend in the FPI, at a minimum, are:


- Adverse weather in South America, particularly in Brazil6, which ultimately reduced forecasts for bumper harvests.


- The status of the winter wheat crop in the US has been continually downgraded in the past month7.


- The status of large areas of US farmland relative to spring planting: all indications point to late planting for considerable acreage, potentially after May 10, which is known to impact yields.8


- The largest factor that could send the FPI soaring is the status of the Chinese winter wheat crop. The official ‘party line’ regarding its condition has been questioned by experts9. Note that from the referenced article the official line is for a 3.5% increase in yield over last year. That would be around 3.5 million tons, but last year the shortfall was 20 million tons, so at best this is not encouraging and explains, in part, China’s recent purchases of large interests in agro-commodities trading firms for grain sourcing10.

- One might add that commodity speculation in agricultural products is now a very large player category. This can be seen in a St. Louis Federal Reserve11 research article (note the figures on page 41), where the quantity of derivatives attributable to commodities during the 2008 world food riots is shown to have spiked. Derivatives in food commodities are relatively new and clearly indicate institutional investor involvement, and are thus more likely to increase rather than decrease.

As crop yield numbers come in from the harvests in both hemispheres, the overall situation is tenuous at best:

- As of 2010, 1.22 billion worldwide were existing on less than $1.25/day, or 17.4% of the world12.

- The next tier, less than $2/day, increases the number to 2.4 billion, or 34% of the world.

- Astonishingly, as of 2011 there were 3.55 million children living in households in the US existing on less than $2/day13. One might add that nearly 50 million Americans survive on food stamps14 and the California drought is already impacting domestic food prices.

- 69 million people in MENA (Middle East North Africa) exist on less than $2/day15, many of those at the $1.25/day level. Since the Arab Spring, tourism and oil exports have fallen, impacting these economies; it is arguable that conditions are worse now than they were in 2011 at the onset of that event.

- Any further rise in the FPI could add to continuing unrest in MENA. That in turn would stimulate speculation in oil prices, a known multiplier in FPI spikes due entirely to the fuel/food production relationship, and a known adverse economic multiplier in all economies.

- A sufficient rise in the price of wheat raises the specter of Vladimir Putin once again issuing a moratorium on grain exports as he did in 201016. A moratorium will suppress potential internal price increases for Russia but will further deplete the global supply and thereby exacerbate global prices. Increasing tensions in Ukraine may ensure a moratorium.

There was no prior warning of the 2008 world food riots, nor was there any identifiable warning of the Arab Spring. The trigger of the latter event has rarely been attributed to the impacts of climate change; it is much more ‘convenient’ to explain such events as founded in politics.

The outlook for the FPI for the next few months is:

- A low probability that it will measurably decline due entirely to current ground conditions for large swaths of US agricultural production areas.

- A medium probability that the FPI will stall around current levels as stocks on hand are consumed to satisfy market demand, in tandem with the probability of slightly reduced demand from China due to their faltering economy and similar impacts from decreased Russian and Indian demand.

- In the event of a major yield loss of the Chinese winter wheat crop, there is a high probability of a spike initiating by June when assessments of yield can be verified.

- Irrespective of the above, the FPI will probably remain at, above, or very close to a new record level for the next 5 months, portending an increased likelihood for a ‘perfect storm’ starting in the fall of 2014 and continuing throughout 2015.

There is mounting evidence that an El Niño event will begin in the fall of 2014; researchers at Potsdam calculate the odds at 75%17. Sub-surface sea temperatures in the Pacific have been measured at 6 oC above normal, which last occurred in 1997 and was a precursor to a major El Niño event that resulted in considerable crop damage around the world18. A partial indication of what we may anticipate, relative to the US, is provided by a NOAA summary19; that, however, is merely a part of the possible consequences. Given the current sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the Pacific Ocean, it is a question of when, not if, there will be an El Niño event, and given the amount of heat continually being absorbed by the oceans, the probability of a severe event increases daily.

- El Niño events result from natural variability, but their strength and corresponding impacts are based on ocean temperatures. It has been established that 90% of excess heat of the planetary energy imbalance has been absorbed by and stored in the oceans20; the energy currently being stored each second in the top 2,000 meters has been calculated as being equivalent to 12 Hiroshima bombs21. We can therefore reasonably state that anthropogenic influences will serve to augment this naturally occurring event.

