Thursday, 24 April 2014

A Bipolar Story On Accepting Climate Change

This is a story about earth's plight, and my relationship to it. It documents how I went from an unaware young adult to someone deep in the science of climate change. It documents mental illness caused by acquiring such knowledge, ultimately resulting in psychosis and hospitalization. This story was designed as a captivating primer for those first learning about earth's crises, and to provide empathy towards other's mental struggles as they come to terms with what is becoming known as earth's Sixth Mass Extinction. For excellent background music to this narrative, I recommend Lindsey Stirling. I have edited my story to put the climate change information first. 

Who agrees that global warming is caused by man?
  • 97% of all climate scientists. (according to NASA)
  • Every National Academy of Science in the world.
  • Every space and climate center in the world, including NASA.
  • Every major oil company.
  • Every American President since Lyndon Johnson in 1965.
  • The US military.
  • The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

For more information on climate change, see my select quotes from books of notable authors below.

James Hansen - Featuring Bjerknes Lecture and Storms of my Grandchildren
James Lovelock - Featuring Wikipedia, Whole Earth Discipline and Vanishing Face of Gaia
Brian Fagan - Featuring The Great Warming
Gwynne Dyer - Featuring Climate Wars
Peter Ward - Featuring Under a Green Sky and The Medea Hypothesis
Stuart Brand - Featuring Whole Earth Discipline
Lester Brown - Featuring The Great Food Crisis of 2011

For a 10 minute high quality video on extinction, check out Last Hours.

Here's are some other hard facts regarding the Sixth Mass Extinction.
  • 90% of all large fish species in the ocean are gone due to over-fishing.
  • 80% of all large mammal species are missing from their natural ranges.
  • The oceans are now 30% more acidic due to CO2 from fossil fuel burning and agriculture.
  • Warming oceans has caused 28% coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef, with all the worlds corals expected to be functionally extinct by 2050. Even though reefs cover less than 1% of the ocean floor, they support more than 25% of all marine life. Over 1 billion people in developing countries rely on fish as their primary protein.
  • Acidifying oceans have caused a 40% reduction in oceanic phytoplankton, the base of the entire ocean food chain. (some sources dispute that the number is really as high as 40%, but the number is non-negligible).
  • Agriculture now accounts for 40% of the entire earth's land surface, with the rest unusable or vitally forested. 50% of earth's original forest cover is gone. 70% of all freshwater is used for irrigation, much coming from disappearing glaciers and snow-pack, and non-renewable aquifers. This water provides only enough irrigation for 17% of humanities cropland. The rest is rain-fed and dependent on a stable climate. Over 30% of arable farmland has become unproductive due to erosion.
  • The world's population was 1 billion in 1804, 2 billion in 1927, 7 billion in 2012, growing by 200 000 a day, and predicted to be 9 billion by 2050. Each new baby needs food, water, and a prosperous future. Of over 7 billion people, 1.5 billion are obese, and 850 million are malnourished.
  • Oil, the resource that Industrial Civilization is most dependent on, from cars to ships to planes to medicine to plastics to agriculture and pesticides, is predicted to have peaked, according to numerous sources, and the US military. There are 10 embedded oil calories in every calorie of food we eat. Global oil production has plateaued this past decade. Unfortunately coal has not yet peaked.
I Am Sam Carana - A Short Story on Psychosis and Climate

My introduction to climate change came from Al Gore, in his 2006 award winning An Inconvenient Truth. I became aware of the issue, but never gave it much more thought. It wasn’t until I heard former head of NASA's Institute for Space Studies, James Hansen, on CBC in 2009 that I became really interested in the issue, and started researching it online and reading avidly about it on The Economist. I'll admit that at this point, I was a slightly depressive individual, but nowhere near as bad as I would become after digging deeper into climate. Over the next 3 years I would read over 100 books on climate, energy and related, and countless websites. Obsession with a topic is a symptom of bipolar. For my favorite books and documentaries see my blog bio.

Al Gore, the political figure that has done the most for the climate movement.

The books that hit me hardest were James Hansen’s Storms of My Grandchildren, James Lovelock's The Vanishing Face of Gaia, and Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers, while the websites that affected me most were Peak Oil forums, Sam Carana’s Arctic News blog and Cory Morningstar's The Art of Annihilation . I was flabbergasted. The injustice! We were screwed. There was no hope. Serious scientists were predicting famine and war caused by climate change in the near term. I was depressed and suicidal. I would break down crying all the time. I was manic and barely slept. I stopped eating. I read day and night, non-stop - books, energy forums, climate forums - I read it all. Then the Occupy movement erupted in 2011. I was ecstatic. Change! I met tons of great fellow activists there and made life long friends. I finally had a place to express my activism. I’d do activism with the Occupy group but sometimes i’d also go alone to the university and show off my climate artwork. These were full size 1 metre tall paintings.

Interpret this one as you will.

Some students stopped to look, other didn't. It didn't matter, activism was the only thing giving me hope and in my mind felt like the only thing that mattered. One day Professor Andrew Weaver walked by and stopped to look at my artwork. He was impressed and chatted with me. I was ecstatic – I got to talk to The Great Andrew Weaver! Suddenly it was all worth it. But the stress of climate change didn't end, it only got worse. To do more climate activism, and get a sense of accomplishment, I intended to cycle across Canada in 2011, and made it from Victoria to Calgary with flyers and a trailer that advertised climate change, but I fell incredibly hard and injured myself when I raced downhill without holding the handlebars. My dogs in the trailer flew overhead me and I crashed hard into the rocky roadside. There were tons of cars on the highway so i'm glad I, nor the dogs, didn't topple into traffic. Lesson learned - hold the handlebars! I didn't hand out any flyers because I didn't like what I had to say, and i'm also quite shy to approach people.

I saw my puppies fly.

