Monday, August 26, 2019

The New Trail of Tears: How climate change is forcing the relocation of species, including our own

Guest post by Brian Stewart. Brian Stewart is a Professor of Physics at Wesleyan University who specializes in the dynamics of small molecular systems. For twelve years, he has delivered an annual “Earth Week Rant” that documents the complex web of environmental issues we have created and urges action. Reproduced from "Public Seminars" by permission from the author.

The New Trail of Tears

In 1830 Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, designed to appropriate to the United States lands occupied by aboriginal Americans. The Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional, but the army under Commander in Chief Andrew Jackson acted anyway. Now a lightning rod for condemnation of the expropriation of indigenous property, Jackson was an agent of demographic pressures and a lust for the resources found on tribal lands.

The result of this land grab and ethnic cleansing was the Trail of Tears, a highway of the dispossessed, en route from their homelands to less favorable situations away from the population centers of the European-Americans and their recently created nation. Those with the means self-deported; those who moved late moved in large numbers and suffered terrible losses.

Nearly two centuries later, we face the prospect of forced relocations on a scale that is difficult to fathom. This New Trail of Tears will involve humans on every inhabited continent, and it will impact countless other species as well. This time, the driving force is all humanity, agents of climate change through our greenhouse gas emissions.

A major consequence of climate change is the global rise in sea levels due to the melting of glaciers and the polar ice caps as well as the expansion of warmer oceans. Accompanied by more violent storms powered by the warmer atmosphere, rising seas will have a profound impact on coastal areas. Flooding is already common in coastal Florida; with just the few feet of sea-level rise expected by the end of the century, sizable portions of Miami and Fort Lauderdale will be inundated. “Superstorm” Sandy brought this lesson home to New York City in 2012. In a bitter echo of the original Trail of Tears, Native Americans are already being forced to leave their island homes in Alaska and on the Gulf Coast.

Other low-lying coastal cities will be affected similarly. The economic impact will be enormous: Miami alone is spending 400 million dollars over the next few years to combat sea-level rise by reinforcing seawalls, improving drainage, and installing pumping stations, in an effort destined to be obsolete within a few decades if the current trajectory of carbon dioxide emissions continues. The human impact will be similarly enormous. Those with the means will self-deport; those who move late will do so in large numbers and suffer terrible losses.

Our planetary fellow travelers are being affected just as we are. Warmer winters have reduced the mortality of the Mountain Pine Beetle, resulting in the destruction of a close to a hundred million acres of pine forest in the Mountain West. Trees don’t migrate to escape environmental threats, but their range can expand northward, given the proper soils and other requirements and absent obstacles such as human appropriation of land. Thus even the trees are on the move, and already there is talk of human-assisted migration to assist them in their northward travel. Some plants and animals will move uphill; the cooling rate of 3.5 Fahrenheit degrees per thousand feet of elevation provides relief.

But this trudge along the New Trail of Tears is lined with a gauntlet of perils: the area of the globe shrinks with increasing latitude, and the available area of mountains shrinks with increasing elevation. Competition for livable space will be fierce, and the refugia to which many species will be confined as their range shrinks will become extinction traps for some. Barriers to movement, both inadvertent and intentional, can be death sentences to those migrating. Roads and other human structures have dissected the landscape, either preventing motion or making it treacherous. Rivers and seas impede human migration, and border walls seek to prevent it altogether. But the migrations will continue and even increase against all odds; when life in one location is not viable, there is no other option.

Like forests, coral reefs are threatened and probably doomed, as the vast 2016 bleaching event in the Great Barrier Reef made clear. And while some northward retreat of these great oceanic nurseries is possible, there is nowhere to run to escape the acidification of the oceans that accompanies the increasing atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide. Fish can and do migrate, as have the herring in the North Atlantic. They have left behind some of their predators, glued to their habitats by instinct as surely as the corals are fixed to the ocean floor. For example, the Atlantic puffins of Maine are now hard pressed to feed their offspring with the herring gone. These birds do not migrate in response to the change, even if their chicks are starving. They will either substitute fish arriving from the south, or their range will contract to the remaining viable colonies farther north.

