A recurring theme, as we chronicle the unravelling of the biosphere, is the term “Sooner than Previously Thought”. Every prediction of cause and effect in the climate system is happening much sooner than expected or predicted. Clearly, we have grossly underestimated “Climate Sensitivity.” I covered that catastrophic failing previously, Full Earth System Sensitivity to CO2 has been Grossly Underestimated We shouldn’t be surprised that a violent patriarchy underestimated “Climate Sensitivity”.
Because the narrative has been controlled by the dominant culture of Industrial Civilisation and its proponents, the corporations who control all the mainstream media, we have been corralled into ‘believing’ that we could destabilise the atmosphere ‘safely’ by increasing global mean temperatures by 1.5 or 2C. Neither of these guardrails or what has now become missed targets, were either safe or achievable. The Myth of 2C Being Safe and Achievable
William Nordhaus won a Nobel Peace Prize for sealing the planets destruction with his unscientific hypothesis that 2C was safe. What he really meant was he thought Capitalism could survive a 2C temperature increase. The ecosystem’s slow but accelerating and torturous demise proves him catastrophically wrong. Moving the ‘Goal Posts’ or the baseline date to calculate anthropogenic warming has become an art form that even many climate scientists turn a blind eye to. Baseline Temperature dishonesty at the Edge of Extinction
The following data and analysis courtesy of @SamCarana from the Arctic News Blog: What is pre-industrial? “The Paris Agreement called for a special report by the IPCC on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways. In the report, the IPCC first defines pre-industrial as “the multi-century period prior to the onset of large-scale industrial activity around 1750”. Yet, the IPCC then proceeds to use the period 1850-1900 to “approximate” pre-industrial. This raises the questions, has the IPCC been downplaying the temperature rise and is this continuing? “
The entire debate around what level of destabilisation of the atmosphere we can ‘get away with’ is in itself omnicidal and in no small way clinically insane but having said that the whole culture is insane. Complex systems are vulnerable to minor perturbations and there is nothing minor about the larceny we are conducting. Tristan Sykes one of the co-founders of “Just Collapse” points out that we add the equivalent of 4 Hiroshima nuclear bombs of energy per second to our atmosphere, this is war.
When did the temperature start rising?
“Orbital changes are responsible for Milankovitch cycles that make Earth move in and out of periods of glaciation, or Ice Ages. Summer insolation on the Northern Hemisphere reached a peak some 10,500 years ago, in line with the Milankovitch cycles, and insolation has since gradually decreased.”
Oceans and the snow & ice cover have been acting as a buffer
“While temperatures rose rapidly in the past, especially during the period leading up to the insolation peak, the speed at which temperatures did rise was moderated by oceans and by the snow and ice cover, in a number of ways:”
Emissions by people
“While emission by people did accelerate since the start of the Industrial Revolution and even more recently, the rise in emission by people had already started thousands of years ago with the rise in modern agriculture and associated deforestation” “The temperature has risen accordingly since those times. In the year 1520, temperatures had risen by 0.29°C, compared to some 5000 years earlier. When also taking into account that the temperature would have fallen naturally (i.e. in the absence of these emissions), the early temperature rise caused by people may well be twice as much.”
“Conclusion“ “For thousands of years, people have been causing emissions that made the temperature rise. From 3480 BC, the forcing of these emissions became even stronger than the natural trend for temperatures to come down, in line with decreasing Summer insolation on the Northern Hemisphere. The term “natural” can be ambiguous, as forest fires and albedo changes are often regarded as “natural forcing”, but of course the deliberate acts of peat burning and cutting down trees can hardly be regarded as ‘natural’.”
“Anyway, the net effect was that the temperature started to rise from 3480 BC, so it makes sense to calculate temperature anomalies versus that year as pre-industrial base. The rise from pre-industrial to 2020 could thus be as much as 2.29°C, which would mean that the thresholds set at the Paris Agreement have already been crossed and the rise from pre-industrial may well exceed 3°C soon, in turn effectively making 3°C the (new) threshold that should not be crossed.”
