2017-05-26

The limits to reason


How did humans get to the idea that they could domesticate plants and animals for food prdoduction? How did they do it, and what were the implications? What has changed over the millennia and how did this affect people, plants, animals and the land?
Many among us may think they know the story, but what we actually heard was the narration of the agricultural perpetrators. The picture they paint gives rationales and justifications for modern industrial agriculture, based on utilitarian materialistic notions of bottom lines and benefits. What is missing from their picture is the suffering caused by rapist practises that sprang from rapist minds. While this may sound like a harsh judgment, consider that the rapist is separating himself from his victim, and he objectifies it so he can use it for his own benefit. The victim's “bottom line” does play no role in his calculations. In his mind, there is no soul, no heartache, no dignity, no connectedness, no oneness, no sacredness.
In various publications Daniel Quinn pointed out that this rapist totalitarian agriculture is but one way of growing food. Other ways are not about production in the first place; they help embed humans into the web of life. Experience from organic gardening and farming does support this notion, but the case may also be made historically and etymologically.
The morpheme agri- is derived from a Latin word and means “field”. -culture, again from the Latin, means “to till, to inhabit, to protect, to nurture, to worship, to honour.” The relationship expressed in the word Agriculture is therefore a close, nurturing, loving one, originally.
What we commonly understand, today by the word agriculture, because its practices have become so ubiquitous, is a subduing of the Earth, forcing our will upon soil, plants, and animals so they deliver what we demand of them. Totalitarian agriculture is the starting point and main driver of the physical destruction of the biosphere as well as the emotional and spiritual destruction of human beings.


TENDING OUR LAND. A new story. By M. G. Jackson & Nyla Coelho
By NASA Langley Research Center, public domain
Focussing on the history of Indian farming and agriculture practices since the dawn of civilization, Jackson and Coelho give a new account of the succession of ideas and notions around tending the land. This is at the same time a history of modern science and its failures to grasp what almost every culture on Earth understood: that humans are an integral part of the world, not separate from it, and that the way we relate to it has consequences on a material level; that in fact relationships are the actual substance of reality.

"17th century specialists assumed that they were impartial observers of the objects and events they study. Such findings are thus objective, free from personal bias, and thus reveal the true nature of the phenomena studied. This assumption is based on the concept of a duality of body and mind formulated by Rene Descartes." (p73f)

But the duality between free mind and causally-determined matter makes no sense, says Whitehead (quoted after Tending our land):
"Western peoples exhibit ... two attitudes [that] are really inconsistent ... A scientific realism, based upon mechanism, is conjoined with an unwavering belief in the world of man and higher animals as being composed of self-determining organisms. The radical inconsistency at the base of modern thought accounts for much that is half-hearted and wavering in our civilization." [A. N. Whitehead, Science and the modern world, 1925, p76]

Jackson and Coelho express that there is no clear separation between the observer and the observed, so,
"In view of this assumption about the process of observation -- who observes, what is observed and how -- it would only be prudent to doubt the entire edifice of 17th century science. It seems likely that the specialists, in fact, see what they expect to see based on their assumptions about the nature of the world. Since they are unaware of the assumptions they hold they think they are seeing 'the' world as it 'really' is." (p73)

In other words, the world of clearly separate entities, entities which consist of lifeless inert mass, entities which can be used and manipulated as humans please, is basically a delusion. The case can be made for things the size of galaxies, as well as for atoms, and everything inbetween.

"Size, volume, shape, density, position and velocity are not attributes of the atoms themselves, but refer to the relationships among them [...] abstracted from this reference frame, an atom cannot be described; it cannot even be said to exist." (p69)

"Another way of describing the unreality of physical entities is to say that in the world we construct from our experiences there are no spatial boundaries. If there are no boundaries there cannot be any independently-existing entities", (p70f)
because it requires a defined area or volume for them to exist.
And really, particle physicists have been unable to discover such entities. The same goes for the macroscopic level. Can soil exist or be seen without the organisms living in it, of it, and creating it? Can a human being exist without the myriads of microspecies living on our skin, off our hair, in our bowels? Can a planet exist in and of itself, without its gravity field and the gravity fields of its neighbouring celestial bodies? With everything so tightly interlinked as to be inseparable the scientific description of relational dynamics becomes utterly ridiculous.

