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Open Thread Plus Cartoon Of The Week

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107 Responses to Open Thread Plus Cartoon Of The Week

  1. wili says:

    Not much relief from our national drought this week:

    http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/archive.html

    Mostly, it is persisting to dominate nearly the entire country.

    Extreme conditions in parts of currently-summertime Southern Hemisphere, especially southern Australia and northern Brazil, don’t bode well for the coming year.

    • Superman1 says:

      Fossil fuels are the ultimate chemical weapons; burning them is unleashing these weapons against the population of the USA (and all other countries), leading to its demise in this century. Are we not Constitutionally-bound to take corrective action to eliminate this assault on our ‘general welfare’?

      • wili says:

        You are starting to get the picture.

        “Relationship between sea level and climate forcing by CO2 on geological timescales”

        by Gavin L. Fostera and Eelco J. Rohling

        “For instance, with CO2 stabilized at 400–450 ppm (as required for the frequently quoted “acceptable warming” of 2 °C), or even at AD 2011 levels of 392 ppm, we infer a likely (68% confidence) long-term sea-level rise of more than 9 m above the present.”

        By “more than 9 m” they mean 9 to 31 meters of sea level rise at essentially current levels of atmospheric CO2 is shown in the geological record.

        This is what we get from melting the relatively unstable Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheets. The other shoe–the melting of relatively more stable East Antarctic Ice Sheet–will probably not hit us till after we pass the 650 ppm threshold.

        Add to that ever more intense storm surges, and most coastal (and many not so coastal) cities are destroyed–indeed, as we have just seen, we don’t have to wait for anything like these levels for the climate and slr to pose a major threat to our major, direct cities.

  2. Will Fox says:

    Animation looking at man’s relationship with the natural world:

    http://www.futuretimeline.net/blog/2013/01/6.htm

    • Superman1 says:

      There is a serious legal issue here that I have not seen addressed. Fossil fuels are weapons of mass destruction. Their combustion unleashes these weapons against the USA (and all other countries), and will eventually destroy their populations. Does not our Constitution tell us the government’s job is to “provide for the common Defence and general Welfare” of the USA? Are we not constitutionally-bound to take whatever action is necessary to eliminate these weapons and protect out collective security?

  3. Will Fox says:

    Beijing air pollution soars to hazard level

    Air pollution in the Chinese capital Beijing has reached levels judged as hazardous to human health.

    Readings from both official and unofficial monitoring stations suggested that Saturday’s pollution has soared past danger levels outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO).

    The air tastes of coal dust and car fumes, two of the main sources of pollution, says a BBC correspondent.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-20998147

  4. Gail Zawacki says:

    Can Collapse of Global Civilization Be Avoided?

    Paul and Anne Ehrlich

    http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/280/1754/20122845.full.pdf+html

    • Robert Callaghan says:

      Mass extinction events and collapsing civilizations usually go hand in hand.

      • Jacob says:

        Not disagreeing with you Robert, but how many civilizations have existed on this planet during mass extinction events? This is the first one that I’m aware of.

        • Ray Kondrasuk says:

          Jacob, you’ve just triggered my recollection of an old quip:

          Q: Looking up at the stars, how do we know that life out there is intelligent?

          A: Well, they haven’t come HERE, have they?

        • Robert Callaghan says:

          I actually enjoy a secret fantasy that we will live underground near the poles due to the earth’s magnetic field flipping. If that were the case, we would be best served immersed in plant science since most technology would be on the fritz.
          http://phys.org/news202971192.html

  5. Robert Callaghan says:

    At 3% growth, we are going to hit C02 concentrations of 800 ppm by 2036. This does not (n-o-t) include positive loop feedback data. This is not an exponential curve, it is a brick wall. We are going to slam into that wall in 20 years. In 23 years we will d-o-u-b-l-e C02 concentrations*. In geologic terms this is a nano-banano-second. This fact is super-duper most all-important because it will end most all life on the whole planet very, very quickly. If you have a 5 year old child, the earth will start to crack and unravel at the seams when that child is 25 years old. The food web of life is starting to dissolve at the seams in the oceans and on land. This means the end of life on earth as we know it. It will be 200 times quicker than all 5 mass extinction events except for the dinosaurs.

    • Robert Callaghan says:

      * In a little under 10 years, we plan to start doing something about it – on a voluntary basis.