In any case in 2012 a combination of extreme stress from climate change and bipolar put me into a psychosis. The trigger may have been a report that came out from some Russian Arctic scientists that said the oceanic East Siberian Arctic Shelf may be venting up to 3.5 billion tons of methane a year from plumes "over a km in diameter". How much is 3.5 billion tonnes? A lot, and its very bad news for the climate. It turns out that this was simply a proration and not an actual measure of total emissions. But the discovery of thousands of methane plumes, many over a km in diameter, is real, and can be seen here. I genuinely believed we were at the start of runaway climate change, and if you asked me today, i'd still say there is strong evidence that we may have passed tipping points. (Note link, I consider Guy McPherson alarmist, primarily on the nuclear issue, but I also disagree that we'll all be dead by 2030. Guy has read my story but refuses to comment. I wonder if he realizes that his work may be contributing to some young persons depression or psychosis). In any case, I thought I was being sent signals to go out and start a massive university student movement across Canada to “save the world”, and started seeing signs and signals that I was supposed to be Sam Carana. I printed out perhaps 500-1000 (or was it 2500) flyers and intended to cycle across Canada hitting all the universities. As it happens there also happened to be an Occupy group WALKING across Canada from Victoria. I initially started my trip with these guys but ditched them when I claimed a guy who looked like the No Country For Old Men bad guy, had a grenade and was going to blow the group up. When I left on my bike ride I was at the peak of my psychosis, and I thought the Arctic Methane Emergency Group was sending me signals to be Sam Carana. Sam Carana is the anonymous author of many blogs including Arctic News blog, Geoengineering blog, Feebate blog, ClimatePlan blog, Methane Hydrates blog, Transport Electrification blog, and many more. I befriended him on Facebook and have come to greatly admire his work. I don't know who Sam Carana really is, but I suspect he's a whistleblower who would lose his position if he said such things publicly. Why else be anonymous when posting volumes of such good work? Sam has been supportive of my climate activism and my attempt at an Earth Year movement. He is probably in his 40-50s and with university training, not a 27 year old no-degree like me. According to Guy McPherson, Sam Carana is a team of people. From his Facebook activity I assume Sam Carana lives on the east coast. But anyway, in my psychosis I thought I was being sent signals by AMEG to be Sam! It was a simple mistake on my part. If you break down Sam Carana’s name its Am SC, Ar SC, An SC, A SC. I was SC! I was Shaheer Cassim. I was supposed to be Sam Carana. The signals were arriving  through Facebook and music (The Dreaming Moon-The Magnetic Fields), but also ambumlances (Sambulances), licence plates, signs, art and a quite a few other things. But anyways I'M NOT Sam Carana.

My first stop on my bike ride was Camosun college. I tried to enter a class of exchange students to hand out flyers. But I wasn't allowed in - I had to sign in first. I tried signing in as myself but they wouldn't let me in, I wasn't on the list, then I tried signing in as Sam Carana but still I wasn't allowed in. I didn't get it! What was I doing wrong? I was just following the AMEG peoples instructions and going to hand out flyers to exchange students. An administrator for the exchange students sent out a counseller to talk to me and I broke down crying. What a sight I must have been - shaved completely bald and without eyebrows, bawling my eyes out. I left Camosun and continued on my bike ride.  Unfortunately, my electric bicycle broke down early in the trip and so I proceeded on foot.  While walking the highway, I thought I was being sent signals to strip naked, so I did, on the Malahat highway. I found a rainbow colored duster thing and paraded in the middle of the highway, completely nude. The police picked me up and took me to jail. Who was I? I wasn't sure and and claimed to the police to be both Shaheer Cassim and Sam Carana. They gave me paper clothing and a bun and cup of juice. I spent the night in jail. The next day I went to an Occupy meeting with my paper jail clothes on, and my friends realized something was wrong. They called my parents, who flew out and admitted me to hospital. Somehow the police got to talking to my parents, and told them I was doing a good thing and more people should be doing climate activism.

Me, at the start of my trip. Victoria, BC, Mile 0.

In the psyche ward, I looked at the DVD's and found a movie called I am Sam. There it was. Proof. I was supposed to be Sam! Even the nurses called me Sam. I became more suicidal and during my 3 hr breaks the hospital would give me daily with my parents, my parents had to stand between me and the road because they never knew if I was going to jump in front of a car. I was convinced I had failed these mysterious AMEG or whoever people and was going to be assassinated. There was a guy in the psyche ward who looked like Clint Eastwood and I was convinced he was sent there to kill me. I was petrified. One day while on break I escaped my parents and ran to the top of my apartment building and prepared to jump. But I chickened out, thankfully. In the psyche ward I found Jesus, read nearly the entire bible, and became vegetarian; after my electro-convulsive therapy I lost Jesus again and became a meat-eater once more. (Note I was born Muslim and am now atheist.) I don't know if I should be more vegetarian. If everyone doesn't do it, does it really count? I am really on the fence about this and have been vegan once and vegetarian four times. All in all I spent 10 weeks in hospital on a variety of anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety pills, and had to be given 9 treatments of electro-convulsive therapy.

AMEG assassin. This man is terrifying.

According to Sam Carana and Malcolm Light, (and AMEG?) a 50-80% emission reduction by 2020 and a variety of geo-engineering techniques can dramatically slow down the extinction process. Maybe they're overestimating the threat and response but maybe they're not. Even if we believe the highly conservative IPCC's targets of 85% reduction by 2050 to have a 50% chance of limiting warming above 2 degrees (2 degrees is baaaad...up to 30% species extinction), it's still a tall order. Recently the IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri said parts of Africa will lose 50% of their crop production by 2020. Seriously? This is a disaster. But is it really too late? Is doing something better than doing nothing? Is activism still worth it? I believe the near term climate collapse argument but I also believe we will geo-engineer in desperation, and it will somewhat work, buying us precious decades. The proof is in global dimming. Sure there will be losers, but maybe the world will come together, people will eat vegetarian, and there will be enough food to spare to the starving countries. Maybe i'm just dreaming. Is Jeremy Rifkin right that we are an Empathic Civilization? Or are we crude, selfish, short-sighted, and greedy? If i’m 99% sure that we’re going to experience an extinction event in the coming decades, can I live off 1% hopium? Don’t take my hopium away. James Lovelock, you took my hopium. You left me bare and naked. And then you have the gall to retract your two books, saying you, Tim Flannery, and whoever else were alarmist? Did you retract because you genuinely believe things will progress slower than you predicted in your alarming books, or because you feel bad about making people like me hopeless and suicidal? Are the recent death plunges in Arctic sea ice, and methane erupting from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf not evidence that things are progressing much faster than expected?

