Climate tipping points: The Arctic is a Bellwether for Irreversible Change

“The Arctic is iconic for maintaining year-round ice and snow, but in the last decade, it has begun to transition to wetlands and open ocean. Emblematic of this change, in July 2020, the last intact ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic fell into the sea. Since first analyzed in 1902, the Milne ice sheet already lost 43 percent of its previous mass. Canada’s Ellesmere Island ice caps were also lost in the summer of 2020, as the ice deposited during the Little Ice Age (1600 to 1850) melted completely. Glacier melt, thawing permafrost and wetland expansion create a new landscape, changing ecosystems as well as altering the global atmosphere and ocean circulation.”   

“The term “tipping point” is often applied to a moment of critical change in human history. In ecology, tipping points describe small changes that, over time, force an irreversible change. Yearly lows of sea ice and a startling increase in permafrost thaw in a warming climate signal that the tipping point has already been crossed. We have already lost the frozen Arctic.”
Small tipping points expand through ecosystems

“As ice and snow are lost, the warming climate makes it difficult to recover. Sea ice that is only a few months old covers gaps in the Arctic Ocean, with yearly loss of old ice greater than the annual gain. In 2019, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that just 1 percent of the Arctic Ocean ice older than four years old remained. A warming atmosphere and sea prevent ice growth, leading to an ice-free Arctic Ocean.”
Climate tipping points: The Arctic is a bellwether for irreversible change
As previously covered on this blog;
“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.”

“At current rates, this roughly equates to 25 years of global CO2 emissions.”

Cascading Consequences of the Loss of Arctic Sea Ice

President Niinistö in North Russia: ‘If We Lose the Arctic, We Lose the World’ 2017
“According to Niinistö, a further concern is the recent report made by Russian scientists that in Siberia there are some 7,000 methane-filled pockets waiting to release their content. “This will create danger and disruption to infrastructure and humans in the area. What is worse, once released, methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide,” Niinistö said and continued. “Eventually a warming climate will cause major challenges to everyone on this planet. In the Arctic, residents are facing immediate consequences that will fundamentally impact their communities and traditional livelihoods. Food security is threatened and new health concerns are emerging.”
President Niinistö in North Russia: ‘If We Lose the Arctic, We Lose the World’

Much of the above data was sourced here; Science Update: The Arctic is a Bellwether for Irreversible Change

Professor McPherson mentioned Dr Andrew Glikson from the Australian National University. We have previously interviewed this courageous scientist on Nature Bats Last on PRN.FM , that interview and links to his previous work is embedded below;
Tipping Points in the Earth Climate System. Dr Andrew Glikson returns to Nature Bats Last

Professor Glikson emailed me PDF’s to his more recent work. I’ve embedded links to the published works below;
The Fatal Species: From Warlike Primates to Planetary Mass Extinction

The Event Horizon: Homo Prometheus and the Climate Catastrophe

“The Path of Increase is slow but the road to ruin is swift”. Lucius Seneca

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The Soon to Erupt Climate Change Fuelled Wars

As we circle the drain of climate collapse we need to discuss the absolute certainty of the looming climate change driven wars.
All wars are resource wars. The single most valuable ‘resource’ we have is habitat and habitat is quickly collapsing. It is logical that the last habitat on the planet will trigger a fight to the death, nowhere will be spared . War tragically is all this culture seems to be good at.

My friend and colleague Kevin Lister wrote a book on this subject titled “The Vortex of Violence: and why we are losing the war on climate change”.
“Like the failures on climate change, nuclear non-proliferation talks have also failed with the same regularity. Despite the climate change crisis facing us, the world’s nuclear weapons states are collectively embarking on one of biggest upgrades of nuclear weapons systems ever.”

As the sociopath Elon Musk boasted “We’ll coup whoever we want”
” Journalist Max Blumenthal claimed that Musk’s unapologetic tweet “practically takes credit for the Bolivian lithium coup.”
“Bolivia’s former president, Evo Morales, resigned and fled the country last November following accusations of election fraud. In an interview with RT, he called the events “a coup” aimed at installing a right-wing leader who will open up Bolivia’s lithium reserves – some of the largest in the world – to exploitation by industry.”
Very soon the lithium for your EV will arrive dripping in invisible indigenous blood.

‘We will coup whoever we want’: Elon Musk sparks online riot with quip about overthrow of Bolivia’s Evo Morales

Check out Mark Brimblecombe’s in-depth analysis titled Climate Change and the Mitigation Myth. Tragically renewables are part of the problem not a solution.

“Climate change what the Pentagon calls a “threat multiplier” could put the world on course toward worsening chaos or even extermination as nuclear-armed nations scramble to cope with environmental dislocations and resource shortages, a danger that could define the future, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.” The ‘Threat Multiplier’ of Climate Change
It’s important to remember that the USA treats it’s own soldiers with the same disdain as it’s victims;
You Just Can’t Trust The U.S. Government : Fallout – Human Guinea Pigs

“And here is the most impressive bluff: Just like in Kyoto and Paris, in Glasgow too, emissions of hothouse gases by all the world’s militaries are outside the game. Even though armies are some of the worst polluters on the face of the earth, no one is discussing them, no one is counting then, no one is proposing that their swelling ranks be cut. And not one single government is reporting honestly about the amount of garbage its army spews into the air.”

“This is no accident; it’s intentional. The United States explicitly requested an exemption from such reporting as far back as Kyoto. Other governments joined it. Including Israel. To make the point clear, here’s an interesting statistic: There are 195 countries in the world, and 148 of them emit a lot less hothouse gas than the U.S. Army alone.” 
At Glasgow, Military Emissions Are Exempt

“As the US ramps up brinkmanship with Russia and China it has simultaneously upgraded its nuclear arsenal to make nuke blasts more destructive and thereby capable of eliminating an enemy’s underground warheads. This will make an enemy more likely to strike first to avoid being disarmed.”
A Sense Of Perspective, If You Please: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix
“One of the most recent testaments to the U.S. military’s horrendous environmental record is Iraq.”
“U.S. military action there has resulted in the desertification of 90 percent of Iraqi territory, crippling the country’s agricultural industry and forcing it to import more than 80 percent of its food. The U.S.’ use of depleted uranium in Iraq during the Gulf War also caused a massive environmental burden for Iraqis. In addition, the U.S. military’s policy of using open-air burn pits to dispose of waste from the 2003 invasion has caused a surge in cancer among U.S. servicemen and Iraqi civilians alike.”
Militarism’s Role in the Sixth and Possibly Last ‘Great’ Extinction
 “In a nuclear war, immense nuclear firestorms in burning cities would create millions of tons of thick, black, radioactive smoke. This smoke would rise above cloud level and quickly surround and engulf the entire Earth. The smoke would form a stratospheric smoke layer that would block sunlight from reaching the surface of Earth for a period of about ten years.  Heated smoke in the stratosphere would cause massive destruction of the protective ozone layer. Huge amounts of harmful Ultraviolet light would penetrate the smoke and reach the surface of the Earth. Warming sunlight would be blocked by the smoke layer and cause the Earth to rapidly cool. In a matter of days, Ice Age weather conditions would descend upon all peoples and nations.”
The Inevitability of Nuclear War and Subsequent Nuclear Winter
Previously on this blog I mentioned that Aotearoa New Zealand will be over-run with climate change refugees; A Tsunami of Climate Change Refugees heading to Aotearoa New Zealand

“A senior Pentagon official warned the US military is “not ready” to handle climate change, a national security issue that touches nearly every aspect of Defense Department planning.”

