The Global Warming Bubble

The Global Warming Bubble is prodigious and growing exponentially. It makes the 2007-08 Financial Bubble look like child’s play. And, here’s the basic issue: Bubbles are not recognized until after they pop. Then, it’s too late, witness the U.S. Financial Panic of 2007-08.

When compared to other bubble phenomena, the Global Warming Bubble is one of the most obscure events in human history because it happens where nobody sees it. This article sees it.

Enigmatic Bubbles

In 2008, the Financial Bubble burst when Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers could no longer access the overnight Repo market for short-term funds to carry their heavy inventory of financial paper. But, well before that burst, there were telltale signals of upcoming disaster. An astute investigator could have predicted the Financial Bubble of ’07/’08. Similarly, with global warming, there are definitive signals of impending danger.

Before the Financial Panic, the costs of money to carry inventory for investment banks in the Repo market was going up well before the crash hit, but the general public did not see this. It was an early warning shot across the bow that tension was building in financial markets.

Additionally, in every case of financial failure in 2008, lesser known rating agencies spotted the disaster well in advance, for example: “Weiss warning: 102 days before the failure, Weiss wrote: Bear Stearns has ‘sunk its balance sheet even deeper into the hole, with $20.2 billion in dead assets, or 155 percent of its equity; and is threatened with insolvency.” ((Dangerously Close to a Money Panic, Money and Markets, December 3, 2007))  It was a couple of months later that Bear Stearns failed in March 2008.

Another early signal of the Financial Panic came to light only recently as whistleblowers that worked deep within the bowels of the investment banks tell tales of their own internal compliance departments struggling over inclusion of chronically delinquent mortgages into mortgage packaged securities, which were later sold to pension plans and European banks as AAA-rated paper, even though toxic. Again, the general public did not see this beforehand, but people “in the know” knew it. They knew the AAA-rated bonds were really junk well before the crash.

Eerily similar to the early foreboding telltale signs of the Financial Bubble of ’07/’08, the telltale signs of the Global Warming Bubble are difficult to see by the pubic at large, but disturbingly, very disturbingly, the warnings are pervasive. Scientists are already seeing it on the distant frontiers of civilization.

Where’s the Global Warming Bubble?

It’s where people do not see it, kinda like Waldo.

It’s axiomatic that if everybody actually sees a bubble ahead of time, then, no bubbles occur because people take preventative measures to stop or limit the damage. That’s simple enough to understand.

But, here’s the problem: A dictionary definition of a bubble is “anything that lacks firmness, substance, or permanence; an illusion or delusion.” See the problem.

Which begs the question: Where’s the looming Global Warming Bubble?

The bubble is found at outposts all across the planet, but nobody much travels there because of harsh uncivilized conditions, like the top of the world in the Arctic or the bottom of the world in Antarctica, or in mountains and in the valleys, or within the water in the oceans, or in the tundra or the ice shelf in Siberia.

Abundant signs of this ever-enlarging bubble are found everywhere nobody goes.

It’s Everywhere but Most Prominently in the Arctic

The Global Warming Bubble is found in every remote corner of the planet but it’s most prominent in the Arctic, where temperatures are increasing 2-3 times faster than elsewhere on the planet.

As a consequence, the Arctic is rapidly losing sea ice mass or volume. According to PIOMAS’ Arctic sea ice volume records for September of each year, the volume in 1980 was 17,000 km3 versus 6,970 km3 ((Polar Science Center, PIOMAS Arctic Sea Ice Volume Reanalysis.))  That’s well over 50% loss of ice.

The Arctic Sea ice loss alone has the potential to cause rapid expansion and eventual popping of the global warming bubble by releasing extraordinary amounts of methane, CH4, trapped in the ice, which is much, much, much more potent than CO2. This, in turn, could lead to runaway global warming.  Under such a scenario, human existence turns very nasty, very quickly with rising sea levels driving people inland where they unfortunately find too much heat burning up too many crops.

A rampant barrage of methane is society’s worst nightmare, and according to Dr. Natalia Shakhova, who heads the Russia-U.S. Methane Study at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska and the Pacific Oceanological Institute, the atmosphere currently contains five gigatonnes of CH4, whereas, the East Siberian Arctic Shelf alone contains 100s-to-1000s of gigatonnes trapped in ice for millennia. An outbreak of a small percentage would radically increase atmospheric CH4, leading to serious global warming-related problems much sooner than otherwise expected.

Already, massive methane flare-ups or plumes, some a ½ mile across, have been recorded by scientists in the Arctic, which is a perfect example of the Global Warming Bubble occurring where nobody sees it, except for scientists. ((“Vast Methane Plumes Spotted Bubbling up From the Arctic Ocean Floor,” by Scott Sutherland, The Weather Network, July 31, 2014.)) Certainly, there are teams of scientists who travel to remote outposts to measure the effects of global warming. They are the world’s early warning system, but their voices are lost in the maze of everyday life, TV soap operas, TV sports, and confusing messages broadcasts by a well-organized, well-funded anti-anthropogenic contingency of denialists, including their ultra powerful alliance in Congress.