    • Superman1 says:

      I see no way to voluntarily avoid initiation of runaway temperatures in a few decades, assuming that we have not done so already. The unclassified climate models do not include the positive feedback mechanisms, and cannot inform us how far along the road to runaway we are.

      Like it or not, we only have two real options for survival past late 21st century. One is involuntary takeover by those who control the physical levers of power, and imposition of drastic reductions in fossil fuel use. The other is physical severing of the fossil fuel logistics links in the extraction and distribution networks. That would have to be done by the twenty percent of the population in the 15-30 age demographics; they are the only ones with the energy and long-range survival incentives to accomplish this. Other democratic options may be possible in theory; in practice, impossible!

      • wili says:

        I’m not sure I follow exactly what it is that you intend by your second point, but Bill McKibben did address a meeting of oil geologists recently and suggested that this might be a good time to call it quits.

        The entire enterprise of un-sequestering massive quantities of carbon that end up as global toxins when used as intended–that whole lethal system depends crucially on just a few million experts–mostly geologists and engineers. Of course, so far most of theme have been the most stalwart in denying there is an AGW threat.

        But if in some way they could be reached and convinced that they are enabling planetary annihilation, that group would be one of the smallest group (besides the utterly insane .01% richest people in the world) that could quickly and decisively bring an end to the ff geo-cide we are now enacting.

        Of course, we have now gone so long without effective mitigation strategies that a sudden halt of ff extraction would itself bring modern civilization to its knees (or lower). But at this point there are no un-bumpy roads forward.

        Is this something like what you meant?

        • Robert Callaghan says:

          just picture me as Homer Simpson drooling with his back saying, “M-m-m-m-m-m Geocide”. If I was young I would be extraordinarily angry. I would want to do something. Sublimating that degree of anger would be quite the feat.

        • Superman1 says:

          There is a full spectrum of approaches to achieve that end. You have suggested one of the more peaceful ones. At this point, all should be on the table.

        • Superman1 says:

          Look at it from another perspective. Who has the most to lose from serious climate change, and who is most able to do something about it? A decade ago, many Americans in the 15-30 demographic were willing to risk life and limb so we could have a better negotiating position on the price of oil. Shouldn’t the present-day demographic be willing to risk at least as much for their long-term survival, and for the survival of their fellow citizens? There are two major ways to stop flow in a network: remove critical nodes, as you suggest, and sever critical links. Either works for me, however it is done.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          There’s as much chance of a revolt of oil geologists and other apparatchiki of the hydrocarbon genocide business defecting as there is of tobacco company functionaries ceasing to make a living from killing people. For every sane, decent, person who leaves, several thrusting, ambitious and suitably amoral specimens will be there, eager to reap the lucrative rewards on offer.

          • wili says:

            You have put your finger on our essential problem with this movement.

            Essentially, on way or the other, we are asking slaveholders to not only free their own slaves, but to lead an abolitionist movement among their fellow slaveholders.

            My historian friend tells me that there were in fact slaveholders who freed their own slaves. Some states even imposed laws against doing so, which shows that it was a fairly widespread ‘problem.’

            But we still as a country had to go through a very bloody civil war to end that particular abomination.

            Today, we all have thousands of energy ‘slaves’ at our beck and call 24/7. There is no “North” that can declare war on us and force us away from our energy slavery.

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

            There will be a global civil war, between the genocidists and those who wish humanity to survive. In fact that war is raging right now, and has been for decades, if not centuries, but, so far, only one side is doing the fighting and is on the offensive.

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        Cooperation works! We proved it again last Tuesday when we averted a potential national catastrophe. With every section of society working together to build clean resources and help those hurt by severe rationings, we could make a serious dent in the problem. Perfect? No. Possible? Yes, ME

    • Henry says:

      Robert,
      I think we all need to carefully consider putting arbitrary timelines on “end of the world” predictions. Because what happens when 20 years have gone by and we’re still standing here doing business as usual? Then our credibility is in the tank bid time.
      I’m not saying I don’t believe we’re headed for trouble. But the end of the world in 20 years??

      • wili says:

        If anything, that seems far too late.

        The Climate Blitzkrieg has already started in earnest.

        Most of the heating due just from what we have already put in the air in the last 30 years (and that was a lot) is still to come.