“We are not where we should be, and now is beyond the time when we need to get in front of that challenge,” Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks told CNN.

“Beyond rising sea levels and extreme weather, climate change has opened up new areas of strategic competition like the Arctic and intensified the competition for scarce resources, such as the raw materials required to make the lithium-ion batteries crucial to electric vehicles.”
Senior Pentagon official warns the US military is ‘not ready’ for climate change

As we circle the drain of collapse I’ll add additional information to the comments section below, anyone reading this is invited to do the same. Have your say whilst you still have a voice. Subscribe to the blog if your open to the absolutely worst news of all time.
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Dylan Thomas – 1914-1953

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CopOut26, B Grade Cabaret Not Science

Mercifully, the charade known as Cop 26 has drawn to it’s ignominious end.
Almost all commentators are describing this latest Cop as a near total failure. As I have mentioned previously in this space it’s a near total success. The USA created the IPCC to prevent activists scientists from holding Capitalism’s feet to the abrupt climate change fire. It’s Time to Acknowledge the Spectacular Success of the IPCC.

In our video critique of the charade below I quoted the hyperlinked article from Democracy Now;
“Critiques of COP26 from activists both inside and outside its walls range from business as usual to abject failure. The United Kingdom’s shambolic management of the event, its strict visa requirements and its failure to deliver on its promised, pre-COP vaccination plan for attendees from nations with low vaccine availability have made this summit the whitest, most privileged COP in its 30-year history.” “While widespread access challenges have prevented thousands from participating, over 500 oil, gas and coal lobbyists have been given the red carpet treatment. If they were a nation, according to a new Global Witness report, they would be the largest delegation at COP26.”
Like Locusts, Lobbyists Swarm COP26 in Glasgow

“And here is the most impressive bluff: Just like in Kyoto and Paris, in Glasgow too, emissions of hothouse gases by all the world’s militaries are outside the game. Even though armies are some of the worst polluters on the face of the earth, no one is discussing them, no one is counting then, no one is proposing that their swelling ranks be cut. And not one single government is reporting honestly about the amount of garbage its army spews into the air.”

“This is no accident; it’s intentional. The United States explicitly requested an exemption from such reporting as far back as Kyoto. Other governments joined it. Including Israel. To make the point clear, here’s an interesting statistic: There are 195 countries in the world, and 148 of them emit a lot less hothouse gas than the U.S. Army alone.” 
At Glasgow, Military Emissions Are Exempt

“One of the most recent testaments to the U.S. military’s horrendous environmental record is Iraq.”
“U.S. military action there has resulted in the desertification of 90 percent of Iraqi territory, crippling the country’s agricultural industry and forcing it to import more than 80 percent of its food. The U.S.’ use of depleted uranium in Iraq during the Gulf War also caused a massive environmental burden for Iraqis. In addition, the U.S. military’s policy of using open-air burn pits to dispose of waste from the 2003 invasion has caused a surge in cancer among U.S. servicemen and Iraqi civilians alike.”
Militarism’s Role in the Sixth and Possibly Last ‘Great’ Extinction

Now for the Rogues Gallery;

“Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, said: “It’s meek, it’s weak and the 1.5C goal is only just alive, but a signal has been sent that the era of coal is ending. And that matters.”
Anyone saying that the 1.5C rubicon can be met is either ignorant or lying. Yet again Greenpeace, an organisation once very close to my heart, continues to be part of the problem by understating the level of warming we have already experienced / triggered.
Greenpeace’s corporate structure and hundreds perhaps thousands of paid ‘activists’ require donations. It’s easier to sell hope than doom, convenient lies are preferred to inconvenient truths
Cop26 ends in climate agreement despite India watering down coal resolution

“Alok Sharma, the UK cabinet minister who presided over the fortnight-long Cop26 talks in Glasgow, acknowledged the scale of the task remaining: “We can now say with credibility that we have kept 1.5C alive. But, its pulse is weak and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action.”
Cop26 ends in climate agreement despite India watering down coal resolution
Cop26: the goal of 1.5C of climate heating is alive, but only just

A quote from George Monbiot well known British environmental journalist who writes for the Guardian, a journalist  who incidentally has never uttered a word of support for fellow journalist Julian Assange currently being publicly tortured to death in Belmarsh Prison;
“The richest 1% of the world’s people (those earning more than $172,000 a year) produce 15% of the world’s carbon emissions: twice the combined impact of the poorest 50%. On average, they emit over 70 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person every year, 30 times more than we can each afford to release if we’re not to exceed 1.5C of global heating.”
‘Wealth Curse’ George Monbiot.

Professor Kevin Anderson;
“Conjuring up such futuristic ‘negative emission technologies’ to help achieve the virtually impossible 1.5°C target is perhaps understandable, but such intergenerational buck-passing also dominates the IPCC’s 2°C advice.”
Impossible and virtually impossible are two different things. “To genuinely reduce emissions in line with 2°C of warming requires a transformation in the productive capacity of society, reminiscent of the Marshall Plan.”
Response to the IPCC 1.5°C Special Report by Kevin Anderson

Generally discussions on how much warming we have triggered are based around shifting baselines relative to “Industrial Civilisation’, this allows everyone to choose random dates anywhere from 1750 to 1850 when in reality humans have been altering the atmospheric loading of carbon since mastering the ‘art’ of using fire hundreds of thousands of years ago and at scale since civilisations emerged as long ago as 4000 BC
The beginning of civilisation and agriculture was the seed of our demise. We bloomed into a terminal plague.
” The earliest civilizations developed between 4000 and 3000 BCE “
We should be going back at least 1000 years before estimating how much anthropogenic warming we have triggered, the devil is in the detail.
As #Copout26 ground to it’s illogical but predetermined end there is much talk/lies about how much warming we have seen since the beginning of industrial civilisation. They lie by juggling baseline dates even though we have evidence of coal being burnt in 1183 in County Durham for the ironwork of the ploughs at near by Coundon in the not very United Kingdom;
Baseline Temperature dishonesty at the Edge of Extinction

It should be no surprise to anyone that a violent racist patriarchy has underestimated climate sensitivity

“If hope becomes something you express through illusion it’s not hope it’s fantasy.
Those who speak truth are marginalised and ignored. dismissed as pessimists in a culture that prides itself on a child like optimism at the expense of reality. We have a mania for hope which our corporate masters lavishly provide across the political and cultural spectrum to keep us passive”. Chris Hedges

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas – 1914-1953

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It’s Time to Acknowledge the Spectacular Success of the IPCC.