We have been aware that burning fossil fuels would alter, destabilise and warm the atmosphere since at least 1847 and the narrative has been controlled since shortly thereafter. Had we described the phenomenon as creating what it is, a “Planetary Gas Chamber” for most, if not all complex life on the planet, perhaps we might have acted to save the biosphere rather than perpetuate the extraction industry which is in the accelerating process of incinerating the entire ecosystem. What an incredible irony that a Republican Congressman from the USA was the first person (that I am aware of, feel free to correct me below if I’m wrong) to give a lecture on human induced climate change. We have been through a raft of ‘slogans’ that have all downplayed the reality that the unfettered incineration of fossil fuels would negatively alter the atmospheric energy and ‘Green House Gas’ balance. “Green House”, such an innocuous term for an existential threat, tailored to not scare the serfs. A near-forgotten speech made by a US congressman warned of global warming and the mismanagement of natural resources in 1847 The 1847 lecture that predicted human-induced climate change. “But I would argue his defining moment came on 30 September 1847, when, as a congressman for the Whig party (a forerunner of the Republican party), he gave a lecture to the Agricultural Society of Rutland County, Vermont. (The speech was published a year later.) It proved to be the intellectual spark that led him to go on and publish in 1864 his best-known work, Man and Nature: Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action.”
To give some reference to the insanity of the current debate around “Green House Gas” emissions everyone is arguing and or lying about what degree we can destabilise the atmosphere. Think about that lunacy for a second. The Cognitive dissonance is a mind fuck for me. Cognitive Dissonance and Outright Lies at the Edge of Extinction The reality is, there was no safe level of destabilisation of our atmosphere. It’s pitifully obvious in hindsight. The next nonsensical aspect of the predicament is the debate around how much of a “Carbon Budget” we have left. The short, sharp Scientific Reality is there is no carbon budget, clearly, we are in early-stage nonlinear runaway and the atmosphere has been destabilised well beyond the point of no return. Every additional gram of carbon released speeds up the already unfolding collapse now dominated and driven by a multitude of feedback loops documented here. Climate Change Summary
1989, quoting “Noel Brown, director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program, or UNEP.”
“He said governments have a 10-year window of opportunity to solve the greenhouse effect before it goes beyond human control.” You’ll note that the rogues at the UN are still saying the same thing 33 years later! The 1989 Associated Press article warning of the phenomenon, titled “U.N. Predicts Disaster if Global Warming Not Checked,”
There has been much debate about the time lag between when emissions are dumped into the atmosphere and when we feel the full effects. Warming from Methane is, to all intents and purposes, effective immediately after it is vomited into the atmosphere, hence some of the shocking heat we are currently witnessing in the Northern Hemisphere.
Abstract “The stability of widespread methane hydrates in shallow subsurface sediments of the marine continental margins is sensitive to temperature increases experienced by upper intermediate waters. Destabilization of methane hydrates and ensuing release of methane would produce climatic feedbacks amplifying and accelerating global warming. Hence, improved assessment of ongoing intermediate water warming is crucially important, especially that resulting from a weakening of Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC).”
Carbon on the other hand can take up to centuries to manifest depending on the scale of the pulse. As the Northern Hemisphere’s forest’s burn huge quantities of carbon are released in very short time frames.
The above peer reviewed paper debunks the Liar Michael E Mann who recently said for a dumbed down US audience that “If we stop emissions now warming will stop”. 1)That’s a blatant lie and 2) How, pray tell, do we Stop Emissions Now when every single thing we do in industrial civilisation requires fossil fuels.
Anyone paying attention to the rapidity of the changes we are witnessing can see non-linearity unfolding in the chaos we are witnessing daily now. The Rate of Change is the critical issue to remember as we chronicle the great unravelling. “If you think long-term exponential growth is interesting and disruptive, there’s another kind of growth that is even more curious and potentially disruptive. That is faster-than-exponential (superexponential) growth. Unlike exponential growth, where the curve looks the same at every point, superexponential growth has one or more “knees” in the curve, places where growth suddenly switches from a slower to an even faster (or sometimes slower) exponential mode.” Superexponential Growth (J-curves) Hat tip to Kevin Lister, author of “The Vortex of Violence: and why we are losing the war on climate change” who taught me about Super Exponential change. Kevin Lister can be followed on Twitter at @kevsclimatecol
I’m not saying that we are witnessing Super Exponential Growth, yet, but anyone following the Precautionary Principle is forced to consider it. Peter Wadhams and others have pointed out that the Feedback Loops are multiplicative. That’s the pathway to Super Exponential changes.