The New Trail of Tears is occurring and will occur in time as well as in space. Times of plant flowering, insect appearance, and bird nesting have moved forward in the year throughout the northern hemisphere. There is no guarantee that these events will remain synchronized as this process continues. Already there is evidence that this phenological synchrony has been disrupted for many food-chain relationships. For example, black guillemots in Alaska initially benefited from the increased likelihood of eighty frost-free days to raise their chicks but now are declining once more due to the recession of the pack ice upon which they depend for their food.

Additional perils await migrating humans. In a fully-settled world with modern notions of property rights, space is not easily made for refugees, as we have seen repeatedly when people have been obliged to move to escape privation or war. Indeed, privation and war are often closely connected, as the Syrian refugee crisis reminded us. Both will be potentiated by the growing impacts of climate change.

The Syrian migration crisis provides a compelling model of what might happen on an ever broadening scale as the consequences of climate change take hold in the coming decades. Unsurvivable heat waves may strike the Middle East before the end of the century, forcing people to move. Increasing immiseration will precipitate migration, but it may also trap populations, as a 2011 report by the U.K. Government Office of Science pointed out. The U.N. is taking steps to shore up its 1951 Refugee Convention, which lacks provision for environmental refugees, but opposing these efforts are powerful anti-immigrant movements taking hold all over the world at a moment when climate-induced migration is set to climb.

Most migrants do not cross international boundaries, but they are not necessarily more welcome than international migrants. In the U.S.A., precedent is provided by the dust bowl migrations, which displaced millions. Most traveled west; “Okies” headed for Los Angeles in 1936 faced a “bum blockade” established by the Los Angeles police. Although memory has faded with the passing of the generation that was hardest hit, ample evidence in photographywriting, and song reminds us of the human cost of this human-induced disaster. Suffering on a Grapes of Wrath scale edges nearer as surface water and water table levels fall in the arid, now more heavily populated American west. How ironic that mechanisms such as the thousands of Conservation Districts, created to ensure that poor land management practices do not create another such disaster, are now targets for cuts. The New Trail of Tears will be littered with the abandoned property, both literal and figurative, of those forced to focus on the immediate term.

Heat can attract as well as repel. While species and peoples are fleeing the heat at lower parallels, the warming of the Arctic and the melting of the polar sea ice is attracting humans to the newly available resources there. As nations jockey to exploit these resources, they all but ensure a nasty feedback loop: further disturbance of the fragile tundra and extraction of the petroleum or minerals below will accelerate the warming that has powered this northward migration in the first place. The irony of the situation seems to have escaped the notice of world leaders. As they push poleward, competing interests will encounter one another with increasing frequency, fueling conflict. A more survivable approach for all the inhabitants of the globe would be to declare the polar region an international scientific study area, off limits to resource extraction. Can such an approach prevail in the face of hand-wringing about stranded assets by those who envision short-term gain from their exploitation?

In any disruption there are winners and losers. The world is a complex place, and it is beyond difficult to distinguish them in detail in advance. But we know the broad outlines of the categories. As usual, the biggest losers will be the weak: those already struggling, already few in numbers, or specialized to niches that are being extinguished. The “winners,” as usual, will be the strong: the wealthy, who possess the resources to move; the numerous, who can tolerate great loss and survive; and the generalists and opportunists, who are prepared to exploit new situations as they arise.

The failure so far of the Paris Climate Accord to bring about significant change in carbon emissions shows that more immediate concerns trump good intentions. The agreement demanded immediate bold steps to forestall future calamity, along with further commitments in the near term to meet the goal of holding the global temperature increase to 1.5 Celsius degrees. Three years have elapsed, and the response so far to this call for action, to which nearly all nations agreed, is anything but encouraging. Meanwhile, the current refugee crises, though mere dress rehearsals for the migrations to come, are proving a severe test for social and political institutions.

The public, the media, and our political and thought leaders need to engage in more than speculation about whether or to what degree a storm was caused by climate change or whether the migration of Syrians or of Central Americans was influenced by climate change. Not only are such arguments sterile — which straw broke the camel’s back? — they are becoming increasingly irrelevant as it grows harder to ignore the impact of climate change on the lives of those already living at the margins, such as those working small coffee plantations in Honduras. A lack of individual awareness of the serious and pervasive consequences of human-caused climate change has been locked with the missing public discussion in a mutually reinforcing vicious cycle in recent years.