“US support was probably critical to IPCC’s establishment. And why did the US government support it? Assistant Undersecretary of State Bill Nitze wrote to me a few years later saying that our group’s activities played a significant role. Among other motivations, the US government saw the creation of the IPCC as a way to Prevent the activism stimulated by my colleagues and me from controlling the policy agenda.”
The home of climate change denial was instrumental in setting up the IPCC.

“I suspect that the Reagan Administration believed that, in contrast to our group, most scientists were not activists, and would take years to reach any conclusion on the magnitude of the threat. Even if they did, they probably would fail to express it in plain English. The US government must have been quite surprised when IPCC issued its first assessment at the end of 1990, stating clearly that human activity was likely to produce an unprecedented warming.”

Source How the IPCC Got Started;

The IPCC was designed to fail, part of their mandate is to not make recommendations that would constrict economic growth.

Chair of the IPCC Dr Rajendra Pachauri, Valencia Spain, Nov 17, 2007.

“If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment”

Survivable IPCC projections based on science fiction.
“In the latest ‘Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 5th Assessment Report’ (IPCC AR5), there have been published a selection of ‘Representative Concentration Pathways’ (RCP’s).
Dr Matt Watson, from the school of earth Sciences at the University of Bristol (UK), made this point strongly at a recent meeting at the Royal Society in London:“ Why are we doing this? Why are we doing this research? This is why, this is the latest projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the alarming thing is that these two scenarios [RCP 2.6 and RCP 4.5] both include negative emissions technology. So, there is geoengineering, of the flavour of carbon dioxide removal, in the best case scenarios.”
“The very, very alarming thing for us is that we are on this path here, that is RCP 8.5. We are slap bang on this trajectory and this puts us in a very different place in our children’s lifetime.”
All hope of maintaining a liveable planet has been gambled on negative emissions technology that simply does not exist. In fact it is “Fantasy Technology” that they hope will be invented sometime in the future.

“I say to my soul be patient and wait without hope for to hope is to hope for the wrong thing”
T.S. Elliot

“If hope becomes something you express through illusion then it’s not hope, it’s fantasy”.
“Those who speak truth are marginalised and ignored, dismissed as pessimists in a culture that prides itself on a child like optimism at the expense of reality.”
“We have a mania for hope which our corporate masters lavishly provide across the political and cultural spectrum to keep us passive”.
Chris Hedges American Psychosis available on Vimeo.

In his 1926 novel “The Sun Always Rises” Hemingway describes how the end comes about when you lose everything. One character named Bill asked “How did you go bankrupt?” “Two ways” Mike replied, Gradually and then suddenly”.

“The Scientifically necessary is politically unfeasible, the politically feasible is scientifically irrelevant”
William Rees

“How do we live with the fact that we are destroying our world? What do we make of the loss of glaciers, the melting Arctic, island nations swamped by the sea, widening deserts, and drying farmlands?”

“Because of social taboos, despair at the state of our world and fear for our future are rarely acknowledged. The suppression of despair, like that of any deep recurring response, contributes to the numbing of the psyche. Expressions of anguish or outrage are muted, deadened as if a nerve had been cut. This refusal to feel impoverishes our emotional and sensory life. Flowers are dimmer and less fragrant, our loves less ecstatic. We create diversions for ourselves as individuals and as nations, in the fights we pick, the aims we pursue, and the stuff we buy.”

The Greatest Danger

–by Joanna Macy,

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Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future

The February episode of Nature Bats Last featured a conversation with Professor Paul Ehrlich where we discussed his recent bomb shell paper titled “Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future” co-written with two former guests on the show Corey Bradshaw and Geraldo Ceballos et al.
The episode is embedded here:

“We report three major and confronting environmental issues that have received little attention and require urgent action. First, we review the evidence that future environmental conditions will be far more dangerous than currently believed. The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its lifeforms—including humanity—is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts. Second, we ask what political or economic system, or leadership, is prepared to handle the predicted disasters, or even capable of such action. Third, this dire situation places an extraordinary responsibility on scientists to speak out candidly and accurately when engaging with government, business, and the public. We especially draw attention to the lack of appreciation of the enormous challenges to creating a sustainable future. The added stresses to human health, wealth, and well-being will perversely diminish our political capacity to mitigate the erosion of ecosystem services on which society depends. The science underlying these issues is strong, but awareness is weak. Without fully appreciating and broadcasting the scale of the problems and the enormity of the solutions required, society will fail to achieve even modest sustainability goals.”
Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future

Guy mentioned the following paper also co-written by Professor’s Ehrlich and Ceballos:
“The ongoing sixth mass species extinction is the result of the destruction of component populations leading to eventual extirpation of entire species. Populations and species extinctions have severe implications for society through the degradation of ecosystem services. Here we assess the extinction crisis from a different perspective. We examine 29,400 species of terrestrial vertebrates, and determine which are on the brink of extinction because they have fewer than 1,000 individuals.”
Vertebrates on the brink as indicators of biological annihilation and the sixth mass extinction

The issue of collapse and extinction is becoming more mainstream by the day. Check out the article below from the L.A. Times”
“It’s not hard to find the “collapseology” studies they are talking about. In a report for the sustainability group Future Earth, a survey of scientists found that extreme weather events, food insecurity, freshwater shortages and the broad degradation of life-sustaining ecosystems “have the potential to impact and amplify one another in ways that might cascade to create global systemic collapse.” A 2019 report from the Breakthrough National Center for Climate Restoration, a think tank in Australia, projected that a rapidly warming world of depleted resources and mounting pollution would lead to “a largely uninhabitable Earth” and a “breakdown of nations and the international order.” Analysts in the U.S. and British military over the past two years have issued similar warnings of climate- and environment-driven chaos”. Op-Ed: Collapseologists are warning humanity that business-as-usual will make the Earth uninhabitable

At the beginning of the interview I asked Paul how he was recovering from the Australian bush fires that wiped out 20% of Australia’s forest in one fire season: ‘Unprecedented’ globally: more than 20% of Australia’s forests burnt in bushfires

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Science Talk with Jim Massa on Nature Bats Last

The January 2021 episode of Nature Bats Last featured a discussion with Arctic research scientist Jim Massa. The episode is embedded here:

From our pre-show emails:
“Natalia and Igor have done an enormous amount of work studying the methane issue. They have covered a lot of area between the Russian side of the arctic ocean as well as Siberia itself examining what is happening to not only the ESAS and Laptev but the permafrost in the tundra itself. Those who are quick to dismiss their work, say they are being hyperbolic about the methane time bomb are really missing the forest for the trees. If they wish to debate their estimated levels, okay, have that debate. That’s a legitimate scientific debate. But to be dismissive of the threat posed by methane is imo a grave error in judgment.” Jim Massa

“Research into tiny zooplankton at the centre of Arctic food web reveals changing habits that could impact the entire eco-system”.
“The tiny zooplankton at the centre of the Arctic food web are being forced to end their winter ocean hibernation early in areas where the sea ice is melting – throwing the entire local eco-system into disarray, a team of scientists has found.”
Climate change is disrupting the Arctic eco-system as parts of the sea aren’t freezing

“It turns out the dolphins died because their habitat became desalinated, according to the scientists.”

