Nature Rebounds – the world is getting better, not worse


The common meme in today’s world is that we are slowly (or perhaps even rapidly in some instances) destroying our global environment. Not just by way of global warming, but pollution, over-farming, water usage, and increasing use of all sorts of resources taken from the ground.

Post-apocalyptic movies and books are the rage, showing us living in a world where man has ravaged his environment and our lives have been degraded if not destroyed. Our failure to deal with global warming and the destruction of the environment are key components of the mantra repeated by the mainstream media, pundits, and politicians.

Technology is supposed to somehow save us from our dystopian future by creating new ways to clean the environment, feed us, and help us become more thrifty and less wasteful. But when? When will we see those breakthroughs, that light at the end of the tunnel?

A few years ago I met Jesse Ausubel, who ran a two-week-long think tank for the US Department of Defense at the Naval War College, tasked with thinking about the challenges of the next 20 years. The Office of Net Assessment brought in 15 futurists from a number of disciplines and personnel from each branch of the military who were the heads of future-scenario planning for their respective branches. We sat for over a week, 10-12 hours a day plus dinners, thinking through the issues we might have to face. Andrew Marshall, who was 93 and had been running that department since he was appointed by Nixon in 1974, gathered this group of nonconsensus thinkers each summer to think about long-range issues. I was fortunate enough to be part of the group for two years. Jesse corralled this herd of cats into a cogent work group and kept us on track.

The experience was exhausting but exhilarating. It was soon clear that Jesse was not only capable of organizing a group of eclectic minds, he was also a first-rate thinker himself, knowledgeable on a wide variety of topics, a true Renaissance man. Jesse is Director and Senior Research Associate of the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller University, a pure-research institution with more Nobel laureates than any other university.

The work they do is astounding in its breadth. I recently spent an afternoon with Jesse talking over a number of topics and especially a paper he recently published which lays out serious research in an accessible way on the subject of how things in our beleaguered world might actually be getting better. It is called “Nature Rebounds,” and it’s today’s Outside the Box.

To get the import of this paper, you may need to know more about who Jesse is. You can read his wiki bio, which is extensive; but the short version is that he was integral to setting up the first (and then subsequent) conferences on climate change in Geneva in 1979. Later, he led the Climate Task of the Resources and Environment Program of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, near Vienna, Austria, an East-West think tank created by the US and Soviet academies of sciences.

Beginning with a 1989 book called Technology and Environment, Jesse was one of the founders of the field of industrial ecology. He also co-developed the concepts of decarbonization and dematerialization. He has more serious science attached to his name than most climate and ecological scientists do, and he has the awards and honors to prove it. And what Jesse tells us is that for much of the world, in many ways, things are getting better.

Nature is winning.

Not everywhere, of course, and he documents the downside as well, notably the serious devastation of our oceans and fishing. There is still a lot to do, but the trends are positive (except, notably, for the oceans). He shows us that the effort to clean up the environment and expand the areas that are allowed to return to a more natural state has been worth it. This is a great summer read. The entire paper is included in today’s OTB, but if you would like to read it in its original format, you can download a PDF here.

Originally printed in PDF form Newsletter (Outside The Box) h/t to WUWT reader Andrew Cinko in Tips and Notes

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June 26, 2015 7:46 pm

It would be very good news if in fact this were broadly true.
However, when the trends for the oceans are adverse, that covers 70+% of our world, so the trend is still down.
Then add the poor world, Latin America, Africa and the Mid East through India, where the ecosystem continues to be treated as a free good and it seems implausible that things are getting broadly better.
Just as a data point, small migrating passerines such as warblers or buntings provide ground truth about ecosystem health. Their numbers are in an ongoing decline both in North America as well as Europe, even though those areas have seen reforestation and include the most ecologically conscious communities.

Reply to  etudiant
June 26, 2015 8:54 pm

“What? Hell don’t look at me…I was just helping the poor guy back to his nest. He is my fwend!
I prefer cheezburgers. I can has one now?”

Steve P
Reply to  Menicholas
June 27, 2015 7:43 am

I glanced up at the boob tube at the far end of my mancave, and several men are engaged in a desperate struggle to free a kitten from a network of pipes. They are an emergency rescue squad from LA, with yellow reflective vests, and various kit hanginging from their batman belts, but try as they might, the kitten eludes their grasp. The battle of wits goes on, blah blah blah…
In the end, the little cat is saved, and weepy women & other nitwits everywhere can now embark on another noble quest to save every last cat and dog on the planet.
Cue pet food advertising.

Reply to  etudiant
June 26, 2015 8:56 pm
Reply to  Menicholas
June 26, 2015 9:12 pm

Cats and bird are nature’s buddies.

Reply to  Menicholas
June 27, 2015 2:45 am

And cats developed dematerialisation and teleportation long ago. You know perfectly well that the cat is asleep on your t-shirts in the wardrobe. (Forbidden, as the cat knows perfectly well.) You open the fridge. There is a slight shimmer in the air, and the cat is next to you. S/he dematerialised from the shirts and rematerialised by the fridge.
Can Jesse Ausubel do that?

Reply to  Menicholas
June 29, 2015 7:50 am

RoHa June 27, 2015 at 2:45 am , your cat must be related to mine. She walks through walls, and has performed the Loony Tunes cat manoeuver where you spray her butt, and in one terrifying move, she shoots straight up 2 feet, throws her four limbs straight out (scattering anything for four feet in every direction), fires her rockets and shoots across the room without touching down. I cannot even imagine what model run could simulate that!

Reply to  etudiant
June 26, 2015 9:22 pm

You’re selecting the data that confirms your bias with regard to the world’s oceans. On the western coast of North America where I live we have had record numbers of salmon return to spawn in the last 5 years, gray whale populations at their highest in 150 years, record numbers of sea-lions and sea-otters. I for one am so sick of this blanket “The oceans are dying.” nonsense. Lobster fisherman in Maine have been complaining about the glut of lobester; prices are down, way down.

Reply to  mairon62
June 27, 2015 1:27 am

Please read what the man said. He is only referring to the original report that talks about serious devastation of the world’s oceans and fishing. The only thing he added was that that is about 70% of the world so that is a pretty serious problem regardless local places like the western coast. The passerine and bunting problem is directly related to the intensity of farming. Maximum crops means minimum insects and birds. You can compensate by making extra nature reserves but these will not host the typical farmland birds. Less intensive farming is the answer for this problem but in that way we cannot feed the world long term or in short term make enough profit as a farmer. Well at least in Europe where the amount of land per farm is limitied.

Reply to  mairon62
June 27, 2015 5:37 pm

From your prospective in the first world things are just fine. My neighborhood is just great too.
It is entirely different in the third world. that’s most of the world by the way. I could go on and on but you’d only believe it if you went out there. Poor, primitive people are very good at destroying their environment. You really haven’t seen anything till you’ve seen an entire river, bay or beach covered in a foot of plastic, turds and a few dead bodies.

Reply to  Expat
June 27, 2015 8:50 pm

Expat commented: “It is entirely different in the third world. that’s most of the world by the way.”
I think you’re missing the point. The warmists/ecologists believe the part of the world that benefits the most from using fossil fuels needs to stop despite the fact they are environmentally friendly. Stop the polluters (and CO2 is not pollution). The raping of fish stocks in the oceans is a world food management problem and not a pollution problem. As already pointed out….we’ve learned to farm plants and animals, now it’s time to do the same with fish. It’s being done now and needs to increase to meet the demand or the fish stocks will be reduced to being non commercially viable (or gone altogether).

Leonard Lane
Reply to  etudiant
June 26, 2015 10:31 pm

Have you thought about windmills?