- As current Pacific Ocean SST anomalies show signs of matching, or exceeding, those that preceded the 1997/8 El Niño event, it is reasonable to anticipate an event matching, or exceeding, that of 1997/8. Meanwhile, Exxon/Mobil assures us that it is highly unlikely that there will be any political intervention to stop barbequing the planet in the foreseeable future22. And China (at a minimum), via its continued planned extensive use of coal, will dwarf those emissions23, 24.


- There have been substantial changes since 1998 that will compound problems resulting from a new severe El Niño. There are approximately 1 billion more mouths to feed. Additionally, developing economies, in particular China, Russia and India, more than doubled their food commodity demand in the first decade of this century.

- The complex relationship between the Arctic sea ice and the jet stream has already caused changes in the jet stream’s path and behavior, according to the research of Dr. Jennifer Francis25. During, and following a severe El Niño event, that relationship may change considerably.

- As strongly indicated by Dr. Francis’ research, the temperature gradient between the equator and the pole has weakened. One consequence is that the wave patterns of the jet stream are extending further to the north and south and west-to-east movement is at times inhibited; this results in the development of ‘blocking patterns,’ which may remain stationary for months, leading to bouts of extreme flooding and droughts. Global mean temperatures rose between 0.2 and 0.25 oC during the 1998 El Niño, and if the upcoming event is similar, or more severe, one can anticipate a similar temperature increase. Whatever the increase in global mean temperature, it will be multiplied in the Arctic by “Arctic amplification.” This is a highly contentious research area where Arctic amplification is defined as a multiple of the increase in global mean temperature (from 2 to >6 times). In a worst case situation, Arctic temperatures could increase by as much as 1.5 oC within a span of only 15-18 months, due entirely to Arctic amplification. That will lead directly to further consequences.

- If another super El Niño occurs, stalled blocking patterns may intensify flood and drought impacts.

- The El Niño event is expected to begin in the fall of 2014 and last through 2015. By the time it subsides, Arctic amplification will have had a further impact on the equator/pole gradient, which is likely to cause the jet stream to become even more erratic than it has been in recent years. Our current questionably stable weather patterns, essential for mass agriculture, are likely to become further disrupted, with consequent decreases in crop yields while the world’s population continues to increase. Scientists have already warned of this; however, their estimate of a 2% decrease in crop yields per decade is likely to be understated at best26. In short, from this time forward it may be difficult, if not impossible, to avoid continual food insecurity.

- The worst case scenario is that Arctic amplification, during and following the El Niño event, will intensify and trigger the event Professor Wadhams outlined in 2013 concerning subsea permafrost located in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS)27. Should an ice-free area of the Arctic Sea warm to the point that a sudden release of methane occurs in the quantities proposed by Professor Wadhams, it may signal the onset of unstoppable and irreversible climate change.

- The above scenario is a highly contentious area of debate in the scientific community, but an in- depth review reveals that little actual physical research has been done other than that by Shakhova and Semiletov. Their research includes sediment cores taken from the bottom of the sea which show that the permafrost boundary overlying methane hydrate deposits is warming and thawing, creating emission pathways up through the sea floor and hence through the water column to the surface.

How we arrived at this nexus should be incomprehensible because the risks we are being forced to take at the behest of vested interests are immense. The primary identifiable risks are:

- There will be an initial period of potentially 2 years when demand for agricultural products outstrips supply. That will lead directly to record levels in the FPI and widespread global unrest. Riots are non-linear events with completely unpredictable outcomes.

- Following that there is a potential that the weather patterns of the Northern Hemisphere will have been altered to the extent that reasonably stable weather for mass agriculture is a thing of the past. In this event, unrest will continue, quite possibly elevate. ‘The Great Satan’ will of course be responsible; ignoring the continual sale of MENA-based oil and coal burning in China and India. Supply lines could be disrupted for many US businesses along with Benghazi-type incidents and elevated terrorism around the world.
Beyond the economic losses from crops, there will be transference in every country’s GDP in consumer spending to essentials, i.e., food, leading directly to a general economic downturn.


- Many smaller nations will be forced to sell reserves to purchase and subsidize food or face the mob. This will not only apply to developing economies but additionally to recovering developed economies such as the PIGS nations.

- If the El Niño event is particularly severe, at some point there is a very high probability that a collapse in the derivatives market will be triggered, caused by three major factors. Firstly, a sell-off of reserves to buy food would result in a flood of US dollars entering the market in a relatively short span of time. It follows that ‘futures’ in currency rates would adjust, and 80% of the derivatives market is based on futures in currency and interest rates. Secondly, the extent of the global unrest could unnerve the market, which operates entirely on the basis of one word – confidence; a sufficient contraction could easily trigger the derivatives market – exactly as happened in 2008, but on a broader scale. Thirdly, the BRICS nations may collectively decide enough-is-enough regarding commodity speculation; as they and associated nations struggle to feed their populations, there will be awareness of those skimming a percentage from the market by speculation. They could choose to counter by combining forces and attacking a system they already want to change and ensure that change. Those who think this implausible may want to read this BBC article about what might have happened in 200828. Facing a sustained period of identifiable problems in food security, this may prove to be the defining moment for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s objectives29.

