zaterdag 29 augustus 2020

Joe Biden, Another Fanatical Zionist in the White House?

Biden’s Campain and the DNC Make a Mockery of Jews, Israel, and of Course, Joe Biden

Reading through the Biden campaign’s website, one wonders if the leader of the Democratic Party is in touch with the rest of the country, not to mention the rest of the world when it comes to Israel.

by  Miko Peled 

August 28th, 2020

Joe Biden still carries his support for Israel as though it was a badge of honor. Reading through his campaign’s website, one wonders if the leader of the Democratic Party is in touch with the rest of the country, not to mention the rest of the world. We are fast approaching a world where support for Israel is viewed as shameful. Being recognized as a supporter of the violent, apartheid regime known as Israel, should no longer be a source of pride, but rather seen as an accusation. “Israel Supporter” is synonymous with narrow-minded politicians who stick to the archaic notions of legitimizing and supporting the so-called “Jewish State.”


Joe Biden

Under the title of “Joe Biden’s record of unstinting support for Israel,” Bide’s campaign website features a list of policies and actions that represent his, “stalwart support for Israel.” Other statements that can be found regarding this issue on the site include, “Vice President Joe Biden has consistently made solidarity with Israel.”

He made what with Israel? How does one make solidarity with another country?

The site goes on to say that, “As President, Joe Biden will continue to ensure that the Jewish State, the Jewish people, and Jewish values have the unbreakable support of the United States.”

Is there anyone in the Democratic Party who can explain what this sentence means?

For starters, the so-called “Jewish State” is not Jewish and hard as Israel may try to hide it, being “Jewish” is not a nationality but a religion. Most Jewish people live in other countries and the majority of the people who are governed by the State of Israel are not Jewish but Palestinian Muslims. Under the Israeli apartheid system Jewish people do enjoy privileges that others do not, so one could say it is a state that provides privilege to Jewish people at the expense of others. That hardly qualifies it as a “Jewish State.”

The Joe Biden campaign and its attack on BDS and activist Linda Sarsour show that the DNC is not ready to truly embrace progressive values. 

Someone in the Democratic Party might also want to explain the “Jewish values” that are referenced here. There are no values that are uniformly espoused by all Jewish people. Some Jewish people are religious, others are not. Some are racists and support Zionism and others are not. Some Jewish people are fine people, some are not. And finally, it would be nice to know who the ignorant fool is who wrote this stuff for the Biden campaign.


Democratic National Convention

As one reads through the Democratic National Convention platform under the section titled, “RENEWING AMERICAN LEADERSHIP,” and the sub-section titled “The Middle East,” there is an entire segment on Iran. Iran, which certainly has influence in the Middle East, is not even part of the Middle East.

This reminds me of the Israeli police officer who questioned me after the Israeli authorities learned of my visit to Iran. The questioning began with:

“Have you visited any hostile Arab countries lately?” When I replied “no,” the officer angrily asked, “Don’t you consider Iran to be a hostile Arab country?” Again I replied, “no.” Can it be that both the Israeli authorities and the Dems don’t know where Iran is located geographically? It is neither Arab nor is it in the Middle East.

Joe Biden held an online fundraiser organized by former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro where he railed against the left's anti-Semitism. 

When it comes to Israel, the DNC platform is full of contradictions. Following Biden’s personal commitment to Israel, the platform says, “Our commitment to Israel’s security, its qualitative military edge, its right to defend itself, and the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding is ironclad.” The “Memorandum” is the foreign aid agreement signed in 2016 which promises Israel an unprecedented $38 billion over ten years.

The platform then goes on to say, “Democrats recognize the worth of every Israeli and every Palestinian.” As the past one hundred years in Palestine have shown, support for Israel comes at the expense of Palestinian lives. No one can honestly care for the lives of Palestinians and support Israel’s “qualitative military edge.” It is that very military that is used by Israel to kill Palestinians. The Israeli military is part of a larger “security” apparatus that is devoted to the oppression of the Palestinian people and the protection of the apartheid regime.