“Over a decade after the 2007 mortality event, the group published a paper in Nature Scientific Reports tying the fatal dolphin condition, dubbed freshwater skin disease, to climate change.” 

“Other research over the past decade has implicated freshwater as the cause of deadly skin ulcers in dolphins and whales. The new paper provides more evidence for this and suggests that an increase in extreme weather events due to climate change has exposed dolphin populations to more freshwater.”
Mysterious Dolphin Deaths Linked To Climate Change In New Study

We discussed the issue of pathogens being reintroduced to the environment after being dormant in the ice and permafrost for thousands of years. I’ve covered that previously at the blog embedded here: Pestilence: Another Consequence of Losing the Cryosphere and the Permafrost

Jim’s You Tube channel is embedded below. To keep up with his important work subscribe and click the ‘bell’ symbol to receive an email notification when Jim publishes a new video at Science Talk with Jim Massa:

Jim’s twitter handle is Jim Massa (@jim27182) / Twitter
Also, please go to: Science Talk with Jim Massa is creating videos discussing science and scientific topics | Patreon and consider becoming a patron and support this work for as little as $3 or more per month.

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The Event Horizon; Homo Prometheus and the Climate Catastrophe

The December episode of Nature Bats Last which featured an interview with Dr Andrew Glikson from the Australian National University is embedded here.

We discussed the potential for the Arctic marine food web to collapse, more details on that aspect of this catastrophe are embedded here; Witnessing ice habitat collapse in the Arctic

“Algae that live in and under the sea ice play a much greater role for the Arctic food web than previously assumed. In a new study, biologists of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research showed that not only animals that live directly under the ice thrive on carbon produced by so-called ice algae. Even species that mostly live at greater depth depend to a large extent on carbon from these algae. This also means that the decline of the Arctic sea ice may have far-reaching consequences for the entire food web of the Arctic Ocean. Their results have been published online now in the journal Limnology & Oceanography.”
“We now know that ice algae play a much more important role for the pelagic food web than previously assumed. This finding also means, however, that the decline of the ice could have a more profound impact on Arctic marine animals, including fish, seals and ultimately also polar bears, than hitherto suspected,” says Doreen Kohlbach.” Cascading Consequences of the Loss of Arctic Sea Ice

I mentioned the extraordinary phenomenon of dust from the Sahara being carried into the Arctic. Check out; Changes in polar jet circulation bring more dust from Sahara Desert to the Arctic

After we were on air Professor McPherson and I joked about Andrew mentioning that “No one wants to be Casandra”, ain’t that the truth ! Guy and I laughed about the fact that we don’t want to be ‘Cassandra’s’ but we see it as a duty to both the youth and all the other species we take down with us to honestly confront the predicament we find ourselves in.
This is the article written by Dr Glikson for the Arctic News Blog; Accelerated global warming and stadial cooling events: IPCC oversights regarding future climate trends

We discussed the threat of methane eruptions in the Arctic which I have covered previously on this blog. Check out all the links in the comments section; Bubble, Bubble, GigaTons of Methane Trouble and the lack of urgency from the IPCC

An excerpt from Dr Glikson’s The Event Horizon Homo Prometheus and the Climate Catastrophe
“With the advent of global warming and the nuclear arms race, humans are rapidly approaching a moment of truth. Technologically supreme, they manifest their dreams and nightmares in the real world through science, art, adventures and brutal wars, a paradox symbolized by a candle lighting the dark yet burning away to extinction, as discussed in this book. As these lines are being written, fires are burning on several continents, the Earth’s ice sheets are melting and the oceans are rising, threatening to flood the planet’s coastal zones and river valleys, where civilization arose and humans live and grow food.  With the exception of birds like hawks, black kites and fire raptors, humans are the only life form utilizing fire, creating developments they can hardly control. For more than a million years, gathered around campfires during the long nights, mesmerized by the flickering life-like dance of the flames, prehistoric humans acquired imagination, a yearning for omnipotence, premonitions of death, cravings for immortality and conceiving the supernatural. Humans live in realms of perceptions, dreams, myths and legends, in denial of critical facts, waking up for a brief moment to witness a world that is as beautiful as it is cruel. Existentialist philosophy offers a way of coping with the unthinkable. Looking into the future produces fear, an instinctive response that can obsess the human mind and create a conflict between the intuitive reptilian brain and the growing neocortex, with dire consequences. As contrasted with Stapledon’s Last and first Man, where an advanced human species mourns the fate of the Earth, Homo sapiens continues to transfer every extractable molecule of carbon from the Earth to the atmosphere, the lungs of the biosphere, ensuring the demise of the planetary life support system.”
“In Greek mythology, the Titan Prometheus had a reputation as being something of a clever trickster and he famously gave the human race the gift of fire and the skill of metalwork, an action for which he was punished by Zeus, who ensured everyday that an eagle ate the liver of the Titan as he was helplessly chained to a rock.” Prometheus

The Event Horizon

Homo Prometheus and the Climate Catastrophe

My ‘Antidote to despair’ is to volunteer at the Rakino Island Nursery on a rewilding project. Dr Glikson’s is to write poetry. Links to his poetry and his previous interviews are embedded here; Tipping Points in the Earth Climate System. Dr Andrew Glikson returns to Nature Bats Last

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Q & A between Nature Bats Last and Sam Carana author at the Arctic News Blog

The October episode of Nature Bats Last consists of a series of questions submitted to Sam Carana the author at the
The audio of the episode is embedded here;

Sam Carana has chosen to keep his or her identity secret so after flicking a dice Pauline Schneider was chosen to be the voice of Sam Carana. Professor Guy McPherson and myself asked questions both our own and one from Joey Casey a member of the Nature Bats Last Facebook group

We discussed Sam’s “Climate Plan”, it can be found here;

One of my questions was; As we watch the collapse of the Arctic Sea Ice and the meandering jet streams how concerned are you about further disruption to the Atlantic Meriodonal Overturning Circulation?