Have your say in the comments section below. I’ll add additional data to the comments as they come to hand. “I say to my soul, be patient and wait without hope, for to hope is to hope for the wrong thing” TS Elliot Good luck everyone, we sure are going to need it.
“On 4 August 2021, I participated in an online discussion with Bing Professor Emeritus at Stanford University Dr. Paul Ehrlich, Kevin Hester, Pauline Panagiotou Schneider, and Drs. Beril Sirmacek and William Kallfelz. The accompanying music was created by Dr. Sirmacek.” Intro courtesy of Professor Guy McPherson
“We assessed evidence of collapse in 19 ecosystems (both terrestrial and marine) along a 58° latitudinal gradient for which major signals of change have been reported.” Combating ecosystem collapse from the tropics to the Antarctic A better title would have been “We aren’t Combatting Ecosystem Collapse from the Tropics to the Antarctic” Click on the link above for the 19 ecosystems that are in collapse now. Below are other links to additional evidence of the unfolding catastrophe.
“Coastal darkening, an environmental threat researchers are only beginning to study, is found to dramatically reduce the productivity of kelp.”
“In New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf, waves crash against cliffs and pull dirt into the ocean, while boats and storms stir up silt from the seafloor. Rivers carry fertilizer from the mainland that causes light-blocking algal blooms, which mingle with pollution from nearby Auckland. Together, they cloud the coastal ocean, depriving organisms living deeper in the water column of their main source of energy—sunlight.”
Jim discusses the Hauraki Gulf where I live and have been diving in for 4 decades. I can verify that our kelp beds have collapsed and have been replaced by ‘Kina Barons’.
Shaun Lee has done sterling work on the marine ecosystem in the Hauraki Gulf. His blog, with a free subscription option, can be accessed here
Until today I have resisted having a donate option at this blog but readers have asked me to include that option. All donations will go to funding my studies, furthering my goal to create a marine reserve in the Hauraki Gulf and hopefully having an insurance population of the Wetapunga translocated to Rakino Island and perhaps a few beers! Here’s my Paypal Account I thank you in anticipation.
The latest war in Europe forces us to address the issue of warmongering and the responses to it as it adds to our already perilous climate and extinction crises. “In 2017, the US military bought about 269,230 barrels of oil a day and emitted more than 25,000 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide by burning those fuels. The US Air Force purchased US$4.9 billion worth of fuel, and the navy US$2.8 billion, followed by the army at US$947m and the Marines at US$36m.”
The US military with 800 off shore military bases and the independent states response to the threat it poses is grinding the living planet into dust. The article below is a year old so the damage will be worse than stated. Add the emissions from the war in Ukraine to this already dire prognosis. “If the US military were a country, its fuel usage alone would make it the 47th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, sitting between Peru and Portugal.” US military is a bigger polluter than as many as 140 countries – shrinking this war machine is a must
Aotearoa New Zealand is in the process of making the biggest strategic blunder in it’s contemporary history by closing it’s one and only oil refinery, leaving us at the mercy or lack there of, of the fossil fuel industry and the super powers arguing over the lasts of the planets resources. “One of the changes with the transition is we’re less dependent on a single refinery than we were previously. And our supply will be coming from a range of refineries around the Asian region.” – Naomi James, speaking on Newsroom Pro Talks” Having exactly Zero oil refineries in Aotearoa makes us less dependent? Smell a neoliberal rat anyone?