What is perhaps the most foolish statement made in the platform, and the one the Dems will likely come to regret more than anything is the following: “We oppose any effort to unfairly single out and delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.” Opposing the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against the State of Israel is a mistake of historic proportions.

Rejecting BDS will be remembered as not only cowardly but also as an unwillingness on the part of the Democratic Party to stand for justice and freedom in Palestine. It is reactionary, short-sighted, and likely to have serious political repercussions. For generations to come, the Democratic Party of 2020 will be remembered as weak on human rights and its blind support for Israel will be used as an accusation both against the Biden-Harris ticket and the Democratic Party as a whole.


A difficult choice

The argument made by those who feel that progressives should vote for the Biden-Harris ticket is that they are “pushable.” In other words, if activists on the ground and within the Democratic Party work to bring about change from within, Joe Biden as president will listen. This argument makes the claim that while Biden’s record is clear, and while his entire career demonstrates he always supported crimes committed against Palestinians, as president, if pressured he may change.

Before every election, Americans are told that they face a tough choice. Before every election, Americans are told that the stakes are high, that the results will be close, and that they need to vote wisely. It may well be that this time it is more true than ever. Particularly for progressives, the choice between a far-Right neo-fascist and a middle of the road uninspiring centrist career politician isn’t easy.

Good luck to us all!

Feature photo | Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a memorial service for former Israel Prime Minister Shimon Peres at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, Oct 6, 2016. Zach Gibson | AP

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

Smedley Butler, The Retired General Who Stopped a Wall Street Coup

Smedley Butler: The Retired General Who Stopped a Wall Street Coup

General Smedley Butler blew the whistle on a Wall Street led corporate coup against Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal.

 May 24th, 2018

Many Americans would be shocked to learn that political coups are part of our country’s history. Consider the Wall Street Putsch of 1933.

Never heard of it? It was a corporate conspiracy to oust Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had just been elected president.

With the Great Depression raging and millions of families financially devastated, FDR had launched several economic recovery programs to help people get back on their feet. To pay for this crucial effort, he had the audacity to raise taxes on the wealthy, and this enraged a group of Wall Street multimillionaires.

Wailing that their “liberty” to grab as much wealth as possible was being shackled, they accused the president of mounting a “class war.” To pull off their coup, they plotted to enlist a private military force made up of destitute World War I vets who were upset at not receiving promised federal bonus payments.

One of the multimillionaires’ lackeys reached out to a well-respected advocate for veterans: Retired Marine general Smedley Darlington Butler. They wanted him to lead 500,000 veterans in a march on Washington to force FDR from the White House.

They chose the wrong general. Butler was a patriot and lifelong soldier for democracy, who, in his later years, became a famous critic of corporate war profiteering.

Butler was repulsed by the hubris and treachery of these Wall Street aristocrats. He reached out to a reporter, and together they gathered proof to take to Congress. A special congressional committee investigated and found Butler’s story “alarmingly true,” leading to public hearings, with Butler giving detailed testimony.

By exposing the traitors, this courageous patriot nipped their coup in the bud. But their sense of entitlement reveals that we must be aware of the concentrated wealth of the imperious rich, for it poses an ever-present danger to majority rule.

Top Photo | U.S. Marines Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler gestures as he addresses the New York State convention of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in Albany, N.Y., Oct. 18, 1936. Photo | AP

Jim Hightower is a populist author, public speaker, and radio commentator.   He writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America’s ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

This article first appeared at OtherWords.

Chris Kijne en de Gesubsidieerde Onwetendheid 2


Mainstream-opiniemaker Chris Kijne, afkomstig van de VPRO liet in augustus 2020 weten:

Een stukje marketing naar de mensen toe. Al ruim vier jaar maak ik de Presidential Podcast. Een podcast over de Amerikaanse presidentsverkiezingen, die ooit, ten tijde van de conceptie, bedoeld was om in samenspraak met de vigerende NRC-correspondent (Guus Valk. svh) de verkiezingen van 2016 te volgen. We dachten dat we met de verkiezing van Hillary Clinton in november 2016 weer afscheid zouden nemen van de luisteraars. 

