Tag: IPCC

The message is starting to be heard!

Fear for the future is driving change.

Apologies again for today’s post being largely the republication of other essays but looking after our guests is, as it should be, taking first priority.

Just as yesterday’s post, the essay by Alex Jones, offered hope, so do today’s items.

The first one was something I read on the Cliff Mass weather blogsite.  It was a forecast as to which of the lower US 48 States would remain habitable.  It opens:

Will the Pacific Northwest be a Climate Refuge Under Global Warming?

As global warming takes hold later in the century, where will be the best place in the lower 48 states to escape its worst effects?

A compelling case can be made that the Pacific Northwest will be one of the best places to live as the earth warms. A potential climate refuge.

and offers this conclusion:

So what conclusion does one inevitably reach by studying the IPCC reports, the U.S. Climate Assessment, and the climate literature?

  • The Northwest is the place to be during global warming.
  • Temperatures will rise more slowly than most of the nation due to the Pacific Ocean (see below)
  • We will have plenty of precipitation, although the amount falling as snow will decline (will fall as rain instead). But we can deal with that by building more reservoir and dam capacity (and some folks on the eastern slopes of the Cascades have proposed to do exactly that).
  • The Pacific Ocean will keep heat waves in check and we don’t get hurricanes.
  • Sea level rise is less of a problem for us due to our substantial terrain and the general elevation rise of our shorelines. Furthermore, some of our land is actually RISING relatively to the sea level because we are still recovering from the last ice age (the heavy ice sheets pushed the land down and now it is still rebounding).
  • There is no indication that our major storms…cyclone-based winds (like the Columbus Day Storm)… will increase under global warming.
  • Increased precipitation may produce more flooding, but that will be limited to river valleys and can be planned for with better river management and zoning.

The second item was this:

Antarctica’s Point of No Return

POTSDAM – Recent satellite observations have confirmed the accuracy of two independent computer simulations that show that the West Antarctic ice sheet has now entered a state of unstoppable collapse. The planet has entered a new era of irreversible consequences from climate change. The only question now is whether we will do enough to prevent similar developments elsewhere.

What the latest findings demonstrate is that crucial parts of the world’s climate system, though massive in size, are so fragile that they can be irremediably disrupted by human activity. It is inevitable that the warmer the world gets, the greater the risk that other parts of the Antarctic will reach a similar tipping point; in fact, we now know that the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica, as big or even bigger than the ice sheet in the West, could be similarly vulnerable.

There are not many human activities whose impact can reasonably be predicted decades, centuries, or even millennia in advance. The fallout from nuclear waste is one; humans’ contribution to global warming through greenhouse-gas emissions from burning fossil fuels, and its impact on rising sea levels, is another.

Indeed, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report stated, in uncharacteristically strong terms, that the sea level is “virtually certain” to continue to rise in the coming centuries or millennia. Moreover, the greater our emissions, the higher the seas will rise.

The West Antarctic ice sheet; for the time being!
The West Antarctic ice sheet; for the time being!

The full article may be read here.

So why do I say that these articles offer hope?

Simply, because the quicker that the awareness of the critical challenges ahead becomes widespread knowledge, right around the world, the quicker that there will be political movements to change our relationship with our planet.

It’s never about not needing governments, it’s always about needing the right sort of governments.

A bedtime story for mankind.

The latest IPCC report is more than dry science; it’s our future!

Regular readers of Learning from Dogs will be aware that yesterday I published a post called A bedtime story for Jimmy.  It was prompted by learning of an eight-year-old who was offered the opportunity of shooting a wild turkey early last Saturday morning.  The penultimate paragraph read as follows:

If we care for nature then we care for the health of our lands, for our forests and for our seas. We are careful with how we live our lives. If we care for nature then as we live our lives we do our best to leave things better for those that come after us.

Little did I know when writing my post that on the same day of publication would be a chilling post from Patrice Ayme; a post that Patrice has generously given me permission to republish in full.

Indeed, little did I know that when I composed my preface to Jimmy’s story and included these words:

However, this eight-year-old lad is facing a future that demands that he and all his generation accept that embracing nature, totally and whole-heartedly, is their only hope of not being the last generation of humans on this beautiful planet.

