Podcast: Dahr Jamail on Extinction, Disease & Other Dangers Caused by Climate Disruption
For this week’s “Unauthorized Disclosure” episode:
Kevin Gosztola and Rania Khalek are joined by Dahr Jamail, Truthout writer, to talk about his monthly “Climate Disruption” dispatches. He provides an overview of thresholds that have perilously been crossed as a result of human-caused climate disruption. He highlights methane blowholes, disease and even describes electromagnetic war games the Navy has engaged in to the detriment of wildlife and humans.
As the talk becomes more gloomy due to the reality of climate disruption, Jamail talks about dealing with depression and how scientists, institutions and even governments are fighting back against these dangerous developments.
During the discussion portion, we talk about the Chapel Hill murders, the FBI targeting anti-oil sands activists and Chelsea Manning being granted hormone therapy by the Pentagon.
The podcast is available on iTunes for download. For a link (and also to download the episode), go here. Click on “go here” and a page will load with the audio file of the podcast. The file will automatically start playing so you can listen to the episode.
Below is a partial transcript.
RANIA KHALEK: We have been following your reporting on climate change. I don’t know where to begin. It’s terrifying. Especially the last couple of months, scientists are warning extinction is coming and twenty-six percent of mammals face extinction. Why don’t you start us off because I don’t think a lot of people really follow climate change issues that closely except for when there is a big hurricane or a natural disaster? Why don’t you start by filling us in on the more general aspects?
DAHR JAMAIL: I agree. It’s really challenging for me to write about this stuff. That’s why one of my recent pieces entailed basically pulling together a bunch of quotes from climate scientists because everyone who is following this closely—whether it’s scientists producing the actual studies or people like me who are reporting on it and other journalists reporting on it or people who read it and make a priority to read it on a regular basis—Depression is a very real thing that we have to deal with.
So, I’ve been writing about that because what is happening, and I have to come to terms with this every month when I come out with my “Climate Dispatch,” which is basically a global survey. I look around the world and try to pull together the most recent scientific studies that come out showing how far along we are, linking various species extinctions or extreme climate events or other factors, like the drought in California, linking those to climate disruption and things.
Just some broad brush strokes to give people some general idea of how far along we are. It’s common knowledge in the brunt of the scientific community that we have entered the sixth great mass extinction on the planet and this is due primarily climate disruption and human-caused climate disruption as well as deforestation by corporate capitalism and mass consumption causing habitat loss for so many species and habitat pollution, etc. In my most recent climate dispatch, I cited how experts are already warning us to expect 30-50% of all current species to go extinct by 2050. So, that’s almost nearly all half of current species extinct in thirty-five years ago.
Another report listed several key species that we expect to see go extinct this year, like the Sumatran elephant, the Javan rhinoceros, the mountain gorilla, the leatherback sea turtle, etc. That’s on the back of another stunning new study that was published in the journal, Science, one of the most prestigious journals out there, also talking about how we’re causing a massive extinction event—and those are their words—in the oceans.
And one of the scientists in that study said, “I honestly feel there’s not much hope for normal ecosystems in the ocean without another dramatic shift away from current business as usual fossil fuel economy.” So, those types of things. I’ve written a lot about the methane releases that are already happening in the Arctic; methane being a hundred times for more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 over a twenty-year time scale. And the problem with the methane releases in the Arctic is this is a runaway feedback loop that basically can’t be stopped. So, several things happening across the planet that are really kicking things into overdrive into an already pretty dismal situation.
KEVIN GOSZTOLA: Now, is this a scientific term or this something you came up with? It’s anthropogenic climate disruption. Is that your term or a scientific term?
JAMAIL: I actually stole it from my wife. [laughter] She’s an artist and a lot of her work is informed by climate disruption and she’s also a pretty heavy science bent herself. She came up with it. I have seen it used in some scientific literature. I tend to go with it by preference because a lot of climate deniers and the Republicans, you’ll see them say, well, climate change happens all the time.
This isn’t some—And it’s true. Climate changes every day. It always and always will. So, if we want to cut that nonsense out and use a very specific term, anthropogenic climate disruption (i.e. human-caused climate disruption)—because it’s not climate change. Our actions are literally disrupting the planet. That’s why I use that because it is very, very specific, and it can’t be argued.