Op zijn beurt maakte de NPO op 27 augustus 2020 bekend: 

Vandaag presenteren we u de honderdste aflevering, na bijna vier jaar president Trump, in een politiek landschap dat door beide partijen als apocalyptisch wordt beschreven. Het is nu of nooit meer, zeggen ze allebei, zo constateren de huidige NRC-correspondent Bas Blokker en Chris Kijne én voor deze speciale gelegenheid: Guus Valk.


Met andere woorden: vier jaar nadat Chris Kijne van de VPRO en Guus Valk van de NRC hadden aangetoond dat zij beiden totaal niet op de hoogte waren van de economische en maatschappelijke omwenteling die zich had voltrokken sinds de komst van de neoliberale ideologie eind jaren zeventig. Net als de rest van de ‘corporate press’ hadden zij zichzelf wijs gemaakt dat de status quo zou niet zou worden aangetast en de elite van de Democratische Partij met haar leugen van ‘Change We Can Believe In,’ de bellicose politiek van Washington en Wall Street ongestoord zou kunnen voortzetten. In plaats daarvan bleek dat het deel van de kiesgerechtigden dat nog de moeite neemt zijn stem uit te brengen (rond de 55 procent) Donald Trump verkoos boven de oorlogszuchtige Hillary Clinton. Daarmee demonstreerden het duo Kijne en Valk tevens dat zij niet beseften dat een aanzienlijk deel van de kiezers genoeg had van de Amerikaanse permanente staat van oorlog, die vanzelfsprekend ten koste gaat van onderwijs, gezondheidszorg, volkshuisvesting, kunsten en wetenschappen etcetera. Het enthousiasme en de propaganda van de pers voor ‘Hillary’ demonstreerde tegelijkertijd dat zij lak had aan de honderduizenden doden en verminkten onder de burgerbevolking, als gevolg van Hillary’s bellicose politiek tegen Libië en Syrië. Bovendien hadden Kijne en Valk niet door dat ook de regering Obama honderden miljarden verstrekte aan het militair-industrieel complex die de VS dwingt almaar voortdurende oorlogen te voeren, een feit waarvoor president Dwight Eisenhower al in 1961 had gewaarschuwd. Dat onder Obama werd beslist dat het hele Amerikaanse kernwapenarsenaal zou worden vernieuwd, hetgeen meer dan een biljoen dollar gaat kosten, was een ander hinderlijk feit dat door het Nederlandse duo werd verzwegen. Tegelijkertijd waren miljoenen Amerikaanse werknemers hun baan kwijtgeraakt door het outsourcen van banen naar lage-lonen-landen en het automatiseren van de dienstensector. De deregulering en privatisering zorgde voor de rest, waardoor de kloof tussen arm en rijk bleef toenemen. Hele industrietakken zijn zo verdwenen. Maar ook dit drong niet door tot Kijne en Valk, die hun ‘kennis’ uit de commerciële mainstream-media halen. Zij functioneren op die manier niet als journalisten, maar als echoput van het establishment. Net als opiniemaker Ian Buruma, gingen de NPO-‘Amerika-watchers,’ er blind vanuit dat tot aan het aantreden van president Trump de Verenigde Staten ‘a force for good’ was, en ‘a model of freedom and openness.’ Signalen, die kenmerkend waren voor de verdere verloedering van de Amerikaanse civilisatie en haar parlementaire democratie kunnen zij domweg niet registreren. Journalisten met een ideologisch mens- en wereldbeeld zijn blind voor de werkelijkheid. Zo blind dat ze het werk van gerenommeerde intellectuelen negeren. Eén van hen, 15 jaar lang correspondent van The New York Times, Chris Hedges, schreef al in 2013, in zijn boek The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress:

My former employer, the New York Times, with some of the most able and talented journalists and editors in the country, not only propagated the lies used to justify the war in Iraq, but also never saw the financial meltdown coming. These journalists and editors are besotted with their access to the powerful. They look at themselves as players, part of the inside elite. They went to the same elite colleges. They eat at the same restaurants. They go to the same parties and dinners. They live in the same exclusive neighborhoods. Their children go to the same schools. They are, if one concedes that propaganda is a vital tool for the power elite, important to the system. Journalists who should have been exposing the lies used to justify the Iraq war or reporting from low-income neighborhoods — where mortgage brokers and banks were filing fraudulent loan applications to hand money to people they knew could never pay it back — were instead ‘doing’ lunch with the power brokers in the White House or on Wall Street. All that talent, all that money, all that expertise, all those resources proved useless when it came time to examine the two major cataclysmic events of our age. And all that news, however objective and balanced, turned out to be a lie.