        The Arctic will likely be essentially ice free at the end of this or one of the next two or three summers with unknowable but doubtless profound consequences for planetary climate and feedbacks.

        Already, it may have locked in a dipole system that will steer rain away from the middle of the North American continent and toward Britain, creating conditions we had a glimpse of this summer that will render most agriculture fruitless in both places (and likely many others).

        There may be something resembling what would have been considered a ‘normal’ 20th century year or two in the coming decades. But most years will not look anything like what we used to consider normal.

        Rather, climate chaos is already the new normal.

        The climate is now at war with us (and with nearly every other species on the planet). We have managed to render our once mostly forgiving and benign planet into a monstrous, ruthless. thorough and unstoppable executioner. We may avoid her ax today, and maybe for a few more years. But more and more will be slaughtered. And in twenty years, I would guess few would be left. Of course, we may well hasten the process with resource and other wars.

        I see these things as essentially inevitable at this point. But that is no reason not to try ones hardest still to live within limits of the actual planet we are on, and no reason not to fully engage in the battle against the darkest forces perpetrating this deepening nightmare on our families.

        Speaking of which, most major feedbacks have not yet or are just starting to kick in in earnest.

      • John McCormick says:

        Henry, I get as upset about the end time in 20 years as I do when projections of temp and sea level rise are pegged out to 2100. That is sloppy science when we undersatnd the temp increase thresholds we’ll be breaking through in 2030, 2040, 2050 etc. as feed backs measured and unmeasured kick into the mix.

        People in 2020 will be a lot more nervous than you or I today. Bank on that.

      • Superman1 says:

        You don’t require end of the world in twenty years. Initiation of runaway temperatures is all that is required. I suspect there is quite a reasonable likelihood of that happening, possibly well before twenty years. I’d like to see the output of the climate models of the ‘black’ world.

      • Robert Callaghan says:

        Not the end of the world in 20 years, but the beginning of the end.

        • catman306 says:

          Who is going to feed 7 billion people for years 5 through 20 in your 20 year scenario?

          What do starving people with weaponry usually do? I fear we will witness complete chaos before 20 years pass.

    • Lewis Cleverdon says:

      Robert – re:
      “At 3% growth, we are going to hit C02 concentrations of 800 ppm by 2036. ”

      You need to study the issue rather than making wild and melodramatic guesses.

      A 3% rise in global CO2 output does not ever equate to a 3% rise in CO2 concentration. First, an output of 3% more than 2011′s 34GT CO2 would face the carbon sinks, that are currently maintaining an average 43% sequestration, leaving just around 19.14GT CO2 to the atmosphere. To measure that as ppmv you divide by 3.664 to get the carbon content, and then by 2.1GTC to get the ppmv value.

      Under this sequence, a 3% rise on CO2 output in 2012 would add 2.594 ppm, which would ammount to an increase of just 0.662% over the 2011 concentration. If the present farce of White House inaction were allowed to continue, a 3% annual rise in output would impose 560ppm, a doubling of the pre-indusrial CO2 level, by 2062. It will not get anywhere near 800ppm by 2036 from anthropogenic sources, even if America did continue to obstruct the requisite global agreement of commensurate mitigation.

      The climate threat plainly needs no exaggeration – it is massive and implacable, and is heading for the point where the feedback outputs would exceed the carbon sinks’ intake capacity, after which our emissions control would be essentially inneffective, and the utility of the already necessary geo-e would be diminished.

      A very basic part of communicating the threat effectively is including description of the scope of just what can be done to resolve it. This avoids discouraging recruitment to activist campaigns – which under our present circs is surely an utterly critical factor. And having failed to make any significant headway since 2000, despite electing BHO, it’s surely time to review the options.

      So the question is, what are Americans going to do about their president’s conduct ? Total inaction over four years was, we were told, due to lack of support for action – which now stands at a mere 80% and rising. Yet suddenly gun control displaces climate as the POTUS’ third priority, and does so despite around 50% vitriolic opposition ???

      I’m forced to wonder just what it will take for American progressives to realize they’ve been conned into reacting to the fabricated circus of denial, which has left the White House free of any critique of its undeclared bipartisan policy of a brinkmanship of inaction with its rival, China. The very last thing that Obama is willing to do is anything at all that might encourage the US public to demand action on climate before the policy achieves its objective.

