The collapse of the biosphere.

Further to my Please help! post.

On Monday of this week, I posted an item called Please help!  It was to demonstrate how easily two people, with a long-standing friendship, both interested in the world around them, can differ over something so fundamental as man’s affect on our Planet.

I hoped that it would attract those who see things more clearly, and I was not mistaken.  Not only did the item receive 1,334 readings on that day, there were a number of focused comments, plus emails to me personally.  One of those comments was from Patrice Ayme, a long-standing friend of this Blog, who referred me to an article he had written in 2009, called BIOSPHERE COLLAPSE.  I gratefully republish that article with the written permission of Patrice.

BIOSPHERE COLLAPSE, not “Climate Change”.

by Patrice Ayme.

It is a curious thing to observe how far some humans will go to make themselves the center of attention. Maybe it’s out of cowardice. After all, to become the center of something, however illusory, however silly, allows one to forget the fragility of the human condition.

A handful of top notch elite scientists can be found, who are among those who are skeptical about the fact that burning the fossil fuel accumulated in the last 400 million years is causing a dangerous warming of the climate. Those who belong to the elite are generally not climate scientists, but, unsurprisingly geologists or geophysicists (that means, paid by the burning of fossil fuels).

Moreover, when one looks at their arguments, or even their graphs, one generally find obvious bias. I have explained before that denial is big business, and that the sun itself has conspired with the giant fossil fuel business (the ultimate conspiracy theory!)

But this streak of solar cooling is not enough for the partisans of atmospheric poisoning. It seems as if they were hell bound not only to poison the air and the oceans, but reason itself. (I have explained in other essays that reason itself is the preferred target of the plutocrats and their agents.)

A preferred trick of those tricksters is to cut the graph depicting the concentration of CO2 at, say, 360 parts per million (ppm), when we are actually at 390 ppm! This has the undeniable advantage of masking the exponential growth of atmospheric CO2 in the last few years…

image

What we see in this graph is a basically flat line, followed by an exponential (the famous “hockey stick”, as a climate scientist dubbed it).

From studying ocean sea shells, we now know that the CO2 concentration did not exceed 300 ppm for the last 25 million years. That means that the basically flat line in the graph above extends considerably to the left. The basically flat line actually extends 2 kilometers to the left, at the scale of the graph above. Yes, more than a mile!

So there is no doubt that the recent CO2 exponential climb is man-made, and tied up to industry.

A related trick of the deniers is to “forget” that man has generated a lot of other gases than CO2. Those artifical, man-made gases can be up to 10,000 times better than CO2 at blocking infrared light.

A greenhouse consists of allowing visible light in, while blocking the exit of the light that heat makes, the infrared light. Three large greenhouses are Mars, Earth and Venus. All planets are greenhouses, and earth-like planets in other solar systems will have water, thus water vapor and CO2, two most powerful and natural greenhouse gases: these gases allow light in, but tend to block infrared.

Thus the heat gets trapped close to the ground, and the high atmosphere, now less warmed by infrared light on its way to space, cools down. Some ignorant fools have heard of that cooling, and screamed that it proved that there was no greenhouse, because a cooling has been demonstrated. Whereas, in truth, that high altitude cooling is expected, and proves the exact opposite, namely a greenhouse next to the ground!

When one is considering the man-made greenhouse, one has therefore to also include these exotic industrial gases and evaluate their contribution to the greenhouse. For example, the Greenhouse Warming Potential (GWP) for methane over 100 years is 25 and for nitrous oxide it is 298. This means that emissions of 1 million metric tons of methane and nitrous oxide respectively warm up the lower atmosphere as much as the emissions of 25 millions and 298 millions metric tons of carbon dioxide, respectively, over the following century.

Perfluorocarbons (CFCs) are the worst. They are used in refrigeration. The most frequent is tetrafluoromethane. Its GWP is 6,500 times that of CO2. The GWP of hexafluoroethane is 9,200 times that of carbon dioxide. Over ten years, the GWP of methane is higher than what it is over a century, because methane oxydizes quickly. Over ten years the GWP of methane is 100 times that of CO2. This means that a “methane burp“  would have a tremendous warming effect. There are reasons to believe that such “methane burps” have happened, and could happen again. They are catatastrophically violent events, complete with giant tsunamis, I know you wanted to know…

In any case we are around 450 ppm in CO2 equivalent (the exact number is fiercely debated, and irrelevant, because the yearly augmentation is so fast).  We started from 280 ppm of CO2 equivalent in 1850 and at this rate we will pass a DOUBLING within twenty years.