I have never sought to be objective. How can you be objective about death squads in El Salvador, massacres in Iraq, or Serbian sniper fire that gunned down unarmed civilians, including children, in Sarajevo? How can you be neutral about the masters and profiteers of war who lie and dissemble to hide the crimes they commit and the profits they make? How can you be objective about human pain? And, finally, how can you be objective about those responsible for this suffering? I am not neutral about rape, torture, or murder. I am not neutral about rapists, torturers, or murderers. I am not neutral about George W. Bush or Barack Obama, who under international law are war criminals. And if you had to see the butchery of war up close, as I did for nearly two decades, you would not be neutral either. 

But in the game of American journalism it is forbidden to feel. Journalists are told they must be clinical observers who interpret human reality through their eyes, not their hearts—and certainly not through their consciences. This is the deadly disease of American journalism. And it is the reason journalism in the United States has lost its moral core and its influence. It is the reason that in a time of crisis the traditional media have so little to say. It is why the traditional media are distrusted. The gross moral and professional failings of the traditional media opened the door for the hate-mongers on Fox News and the news celebrities on commercial networks who fill our heads with trivia and celebrity gossip.

As the centers of American power were seized and hijacked by corporations, the media continued to pay deference to systems of power that could no longer be considered honest or democratic. The media treat criminals on Wall Street as responsible members of the ruling class. They treat the criminals in the White House and the Pentagon as statesmen. The media never responded to the radical reconfiguration of American politics, the slow-motion coup d’état that has turned phrases like the consent of the governed into a cruel joke. And because the media are not concerned with distinguishing truth from news, because they lack a moral compass, they have become nothing more than courtiers to the elite, shameless hedonists of power, and absurd court propagandists. At a moment when the country desperately needs vigorous media, it gets celebrities such as Katie Couric masquerading as journalists, who night after night ‘feel your pain.’ The few journalists who do not, as Couric does, function as entertainers and celebrities are so timid and removed from the suffering of our dispossessed working classes that they are rightly despised. The media are hated for a reason. They deserve to be hated. They sided with the corporate forces, like most liberal institutions, as these corporate forces decimated the working class, bankrupted the economy, corrupted the legislative, executive, and judicial systems of government, and unleashed endless war and the destruction of the ecosystem on which human life depends.

I keep my distance from the powerful. I distrust all sources of power regardless of their ideological orientation. I do not want to be their friend. I do not want to advise them or be part of their inner circle. 

Ondanks het feit dat Chris Kijne en Guus Valk keer op keer de plank missloegen, krijgen ze toch de kans om opnieuw hun onkunde te tonen, zo maak ik op uit hun aankondiging dat zij de ‘honderdste aflevering,’ van ‘ons veelbeluisterde prachtprogramma’ en dit alles ‘in een politiek landschap dat door beide partijen als apocalyptisch wordt beschreven.’ Laat één ding duidelijk zijn: ook de Nederlandse journalistiek verzorgt schaamteloze propaganda.

vrijdag 28 augustus 2020

The lockdown a Bonanza for Billionaires


The lockdown has been a bonanza for billionaires

While ordinary people have been plunged into economic turmoil, the world’s richest are cleaning up.