Reply to  Leonard Lane
June 27, 2015 8:06 am

Windmills kill large migratory birds, and birds of prey.
These sorts of birds reproduce far more slowly than the songbirds.
Larger birds may have a only one or a few offspring once a year or less, while smaller songbirds often have eight or more, and can do so several times per year.
This alone makes them far more vulnerable to being wiped out.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  etudiant
June 27, 2015 1:47 am

It has long time been my belief that the “songbird” (passerines) populations must have began to exponentially increase in accordance with the migrations of Europeans into the heavily forested regions of North America and began to “clear-cut” vast areas to build their homes and villages and to plant their food crops, fruit trees and pasture their herd animals ….. which resulted in an excellent environment or habitat for all species of insect and seed eating songbirds (passerines) to thrive and reproduce.
There is really not very much “songbird” food, nesting material or nesting places to be found in a heavily wooded (trees) area, …. be it a virgin forest or a new-growth forest.
But the pendulum is now swinging back from that songbird population increase because those birds have been and are still losing that excellent environment or habitat that previously provided them the “good life”.

Steve P
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
June 27, 2015 8:20 am

You may be right, but along with the timber clearing came bird shooting, critter shooting, pet keeping & animal husbandry, water diversion, fencing and other alterations to the landscape so that the entire ecological balance of the land was disturbed in a number of ways.
One such disturbance is notable in the modern era. Even though the forests have regrown since wood is no longer a primary fuel, these woodlands are often fragmented because of fire roads and such, and there are few if any deep forests in the midwestern US, for example, which are immune to the penetration of the Brown cowbird, a notorious nest parasite which however will not normally penetrate deep forests more than a few hundred yards.
Woodland nesting birds may not have any defense against the cowbird, where some margin nesters are able to recognize the cowbird’s eggs, and eject them, or build another nest, sometimes right on top of the cowbirds eggs. Each female cowbird is followed around by a consort of suitors, each getting a chance to hop aboard, but all of them clearing out when the sinister female begins to skulk around to lay her eggs in the nests of passerines. It is relatively easy to lure the males to a trap, where they are destroyed, and this should be done in all areas with cowbird populations.
Just getting rid of the cats and the cowbirds would go a very long way toward improving conditions for migratory passerines in the Midwest.

Steve P
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
June 27, 2015 8:48 am

Re: Cowbirds – the other side of the story
Stephen I. Rothstein has a somewhat different take on cowbirds:
Villian or Scapegoat?

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
June 28, 2015 10:58 am

@ Steve P June 27, 2015 at 8:20 am

Just getting rid of the cats and the cowbirds would go a very long way toward improving conditions for migratory passerines in the Midwest.

I will agree that an “Open Season” Law permitting the shooting, trapping and/or extermination of feral cats and/or any “free roaming” household “pet” cat that does not have an attached collar with the owner’s name, address and License # clearly labeled thereon …… would improve conditions for migratory passerines most anywhere in the US ……. but only moderately.
The primary problem, as I see it today, be it in the Midwest or the Eastern US, …. is the collapse of the “food chain” that once supported the migrating passerines …… which is a direct result of the exponential decrease in household gardening and family farming, ….. as well as, …. the exponential increase in “crop harvesting & insect control techniques” now being employed by the extremely large “farm” operations.
After “harvesting” there is very little to no produce, fruits or seeds left on the surface, ….. nor insects at any time, … to be eaten by said passerines. Even the urban and rural neighborhoods-developments are pretty much a “sterile environment” in respect to passerine food sources.
And “No”, … DDT was not the problem it was accused of being.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
June 28, 2015 11:41 am

And I wasa justa thinking, …. as an afterthought, ….. concerning this statement, to wit:

Just getting rid of the ….. cowbirds would go a very long way toward improving conditions for migratory passerines in the Midwest.

The proponents of AGW will likely tell you to:
Just get rid of the cows …. and it will solve both of the problems.
The problem of GHG emissions from the cow’s aboral end ….. and the problem of cowbird ‘brood parasitism’ because ……. no cows = no cowbirds.


Reply to  etudiant
June 27, 2015 2:28 am

I don’t know about the US, but here in Europe so called hunters have a lot to answer for in the decline of migrating birds. For example, in the Pyrenees where about 3 migratory bird routes converge. the ridges of the hills at those points are lined with shooting butts. At migration time the “hunters” gather to blast anything of any size flying across out of the sky. Well not quite all the hills, there is one called Col Libre, i,e, hill free, allocated for bird watching and there are no shooting butts. There is also the bird liming on the Mediterranean island for catching the song birds.

Reply to  etudiant
June 27, 2015 4:24 am

I’m curious…did you actually read the paper?
I have not yet.

Reply to  jimmaine
June 27, 2015 1:45 pm

I have, now. Read it and saved it.
It does seem to employ an element data selection [graphs have various start dates, which may be justified . . . .], so I leave to various relevant experts the task of saying –
– good; good; iffy; fair; (intake of breath through teeth); spot on; and so on.
I note and agree that foxes are a problem in London. Week before last, I saw one at about 0715 Local Time, about 100 metres/yards north of St. Paul’s Cathedral, in The City; trotting along, much faster than me I note [so are some select snails . . . .]. but utterly brazen.
We’ve cubs in our garden again, after a decade without, too, but avoid the Tube so haven’t seen one there.
The Oceans – I’ve not been at sea, actively, for more than a month since about 2006, but there seems little doubt that some areas are badly contaminated with plastic waste. Some marine life is returning – I spent an evening drinking beer with a research ship Master, in Tasmania in the late 1990s, where he told me of the considerable increases he had seen in a decade or so in blue whales I the Southern Ocean. But, as Ausubel writes, a lot of fish stocks are depleted.
I cannot blame the ludicrous, inflammatory EU Common Fisheries Policy for all of that.
I d o blame the EU CFP for a lot of it – especially through displacement fishing, anecdotally a significant factor in the sudden efflorescence of Somali piracy last decade. Now suppressed by armed teams on most ships, plus welcome Naval assets in the Gulf of Aden, and nearby. But the piracy drivers still exist, so any diminution of precaution will lead – probably on the ‘poorest’ ship, bulkers etc. – to a significant return of piracy – theft, but above all, hostage taking for ransom.
That is a business model that has worked, and – if precautions are diminished – will work again.

Reply to  auto
June 27, 2015 2:00 pm

It would seem to me that with the large collections of plastic stuff, it would be easy to scoop it out of the water to be recycled. Maybe not free, but IMO better use for some of the trillions wasted on CAGW so far.

Reply to  micro6500
June 27, 2015 2:29 pm

micro6500 commented: “It would seem to me that with the large collections of plastic stuff, it would be easy to scoop it out of the water to be recycled.”
The plastic gyre isn’t what most people envision it to be. Most of it is small particles suspended beneath the surface. For the larger pieces that float someone has come up with an anchored contraption to funnel the pieces into a conveyor that takes them up and into a collection point. I think it’s wishful thinking as something like that on the open ocean untended probably won’t last. I hope they get to try it and I’m wrong though.

Reply to  etudiant
June 27, 2015 10:19 am

Two miles of ice over Chicago would be a very bad trend. It would have adverse impacts on travel.

Reply to  M Simon
June 27, 2015 10:35 am

2 points, I’d be clear what direction climate went.
It’d cut down on the population of deer.

Reply to  M Simon
June 27, 2015 12:09 pm

In other words, it would be like Minnesota, lol

June 26, 2015 7:47 pm

Since Jesse was instrumental in organizing the first UN World Climate Conference, which led to the elevation of the global warming issues in scientific and political agendas; and he is now saying that nature is rebounding, what is his take on man-made global warming now?

Reply to  noaaprogrammer
June 27, 2015 12:20 am

Nature is winning ?? WTF…. Nature always wins !!

June 26, 2015 7:51 pm

I agree things are better.
And this is from personal experience as a child in the fifties in Sydney. In every respect; Air, Water, the Streets and Highways, Public Transport the Ocean, Harbour and Beaches are dramatically better now. The same can be said of what is a now huge city in what the doomsayers and critics like to call a a third world country , Bangkok which i first visited in the late 60’s. it is a damn side cleaner now than it was then.
So, if you have been around for a decade or more what is your personal experience?.