Sam replied;” One of the biggest dangers I see is that a cool freshwater lid is growing on top of the surface of the North atlantic, near the Arctic Ocean, and that this is sealing off hot water underneath the sea surface from the atmosphere. Slowing down of AMOC will result in an increasing amount of hot water accumulating underneath the surface. As storms grow stronger, chances increase that a sudden inflow of hot salty water will enter the Arctic Ocean and reach sediments at the seafloor that contain huge amounts of methane.”
Sam covered this aspect of the unraveling with a blog post written by former NBL guest Dr Andrew Glikson; An uncharted 21-23rd centuries’ climate territory

I have previously been Sam Carana’s ‘voice’ in an interview with Wolfgang Werminghausen. That earlier discussion can be found here;


I mentioned that we have lost 68% of the planets biodiversity in the last 50 years. “Two major reports released this month paint a grim portrait of the future for our planet’s wildlife. First, the Living Planet Report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), published last week, found that in half a century, human activity has decimated global wildlife populations by an average of 68 percent. Humans Wiped Out Two-Thirds of the World’s Wildlife in 50 Years

“Biodiversity scientists are being urged to “fight the creeping rise of extinction denial” that has spread from fringe blogs to influential media outlets and even into a U.S. Congressional hearing. The call to arms came in a paper published in Nature Ecology & Evolution last month by Alexander Lees, senior lecturer in conservation biology at Manchester Metropolitan University, and colleagues. Biologists warn ‘extinction denial’ is the latest anti-science conspiracy theory

The November episode of Nature Bats Last features the artist Ken Avidor, check out his amazing art and leave any questions for him in the comments section below; Ken’s You Tube channel is BICYCLOPOLIS

Check out “Mazz Alone” 

Embedded below is the interview with Dr Natalia Shakova which we discussed;
Methane Hydrates – Extended Interview Extracts With Natalia Shakhova



Posted in Uncategorized

Shark Attack at Minerva Reef

The story begins at the breakwater alongside the Water Front Café in Port Villa harbour, Vanuatu in September 1999.
I was in Vanuatu to deliver a Roberts 65’ back to New Zealand. Brian Loundes, the owner of Relember (not a spelling mistake) had called me and asked if I’d help him bring the boat back to Aotearoa N.Z. from the Central Pacific. I had previously delivered the boat to Fiji. It was a good opportunity to escape the end of the winter at home and skive off to the sun. That and a decent wallop of cash was all the convincing I needed. I flew up and good old Bri’ was at the airport to meet me, with his bloody bags! “Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you mate, he says, I’m not coming. You’re on your own with Lyla.” I’d hardly digested that, as he was walking through the departure gate, when he called back, almost as an afterthought, “Oh, and Lyla, wants to you drop into New Caledonia on the way. See Ya”.
Bloody, ambushing bastard. But hey, there are worse things you could be paid to do!!!!!!
I hooked up with Lyla at the boat and all was sweet. She is a great woman, very capable, a good navigator and an all round excellent crew member.

When I got to the boat, it was blowing hard, circa 35knts and I wasn’t going anywhere. I spent the next few days re-acquainting myself with the boat and her systems and drinking and eating at the Waterfront Café. Life was good. There were a number of Yachts holed up in the harbour waiting for the strong south-easterly winds to abate, before turning for home at the end of the Pacific cruising season.
The general rule is boats from Australia and New Zealand head for the South Pacific around the end of April, early May. They cruise the amazing Islands of Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and New Caledonia then head home around the middle of November before the cyclone season begins. The cruising season is determined by the effective sea water temperature. Cyclones or Hurricanes as they are called in the Caribbean and Typhoons as they are called in the South China Sea, only form when the sea water temperature is above 26 degrees Celsius. Now, as a general rule, you can get a ‘Fuck Off’ storm at any time of the year but their prevalence is much more likely when the water is warmer, as the evaporation conspires to energize the weather patterns. Golden rule; go home before things heat up! We’ll see more and stronger cyclones as our climate crisis escalates.
So, I’m hanging at the bar, trading sea stories with Andre Morris, the owner of ‘Sam’s Toy Box’, a gorgeous 75ft Aluminium Ketch from Coffs Harbour, Australia when a distress call came in from the yacht ‘Sea Toy’.
Those of us who had watched ‘Sea Toy’ head out into the gale three days previously weren’t particularly surprised to hear she was in trouble. Firstly she had ‘beat out’ into the sleet and murk, only to return about 12 hours later with her headsail flapping in tatters to show what a thrashing she had experienced. Then after a day to repair both ship and crew and with no change in the weather, she had raised both her anchor and her courage and set out again. The skipper had a court  case in Aotearoa NZ to attend and let his timetable overwhelm good sense. Maritime error 101.

‘Sea Toy’ is a gorgeous Warrick 65’, dig the marketing pictures here. A big, solid, well foundered vessel but no matter how big you are, who needs a beating, right? Her S.O.S. call came in at 8pm, reporting that of the three crew on board, both the skipper and one other were incapacitated with an unknown illness and the remaining crewman was stuck on the helm, as the autopilot had given up the ghost. He had limited experience and needed assistance to return to Villa, bearing in mind that the island is surrounded by an outer reef with limited entrances and it’s blowing a gale, at night, after a hideous day at sea. All the conditions for a disastrous outcome.
Via V.H.F. radio communications we arranged to rendezvous at the entrance through the reef.
Andre and I set off in ‘Sam’s’ centre console, rigid hulled inflatable. We stuck our heads around the corner of the inner harbour and all we could see was foam flying past at warp speed. We bashed our way towards the outer reef, through sleet and foam, nearly colliding with the unlit channel marker and unable to hear each other for the roar of the wind. It was …………crap.
Finally ‘Sea Toy’ loomed out of the dark. Bloody hell, now it dawned on me that I was going to have to jump from the relative terror of the rubber ducky on to the pitching deck of the yacht. We came alongside, with Andre manoeuvring the ducky close enough to off load me but not so close as to be crushed by the boat as she crashed through the waves. The trouble in these conditions is that a 32TON vessel reacts differently to a 100kg tender (tender by name, tender by nature).Andre was a great boatman, he came along side and when ‘Sea Toy’ went ‘Bow Down’; I launched myself ‘Belly Up’ from the R.I.B. landing on the foredeck like a beached flying fish. I made no attempt to land on my feet as just getting on board would be considered a successful flight and I didn’t want to run the risk of stumbling overboard. I literally kissed the deck, scrambled to my unstable feet and proceeded aft to the obvious delight of the helmsman. From there on in it was a pretty straight forward trip in. I took control of the boat and followed a G.P.S. course into Villa. I nestled Sea Toy into the anchorage, medevacked the crew off to the hospital and returned to “Sam’s Toy Box ” and attacked Andres’ store of single malt whiskey.

Sea Toy 2
The next day we were being regaled by the cruising fleet on the bravery/ stupidity of the previous evening adventure when I met a guy called Roger Lindsay. This character and another were in the process of removing the headsail foil from a yacht moored at the breakwater. The foil is the track that allows the head sail to slide up the stay. It is attached to a drum ‘Furler’ which allows you to simply roll the sail either in or out. To lower this equipment on to the deck you must be careful not to bend or kink the foil. I lent another couple of hands and after, Roger offered to buy me a beer and wanted to hear of our previous evenings rescue. We formally introduced each other at the bar and I said, ‘I used to know a Roger Lindsay in Matamata’. He replied a bit nonplussed, ‘I’m the only Roger Lindsay in Matamata’. It turns out that I had worked for Roger and his great dad, 24yrs previously when I was fifteen. Small world ! We’d both changed considerably.

A day or two later we set off, when the wind had abated and moved around into the North – East and we had a beam reach down to New Caledonia. On arrival Lyla and I hung out at the Port Moselle Marina. We went into town and ate great French/ Polynesian cuisine, visited the Gauguin museum and the cultural centre and re-charged out personal batteries before beginning the downhill, seven day voyage to N.Z. I next saw Sea Toy in June of the following year at West Haven Marina in Auckland and I wandered over to introduce myself to the new skipper, Ian Farrell. It turned out that she was being prepared for a trip to Tonga via Minerva Reef and Ian needed additional crew. I signed up. Yay, here we go again.