by MLWatts, public domain
"It is not possible to describe the simultaneous interactions of three or more bodies in one equation; say for example, the sun, planet, and the planet's moon, or the entire solar configuration, or a human body or a landscape" (p73)

Though we can point at “things” and though we can roughly or with relative precision predict those things' near-term development, truly exact forecasts are simply impossible. But,
"If we assume that what we observe are relationships and not objects, the appropriate research protocol is to describe these relationships. It is a process of synthesis rather than of analysis." (p72)

So if we described the world in terms of relationships like some Eastern, and almost all indigenous, cultures used to rather than in terms of forces and masses, the outcome might be quite different. It certainly makes a difference regarding our behaviour, and our relationship to the living planet. And that in turn might mean all the difference in view of the future course of the global crisis we are currently undergoing. If what happens, eg. to the climate, is the outcome of humanity's impoverished, disrespecting and abusive relationship towards basically everything -- and how could we deny that the uglification, the exploitation, the pollution etc of the planet are just that -- then re-establishing a loving relationship with the universe might result in a 'miraculous' healing.

"Everything in the universe we [Indians] are told is not only living, but is also sacred. What does it mean to say that life is sacred? Sacredness is a feeling, not a concept. How, or from where, does it arise? We can only say: from a sense of mystery. It will not do to say that the ancients lacked our present particular knowledge and so fell back on superstitious belief. Rather we must admit, as they did, that there is a limit to human reason. Admitting this humbles us and gives rise to a sense of awe in the face of the universal mystery of manifestation; awe and reverence are the very essence of the sacred." (p61f)

A miracle is not something we can hope for. Similarly, sacredness is not something we can work for. Both would arise from a change in our deepest understanding, therefore today's science would be unable to explain it. From a rational point of view, reducing emissions or cleaning up pollution would have done the job (though we know already that it's too late for this to have any significant effect), but what would have actually happened is the mending of broken ties through re-establishing the sacred dimension of things.
Our actions are the result of inner -- mental, emotional, spiritual -- states and processes. Whether physical actions are effective elements in a cause-and-effect mechanism, or if they are merely symptoms of inner processes is one of the great differences in worldview between East and West, and it might be the difference between a living and a dead planet.

See also:
Towards an ethics of permanenceNyla Coelho & Dr. M.G. Jackson, Ecologise, 20170510.
An essay made from excerpts from the book Tending Our Land: A New Story, Earthcare books, Kolkata, 2016

2017-05-12

The Empire Express, 12 May 2017


Editorial

 

A lot of the material presented here may seem unpleasant to the unprepared eye. If you think so, there are two points to keep in mind.
First of all, that something looks unpleasant doesn't mean we should look the other way. It is just one facet of things as they are. Yet those are some facets mainsteam media chooses to avoid or to make them appear less serious than they are. To achieve a more accurate picture of the world at large, though, these aspects need to come to one's awareness. Those who prefer to consume standard news from abundant corporate or government sources – be free to switch programs.
Secondly, you may ask yourself why I chose to focus on those unpleasant aspects of reality. The answer is, that I prefer truth over propaganda, and that, by having a more accurate picture of the situation, I may respond more aptly. When we view information as merely 'interesting', 'entertaining', or 'thrilling', it becomes meaningless. Every event carries a lesson. It has something to tell about how well our actions are aligned with what-is. When our path is littered with suffering, conflict, catastrophe, and other unpleasant debris, it suggests that something doesn't work in the way we see and handle things. This has collective aspects to it, but also carries lessons for the individual. When it seems like we are just little cogs in a giant machine who cannot change much, that is true, regarding the machine, yes; at the same time it is not true regarding the impact we can have on the origins of suffering, both materially and spiritually.
Those links which lead to the less unpleasant stories may help with understanding how that works.

Ongoing Assault

Recent news

Towards an ethics of permanenceNyla Coelho & Dr. M.G. Jackson, Ecologise, 20170510
The authors are “calling for a fundamental transformation of our perceptions of reality, and a befitting code of conduct to govern our relations with one another and with every other entity on earth.”