Summertime Arctic sea ice is in rapid decline and could be gone by 2017.

A 1 km wide methane plume, an example of what's occurring in the Siberian sea.

Global dimming, caused by sulfur released during coal burning, reflects sunlight and so temporarily combats global warming.

After leaving hospital it took me a while to learn that everything that I thought transpired was just in my head. I really thought the purple econobox car in my parkade was a sign that I was doing my Sam Carana bit right. I really believed my parents controlled my dogs with hand movements. I really believed the signs in the elevator and on my hospital roomate's whiteboard were messages for me. I really believed the power line towers zapped my electric bike and broke it. I really believed I was going to be killed.  I was in psychosis for at least 4 months. When I got out of the hospital I was so pissed off at climate change that I threw out all 9 pieces of my artwork. For the next year I stopped reading about climate change completely. My parents were sick of hearing about climate change so I stopped talking to them about it. My mom and dad hated my activism, and would actively tell me that. I stopped my activism.  I numbed my brain with movies and StarCraft 2. Finally a year and a bit after my psychosis I got back into climate change and started doing activism again, against my parents wishes. I managed to convince a few old Occupy friends to hold small climate rallies with me downtown and at the university, with our picket signs, guitars, and flyers. It was mostly pointless and didn't achieve anything, but it made me somewhat happier, along with the Idle No More rallies. Lately we've been going out and educating people on the pipeline they're building across BC. There is a darker side to my activism though. I'd sometimes go out alone with a choroplast sign advertising something climate change. Doing activism alone sucks and is anxiety inducing. Some people are nice and give you props, others think you're crazy for being a solo activist. The longest I ever spent on a street corner alone downtown was 6 hours. During that time, a guy stopped and asked me what the hell I was doing, that I looked like a bum, that I should just accept climate change as a fact of life, and that he would beat me up if he saw me out here again. Then he offered to smoke a joint with me. In any case I quit doing solo activism after that. But I still have urges to go out alone. Maybe someday people will be outraged enough to want to take to the streets too.

StarCraft 2, another obsession. 5200 matches to date. Over 20000 of StarCraft 1. That's over 250 full days of StarCraft!

As for the Arctic News blog, Sam's nearly weekly updates of methane levels in the Arctic are boring and unnecessary. No one cares that much about methane levels in the Arctic. You're wasting your time, Sam. Also, some of your contributers and predictions ARE alarmist. But is being alarmist on an issue such as global warming, worse than being conservative? The stark conclusion of it all is that we CAN dramatically slow down an extinction event. And the reality is that stratospheric sulfur geoengineering and cloud reflectivity modification are very promising tools in the fight against climate change. As for nuclear, new nuclear designs are safer and more efficient than ever. Even if we can't stop runaway climate change and have to suffer it's ill effects, it would be nice to have reliable nuclear power during the descent. That said, nuclear power is a contentious issue, with some scientists such as Paul Beckwith and Sam Carana anti-nuclear, while James Lovelock and James Hansen are pro-nuclear. As the saying goes, people are doing the best they can, given their level of awareness. So all you have to do is raise enough awareness. I've decided to be open with my climate-psychosis experience. It's kind of a funny story, and as far as I can tell no one has had a reaction as bad as I have. Maybe others have come to environmental awareness and have experienced something similar. My depression has subsided to levels I experienced before I learned of climate, and in fact i'm even happier. The only stress I have now is worrying about asthma inhalers once civilization collapses. I have bad asthma from a smoking addiction. I'm still suicidal. That's something that has always been with and always will be with me. I consider myself at peace and no longer stress over climate or environment. I'm medicated to prevent a repeat psychosis and mania, but sometimes I still think i'm supposed to be Sam Carana, and wonder if what I experienced was really real or just psychosis. It felt so real. Being in hospital wasn't a particularly bad experience, the ward is like a hotel and I met my lovely ex-girlfriend there. But being in a psychosis was truly one of the most terrifying experiences I have ever felt, more scary even than near term climate collapse. 
I quit my career as a commercial pilot due to my knowledge of climate change, peak oil, and a general boredom with flying (and cause pilots shouldn't be bipolar), and am returning to school to become a nurse. Canada will be one of the most favorable places in the world to experience climate change. As James Lovelock would say, "move north young man" (or woman). Packing up and migrating, leaving old friends behind, is hard work. Those people who are heavily invested in the land will probably stay behind and suffer first from climate change. Those with nothing to lose and are willing to travel, will survive the longest. The world isn't going to fall apart overnight. It might take half a lifetime or longer if we make the right decisions. But the time to move is now. Abrupt climate change is now. Natalia Shakhova, Igor Semiletov, Peter Wadhams, Sam Carana, Paul Beckwith, Malcolm Light, James Lovelock, David Wasdell, Gwynne Dyer, Hans Schellnhuber and AMEG can't all be full of shit. It would be really easy to simply paint their work as shit. The prediction of a 50 billion ton pulse of methane (enough methane to bring extremely dangerous climate change forward two decades) releasing from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf after 2015 was posited from decades of research. It's not simply shit. But note that even if the world warmed by 5 degrees in a child's lifetime, there'd still be room for a few hundred thousand (or more if we plan ahead) to live in the Arctic densely like the Japanese. But anyway, none of this might happen. I think it will and i'm certain in my own mind that it will - but I have to accept it might not. How much are you willing to bet that it will not? I'll take that wager. Anyway the top priority should be food. We'll need to produce much of our own food locally. We'll need to build resilient communities that can endure disaster.

