John Wawrzonek

Pretending to look knowingly.


Caring For The Earth

. Fifteen years ago this MIT engineer said “we’re screwed”
because the temperature of the earth was running away.

Now too much time has gone by and we need a
Read on and maybe you will understand Greta Tunberg’s intense frustration.


Earthrise, December 24 1968, Apollo 8

The Earth Rises

The Sea Also Rises

And The Land Disappears

Destroying a Jewel of the Universe

The President lies. The President does not understand. He gives irrational orders.

In a way no one understands where we are heading.

In 30 years: Terrible. In 50 years: Horrible. In 100 years: Devastating.

In 500 years: Nothing. A gift to the sea. Look at the map.

For half the population of the earth, a gift to the sea and no place to live.

How Could We? Just Keep Doing What We Are Doing Now

Is there a way out? Stop being “human” and become trust–worthy humans.

We have been given an ultra precious part of the Universe to live on, exalt in, care for, and live in joy.

So we close our eyes and ears and let the rest do as they wish: Make Money. And redraw the maps of the planet. Flood half the cities of the world. And make money. And never become trust–worthy humans.

Thousands of years ago we lived in peace with the land. Then our inventive minds, thinking we were smart, invented the modern world. And in 200 years began the destruction of 5 billion years of creation.

The Crime of All Time: Destroying The Very Earth That Made Us

In less than the past 30 years, we have put into the atmosphere as much carbon dioxide as in all of humanity’s previous history, and we continue adding it at an ever increasing rate. The total is over 1.4 trillion tons.

What we must do is very clear: stop the emission of the carbon and start removing it from the air and burying it deep in the earth. And we must do it as quickly as humanly possible.

Most of the leaders of the earth are incapable of comprehending this need, and even more so, of the providing the leadership necessary to accomplish it.

So we must become the leaders, become fully trust–worthy, forward looking, willing to sacrifice to make the moral choices for our descendants. We have to undo 200 years of money–making destruction.

In 1959 the oil companies knew what havoc they were creating. They had done the research themselves and down-played the results. They were also told by Edward Teller, one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century.

They continue to push oil and plan large increases. This is incomprehensible.

Dr. James Hansen informed congress in 1988. President Bush made an attempt at a UN agreement to cut emissions but was disuaded by corrupt politicians.

So we have to take over, and do what needs to be done, however difficult or costly. Do we have the moral fibre? Click below and then read on.


As of December 2019 we are doing virtually nothing to halt the warming of the planet. We are on track for a 6°C temperature rise by 2100. This will be result in a virtually uninhabitable planet.

Despite windmills and solar, these efforts pale in comparison to the needs of transportation, power generation and new demands in developing countries.

The earth may be one of billions of planets supporting life such as ours, it may be one of a few, or it may be the only one, for despite decades of listening for radio signals (see project BEAKTHROUGH LISTEN) there is no sign of another. Yet we treat the earth as if it were expendable.

As of December 2019, we are facing the result of unimaginable failures to deal with global warming by virtually everyone.

Following are explanations of failures, consequences and desperate measures necessary to retain hope of a habitable planet.

The Cumulative Effects of 1483 Billion Tons of CO2

Emission Growth

The Most Important Chart On The Site

1. Yellow: Business As Usual, until about 2060

2. ”Below 2°C,”what we “should” be doing.


The Critical Details

1. Carbon dioxide accumulates in the air and ocean and continues its effects for centuries.

2. Going back to at least 1959, despite warnings and full knowledge of the consequences, including indisputable evidence from their own research, fossil fuel companies have pushed the consumption of these fuels and continue to do so, promising to continue decades into the future, even to the point of using up their reserves.

3. Emissions are increasing for all large countries in approximately a “business as usual” manner.

4. In comparison, the graph above/right shows (red curve) a need for an extremely rapid decrease in emissions.

5. For many reasons, to have any possibility of success it is necessary to have the United States lead the effort to reduce emissions. It is, of course, doing the opposite. (President Trump has a good chance of going down in history as the destroyer of the earth.)

6. Continuing what we are doing could get us 6°C in 2100. An MIT scientist called over 2°C as “horrible.”

7. Most countries who have promised compliance with the Paris or Katowice agreements show programs that would result in temperatures in the range of 2.5°C to 3.5°C in 2100. This is unacceptable.