- In short, and as Robert Zoellick forewarned, we are heading for chaos – ill-prepared and literally flying by the seat of our pants. Non-linear societal events could rapidly lead to non-linear market events continually fueled by non-linear climatic events, and the consequences would simply be a historical repeat of system collapse from which we feel we are immune, for reasons unknown.

There is much that can be done, but it must start by acknowledging the extent of the risks, by not running away fearing that this is yet another ‘doom and gloom’ scenario, and by defining the problem correctly.

System collapse has occurred historically when others failed to define their circumstance and act. When our species decides it is time to act decisively, history also reveals that we are capable of conquering what appear to be insurmountable odds. One has to wonder – how long should we wait? Two factors in particular are currently influencing that decision.

- Firstly, there are those who are deluded enough to think that our species can adapt to temperatures approaching, or beyond, 4oC (Rex Tillerson, CEO Exxon/Mobil, for one). Indeed there may well be a few pockets of humans hanging on, surviving on what remains of the ecosystem, but civilization as we know it would be gone. The scientific evidence supporting this contention is overwhelming and yet that is the exact trajectory we are on for this century, at a minimum, failing major changes.

- Secondly, the climate is in a non-linear mode, and yet we are assessing and planning as if it is in a shallow slope linear mode, with decades available to act, and unused carbon budgets yet to be allocated30. Can the exact nature of the non-linearity be defined and an equation tossed out for examination? No, and this is probably the reason one does not read of a widespread acceptance of non-linearity. The reality is quite different if approached by simple logic. Any equation defining the total interactions of the climate, or set of models run as that equation, must include at a minimum the Arctic sea ice (the reduction of volume analysis clearly shows non-linearity31), the melting of the Greenland ice sheet32, and the Pine Island Glacier System (representing the Antarctic ice sheet)33; all of these systems are by any standard in a non-linear mode. As components of the overall equation, the climate is in a non-linear mode, since if any component within an equation is non- linear, that equation is non-linear by default.

In the short term, there is little or nothing that can be done, and any attempt to change the dynamic will be met by a well-funded and highly organized machine34. We have arrived where we are due entirely to a preference (somewhat forced by vested interests) for not even acting effectively on low-risk scenario outcomes and utterly avoiding even acknowledging the probability of high-risk scenario outcomes. What was once thought in certain quarters as a potential ‘perfect storm’ for 2050 is now on our doorstep!

There is no risk management – period – all one hears are bald words and trite sentiments from those who wish to take the line of least resistance and avoid rocking the boat. No one is minding the store – a store that is burning to the ground whilst its absentee landlords pontificate in their castles apparently dreaming


they, and their families, will somehow be immune to the impacts. No one is connecting the dots, and yet as this crisis unfolds there will be the usual sanctimonious outcry demanding to know why they were not warned, completely ignoring the activities of King CONG35 (coal, oil, nuke and gas), who will still be active on all fronts and tailoring deceptive plausible-deniability arguments for general consumption – Who me?

Of course the vast majority, if they read this analysis, would interpret it as alarmism in the extreme, irrespective of the mountain of evidence pointing to extreme risk (this was the specific reason for the extensive referencing). We are compelled to await ‘settled science’ to act, as if King CONG would even concede at that point, and besides what is not understood about the word ‘irreversible’; well of course it doesn’t pertain in the illusionary world where adaption is possible.

The reality is straightforward; we simply need to accept the immutable words of President George W. Bush – “We are addicted to fossil fuels,” and the ‘pushers’ are as much in charge as if we all lived in some barrio in Rio de Janeiro.

There is a lot that can be done (reference 35 for a start), and a lot that should have been done, but unfortunately we seem to need to reach a crisis before action is demanded for anything, preferring to languish in induced ‘normalcy bias’; even then a massive uphill fight must ensue. Food trumps all other issues when it impacts just about everyone and threatens national security (critical for action), so maybe there is a silver lining, assuming we can get our act together!

Written by:
H. David Tattershall
Co-Founder Hope Or Cope, LLC
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Editor (and co-research):
Tenney Naumer
"Climate Change: The Next Generation"



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(Note follow link at the bottom of the article)


The Truth About This Devastating Weather: David Cameron’s Policies Will Make It Worse!