We set sail from N.Z. on the 7 July on the back of a low pressure system that had just crossed the Tasman Sea. If you leave after the low has passed over your position, while the winds are still strong you get a slingshot effect off the top of North Island with the benefit of knowing that the winds will abate as the low tracks East. On the first two days we had brilliant sailing conditions, with 25 – 30knt winds aft of the beam with a following sea. This ladies and gentlemen is as good as it gets. Sea Toy loved it and galloped ahead swallowing up the miles. After five days at sea we began to close on South Minerva Reef and the crew became excited about landing seriously big fish. Minerva Reef (North and South) are these amazing 2000m high mountains that rise from the ocean floor and stop exactly at sea level. That’s right, they are 2000m high mountains but they start at the bottom of the Ocean so are surrounded by seriously deep water.
About five miles before we reached the reef, Ian brought the boat head to wind and we furled our sails and we got into fishing mode and drew forth our weapons. In preparation for the impending battle, Mal’, Sea Toys owner had traded a small bucket of money for a correspondingly small bucket of shiny, sharp and bizarre fishing paraphernalia. If you throw enough of this stuff off the back of the boat you may get kippers for supper. With weapons drawn and armour worn we set off on our quest. Mal’ looked particularly fetching in a cute little gimbled number from Black Magic, which looked like a joint design effort between Versace and Genghis Khan making him look like a sea born gimp.
Moments after the call to arms we heard the familiar chortle of a smoking reel threatening to explode into its 100 individual parts. Mal mounted his trusty steed and set forth with lieutenants at hand to fight the good fight. The brief was for me to retrieve the other lines and for Bruce to wield our magnificent gaff. Six foot of tropical hardwood, strong but supple with a shepherd’s crook of stainless steel, honed to a spine chilling point. We could see the direction the fish was running and Ian maneuverer the boat accordingly. Bruce and I began to retrieve the other lines we had out to avoid a tangle up, when the inevitable happened. Another hook-up. Two more fish, rampaging in two different directions. Result? Unmitigated chaos. We had three smoking reels, singing and in 10 seconds had lost enough line to hog tie Africa. I started grinding on my rod but bearing in mind we had only one gimble, the butt of my rod was jammed in my scrotum. Every time I leaned back to load the rod, my eyes watered. Whilst it was undoubtedly exciting that is not my idea of fun. Mal’s fish is approaching the boat and not too happily. Bruce was hanging from the safety rail by his toe nails with this enormous gaff between his teeth and a crazed look on his almost submerged face. Mal issued a deep throated grunt and an occasional cry of despair as the line was given and taken, then a shriek of delight at a flash of silver and yellow was seen near the surface. Bruce is lunging at the ducking and diving fish and I kept telling him “It’s a freakin ‘gaff, you ‘hookim’ with it you don’t beat them to death.’ Then the tip slid under and into the fish and we had ourselves a monster yellow fin Tuna lunging out of the sea. Finally it was over the rail and a bird in the hand. By now, I’m bawling my eyes out, my scrotum is stretched down to my knees and my arms are aching. With a gimble your legs do all of the work but when you’re simply holding onto the rod it’s all arms and appendages.
Onward the brave and then my fish gives up the ghost, completely different to Mal’s. I could still feel the weight on my line but all the fight was gone out of it. On cue it comes meekly to the surface. Another monster of a Yellow fin with a huge head and ……….. Fuck all else. Some gorilla of a shark had just snaffled 20kg’s of sashimi and all I had to show for it was the head. Pretty damn impressive though. These two fish would have been much the same size when whole and Mal’s weighed in at 33kg’s. There was evidence of two bites having been taken from my fish and I guess each one contained about 12kg’s of prime Yellow Fin Tuna. Little did we know that this was a foreboding of things to come.
This photo is from an article published in ‘Boating New Zealand”

We began the run into South Minerva. The entrance through the passage into the interior of the reef is relatively narrow, with coral ‘bombies’ to port and a series of sub-marine rocks below, in the centre of the channel. The water is so crystal clear it feels like you are sliding over the top of these rocks but it is an optical illusion as they are 20m below the surface. The reef is a figure of eight shape, about five miles long. The massive mid ocean swells are breaking on and surging over this reef and ‘venting’ out through this narrow passage hence there is a five or seven knot current running depending on how big the ocean swell is. To enter safely it is necessary to hit the passage hard and fast, not normally how you would navigate a narrow entry!!!! I once entered the lagoon at Lady Musgrave Island on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and was stopped dead in the passage by the outgoing surge. I’ll never make that mistake again!

Ian slid Sea Toy expertly through the pass and into the clear aquamarine waters of the lagoon. There was already one other yacht lying inside the reef and we hoped we weren’t invading their space. When we had entered the lagoon, I had taken up a position up the mast at the first ‘spreader’ to better check for obstructions and I waved out to the two divers who were sitting on the surface as we went by, happy to see someone else after five days of nothing but Pacific rollers. We set our anchor a polite distance away and cracked a few beers and began to relax. When the divers returned to their boat I hailed them on the V.H.F. and spoke to their skipper, Christian. He was a classic, tough old South African and I gave him a good natured ribbing about his rugby team being beaten by the Aussies. I asked them about their success with the renowned Minerva crayfish but to my surprise they said they were spear fishing! About an hour later they weighed anchor and moved to the north – east of the reef about a half mile from our position, stopping nearby for a chat on the way.

After they had left we launched our tender and had a dive for crays but the current was relentless and the famous Minerva reef crays were nowhere to be seen. We’d have to settle for sashimi, sushi and Thai coconut curry. The deprivations of the sea!
The next day dawned but slowly for us. We were drained from five days of two hour watches and we were moving pretty slowly. We began to prepare the boat to return to sea but the transom door refused to close and I spent the next several hours attempting to fix the problem. These hours proved significant for Christian.

Finally we were ready to get underway. When the anchor was raised I went forward to seal the hawser as Sea Toy fell away from her position and we were underway. Without the technical problems we had encountered we would now have been 30mls away enroute to Tonga. As we turned towards the channel entrance to the reef, I saw Donellas inflatable approaching us at speed, driven by Jeremy, one of the divers. He broadsided the R.I.B. to a halt in one movement. He didn’t need to say anything; the side of the tender was covered in bright red blood. I’ll never forget that sight. The inside was awash with pink water. I remember just one thing he yelled. “Shark Attack”. I declined to get into the inflatable as I needed to assemble the first aid kit, so Ian gunned Sea Toy’s engine to begin the trip to Donella.
To leave New Zealand, in a N. Z. registered yacht you must have a Cat One clearance certificate, a requirement of which includes a comprehensive medical kit. I grabbed anti biotics, both powder and pills, syringes, needles and the dreaded narcotics. Gauze and rubber gloves and bandages, bandages and some more bandages. At this stage I was close to a blind panic and started guzzling Rescue remedy.