Reply to  cnxtim
June 26, 2015 9:10 pm

Where I live the air is clean, the sky is bluer than blue, the grass and trees blindingly green and pretty, the flowers are bright and plentiful, birds fill the trees and are always singing, small animals in scads of variety roam about, and gardens and fruit trees offer up an amazing bounty…more than I can ever eat, and do so with minimal effort.
Flying over it all in a plane, looking down the view is of wide fields and forests, with tiny houses and little cities and towns dotted about.
No sign of awfulness where I live, or in the places I travel to or pass by on my way somewhere else.
Alarmists must be the type to get their eyeball up real close a mess, and instead of cleaning it up, they become paralyzed and cannot stop staring at it.
Places where I have seen hurricanes destroy vast areas…like for instance Hugo did…are back to normal, or nearly so. Even the damage from Wilma, the great storm that everyone outside of South Florida ignored, is largely invisible now, with the exception of the decades old ficus trees lining some old streets which are now either erased or looking like a Dr. Seuss drawing.
-Sky blue with white clouds: check
-Ocean pretty and clean and bluish green: check
-Trees and grass green and growing, and waving in the wind: check
-Animals lurking, to any who care to look for them: check
-Warmistas crazy and screaming like scalded chimps: Darn tootin’!

Evan Jones
Reply to  cnxtim
June 26, 2015 9:30 pm

From what I’ve seen, better. (But I have only seen what I have seen.)

Louis Hunt
Reply to  cnxtim
June 26, 2015 9:32 pm

I’ve been looking for that “immense pile of filth” the Pope says the earth is becoming, but I don’t see it where I live. But then again, I don’t live anywhere close to the Vatican, so I’ll have to take his word for it.

Reply to  Louis Hunt
June 27, 2015 3:32 am

The Pope was probably looking at his priests.

Reply to  Louis Hunt
June 27, 2015 1:52 pm

There are – though I don’t know who lives in them – barrios, squatter camps, whatever – constructions without planning permission (I guess!), south of Naples, visible from the road to Amalfi.
Made of scavenged hardboard, plastics etc.
Possibly weather proof, but I wouldn’t wish to spend a night there in high summer, or winter.
Or at all really.
I am fortunate, and have a choice.
I know not everyone is.

Reply to  cnxtim
June 26, 2015 10:03 pm

Yes indeed. London and Hong Kong busses used to belch tons of soot. Not anymore.

Reply to  siamiam
June 27, 2015 12:16 am

Not sure that London is entirely diesel power the main source of particulates free for buses, although much improved. But that is a by product of the campaign against evil CO2, rather than particulate reduction which should be a driver for buses.

We currently have 1,200 diesel-electric hybrid buses running through the Capital and expect the number to increase to 1,700 by 2016, when they’ll make up 20% of our bus fleet. These buses are quieter, more fuel-efficient and cleaner than standard diesel buses – they reduce emissions of CO2 by at least 30% compared to conventional diesel buses.

Leo Smth
Reply to  cnxtim
June 28, 2015 11:43 am

Environment is miles better. People are miles worse.

June 26, 2015 8:03 pm

Overall i believe Jesse’s statement to be true;
Nature is winning.
Together with the assistance and effort of a willing community. To hell with massive public expenditure, the world is improving with a combination of will and effort NOT by feeding at the trough and bludging on the public purse.

Leonard Lane
Reply to  cnxtim
June 26, 2015 10:35 pm

Good point. Thanks.

June 26, 2015 8:26 pm

Wiki says Jesse Ausubel was instrumental in organising the first world climate conference. This is a surprising for me. Tell me more.

June 26, 2015 8:31 pm

Accurate assessment of our environmental progress. At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution there was fear that horse manure would overcome cities with unlivable noxious fumes and make them uninhabitable. Technology ended that fear yet caused other fears which man has overcome. The concerns about the oceans is interesting considering he states the solution… and farming just like we’ve done with plants and animals. I grew up in a smog laden environment that is now relatively healthy for a big city. Yes we are doing better.

Mike O
June 26, 2015 8:42 pm

This article in the NY Times has always amazed me:
It talks to issue of destruction of the environment (or at least an aspect of it, tropical rainforest). I would never have expected to see an article like this in the Times.
The key is that for every acre of rainforest destroyed, as much as 50 acres of farmland begins a return to a natural state as the previous farmers move to the city or otherwise stop farming.

June 26, 2015 8:49 pm

Cancelling my reservations to the end of the world TONIGHT!
When are we going to make scaring children with lies a crime?
They are not allowed to go out and play any more, walk themselves anywhere even into their teen years, not allowed to play a schoolyard game with winners and losers lest some one *gasp* LOSE!
But it is no problem at all to scare the bejeebus out of them all, each and every one, day and night and more everyday.
What the heck is up with that?!

Reply to  Menicholas
June 26, 2015 8:56 pm

+1 The end of innocence redux ad infinitum.

Evan Jones
Reply to  Menicholas
June 26, 2015 9:34 pm

Well, they can always find out about winning and losing by playing video games . . .

Reply to  Evan Jones
June 26, 2015 9:54 pm

Actually, I have heard that they secretly keep score amongst themselves, and consider adults a pack of loony nutjobs that are best ignored.
Sound familiar?
Same as what many kids thought when I was a kid.
Except back then…they let us be kids. Forced us to be kids!
Get home from school and “Go play in the street!”
Drink in one hand, cigarette in the other, they admonished us about the evil of putting chemicals in our body!
Just a different brand of nutty.
But I like the old way better…people understood what was dangerous and what was silliness in a way which seems to be now forgotten.
And understood the value of innocence and why it was best to let kids be unburdened by things they could not understand, so they could play and learn.

Reply to  Evan Jones
June 27, 2015 1:59 pm

Of course.
Even if the teachers didn’t say so, we – the pupils – always knew who was good at sums, writing, netball or football [‘Soccer’ for those reading in North America], the basic crafts, etc.
The sad watermelon-instigated suppression of competitive sports – the ‘all shall have prizes’ culture – does nothing for exams, driving tests, & even trying to gain a partner [Social, sexual, whatever].
We all knew !

Reply to  Menicholas
June 26, 2015 10:20 pm

We are raising model children these days – computer modeled, that is.

Joel O'Bryan
June 26, 2015 9:03 pm

“… a true Renaissance man.”
I think a better term is “polymath.”
def: polymath – is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas; such a person is known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems.
In the US,Thomas Jefferson was most assuredly a polymath of his time. Several notable physicists/chemists of the 20th Century who were polymaths : Madame Curie, R. Feynman, Bardeen, Linus Pauling, Dyson. Those are just some examples of polymaths, many more are in history, some still with us.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 27, 2015 12:12 am
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 27, 2015 12:14 am

def: polymath – Arithmetic done by a parrot

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 27, 2015 2:07 pm

Dyson – ahhh – Freeman Dyson; James Dyson – the vacuum cleaner billionaire; Geoff Dyson, the coach???
There are many other Dysons available, although I this context, I think we can exclude Tery Dyson the Spurs (full?) back, and Ruth, described as a ‘Politician’!
I guess at ‘Freeman’, but James is pretty carp-warm too.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 29, 2015 5:52 am

What about Al Gore? Isn’t he a polymath? He has expertise in many areas. Politics, business, entertainment,…. lying.

Proud Skeptic
June 26, 2015 9:10 pm

Who is to say what climate or ecosystem is “the right one”? Has it happened in the past and we missed it? Has it not come yet?
All we know is what we have now and some indication of what might have been in the past. I get tired of eco-freaks insisting that if things are changing then there must be something wrong and Man must be at fault.
Sorry…we just aren’t smart enough yet to make that call.