The UK has recently experienced a deluge of terrible weather that is bringing many parts of the country to crisis point. Our Prime Minister, David Cameron, rolled up his sleeves and appeared on the BBC to exclaim: “We are in it for the long haul!”


cameron-uklonghaulDavid Cameron: "We're in it for the long haul!"

I had never previously considered Cameron to be an ironist but with this defying slogan he has proved himself a man of fine wit… even if slightly distasteful in the circumstances. The mainstream media in the UK seem to have an embargo on telling the public the truth about all the extreme weather (and the rest of the world) we are getting. It is worth keeping in mind that it is not just us. The US has experienced incredibly harsh freezing conditions, while the west coast is unseasonably hot with California recording its worst ever drought and Alaska experiencing extraordinary heat anomalies. In Europe, 40% of Slovenia's forests have been badly damaged by ice storms. In Australia heatwaves are breaking new records, floods in Bolivia have left 42 people dead, while in Brazil, extreme drought means that the water supplies of over 140 cities are now being rationed. The list really does go on. The weather is changing around the world and fast.


Last weekend I visited a friend in Salcombe, Devon and as we hiked along the coast we witnessed the erosion in realtime as the waterlogged cliff was literally collapsing into the sea. Concrete roads eaten away by the roaring seas. The houses that look out boasting views that would merit the front page of a travel supplement, now look eerily precarious. Dead birds litter the beaches and one can only imagine the stress being put on local wildlife as a whole.


sea-munchDevon Coastline, West of Salcombe, February 2014


The BBC recently made an assessment highlighting a link to the loss of Arctic sea ice that is playing a big role in climate change. As any scientist who is looking at the Arctic will tell you, it is warming much faster than the rest of the planet and as it does so, it turns from white reflective skullcap into a dark heat absorbing region of the globe, which is actually accelerating the warming process.



It was the temperature differential between the Arctic and the equatorial regions that maintained the stability of the Jetstream, this is the fast moving band of high latitude winds that kept the cold air in the Arctic. As the Arctic warms and the temperature differential reduces, the Jetstream has become much more wavy and these larger waves are progressing far slower around the globe (see animation below). Because the amplitude of the waves is getting greater, the air masses have to travel much further north and south, and this means that the wind speeds increase producing the violent storms that we have been experiencing, and the sticking weather patterns.

Without the sea ice, the temperature differential between the polar regions and the tropics will continue to reduce and we can therefore expect to experience even greater extremes in the coming years. This will have disastrous consequences for farmers all over the world. Couple this with the desperate state of the world’s oceans which are increasingly polluted and acidifying, it is clear an impending global food crisis may be only a few years away.


Jetstream Animation Produced By NASA

Some politicians, especially those in the British, Canadian and Australian governments are playing down the causes of these extremes saying that “weather is always changing”. Well this is true of course but on a totally different timescale. Ice core records do show that the Earth has spent long periods at both hotter and cooler temperatures. The depth of last ice age was only 4 C cooler than now on a global average and the ice age cycle is every 100,000 years, driven by the earth's orbit. The difference now is the speed of the change driven by man’s release of carbon dioxide, mainly through the burning of fossil fuels, which has added 40% more CO2 to the makeup of our atmosphere. Ice core records also show that the Earth responds slowly to change and that there is a lag in the system, this means that whatever course of action we take, there is more warming to come.


Dr Jennifer Francis - Understanding the Jetstream

The issues we face now are all directly attributable to how we power our lives as a society and almost everything we do has a carbon cost in its action, or its production. At a time when we desperately need to cut our carbon emissions globally, we are doing the opposite by continuing to increase them in ever larger quanitities, which is making matters much, much worse. Yet here in Britain, where we have the capacity to install renewable energy systems, Prime Minister David Cameron is marching around Britain telling us all we should jump on board with fracking and commit ourselves to a suicidal carbon pollution based future. So for once we have a politician who is (inadvertently) telling us the truth: “We are in it for the long haul!”.

David Cameron’s government has as its key advisers senior figures from the world of fracking and oil. People like Peter Lilly and Lord Brown, who play very prominent roles in policy formation, are ignoring the risks posed to civilians by climate change, in order to make short term financial gains. Peter Lilly MP is also the Vice Chairman and Senior Independent Non-Executive Director at Tethys Petroleum with earnings of £70,000 last year alone. These kinds of conflicts of interest mean that policy making in the UK is corrupt. Mainstream media is being complicit in not properly discussing the causes of climate change. They also seem to have missed the fact that the debate about climate change has moved on from "is it happening?", to "just how extreme is it? How much time do we have available to us and how best to repair our atmosphere?"