That less than twenty-four hours later Patrice’s perspective on the latest IPCC report made that sentence of mine far from hyperbole!  Here is that essay from Patrice.

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Terminal Greenhouse Crisis.

A CRASH TECH PROGRAM IS NEEDED, & HAS TO INVOLVE HYDROGEN.

At the present rate of greenhouse gases emissions, within nine years, massively lethal climate and oceanic changes are guaranteed.

Such is the conclusion one can draw from the Inter Governmental Panel On Climate Change of the UN (the IPCC, with its top 300 climate scientists from all over the world). About 78% of the emissions have to do with heating, cooking, and basic, necessary industrial activities, such as making cement.

They are not elective.

As Bad As An Asteroid?
As Bad As An Asteroid?

Notes: CO2 FOLU = CO2 emissions from Forestry and Other Land Use. F-gases = Fluorinated gases covered under the Kyoto Protocol. At the right side of the figure: Emissions of each greenhouse gas with associated error bars (90% confidence interval).

Only a crash program of construction of several hundreds of new technology nuclear fission plants, an all-out renewable energy program, with massive solar plants all over the American South and the (similar latitude) Sahara desert, plus a massive hydrogen economy to store the wind and solar energy could allow us to mitigate the massive lethal change incoming.

In other words, it is already too late to avoid the massive lethal change.

What’s the problem? Simple mathematics. It’s evaluated that human activities in the last century or so released 515 billion tons of greenhouse gases. The IPCC and the best experts believe that 800 to 1,000 billion tons of such gases would bring a rise of global temperatures of two degrees Celsius.

At the present rate, that’s nine years to reach the upper reaches: one trillion tons of GHG.

Most of the temperature rise will be in the polar regions, melting those, and inducing worldwide climate catastrophe, especially if emissions of polar methane turn apocalyptic. The polar regions are the Achilles heel of the Earth’s present biosphere. By striking there mostly, enormous changes can be brought to bear, as they would destroy the Earth’s air conditioning and oceanic circulation.

In 2014, trade winds in the Pacific had four times the energy they usually have, creating abnormally intense ocean upwelling off the west coast of North America, thus a high pressure ridge (thus a drought there), causing a world wide oscillation of the jet stream that dragged cold polar air down the east coast of the USA, before rebounding as continual storms and rain on the west coast of Europe, and so forth.

Nobody can say the weather was normal: precipitation in England beat all records, dating 250 years, whereas most of California experienced extreme drought.

At this point, warm water is piling down to 500 meters depth in the western Pacific in what looks like a preparation for a massive El Nino, similar to the one in 1997-98. If this happens, global temperature records will be smashed next year.

Massively lethal means death to the world as we know it, by a thousand cuts. It means cuts to democracy, privacy, life span, food intake. Some of these are already in plain sight: the Ukraine war is already a war about gas, no less an authority as dictator Putin says so.

Tom Friedman in “Go Ahead, Vladimir, Make My Day.” takes the situation lightly. “SO the latest news is that President Vladimir Putin of Russia has threatened to turn off gas supplies to Ukraine if Kiev doesn’t pay its overdue bill, and, by the way, Ukraine’s pipelines are the transit route for 15 percent of gas consumption for Europe. If I’m actually rooting for Putin to go ahead and shut off the gas, does that make me a bad guy?

Because that is what I’m rooting for, and I’d be happy to subsidize Ukraine through the pain. Because such an oil shock, though disruptive in the short run, could have the same long-term impact as the 1973 Arab oil embargo — only more so. That 1973 embargo led to the first auto mileage standards in America and propelled the solar, wind and energy efficiency industries. A Putin embargo today would be even more valuable because it would happen at a time when the solar, wind, natural gas and energy efficiency industries are all poised to take off and scale. So Vladimir, do us all a favor, get crazy, shut off the oil and gas to Ukraine and, even better, to all of Europe. Embargo! You’ll have a great day, and the rest of the planet will have a great century.”

It’s not so simple. The investments needed are massive, and all the massive investments so far have to do with fracking… Which is, ecologically speaking, a disaster. 3% methane leakage makes fracking worse than burning coal. And this leakage is apparently happening.