“New Zealand pre-ordered more oil stocks just before Russia invaded Ukraine, increasing government reserves this month – at a critical time.“
“The Government and New Zealand fuel companies together hold more than 1.7 million tonnes of oil in tanks, ship holds, and international ticket contracts acquired just in time for last week’s international action.” “Just in Time”, this is how this culture teeters like the proverbial Jenga Stack. Read and watch the Orwellian neo-liberal double speak embedded below. In one foul swoop we are now depending on BP and Exon Mobil to keep our trucks rolling. Watch the dystopian interview with this puppet here; NZ bolsters emergency oil stocks backed by offer of Marsden Point storage
This is late stage capitalism, risking everything because the balance sheet says it’s more profitable importing 100% of the nations refined fuel needs, than this entire country having One Oil Refinery ! Can the reader see how dependent this insane decision makes our isolated country to biosphere incinerating corporations? It’s clear to me that the government should nationalise this strategic asset asap.
There seems to be a stark conflict between the industry’s propaganda above and the government’s own data below; Refinery
“The Marsden Point Oil Refinery, near Whangarei, is New Zealand’s only oil refinery. It’s operated by Refining NZ. The refinery began operating in 1964, and is capable of processing enough oil to meet a majority of domestic demand.”
“Refining NZ processes crude oil and condensate for the 3 biggest oil companies active in New Zealand — BP, Mobil and Z Energy. Each of these companies has a stake in the refinery, with other shareholders holding a minority. The refinery produces a full range of petroleum products: petrol — diesel, kerosene-type jet-A1, fuel oil, bitumen and other petroleum products — but not aviation gasoline or lubricants. Sulphur is recovered as a by-product and sold as a feedstock to the fertiliser industry. Recovered carbon dioxide is sold to the beverage industry.”
Readers of this blog know that I concentrate on the climate and extinction crises and the contemporaneous issue of the re-rise of fascism and subsequent collapse. Not having a refinery means we’d suffer societal collapse in a matter of weeks of a blockade of our territorial waters being enforced, by whoever, “Friend or Foe”. Remember France was supposedly our ally when they blew up the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior murdering Fernando Pereira in down town Tamaki Makaurau.
This is how this strategic disaster is being sold to the NZ public as we become more dependent on BP and Exon Mobil FFS !
Seriously, the body politic in Aotearoa NZ seems to like to dine on dead rats. “Greenpeace has slammed the Government over news that the crown minerals regulator has allowed Greymouth Petroleum to piggyback off an existing mining permit to commence seismic blasting in an adjacent area of more than 260 square kilometers.”
“Allowing new oil exploration now makes a mockery of Jacinda Ardern’s climate emergency declaration,” said Greenpeace Aotearoa programme director Niamh O’Flynn. “Which part of ‘Climate Crisis’ does this Government not understand?”
Authors relevant background to this issue specifically; I worked on the Marsden Point Oil Refinery Expansion Project in the early 1980’s, before I knew that incinerating hydro carbons was killing the living planet. Hence my mea culpa. I was the Electricians Union Delegate on site. I once had the pleasure of having the Minister of Energy removed from the site on one of his visits, in my role as a safety officer. Energy Minister Bill Birch came to survey his empire one day and I barrelled up to him, his security detail and our onsite security. The chiselled jawed security detail with attendant ear pieces, stood between us and demanded to know what I wanted ! I stood back, pointed at the ministers patent leather shoes and those of his security detail and said ” I’m a site safety officer. No one is allowed on this site without adequate safety equipment. Those shoes are non compliant and I’m requesting that you re-enter the mini van and get off my site immediately”. The site security guards, the ministers security, the minister and his acolytes looked at each other as site security mumbled “I’m afraid he’s right minister”, they scuttled off. Shortly thereafter I was made redundant for refusing to sign an employment agreement removing my right to strike! Interesting times for a young radical in his mid- Twenties!
Naturally there is some public resistance to this latest idiocy.
“A video posted on the ‘Dig In at Marsden’ social media page says the protest will be an “occupation” aimed at securing Marsden Point’s refining capabilities.”
Be assured that the irony of me raving on about hydrocarbons and then advocating for the nationalisation of an oil refinery isn’t lost on me. It’s an acceptance that we are all “Born into Captivity” and my understanding of the Aerosol Masking Effect. La Luta Continua.
I have curated a number of articles below showing the orchestrated litany of lies from people pretending to cover the climate and extinction crises. As always the technique is to shift the baseline dates so that they can pretend that we’ve had much less anthropogenic warming than we’ve in reality triggered . I covered this issue previously Baseline Temperature dishonesty at the Edge of Extinction Sam Carana at the Arctic News Blogspot is one of the few prepared to address the science and be realistic about the severity of our predicament. We’ll start with the truth and then get to the lies;
“It’s time to stop denying how precarious the situation is.”