Fraser Myers

Not everyone is having a bad lockdown. Yes, economies around the world have contracted at rates not seen since the Great Depression, or beyond. Yes, millions of ordinary people are being hit hard by pay freezes, pay cuts and job losses, while facing a growing tsunami of debt. But billionaires, the richest of the super-rich, have done rather well.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has increased his fortune by $8 billion to $122 billion this year to date. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is now worth around $102 billion, earning an extra $23 billion 

since the start of the year. While we were all trapped at home, Amazon supremo Jeff Bezos – the world’s richest man – increased his fortune by a whopping $76 billion to $189 billion. Bezos is accumulating wealth so quickly that by the time you read this article that figure is likely out of date. For instance, back in July, Bezos added a record $13 billion to his net worth in a single day. He is apparently on track to become the world’s first trillionaire by 2026.

Of course, you could say these top-three mega-earners are all in tech, which seems to be the one sector that has done well out this strange period. Amazon delivers goods to your door at a time when you can’t leave the house. Facebook lets you connect with friends and family when you’re forbidden from visiting them. And now that so many are working from home, it’s no surprise that Eric Yuan, the billionaire owner of videoconferencing company Zoom, amassed $11.1 billion of his $14.7 billion empire in this year alone.

But it’s not that simple. The wealthy have done well across the board. Swiss bank UBS found that the investment portfolios of 77 per cent of the world’s richest families – who had average fortunes of $1.6 billion – performed ‘in line with, or above, targets during one of the most volatile moments in the history of financial markets’. Between 18 March and 10 April, over 22million Americans lost their jobs. The unemployment rate reached 15 per cent. But over the same three weeks, according to a report by the Institute for Policy Studies, the wealth of US billionaires increased by $282 billion – a gain of almost 10 per cent. It’s a similar picture in the UK, where a study of Forbes data found that the wealth of Britain’s billionaires grew by 20 per cent. 

At the start of the pandemic, those of us who warned about the dire economic consequences of shutting down the economy – and what it would mean for working people, not only in terms of their financial security but also their mental and physical health – were berated for only caring about ‘the rich’. Novara Media claimed that Boris Johnson’s loosening of the lockdown to encourage some people back to work was part of a ploy to ‘save the billionaires’. Much was also made of billionaire Elon Musk’s scepticism about the lockdown, which had closed one of his factories (even though, in the end, he made an extra $67 billion this year).

But the balance sheet can be denied no longer. Months of economic inactivity have caused real pain to ordinary people, but have allowed billionaires to boost their wealth considerably. One of the main reasons for this is the unprecedented interventions by governments and central banks. The Federal Reserve has pledged an astonishing $3 trillion in asset purchases, including the purchasing of junk bonds, to bolster the corporate bond market. 

‘Covid-19 is now inversely related to the markets’, says Andrew Brenner, head of international fixed income at NatAlliance. ‘The worse that Covid-19 gets, the better the markets do because the Fed will bring in stimulus.’ The immediate consequence of this is to inflate asset prices and shares to the point where they have almost no connection to real economic activity. The US stock market is estimated to be overvalued by a record 77 per cent. Good news for shareholders.

Added to that is the CARES Act – the US government’s coronavirus relief package. As well as providing (minimal) relief to individuals, the package contains a $454 billion slush fund for big businesses. A Republican amendment to the act created an enormous tax break, from which 80 per cent of the benefits go to those earning $1million or more, according to a congressional body. All of this adds up to what Matt Taibbi has pointedly described as the ‘trickle-up bailout’.

Despite the earlier clichés of cheering our key workers and everyone being ‘all in this together’, the vast majority of us have not been invited to the billionaires’ feeding frenzy. Yet it is we who will pick up the bill.

Who started this culture war?


Who started this culture war?

The identitarian left stirs up cultural conflict and then blames it on everyone else.

Tom Slater

Who started Britain’s culture war? If the commentariat is to be believed, it is all the work of the Tory government, which is pushing confected controversies over political correctness to stir the prejudices of voters and distract from more important issues.

Take the almost week-long row over Last Night of the Proms, sparked by a Sunday Times report suggesting the BBC was planning to drop jingoistic singalong favourites ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ in response to Black Lives Matter.

According to TV’s Ash Sarkar, it is ‘completely made up’. Johnson – who weighed in on the controversy on Tuesday – is merely ‘drawing attention away from… a bungled pandemic response’, and ‘nurturing a sense of grievance’ among his white, privileged base.

