When there’s a time delay, how hard it it to understand a cause? I learned from pain.

It took me a decade to figure out that sugar alcohol was causing my chronic bowel problem. I chose diabetic foods, knowing that sugar alcohol such as maltitol is a laxative. But I thought I tolerated the small amounts in my food, because I never got diarrhea after eating. I’d get sick 18 to 24 hours later. My colon was ravaged, melanosis coli the gastroenterologist called it. He blamed it on my green tea. This direct effect was destroying my life, but despite my doctorate and years of teaching biology it refused to connect in my brain.

To "get" that Climate Destabilization systemically causes extreme weather is like a nuclear bomb in your head compared to my personal brain fart. Cryptic obscure interconnected causes, they make sugar alcohol sound like kindergarten. Instead of a time delay of 18 to 24 hours, effects take decades. Distant, intricate events pop out of academic studies in scientist-speak numbers -ach!

But our biggest sticking point is to see the positive feedbacks that tell us civilization’s foot is pressed all the way down on the accelerator on cliff road.

The bad news is the planet really is tipping toward catastrophe, while the economists, politicians and mass media pretend there’s no crisis. The good news is we're connected by the internet and can grasp the scope of the problem NOW.

Here’s how I visualize the “terrible new math” of climate destabilization.


Imagine you’re a climate scientist, like a bright twelve year old going from door to door,

trying to get residents in an apartment high rise to put out a suspected fire.

The occupants think you’re a troublemaker.

All of the hallways have highly flammable carpet, 13B has a hundred pounds of candle wax, a fireworks collector lives in 6A, and a 2B hides a meth lab. The defective sprinkler system and fire alarm haven’t worked properly for decades. On the vacant 12th floor a smoldering fire has been eating away one unit for the past ten hours. Oxygen starved, it spreads gradually. The twelfth floor hallway has been a little smelly and hotter than usual. The fire’s not obvious unless you touch the apartment door.

Irritated adults just shut out your cries, saying.

  • This apartment building has been here a hundred years, with no more than an occasional wastebasket fire, quickly extinguished.
  • My great grandparents were original occupants, and our family has always been safe here. Now you’re trying to tell me we’ll all die in a few hours unless we rush up to the twelfth floor to clean up somebody’s mess.
  • This building is solid and stable, look how thick the walls are.
  • Your accusations slander the owner.

And all the doors and windows are locked; there’s no where to escape.

So go to your computer and tweet the teens about the twelfth floor’s hot doorknob. One of them knows about the fireworks, and another about the wax. Maybe they'll grasp the situation and kick the adults into action. Or maybe you can all charge up together to face the flames.

Consider just one feedback:


Currently methane gas accounts for 0.00017% of our air, but it’s 16 % of greenhouse gas emissions. The global warming potential of methane has been understated by assuming a 100 year time frame, instead of a more realistic 20 year time frame. Methane released today is at least 56 times more heat trapping than CO2 over the first 20 years.

Permafrost is melting.  As the Arctic warms, it begins to release seafloor methane hydrate. Methane bound in hydrates amounts to approximately 3,000 times the volume of methane in the atmosphere.

3,000 times as much!

That’s a lot of flammable carpet.

Views: 268

Replies to This Discussion

Ruth, I sent you a reply here, and it has not shown up. I assume there is a glitch somewhere. Do you receive my mail? 

Yes, thanks. I replied by a message.

OK, I am going to rewrite my response. 

This is a powerful message, clearly stated. I can hardly see how anyone could deny this information. You have done a terrific job and I can understand your being out of touch for a few day. 
Now, how can I help you get your information out, other than posting it on Facebook?

You have earned a rest. 

If you're on twitter, you could follow RuthAnthonyGard and retweet.

It's in the climate subreddit. You could vote up HumanistRuth's "A brain fart and methane. Grasping climate feedback is hard."

I invited a few friends to the RuthAnthonyGard twitter account using Yahoo messenger.

Sending a message about these twitter links to all of my 435 Atheist Nexus friends only brought two new followers. *sigh* Oh well. I'm still on a social network learning curve.

I'm not on Facebook. If you are, linking to the discussion would be great.

I think my retweets will bring you more followers!
Sorry I got behind on your posts Ruth! It's been busy. I enjoyed reading your discussion - very educational.

Well, I tried three different ways to get this onto Facebook, and all of them disappeared when I rebooted. I think this one will stick; I used the "Like" button. 

so far so good

Joan I noticed you on Twitter so I am following you.

Oh Good! Steph. I am new to the program, may I call on you as a tutor?

Steph, I am trying to respond to your message and I get a message to put in a comment, which I did, and did, and did. Now I am trying this. 


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