8. To accomplish the reductions of the red curve, two massive programs, reminiscent of the industrial efforts of World War II are necessary:

a. The design and large scale deployment of nuclear power reactors of new ultra-safe designs. These would be of prefab construction in more than one size to permit flexibility in serving a wide range of installation conditions. (See MIT REPORT on the future of nuclear power.)

b. The design and large scale deployment of negative emission capability. As shown in the diagram above, we have delayed so long that negative emission capability is needed within ten years to meet the “net zero” emission goal. (See the NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES report on negative emission and sequestration technologies.}

The above will be ridiculed as impractical and too costly.

However, going without a reasonably inhabitable earth will prove significantly more costly and well as being immoral and destructive to future generations.

Note that this website is the nth revision of a two year project. The links under LINK (above) will (after updating and reorganization) supply supporting and background information.

The slide show below shows a few of the consequences of less that 1.0°C of warming.

The figure above represents estimated projections based on what is happening now (December 1, 2019). The primary contributors are China, The United States, India and Russia.

At present we are emitting carbon dioxide at either the same level as before or, in most cases, still increasing.

Numbers of countries have made promises in the center range that would yield temperatures on the order of 3°C. Although less catastrophic than higher temperatures, they are still unacceptable. An MIT scientist has described anything over 2°C as ”horrible.”

It is important to realize that all the problems to date with storms, fire, drought, etc. are a result of 1°C or less. 1.5°C, the Paris target which has been deemed impossible to meet, will significantly worsen the conditions we already have.

What we need to do is the lowest (green) curve and we are utterly unprepared to accomplish this. There is no “World Climte Authority” to vet each country’s plans and monitor their execution with enforcement power.

To obtain the best result would be a greater effort than fighting World War II.

The chart below-right, tallying attitudes of Americans toward global warming indicates a scant appreciation of a very difficult problem and so portends extreme difficulties in electing the kind of leaders we need.

Above all, there is no sign that any of the 2020 presidential candidates is sufficiently informed to provide the leadership needed.

Washington Post,December 3, 2019.

Global greenhouse gas emissions will hit yet another record high this year, experts project.

“We’re blowing through our carbon budget the way an addict blows through cash,” said one author.

Analysis and Dangers

There is stored in the Arctic huge quantities of methane that if released by continued warming will likely trigger further warming with catastrophic consequences. Leaders, media, fuel producers, and the public all fail to comprehend the seriousness of the situation.

It is, in fact, a scientific phenomena very difficult to grasp. On the earth we experience isolated events.

I picture the earth as a large orange with many pits scattered throughout. In any given location, inhabitants may see or experience none, one or a few of the pits but cannot comprehend what is happening in the entire sphere. Only from outside and at a distance does the whole problem come into focus.

When taken as a whole we find mega damage and the damage is irreversible. Worse, even if we managed to reduce emissions to zero (and we are still increasing them) the carbon dioxide and other gases will continue to warm the earth for hundreds of years, and the sea level will continue to rise.

On November 26, 2019 CE there was released a UN UPDATE, the latest report on how we are doing. Like previous reports it is ominous, only more so.

Hidden Causes: Attitudes, Ignorance, Foibles and Fables

Some attitudes that have been puzzling to me are coming into focus. Others remain puzzling.

Scientists effectively work by committee and are apprehensive of issuing extreme predictions. Hence, the severity of the problems has been minimized in many cases. Additionally, they have so far failed to unite and make a larger presence to attract more attention.

The “science,” beyond being viewed as suspicious or even invalid by many, is very difficult to comprehend. It is not a single process but many happening simultaneously and interacting.

There are not nearly enough sensors in the air, on the ground and in the oceans and even if there were, our computers could not handle the predictions.

Fuel companies own much of congress.

The media, with the exception of a few small web sites, underplays the importance of the situation.

Finally, the conservative side of the aisle often does not even believe there is a problem, and at least occasionally, does not believe in science at all. Our president has instructed the EPA to ignore scientific information.

More Evidence & More Evidence

Melt water poured into a fjord in western Greenland this summer when a heat wave that smashed records in Europe moved over the island. (Photo credit: Caspar Haarl'v/Associated Press.)