Joel O’Bryan
June 26, 2015 9:15 pm

On a note more related to this thread:
I applaud the attempt to recognize those true outside the box (I know, a cliche) thinkers. But first we must agree to not accept lies. The lies being told now for political and ideological reasons are destroying free thought. The PC thought police are in full throttle now, attempting to stifle climate change skepticism or any thoughts that are not not in the politically favored “progressive” realm.
Some of those lies are now such as Mr. Tom Karl’s attempt to erase the T pause with dubious data manipulations in the NCDC data sets. The fact that Nature is winning in the obvious attempts to silence skeptics who raise any doubt in the CO2-Climate Change dogma, i.e. those who invoke using time-honored scientific principles of uncertainty and confidence intervals in data in making claims or conclusions. For if the data were on their side, the real data, not the faked-up, manipulated garbage of adjusted data, then the debate really would be over and we wouldn’t need career politicians with ideological agendas trying to proclaim it so.
The great thing about hard science (not that human stuff of poly-sci or economics), is that Nature will of course always win. (Which is why the on-going dubious data manipulations at NCDC, GISS, and UKMO will only get worse in the coming months).

June 26, 2015 9:32 pm

Where I grew up, chemical plants dumped enough alkali into the rivers that it burned the skin. In nearby Cleveland, a river caught fire. now the same rivers boast a steelhead (salmon type fish) run to rival the northwest. Yeah, in the first world, we have made progress.

Reply to  Doug
June 26, 2015 9:43 pm

Exactly why we need to help the third world gain economic prosperity. People who are struggling to survive with scant resources cannot be bothered with cleaning up messes, even if they could afford to.
But rich people can and do clean up their messes…given the motivation to do so.
Poisoning a river is an example of the tragedy of the commons. If everyone owns it, then no one owns it, and no one cares.

Reply to  Menicholas
June 26, 2015 11:01 pm

“Exactly why we need to help the third world gain economic prosperity. People who are struggling to survive with scant resources cannot be bothered with cleaning up messes, even if they could afford to.
But rich people can and do clean up their messes…given the motivation to do so.
Poisoning a river is an example of the tragedy of the commons. If everyone owns it, then no one owns it, and no one cares.”
As well as them having fewer kids.
The solar system has plenty of resources, plus anyone who’s had to keep grass from anywhere but the yard, or weeds from growing everywhere, it’s obvious nature is winning

Dr. Bogus Pachysandra
Reply to  Doug
June 27, 2015 3:18 pm

I grew up in Independence, just South of Cleveland. Back in the Fifyies, Republic Steel had blast furnaces blasting, Sohio was cracking gas. The city was dirty. Had a very special smell. All the houses around The Flats were rust red. The river and the Lake were filthy. That’s all gone now. Everything is pretty clean! Of course the jobs are gone,,,,,,,…..

June 26, 2015 9:36 pm

“Not everywhere, of course, and he documents the downside as well, notably the serious devastation of our oceans and fishing”
It is a true shame on us all that the US spent $29 billion studying “climate change” in the past year, with the purpose of saving the planet, and yet barely a finger was lifted to clean up the vast gyres of garbage swirling about in mid-ocean.
How many single purpose dredges could be had for a billion dollars? This mess could be cleaned up for real, instead of “studying” supposedly settled science.
What the hell is wrong with people?
There are vast areas of the ocean which are marine deserts, virtually devoid of life due to lack of key nutrients, while it is known that in places where upwelling occurs, vast fisheries exist, life thrives and feeds other life, and great bounty exists.
How much has been spent investigating how we might create more such upwelling oases of life?
I have worked for a company that manufactures Lake Aeration systems, which with a tiny expenditure of energy, pump air to the bottom of a pond or lake and created vertical currents that break up stratification, allow toxic gasses to be brought to the surface where they can evaporate, oxidize and remove harmful levels of nutrients from the water column, and reverse eutrophication and allow aerobic life to occupy the entire volume of a body of water, and basically turn yucky messes into healthy ecosystems…for literally pennies per day per acre.
People know how to create solutions to complex problems, and nature knows how to clean up messes and restore life and balance to even the worst situations.
But government knows only one thing seemingly…how to grab peoples money, cling to and acquire ever more power and control, and never truly solve anything. Anything that can’t be solved with a bomb or new road anyway.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Menicholas
June 27, 2015 8:14 am

It is well known that many readers and contributors here at WUWT are true environmentalists and conservationists, with many of us coming of age amidst the environmental movements of the late 60’s and early 70’s. We have become disgusted with the lies and politics of what modern environmentalism has become and in our quests to find the truth of matters like climate change, found ourselves here.
One good example of this phenomenon is the recent article by Jim Steele, an exceptional and noted environmentalist:
As an aside, modern environmentalism has earned such a despicable reputation and has become such anathema to so many, that a couple of readers were even disparaging Jim Steele for some of positions in the old days, as he described how he came to the truth, despite the clarity and correctness of his article.

Grey Lensman
June 26, 2015 10:12 pm

Iron Sulphate

June 26, 2015 10:52 pm

The graffiti here in Oakland, California is way better than it used to be.

Reply to  philincalifornia
June 27, 2015 1:29 am

I remember there was a graffiti “art” show in L.A. – wonder how the “artists” woulda liked it if people brought cans of spray paint and scrawled their initials on their “works of art”?

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Mark and two Cats
June 27, 2015 8:17 am

Little nothing “tagger” pato
Really got no balls
Sneak around while real men sleep
Painting people’s walls

June 26, 2015 11:06 pm

Well I am not impressed by Jesse Ausubell because of his belief in decarbonisation.

Reply to  nc
June 30, 2015 9:09 pm

Well personally I think de-carb is important – particularly for cars from the 1950’s …

June 26, 2015 11:28 pm

The levels of air and water pollution are declining in many first world countries – I don’t think anyone disputes that fact. The reason, however, it is not because nature has overcome these issues on its own, it is due to legislation that required these changes (by auto companies, power plants and other manufacturers). The same will be required for the oceans, though the challenge there is much more difficult due to the fact that they area a shared resource between countries.

Reply to  Chris
June 26, 2015 11:50 pm

While legislation has produced some change, the real innovation that helped nature rebound ‘in the first world’ was exporting the the manufacturing, the pollution it caused and the jobs it created to parts of the the world where wages were lower, where regulation did not exist and where no one cared even if the story did finally get out.

Reply to  Les
June 27, 2015 12:12 am

Yes, some of that did happen. But, for example, US steel production in 1980 was 101 M tonnes, and now it is 86M tonnes. So a definite decline, but not a massive one. And a big part of the improvements came from emissions controls on power plants and cars, which cannot be outsourced. China made a conscious decision to not deploy environmental protections in order to grow their economy faster – nobody forced them to do that. And now they are paying a terrible price. For a good story on that, see here:

Reply to  Les
June 27, 2015 2:01 am

The factories I used to observe on my way to work everyday were not exported, they were cleaned up.
Time for those of us who made a difference back then to, pause and pat yourself on the back. Then get back to work making everything better, cleaner, smarter and helping those countries with less – to get on with their lives – anyhow that is what i am doing…one step at a time and without any government, legislation, taxes or greennut caterwauling and intervention…

The Original Mike M
Reply to  Les
June 27, 2015 7:25 am

Poor countries cannot AFFORD to care about pollution, generally the socialist ones. West versus East Germany was the poster boy for how capitalism is clean and socialism is dirty.

Dodgy Geezer
June 26, 2015 11:37 pm

As usual, The fact that humanity’s lot, including the environment, is getting BETTER, not worse, is mentioned as if it were a novel finding.
And no one mentions Julian Simon – the man who first made it his life’s work to expose this fact back in the 1960s and famously won a bet with Ehrlich showing that this was the case. As he said, people want to hear that disaster is coming, not that everything is getting better….

Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
June 26, 2015 11:45 pm

“As he said, people want to hear that disaster is coming, not that everything is getting better….”
A lot more money to be made making things better, than if everything is already going well.

Scottish Sceptic
June 26, 2015 11:39 pm

One of the first if not the first detailed map of any country was that of William Roy in 1750 of Scotland. I was compiling a key of the map features and started looking for “wood”. I couldn’t find any extensive area of woodland except in one small area near Inverness.
And as I looked more I began to realise whole areas showed no woodland at all, whereas today we have extensive woods and trees all over the place.
And then it dawned on me that in 1750, most of the population had no other fuel but wood and that they must have cut down most of the woodland – and the only reason we have so many trees today is because of geological fuels like coal. Coal literally saved British woodlands – and now the gullibles want to return us back to that treeless 1750 landscape of poverty, deprivation and ignorance.