I've copied and pasted these large scale assessments from Guy McPherson's blog. Industrial agriculture globally fails by about 3.5 degrees C anomaly. (Note I haven't verified if this collation from Guy McPherson is entirely accurate. Many of these predictions do not take into account exponential Arctic methane.)
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (late 2007): >1.8 C by 2100 (up to 4.5 C, depending upon emissions scenarios)
Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research (late 2008): ~2 C by 2100
Later in 2008, Hadley Center’s head of climate change predictions Dr. Vicky Pope calls for a worst-case outcome of more than 5 C by 2100. Joe Romm, writing for Grist, claims, “right now even Hadley [Centre] understands it [> 5 C] is better described as the ‘business-as-usual’ case.”
United Nations Environment Programme (mid 2009): 3.5 C by 2100
Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research (October 2009): 4 C by 2060
Global Carbon Project, Copenhagen Diagnosis (November 2009): 6 C, 7 C by 2100
United Nations Environment Programme (December 2010): up to 5 C by 2050

And three more from me:

Hans Schellnhuber: 15 C+ by 2200. In other words complete surface extinction and hydrogen sulfidication of the oceans.

Malcolm Light: 4 C by 2030, 8 C by 2050 based on exponential Arctic methane.

James Lovelock: 2 C+ by 2025. This means 3.5 C for Africa, in other words total annihilation. 95% of my family lives in Africa. This is especially disconcerting.

Sorry for the broken dreams...

... And for my favorite documentary check out The Age of Stupid!

If you like what you read, I would absolutely love a comment. :) PS Sometimes they don't show up so save your comment.

Timeline of Urgency: Arctic Destabilization and Abrupt Climate Change: 

[1980]: The Arctic sea ice begins retreating due to fossil fuel global warming. The subsea East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) is one the earliest places to become ice free. The shelf holds more than twice as much carbon as our atmosphere, most as methane. Free and frozen gas (hydrates) is capped under a layer of impermeable permafrost. [2003] Natialia Shakhova and Igor Semilitov find rising ocean and atmospheric methane levels over the shelf. / The US DoD contracts a report on abrupt climate change and finds it could lead to anarchy. 

[2004] Former US DoE geologist John Atcheson warns “If we trigger this runaway release of methane, there’s no turning back. No do-overs. Once it starts it’s likely to play out all the way.

 [2006] NASA finds first methane hydrate release has been detected, but is instructed by US government not to tell anyone. / Nobel Prize winner Paul Crutzen (ozone chemistry) suggests we may have to engineer the climate by mimicking volcanoes.

[2007]: The Arctic sea ice area falls off the chart 50 years ahead of IPCC schedule, incident with accelerating methane hydrate release from ESAS. / IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri says: “Since the panel began its work five years ago, scientists have recorded much stronger trends in climate change. That means you better start with intervention much earlier. 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.” / NASA’s Jay Zwally says: “The Arctic is often cited as the canary in the coalmine for climate warming. Now, as a sign of global warming, the canary has died. It is getting even worse than the climate models predicted.” / The oil companies cheer the meltdown of the Arctic sea ice and get ready for drilling.

[2008]: Tyndale Centre director, Kevin Anderson warns the battle against dangerous climate change has been lost, and the world needs to prepare for things to get very, very bad. / Former IPCC chair Bob Watson warns we must prepare for a 4 degree Celcius rise, and we must alert everybody that at the moment we’re at the top end of the worst case scenario. / James Hansen, at the Bjerknes Lecture warns we underestimate the cooling effect of global dimming and suggests the possibility of a runaway greenhouse if we burn all the available fossil fuels and release the methane hydrates. / Expedition leader Igor Semilitov reports that the sub-sea permafrost is no longer an impermeable cap to methane release. He mentions is high time to warn people. The staid National Science Foundation backs Semiletov in a press release, “Permafrost under the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, long thought to be an impermeable barrier sealing in methane, is perforated and is starting to release large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.”

[2009]: Stuart Brand quotes David Archer, “the worst-case scenario is that global warming triggers a decade-long release of hundreds of gigatonnes of methane, the equivalent of ten times the current amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. We’d be talking about mass extinction.” He quotes James Lovelock, “The year 2040 is when the IPCC is estimating that Europe, America, and China become uninhabitable for the growth of food. They’re grossly underestimating the rate of temperature rise so that 2040 may be 2025. People don’t realize how little time we’ve got. The planet really is on the move….to its stable hot state, which is about 5 degrees globally higher than now.” / At the Club or Rome in Amsterdam, James Hansen says: “Methane is an especially powerful greenhouse gas. There are large amounts of methane presently locked up, frozen, in high latitude tundra and, especially, in ocean sediments on continental shelves. We know from Earth history that this frozen methane can be released by sufficient warming – thus this methane has the potential to greatly amplify manmade global warming, if that warming reaches a level, a tipping point, such that large volumes of frozen methane begin to melt.” / US chief scientist and Macarthur “genius”, John Holdren suggests geoengineering has to be looked at, and could  not be ruled out, “we don’t have that luxury”. / UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon warns of runaway global warming without a strong binding treaty. / James Lovelock warns we are too late and too incapable as a species of stopping global heating, and to prepare for calamity by developing geoengineering and synthetic food. He says if we clear our aerosol pollution by reducing CO2 emissions the required 60%, temperatures will abruptly spike. (Temperature rise after the skies were cleared on 9/11 suggest contrails have a strong cooling effect during daytime.)