      If and when people get their heads round the reality and the centrality of that policy, maybe we might get around to discussing its overthrow ?

      Regards,

      Lewis

      • Superman1 says:

        You state: “support for action – which now stands at a mere 80% and rising.” If we’re not going to overstate the CO2 ppm in thirty years, we also should not overstate levels of ‘support for action’ on climate change. What does it mean to have a poll where 80% or 70% or whatever say they support climate change ‘action’? Will they support elimination of all unnecessary expenditures of fossil fuel, such as airline flights for vacation and most business, and most military training exercises except for nuclear fleet operations? Will they support gas rationing perhaps twice as hard as we had during WWII? Basically, will they support the end of the fossil fuel economy as we know it today, and go beyond Kevin Anderson’s ‘planned austerity’ into the ‘planned Depression’ that will result? We know what the answer is, and that’s the reason the President will take no action, not some Brinksmanship of Inaction policy with China.

    • David Goldstein says:

      Robert- I am not a math genius, but I do teach Math S.A.T.s. Let’s say we are at 400 ppm now (a bit under, but close enough). I believe the past few years we have been adding about 2.6 ppm per year. Let’s say over the next 23 years (til 2036) this spikes up to a median 0f 4 ppm per year (which is a huge spike, I don’t believe it is forecast to be near that high as a median between now and 2036). That would add 4 x 23 = 92 ppm which would bring us to 492 or so. I know this doesn’t include carbon feedbacks such as permafrost thaw- but it is WAY far away from 800 ppm. Did you mean 2136? btw- I am a huge climate activist- but it is important to get the math right.

      • David Goldstein says:

        oops- I see someone else already did a math correction.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        It’s all relative. 800, 700, 450, even 400 ppm all equal catastrophe. All that differs is the speed and intensity of the disasters.

  6. Robert Callaghan says:

    We should be working on a global e-currency based on C02 credits that are inversely proportional to C02 energy use. This would require a world wide open democractic currency and internet banking system to privately deliver electronic direct deposit C02 dividends in a new world currency. But, most people don’t listen, or just ridicule, and would rather believe Saint Krugman can save us with a trillion dollar coin. And people think I’m crazy. Like Ghandi says, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

  7. Raul M. says:

    The areas of the methane plumes in the Arctic being mostly on one side of the Arctic? Is there a way that the changes in the weather currents point to the amount gross in the methane plumes? As in it takes such and such amount of methane over such and such amount of time to make such and such changes in the air currents. And such and such amount of methane goes with the current before it rises above it and how the air currents are changed by the new gas concentrations at certain areas and does the high concentrations make for changes in the high and low pressure systems for different areas? Yes the statement It was warmer last year carries lots of exclamation and question marks.

    • Raul M. says:

      Do the math.
      Have the supercomputers learned what the weather would be at a certain location enough yet to look at local pollution and global pollution causing changes in the weather over time and instances to describe the level of over the tipping points we have passed?
      Because knowing what the weather would be without pollution and knowing what the weather is now gives the additional forcing and knowing the amount of forcing different factors have then well.

  8. I think that there are two upcoming events that we must carefully consider. First is the question of continuing a carbon tax in Australia. If they drop the carbon tax, it will make it much harder to do anything similar in the US.

    The second is the potential of an upcoming Senatorial race in Massachusetts between Ed Markey and Scott Brown. Rep. Markey’s history with the cap and trade legislation will surely make climate change a key political issue. We must be in a position to support Markey in every way, including providing enough financial backing that Scott “Wall Street” Brown can not buy this election. But equally important, we need to make sure that the climate issue has support in the media whenever it is mentioned.

  9. Spike says:

    Some interesting stuff on the Australian heatwave from their climate commission here:

    http://climatecommission.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/CC_Jan_2013_Heatwave4.pdf

  10. Bruce S says:

    The vast majority of the excess heat is being absorbed by the oceans and although only one third of our Co2 production has gone into the oceans eventually most of it will end up there. As the oceans continue warming there is less oxygen and surface heating reduces mixing , further reducing oxygen at depth. Bacterial remineralization of organic matter releases Co2 and consumes what little oxygen that is left resulting in anoxia at depth. These anoxic areas spread as the heating proceeds . Given enough heat the ocean turns into a huge carbon sink ( think the Carboniferous ) and the oil goes back where we got it. It goes without saying it isn’t just civilization that disappears, it is a good portion of current lifeforms.