“Remember the Paris Agreement? In 2015, politicians pledged to hold the global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pledged they would try and limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Well, an analysis by Sam Carana shows that it was already more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial when the Paris Agreement was reached.” 2C Crossed
Now for the lies;
“I would place a price on carbon,” Michael E Mann, a Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State, told Salon by email. “Whether this takes the form of a carbon tax (a revenue-neutral carbon tax? fee and dividend? cap-and-trade?), I leave that to the policymakers to determine as long as they accept, as the premise for policy, what the science has to say about the reality and threat of climate change. The price on carbon needs to be set such that it leads to a reduction in carbon emissions of several percent a year for the next few decades. If we do that, we can avoid a catastrophic 2C (~3.5 F) warming of the planet.” Complete and utter bullshit unsupported by any real science. Scientific Mal-Practice from the Mann Himself
Another perfect example of why we are completely and utterly fucked. In this cluster fuck of lies the head of Oxfam NZ says we have only 10 years to reduce emissions to meet the 1.5C rubicon. Anyone with an internet connection and a hand full of brain cells knows that when using 1750 as a baseline we are well passed 1.5C and probably 2C. When the head of these NGO’s spout this shit they aren’t mistaken, they are lying. “Analysis: What is the real cost of a switch to biofuels?”
“Jim Skea, a professor at Imperial College London and co-chair of the working group behind the report, said: “It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5C. Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.” ‘Now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5C’
“Global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise in the last decade, albeit at a slower rate than the previous one. That means that the likelihood of limiting warming to 1.5C has declined on average compared to scenarios previously identified by the IPCC. “
I haven’t trusted Phys.org for years because of it’s incredibly conservative stance and it’s abandoning of the ‘Precautionary Principal’. “This means an abrupt drop in emissions of six or seven percent a year is needed to avoid breaching the Paris climate treaty’s goal of capping global warming at “well below” two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.” “Staying under the safer aspirational threshold of 1.5C would mean an even steeper decline.” No longer a last resort: Pulling CO2 from the air
“IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said the report shows humanity is “at a crossroads,” but the tools and know-how required to limit global heating are available.”
“I am encouraged by climate action being taken in many countries,” Lee said. “There are policies, regulations and market instruments that are proving effective. If these are scaled up and applied more widely and equitably, they can support deep emissions reductions and stimulate innovation.”
“The U.N. climate panel has said that to keep rising global temperatures under 1.5 degrees Celsius this century, emissions from warming gases must be halved by the end of the decade.”
Why would all these scientists be lying ? 1) As the wonderful Dr Andrew Glikson said to us on Nature Bats Last “No one wants to be Cassandra”. Tipping Points in the Earth Climate System. Dr Andrew Glikson returns to Nature Bats Last 2) It’s impossible to get a research grant for a 5 or 10 year research program if we don’t have 5 yrs, so they have to pretend there is time. 3) Climate sensitivity has been grossly underestimated. No one wants to admit that they have failed so miserably. Full Earth System Sensitivity to CO2 has been Grossly Underestimated 4) Every scientist on the planet has watched the relentless attacks on my colleague and very dear friend Professor Guy McPherson. Guy has been under sustained attack for over a decade. Those attacks have resulted in what Dr James E Hansen called “Scientific Reticence” in other scientists. 5) In 2014 Dr Jason Box tweeted “If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we’re f’d.” Dr Box copped a huge back lash and as a result he too now is showing scientific reticence. If We Release a Small Fraction of Arctic Carbon, ‘We’re Fucked’: Climatologist Plus he has research grants to apply for. 6) The corruption of science; ” Science in the United States almost exclusively serves the interest of corporate and military power. Science historian Clifford Conner writes that the corruption of science exploded with the 1942-1945 Manhattan Project, the first “big science” project in which the government spent massively on developing the atom bomb. Science, from this point forward, became big business. Scientists are employed in “hypothesis-driven” research to promote the interests of the food industry, the tobacco industry, and the fossil fuel industry, attacking or silencing scientific studies that cast doubt on the claims of these industries. The result is a society awash in lies, many of them buttressed by bogus scientific studies carried out to reach the conclusion demanded by those who pay for the studies.“. Chris Hedges: The Corporatization and Corruption of American Science
The unfolding climate catastrophe roundup featuring Professors Beril Sirmacek and Guy McPherson who were joined by Arctic Oceanographer Jim Massa, John Doyle and Kevin Hester.