GOSZTOLA: Along those lines, could you get into—Because I think it was really flooring and just incredible to read this whole thing that we, and I think you were alluding to it if not specifically mentioning it, that we’ve gone beyond four of the nine “planetary boundaries” and that this is really horrible for humanity that some of these have been crossed?
JAMAIL: Yeah, that’s right. It’s just another wake-up call that shows that on really so many levels we have literally gone beyond what this planet is able to withstand. For example—one thing I haven’t written about, although I have an article coming out on overpopulation—It’s been argued that the planet basically has a viable carrying capacity, i.e. how many people can live on the planet without causing major disruption or damage or overconsumption, is probably just under 1 billion people. Considering that we’re pushing 7.3 billion now is one boundary. I haven’t really written about that, again, but that would just be one example.
Other things: It’s very clear right now. You look around. There is not enough clean water on the planet for everybody on the planet to have safe, clean potable drinking water on a daily basis. There’s not enough food. Some of that is displaced. We have the 1%, of course, hoarding and having more than enough of everything and yet, what is it? Over a billion people a day—and that’s a very conservative estimate. I’ve seen some estimates as high as 2 billion. Almost a third of the planet doesn’t get enough to eat on a daily basis.
We look at survivability and certain temperature changes in certain parts of the globe. The Middle East, for example, their temperature changes and other areas around the globe like that, where they’re starting to become unlivable. I’m not sure that addresses directly and specifically the question you asked, but it was to give people some idea that we really have pushed through so many of the livable boundaries on the planet let alone what the planet can even take as far as what is an amount of CO2 in the atmosphere that is not going to impact life on Earth whatsoever, of methane that’s not going to impact life on Earth.
Clearly, those are two more boundaries we’ve passed through and left in the dust.
KHALEK: One thing I found really scary—It’s really overwhelming how 250,000 additional people are projected to die every year between 2030-2050 from climate disruption. There’s not enough clean water, like drinkable water. You mention all these mass extinctions taking place. But I think the scariest thing about it is there doesn’t seem to be any momentum building to do anything to mitigate what is happening. It seems like we’re past the point of stopping some of this stuff.
JAMAIL: There are, I mean. And I plan on writing an article about this in the not so distant future. There is a lot of pushback. There is a lot happening regarding people and even some governments that are taking some extraordinary steps. The divestment movement, not just the divestment, the BDS regarding Palestine and Israel, but there’s the climate change divestment movement, where there is a big movement trying to pressure governments and institutions and universities to take all of their holdings and divest it out of fossil fuel-based holdings. So, that’s gaining momentum, where we have major, major universities around the planet that are doing that; major companies, some instances, governments are starting to do that.
And that’s picking up steam. For example, the country of Denmark is getting almost of half of its electrical power just from wind. Then we have other European that are setting pretty dramatic goals in the very near term of we will get off 20-30% of the fossil fuels that we are currently on within like 5-10 years. Very, very aggressive goals. There is some of that. We don’t hear about that in the corporate press. You know, CNN every other commercial is sponsored by Chevron or Exxon Mobil. But that kind of thing is happening.
One of the things I wrote about recently was how the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists recently moved their doomsday clock to three minutes to midnight, the closest its been since the height of the Cold War due to how far along we are with climate disruption but also because of the threat of nuclear war with what’s happening in Ukraine with Russia. So, that coupled with other large bodies of climate scientists that are literally begging their governments to stop pushing for more drilling. Stop pushing for more fossil fuels. There is a lot of pushback that unfortunately doesn’t get as much press as business as usual.
GOSZTOLA: Could you talk about—and I think it’s rather fascinating and imagine many people haven’t considered this as fueling climate change—I think you’ve done a couple pieces on methane blowholes. Can you go into that?
JAMAIL: I’ve written quite a few articles on what is happening up in the Arctic regarding methane. It’s also starting to happen down in some parts of the Antarctic too. I did an article on that, which came out last month, in the middle of January, called “The Methane Monster Roars,” and I interviewed several of the leading scientists that are studying what’s happening there. And one of them, who probably put out the most shocking information and quotes…