    • Dennis Tomlinson says:

      Anoxia is followed by purple and green bacteria which produce sulphur. Ocean currents slow, eventually coming to a stop. Poisonous gas belches from the depths – no longer methane, now sulphur dioxide. Our blue sky is replaced by one with a greenish tint. Most, or many living organisms become extinct.
      Peter Ward in “Under a Green Sky” writes about past extinction events, stating that most were climate change driven. Changes in ocean chemistry leading to the Canfield state having played a major role.

  11. Bruce S says:

    Dennis, eastern boundary currents like this one in Nambiahttp://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=12831&src=share#.UPGq8pERn_s.mailto
    are where these problems will originate and expand. There is a 90 meter shoaling of the hypoxic boundary layer closer to home along the Baja and Southern California coastlines. Similar O2 issues likely in the Humboldt as well as the Canary Currents.

    Sent from my iPad

  12. sunflower says:

    I am poor. I grew my food, assembled shelter from surplussed materials, lived in a fire station with loans for education, did my own engineering, self tested clean energy economics, proved solar ten times cheaper than oil, and have no help, no inquiries, nothing but quiet solitude in the forest.

    The silence of science is deafening.

  13. Paul Magnus says:

    We are well past a stage where scientist should basically be dropping what they do and concentrate on getting action on GW…

    • wili says:

      No, scientists need to mostly do what they do.

      We need to know what is coming at us and at what speed.

      It is the rest of us that need to do most of the communicating of that science to the public and to decision makers.

      And putting our bodies on the line, when necessary.

      • John McCormick says:

        Wili, there is a grand canyon of uncertainty and the scientists are not much help.

        As you said: “We need to know what is coming at us and at what speed.”

        Of course but we need to hear exactly where we are starting from (lost Arctic sea ice in less than a decade, etc.)and where we are heading (450 ppm, cleaner air lifting the dimming blanket, El Nino being blocked..how will Peru deal with that loss of rain as its water-providing glacier melt before their eyes.

        Scientists, if you are listening, get on a horse and ride through town!!!! We’ll hear you.

        • Joan Savage says:

          “In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
          The people will waken and listen to hear.”

          I hope so!

          Paul Revere was a silversmith, not a scientist.
          Let’s be open minded about who ultimately gets the word out.

          Some scientists today are speaking up, but many are more like Revere’s friend, a quiet investigator who posted the signal in the belfry.

      • Bruce S says:

        Until 2005 ocean acidification was under the radar. Arctic ice melt since 2007 has the arctic ocean each year closer to melt off. The pace of events boggles the mind. The science of collecting the data is invaluable without which acidification or arctic ice melt would still be crazy talk. Action need arise in every soul who can feel in their stomach or read in the science where this road leads. 33 billion tons Co2 per year is the road to extinction.

      • paul magnus magnus says:

        Then they should pause for a moment and let people know what we know already. Not much point in carrying on if we don’t address GW right now.

      • Brooks Bridges says:

        Go to ForwardOnClimate.org and sign up or help out in other ways. We need bottom up pressure on our leaders in US. This is, for climate change, an untried method – large crowds.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        Imagine all the scientists and technologists who work for DARPA and similar organs dedicated to mass destruction, in the USA and elsewhere, all turned to work on saving humanity. Imagine that, then ask yourself the questions of questions. Why has it not happened, and why is the mere mention of such an idea absolutely absent from all political discourse?

        • Superman1 says:

          I worked with these types for decades. You cannot imagine how many scientists and engineers support this effort, and even more interesting, how many sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, etc support this effort. Forgetting about the application, the science, technology, and human behavior problems are interesting to study, and because much of the work is hidden from the public eye, a wide range of problems can be addressed. Probably most importantly, much of the work tends to have stable funding, and pays reasonably well. People who have worked in these areas for the government (civilian or military) can retire after twenty or thirty years (depending on age), and work in the same areas for the private sector, drawing a double paycheck. And, you think they’re about to give this up so some future generations can be saved?