Eighteen months previously while delivering a boat from Noumea to Auckland; I had a fall and smashed my chest into the companionway, cracking a couple of ribs. I spent the subsequent three days holding my chest in excruciating pain, whilst continuing to sail home, all the while wondering what was going on inside my chest. I vowed to learn more and on my return enrolled in a Coast Guard marine medical course run by Pro Action Medical. I think what follows is called ‘The Deep End’.

We reached Donella and I jumped from the bow of Sea Toy onto the blood encrusted tender then scrambled onto their boat. The cockpit was awash with undiluted blood which was beginning to congeal and it was thick and I mean thick. I simply wanted to run. There wasn’t so much as a rock for 300mls and all I wanted to do was run! Then my training kicked in and I remembered; Stop, Think, and Assess. Stay calm, compression and elevation. Christian was completely coherent. I asked him about his pain level and he said he was ok. Good old shock temporarily masking the coming tsunami of pain. He said he was ok but he didn’t look it, this was one seriously tough African. I slipped an oral pain killer under his tongue. His crew had wrapped a T-Shirt around his fore arm and then bandaged over the top but the leaking blood had saturated both and I was sure it was still leaking. They all said there was a major wound under the bandages. The shark had got both of his arms and he had lacerations to hands, wrists and forearms. We slung a rope over the boom and I tied his arm up above his head. He didn’t flinch. We then strung his feet up and curved his body to keep what was left of his blood concentrated in his torso. We had him strung up like a chicken.
After checking all the wounds I could see, I positioned Ryan on the other side of Christian with both hands around the top of his bicep exerting moderate pressure and said, “When I take off the bandage, if it spits at us, clamp it harder.”
I wasn’t convinced it was the right thing to do, but I knew that when I made contact with the real medics, I would need to be able to describe what the damage looked like. Carefully I exposed the wound, took one look at it and simply crapped myself. The major damage was a 150mm long bite where the sharks teeth had sunk in down to the bone and then ripped the flesh backwards. It was ragged and ugly. I lifted the flap of flesh and could see a long section of forearm bone and all sorts of stuff I hadn’t seen before. There were teeth serration scars on the Radius and Ulnar bones, coming from the underside of his wrist was what looked like pasta with a hole in the centre. I had always thought veins were bluish but that’s only when they have blood flowing through them. I know better now. I tried to make a picture of it in my head so I would be able to describe it to a doctor later on the satellite phone on board Sea Toy.
I tried not to dwell on the fact that the nearest piece of land was 300mls away and I nearly burst into tears. I folded the flap of flesh back down after dusting the wound with anti-biotic powder and moved on. I layered gauze over the major wound and started wrapping with a finger splint bent into a deep “V” to compress down above the severed artery. There was not a lot of blood coming out of such a gaping wound and there were some pretty major blood vessels lying ripped and torn but when you figure how much was in the ocean, on the dingy and awash in the cockpit, I figured the main reason was he probably didn’t have a hell of a lot left. When I first starting wrapping the blood just soaked through but as I got more and tighter layers on that stopped and the further away I got the better I felt. We stripped off Christian’s shredded wetsuit and I said I wanted to get him down below. He simply stood up and walked down the companionway. We were in awe. We lay him down and began to rehydrate him slowly.
I kept asking him questions to monitor his level of response and his answers were always consistent. I think he thought I was an idiot, repeating myself and I wasn’t sure he had much faith in me but that didn’t matter as I had very little in myself. I said I was going back to my boat to call the doctors and would be back as soon as I could. His crew were two young teenagers but they had behaved admirably. There initial care had saved Christians life, now it was my turn. It was a particularly short queue. There were seven people in a 300nm radius. Ian had anchored about 80m away. It seemed like a long trip and my mind was racing. On board I picked up the Saturn-m sat phone. Handy eh? Without it we would have been in deeper trouble as SSB communications had been patchy for the previous few days. I called John Farrel, Ian’s father, who was also a skipper who had sailed to Minerva and would be well prepared to coordinate help. Shortly thereafter I was contacted by Taupo Marine Radio and I was patched through to Doctor Pierre Bradley at Wellington Hospital. I relayed the events that had transpired. He was a real pro reassuring me that what we had done so far was correct and giving me a new set of tasks. I returned to Donella with a new sense of purpose and confidence only to be freaked out when I saw Christian again. The initial adrenalin he had been getting by on had subsided and he was going into shock. He was pale and greyish, considerably weaker and worst of all the blood had soaked through the dressing. I had thought we were on the road to recovery and things were stabilizing but we had only just begun. I added more crepe bandages, concentrating on tension at the top of the wound area and topped it off with a dense adhesive bandage. I asked Christian how he was feeling and what the pain was like and he said he was ok and it was manageable but his answer lacked conviction and his former strength was abating. I tried to reassure him but he saw right through me and we all began to realize how serious our collective situation was becoming. After administering more pain relief, I high tailed it back to Sea Toy with Jeremy driving. I told him I thought Christian’s life was in the balance and that he needed to keep him still and his arm and feet elevated. Jeremy was visibly rattled as I don’t think he realised how serious things were. I reported back to Pierre that the bleeding had continued and that I had re bandaged. He asked me to stand by for a minute or so then came back and began asking me a series of questions about my medical skill level and I didn’t like the direction the conversation was heading in. I had told him that I had a Coastguard Marine Medics Certificate but I could feel the water beneath my feet getting deeper and deeper. Pierre told me to go back to Donella and if the bleeding was at all apparent through the new bandaging to apply a tourniquet at the arm pit. I nearly started crying. ‘That’s a huge call you’re asking me to make’, I told him. His reply was “If the bleeding continued Christian would die. Better to lose an arm than your patient.” All the good feeling that had been established between us evaporated and I thought “You come and bloody do it, he’s not my patient”! It was an illogical stress response. I couldn’t have got through this without Dr Pierre Bradley, nor would have Christian.
I’m a trained yacht skipper and am supposed to remain cool and calm at all times but it was all turning to gobshite. It was getting late in the evening and word came through from the New Zealand Navy ship Resolution that she had responded to our distress call and was motoring at best speed to our position and would be on station at 2200hrs the following day. Over 24hrs from now. I put Jeremy and Ryan on two hour watches over Christian with instructions to contact me if there was any deterioration in his condition or if there was any sign of blood coming through the dressing and I decided to get some rest myself. I was feeling shattered and needed to get my head together as tomorrow was going to be another long day. I got out my medical training manuals and prepared for what I thought would be his inevitable heart attack, fortunately it never happened !
I lay the hand held V.H.F. beside my pillow with the volume on full so I would hear the lads hailing me if I was needed. I dreaded the thought of a call as it would only mean one of two things. That we were losing Christian or that he was bleeding. Neither bore thinking about. I knew that if I approached Christian to apply a tourniquet there was no chance he would allow it. I began plotting to knock him out if necessary, what a fuck up.