This row, says former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal, was ‘deliberately timed to stop us focussing on the systemic problems we have’ in relation to race and inequality. Identitarian academic Kehinde Andrews tells CNN this is an ‘effort by right-wing media to undermine momentum from the Black Lives Matters movement’.

So it seems Johnson is at once incompetent (on Covid) and playing a blinding game of 4D culture-war chess, enlisting national newspapers to the end of ‘polarising once marginal issues’ and ‘turning them into potent symbols of the nation under threat from despotic minorities’.

Now, this ascribes to our increasingly at-drift government a level of strategic genius it really hasn’t earned. Plus the only ‘despotic minority’ being railed against is a cultural establishment determined to see imperial nostalgia and resurgent racism even in naff Proms singalongs.

But most importantly, even if you think the government is making hay out of this controversy, it didn’t conjure it out of thin air. And if the identitarian left is so keen to avoid the distraction of endless culture-war skirmishes, it should probably stop initiating so many of them.

Debate still rages around the precise facts of the Proms controversy. The BBC later announced that the songs would be performed, only without lyrics. It somewhat implausibly cited coronavirus, and singers’ spittle, as justification – even though other numbers will be sung on the night.

But you didn’t need to go far to find people in the cultural establishment who thought that ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ were indeed quasi-racist, neo-imperialist anthems, and that the current moment demanded they be reworked if not junked.

Wasfi Kani, chief executive of Grange Park Opera in Surrey, told the ST that she supported the removal of the songs. Executive producer for the BBC’s Songs of Praise memorably compared singing ‘Rule Britannia’ at the Proms to Nazis shouting about gas chambers.

Indeed, many of those saying the Proms thing is just a big bad Tory distraction, pointing out that it was never called for by Black Lives Matter or any other anti-racist group, basically agree with the idea that it is time to drop the songs from the programme.

‘No one’s banned the song, no one’s said nobody can listen to it, it’s not being burned in the Houses of Parliament’, Kehinde Andrews told CNN, only immediately to follow up: ‘Is this a song you want to sing to celebrate our public-service broadcast television? No it’s not, it’s not appropriate.’

The point here is that the woke set can’t accuse the government of fighting a cultural battle that it definitely didn’t start. Nor can they completely wash their hands of attempts at absurd cultural cleansing that they, in principle, support.

If anyone is ‘polarising once marginal issues’, it is a bourgeois left that seems oddly obsessed with cultural, historical remnants of our racist, imperialist past rather than the present; that claims to care about the more substantive issues but spends an inordinate amount of time raging against inanimate objects.

In the post-BLM battle over statues, sitcoms and now songs, those the left accuse of being right-wing culture warriors are often just reacting, often quite defensively, to the left’s own increasingly unhinged campaign of cultural cleansing and censorship.

What gets many people’s backs up about all this is not some deep respect for former slave traders or imperial nostalgia – it’s the idea, implicit in all these debates, that Britain is a foul place, with a foul history, full of foul people who need to be reminded of all this at every possible opportunity.

No doubt there are some of the right looking to make political capital out of this lunacy, and who have a tendency to respond to it with caricatured, performative patriotism. But for many people looking on aghast, this is not really political at all. In fact, it is the intrusion of politics into absolutely every area of life that irks them.

So, who started this culture war? Maybe it’s the people who have been charging around demanding that statues be toppled, speech be censored and now songs not be sung in the name of equality – rather than the people who, in the face of all this guff, dare to say ‘hang on a minute’.

Tom Slater is deputy editor at spiked. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Slater_

The Balkanisation of the United States


28 AUGUST 2020
To see the pernicious impact of the politics of identity, look no further than the US right now. The divisive and regressive identitarianism that has gripped universities, cultural institutions and sections of the political class in recent years has now exploded on to the streets. We’ve seen gangs of largely white ‘radicals’ screaming in the faces of passers-by who refuse to bow to the BLM agenda. We’ve seen pitched battles between Antifa agitators and self-styled community-protecting militias. And alarmingly, leading Democrats have been slow to condemn recent rioting, and much of the mainstream media has played it down, no doubt to try to prevent Trump from benefiting from ordinary people’s discomfort with this growing chaos. Now we can see the end result of the cult of identity and the personalisation of politics: the Balkanisation of the United States. A unifying message is urgently needed – who can provide it? 