        • Superman1 says:

          What is perhaps more disquieting in these organizations mentioned above is who did what. Most of us have been trained/educated with the motivation to ‘succeed’, to ‘get ahead’, almost above all else. In many/most, if not all, organizations, ‘getting ahead’ requires loyalty to the organization, first and foremost. This translates into doing whatever the boss wants, no matter how odious. I found, in these organizations, that many times the people most willing to take on the odious tasks were the young new hires. Here, they had spent many years in higher education, acquiring all sorts of advanced degrees, yet they were willing to discard all this wonderful and expensive training to volunteer for those tasks that would demonstrate their loyalty. I am concerned that the younger generation that has been imbued with this me-first success-at-all-costs philosophy will be grossly mismatched with what we need to carry the banners for addressing climate change. They are the ones with the real energy to move forward, but will they have the altruistic motivation required?

  14. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Last Tuesday. we faced a potential national catastrophe of unprecedented propotions. It didn’t happen. That was because we had all communities on alert and reporting, volunteers, tens of thousands of them fire fighting and ABC local radio transmitting up to the minute info. It demonstrated what can be done with large scale cooperation. Not difficult to translate this into climate action, ME

    • Lewis Cleverdon says:

      I surmise that the experience of that quality of co-operation is going to change a lot of peoples’ minds, and give them more authority with which to dismiss the deniers and to cajole the flukers.

      Meanwhile, those fires are a novel degree of elemental force running amok – they will do things not seen before. So please take very good care of yourself, as well as of others.

      All the best,

      Lewis

  15. David B. Benson says:

    Foster & Rohling, PNAS, (just appearing): expect 9+ meters of SLR.

    Abandon NYC?

  16. Frank Zaski says:

    Should environmentalists be jealous of the NRA?

    The NRA has far more clout than any one or 10 combined environmental organizations fighting global warming. They have 4.2 million members and have added 100,000 more in the past month.

    David Keene and Wayne LaPierre have been on national TV more this month than Hansen and McKibben in their lifetimes. Too bad Al Gore became greedy and lost credibility.

    VP Biden chairs a gun commission. Did any president ever call a global warming commission? We had the environmental equivalent of 3 or 4 Sandy Hooks this past year. And Climate Progress reports declining media coverage of global warming.

    Ideally all citizens, leaders and politicians should act in ways to fight global warming. But our splintered, uncoordinated, “chimneys” of environmental groups and random spokespersons aren’t getting too much traction to get society to that point.

    It would be beneficial to have an environmental council of all environmental groups (similar to the United Nations or EC) to coordinate research, messaging, advertising, lobby work, etc. The leaders of the top 10 or 15 environmental groups could be the initial executive council and take turns at the group’s leader and be the national spokesperson, or perhaps one strong leader can emerge.

    Or, to update Will Rogers’ comment about Democrats, “I don’t belong to an organized movement, I’m an environmentalist.”

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      You live in a society where death and destruction hold a great sway over tens of millions, and they are filled with ‘passionate intensity’, and those who love life, hopefully a greater number, ‘lack all conviction’. You need a few leaders, men and women not afraid to face violent death through assassination.

    • Superman1 says:

      Here’s the difference. There are many people who want and use guns, and they will do what it takes to get their guns. There are few people who want the pain and sacrifice required to eliminate fossil fuel use today and stave off climate change. Hence, one organization is flush with advocates and money, and the other – well, ‘flush’ is the operative word.

  17. Matt Owens says:

    Ice sheet disintegration negative feedback could halt sea level rise – but only for a short while – and with a dramatic resurgence. Sea level rise in massive fits and starts: http://climatewatch.typepad.com/blog/2013/01/exploring-hansens-latest-sea-level-rise-projection.html

  18. Jon Davies says:

    After reading the recent FAQ on Ocean Acidification posted on Skeptical Science, it strikes me that OA is going to be much harder to prevent or alleviate than the atmospheric temperature increase that gets most of the focus of the global warming debate. By concentrating on the atmospheric temperature increases and the resultant changes to weather and climate, I think many people allow themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security, especially with so much down-playing and nay-saying from many politicians and media outlets.

    “What’s a couple of degrees?” they say. “Heatwaves and droughts are part of nature”. “CO2 is good for plants”. “We can use giant mirrors or aerosols to reflect the heat if we need to, it’ll be fine!”.