As we are today, we should consider ourselves to be ill; in dire need of healing. Our illness has been brought about by our many failures to act in accordance with the ethical imperatives of the core pattern of relationships underlying manifest phenomena. These failures are due to ignorance or inadvertence. Healing can occur if we endeavour to be mindful of the imperatives of the active causal agency that shapes and governs all beings and their activities, and act in accordance with it. This applies to our personal emotional and physical health, as well as to that of our families, our communities, our nations and the larger global community of which all these are parts. The cumulative effect of all our individual illnesses is an ailing planet.”

[The article is a collection of excerpts from the book Tending Our Land: A New Story, Earthcare books, Kolkata, 2016]

Science presents to us another positive feedback loop that drives global warming without human intervention:
Measurements of carbon dioxide levels taken from aircraft, satellites and on the ground show that the amount of CO2 emitted from Alaska’s frigid northern tundra increased by 70% between 1975 and 2015, in the period between October and December each year. [...]
Whereas soils 40 years ago took about a month to completely freeze over, the process can now take three months or longer. In some places in the state, the soil is not freezing until January, particularly if there is a layer of insulating snow. The result is a huge and continuing expulsion of CO2 [not to talk of methane].
A lot of models were predicting this thawing would happen, but not for another 50 to 100 years.”

Big polluters are headed for Germany for UN climate talks – Nathalie Baptiste, Mother Jones, 20170504
How the latest United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) comes into existence. It's ok to feel a little bit disgusted.

Stark warning on health of oceans – Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 20170504
As the oceans heat up they take in more carbon dioxide, which means they become more acidic and less oxygenized – a threat to the marine food chain.

Crop failures in USA as a result of extreme weather events – Robin Westenra, Seemorerocks, 20170503
No one seems to be alarmed by the heat wave in India, not even the government of India. No one seems to be alarmed by the famines in Africa, except for the Africans. No one seems to be alarmed by crop failures in the US, except for the stock markets. It's all just freakish events... yes?

The science of this article is based on the flawed IPCC/Paris figures (see my essay, 2°C to Midnight), but the message it carries is absolutely correct: “It’s a species-level emergency, but almost no one is acting like it is.” And,“If we mean what we say, no more new fossil fuels, anywhere.”
Though that won't be enough, as the already-developed resources carry us to 2,2°C (IPCC), or rather 6.5°C (Wasdell). Seriously.

The crazy scale of human carbon emission – Caleb A. Scharf, Scientific American, 20170426
Want some perspective on how much carbon dioxide human activity produces? Here it is.”
Careful, it's getting graphic ;)

We can save life on Earth: study reveals how to stop mass extinction – Morgan Erickson-Davis, Truthout, 20170426
The deal is, to conserve around 50% of the planet's land areas for proper functioning ecosystems – currently there are 15% under protection. ”Increasing protections and restoring degraded land would cost somewhere between $8 billion and $80 billion per year”, which is a joke compared to what is being spent on war. But then again, it is this greedy mindset of ours which drives us into war time and again that will keep us from doing it.
The deal reminds me a bit of historical divisions, say in Korea, where the opponents fear defeat and hastily agree to an armistice before it's too late. Only that, this time, it might actually be so. It doesn't ever work out, anyway. Look at Ethiopia/Eretria, or Israel/Palestine, or India/Pakistan, or Germany, or...
We will insist on fully transforming “our” part into the Anthroposphere, and we will have wars against the other part, for all the stupid reasons we have wars among human nations. First and foremost the capitalistic juggernaut is not going to stop the plundering of the world before it has felled and monetized the last tree on Earth. Meanwhile, experts are going to discuss which areas are worth protecting, or how this is going to effect the economy.
I don't believe we see more than an ultra-shortterm result from such an endeavor. Humanity and nature are one. The insistence on a separation that has no reality anywhere else but in the mind can only lead to further crippling of both parts. Let's overcome separation!

The upshot of the judges' opinion? Monsanto has engaged in practices that have violated the basic human right to a healthy environment, the right to food, the right to health, and the right of scientists to freely conduct indispensable research.
The judges also called on international lawmakers to hold corporations like Monsanto accountable, to place human rights above the rights of corporations, and to 'clearly assert the protection of the environment and establish the crime of ecocide'.”