Het Zorgwekkende Klimaat


Nieuwe realiteit: bij verdubbeling CO2 warmt aarde drie graden op

Klimaatstudie Hoe sterk reageert het klimaat als het uit balans wordt gebracht? Dat is nu uitgebreid geanalyseerd. De uitkomst is zorgwekkend.

Een simulatie van CO2 in de atmosfeer. Op het noordelijk halfrond, waar de meeste mensen wonen, is de concentratie van dit broeikasgas veel groter dan op het zuidelijk halfrond. Dit beeld komt uit een simulatie die de Amerikaanse ruimtevaartorganisatie NASA in 2014 uitvoerde, om inzicht te krijgen in het pad dat CO2 aflegt.
Een simulatie van CO2 in de atmosfeer. Op het noordelijk halfrond, waar de meeste mensen wonen, is de concentratie van dit broeikasgas veel groter dan op het zuidelijk halfrond. Dit beeld komt uit een simulatie die de Amerikaanse ruimtevaartorganisatie NASA in 2014 uitvoerde, om inzicht te krijgen in het pad dat CO2 aflegt.Illustratie NASA Goddard Space Flight Center 

Als de CO2-concentratie in de lucht verdubbelt ten opzichte van het pre-industrieel niveau, zal de aarde tussen de 2,6 en 4,1 graden Celsius opwarmen. In het huidige tempo waarmee de mens CO2 uitstoot, zal die verdubbeling binnen 50 tot 60 jaar zijn bereikt. Een nieuwe, uitgebreide analyse, die onlangs is gepubliceerd in Review of Geophysics, komt daarop uit.

De onderzoekers geven hiermee een belangrijke aanscherping van de klimaatgevoeligheid, een centraal begrip in de klimaatwetenschap. Die gevoeligheid is een maat voor de reactie van het aardse klimaat als het uit evenwicht wordt gebracht, zoals de laatste 150 jaar is gebeurd door de menselijke uitstoot van CO2 en andere broeikasgassen.

We kunnen als mensheid niet meer hopen op een lage klimaatgevoeligheid

Steven Sherwood onderzoeksleider

De studie geeft een nieuwe realiteit, zegt hoogleraar Steven Sherwood van de University of New South Wales, die het onderzoek leidde. „We kunnen als mensheid niet meer hopen op een lage klimaatgevoeligheid, die ons meer tijd zou geven het probleem van de opwarming te tackelen.” Volgens Sherwood laat de analyse glashelder zien dat de mens zijn uitstoot van CO2, en ook van de andere broeikasgassen, „heel drastisch” omlaag moet brengen. Binnen 50 tot 60 jaar zitten we al vast aan een opwarming van zo’n 3 °C, zegt hij, tenzij we massaal technieken gaan inzetten om CO2 weer uit de lucht te halen. In 2015 hebben de Verenigde Naties in het Parijs-akkoord vastgelegd dat ze de opwarming onder de 1,5 °C proberen te houden.

Klimaatgevoeligheid is op verschillende manieren te berekenen. Een ervan bepaalt, met behulp van klimaatmodellen, hoeveel graden de mondiale temperatuur op termijn zal toenemen bij een verdubbeling van de CO2-concentratie. De eerste berekeningen hiervan, in 1979 uitgevoerd onder leiding van de Amerikaanse meteoroloog Jules Charney, kwamen uit op een opwarming tussen de 1,5 en 4,5 °C. Dat is een vrij brede range, en sindsdien is geprobeerd de klimaatgevoeligheid preciezer vast te stellen. Maar het IPCC kwam in zijn laatste stand-van-zakenrapport uit 2013 nog steeds op diezelfde onder- en bovengrens uit. Klimaatsceptici hebben de ondergrens steeds aangegrepen om te benadrukken dat er weinig aan de hand is.