[2010]: The Royal Society finds earth geophysical responses are linked to periods of exceptional climate change. / The National Science Foundation warns methane is now releasing at an alarming rate. / Potsdam Institute director Hans Schellnhuber warns runaway global warming will cause a temperature rise of 15 degrees Celcius by 2200, (in other words, surface extinction and hydrogen sulfidication of the oceans.) / David Archer, in an attempt to persuade people not to worry about Arctic methane hydrates, describes methane as a 90mph crash into a stationary truck. / [November] Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov present their work at the ‘Opening the Arctic’ symposium to the US DoD Environmental Research Program, saying methane release had been estimated at 8 million tonnes, but observed bottom flux indicates a large underestimation.
May 2011: Rajendra Pachauri warns natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis will occur more often. / New study finds the massive build-up of unfiltered Chinese coal plants this past decade has masked global warming through sulphur dioxide gas pollution. (The cooling aerosol lasts weeks to months, while fossil fuel global warming will outlast even nuclear waste.) / Republicans try to remove clear air rules (so they can say see…no global warming.) / A report by 200 polar researchers presented at Copenhagen suggests that Arctic feedback mechanisms are now causing it to reinforce its own warming. / James Hansen predicts 2012 will be the hottest year on record. / [August] Martin Bergmann, director of Natural Resources Canada’s Polar Continental Shelf Program of over 1100 Arctic researchers, dies in a Resolute Bay charter plane crash. Luckily a military unit happened to be at Resolute Bay airport to do training exercises of how to respond to plane crashes. / [September] Arctic sea ice volume reaches a record low volume, 4300 cubic kilometres. It should be functionally gone by 2015. / Igor Semilitov and expedition of 26 Russian and U.S. scientists leave Vladivostok on short notice to study massive methane discharges from underwater gas hydrates in the Eastern Arctic. [December]: Igor Semilitov says at the American Geophysical Union “earlier we found torch like structures like this but they were only tens of meters in diameter. This is the first time we’ve found continuous, powerful, and impressive seeping structures, more than 1000 meters in diameter. It’s amazing.”…“I was most impressed by the sheer scale and high density of the plumes. Over a relatively small area we found more than 100, but over a wide area there should be thousands of them.” (so this is an increase from the value presented in November 2010 to the US DoD ERP.) /The United States federal methane monitor, Ed Dlugokencky, pre-emptively suggests the Arctic methane situation is not a problem. / Some modellers say the amount of methane being discharged is not possible according to their models.  / The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists advance the doomsday clock five minutes to midnight, citing climate change, nuclear proliferation, and failure of governments to establish safe and sustainable energy.

[2012] Shakhova and Semiletov respond to Dlugogenky et al, “it is no surprise to us that others monitoring global methane have not found a signal from the Siberian Arctic or increase in global emissions. The number of stations monitoring atmospheric methane concentrations worldwide is very few… In the Arctic there are only three such stations – Barrow, Alert, Zeppelin – and all are far away from the Siberian Arctic… It is incorrect to say that anyone is able to trace the signal yet...We would urge people to consider [the scientific process], not jump to conclusions, and be open to the idea that new observations may significantly change what we understand about our world.

Questions That Must Be Asked.

Why is Arctic sea ice expected to be melted away by 2015, 50 years ahead of IPCC schedule? Why is Arctic methane hydrates releasing 100 years of schedule?  Why did the US government instruct NASA not to tell anyone first methane hydrate release had been detected in 2006? Why did NASA’s James Hansen say he was being suppressed? Why is his book titled, ‘The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity? Why are Canadian scientists being suppressed? Why are earth scientists receiving hate mail and death threats from organized groups of fossil fuel thugs? Why did Exxon-Mobil get to pick the ‘moderate’ Rajendra Pachauri to replace the ‘alarmist’ Robert Watson as chair of the IPCC? What else does fossil fuel influence?

Why has the acceleration of Arctic methane release coincided with the record low Arctic sea ice in 2007? Why has it accelerated with the record low volume in 2010 and 2011? Why are methane levels in the Arctic higher than at any time in the last 400 000 years? Why is Shakhova concerned about an abrupt release of 50 billion tonnes of methane? Why does the US DoE contract Alvia Gaskill’s climate and methane engineering services? Why does Alvia describe the Arctic methane situation as precipitating a mass extinction event and marking the end of a geological era? Why are scientists worldwide actively preparing to engineer the climate?
Why does Robert Watson warn us to prepare for 4 degrees of warming? Doesn’t 4 degrees guarantee runaway global warming? Why is the Arctic exhibiting symptoms of runaway warming with only 1 degree of global warming? Is the cooling effect of global dimming not strong enough in the Arctic? How will disappearance of sea ice and its consequence for hydrate stability affect food production in the next 10 years? What will be the effect of a migrating wave of heat, insects, and people?

Why are fossil fuels allowed to spend hundreds of millions funding climate disinformation? Why they are allowed to lobby politicians? Why are they allowed to manufacture junk science and muddy the scientific waters? Why are they allowed to create fake personas and troll the internet spreading disinformation? Why is the media allowed to broadcast a false narrative of global warming? Why does NASA’s James Hansen say the Keystone XL pipeline is “game over” for the climate? Why are we letting them tear up and pollute Canada’s pristine north when we’re going to have to move there to grow food because of climate change? Why is British Columbia’s forests turning rust red? Why is the phytoplankton dying? Why does a Koch-funded scientist say, ‘we are dumping enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that we’re working in a dangerous realm…where I think, we may really have trouble in the next coming decades.’

Cigarette companies knew about the dangers of smoking long before the public scientists did; did the fossil fuel companies know about the opposing forces of carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide before we did? We’ve known about the globe warming effects of CO2 and coal burning since before 1900. Have the fossil fuel companies intentionally pushed for dirty air rules? Have they intentionally muddied climate sensitivity studies? Did they intentionally melt the Arctic just to get at the oil? Did they intentionally warm the ocean to destabilize hydrates to make mining easier, or is that just a convenient side effect? Are coal plants, tanker ships and airplanes the only thing keeping our planet from burning? If industry stops, will temperatures rise as abruptly as they did after the skies were cleared on 9/11?

Why did Western Fuels, The National Coal Association, and the Edison Electric Institute team up in 1991 to “reposition global warming as a theory (not fact)”, and “supply alternative facts to support the suggestion that global warming will be good.”? Did John Christy and Roy Spencer intentionally create a global cooling controversy? Why does Richard Lindzen charge oil and coal companies $2500 a day for consulting services? Is Christopher Monkton a sociopath? Why is atmospheric scientist Fred Singer a defender of big tobacco? Why did The Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty accuse Bjorn Lomborg of fabricating data, misusing statistics, plagiarism, and deliberate misinterpretation of others results? Why does Tim Ball traverse Canada on lying sprees? Why does government, media, and fossil fuels give him preferential attention? Why were videos sent to 11 000 Canadian schools, urging teachers to tell students scientists are exaggerating?

Did the unusual circumstances surrounding Martin Bergmann’s death affect the 1100 Arctic scientists he directed? How far will fossil fuel go to keep its industry alive? If fossil fuels are in bed with government, and government influences the IPCC, then does fossil fuel influence the IPCC? Why do observations of sea level rise, temperature, and ice melt show that IPCC severely underestimates global warming? Why are CO2 emissions tracking IPCC worst-case-scenario? Why were scientists at Oxfords ‘4 degrees and beyond’ conference suffering from anxiety and insomnia? Why did they say carrying capacity within my lifetime will drop below 1 billion? Why did one conference attendee boast about not having kids?