“Losing the remaining Arctic sea ice and its ability to reflect incoming solar energy back to space would be equivalent to adding one trillion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, on top of the 2.4 trillion tons emitted since the Industrial Age, according to current and former researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego.”
In the early 1990’s I travelled from my then home in Germany to Gibraltar to help an old friend out with a computer installation he was working on. A co-worker said to me “Greg tells me you’re a sailor. There’s lots of delivery work available here if you want some work delivering yachts around the Mediterranean or across the Atlantic to the Caribbean! “ My ears pricked up instantly, my life was about to take off in a whole new direction !
The mere thought of someone paying me to do something I was passionate about was truly exciting.
Pete’ asked me what ‘tickets’ I had, because for insurance purposes in Europe you had to have a recognised captains qualification to head to sea commercially. I joked in reply “I have a bus ticket from Malaga and a train ticket from Madrid”. We gelled instantly ! He was both a computer programmer and a yachting instructor at the Royal Yacht Association affiliated Gibraltar Sailing School and he had a new student ! The irony of your resident Irish Republican completing a ‘Royal Yacht Association’ qualification triggered much mirth! For me to get my skippers ticket I had to pass written, oral and practical tests. We went out for a sail together for him to assess what level of expertise I had and he quickly saw that I had reasonable sailing skills and knowledge and he laid out what my training forward from that point would look like. Over three weeks I sat various oral and written tests on navigation, the ‘Rules of the Road’, yes it was called that, salvage law and practical training on the water !
In ‘open water’ i.e. uncontrolled parts of the ocean or in this case the Mediterranean sea, yachts under sail have ‘Right of Way’ meaning powered vessels must ‘Give Way’ to sail but in controlled space because large vessels are “Restricted in their Ability to Manoeuvre” sail gives way to power. An unofficial rule of thumb is also “Give Way To Anything Bigger Than You” for obvious reasons. Crossing the Straits of Gibraltar in a Keeler, with a maximum hull speed of seven knots, having to ‘give way’ to freighters doing upwards of 30 knots is akin to a rabbit crossing a multi lane freeway packed with traffic. The Straits of Gibraltar are an incredible ‘choke point’, It’s an interesting challenge and why it’s so geopolitically and strategically important. Very much like the Straits of Hormuz !
Central to my qualification was having the ability to train others in the art of sailing. We did a day sail from Gibraltar across the Straits of Gibraltar to a marina in Morocco, it was about 20miles each way. I was the designated skipper and I had 5 students I had to instruct, whilst the instructor sat mute judging my ability to impart knowledge, create a team and formulate a strategy for crossing the shipping lanes. Before entering the controlled ‘Shipping lanes’ I put the crew through a series of “Man Overboard Drills” where you throw a buoy overboard and do a series of manoeuvres to simulate recovering someone from the ocean. I designated the most competent student to the official position of “Mate of Watch”. That person takes responsibility for the vessel when the captain is not on duty or not in the cockpit. In a quiet moment Pete said ” How did you think the students responded to the MOB drill ? ” I was happy with them overall and said so and he replied “This is what I want to do, change the lesson from a drill to a real live M.O.B. I’ll cause a distraction on the bow and when no one is looking I want you to slip off the stern, don’t call out and we’ll see how long it is before your missed and if they can recover you. If it all turns to shit I’ll take over and recover you.” Anyone who knows me will know that I literally jumped at that idea and typically, I was soon in the water! Not long after, the crew noticed I was missing, one of them spotted me and yelled “Man Overboard” as was her training, whilst pointing at me . The designated “Mate of Watch” took control of the yacht, went about and I was ‘rescued’. The students passing that test meant I was passing the test. We regrouped, set our sails for the 15 mile sail across the Straits, checked the radar to plot a course through the lines of ships going in both directions and after dodging the ‘traffic’ we entered a new and deserted marina on the Moroccan coast and did drills where we sailed onto a finger berth without using the motor for propulsion or breaking, it’s quite the trick ‘Backing a head sail’ to use it as a break! No where in the world are marina’s happy with sailing vessels only using wind to manoeuvre within the marina, the new but empty marina gave us that opportunity.