Nu is het een internationale groep onderzoekers eindelijk gelukt die range te versmallen. Ze combineerden hiervoor drie lijnen van onderzoek: gegevens over klimaatfluctuaties in de laatste miljoenen jaren, allerlei (satelliet)metingen in de laatste honderd jaar en recente inzichten uit klimaatmodellen.

„Het is een grote, solide studie. Een enorme bak werk”, reageert Appy Sluijs, hoogleraar paleo-oceanografie aan de Universiteit Utrecht, die niet bij het onderzoek betrokken was.

Klimaatonderzoeker Rob van Dorland van het KNMI noemt de nu gepubliceerde studie „een grote vooruitgang”. Volgens hem hebben de onderzoekers die vooruitgang onder meer kunnen boeken doordat er de laatste jaren meer inzicht is gekomen in de mechanismen die optreden als de aarde opwarmt. Bijvoorbeeld wat betreft de wolken. „Er zijn zoveel verschillende typen wolken”, zegt Van Dorland. Boven land reageren ze anders op opwarming dan boven zee. De reactie hangt ook af van de breedtegraad. Maar inmiddels, zegt Van Dorland, zijn klimaatwetenschappers het er wel over eens dat de wolken een positieve feedback vormen. Dat wil zeggen dat ze de initiële opwarming die een toenemende CO2-concentratie alleen al veroorzaakt, nog verder versterken. Ook de reactie van sneeuw en ijs op opwarming (ze kaatsen dan minder zonlicht terug) is beter gekwantificeerd, zegt Van Dorland.

Statistische technieken

Sluijs wijst op een andere verbetering. De statistische analyse. Voor alle drie de lijnen van onderzoek (paleoklimaat, recente observaties, kennis over feedbackprocessen) is onafhankelijk van elkaar de klimaatgevoeligheid bepaald. De uitkomsten zijn over elkaar gelegd, en via moderne statistische technieken zoals Bayesiaanse kansberekening is vervolgens de meest waarschijnlijke waarde berekend.

Zo bereikten ze hun uitkomst: bij een verdubbeling van de CO2-concentratie warmt de aarde waarschijnlijk tussen de 2,6 en 4,1 °C op, met een centrale schatting van net iets boven de 3 °C. De kans dat de opwarming op minder dan 2 graden Celsius uitkomt, is minder dan 5 procent, licht Sherwood via de telefoon toe. „Je komt alleen onder de 2 graden als de wolken een negatieve feedback op de opwarming hebben, en dat vinden we onwaarschijnlijk.”

Praktische berekening

Daarnaast, zegt hij, hebben we de afgelopen anderhalve eeuw al een opwarming van iets meer dan 1 graad Celsius meegemaakt – in die periode nam de CO2-concentratie toe van 280 ppm (parts per milliontot 413 ppm afgelopen mei. Ook dat maakt het onwaarschijnlijk dat een verdubbeling van de CO2-concentratie slechts een opwarming van 1,5 °C zou geven. Aan het andere uiteinde van de range, zegt Sherwood, is er een kans van 6 tot 18 procent dat de opwarming toch boven de 4,5 °C uitkomt.

Sherwood en zijn collega’s hebben ook een alternatieve, meer praktische berekening gemaakt. Want de aanvankelijk berekende klimaatgevoeligheid – de zogeheten equilibrium climate sensitivity, ECS – berekent de mate van opwarming tot het moment dat de aarde weer in evenwicht is. Daar kunnen „duizenden jaren” overheen gaan, schrijven ze in een uitlegstuk op klimaatwebsite Carbon Brief. En in de tussentijd is de CO2-concentratie in de lucht waarschijnlijk alweer veranderd, waarop het klimaat dan weer heeft gereageerd. Daarom hebben ze ook een schatting gemaakt van de effective climate sensitivity, de opwarming die binnen 150 jaar na CO2-verdubbeling is te verwachten. Daarvoor komen ze uit op bijna dezelfde range: 2,6 tot 3,9 °C.