Unbelievably, some of the countries with coal beds got the bright idea to burn the coal underground. Australia, about the worst emitter of CO2 per capita, experimented with that. It had to be stopped, because some particularly toxic gases (such as toluene) were coming out, not just the CH4 and CO the apprentice sorcerers were looking for.

Carbon Capture and Storage does not exist (but for very special cases in half a dozen special locations, worldwide, not the thousands of locales needed). And CSS will not exist (profitably).

What technology exist that could be developed (but is not yet)? Not just Thorium reactors. The hydrogen economy is a low key, and indispensable economy. Water can be broken by electricity from wind and sun, and then energy can be stored, under the form of hydrogen. Nothing else can do it: batteries are unable to store energy efficiently (and there is not enough Lithium to make trillions of Lithium batteries).

The hydrogen technology pretty much exist, including for efficient storage under safe form (one thick plate of a material that cannot be set aflame can store 600 liters of hydrogen).

Another advantage of storing hydrogen is that oxygen would be released. Although it may seem absurd to worry about this, too much acidity in the ocean (from absorption of CO2) could lead to phytoplankton die-off, and the removal of half of oxygen production.

In this increasingly weird world, that’s where we are at.

Oh, by the way, how to stop Putin? Europe should tell the dictator he can keep his gaz. Now. As good an occasion to start defending the planet, and not just against fascism.

Patrice Aymé

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I can’t add anything at a scientific level to what Patrice has written.  But I can offer this.  Each and every one of us needs to make sure the message is spread as far and wide as possible (you are free to share and republish this post) and then do something, however small it may seem, to make a difference. And do it now!

For the sake of all the Jimmys in the world – and all the turkeys!

Immediate concern? Try this!

Talk about extreme ends of the spectrum!

Yesterday, I posted about the prediction that in four billion years the Milky Way galaxy would collide with the Andromeda galaxy.  I called the post Not of immediate concern.

Today, I am writing about something that is of immediate concern. That is if you regard the next couple of decades as ‘immediate’.

The post is prompted by an item that was published on the BBC News website two days ago.  It carried the title Climate inaction catastrophic – US

Climate inaction catastrophic – US

By Matt McGrath
Environment correspondent, BBC News, Yokohama, Japan

The costs of inaction on climate change will be “catastrophic”, according to US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Mr Kerry was responding to a major report by the UN which described the impacts of global warming as “severe, pervasive and irreversible”.

He said dramatic and swift action was required to tackle the threats posed by a rapidly changing climate.

Our health, homes, food and safety are all likely to be threatened by rising temperatures, the report says.

Scientists and officials meeting in Japan say the document is the most comprehensive assessment to date of the impacts of climate change on the world.

In a statement, Mr Kerry said: “Unless we act dramatically and quickly, science tells us our climate and our way of life are literally in jeopardy. Denial of the science is malpractice. There are those who say we can’t afford to act. But waiting is truly unaffordable. The costs of inaction are catastrophic.”

Putting to one side the mild irony of a representative of the US Government wringing his hands about what mankind is doing to our climate, the report is valuable and potentially significant.

The report was from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which is, as their website explains:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to assess the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of human induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for mitigation and adaptation.

Watch this 5-minute video of Stanford professor Dr. Chris Field, co-chair of that IPCC working group, addressing some of the key questions raised by this latest report.  In particular, focus on Dr. Field discussing the potential of the loss of the Greenland ice cap around 3 min 30 seconds.

Back to the BBC report (which you should read in full!).  Back to Dr. Chris Field being quoted as saying:

I think the really big breakthrough in this report is the new idea of thinking about managing climate change as a problem in managing risks. Climate change is really important but we have a lot of the tools for dealing effectively with it – we just need to be smart about it.

BBC climate-change-impacts_v2

It would be easy to get into the mindset that humanity is not going to change its ways in time.

But, then again, the pace of growing awareness about what the changes are that we all need to make, and make relatively soon, is dramatic.

Maybe, just maybe, this will turn out alright!

Fingers-crossed1

For all the young people in the world, I do so hope!

 

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/

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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.

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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.

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