Our remaining hope is fed by the knowledge that public opinion can change rapidly. Demands for action have grown dramatically even within the last year, led principally by a young generation of citizens and politicians increasingly aware that its members will be the ones to walk the New Trail of Tears. Older generations are currently an impediment: less likely to suffer great harm, and more invested in current economic arrangements, their members generally urge “moderation.” But moderation in its present form means stalling for time, and each passing day of inaction will end up requiring more drastic future action. Can a public tipping point be achieved before a geo-ecological one precipitates a New Trail of Tears?

Monday, August 19, 2019

What's Happening in Italy? The Fatal Flaw of Democracy

Richard Gere on the stranded NGO ship "Open Arms" off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy. A humanitarian intervention that surprised most Italians who reacted by insulting ad vilifying Mr. Gere in all possible ways. This story may be highlighting a fatal flaw of democracy: once leaders discover that the nastier they are, the more they are liked, they tend to overdo it and the result is a spiral that nobody knows how to stop.

A few days ago, American actor Richard Gere appeared in Italy to visit the stranded Spanish NGO ship "Open Arms," the migrant rescue ship that had been forced to remain at sea for days with more than 100 migrants on board. He looked very much like the alien of the 1951 movie "The Day the Earth Stood Still," suddenly disembarking from his flying saucer just landed in Central Park. 

For most Italians, the appearance of Richard Gere was a totally incomprehensible event. Where does he come from? What does he want? Who is he to criticize us? Just like in the movie, the reaction of the Earthlings (Italings) was not friendly. Mr. Gere was insulted and vilified in all possible ways in the mainstream media and in the social networks and even by the Italian interior minister in person, Mr. Matteo Salvini. On his part, Mr. Gere seemed to be bewildered at the reaction of many Italians, declaring that he couldn't believe his Italian friends could harbor ''such hatred" against migrants.
For everything that happens, there is a reason and there are reasons also for this situation that would look silly if it weren't tragic (*). Political leaders have discovered that the nastier they are in their declarations, the more popular they are and the more votes they gather. As a consequence, they engage in the game that once was called "rousing the rabble." This strategy was pioneered in Italy by Silvio Berlusconi who consistently targeted the least cultured fraction of voters to gain political power. It is a strategy that works, but it feeds on itself. The more a politician finds he can rise in the polls by sounding nasty and racist, the more the public expects politicians to be nasty and racist. 

The emphasis on finding an enemy to insult and demonize leads the whole debate to become purely internal. Maybe the current situation in Italy can be defined in terms of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder affecting the whole country. Italy is completely isolated from the rest of the world: the English-Italian boundary seems to be an impassable barrier. If you can't read Italian, you have no idea of what's being said and thought in Italy and, conversely, Italians can't read English and have no idea and no interest in what is being said and thought about them in the rest of the world. It may be just a sensation of mine, but I notice that nobody in Italy seems to read what I write in English on the Cassandra blog. Truly, I feel like Klaatu, the alien of the movie, myself. 

It is a race to the bottom: the process feeds on itself and nobody knows how to stop it. It is the fatal flaw of democracy that politicians such as Donald Trump in the US and Matteo Salvini in Italy have learned to exploit to their advantage. And when something is fatally flawed, it can't usually last long.

(*) What I said in this post doesn't mean that there is no such thing as an "immigration problem" in Italy. By all means, there is a problem and a serious one. The population curves of Europe and Africa are out of sync, with Europe on the declining side while Africa is still climbing up. That creates a true imbalance also enhanced by the ongoing climate change. It needs to be managed in some way until Africa goes through its demographic transition, too (might happen way faster than many population "projections" indicate). Reasonably, it is a matter that can only be dealt with by means of international agreements. But, right now, nobody in Italy seems to be interested to talk with anyone outside Italy: the debate is all about whether these people should be let to drown or their ship sunk by the navy. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Why I went underground and how I am enjoying my new subterranean life

Here is one of the windows of my new home. No, not the big one. Look at where my wife, Grazia, is pointing. Yes, that one!

This summer in Florence we already had two vicious heat waves. As I am writing, we are in the middle of the third one, even more vicious. It has been, actually, a continuous period of very high temperatures punctuated by a few storms that brought the usual floods and disasters.

