Citizen Action Monitor

Account of my spat with an editor and climate specialist over Tim Garrett’s controversial research findings

While I actively promote Garrett’s research results, my rival worries Garrett will “immobilize” those seeking solutions.   

No 2398 Posted by fw, November 27, 2018

NOTE — To access my other posts related to Dr. Garrett’s research on a global economic/civilization collapse by the end of this century, click on the Tab in the top left margin, titled Civilization/Economic Collapse ~ Links to All Posts By or About Dr. Tim Garrett’s Research

Back on October 27 I posted a piece titled: I’m discovering that Garrett’s “civilization collapse” message is a tough sell, with no takers so far. How come? The post was a copy of an exchange that I had had with two other respondents to my remark in the comments section, promoting the controversial climate-related research findings of Dr. Tim Garrett, atmospheric physicist at the University of Utah. One of the respondents just happened to be the well-known co-editor of a highly popular, online publication of excellent articles about activist resistance.

Well, here I am again with another story about another spat prompted, once again, by my promotion of Dr. Tim Garrett’s research findings. And once again my rival is an editor of an excellent Canadian online publication that “promotes community awareness of, engagement in, and action on climate change, energy, and post-carbon solutions.”

Without going into detail, the article that drew my attention was about the federal Liberals’ formation of a climate panel to recommend practical steps to meet, or even exceed, Canada’s 2030 targets.

Here are copies of the exchange of comments between myself and the editor, beginning with my initial comment that sparked the spat.

My Initial Comment

I hope the excessive length of this comment does not dissuade visitors from reading it. It is worth reading.

Comments by Co-chair Steven Guilbeault signal that the panel’s final report — to Environment and Climate Minister Catherine McKenna and Finance Minister Bill Morneau in spring 2019 — is likely to be received favourably. For instance, Guilbeault says the panel’s mandate “… doesn’t preclude us going out and meeting with different groups and organizations” to collect ideas that will “move the needle a bit, if not a big bit, on climate in Canada”. Elsewhere, he notes, “The panel’s role ‘is to have our eyes on where the Canadian economy, and frankly where the world economy is moving … There are clear transformations that are happening, and will be very positive if they’re done well.”

It’s beyond shameful for Guilbeault (and the Liberals, who set the mandate) to put forward such apathetic expected outcomes in the face of recent urgent warnings that climate change will, or already has – to cite recent headlines — “shrink the US economy”, “kill thousands”, “worsen disasters”, “triggered extinction rebellions in the UK, Ghana and the US”, “mobilized a march for action in Quebec”, and so much more.

Obviously, the fix is already in on this panel. Citizen input would be a great waste of time.

More to the point, if the research findings of Dr. Tim Garrett, atmospheric physicist at the University of Utah, are correct, the work of the federal panel is all for naught. Although Garrett has been engaged in extensive climate-related research dating back to 2009, his groundbreaking work on the risks associated with Earth’s rapidly changing climate is not widely circulated.

On the subject of proposed solutions to reduce climate risks, here’s how Garrett puts it: “I think if we are to find solutions, we should not be pursuing goals or plans or fairy tales, whatever they are, we should be trying to understand how the system really works.

And no one understands better than Garrett how the system really works.

At the risk of not giving one of Garrett’s key findings the attention it deserves, I’ll paraphrase it this way:

Humanity is caught in a double-bind ending in global economic collapse, from which, in Garrett’s words, “there is no way out”. Here’s the double-bind:

If we cease to globally grow consumption of energy and raw materials, then the global economy must collapse;

And if we DON’T cease to globally grow consumption of energy and raw materials, we still collapse due to climate change and environmental destruction.

Simply put, there are no solutions, including, for example: transition to 100% renewables; conservation; clean energy; geo-engineering technologies; production efficiency measures; sucking carbon out of the atmosphere; degrowth, controls on population growth; and whatever else — All likely futile.

I suspect the reason Garrett’s research is not more widely circulated is that it is based on physics, and not always easy to understand. In addition, his forecast of the collapse of civilization and the global economy within decades is, in his own word, “frightening”. Who wants to read that The End Is Near? – it scares away readers, donors, advertisers, and especially politicians.