    None of that applies to Ocean Acidification. Once the CO2 is in the atmosphere, a huge chunk of it is destined to be absorbed into the ocean. It’s part of the natural system were counting on to help us deal with the atmospheric symptoms. But the fact is, unless we actively remove carbon from the atmosphere and put it back underground and not in the oceans, then the oceans’ ecosystems will spiral to total collapse, and the oceans and land ecosystems are not disconnected. Apparently a billion humans depend on the sea for food, not to mention all other intertwined food chains. If the oceans begin to fail, there will be massive consequences.

    The usual statements used to dismiss any concern about ‘global warming’ (relating to global atmospheric temperature increase etc.) can not be used to brush aside the threat of ocean acidifcation.

    Therefore, it seems to me that OA should be made one of the primary focuses of the environmental lobby. As a symptom of increasing CO2 emissions, its certainty and its severity are less easily challenged, and its solutions more clear cut and inescapable. Emissions must be reduced ASAP, and carbon must be removed from the atmosphere on top of that.

    I really think that by giving more attention to OA and its effects, the public will see that action is clearly necessary, and the contrarians will have little to comeback with.

    Thoughts?

    • Joan Savage says:

      Ocean acidification doesn’t yet come across as a near and present danger in the USA. Americans eat about 16 pounds of seafood per year, on average, so the potential loss of seafood does not present as immediate an impact as a hurricane, heat wave, interrupted transportation, forest fires or crop losses. Environmental organizations are talking about those dangers.

      In the long run, ocean acidification means much more than fish loss, but the implications of acidification on change in ocean color and chemistry have to be more fully articulated.

    • Lewis Cleverdon says:

      Jon – well said.

      It’s a critical issue that bypasses the prepared rhetoric of the circus of denial and clearly shows excess CO2 to be a dangerous poison.

      The application of geo-e in the form of Carbon Recovery is fully justified – so long as the process is very well supervised -like anything else it could be done really badly and so discredit the program.

      The fact that a global CR program would benefit both oceans and atmosphere should resonate with the public. In addition, the most promising low-tech process – namely “Native afforestation for biochar and co-product methanol” offers further yields including raised soil fertility, soil moisture regulation, immense new forest habitat, widespread rural employment, etc.

      The core problem is the sheer scale of the carbon to be recovered. Even with biochar offering a valuable end-use, the rate of recovery is limited by the scale of suitable non-farm land available globally, which a recent WRI/WFN study assessed at 1.6GHas.

      Getting that area planted within 20 yrs would be a major challenge, and with a 10-yr coppice harvest cycle it would then be Yr30 before full flow was reached. The most credible scenario I’ve seen showed that by mid-century, operating in tandem with a global Emisssions Control treaty, the CO2 concentration could begin to fall, getting back to the pre-industrial 275ppm by the century’s end.

      However, it has to be recognised that while CR for OA mitigation can be campaigned on individually, such a program is not ‘stand-alone’. It could not hope even to keep pace with BAU emissions growth, so simultaneous Emissions Control is essential. In addition, given the intensifying droughts and deluges occurring globally, it seems pretty clear that getting new forestry established on such a scale will demand a largely stabilized global climate, which only the other mode of geo-e, Albedo Restoration, can now provide.

      There is also the issue that both modes of geo-e would require stringent scientific supervision under UN mandate, with deployments necessarily being a collective UN members’ decision.

      All of which is to point to the need of much patient persistence in demanding the agreement and launch of the Carbon Recovery program. Perhaps a good start can be made by informing bright young people that it is going to have to be one of the most widespread industries on the planet ?

      Regards,

      Lewis

    • sunflower says:

      The paleontology record indicates that ocean acidification is the root cause of mass extinction in sea and on land, not climate warming.

      This goes way beyond sea food and flooding.

      • Dennis Tomlinson says:

        True, but are not the warming climate and ocean acidification connected to one another by an upward disturbance in the carbon cycle?

    • Unfortunately, the denier crowd extends its nonsense and vitriol even to the depths of the seas (and the depths of depravity, in the case of some of the clowns who are paid by the fossil-fuel industry).