Global warming is no joke. If you don't plan for these heat waves you seriously risk your life, especially if you are not so young and you are not in perfect health. And people do die: we don't have statistical data for this year, yet, but the reports from countries like Europe, India, and Japan tell of tens, maybe hundreds, of victims and thousands hospitalized.

As usual, people here and everywhere in the world suffer from the syndrome that Daniel Pauly calls "shifting baselines." They seem to think that it is all normal because that's what they have been seeing during the past decade or so. And they don't seem to realize that they are living in houses that were designed and built in a world where heat waves were occasional and lasted just a few days, not the rule for more than one month per year.

Most homes in Florence have no air conditioning or have the kind of makeshift units that make a lot of noise but don't do much to lower temperatures. Some people insist on saying that air-conditioning is "not ecological" because it consumes energy. In other cases, the city regulations forbid people to install the external unit of a truly efficient air conditioning system. And, worst of all, very few people realize how bad it is going to be in a few years from now.

So, I have been preparing for what's coming. I told you already how we (me and my wife) decided to move from a big, American-style suburban home to a smaller apartment, downtown. It was for several reasons, but one was that our former home was so large that it was impossible to cool it in summer at reasonable costs. So, we chose an apartment that would be especially suitable to survive these terrible heat waves even without air conditioning. An underground apartment.

Actually, our home is not fully underground, It is on the slope of a hill, three sides are against solid rock but the fourth, the North side, opens on a small garden. That's the only side having large windows, but the sun never shines on them. That was part of the choice: it was to keep the house cool. Here is a picture of our living room.

And here is the garden, in the background you can see the bomb shelter that came with the apartment, it is a WWII relic. It is not supposed to be used against heat waves, but it could be useful again for its original purpose, who knows?

Here is my studio, the room that corresponds to the "slit window" shown at the beginning of this post. The picture is taken in a moment when the sun shines exactly on that window, normally the room is much darker, of course. But it is the kind of place where you can concentrate on your work.

The apartment is not very large, but more than enough for two people. It has two bedrooms, kitchen, two bathrooms, storage space, and more things, but I guess what you want to know at this point is how it performs during heat waves. And, I can tell you it performs beautifully.

As I am writing this post, the temperature outside is about 39°C  (102.2°F). Inside, the thermometer marks 26.3 °C, I never saw it going over 26.6 °C (80 °F), so far. No air conditioning, windows are tightly shut. It is a reasonably comfortable temperature although we found we needed a dehumidifier running full time to bring the humidity in the comfortable range of less than 60%. (*)

For comparison, my mother-in-law apartment is nearby. It is an old building with massive walls, but also with windows facing South. With the air conditioning off, it touches 29 °C. My daughter's apartment is on the second floor of a modern building. It arrives at 30-31 °C if the air conditioning is off. Some people tell me that their apartments downtown Florence reach 33-34 °C (91-93 F). That starts to be uncomfortably close to that upper limit of survivability marked by a "wet-bulb temperature" of 36 degrees. Not a joke: heat kills.

So, what's the idea of going underground? Why not just use air conditioning? Sure, it could be done. But there is such a thing as the possibility of a black-out, you heard what happened in England these days. Now, if that happens in Italy at the height of a heat wave perhaps you won't die, but for sure you'll suffer horribly.

But can everybody live underground? No, of course not. Some people do, even in Florence there are plenty of basements used as living quarters. But that's not a good idea: Florence is built on an alluvial plain that's periodically reclaimed by the Arno river. It happens infrequently enough that people forget about these periodic floods -- the last big one was in 1966. But they are unavoidable and if you live in a basement in Florence you have to think that, eventually, you'll have to get out of it swimming, if you can. Our apartment, instead, is built on the slope of a hill and it is safe from flooding. But you can't build the whole city on the slope of a hill.

What you can do, though, is to build houses made to withstand the heat waves that will become worse and worse as time goes by. How to do that is no secret: the house must have a large thermal mass to make it able to absorb the heat. It may be underground or partly underground, it may have massive walls, or it may have other tricks to store heat away from the living quarters. But it shouldn't count 100% on air conditioning: besides being wasteful, it may not be healthy and not even comfortable.