BBC News Saturday 15th February

The scientific community now understands what is happening to the Earth’s climate. In the crudest of terms the world is getting hotter and ice is melting. The Greenland ice sheet is 3 kilometres thick in places and its middle has turned soft like butter. It is carving off into the ocean at an ever accelerating rate. If we lose it then we will incur 7 metres of sea level rise. It is no longer a case of “if”, it is a case of “when”.

Most immediate is the effect of the destabilising weather patterns on global food supply. Prices are predicted to go up as food becomes harder to produce. Britain is experiencing new trends in weather extremes. Without serious change in policies and leadership from international governments, there is going to be incredible pain and suffering around the world. What we are now learning is that no one is exempt. Centuries of relatively stable weather enabled us to build extensively close to coasts and on floodplains. Dramatic photographs that we see in the media of houses and villages under water reflect this very clearly. It is a nightmare for the residents who are now learning that their homes are in the front line of climate change, leaving them unliveable, uninsurable and unsellable.

On the bright side it is worth noting that there are good and clever people around the world who are taking these threats seriously and are developing proposals to remove the carbon from the atmosphere. But none of these proposals can really be successful if we carry on pouring our waste gases into the skyfill site. So the ball is thrown back to us to demand change from our leaders and a rapid transition to as close as possible to 100% clean energy. In answer to the question, what can we as individuals do, well if our leaders are too stupid to understand the science or too-weak to detach themselves from hydrocarbon paymasters, then we must vote them out of office.

We do still have a chance to turn this situation around but the window of opportunity is closing. If we cannot make the change then the natural world will respond by forcing change upon us that we will not like. And that will sincerely be “for the long haul” (or in geological terms, the short-haul to extinction!).


Facing The extreme Nature Of Changing Climate


For more information on how the heating Arctic is effecting global climate you can watch David Wasdell's Arctic Dynamics presentation: Video: Arctic Dynamics (Part 1 & 2) by David Wasdell


 By Nick Breeze

And Bru Pearce

Twitter: @NickGBreeze



More posts by Nick Breeze

The jet stream is responsible for what kind of weather we experience and it’s behaviour is changing. Dr Jennifer Francis, a research professor at Rutgers University's Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, explains how a combination of factors are going to drastically impact agricultural systems in Europe and Eurasia.

It is easy to look at the fires in southern Europe and think that “global warming” is a regional problem often on someone else doorstep. This misconception could not be further from the truth because the “global” bit refers only to global mean temperature. As scientists start to look at what is happening around the world, it becomes very clear that the interconnected global system is changing for all.


Dr. Saleemul Huq Director International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at the Independent University, Bangladesh. In this short interview Dr Huq talks about his work and explains how those most vulnerable to the effects of manmade climate change are seeking recompense from the worlds greatest polluters.   


In 2014 Marks & Spencer became the only retailer in the world with carbon neutral operations. This huge undertaking across over 1400 stores has been rewarded with international recognition by the UNFCC winning Momentumn For Change award for carbon neutrality. 


UK based Carbon Tracker Initiative has played a key role showing big businesses, including fossil fuel companies, a route out of the business as usual high CO2 emitting path that is driving humanity towards catastrophe. Anthony Hobley has been at COP23 telling delegates “we are in a technology driven low carbon energy transition” and changing course “just makes financial sense”. NICK BREEZE catches up with him.

Nick Breeze: We are 2yrs on from Paris. Are we making any progress at the COP?


Earlier this week Environment Minister Michael Gove stated that he was convinced “climate change is a danger”, stating that it “is one of the biggest threats and challenges to biodiversity in the UK”.

By localising the issue to the UK, Gove seeks to belittle the global risk posed by climate change. This week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief science adviser and founding director of the Potsdam Institute, Professor Schellnhuber was in London speaking at the Royal Society. When I asked him to respond to the Environment Minister’s comments he replied:  

In part 1 of this wide ranging interview, Anton Golub discusses why the world needs Lykke, the truth about financial regulators and why only 1% Initial Coin Offerings (ICO’s) they assess make it onto the exchange.

Anton Golub: The core vision of Lykke is the vision of Richard Olsen, the founder of Lykke. I am a cofounder. I met him seven years ago when I joined him for an internship.

I sat down to eat my croissant and he sat down next to me and said: “Anton, we have to completely  change the financial system. It totally doesn’t work. Everything is broken inside.”