And just reported today, December 3, 2019, cracks are opening in the Greenland Ice Cap allowing runoff to penetrate beneath the ice hastening sea level rise.

A New Terror Each Day

As I have worked on this site the arrival of bad news has gotten to be at least one terror story per day and sometimes several. Sometimes just as I am writing about the topic. However, this one is especially frightening.

Below, the temperature in Santa Barbara is 2°C over the pre-industrial average and is decimenting about everything. The source is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For the link, click on the image. From the story:

“The result, as The Post’s Scott Wilson reports, is an eroding bluffside beachfront that has led to the condemnation of apartment buildings, wildfires that have forced thousands to evacuate and heat waves that have scorched orchards and killed livestock.”

This is 2°C and is considered acceptable by the standards of Katowice. As is stands now, we are heading for 3°C. If oil companies have their way, it will be closer to 6°C.

There used to be a saying that if someone were very successful he or she would “light the world on fire.”

I cannot believe that I am writing this.

Failing Reduction of Emissions

The Unbelievable Subsidies of the Fuel Industries

Oil Refineries Continue to Add Enormous Quantities of Fossil Fuels/


The great peril comes from many directions: the complexity of the science, the remoteness of some of the effects on the climate, the political divides becoming chasms that cannot be spanned.

But the core issue has to do with our nature, humanity’s nature, to see what we want to see and to hear what we want to hear rather than facing reality.

This blindness and deafness is usually acquired slowly, beginning with our upbringing, and reinforced by our culture and the people we grow up with and later associate with. We find ways of thinking that are comfortable or engaging or simply resonate with something deep inside, or more often fill a void, a void that should be filled by education but often is not.

One of the greatest missing pieces is what science has learned as rock solid truths about the nature of the world, truths that are complex to understand, and are not reinforced by our culture, religion, media, or our comrades.

Global warming is a victim of all of these. It is catastrophic to many, unnoticed by many others, but understood in depth by very few. It has come to the earth rapidly since the introduction of fossil fuel burning engines in the mid-1800s. Severe damage to the earth is now permanent and increasing. The thirst for wealth and power has overcome all warnings. There is no sign of a sufficiently strong power to take the drastic actions necessary to stop short of a runaway-hot planet. (See HOTHOUSE EARTH.)

Political divisions are increasing world-wide and inhibiting understanding and cooperative action. A failure of moral values and and a failure to appreciate humanity’s capacity for reciprocal relations and the enjoyment of artistic and enobling activities testifies to human faults and frailtie.

This website is an attempt to explore the scientific side of climate change and the many sides of human nature contributing to the potential for a human and earthly calamity. (See awareness)

The Greenhouse Effect

The GREENHOUSE effect was brought to the attention of humanity well before the beginning of problems. Joseph Fourier described it in 1829. In 1959 renowned physicist Edward Teller spoke to the 100th anniversary hearing of the Petroleum Association with a detailed explanation. This association also carried out its own research proving unequivocally the role of carbon dioxide in global warming and the danger associated letting it accumulate.

Carbon dioxide simply traps the heat generated by the sun. More carbon dioxide means a warmer earth. But the right amount of was determined over millions of years and it is potentially a fatal mistake to add to it.

We need a revolution, but depth of awareness and leadership are almost totally lacking. We need to be driving down emitting sources and by 2030 have formidable negative emission capability. The likelihood of accomplishing these diminishes every day. The world plays, fights, struggles, compromises, deceives, and fails in the education necessary.

The MIT Solution

MIT has created a most informtive, creative and useful aid to determining the effect of different combinations of actions on climate change. The MIT CLIMATE SOLUTIONS SIMULATOR lets you simulate any number of plans that, if chosen carefully, could solve the climate crises and even bring the expected temperature increase down to nearly 1.5°C, which is the goal of the Paris Accords and the best that experts believe could be accomplished.

However, even the extra 0.5°C would leave us considerably worse off than we are now.

(Full disclosure: I have three engineering degrees from MIT: SB 1963, SM 1965, EE 1967. The EE is given as a consolation to those in electrical engineering who complete all requirements for a PhD but do not complete a dissertation.)

MIT is conducting a series of six symposia on climate change. (These and other programs can be accessed for viewing at the MIT CLIMATE PORTAL) . It is an extraordinarily impressive program.