Is Congress to blame for global warming? No, but should they be held accountable for not listening to early warning signs by scientists?

However, at the end of the day, the real question is: What will Congress do once the global warming bubble pops?

Dissimilar to the Financial Panic of 2007-08 when Congress committed $700 billion of taxpayer money, lots of taxpayer money, tons of taxpayer money to ailing financial institutions like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, and Freddie Mac, the popping of the global warming bubble cannot be fixed with money.  By then, it’s too late. With global warming, a pop is a pop is a pop, turning humans into useless observers of a climate spinning out of control, too much heat, too much seawater too high, too little drinking water, too little food for too few people, and worldwide panic whilst television broadcasting continues — monitoring the chaos. No surprise there.

What happens when the Bubble Bursts?

There are numerous potential scenarios of how the planet will react when the global warming bubble finally bursts, but each scenario is guesswork because no living person has ever experienced an extinction event, uh-huh!

Even though there is no possible way to know in advance the timing of the global warming bubble bursting (crossing tipping points) and no way to know for sure that it will happen, the odds of it happening have increased significantly, very significantly, over the past several decades as the elements causing global warming have, in many cases, turned exponential.

After all, scientists have studied the planet via ice cores and fossils and other sources to determine what happened with the previous five extinction events on planet Earth. Clearly, rapidly rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere were discovered as a primary causation.

Along those lines, according to the Earth System Research Laboratory at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, CO2 in the atmosphere is currently 396.91 ppm, as of the week beginning November 9th, which is already 42% above the base line for measurement of CO2. Mauna Loa uses a value of 280 ppm as its base line of measurement for changes in CO2 because it is close to the average of CO2 measured and dated with high time resolution between the years 1000 and 1800 in ice core from Law Dome, Antarctica. (((Etheridge, D. M., L. P. Steele, R. L. Langenfelds, R. J. Francey, J.-M. Barnola, and V. I. Morgan, (1996), Natural and anthropogenic changes in atmospheric CO2 over the last 1000 years from air in Antarctic ice and firn, J. Geophys. Res., 101(D2), 4115–4128, doi:10.1029/95JD03410).))

The CO2 level is where the rubber meets the road for the global warming bubble. “Right now we’re at nearly 400 ppm, and we’re adding 2 ppm of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year. Unless we are able to rapidly turn that around and return to below 350 ppm this century, we risk triggering tipping points and irreversible impacts that could send climate change spinning truly beyond our control. ((, The Science))

If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from [current levels] to at most 350 ppm,

— Dr. James Hansen

The warming Arctic is but one of several ominous signals. Here are a couple of other examples:

  • The Pine Island Glacier, a 37-mile ice tongue, according to investigators, is already at a “tipping point,” which could trigger a massive collapse of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet, which, at the least, would cause flooding of low lying terrain, like Miami. Nobody knows when.
  • The Quelccaya Ice Cap at 18,000 feet above sea level has lost 1,600 years of Andean ice gone/melted within only 25 years. By glaciological standards, that’s global warming on steroids.
  • In the Southern Ocean, acidic water, caused by too much CO2 absorbed by the ocean, is degenerating the skeletal structure of Pteropods, found at the base of the food chain and a major food source for everything from krill to whales.
  • Jason Box, the highly respected climatologist and Arctic expert on July 29, 2014 tweeted: “If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we’re f’d.” His exclamation followed scientist’s reports of “massive plumes of methane escaping from the [Arctic] seafloor.”

Dissimilar to the Financial Bubble of ‘07/’08, which originated on Wall Street, the Global Warming Bubble originates all across the planet from the Arctic to Antarctica, from the Tibetan Plateau to the Rockies to the Andes, and from the Pacific to the Atlantic, the planet is sending distress signals that dwarf Wall Street’s nasty playfulness.

Anthropogenic global warming, which is increasing year-by-year because of too much fossil fuel, oil, gas, and coal, usage emitting too much CO2, is distinctly headed in the wrong direction, UP, UP, UP! Renewable energy can bring it down, down, down, e.g., China’s commitment (the Barack Obama/Xi Jinping Accord) to 20% electrical power from renewables, wind, sun, hydro by 2030 and holding emissions constant thereafter cuts their carbon emissions from 790 gigatons to 156 gigatons, or by 80%, to 2060. That is absolutely huge.  ((Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, A Real Deal, Slate, November 17, 2014.))

Meanwhile earthlings sit in front of television sets watching Fox News denigrate the science of global warming or laugh about it when cold weather hits, and/or listen to Rush Limbaugh on radio blabbering about green liberals destroying the economy by overregulating the environment. Clueless or Machiavellian?

Not seeing it doesn’t mean it’s not real. It is deadly real!

Robert Hunziker (MA, economic history, DePaul University) is a freelance writer and environmental journalist whose articles have been translated into foreign languages and appeared in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide. He can be contacted at: Read other articles by Robert.