Reply to  Scottish Sceptic
June 27, 2015 2:18 am

The real issue is the “baying hounds” not only assume they are the righteous ones but that those that advocate the use of existing resources are evil and evil doers.
I don’t know one other engineer who has not thought long and hard about alternative energy – all who can do.
i and all my colleagues will stand, applaud and adopt a superior technology but only if it makes sense. Until it does, go and find a solution that works – not force everyone to adopt the ludicrous mass use of idiotic ideas.

Reply to  Scottish Sceptic
June 27, 2015 8:40 am

Modern construction also uses far less lumber than it used to do, at least here in the US.
While it used to be necessary to use large timbers for beams and joists, now the same loads can be supported using parts of the tree that was just thrown away back then. Oriented strand board, ply wood, particle board, and the more advanced laminated types of manufactured lumber create efficiencies not possible when the only way to span a larger space was to used ever larger timbers.
Other methods of creating efficiency range from the way trees are planted and managed, to the sawmills (ex: smaller kerfs and more efficient selection), to the use of precisely engineered trusses, and the incorporation of a wider range of materials into a structure.
I grew up in Pennsylvania, and by the later part of the twentieth century, PA. had the largest stands of older timber in the Eastern US. One reason for this was historical: After the civil war, the entire state was clear cut from East to West. By the end of the war, methods had been developed to rapidly clear a path through the forests ahead of the advancing army. This ability was then used for massively efficient logging operations during reconstruction and the growth years that followed the war.
Anyway, since PA was virtually denuded all at once, logging left the state, and hence the entire state grew back eventually, leading to the forests of my youth.
Of course, another problem occurred due to the elimination of virtually every large predatory animal from the eastern US, along with hunting restrictions, which led to a state with a massively oversized population of deer.
Because of this, there was almost zero understory in these woodlands…no small saplings could be established, few bush or shrub or herbaceous species thrived in quantity. I am not sure what the current situation there is…I moved south a while back. But even culling hunts were virtually impossible for many years and in many areas, due to strident and vocal opposition from the usual brigade of well meaning but ecologically ignorant folks. Deer were starving to death every winter, but thinning the herd? Not if they could stop it.
(Sorry for the off-topic veer into a rant there.)

Reply to  Menicholas
June 27, 2015 2:32 pm

Nick –
‘Off-topic’ – possibly – but certainly germane.
Nature has not been give its due.
As you note clear cuts. With habitat loss.
Here in the UK – notably within an hour or so of London – there has been much building on flood plains.
Guess what flood plains do in a flood [or any massively heavy local rains}?
Is there, possibly, a clue in the name – ‘flood plains’?
Flood plains – well – they flood, periodically. Blimey.
Shock Horror.
Get over it.
If you buy on flood plains, those plains will flood, for sure! In due course.
Published as a public service – although WUWT regulars will, very likely, be well aware of this.
Auto, seeking to help!

Reply to  Scottish Sceptic
June 27, 2015 10:58 am

I believe that a 17th century witticism was that the reason the Incarnation didn’t happen in England was that Judas couldn’t have found a tree on which to hand himself.
(N.B.: I know England != Scotland; but both equally denuded of trees at that time.)

June 26, 2015 11:57 pm

“Later, he led the Climate Task of the Resources and Environment Program of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, near Vienna, Austria, an East-West think tank created by the US and Soviet academies of sciences.”
Huge red flag is up right there. What kind of a credential is that?
Reminds me of Leif bragging about his visiting Soviet asylum in 1976 and staying in Chinese hotels on taxpayers’ dime.

June 27, 2015 12:09 am

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were back to background ~a year after the drops. Not advocating nuclear warfare, just sayin nature cleans up more readily than might be feared.

Reply to  Mark and two Cats
June 27, 2015 12:20 am

Plants and animals are thriving around Chernobyl as never before.
It seems that somewhat higher level of radiation is what life on Earth is used to.
Homeopathic effect?

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
Reply to  Alexander Feht
June 27, 2015 12:48 am

A small amount of radiation has indeed been shown to be beneficial, but there is no ‘homeopathic effect’. The phrase is a contradiction in terms, Alexander.

John gorter
Reply to  Alexander Feht
June 27, 2015 1:16 am

Hormesis, I think?

Reply to  Alexander Feht
June 27, 2015 2:46 am

John gorter is right, Hormesis is correct. Homeopathic medicine are at best just a placebo but is based on a wrong interpretation of the concept of Hormesis.

Reply to  Alexander Feht
June 27, 2015 3:53 am

Mark and Alexander at 12:09 and 1:20 am
As one suffering from radiation poisoning that arose several years after cancer treatments, I am pretty confident that we aren’t 100% sure what safe doses/exposures are long term. My cancer is gone, I’ll probably die from the radiation treatment, eventually. But only the good did young so I’ll be around a while. 😉
As for the oceans, I stopped buying Tuna 20 years ago. In the 60’s the amount of human flotsam in the ocean was mind boggling. And in the 70’s I never ever went sailing without seeing human garbage floating about, not once. It got better for a while, but I still see people tossing their beer cans overboard. As for fish, just look at the average weight of the catch. The bottom rakers and seiners are killing everything. I’d say that the raping of the oceans is one of the world’s real problems. I eat my own “farmed” fish from the pond beside my house.
But is is very true that air, land and water pollution has been much reduced and our forests and animals are not under a lot of stress. I see weasels, foxes, coyotes, wolves, lynx, cougars, bears, deer, moose, elk, herons, eagles, hawks and all manner of creature while looking out my windows or sitting on my deck or walking down the road outside my gate. More deer are killed on the highways around where I live than by hunters. The growing deer population has resulted in a growing predator population.
I do fear for the collapse of some ocean fisheries as they do not have the same monitoring and controls as on land.
Someday, we will agree to better fishing and monitoring methods so fish stocks will have a chance to recover.

Reply to  Alexander Feht
June 27, 2015 5:29 am

Plants and animals are thriving around Chernobyl because people avoid the area. The animals in the area have a short life anyway. By the time the radiation exposure affects the animals, they are dying from old age anyway.

Reply to  Alexander Feht
June 27, 2015 9:06 am

Radiation hormesis is controversial, but only because people are so stubborn and slow to accept new information.
There are places where natural background radiation is very high, such as areas where monzanite sand beaches exist. one such location in India has been shown to have populations with greatly reduced incidence of certain cancers.
Other evidence that this is a real effect are not natural. In Taiwan, there were buildings constructed using steel that was heavily contaminated with highly radioactive material. By the time this was discovered, a great many people had lived for many years in conditions that were far above limits thought to be safe, but below levels high enough to cause acute cellular damage and radiation sickness.
Careful epidemiological studies on these people have shown their level of various cancers to be far below what is the average incidence of such.
What does not kill us makes us stronger. We all have cellular repair mechanisms, and these are more highly activated when they are needed.
Radiation effects are not linear. Not even close.
So when someone says that such and such will result in x number of deaths per year, quite often such projections are based on the incorrect assumption that death rates from acute toxicity can be extrapolated all the way down to very low levels of damaging substances.
And this sort of effect is not unique to radiation, but extends to chemical and biological substances and organisms.
Examples abound in everyday life. Chlorine will kill a person in high concentration, but at low levels it protects us all by sanitizing our drinking water and our swimming pools.
A noninfective dose of a disease causing organism can trigger lifelong immunity to that organism.
Life was born and thrived and multiplied to great profusion on what was a molten rock bathed in hard radiation from a continuously exploding, million mile wide thermonuclear device, and laced with the radioactive debris from the supernovae that created and dispersed our atoms.
Life survives.
We just got here, and have much to learn.