A conversation with Helena Norberg-Hodge – Charles Eisenstein, A new and ancient story, 20170417
The author of 'Sacred Economics' and the author of 'Distant Futures: Learning from Ladakh' have a dialogue on the reductionist assumptions regarding climate change and how to "attack" it, on localization as a means of healing wounds of all kinds, and how huddling together in ever larger numbers is a main driver to the convergence of crises this civilization faces today. They talk about cities, their functioning and the ramifications of their growth. What impresses me time and again about Charles is his ability to connect dots from very different areas in order to show the larger picture.

In the present day, the biomass of the entire human race is approximately equal to 300 million tonnes. This is more than double that of all large terrestrial vertebrates that lived on Earth prior to human civilization, and an entire order of magnitude greater than that of all vertebrates currently living in the wild. At 30.11 trillion tonnes, the size of the technosphere is five orders of magnitude greater than even that. It is the equivalent of every single square metre of Earth’s surface being covered with nearly 50kg of matter.”
According to Aspen, the total Mass of carbon in the whole biosphere is about 1 to 4 trillion tons. The comparison to our own collective weight shows that humanity is literally eating up the living planet as it develops its realm and grows in numbers.

I disagree with every single point made in this video, as far as those points are meant to discredit the ability of self-acclaimed and alleged 'doomers' in general and a certain professor emeritus in special. With his kitchen psychoanalysis Paul, who has made himself a name as a climate system scientist and proponent of geo-engineering, falls into the same traps he believes others have become victims of. Rather than refuting point by point, however, may I emphasize that Paul touches on something that is of relevance to every activist: the danger of getting hysterical about the news, of overrating single events, and of identifying with a specific interpretation of the facts. We need to be aware of the larger picture, and we need to check our facts in the light of new information and different opinions. Because we might be wrong. In the end, all predictions of the future are inaccurate projections. So... pass on the popcorn and relax :)

Pearls Before Swine

A collection of older articles that - obviously - didn't change the world.

The only way I can honor Earth Day is to grieve all that has been lost, and to refuse to participate in the ongoing destruction.”

8 widespread but deadly eco-myths – Michael Thomas, Exposing the Truth, 20140821
Nice to have all this pointed out in a tidy fashion. People, in their human bubble, too easily forget that money, science, or ingenuity cannot bring back lost lives.

Recommended article, both as an introduction into the madness of our culture, and as a call for resistance. Hedges shows how the story of Captain Ahab, the main character of Moby Dick, is emblematic of what our culture is doing to the planet today. “The novel is the chronicle of the last days of any civilization,” he writes, because “Complex civilizations have a bad habit of ultimately destroying themselves [...]
The difference this time is that when we go down the whole planet will go with us. There will, with this final collapse, be no new lands left to exploit, no new civilizations to conquer, no new peoples to subjugate. The long struggle between the human species and the earth will conclude with the remnants of the human species learning a painful lesson about unrestrained greed, hubris and idolatry.”

Ronald Wright once pointed out that our neolithic ancestors, as well, have been facing a fundamental change that required major changes in how people lived. Mankind, after having hunted every large species into extinction, parted into two directions; those who turned into tribal caretakers of the land, and those who continued as farmers and civilization founders; those who got the lesson and those who didn't. It remains doubtful whether the latter will get it this time around, because “We believe, because we have externalized evil, that we can purify the earth. And we are blind to the evil within us.” Hedges.

On the positive side, he says, “we only need 1 to 5 percent of the population actively working for the overthrow of a system, history has shown, to bring down even the most ruthless totalitarian structures.”
Yet the stakes are high, especially for those bound to the machine who see clearer than others. In the face of a conflict of interest, “moral cowardice turns us into hostages.”

To emotionally accept impending disaster, to attain the gut-level understanding that the power elite will not respond rationally to the devastation of the ecosystem, is as difficult to accept as our own mortality. The most daunting existential struggle of our time is to ingest this awful truth—intellectually and emotionally—and rise up to resist the forces that are destroying us.”

AMEN!

Human extinction without a squeak? – Michael Thomas, Exposing the Truth, 20130407
The question why “no one” is taking the impending collapse of global ecosystems serious is being asked again and again. This article provides an answer from an emergency helper's point of view.

The paper discusses the techniques of how alternate ways of acquiring knowledge are systematically getting eradicated through scientific discourse. See also my previous article, Cognitive Justice: Science and the Sacred.