As we left the marina under power, the engine groaned and stopped, something had ‘fowled’ the prop and stalled the engine. I jumped overboard, again!!! and dived down to the prop to ascertain wtf was going on! There was an old discarded fishing net wrapped around the prop and jammed against the hull which had stalled the motor ! I resurfaced, asked for a knife and dived down another 1/2 a dozen times cutting and yanking at the net until it came off. The nylon netting had effectively welded itself to the shaft and hull due to the heat generated before the engine stalled. In the process of untangling the net I dislocated my little finger and had to relocate it whilst ‘doggy paddling’ in the water holding the knife and the remnants of the net. It hurt!!!!!!! Shortly thereafter, yet again, the Kiwi rabbit and his novice crew re-crossed the Straits of Gibraltar, this time it was ‘uneventful’, dislocated throbbing finger not withstanding !!!
Part of the training course included night sailing where we sailed up the Spanish coast using land marks, beacons and light houses for navigation purposes, all the while plotting our position on paper charts. All this happened pre-GPS ! My partner Ulli was on the boat that night and as we were sailing parallel to the coast Ulli spoke up authoritatively and announced “There’s a vessel over there moving at pace with no lights on” !! What Ulli had noticed, that no one else had noticed, including myself and the instructor, was that the lights we could see on the coast were ‘going out’ then coming on again, it could only be a vessel between us and the land. It was a spectacular observation. I grabbed the yachts most powerful torch, shined it in the direction of the vessel which was completely unlit, without even navigation lights on and next minute the vessel lit up like a Christmas tree with the biggest spot light I had ever seen trained on us and we got to meet the Spanish Guardia Civil !
Because of it’s proximity to Africa, the Spanish coast is a hotbed of smuggling. People, drugs and cigarettes the main contraband. The Spanish naval vessel came alongside us and we ‘rafted up’ whilst soldiers trained automatic weapons on us as an armed boarding party came aboard, they were initially nervous and jumpy as they searched our vessel. The instructor and the sailing school were known to them so it was all very civil once they recognised him and they stopped training their guns on us, it was very ‘Civil’ of them!
Shortly after all that drama, I was awarded my captains ticket which allowed me to take on paid work, first just shuffling yachts between marinas on the Spanish coast and Gibraltar and back and then the Biggy!
Pete invited me over to the office and as I sat down he dropped a set of keys with a small float attached and a credit card onto the desk and pointing out the window to a magnificent yacht and said “I need that yacht in Athens, last week !!! I jokingly replied “Which ways Greece ?” and he replied, eyes rolling! “Head East young man, you’ll be fine”.
I had now been hired to deliver a 49 ft Halberg Russy ketch from Gibraltar to Greece, about 1200 sea miles with a few diversions en-route. The yacht had what in Aotearoa NZ we would call a beer fridge but it was stocked exclusively with Bollinger Champagne. I was told “Make sure that the fridge is full when the owner boards with his wife in Greece.” I replied “Don’t worry, I won’t drink them”. The reply was “Oh no, help yourself, just use the ships credit card for any food, fuel, booze or any repairs you need en-route”, just keep the receipts. This was my first introduction to the world of the uber-wealthy’s hired help.