Reply to  Mark and two Cats
June 27, 2015 7:48 am

The Taiwan Apartments episode is ignored because it doesn’t accord with “settled science”

Reply to  bobburban
June 27, 2015 9:08 am

Not ignored by me. I bring it up whenever someone starts in about radiation.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
Reply to  bobburban
June 27, 2015 10:22 am

The claim is now that the cancer rate was skewed by the age of the population of people in the apartments. Meaning, they claim the radiation didn’t really protect the people. I think it is a claim of desperation to try to demonise all radiation: even none at all is too much! You know…
I believe that all studies of low level radiation show some beneficial health effect. Perhaps it is harmful to things that are toxic to humans.

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
June 27, 2015 12:46 am

I take all ‘nature is doomed’ reports as bad journalism, I just don’t believe it because of reports like this:
In it, the reporter, Helen Briggs, shows that she has little command of the English language, even stating that in one part of the country, stage beetles are “extinct”. So polar bears are ‘extinct’ from London then? Then she gives a quote that refutes what the article is about! “It’s stable in England as far as we can tell – the range hasn’t changed”. I have the idea that I have read crap from her recently, and I think it was about the paper saying the ‘pause’ didn’t exist.

June 27, 2015 2:54 am

The Earth will be fine.

June 27, 2015 3:25 am

New England is now 80% covered in forests:
The same is true of Pennsylvania as it’s forests were clear cut in the 1800s, but now have revived…deer, bear and other wildlife are becoming a problem because of their abundance.
All of my old neighborhoods are overgrown with trees. I think all of you can say the same – go back to your old neighborhoods and look.

Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
June 27, 2015 9:10 am

Sorry, saw this after my comment above.

June 27, 2015 3:49 am

A fascinating report
Our children should read,
A more balance education
Is what we all need.

June 27, 2015 4:20 am

Just took an inventory of 60 years of my most disgusting environmental locations. Definitely better. Some still have more work to do. But perhaps it is because a hell of a lot of people have the economic resources to give a !#!$&@!#! About respect for the impact WE have and care for the next generations OF ALL Species including and probably more the humans who are charged by the gift of life and sentinent brains to find the balance between disharmony and harmony. Yes, I will pick up your mess if you are unbalanced and have no respect for your gift.

Steve P
Reply to  halftiderock
June 27, 2015 2:38 pm

But in Boulder, Colorado – so the story goes – they have a Dog Poop Fairy, a mythical & mysterious creekside nymph who supposedly picks up all the bags of dog poop left along the city’s various multi-use paths by dog owners, who are so busy strutting around being dog guardians – as they are entitled to be known in Boulder – that they can’t be bothered to dispose properly the little bag of dogsh!t they have just so diligently gathered, but instead just let said bag of dogcrap drop where it may along the path, and continue on their merry way, demonstrating to all why it is such jolly good sport being a dog guardian.

June 27, 2015 7:29 am

Between 1974 & 77 I was sailing around the Pacific islands, particularly the Solomons & New Guinea. As an ex naval flyer I was particularly interested in the Pacific the WW11 history, & explored many of the old bases.
It was a real mission in many areas to find major air strips & the bases, & even major overhaul bases, where heavy machine shops had many feet thick concrete to support the equipment much was already broken & penetrated by vegetation. I was amazed at how quickly bases that had 25,000 men, had disappeared back into the jungle. in just 30 years.
On Green Island a part of the old fighter strip is used as an airport, but I could find little evidence of the 2 bomber strips, & their attendant bases, the PBY catalina flying boat base, or the PT boat base.
My experience makes a mockery of the idea that nature is fragile. It is the buildings of man that are fragile.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Hasbeen
June 27, 2015 9:14 am

It really depends on the ecosystem, first and foremost the availability of fresh water to support regrowth and repopulation. Which of course means rainfall-snowfall. Similar facilities to what you describe in North Africa deserts would look little changed except for lots of aeolian dust and sand burial.
And anyone who thinks a warmer world is a drier world simply doesn’t understand physics of water (the Clausius-Claperon equation, see below) or the paleorecords showing dramatically higher atmospheric dust transport during glacial times.
C-C notes: An approximation- simplification of the C-C equation is the August-Roche-Magnus equation.comment image
T is in degrees Celcius.
It implies that saturation water vapor pressure changes approximately exponentially with temperature under typical atmospheric conditions, and hence the water-holding capacity of the atmosphere increases by about 7% for every 1 °C rise in temperature. (see AR4 WG1, FAQ 3.2). This source goes on to acknowledge an obvious fact that increased forcing heat over the oceans wont raise temperatures, it will increase the amount precipitable water vapor in the atmosphere.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 27, 2015 9:19 am

note the above equation produces a pretty good estimaion of the saturation vapor pressure, e. And e & T are two variable in CC equation which tells us how vapor pressure changes with T.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 27, 2015 10:10 am

Just remember every night as temperatures drop, so does the water vapor the air carriers, and some is always lost the the water table.

Dodgy Geezer
June 27, 2015 7:39 am

@Alexander Feht
Plants and animals are thriving around Chernobyl as never before.
It seems that somewhat higher level of radiation is what life on Earth is used to.
Homeopathic effect?

It’s actually called Hormesis, and it’s a true and measurable phenomenon. We seem to require a small amount of radiation to function healthily. There was an experiment done some years ago when they grew plants in a low-radiation environment, and they were stunted and less healthy than the controls.
Unsurprisingly, this is not advertised….

June 27, 2015 7:47 am

In the game being played between Mankind and Nature–it is Nature’s homefield advantage and momma gets to bat last. Even if we commit our own extinction through nuclear war, Nature will still win and life will go onward on this planet long after Homo Sapiens is nothing more than just another part of the fossil record.

June 27, 2015 8:19 am

“Good news children, science has learned that man-made production of CO2 warms our planet.
This means vast areas of tundra will become arable land or forests.
Since CO2 is plant food, more CO2 will increase the production of every farm on Earth, Lumber will be cheap. The more fosslil fuels we can find and use will contimue to increase the output of farms and forrests, we are facing runaway prosperity.
Prosperity will rise, famine will end and there will no longer be a “Third World”;
Their lives will be vastly improved through the prosperity of a warm Earth.”

Reply to  RobRoy
June 27, 2015 8:21 am

All of the true believers of AGW theory could have said this as easily as their doomsday prophesy.

Reply to  RobRoy
June 27, 2015 9:16 am

Unless it gets colder instead.
Warmer has always been better, and it is a mystery to me how people are so ignorant of history and gullible, to believe a few degrees warmer is somehow deadly to life.
People from all over the world flock to the hottest locations on the planet and engage in ultramarathons…running hundreds of miles in sizzling heat without stopping and with only bottles of water and some running shoes for protection.
People stuck outside on cold winter nights quickly freeze to death.
And ever tried to grow a crop on an icefield?

Gary Pearse
June 27, 2015 9:53 am

Alexander Feht
June 27, 2015 at 12:20 am
“Plants and animals are thriving around Chernobyl as never before.
It seems that somewhat higher level of radiation is what life on Earth is used to.
Homeopathic effect?”
Yes, almost every imagined ecological “horror show” is really an infinitesimal of itself. Look at the creatures in the link abounding around Chernobyl. All the disaster scenarios have failed to appear and one must see Chernobyl as one of the worst. Hiroshima was back to normal radiation background in a year or two – yes it was a terrible place when bombed and it’s not a thing we should be considering doing in the future, but in terms of long term ecological damage, it is almost a non-event. Indeed, the earth is more resilient and adaptive than scare mongers would have us believe. Here is a new Pearse’s Law:
‘There is no such thing as man-made long term ecological disaster. Disasters by their nature are short term – mean and quick and they recover quickly and with vigor.’
So far, nothing has falsified this law in 4B yrs.

June 27, 2015 9:56 am

I thank the green movement, science and technology industries for these fine results! More needs to be done though (as mentioned, oceans…). Therefore listen to the greens and to science and make good use of technology.

Reply to  Wagen
June 27, 2015 10:22 am

Listen to science? Epicycles? Phlogiston? All science at one time.