A short history of progress – Ronald Wright, 2004
Wright argues that civilizations usually end up in a development trap. Technological items that seem beneficial in the beginning become staples before a society slips into addiction. What looks like a stairway to heaven is actually a highway to hell. The author describes the demise of some historical civilizations, analyzing which of their cornerstones gave way and made it collapse. For example,

We might think that in such a limited place [Easter Island], where, from the height of Terevaka, islanders could survey their whole world at a glance, steps would have been taken to halt the cutting, to protect the saplings, to replant. We might think that as trees became scarce, the erection of statues would have been curtailed, and timber reserved for essential purposes such as boatbuilding and roofing. But that is not what happened. The people who felled the last tree could see it was the last, could know with complete certainty that there would never be another. And they felled it anyway.”

There must be reasons why we do not react appropriately. One of them might be that,

We are running 21st-century software on hardware last upgraded 50,000 years ago or more. This may explain quite a lot of what we see in the news.”

Wright also describes the fall of Sumer and Rome, and briefly compares them to the cases of China, Greece, and Egypt. All this does of course have a meaning for our own situation in which we have reached the peak production of our main energy source at a time when environmental breakdown is well underway. When a civilization reaches the limits to growth it needs to acknowledge them or perish. It's not like there were no precedences like the Maya, whom we can learn from. And what did the Maya do?

As the crisis gathered, the response of the [Maya] rulers was not to seek a new course, to cut back on royal and military expenditures, to put effort into land reclamation ..., or to encourage birth control... No, they dug in their heels and carried on doing what they had always done, only more so. Their solution was higher pyramids, more power to the kings, harder work for the masses, more foreign wars ... the Maya elite [was] squeezing the last drops of profit from nature and humanity.”

Doesn't it sound awfully familiar to you? Does it make you feel like you want to smash the pathetic system and start all over again? Beware!

There is no going back without catastrophe. Those who don't like civilization, and can't wait for it to fall on its arrogant face, should keep in mind that there is no other way to support humanity in anything like our present numbers or estate.”

And maybe there is no other way left to go but to reduce the numbers and estate. Population and property were the main physical drivers of all civilizations – and their eventual unraveling. I know that our Empire, just like the Maya kings, is not willing to go slower, not to speak of decreasing its size. It should have taken steps four decades ago at latest. The end of the road has been reached. The current generation may experience the expected outcome of our civilization's project of conquering the world.

The lesson I read in the past is this: that the health of land and water -- and of woods, which are the keepers of water -- can be the only lasting basis for any civilization's survival and success.”

[The above link leads to a file containing the introduction to his 200p book.]

The train of civilization


"Are we going to arrive in time?" - "I think so. Emergency services are pretty quick these days."

Famous Last Words

"Don't worry. We can fix this."

2017-05-05

2°C to Midnight, or, In Paris We Trust

Just a few months ago, in November 2016, the world celebrated the coming-into-effect of the 2015 Paris Agreement on limiting anthropogenic global warming – only to get disappointed shortly after by the announcement of the POTUS-elect that he intended to cancel the treaty. The leader of one of the planet's most polluting nations who is at the same time commander-in-chief of the US army, the single biggest polluter worldwide, has already started to dismantle mechanisms of environmental protection both at home and abroad. One could sing a very sad song about that, but I want to talk about something else here. As we will see by the end of this essay, the United States' adherence or non-adherence to the Paris Agreement might be of marginal significance to the unfolding of climate change, if at all.

The Paris Agreement which has been signed by numerous nations on the 21st UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21) has actually been a breakthrough, somehow, because, for the first time, a majority of the world's countries, including the US, have committed to far-reaching specific goals for environmental protection, in order to prevent catastrophic climate change. But that victory's value is only of symbolic nature; it will not achieve what it is supposedly meant to do. Quite the opposite. Various scientists have pointed out that the treaty is simply misleading public opinion. The action to be taken will not only be insufficient, it is coming too late – by decades – and will result in inappropriate handling of this truly existential crisis of our planet. Therefore it is suitable for leading to great damage.