Recent research on marine fossils has allowed us to find out the CO2 concentration over the last 25 million years: it never exceeded 300 ppm durably. (There were short spikes due to occasional major volcanic activity, but that’s always accompanied by marked and brutal drops in temperature, so Antarctic records show the two contrary effects wash each other out!)

I would go as far as saying that many papers in Nature and Science, when they deal about the climate, systematically underemphasize the planetary danger we seem to be getting in. Typically the authors’ research reveals an ominous evolution, but, then, rather meek conclusions are modestly drawn. There is no doubt an implicit pressure from the powers that be to not disrupt big business as usual, and climate scientists prefer to not bite the hand that feeds them (considering where the money, hence power, goes, that would be Goldman Sachs, or, at least, the fossil fuel/pollution establishment, which is somewhere near Goldman Sachs in the Pantheon that rules over us).

The IPCC, the world panel on “Climate Change” is the number one exhibit of meekness, and lack of common sense as far as viewing a “small” global temperature rise as tolerable. In its computations, the IPCC has refused to enter the melting of the polar ice shields, and the possibility of methane clathrate  eruptions. Yet, it is known, from computing the sea level rise, and its acceleration, that the giant ice shields at the poles are melting.

It is also known that the methane (CH4) density in the atmosphere has doubled, or, maybe, quadrupled. During the last significant warm-up, methane eruption occured, causing a giant tsunami in the North Atlantic (in places, water went an incredible 80 kilometers inland!) The IPCC ignores all this superbly, preferring naively to stick to proven, observed and incontrovertible facts, and scrupulously rejecting inchoating, or probable events.

The IPCC claims to believe that limiting the global temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius would be fine. Instead, it would be a dangerous stupidity to approach a two-degree Celsius of global temperature rise (yes, I thought carefully before using the word “stupidity“: all alternatives were found wanting).

Indeed the whole problem is not to warm up the poles too much. The global temperature rise is irrelevant. Two degrees more in Texas or Australia would just lead the offending natives to crank the air conditioning higher, and pour more prehistoric aquifer water on their greens.

Whereas the frozen poles constitute the planet’s air conditioning system. The frozen poles reflect light out into space, and make the atmosphere in a Carnot engine, with a warm source (the tropics) and a cold sink (the frozen poles). Heat is transported from warm to cold, from tropics to poles, by enormous oceanic currents, such as the Gulf Stream. Melt the poles, remove the heat reflectors, and shut down the currents.

But most of the warming, so far, is at the poles, and it has already reached nearly 5 degrees Celsius in parts (the Antarctica peninsula, for example). Yet, the global temperature rise, so far, is roughly ONLY one tenth of that. Scaling up, on present evidence, a global planetary rise of two degrees Celsius may mean a rise of twenty degrees Celsius in many glaciated polar areas (yes, a rise of 40 degrees Fahrenheit). So the poles would melt, and the Earth would lose its reflectors. Tipping points would tip, and things would get worse from there. Oceanic currents would stop. Europe would freeze in winter. Golbal temperatures would shoot up. Oxygen would disappear from huge parts of the tropical oceans, which would die. (Several of the preliminaries of these effects are tentatively observed.)

Many people reading this will scoff and say that this will not happen, because it did not happen before. Paleontologically, this is not true.  Although there was no human industry to start a CO2 bubble, they have happened before (they can be generated by continental drift or super giant volcanic eruptions known as “supertraps”).

When dinosaurs flourished, the poles were warm. Dinosaurs were roaming the forests of Antarctica. Crocodiles terrorized Northern Greenland. However, the world had dozens of millions of years to adapt. Polar dinosaurs saw with the lights of the stars for months on end. Right now, we are going to hit the biosphere with the heat shock from hell.

Besides, it’s not all about “climate change”. Half of the CO2 is presently dissolving in the oceans, so a rise of two degrees Celsius means extremely acid oceans (CO2 turns into carbonic acid after it reacts with water). At the present rate of acidification, marine life will dissolve big time by 2100. That’s how a lot of the oxygen is produced, by photosynthesizing unicellular animals, with acid sensitive skeletons. Atmospheric poisoning deniers do not want just to warm us up.

Ah, also, just a reminder, some gigantic, and deep, parts of the oceans got too warm to contain enough oxygen to support life, and they have already died.

And yes, the oceans are rising, and the icecaps are melting, both in Greenland, and Antarctica.  The rise of sea level is itself augmenting at the rate of 5% a year (as many of the facts in this post, published in summer or fall of 2009). It’s an exponential!