      I follow the comment section on Dot Earth (Revkin’s NY Times blog), and whenever the blog post is about a problem with the oceans related to global warming or anthropogenic carbon emissions — coral die offs, for example — the deniers come out in droves with their cherry-picked factoids about how coral populations are growing, etc. It’s all lies or fantasy, of course, but it’s the same set of methods they use to attack any other aspect of science, from evolutionary theory to the link between smoking and cancer.

      That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t emphasize the problem of ocean acidification, but we won’t be able to do so without encountering packs of lies and parcels of nonsense.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Saw a young Japanese boffin on NHK TV recently, intoning, quite matter-of-factly, that in his opinion, after studying the problems that Arctic zooplankton were already experiencing in laying down their shells, that we had already passed the point of no return. To what, he didn’t quite make plain, so I’ll leave it to your imagination.

      • Paul Magnus says:

        I think most enlightened ones do think that we have certainly passed a point where a lot of people are not going to survive. And modern society is going to collapse.

        The collapse has already started. Its all around where ever you look… food prices… reoccurring infrastructure damage due to storms, floods and drought.

        We havent even warmed by 1C and we are going to warm by at least that much again. There is not much that can be done now for what this means.

        So its all about survival really.

  19. Bruce S says:

    The ” spiral ” is dependent upon how much of the proven reserves of hydrocarbons we ultimately consume. BAU or A2 will result in a .4 change in global average ocean pH by 2100. There are species which can handle a pH of 7.7 to 7.8 even shellfish which seem to do fine under those conditions so although locally conditions will be much worse the ocean may not respond quickly. Well not as fast as the potential melting of the arctic ice or potentially drought driven crop failures. I am not trying to downplay the predictability of Co2 driven ocean acidification I just personally believe the terrestrial ramifications of arctic ice loss will arrive much sooner.

  20. Paul Magnus says:

    Interesting…Does Obama have a moral compass? About 12mins in… climate change gets a mention also..

    http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/2013/01/201311294541129427.html

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      The Chinese believe that there are five directions. Obama’s ‘moral compass’ points unerringly towards the fifth pole, that which lies inward, and which we might as well call the ‘Ó’ direction, as its inner vacuum sums up his life’s course, so far.

      • Superman1 says:

        Remember the words of Roosevelt to the labor leaders: ‘you need to make me want to do it’. What he meant was that he would not step out in front without their strong pressure and continuing support. Obama has the same problem. In spite of what these ‘polls’ show, he realizes the vast majority of Americans are not interested in making the types of personal sacrifices to ward off climate change. “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” went the way of duck-tail haircuts fifty years ago.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          It’s a cleverly designed vicious circle. Obama does nothing to upset his rich patrons, which dispirits the Hope Fiends, but his mere presence and complexion outrages the Mad Hatters who, aided by kleptocrat cash, run amok, further disheartening the human beings. Obama could lead, he could cajole, bully, stand for something, but he won’t and he uses Tea Party and Republican obstinacy as an excuse for inaction, not for returning fire. I expect Keystone will, possibly, finally send the Obamatons into ‘wake-up’ mode.

  21. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Bad news: emergency warning issued for the Warumbungle National Park which means evacuate now or defend. This is one of the most unique areas in the world and the home of Siding Springs observatory. We lost the historic Mt Stromlo observatory in the 2003 Canberra firestorm which is still in rebuilding and recovery.

    Good news: signs that the monsoon may break in the top end. This means that the currently stalled heat sitting over the continent may continue its move to the east, ME

  22. Fredt34 says:

    I hope that many people will sign the Petition on the White House! At least we would have an answer…

  23. Nell says:

    Driving up I5 through the San Joaquin valley I discovered, via many pseuo billboards, that the democrats are causing a water shortage that will cost those ever so coveted agricultural jobs and make food more expensive.
    I guess dems also are causing the shortage of bees snow and rain. Oh well.

  24. Chris Winter says:

    Tangentially related but worthy of note: Weather.com has a list of the ten best places to visit in 2013. (All are within U.S. territory.)

    http://www.weather.com/travel/best-places-to-visit-2013-20121207

    Faribanks, AK is number 2, for the aurora borealis expected in late summer. And number 10 is Glacier National Park:

    “The dramatic views might not be here forever, which is why you need to go in 2013. Lonely Planet goes as far to say Glacier is “one of the country’s wildest, most remote and pristine national parks.” And since the glaciers are melting, some experts predict they’ll be gone in less than 20 years.”