Why are methane feedbacks excluded from IPCC models? Why is the risk of civilization destroying abrupt climate change due to Arctic methane hydrate release systematically ignored or suppressed in the public sphere? Why is the phytoplankton dieback excluded from models? Why, if models cannot back-cast previous episodes of abrupt climate change, do we trust their forecast of a slow and adaptable temperature rise? Why does paleoclimatology reveal abrupt climate change is the norm, not the exception? Why did Natalia Shakhova tell them in 2010 the East Siberian Arctic Shelf has the most potential for causing abrupt climate change? Why does David Archer describe CO2 as a 60 mph crash into a station truck, methane as 90mph, and in the same sentence say methane is nothing to worry about?

Why has the government, the media, the university, and the masters of industry all failed to preserve a habitable planet? Why do they watch the deserts expand and world food reserve dwindle? Why do they watch the acidifying ocean dissolve away corals and phytoplankton? Why do they offer up the cross of technology as salvation from global warming? Why do they peddle fossil fuels, weapons, and hyper-consumption, when we need frugality and cooperation more than ever?

Why do mothers and fathers condemn their children to hell on earth? Why do we sign climate treaties that guarantee Africa, Mexico, and the Middle East will be burned off the map? Why do we condemn the unborn to a hydrogen sulphide mass extinction? Why do the elites build life-support bunkers and Arctic space-station cities? Why do we allow the surface of our planet to be turned into a toxic gas chamber – into a furnace? Why do we allow our extinction to be profitable?


  1. Good to read that you're at peace with things now, Shaheer. Many posts at Arctic-news blog may look gloomy, but I typically end posts with the conclusion that the dangers can and should be reduced by means of comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan blog.

  2. I am proud of you for sharing your story, Shaheer. Bipolar is a challenging disorder of extremes and I feel like your article could help many others who are struggling. As a nursing student and friend I have watched you grow through this experience, and I look forward to seeing what you take on next. You have a lot of passion and as you cultivate this you will do great things!

    1. It was good meeting you in university Danielle, and the hiking was loads of fun. Sadly i'm too fat and unfit now to hike even a small mountain. Maybe if you visit you could take me out for some exercise.

  3. Thank you for having the courage to share your story Shaheer. Although I didn't end up psychotic, I had a similar descent into months (years?) of shock, panic and depression on reading just how badly the feedback-loops of climate change could hit us. As the info gets out there more widely, I expect more and more people will start losing the plot over it. I even considered solo-activism, picturing myself like the archetypal bearded guy with an "end is nigh" sign, except with a climate message. But I never did it. If only more people would start taking all this information seriously we'd have a better chance of tackling it. I take my hat off to you for your efforts. Thank you my friend :)

    1. Thanks Imogen. You should go out with a sign. Better yet, hand out flyers at a university for me! Go Team Earth Year!

  4. What a courageous article Shaheer. Thank you for having the guts to write so honestly.

    I knew 35 years ago that humans had to change their ways or we would be in deep doo doo. Now, all those years later, not only have humans not stopped logging, eating meat, mining etc etc but we are doing more of it, so I feel the situation is beyond help now. I feel sad most of the time for what we are doing to Mother Earth. I really thought she would destroy us before we destroy so many other species. It now looks like we are going to destroy ourselves .......

    1. Have hope Nampijinpa. Life is better that way.

  5. Shaheer, I admire you so much for sharing your struggles so eloquently and with such fierce passion. As the impacts of extreme weather events become more frequent and obvious, many people I believe will take comfort from your story when they finally confront the monster of climate change. Thank you for being in the vanguard and suffering not only the anguish of knowing about the dangers we have unleashed, but also the incredulity of the deniers. Soon, (unfortunately!) circumstances will ensure you are not so alone in your vision. Please keep up your efforts, knowing that you will inspire others who will suffer the same painful reaction as reality sinks in. Remember that you are in many ways a pioneer and many people will benefit from your knowledge.

    1. Thank you for your comment Gail. Gail is someone I met on Facebook through posting my story. She has been like a therapist to me, offering me sound advice at every turn and always telling me not to have hope. LOL! I love you Gail :) Gail is an amateur expert in climate and energy, and likes to talk about ozone damage to crops and trees. Her blogspot can be seen at

  6. Living in a world where the climate is collapsing around us, while the vast majority of people seem indifferent is a very difficult thing to cope with. Who is insane-- someone who worries constantly about the fate of the earth and humanity? Or someone who pushes it out of awareness to focus on individual concerns?

    I really appreciate you sharing, Shaheer. I am sure that the horrors of climate change, and the madness of humanities passivity and willful ignorance are contributing to the psychoses of many other people as well. Hearing your story can give them hope and inspiration.

    Please keep fighting, for yourself, your health, and for all of us.

    Your ally,

    1. Thank you for your comment Margaret. Margaret is a psychologist specializing in climate change and psychosis. She head's the Climate Pledge project and runs the website

  7. When I first encountered this story, I was struck by how seriously Shaheer took all this (and I have some knowledge of many of the subject areas touched upon myself). If every person took these things so seriously and was so prepared to sacrifice and act, our species would likely not be facing the probable loss of modern civilisation in the foreseeable future (certainly in my and his lifetimes).

    All we can do without such willingness to act from the collective masses is prepare those "resilient communities that can endure disaster.", and the rest be damned by their own choices.

    I applaud people like Shaheer who go out there and fight for everyone else. We need more such people, sharing the burden more equitably (and just knowing the shape of things to come is a burden, no doubt about it).

    1. Thank you for your comment ccgwebmaster. Ccgwebmaster is an ameteur expert in climate and energy issues, and runs where he documents building survival lifecraft for the collapse of civilization. He also hosts the Collapse forums

  8. The Earth is being screwed over by the criminally insane efforts of the people in charge. We are barrelling down a mountain with no brakes, nowhere to turn off to, and the driver is stomping down on the pedal. Shaheer, do what will make you happy long-term. We're gonna need people with medical skills once everything gets a lot worse. Resilient community is something I am going to see/make in my lifetime. RIP Michael Ruppert, you were an intelligent man.