The Paris Agreement is mainly based on data collected, reviewed, evaluated, and presented by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Its main goals – curbing global warming at 2°C above pre-industrial levels, ideally stopping it at 1.5°C, through national carbon budgets – derive from reports issued by the IPCC. Certainly it'd be unfair to demand infallability of those good folks, but criticism of the IPCC has been getting louder and louder over the years, and point is adding to serious point. Those who believe that the tide is turning, climate-wise, should definitely have a look at what the general public is being served as a major breakthrough. Let's dive into matters from here on.

Composition
As its name suggests, the IPCC consists of government representatives of the world's nations. Founded in 1988, its purpose has been to inform decision makers of the state of global climate. The IPCC appoints scientists which are to provide assessment reports. The last word on content and way of publication are with the IPCC, i.e. the governments, not with the scientists. The latest report has been issued in 2013 (AR5).

Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), of 2013
It is the scientist's duty to come to an assessment of the future development of the global climate system. Their appraisal has to be based on solid data. Well, we all heard about climate change denial, and we would like to have a clear picture of what is going on, rather than having to rely on anybody's best guesses. There is just one problem with solid data: it is old data. For scientific research to receive wider acknowledgement, the reports have to go through a lengthy process of checks and appraisals by fellow scientists, the so-called peer review. This usually takes two to three years before relevant journals are willing to print the report. Only then does the scientific community regard the data as solid. The assessment by the IPCC takes several years more, e.g. it is currently in its sixth cycle of assessment, the report of which is not to be expected before 2022. So the data grows old and older.

Climate, in the meantime, continues to change, and quickly. The current state of affairs is documented 'merely' through unreviewed measurements. Instead of working with those, the IPCC used computer models. There is much to criticise about that.
Models can provide only rough calculations of climatic mechanisms. Small causes below the resolution of the model can amplify into surprisingly huge effects. One example of this is the localised melt of the Greenland ice sheet through darker particles and its large-scale destabilisation through the resulting melt water.
Quite a few fundamental climate factors have been missing from the IPCC's models, such as the greenhouse gases methane and water vapor, and the multiple effects of melting polar icecaps. Those factors are not merely adding up, they interact with each other. That means, instead of the expected (by IPCC) relatively steady increase we see a sudden escalation in figures, such as with global average temperatures and polar ice melt. Already more than seventy natural feedback processes have been identified which reinforce themselves and each other and drive the heating of the atmosphere without needing further human intervention. The IPCC does not acknowledge any of these feedback loops.
That's why the IPCC has come to false predictions regarding polar ice melting, atmospheric temperature development and greenhouse gas concentrations, all of which are skyrocketing at unprecedented speed. No wonder – the models were completely inaccurate, as illustrated by the following chart.

measured data (red) as compared to modeled Arctic sea ice extent (blue).
[public domain / source: Wikimedia]

It is easy to see how inaccurate models prevent people from getting aware of the obvious emergency. Instead of an ice-free Arctic starting from somewhen between 2017 and 2025, IPCC predicts this so-called Blue-Ocean Event from 2100 on, when today's decision makers will no longer be alive. Blue Ocean leads to significantly higher intake of solar radiation energy, resulting in higher water temperatures, and those will probably trigger massive outbursts of methane from the seabed; a sudden leap in atmospheric temperatures will be the consequence – exactly how the 'Great Dying' some 250 Million years ago came about, when more than 90% of all life forms went extinct.

Scientists tend to give conservative figures. That's not new. Valuing the models with their systematic large-scale deviation higher than the real figures is. The intervention of governments in the interest of fossil fuel industries has played a major role in this, some scientists reported. Further window-dressing has been achieved by shifting the baseline. In the 80s, the UN held that a 1°C temperature rise above a pre-industrial baseline (1750) was beyond safe. Today, the IPCC is talking about 2°C as compared to a pre-industrial baseline, meaning 1880 (!) In those intermitting 120 years, global average temperature has risen by at least 0.3°C due to human activity. Recently we see more and more publications that use an even later baseline, thus playing down the level of warming the planet has already reached. Ordinary people watching the news usually won't become aware of it; they will falsely believe that there is plenty of time for countermeasures while there isn't.

David Wasdell, director of the Apollo-Gaia Project, previously coordinator of the Meridian Programme, comes to similar results. Years of climate research enabled him to draw a corrected version of the IPCC's chart depicting the relation between industrial CO2 emissions, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, and expected global atmospheric temperature rise.