So, we have been spending this sizzling hot summer tucked in this basement home. An interesting experience. Looking through the window at the haze of the heat, the feeling was like we were living in a science fiction novel. We had landed in an alien planet, too hot for humans to live, and we had to stay inside our spaceship to survive. Maybe that's our destiny in any case: a planet too hot for humans to live, at least during the summer. It is a concept explored by Antonio Turiel in a science fiction story published on his blog "The Oil Crash" titled "Dystopia IX (in Spanish). Maybe we'll really need spacesuits if we want to venture outside in Summer. Who knows?

Elon Musk's spacesuit was designed for Mars, but it could be useful here, on Earth, if things keep going the way they have been going.

(*) We'll have to see how the apartment performs in winter. I expect the rock to act as heat reservoir, but in reverse, so that it may be warm and comfortable with just a little help from the central heating system. Of course, the place will be a little dark but, hey, my ancestors lived in caves, who am I to criticize them?

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Gaia Exists! Here is the Proof

Gaia is neither benevolent nor merciful. She is harsh and ruthless. 

Environmentalists are sometimes defined as "Gaia worshippers," a term supposed to be an insult. That's a little strange because most people on this planet openly worship non-existing entities and that doesn't normally make them targets for insults. Maybe it is because there is an important difference: Gaia exists.

But who or what is Gaia, exactly? The name belongs to an ancient Goddess but the modern version is something different. As you probably know, the term was proposed for the first time by James Lovelock in 1972 and co-developed with Lynn Margulis. As it happens for many innovative ideas, it was the result of a simple observation: if the Sun radiative intensity increases gradually over the eons, how come that the Earth's surface temperature has remained within the boundaries necessary to keep the biosphere alive? There has to be something that keeps it like that. Lovelock proposed that the mechanism was based on regulating the concentration of greenhouse gases, mainly CO2. You understand that this idea goes at the core of the current debate on climate change: it deals with the inner mechanisms that make the Earth's climate what it is and what it may become in the future.

So, Gaia is powerful but She is not supposed to be benevolent or merciful, and not even a Goddess: we could say that She is what She is. But does She really exist? Not everyone agrees on this point. The concept is often referred to as the "Gaia hypothesis" and entire books have been written to demonstrate that there is no such a thing as a control mechanism of the Earth's temperature. Indeed, in the beginning, the idea was mostly qualitative and not proven. Lovelock proposed a clever model called "Daisyworld" that showed how a simple biosphere could control the temperature of a planet. But the Earth's biosphere is not just made out of daisies and something more than that was needed. But over time proofs have accumulated to show that Gaia is much more than a qualitative hypothesis (or an object of worship by people believing in non-existing beings).

Let me show you some data from a 2017 paper by Foster, Royer, and Lunt that can be seen as proof of the existence of Gaia even though they never mention the term. It is not about new discoveries, but it uses available data to look at how the concentration of CO2 and the sun irradiation varied over the past 400 million years, most of the eon we call the "Phanerozoic." The paper is somewhat technical, but clearly written and you can follow the argument even if you are not a specialist in atmospheric physics. Here are the main results:

The top (a) figure shows the average CO2 forcing (red line), compared to the solar forcing (yellow line). "Forcing" means the thermal effect over the Earth expressed as power per square meter (W/m2). It is called forcing because it is a change of a previous condition. A positive forcing warms the Earth, a negative forcing cools it. Values of the order of a few W/m2 may seem to be small, but they may change the Earth temperature of some degrees C.

The surprising result shown in the figure is how the two forcings, sun and CO2, balance each other nearly exactly. You can see that in the bottom panel of the figure: the net forcing is the red line. This is truly impressive. Assuming a sensitivity factor of 0.3, you can calculate that the solar forcing, alone, should have increased the Earth's average temperature of about 2-3 C (nearly 5 F) over 400 million years. The increase would have been considerably larger if feedbacks (e.g. water vapor) are taken into account. But we don't see this increase, not at all. Here are some recent data by Mills et al.

Look at the gray curve: plenty of oscillations but, on the average, the temperature has remained constant over the past 400 million years. If it had increased even of just 2-3 degrees C, the effect would be clearly detectable. If we push back the boundary to more ancient times, to the origins of life on Earth, the effect should have been much larger: the ancient Earth should have been at least 20 K colder than it is today. It should have been a ball of ice. It was not: we know that there was liquid water even in those remote times.