  9. Thank you Shaheer for your gripping narrative and please stay healthy.

    After reading all the press releases today on the newly released National Climate Assessment 2014 (NCA) as well as watching the White House Press conference and numerous panelists for many hours there is reason to hope that society may be nearer to a tipping point in human understanding and therefore action on the climate disruption that we are presently undergoing. For years I have thought that the complete disappearance of the Arctic sea ice would be necessary to tip human behavior, however the increasing frequency, severity, duration and different spatial extent of weather extremes seems to be preempting vanishing ice as the main reason for a human awakening on the enormous risks that we face.

    1. Thank you for your comment Paul. Paul is part-time professer at the university of Ottawa, a student doing his Doctorate of Philosophy in Abrupt Climate Change, has completed a Masters degree in physics, and has an Engineering degree in Engineering Physics. Paul is a member of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, blogs for Arctic News, Sierra Club Canada, The Canadian, and is a regular generator of educational YouTube climate and weather videos. He is a regular poster on Twitter and Facebook and can be followed at

  10. My great friend Shaheer is a rare person willing to give up comfort and privilege to make history. A history that our children will read about in accurately written books to know how and who saved the earth from climate catastrophe. Shaheer blazed the trail for Joseph Boutilier, who also left from Mile 0 Victoria BC to warn and act for climate justice on a cross Canada unicycle journey,

    I'm so glad that Shaheer turned despair into rejoining humanity's quest for liberation from climate catastrophe and injustice. I am grateful to his loving, gentle and devoted parents, who helped allow Shaheer to pursue passion and justice together. Go with the greats of humanity and your inspiration will reverberate far and wide.

  11. Shaheer, years ago when I first met you, I saw a very timid human being, and although hidden away very carefully, a heart too big for the world. It breaks my heart to hear how much you've struggled, yet it amazes me how such a timid human being pulled a lions courage to face the things you have. Be the change you want to see in the world, and remember to stay healthy.

    With all the love in my heart,

  12. Thank you, Shaheer, for having the courage to share your personal story. Know that you are not alone - coming to grips with the climate crisis is extraordinarily difficult.

    There is a book that you might find interesting called "Fleeing Vesuvius: Overcoming the Risks of Economic and Environmental Collapse". (You can read it online at

    I frequently reread one of the chapters titled, "Cultivating Hope and Managing Despair", which contains these words of wisdom:

    "We are facing very uncertain and difficult times. In addition to the twin challenges of peak oil and climate change and the resultant economic and societal problems, we face very deep challenges to our collective psyche and spirit as people. When we consider the scale of the problems we face, it is easy to retreat into denial or wishful thinking or feel despair, helpless or hopeless about change.

    How we cope will depend largely on how resourceful we are and whether we can build communities that nurture hope rather than despair, keep people together rather than apart and cultivate creative adaptation in the face of adversity rather than destructive action. This is the best chance for our children.

    When despair threatens to overwhelm us, rather than being lured towards anger or hatred, we can remember the words of Kaethe Weingarten, who said ‘you can do hope without feeling hope’. Creating hope is largely a choice about taking constructive action and you don’t have to wait until you feel hopeful to take this action. I think this is what Shaun Chamberlain means when he speaks of the ‘pessimism of the intellect and the optimism of the will’. While we may doubt that our actions may work, we still act in the best faith we can. Furthermore, when we take collective, concrete and constructive action, in the process we generate hope and a sense of movement and possibility. We also counterbalance the cynicism, despair and inaction that could hobble the next generation. In this way, we can give them the freedom and encouragement to embrace their future. Now that is something to be hopeful about."

    Please take good care of yourself. Your story will be inspirational to many others who are also coming to grips to the challenges that human civilization is currently facing.

    Your ally,

  13. Shaheer, as important as the climate change is, I think we have to have a new world order and fixing climate will be part of that. And I think the best place to start a new world revolution would be in Iran. No country in the world has been more ready for a revolution longer than the people of Iran. Iran is pregnant with revolution and the baby is due soon. After Iran countries would change their system of governance one after another like dominoes. Maybe the second country would be United States. The United States must be stopped from imperialistic behaviour. Fuck Obama and his change. We can change the world. Yes we can. But not Obama's "can". Obama is a puppet ass president like his predecessors. It's been a long time since the United States has had a president who was by the people, and for the people.

    1. Thank you for your comment AV. As nice as it would be to change the whole world order, I think climate change might have to be solved by the current world order. We have to solve the most critical threat to mankind with the current system. As I tell my friend Rob Duncan the anti-capitalist who commented below, this problem might just have to be solved by capitalists. They aren't going anywhere. The Occupy movement, the strongest movement so far, was not able to influence capitalism nor the current world order. The crisis in Syria was precipitated by drought, and the crisis in Egypt was precipitated by grain shortages in Russia caused by fire and drought. So clearly the world disruptions and revolutions are in some way, connected to a climate change of only 0.8 degrees, and we are headed for a 4-6 degree world in a child's lifetime or sooner. So climate change will have to be solved by the current world order, and by capitalists, we just need to convince the public to protest and MAKE them do it. This means activism and education. There are very simple ways to fuel the transition to a sustainable world. One way is feebates, fees applied to harmful products which are then used as refunds on clean alternatives. See Another way is a rising fee on carbon pollution, which is then rebated to the poor to offset increased energy costs.

  14. Your story is inspiring, Shaheer, and so is the courage and personal generosity you show by sharing it in this way. You were wondering whether the small number of people who can be counted as activists will ever be mentioned in history books as the people who gave a shit. Probably everyone who will be reading this knows in the back of their minds that at this point in time, whether those history books will even be written is to some extent an open question. If they are, something that will be missing from them anyway is a word of thanks, and I know that’s something you don’t hear very often, and definitely not often enough. So thank you Shaheer, thank you for your generosity of spirit in giving a shit and speaking up so boldly and clearly and bravely for those who haven’t woken up yet to the need to raise their own voices and also for all those others without vocal chords with whom we share our little blue spaceship.