[source: Wasdell]

The top of the graph translates the weights of carbon into their equivalent amounts of CO2, in parts per million (ppm). This translates into a total amount of human carbon emissions measured in petagrams (PgC), shown on the lower edge.
The vertical axis shows the temperature increase which a certain amount of greenhouse gases may result in. This depends on the models used.
The blue line shows the steady increase the IPCC models project. This does not acknowledge greenhouse gases other than CO2, and it does not account for changes related to the melting of the polar ice caps. It doesn't acknowledge the dynamics of natural processes.
The curved red line calculated by Wasdell does include some of these factors and is matching paleoclimatic precedence.

Wasdell's analysis of AR5, in short:
„Avoiding dangerous climate change is no longer possible.“ The IPCC has delivered a systematically false report that does not describe the reality of climate change. Its proposals are misleading and allow for too much time to pass. „On these grounds the AR5 should be rejected as not fit for the purpose of policy-making.“ The specifics are frightening:

  • The temperature response to the 2014 set of emission-reduction pledges is about 10°C, not 4°C . This is where we are most likely headed as many states seem to have a hard time implementing the Paris Agreement.
  • If we actually performed as proposed by the AR5/Paris Agreement, we'd end up at 5.4°C, not 2°C.
  • The atmospheric CO2 concentration in 2014 already leads us to 3.9°C, not 1.5°C. The effect of other greenhouse gases which have been disregarded by IPCC needs to be added. The temperature increase locked in actually amounts to min. 6°C and will probably lead to a sea level rise of 23 meters, following precedents in Earth's history, according to Guy McPherson. We don't need to worry about wet feet, though, because a temperature rise by 3.9°C equals the extinction of the human race, following the demise of our crop plants.
  • The so-called CO2 budget of 300 gigatons which could supposedly get emitted before breaking the 2°C limit is wholly illusory. In reality the account was already overdrawn by 388 gigatons, with 10 gigatons of industrial carbon pollution being added every year. There is no budget to distribute. We have missed that exit decades ago, around 1970.

Those who do not shy away from climate technical vocabulary should have a look at Wasdell's critical evaluation of the AR5.
If, for some reason, you find it wanting, there still remain a few inconvenient facts:
2°C are not a goal based in science. The limit has been set by the neoliberal economist William Nordhaus who tried to define conditions under which economic activity makes sense.
2°C are not a safe goal. This shows clearly from the increasingly numerous, increasingly massive natural disasters over the last few decades. Epic droughts, larger storms, rainbombs, quickly changing weather, extreme heat and cold – and all of these clearly more often today than in the past. It already devastates crops throughout the world, from Spanish lettuce to Californian almonds, from Australian sugar to Indian grains.
2°C are not a realistic goal, even by the assessment of the IPCC. AR5 states that it requires geo-engineering to achieve its 2°C goal (which is really 5.4°C), yet it fails to mention any specific technology that can accomplish this. Such a technology which could manipulate climatic factors in the short-term and on a global scale does not exist yet!

Summary:
The Paris Agreement of 2015 whose goals and policies mirror the fifth assessment report of 2013 of the IPCC exposes the community of life on Earth to dangerous climatic changes, says David Wasdell in his critical evaluation. Others – Sam Carana, Michael Mann, James Hansen, or Paul Beckwith – do call for immediate action. They propose a shift to renewable energy sources and demand geo-engineering of various kinds. In the absence of suitable geo-engineering technologies, and factoring in that the so-called renewables are not carbon-neutral at all, Professor Guy McPherson came to the conclusion that the train of civilization has jumped tracks and is heading for the bottom of the cliff.
Global warming might not be catastrophic, but rather apocalyptic in extent, as human activity has triggered a sixth mass extinction already which may only get worse on this quickly heating planet. It's literally 2.5°C to Midnight.
I would have liked to end this essay with the words, „If that is so, who cares what America is doing or not doing?“ Yet the one thing America still may – and possibly will – do is to throw the planet into a nuclear winter, either deliberately to stop the warming, or as a byproduct of their pursuit of securing the remaining resources it needs for feeding its war machine.
You may think that all this is far out and that things could be worse than what you see outside your window. And that's true. Yes they can.

Further links: