November 13, 2020 Editor

An earth system model shows self-sustained melting of permafrost even if all man-made GHG emissions stop in 2020

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An earth system model shows self-sustained melting of permafrost even if all man-made GHG [Greenhouse Gas] emissions stop in 2020

WN: While Trump and Trump Cultists (two close family members quite sucked in) are in a state of perpetual denial, these reports such as highlighted below continue apace . . . While shrill, the reality is equally dire.


The risk of points-of-no-return, which, once surpassed lock the world into new dynamics, have been discussed for decades. Recently, there have been warnings that some of these tipping points are coming closer and are too dangerous to be disregarded. In this paper we report that in the ESCIMO [ESCIMO is a system dynamics model that includes representations of the world’s atmosphere, oceans, forests (and other land types), biomass—and their interactions. It is described here1. The source code with documentation is available online2] climate model the world is already past a point-of-no-return for global warming. In ESCIMO we observe self-sustained melting of the permafrost for hundreds of years, even if global society stops all emissions of man-made GHGs immediately. We encourage other model builders to explore our discovery in their (bigger) models, and report on their findings. The melting (in ESCIMO) is the result of a continuing self-sustained rise in the global temperature. This warming is the combined effect of three physical processes: (1) declining surface albedo (driven by melting of the Arctic ice cover), (2) increasing amounts of water vapour in the atmosphere (driven by higher temperatures), and (3) changes in the concentrations of the GHG in the atmosphere (driven by the absorption of CO2 in biomass and oceans, and emission of carbon (CH4 and CO2) from melting permafrost). This self-sustained, in the sense of no further GHG emissions, melting process (in ESCIMO) is a causally determined, physical process that evolves over time. It starts with the man-made warming up to the 1950s, leading to a rise in the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere—further lifting the temperature, causing increasing release of carbon from melting permafrost, and simultaneously a decline in the surface albedo as the ice and snow covers melts. To stop the self-sustained warming in ESCIMO, enormous amounts of CO2 have to be extracted from the atmosphere.

For full PDF paper, please click here or here.

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  1. Randers, J., Goluke, U., Wenstøp, F. & Wenstøp, S. A user-friendly earth system model of low complexity: The ESCIMO system dynamics model of global warming towards 2100. Earth Syst. Dyn. 7(4), 831–850.[]
  2. Goluke, U. ESCIMO source and documentation.[]


Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.

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