    1. Thank you for your comment Rob. Rob is a former psychology professor with a PhD in Developmental Psychology (Waterloo, 1999) specializing in Soviet cultural-historical psychology, and is currently back at it again, working on a second PhD, this one in Political Sociology, focusing on recruiting for and participation in protest movements, at the University of Victoria. Rob is a viral activist on environmental, anti-capitalist and anti-poverty issues, and runs the anti-poverty campaign known as Clowns Against Child Poverty

  15. Hi Shaheer,

    I've read your story and think you're very talented and very brave to have written it all out.

    I also lost my mind when I went out west to live in tofino in 1982. It made me feel so relieved to read your account of how environment issues affected you. It was painful to be all broken down and feel in pieces but with time and learning how to take care of myself I've managed to pull it together. Hah! Just in time to find out I (we) were right all along. The whole world is going to hell in a handbasket. At warp speed. Anyway, I hope you take good care of yourself now.

    Best wishes

  16. Great to read your story Shaheer! Your doing a good thing, even though I'm not involved in this as much as you are, I really appreciate what you are dong and the struggles you go through to do what you think is right.Good luck for the future! I would like to add that Shaheer has got me more into the climate change movement. I am thinking of going vegetarian again, and really apricate our talks about nuclear power energy sources as the main giver, in combination with solar and wind. He is a knowledgeable man. - Justin Hunter

  17. Thank you for sharing your story. I admire your resilience. He who lives in the past is often depressed; he who lives in the future is often anxious, and he who lives in the present may be at peace. Be aware of the past and the future, but live in the present because that is the only time when living occurs. It is difficult facing the many issues on life's journey. For me, the most important support that I have ever found is my own, and the most important recognition that I have ever gained is my own. I am very grateful for the support of my family and friends; we are a part of many things, we may be a part of support groups, circles of friends, communities, the ecosystem, the planet, the circle of life, the universe, perhaps something even greater than that. But at the end of the day by virtue of the fact that we are living, sentient beings, we are our own person and that is incontrovertible. It is up to us to decide what happiness, love and the meaning of our own life is for ourselves. I am grateful to have you as a friend and hope that you find peace.

  18. Jeremy that was very sweet and true, thank you.

  19. Shaheer your passion and perseverance towards climate change is phenomenal, there will never be enough people who strive for a better healthier greener planet! we all share a planet where the consequences of our disregard for the environment is becoming more and more difficult to ignore. But regardless of any personal steps one takes to live more conscientiously and sustainably, the bad news about the planet's health only seems to be getting worse. It's hard not to feel desperation if not outright despair as political ignorance, and corporate collusion seem to thwart any attempt to make the system-wide changes necessary to avert environmental catastrophe. Thats why activism about climate change on a small or large scale is very important! So that people can see and hear that there are others who support and will stand for change! Shaheer you are doing a great job and you should continue to do your activism and continue to put your voice out there and be herd! handing out flyers and going to rallies are great ways of doing this and having your blog. You should try to get a bigger group together and have a gathering of sorts maybe this will get more attention from the public and get more people involved.
    Best of luck,
    The Breakfast Club

  20. Shaheer, You really can't think in the negative, only the positive. I got a degree in geography and from that learned it was up to me to keep my conscience clean, I refuse to live anywhere I can't bike and take public transit. I live next to a train station even. I learned its more cost effective, better for me, and better for the planet to eat right. I live in a small space that is cheap to heat and cool, less stuff is good too, less carbon footprint, etc. These are all very easy things to do. I can't concentrate on other people's behavior or I will go nuts. Think about what you can do, not what you can't do, like change other people's behavior. I believe a lot in education, and my rent is probably skyrocketing from it. Kids these days don't want their parent's suburban lives, they know how miserable selfishness and greed are firsthand, so I get to compete with them for inner city rentals.

  21. Perhaps the Intelligent planetary ecosystem known as 'Gaia' is allowing us, the principally flawed species of humans, to go the way of the dinosaurs; to make our world uninhabitable - as we have shown that our overall psychic make up is toxic to other organisms, and more to the point, to other planetary and galactic systems. Only by returning to first principles, and eradicating the pestilential scourge that is human kind, can she bring the potter's wheel to zero, to start again.

    There is always the possibility - and I believe this notion has some merit - that our race has already destroyed all viable interractive bio-systems on the other potentially life-bearing planets in this solar system - that we have been at this point time and time again.

    In the dying out and failure to adapt to changing conditions of such a vast proportion of species, this earth, in her runaway entropic spiral, is attempting to show us how our self-destruct activity is terminal. This can be seen in our demented activity - while we indulge in the fatal amusements we offer ourselves, smoking ourselves to death, driving ourselves to death, consuming ourselves to death - the other half that is running counter to this is attempting the life-saving and preserving acts of gardeners, farmers and conservationists. We are polarising our activity from creativity to entropy, and the balance has become overwhelmingly destructive.

    There has been evidence that even dolphins are racing in suicidal dashes against the shores of our continents, the urge to further the species is leaving animals, waterways are choked with algae, fish dying in polluted seas, and that this human, dominant, race has become isolated and landbound deliberately, in spite of having been given the means for inter planetary travel over 5 decades ago.

    It appears we are now being limited - and dumbed down - on a vast scale, to effect our own demise, and to enable the planet to begin terraforming over again.

    It is the only way in which she can ever be accepted into the hierarchy of intergalactic interactive harmonic bio-systems, that she can be allowed to breed, and enable her next planetary swarm to fly free of the glass ceiling, the planetary envelope this previous version has created, and been caused to create, in order to limit our toxic mindset and destructive, anti-life agenda.

    We as a race, in attempting to organise ourselves, have been struggling to free ourselves from our more ignorant drivers, political leaders - but it is those who are inadequate to the task, who are the ones with the power, and who are the most lethal. But it is those with insight, awareness and sensitivity who recognise the value of interaction, and of self governance. Accordingly, those who seize power destroy their wiser brethren, and are left in a field of devastation, to fight among themselves. Thus we are doomed unless we deal with the problem of inappropriate leadership, and the healing of our own human political systems.