However, with the simulator, as well as with the programs presented by the simposia, the fundamental problem remains: how to get the leaders of the world, who do not understand the problem, to face the collosal job ahead to decide on a program and to implement it. This problem, I believe, cannot be solved without a nation or nations, taking the lead and virtually imposing a solution on the world.

Without this, because of decades wasted and incompetence in science, we may be at a place where nothing we do can save us from the “horrible” fate of a greater than 2°C temperature increase.

The Once and Future Earth

Sunset Through Red Leaves, Walden Pond I
Morning Mists I

Our Place In The Universe

The Earth was born about 5 billion years ago into a universe about 11 billion years old. It is sad beyond measure that so few know of the staggering magnificence of the universe, for it shares this magnificence with the earth.

Westerlund 2 — Hubble’s 25th anniversary image

The Orion Nebula (above) lies within the Milky Way Galaxy. It is the most detailed astronomical image ever made, 105 Hubble captures of the sky combined.

The second image is of the cosmic background radiation of the observable universe in relation to the Milky Way.

Below: The time-line of the universe from the big bang to the present.

I include these images to give some idea of the miraculous event that is the creation of the earth.

Our Home In The Milky Way

An artist’s rendition of the Milky Way and the location of the solar system in one of the outer arms of this spiral galaxy. The Milky Way of course cannot be viewed by telescope from this perspective.

The MILKY WAY contains between 100 and 400 billion stars.

Thank You & A Brief Respite

There is far more material in this website. It can be accessed through this LINK. However, the links are in chaos as most were removed quickly from the home page (which is what you have been reading), in the hopes of making something more managable.

Creating this website, however helpful or unhelpful it may be, has been the most difficult and depressing project I have ever attempted, by far. It has been a formidable disappointment to encounter global warming and working on it in my 78th year. I had not imagined such a calamity was possible.

I do have the good fortune of having been a pianist since the age of 8, and as a consequence developed a love of classical music. The piano has been a path to a calm and beautiful world. A true joy is finding the most exquisite performances of music I love and I have spent many hours searching UTube, especially for performances of the few pieces I play.

This has led me to a trove of treasures, not unique for there are many other stellar artists, but Kristian Zimerman has pleased me more than I imagined possible. He has also teamed with Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic in videos made in the Musikverein in Vienna. These may well be the best orchestra and the best concert hall in the world and in combination with this soloist and conductor expanded my view of what is possible. (One of my fields of study was musical acoustics.)

I am providing three links to performances by Zimerman, one of solo works by Chopin, and a piano concerto and sonata by Beethoven. These and many others have been a great respite after a day of websites. I hope you will listen and enjoy them as much as I have.

By the way, the first comment on the UTube site for the Chopin Ballades is: “Next time someone asks me about my opinion on the meaning of life, I'll just forward them this video of Zimerman playing Chopin.”



And one I play myself:

BEETHOVEN SONATA OP 13, Pathétique. (Note the 601 comments on the music and the performance.)

There is also more information about climate by clicking on LINK.

A personal note.

Fifteen years ago I first read about global warming and the self-reinforcement processes (for example, methane in the tundra) that now concern us so much.

I have three degrees in engineering and physics from MIT and my instant reaction (please excuse the language) was “we’re screwed.” Engineers have the experience (and are trained) to recognize certain phenomena, and this was a familiar one. We call it “thermal runaway” and although it is applied mostly to small devices, it is exactly what is happening today to the earth. There followed two years of depression and then an acceptance of sorts and a overwhelming feeling that I had to do something. But an infirm 76 year-old has limitations.

However, I had become a fine art landscape photographer and had exposed 20,000 sheets of 4x5 film in a view camera in the four corners of America. This, I believe, profoundly affected by love of the earth. It was also the motivation to work on a website: THE HIDDEN WORLD OF THE NEARBY and when I came to a stopping point I realized my platform would work for writing about climate change, but not just climate change, but the place of the Earth in the universe and a motive for pondering the meaning of life. The thinking has changed me.

So for two years of often twelve hour days I have worked on this site. Most of the writing is under LINKS (which are still being formatted and organized). You are welcome to comment to:

Note: The material below is still under construction.

Part I

The Moral Challenge

Part II

Tribal Vision or No Vision

Part V

The Fruits of Life

Part VI

Technical Assessment

Figure 1

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