So, the data are clear: the increasing sun irradiance over the Earth's geological history has been compensated mainly by a declining CO2 concentration. Of course, there are other factors affecting climate: other greenhouse gases, changes of albedo, ocean currents, clouds, atmospheric particulate, orbital and axial oscillations. But they seem to play a minor role at the time scale of an eon. And would you believe that this near-perfect compensation occurred by chance? Yes, sometimes things happen by chance, but can the same thing keep happening by chance for 400 million years?

Anyone said "Gaia"? Smile! The Lady is right in front of you. She exists and we are lucky that She is what She is. Otherwise, the biosphere wouldn't have died long ago, burned or frozen.

But what mechanism causes the CO2 concentration to decline as solar irradiance increases? And where does the removed CO2 go? Lovelock had proposed that it was just the biosphere that did the job, it seems now that we need a tight coupling of biosphere and geosphere to obtain the effect we see. In part, CO2 is removed from the atmosphere by photosynthesis and then transformed into the inert substance called "kerogen" (the precursor of fossil fuels), then buried into the crust. In part, CO2 reacts with silicates in the crust to form solid carbonates. It is a long story and not everything is known, but things start to make sense. Lovelock was right.

Now, are events occurring over hundreds of millions of years relevant for us? Absolutely yes. The time scale may change, but the physics remains the same. The impressive point is that there is no fiddling, here, with mysterious models. These are experimental data coupled with simple physical principles that have been known and established for at least a century. They do show that CO2 affects climate, something that many non-worshippers of Gaia refuse to accept.

Comparing the current situation with the record of the Phanerozoic, we can see that the forcing that we are creating with our CO2 emissions (at present about 3 W/m2, and rising) is of the same order of magnitude of the past forcings that caused the Earth to reach the condition of "hothouse Earth," 10-20 degrees warmer than it is today -- and that even for a smaller sun irradiation! If it has happened in the past, it may well happen again. But it would be easier today because the sun is hotter. So, we may well be in deep, deep trouble.

How fast could the transition to hothouse Earth happen? On this point, the Phanerozoic data help us little: we don't have the resolution that would be necessary to detect rapid events such as the incredible burst in atmospheric CO2 concentrations that humans have created during the past few centuries. Some people say that humans will go exctinct in a few decades because of the triggering of the release of methane, another powerful greenhouse gas, from the permafrost. That would be consistent with the several mass extinctions that took place during the Phanerozoic: we know that Gaia is neither benevolent nor merciful.

But the extinction of humankind is not necessarily Gaia's will. The damage we made may still be reversed, especially if we manage to crash the global economic system. That would stop the burning of fossil fuels and the Earth might return to the previous conditions without the utter destruction that some scenarios foresee. Eventually, it surely will, even though that may take a few million years. Gaia may not be benevolent, but she is surely patient.

You Gotta Believe from Nina Paley on Vimeo.


A comment from my personal troll

Ancient kings hired personal advisors to remind them that they were mortal. This I know well enough by myself, but I thought I could hire a personal troll to remind me of my limits as a scientist. Here is a comment from him, Mr. Kunning-Druger). 

Glad to see this post, professor Bardi, and I see that you and your friends finally admitted what you always refused to admit: climate has always been changing. And all the data you are showing to us that humans have no effect on climate: look at all those variations in CO2 concentrations: where were the SUVs, the coal mines, the oil wells that you and the others have been telling us are the cause of "climate change"? How can that be? And the supposed "coincidence" that you are showing to us, that should "prove" that Gaia exists. Do you think we are stupid to believe that when we know that these numbers come from the same people who wrote "hide the decline" in one of their mails? And all this story of the Goddess, again, it proves what we had been saying all along: those idiotic Greens are just a bunch of adhorers of Nature, they and their little prophetess, that disturbed girl, Greta - just another scam among the many. You think you are doing science, but you do politics with just an attempt to mask it with a little New Age flavor. The reality is that the whole story is a scam to get public money for your fat research grants. We know that and I am going to write to the president of your university to tell him that you are wasting the salary that the government gives to you. You are using it to scam people and you should be fired together with all those silly scientists. (KD).


Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)