When something augments at a rate proportional to its own value, it’s an exponential. The exponential is the most important function in analysis, if not mathematics. The exponential augments extremely fast, because the bigger it is, the faster it becomes bigger. Peons who know the exponential not, have no idea the danger we are in! They have no mathematical understanding of the danger we are in. They need to take those mathematic classes they never took, to realize how immoral their ignorance is.

Figure 1

Accelerating down. The trend line of Greenland ice mass (green) curves downward with time, suggesting that ice losses have been accelerating.

[Credit: Isabella Velicogna, geophysical research letters.]

The more fossil fuels burned, the more hot air, the less oxygen. But not to worry!  American politicians will be pleased to inform you that their super private, super bank, the one which advises the White House always, and pays bonuses with taxpayer money, Goldman Sachs, will make a future oxygen market, and will sell it short. Trust American capitalism, White House style, to adapt. Down to the last gulp of air.

On a slightly more serious note, the expression “climate change” is thus a misnomer.

In truth, we are facing a man-made collapse of the biosphere, just because full grown men want to keep on playing with fire. There ought to be an IPCB: Intergovernmental Panel on the Collapse of the Biosphere.

Atmospheric poisoning deniers want to heat us up in acid, while cutting our air supply. By 2100 CE. Of course, when that apocalypse has become the future no one can deny, there will be only one solution: nuke the coal plants. More seriously, Asia plans an enormous augmentation of its CO2 production, and that may very well become a casus belli, when the runaway exponential nature of the man-made greenhouse becomes blatant.

Patrice Ayme

http://patriceayme.wordpress.com/

***

Technical annex 1: To calculate the radiative forcing for a 1998 gas mixture, the IPCC in 2001 gave the radiative forcing (relative to 1750 CE) of various gases as: CO2=1.46 (corresponding to a concentration of 365 ppm), CH4=0.48, N2O=0.15 and other minor gases =0.01 W/m2. The sum of these is 2.10 W/m2. One obtains COequivalent = 412 ppm. That was in 2001, we are in 2010 (about). CO2 concentration is now 290 ppm, which means that CO2 equivalent is above 440 ppm.

***

Technical annex 2: Quoting straight from Science:

“Climate Change: Fixing a Critical Climate Accounting Error.

The accounting now used for assessing compliance with carbonlimits in the Kyoto Protocol and in climate legislation contains a far-reaching but fixable flaw that will severely undermine greenhouse gas reduction goals (1). It does not count CO2 emittedfrom tailpipes and smokestacks when bioenergy is being used,but it also does not count changes in emissions from land use when biomass for energy is harvested or grown. This accounting erroneously treats all bioenergy as carbon neutral regardlessof the source of the biomass, which may cause large differences in net emissions. For example, the clearing of long-established forests to burn wood or to grow energy crops is counted as a 100% reduction in energy emissions despite causing large releases of carbon.”

[Science 23 October 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5952, pp. 527 – 528.]

It is hard to believe that errors of such magnitude, committed by scientists (and implemented by the European Union and the US Congress) are not deliberate.

***

12 thoughts on “The collapse of the biosphere.

  1. Patrice must be congratulated for such a powerful and wide-ranging presentation of the relevant facts.

    Unfortunately, over the last 3 years, confirmatory evidence has continued to pour in (no pun intended). Even as recently as yesterday, it is confirmed that the melting of ice in the Arctic is, once again we find, happening faster than predicted. This time the problem is that the thicker multi-year ice is melting from the bottom-up (i.e. as opposed to annual ice melting at the edges):
    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2012/03/01/435318/the-arctic-death-spiral-continues-thick-multi-year-sea-ice-melting-faster/

    And yet WUWT choose to rubbish this new data – why is that I wonder? (Link not provided on purpose).

    As Jared Diamond and George Santayana have both warned us; those that do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it… So who, I wonder, is going to be the one to chop down the last tree on our modern-day globalised “Easter Island”?

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  2. Thanks Martin!
    The main point of my essay is in its title: biosphere collapse, not just civilizational collapse. As you point out, it’s a modern globalized “Easter Island”. Partial Biosphere Collapses have happened before. More than a billion years ago, there were “Snowball Earths”, caused by the rise of oxygen producing life.