That was what I was thinking as I slipped off to sleep. I awoke with the dawn and the realization that I hadn’t been needed. The sense of panic from the previous day was lessened. I hailed Donella on the V.H.F. and was answered immediately by Ryan with the news that there was no new bleeding and Christian had passed a comfortable night. Narcotics rock! Things were looking up big time. There wasn’t much more we could do for Christian except maintain watches over him and so for some light relief I staged the inaugural Minerva Reef Golf Open. The place was predominantly rough coral heads sticking out about 1metre above sea level at low tide but there was a small coral sand beach which we used as a bunker. We adapted one of the ships buckets as a chipping hole marked with the Gaff and on top a Squadron Burgee as the flag and we had chipping practice on Hole One. ( I had brought a couple of old golf clubs with me as you do when heading to sea).
This little beach was adjacent to a small channel running through the coral . As we dorked around chipping, I swear, a small Black Tipped Reef Shark meandered through adjacent to us only a few meters away. That got a wry look amongst us I can tell you. Moments before we had been rescuing errant balls from this shallow little channel!!!
Hole two was a driving competition where we blasted our store of golf balls into the Pacific Ocean ( Mea-culpa) from the top of the Shipwreck Cairn built by the Australian Navy.

In the early sixties a sailing trader carrying 17 Tongans had been wrecked on the reef and they were lucky enough to be able to survive 144 days in the hull of a previously wrecked Japanese fishing boat. The Aussies, gawd love’m, had concreted together blocks of coral and old engine parts and what have you, with a piece of pipe sticking up from it to hold on to, if ever the same thing happened again.
It was a ‘two hole’ open. Yeah, Yeah, all right—Giz a break! With a total population of seven, having an ‘open’ at all was an achievement in itself. I met someone years later in Tanna, Vanuatu, who was telling a story about finding a golf club at the Cairn and they were blown away to meet the ‘caddy’ who had left it behind!

HMNZS Resolution motored over the horizon and hailed me on the S.S.B. and we began to prepare for her arrival. Minerva Reef was well outside her operational region, she had no chart of the area and would be arriving after dark, a far from ideal scenario. We had on board a Max – Sea navigation program which was state of the art at the time and I devised a method where I would mark all of the outer points of the Reef with way points which would give me latitude and longitude which I could relay to the Resolutions navigator. All he had to do was connect the dots to have a chart of the reef. We gave them our exact position, that of Donella and the original way points we had used to enter the passage through the reef. They now had a chart with a route. Resolutions plan was to stand off the reef and launch their R.I.B. which would motor through the reef entrance to our position. For the previous few days, the weather had been settled but as each hour passed and our rendezvous approached the weather deteriorated, to the point that when the Resolution appeared, we had intermittent rain squalls and winds gusting 20-25knts.We listened with anticipation as the ship deployed her R.I.B. and the crew with medical team approached and then entered the reef.
The trust they showed in following our route on a windy, rainy night, through choppy seas was a tribute to their training and command. The R.I.B. beat to windward the 1.8nm to the Donella and the first tangible assistance in 30 hrs of genuine stress and worry was at hand. I hailed the commander of the Resolution at 2100hrs and handed over responsibility for my patient, which he formally accepted. It was a defining moment. The next morning after transferring Bruce over to the Donella to supplement their crew we set off for Nukualofa, two yachts in tandem.

Minerva Reef fell away behind our stern but not from our minds. Later that night during our watches we experienced a total Lunar Eclipse in clear blue skies and calm seas. We all lay on our backs on the deck of Sea Toy watching as the earth drifted between the sun and the full moon. It took one hour for the earth’s shadow to fully block out the moon, it was covered for two hours and then another hour for it to uncover again. We went from having this amazing moon shadow on the water, slowly dull away, and then equally slowly, return as the moon came back into the suns path. Whilst it was blocked out there was still a light ‘Halo’ where we knew the moon should be. It was absolutely magic and was like a massive reward for all we had been through.
We murdered Mal’s single malt. He didn’t mind. We arrived in Nukualofa harbour two days later with the Donella a further half day behind us. The resolution had come and gone, depositing Christian at the local hospital where a combination of Tongan, New Zealand and German doctors had stitched him back together again. The arm looks a bit ‘munted’ but it still works, it’s still attached to his body and he’s still alive. All good.

Soon after the Resolution returned to Nukualofa and I was invited to a official Tongan government event on board where we were feted and treated to fantastic Tongan cuisine.

‘Minerva Reef and the story of the 17 Tongans’, It’s an epic tale of maritime glory and skill, If you can find a copy read it, it’s epic.

In 2007 I told the story of the shark attack and the golf game at the Port Resolution, Tanna Pirates Rally and was awarded the Island Cruising Association “Best Nautical Braggers Award”


As we left Minerva we played the Finn brothers song “Shark Attack” for some gallows humour;

Thanks for spending the time to get to the happy end. I can feel a book coming on.

Tagged with:
Posted in Island Cruising Association, Shark Attack

Has the Climate Crisis Passed the Point of No Return?

I was recently interviewed on Josh Schlossberg’s podcast series titled “The Green Root Podcast” Josh has had some great guests, check the series out at the link above. Our interview is below;

Issues we discussed are referenced below;
I mentioned our interview with Professor Corey Bradshaw from Flinders University in Australia. Professor Corey Bradshaw explains the unfolding “Extinction Cascades” on Nature Bats Last.

More info on Wet Bulb Temperatures as discussed here; Wet Bulb Temperature Soon to Become Leading Cause of Death

Dr Andrew Glikson is a geologist living in Australia. He is an Earth scientist and paleo-climatologist currently serving as Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University. Dr Glikson believes we have crossed tipping points in the earth climate system;
Tipping Points in the Earth Climate System. Dr Andrew Glikson returns to Nature Bats Last

We discussed the role militarism and imperialism is playing in this extinction event.
““U.S. Military World’s Largest Polluter – Hundreds Of Bases Gravely Contaminated
Producing more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined, the U.S. Department of Defense has left its toxic legacy throughout the world in the form of depleted uranium, oil, jet fuel, pesticides, defoliants like Agent Orange and lead, among other pollutants.”
Militarism’s Role in the Sixth and Possibly Last ‘Great’ Extinction

The issue of nuclear plants and weapons was discussed, I’ve covered that aspect of the predicament here; The Inevitability of Nuclear War and Subsequent Nuclear Winter

We discussed the issue of “Climate Grief”, I’ve covered that issue previously on this blog;
Navigating Hospice at the Edge of Extinction

The interview with Stephen Jenkinson I mentioned is embedded here; Stephen Jenkinson returns to Nature Bats Last

We discussed my time in Africa, a very long story on that adventure is embedded here;
Adventures in Africa- Brushes with Death- A Love Story

I made the analogy of us playing Extinction Jenga; Abrupt Climate Change and Extinction ‘Jenga’. The very last ‘game’ on Earth.
On a brighter note readers can follow our rewilding work at the Rakino Island Nursery here;



Posted in Abrupt Climate Change, Climate Grief, Climate Racism, Corey Bradshaw, Imperialism, Josh Schlossberg, Nature Bats Last, Nuclear Threats, Professor Guy McPherson, Seneca Cliff
Kevin Hester

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
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