For those who want to make the significant cognitive investment, you can find links to 21 articles by Dr. Garrett, and by others about his research, by visiting – [Civilization/Economic Collapse ~ Links to All Posts By or About Dr. Tim Garrett’s Research] at URL (https://citizenactionmonitor.wordpress.com/civilization-economic-collapse-links-to-all-posts-by-or-about-dr-tim-garretts-research/ )

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The Editor’s response

So are you proposing a panel to explore and affirm Garrett’s contention that there are no solutions?
I certainly can’t speak for either panelist, Guilbeault or Vrooman. But in the same edition, we cover the rapid growth of Extinction Rebellion, and the much more drastic/realistic solutions that movement is demanding. I’d be shocked if they aren’t both already on top of that.

As for there being no remaining options — Garrett has his view. We’re also hearing from the IPCC and others that all the elements of a solution are in place except political will — that, they said in early October, is the last box to check. Which would shed a positive light on anything that will damp down the faux controversy around post-carbon solutions in a petro-state like Canada (or Australia, or others) and drive toward faster, deeper carbon cuts.

I’ll express the view that, if we really want to immobilize everyone we talk to with fear and grief, let’s spread Garrett’s message far and wide…then conclude that it must be all over, because there are no popular movements rising up to push for solutions. However, we do have another option, unless we’re more interested in being the smartest kids in the room than in actually getting anything done. If we work from the assumption that the last chapters of this story aren’t written yet, and we still have a chance to write them, that opens up a whole menu of strategies and solutions that are not guaranteed to deliver the outcome we need, but nor are they yet guaranteed to fail. That menu would quite possibly include a short-lived federal expert panel.

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My Follow-up Reply to The Editor (To which, one day later, there has been no response)

Thanks for your thoughtful reply. Re your opening remark about my “proposing a panel” I trust you’re not being serious here? However, I would welcome an environmental NGO to step forward and invite an independent atmospheric physicist to do a critical analysis of Garrett’s research methodology and results. Perhaps you would consider doing this?

I applaud your publication’s coverage of actions/solutions to address the climate crisis. But while the Panel may, in your words be “on top of that”, how and in what context will this matter be presented in its final report, especially given Guilbeault’s telling remark about “moving the needle a bit on climate change”, and “have our eyes on the Canadian economy.” Trudeau and McKenna have repeatedly emphasized “we can grow the economy and reduce emissions,” so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the panel told them what it knows they want to hear.

Re political will, here is what Garrett has written in that context:

Can we really navigate our way out of the potential for a broad scale breakdown simply by applying a sufficiently powerful dose of political and economic will? It would be wonderful to think so. Yet we still have to acknowledge that there are physical limits to what is possible. The human world is as much part of the natural universe as anything else, and if we readily accept that the complex motions of climate march to physical laws, it may be unreasonable to imagine that society should be an exception.” (Source: Shortlink https://wp.me/pO0No-4vL )

It is not inevitable – as you seem to suggest — that Garrett’s research findings will “immobilize everyone we talk to with fear and grief.” On the contrary, if more people bothered to read and tried to understand his research results, they might realize that doing more of the same — or, in your words, “open up a whole menu of strategies and solutions” — in the hope that things might turn out differently, may not be the answer either.

If you have not yet read any of Garrett’s scientific papers, or his less technical articles, or listened to his 4 radio interviews, or read articles by others about Garrett’s work, including 2 pieces by a physicist, on what basis are you dismissing (dissing) his physics-based analysis? As Garrett says, the nice thing about physics is that the hypotheses are testable and can be refuted. So far, to the best of my knowledge, his research has not been refuted. Have you closed your mind to the possibility that he may be right? And if he could be right, isn’t the public entitled to know? Or do we keep this knowledge from them?

I trust your closing comment about “being the smartest kids in the room” doesn’t apply to Garrett or me. As for the rest of the paragraph, I generally agree, provided — as I said above – we do not keep doing more of the same, or even a bit differently, in the possibly misguided hope that things might turn out differently.

Always a pleasure.

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