Reply to  M Simon
June 27, 2015 1:33 pm

Yes! From “climate does not change (except when God is angry)” to “There were glacials and interglacials.” From “humankind cannot change climate” to “humankind is changing climate.” Science! Yeah! See:

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Wagen
June 27, 2015 10:22 am

June 27, 2015 at 9:56 am
And thanks to CO2 you forgot for the re-greening. If we could get off this CO2 kick, we could be working on real environmental problems.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
June 27, 2015 10:56 am

We can thank CO2 for assuring that a glaciation is not happening any time soon. The article discussed atl shows that a lot of the re-greening has nothing to do with CO2. It does play a part though: some greening in dry places and (mostly) moving climate zones through warming. Now, science tells us that this moving of climate zones at the present pace will challenge humankind as well as the rest of nature.

Reply to  Wagen
June 27, 2015 11:21 am

This is mostly supposition based on more supposition (models).
And Mosher, I’m a skeptic who believes in models, I helped bring electronic design modeling to the world, but I also learned to distinguish good models from bad.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
June 27, 2015 11:40 am

What science does not use models? “F=m*a” is a model. (This is a general point, however I didn’t bring models in the discussion.)
And what relevance has Mosher here?

Reply to  Wagen
June 27, 2015 11:58 am

It was just a bleed through from another thread, but Mosh shows up here, so I figure he’ll see it.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Wagen
June 28, 2015 9:01 am

The “green” movement is actually an abomination to both humanity and the environment. It is in service to those who profit from it, politicians, NGOs, and assorted carpetbaggers.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
June 28, 2015 4:24 pm

Yes, cleaner air, cleaner rivers, nature reserves, protection of species, etc etc
I am abomination.

ED, 'Mr.' Jones
June 27, 2015 10:29 am

In 1967 or so, 30 miles west from Boston, I saw a wild Turkey for the first time – a never again for 30 or so years. Now, 10 miles north of the same city, along one of the most heavily traveled roads in New England, they are downright common.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
June 27, 2015 10:35 am

“Technology is supposed to somehow save us from our dystopian future by creating new ways to clean the environment, feed us, and help us become more thrifty and less wasteful.”
Who said, “A breakthrough a day keeps the crisis at bay”?
The dystopian view is that we will run out of inventiveness, creativity and energy. The Utopian view is that whatever mess we get into, we will always find a way out and emerge victorious and happy.
The truth lies somewhere in between. We are never going to run out of ideas, but we might lack the will to implement them, or listen to the best ideas and substitute Windows for Novell, then suffer the consequences. When did mankind every do the easy and sensible thing? We learn the hard way – how very post-pubescent of us.
A maturing mankind will but permit the silliness of movements like CAGW and the Cult of the 77 Virgins to flourish. Why? Education. All these distractions thrive on ignorance. An educated world is a cleaner, sustainable, happier, productive and more efficient world.

June 27, 2015 11:28 pm

I still remember camping out close to Lake Erie on a family trip in 1967. The trip turned out to be much shorter than we imagined, though. Millions of dead alewives (a small fish) were washed up on the shore and the stench was overwhelming.
By the late 1980s Erie had become a terrific walleye and smallmouth bass lake. Now you can see the bottom in 20 feet of water, though some of that is the result of zebra mussels. Unbelievable turnaround!
And yes, I do think we should be ironing the oceans 🙂 while developing better food tech.

Bruce Cobb
June 28, 2015 6:39 am

What tends to be ignored by folks like Ausubel is that two, equally-important things are required for people to care, and do something to improve the environment; freedom, and sufficient wealth. That is why the US. for example has been so successful in cleaning up its environment. Of course there is always more that can be done, but at some point the law of diminishing returns kicks in. Decarbonization is actually a step backwards for both the economy and the environment. Modern-day “environmentalists” don’t seem able to grasp that idea.

June 28, 2015 9:10 am

Nature repairs itself and visitors to this site overall consider alarmist environmentalists to be unscientific. That said there is no reason to treat futurists like they are visionaries. If they are visionaries then Jesse Ausubel is holding forth for the most religious green of the IPCC and the Maurice Strong branch at the United Nations and the Club of Rome.
The vision of nature rebounding these guys have is bison herds migrating between feeding grounds pursued by packs of Wolves and Grizzly bears and a more natural “noble savage” living sustainably east of the Rocky Mountains in North America. No need to call that location Canada or the United States because the notion of a nation state is moribund in the New world order.
By all means keeping the planet clean is part of the overhead cost (or should be) for having a modern economy its like keeping your shop clean; just a necessary bit of housekeeping that makes your workplace safer and more efficient, with the added bonus that it is more pleasant to our sensibilities.
What gets me most though is the notion that humankind and its works are somehow NOT the singularly most amazing expression of the Laws of Nature and the Cosmos rather than something apart.

Reply to  fossilsage
June 28, 2015 11:30 am

fossilsage commented: “What gets me most though is the notion that humankind and its works are somehow NOT the singularly most amazing expression of the Laws of Nature and the Cosmos rather than something apart.”
Well said.

June 28, 2015 1:31 pm

My experience is that it’s going better in most areas.
I have a story to exemplify this:
An old Norwegian once told me that he had betted that he could swim from an island in the Oslo fiord all the way to the quay in Oslo.
Of course he had a follower in a rowboat to make the journey safe. He said that the distance, about a mile, was no problem.
However, the main problem was that the sea was so incredibly polluted that he almost fainted by the stench.
He managed to complete after all, but would never do it again for any amount of money.
That happened in the late 1930-ies. Now they have a beach where people goes swimming on the same place and the water quality is excellent.

Mike from the Carson Valley on the cold side of the Sierra
June 28, 2015 4:09 pm

Nature turns discarded bottles shards into sea glass which some ‘back to earthers’ collect for its artistic value. Next time on the beach look for your own works of natural art. One man’s junk becomes another man’s treasure.

Matt Bergin
Reply to  Joel D. Jackson
July 2, 2015 4:53 am

The ultraviolet radiation from the sun will destroy all plastics given enough time. It happens much faster floating on the ocean than when they are buried underground though.

June 28, 2015 4:50 pm

Maybe John Mauldin has some news about Fukushima that I can’t find? Perhaps he could persuade the Chinese not to prohibit imports of (only slightly) irradiated food from Japan?
And I guess there have been some breakthroughs I haven’t heard of in the disposal of spent nuclear fuel in Germany, Canada, and the USA?
Lesser toxic wastes seem hardly worth mentioning, but I gather they’re also still accumulating, rather than transmuting into benign substances.
But I’m sure that we’ll soon have a reliable, comprehensive, and universally accessible database that will tell us how all of the natural and man-made substances we consume, inhale, and otherwise absorb, voluntarily or not, interact magically to make us healthier.
Because, as Voltaire’s Pangloss says, ” we’re living in the best of all possible worlds”.

Reply to  otropogo
June 28, 2015 5:23 pm

You can “burn” unused fuel rods, or we can all go back to human labor and 30-40 year lifespans.

johann wundersamer
June 28, 2015 5:14 pm

problems start when the oceans get short of water.
The simple truth: we have hard times to find selfreporting aeroplanes near the coast / that brasilian – france flight accident.
21. ctry – what do we know about the oceans!
military vessels got lost. atomic forced submarines in the 20 ctry. A technic
standard more then 50 years.
What do we know about the oceans – the vast surfaces and some 100 meters below.
Excuse me – Hans

June 28, 2015 7:24 pm

Nature always wins.
The irony of the green movement is that humanity is fragile while nature is anti-fragile: while we may alter nature (largely through land use changes and the like, not the CO2 bogeyman) it will always rebound in some shape or form. The greens dont seem to get that we only threaten our own survival, and so efforts to eliminate those very things that allow us to survive and thrive (such as abundant fossil fuel power) will do virtually nothing to ‘help’ nature but could vastly harm humanity.
We become concerned about the environment when we are wealthy and healthy enough to turn our minds to things other than the immediate survival of ourselves and our offspring. When we have the resources to do so, we can turn our minds towards providing a better life for not only our children but also our grandchildren and their descendants and the wider community, and so we can turn our individual efforts towards cleaning up our environment and trying to help those less fortunate in an effort to help the wider world (and so create a better future). I find that a great many sceptics, if not the majority, are environmentalists at heart (not ‘greens’) but go about their efforts quietly and on an individual level. You lead by example and others may follow willingly, but not force the behaviour of others. Those bleating about what everybody else should do are interested in power and coercion rather than the environment.
This much should be clear by now. Apparently it isnt.