Myself and one other crewman set sail from Gib’ heading East across the coast of Africa and when we were offshore from Libya I heard a massive ‘explosion’ as a fighter jet broke the sound barrier directly over the boat. I received a VHF ‘call’ from the French Fighter Jet Pilot , as you do!! Whilst he spoke to me the jet circled my yacht with one wing pointed at the sky and the other at the ocean! From the pilot in eloquent English ; “Hailing the white ketch, This is Lieutenant …. from the French Airforce division of the NATO sanctions patrol on Libya, do you copy, over. “ I responded, how could I not! “Copy that NATO sanctions patrol. How can I assist you, over?” Pilot; “I need to know your vessels name and call sign, where your next destination is, what port did you commence this voyage from. How many passengers and crew are on board and what freight you are carrying, over”. I replied “I’m a fucking yacht, I’m not carrying any freight, the yacht is the fucking freight, over”. Bare with me, this guy arrived in an explosion at sea, I was a little rattled, I admit that. Pilot replies ” Copy that Sir, I need definitive answers to the questions. You’re in NATO controlled water and airspace, my job is to get answers to my satisfaction or I will instruct a Navy vessel to come alongside and a boarding party will get the answers we require.” Not wanting to be ‘boarded’ again by people pointing assault rifles at me, I changed tack, pardon the pun. I lightened up, answered all his questions and the conversation became very civil (I had been the uncivil one) as we casually chatted, he circled my position at an unknown speed guzzling tonnes of fossil fuels!! When he received all the info he needed he politely signed off and stood the F111 Mirage fighter on it’s end, fired his after burners and took off vertically into the sky. As I watched him disappearing into the ether I pondered the fact that he was probably a similar age to me, 30, incredible that young men can be flying around in these killing machines with their hands on the trigger! Not long after our encounter with NATO another yacht sailing in the opposite direction hailed me on the VHF and asked “Hailing the white ketch, do you know where we are, over”? We had a Lorcan navigation device that gave us Latitude and Longitude which we used to plot on our charts. Taking a compass baring on the other yacht and using our radar to determine how far away they were, we were able to give them a near perfect reference point for their navigation. Lorcan was the predecessor to the Global Positioning System. We carried on to Greece, now drinking Bollinger! Not long after that expedition, I flew to the Canary Islands to participate in the Arc regatta to Saint Lucia in the Caribbean on board a magnificent 75ft mini-super yacht. I spent 3 days on board learning the ship’s systems and then woke up to a fax from the owner to the skipper telling him that the trip had been cancelled and to pay off the crew and fly us home. I was paid in full, flown back to Germany at the clients expense and never untied the ship from the marina! The irony of being paid for my first offshore passage, that never happened, wasn’t lost on me!
It was the beginning of two decades of being paid to do what I loved culminating in me completing 16 ocean passages on small yachts ( 37 to 75ft) all in the Pacific, over half as skipper. The 1200 mile sail to Greece doesn’t count as a “Offshore Passage” because the Mediterranean is classed as a Non-Tidal Sea. I did sail down the coast of Africa on coastal traders and a freighter. I’ve written about that adventure here; Adventures in Africa- Brushes with Death- A Love Story
I’ve previously written in this space the role that militarism is playing in the unfolding climate and extinction crisis. All actions have consequences; Militarism’s Role in the Sixth and Possibly Last ‘Great’ Extinction. Naturally this latest war in Europe will accentuate our predicament. The GPS system of navigation could literally be turned off in a flash leaving modern days sailors ‘Lost at sea’! This is why all good sailors still plot their position regularly on the paper charts, you’re only one lightning strike or war or EMP away from being ‘Lost at Sea’. I’ve also previously hypothesised how a nuclear war or exchange is the only way to cool the planet at scale. I’m naturally not advocating for it but our psychopathic owners in the military industrial complex are highly likely to take the “Sampson Option“. If a nuclear weapon is used anywhere, consider that emergency cooling is the real reason for it’s use. The Inevitability of Nuclear War and Subsequent Nuclear Winter
To understand the full severity of the predicament please check out all the embedded links above. Feel free to leave a comment and your own evidence in the comments section below which will be updated as more evidence comes to light.
Kevin Hester is currently living on Rakino Island, a small island in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland, New Zealand, monitoring the unravelling of the biosphere and volunteering at the Rakino Island Nursery is currently developing a proposal to create a marine reserve near by. The Island has no grid tied electricity or reticulated water. I catch my own water from the roof and generate my electricity from the ample solar radiation on the island.
My Submission to the Ministry of the Environment
Kevin Hester, Dropping Anchor in an Exponential World