    250 million years ago, there was the Permian-Trias global extinction, which wiped out most species, and nearly all the large ones (& apparently all advanced species). That was caused by earth core mega volcanism (see my “Trapped By Super Trapps”). Super Trapps emit copious quantities of CO2 quickly (just like now).
    PA

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    1. Thanks Patrice – Reading Diamond’s book is deeply disturbing, as indeed have been the personal attacks I have suffered as a result of charging into Dr Judith Curry’s blog, chucking in a grenade in the hope that I might get Richard Lindzen’s attention, and then leaving when that did not happen. If you have no idea what I am talking about, it has been too long since you paid my blog a visit!

      However, given the massively increased volumes of site traffic (up from 200 to 600 per day over the last two weeks) including many trolls, I have opted to do two things: (1) change to a policy of moderating all comments; and (2) changed the appearance of – and tagline for – my blog to drive home the point that I do not want to argue with people about the science (even though I could).

      Furthermore, I think I have now decided what I will do in the absence of a reply from Lindzen – as I am determined that “Lindzengate” is not over yet (all will become clear next week).

      Thanks again for all you – and Paul – write; it has been truly inspirational.

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      1. Martin:
        thanks for attracting my attention on this Lindzen-House of Commons speech. I went to the site you intervened on, but it will not let me comment.
        It is amazing the level of lying and stupidity going on. Lindzen used completely false facts and completely faulty arithmetic. It is extremely easy to shut him down, but all too few will read, listen, understand. On a good day, I have 100 hits on my blog, so… discouraging.

        Meanwhile, Americans, who are the ring leaders of doing nothing about poisoning the atmosphere are being punished by their own device (the poisoned atmosphere). How many killed Friday in tornadoes? 40? Anyway no big deal as far as the online New York Times is concerned at this point.
        http://patriceayme.wordpress.com/

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      2. Patrice, I really don’t understand why you are not getting many more readers. Your commitment to establishing a truthful alternative to the crap that is hosed over us is astounding. Even if Learning from Dogs finds a few extra readers for you, it will be worthwhile; happily more than a few. Paul

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  3. Martin and Patrice, I must sound like a cracked record (which clearly dates me!) when again I say a big thanks for your comments.

    Dan Gomez, who sent me the piece that triggered my Please help! Post last Monday, the 27th Feb., has very graciously allowed me to publish a selection of items, plus a couple of his emails to me, that underscore why he is of the opinion that his “source of direction stems from a natural skepticism of big science when big money is involved.” That will be coming out on the 5th, next Monday.

    I hoping both of you, and any others who feel so inclined, will be able to comment to that Post.

    Like

    1. If Dan is truly concerned about the fact that “power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely..” he would do well to go and read Namomi Oreskes and Erik Conway’s Merchants of Doubt

      Climate change denial is merely the latest and most dangerous item on a long list of misinformation campaigns. As I said on my blog yesterday (Friday): “Unfortunately, a very small but powerful elite have been engaged in a guerilla war for at least the last 24 years in an attempt to prioritise their right to sell you stuff and provide you with fuel to pollute the atmosphere; to the detriment of the right of future generations to enjoy the planet as we were lucky enough to find it.”.

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  4. Mr. Gomez goes deep when he says that; “source of direction stems from a natural skepticism of big science when big money is involved.” …

    Well, at least that’s honest: if big money is involved, big science shall naturally be viewed skeptically!

    What’s next, along the same lines? Let me try to suggest a helpful analogy: if big hunger is involved, big love shall naturally be viewed skeptically… and cannibalism, tenderly? Is it all what this is about? I eat big, thus I naturally think small, said the croc, and had another bite…
    http://patriceayme.wordpress.com/

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  5. Paul:
    Your help is very much appreciated. Your site is, in general, a remarkable effort, with versatilty second to none!

    Why I get no more readers is a long story: I had a site (“Tyranosopher”) since 2003. Ever since, I have sent comments to the New York Times, and I can even tell what they will censor in advance (lately my claims that some of the richest in the USA pay NO tax, and how, with the names, was scrupulously censored).

    The search engines have long been used to clamp down. At some point during the Iraq war, my sites disappeared from them.
    They were reinstated later…

    Generally though, I think brainlessness calls for more brainlesness. It’s easy to get wrapped, and warped, by easy thinking. It allows to occupy, without much cost.

    The site of Martin, and the “Climate, etc.” site he referred to (“Climate, etc.” is apparently paid by fossil fuels, as many geophysicists naturally are) quite fascinating (for the thick lies wrapped as neatly as Hugo Boss Nazi uniforms, in the case of “Climate, etc.”!) It’s easier to believe lies than the truth, which is always more complex.
    PA

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