June 28, 2015 8:50 pm

Thanks to WUWT reader Andrew Cinko who left a tip about this article, and thanks to Anthony for reprinting it.
Irrespective of the author’s apparent Warmist hobnobbitry in the past, this is a terrific refutation of the past 35 years of whacko-environmental apocalyptical ravings, and a great testament to the power of technology in the Information Age to effect a radical transformation of both Humanity and Nature.
In other words, it’s a vindication of the idea, so woefully expurgated by the doomsayers, of the Progress of Man. Let’s welcome it back!
/Mr Lynn

June 28, 2015 11:28 pm

Well, uh, we are having a record drought in the Western States – and there is going to be some torrid heat in the Pacific Northwest this weekend. It already hit 113 F in Walla Walla today according to the Weather Underground – a record for the state of Washington. According to the Globe & Daily Mail the drought is also in British Columbia and the fire season in Alaska is off to a roaring start. Snow packs are down up and down the West Coast. I don’t know what is up in Mexico, but I hear that there are strong drought conditions in the Caribbean (Puerto Rico has instituted rationing for example – And South America is having issues – such as Sao Paulo who may not have enough water to get it through the dry season, low rainfall amounts in the Amazon, drought conditions in Patagonia. It looks like the trend is for drought in much of the Western Hemisphere. That is sure to impact agriculture. Cheers!

Reply to  Bill
June 29, 2015 4:03 am

Yeah, weather can be a bitch. It’s 53º, cold and wet, here in eastern Massachusetts. What has that got to do with the essay by Jesse Ausubel?
/Mr Lynn

Reply to  L. E. Joiner
June 29, 2015 8:44 pm

Yes, it is cold and wet in the eastern part of the country. But the area throughout the Western Hemisphere under drought is increasing. The country of Chile which has a similar climate as California is having a winter like the one we had in California – there is no snow pack. Even though there are areas where this is intense rainfall, the area under threat of drought is increasing. Since we are talking about minimal or no snow pack, that is not just weather, that is climate. When the rains did come in this winter there was no snow in the mountains because it was too warm.

Reply to  Bill
June 29, 2015 9:10 pm

“Since we are talking about minimal or no snow pack, that is not just weather, that is climate. ”
It’s been 30 years? Isn’t that the definition of climate?
No, it’s the oceans changing state like they do every 30 years or so.

Reply to  L. E. Joiner
June 30, 2015 8:46 pm

I have been in California for 35 years – no – there was some snow back in the earlier drought. Even so, the question is not about only California having no snow pack, it is about no snow pack all the way up into Alaska. It is about the longitudinally amplified jet stream which is keeping the entire west coast warm and driving cold wet weather into the center and east part of the US. And it is also about the greater amount of anomalous heat in the Pacific Ocean. And, looking farther south, there are odd things happening in South America, where Chile, which is much like California, is having a no snow winter (look for the ski reports). Yeah, it is not just the weather, it is climate.

Reply to  Bill
June 30, 2015 9:06 pm

“Yeah, it is not just the weather, it is climate.”
No snow pack for 30 years? No, it’s weather, plus California has had 100 year droughts, you get on 25 30 years, then you have climate. Right now you have weather, I would agree that the oceans are reorganizing, but they do that every 30 or so years.

Reply to  L. E. Joiner
June 30, 2015 9:27 pm

You must be young Bill. I have seen this over and over and over. Go back and look at the geological record. You are living in a desert. I live just north of what was a desert a couple of hundred years ago that is being farmed due to the last hundred years or so of unusually “wet” weather. I have watched western North America burn several times in my short 7 decades with smoke so thick it covered half the continent. Not much different 40 years ago than today. It just keeps coming around but for some reason some folks think “today” is “unprecedented”. It isn’t. But unprecedented sells media adverts and that is what “today” is about. By the way, I worked inside today in spite of the smoke from forest fires because of the thunder, lightening and rain. Dang WEATHER.

Reply to  Wayne Delbeke
June 30, 2015 9:50 pm

And if you feel you’re not going to have the water you need, the collective you need to elect fewer dingbats, doesn’t something like 70-75% of the rain flow straight out into the ocean?

Reply to  L. E. Joiner
July 1, 2015 9:21 pm

So you guys are telling me that if the entire west coast dries up – meaning there is a loss of snow pack – and there are massive wildfires – that is only a weather phenomena? That is what is trending – and it is associated with the jet stream, since the jet stream is longitudinally amplified. I would assume a change in the jet stream is a change in the climate – but you guys are saying, no, that is not a change in the climate. So, when is it a change in climate? For example, the Sahara once was relatively wet quite a long time ago but obviously it dried out. Is that a change in climate or is that a change in weather? Whats up with that?

Reply to  Bill
July 1, 2015 9:55 pm

We know the oceans have long period cycles, and actually I think climate would have to encompass a full cycle, and that would be bi-stable climate modes, and then weather would be on top of that. But we have yet to have good sampling of a full cycle, so this could and likely is normal. Plus we know California has more than 1 century long droughts, which were not caused by human Co2 emissions.

Reply to  Bill
July 1, 2015 9:59 pm

I should also note the cool weather in Ohio now, is what I grew up with in the 60’s. And there was significant Arctic melting in the 30’s and 40’s.

Reply to  Bill
July 1, 2015 10:07 pm

As well as East coast hurricanes are periodic(40’s and 50’s iirc), driven by the AMO.

Reply to  Bill
June 29, 2015 9:34 pm

That’s kinda why you shouldn’t locate large-scale agriculture in areas that are prone to drought. Like much of California. Meanwhile farmers in more fertile regions all over the planet are either encouraged, or sometimes even paid, not to grow crops. Then you have crops not being grown in their ideal climates thanks to incentive payments and/or restrictions or bans, the banning of certain crops (ie hemp) in favour of more resource intensive crops (ie cotton)…the list goes on and on.
Not a climate issue, an issue of human/political stupidity.

Reply to  pete
June 29, 2015 10:05 pm

“That’s kinda why you shouldn’t locate large-scale agriculture in areas that are prone to drought. Like much of California. ”
While dumping most of the rain you do get right back in the ocean, idjits.

June 29, 2015 10:54 am

For those inclined to watch a video presentation of the paper, Ausubel gave one to the Long Now Foundation back in January. It’s about 95 minutes long. But it is fascinating because it goes against so much of what we hear in the media who seem to promote press releases issued by the World Wildlife Foundation, Sierra Club and Greenpeace without skepticism.
The bear population is exploding throughout New England. Massachusetts has seen it’s bear population increase 9 fold since the early 1980s.
I’ve seen estimates that the white tail deer population nationwide was 300,000 in 1900 and it topped out at 30 million about a decade ago and is now declining. Jets and planes colliding with deer on runways is now a big problem. There are more white tail deer in America today than there was prior to European settlement, if you can believe it.
I started watching a pair of bald eagles raise their eaglets on a cam located in Decorah, Iowa in 2011. They come back to raise a new batch every February. That got me interested in learning more about the bald eagle population. It too, is growing rapidly. There were only about 400 breeding pairs in the wild in the early 1960s. Today there are probably close to 20,000 breeding pairs. I also watch a couple of pair of peregrine falcons raise their young every year. I have not seen data on their populations, but I’d be surprised if they are not rising, too.
This dramatic rise in wildlife population does not happen because the planet is dying from too much CO2. Wildlife is thriving, at least in North America.

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