Tag: Polar bear

Up, Up And Away?

It is very hard to avoid hyperbole when one speaks of global warming.

I am indebted to The Nation magazine, May 8/15 Issue, in which is included a feature article authored by Bill McKibben. My sub-heading is much of what Bill wrote in his first line.

It is hard to avoid hyperbole when you talk about global warming. It is, after all, the biggest 
thing humans have ever done, and by a very large margin.

A few sentences later, Bill offers this:

In the drought-stricken territories around the Sahara, we’ve helped kick off what The New York Times called “one of the biggest humanitarian disasters since World War II.” We’ve melted ice at the poles at a record pace, because our emissions trap extra heat from the sun that’s equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima-size explosions a day.

Yet what scares me, scares me beyond comprehension, is the almost universal disregard being shown by Governments and those with power and influence right across the world to what in anyone’s language is the most pressing catastrophe heading down the tracks. Not next year; not tomorrow, but now!

Or in Mr. McKibben’s words, once more from that Nation article:

But as scientists have finally begun to realize, there’s nothing rational about the world we currently inhabit. We’re not having an argument about climate change, to be swayed by more studies and journal articles and symposia. That argument is long since won, but the fight is mostly lost—the fight about the money and power that’s kept us from taking action and that is now being used to shut down large parts of the scientific enterprise. As Trump budget chief Mick Mulvaney said in March, “We’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.” In a case this extreme, scientists have little choice but to be citizens as well. And given their credibility, it will matter: 76 percent of Americans trust scientists to act in the public interest, compared with 27 percent who think the same thing about elected officials.

Whatever your response is to what I have already presented, the one thing that I do know is that you have been aware of humanity’s effect on our atmosphere for many, many years. Indeed, Bill McKibben wrote his first book twenty-eight years ago!

His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books.

But I would be the first to acknowledge that back in 1989 while I did become aware of Bill McKibben and did purchase and read that book of his, I didn’t see the effects he prophesied. In addition, I didn’t understand the mechanisms that would bring those effects into place.

Now, today, it’s very difficult to deny that global weather systems are behaving in ways that most do not understand albeit we do understand how those weather changes are affecting our lives.

One person who did, and still does even more, understand the physics involved in our changing weather, is Patrice Ayme. For some nineteen years after Bill McKibben’s first book, Patrice published a post on his blog. I have been following Patrice’s blog for some years and while I would be the first to stick my hand in the air and declare that some of his posts are a little beyond me, there’s no question of the integrity of his writings and his bravery in spelling out the truth of these present times. (OK, the truth a la Monsieur Aymes but I would place a decent bet of PA being closer to the core truth of many issues than Joe Public.)

I am indebted to Patrice for granting me permission to republish that post. Please read it. Don’t be put off by terms that may not be familiar to you. Read it to the end – the message is very clear.

ooOOoo

Applying Equipartition Of Energy To Climate Change PREDICTS WILD WEATHER.

By Patrice Ayme, March 8th, 2008.

Lately, the world weather has been especially perplexing, influenced by the cold ocean temperatures of a La Niña current in the equatorial Pacific. For Earth’s land areas, 2007 was the warmest year on record.

This year, record cold is more the norm. Global land-surface temperatures so far are below the 20th-century mean for the first time since 1982, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Last month in China, snowstorms stranded millions of people, while in Mumbai, officials reported the coldest day in 46 years.

Yet, England basked in its fourth-warmest January since 1914, the British Met Office reported. The crocus and narcissus at the U.K.’s Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew flowered a week earlier than last year — 11 days ahead of their average for the decade and weeks ahead of their pattern in the 1980s. In Prague, New Year’s Day was the warmest since 1775.

“It is difficult to judge the significance of what we are seeing this year,” said Kew researcher Sandra Bell. “Is it a glitch or is it the beginning of something more sinister and alarming?”” (Robert Lee Hotz, Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2008).

Many scientists have pondered this question, as if they did not know the answer, but it is a straightforward application of thermodynamics.

A basic theorem of equilibrium thermodynamics, the EQUIPARTITION OF ENERGY theorem, says that the same amount of energy should be present in all degrees of freedom into which energy can spill.

(How does one demonstrate this theorem? Basically, heat is agitation, kinetic energy at the scale of atoms and molecules. This agitation can spill in a more organized manner, in great ensembles, such as vast low and high pressure systems, or large scale dynamics. See the note on entropy and negative temperatures.)

In the case of meteorology, this implies, oversimplifying a bit, that only one-third of the energy should go into heat (and everybody focuses on the augmentation of temperature). Now, of course, since the energy enters the system as heat, non equilibrium thermodynamics imposes more than one-third of the energy will be heat.

As time goes by, though, the other two degrees of freedom, potential energy (represented as the geometry of gradients of pressures, high and low pressure systems, hurricanes) and dynamics (wind speed and vast movements of air masses of varying temperatures and/or pressure; and the same for sea currents) will also store energy.

Thus the new heat created in the lower atmosphere by the increased CO2 greenhouse will be transformed in all sorts of weather weirdness: heat, cold, high and low pressures, wind, and big moves of big things. Big things such as vast re-arrangements of low and high pressure systems, as observed in the Northern Hemisphere, or the re-arrangement of sea currents as apparently also observed, and certainly as it is expected. Since it happened in the past (flash ice age of the Younger Dryas over Europe, 18,000 years ago).

As cold and warm air masses get thrown about, the variability of temperatures will augment all over.

In other words, record snow and cold in the Alps and record warmth simultaneously in England is a manifestation of the equipartition of energy theorem applied to the greenhouse warming we are experiencing. It is not mysterious at all, and brutal variations such as these, including sudden cold episodes, are to be expected, as more and more energy gets stuffed in the planetary climate, and yanks it away from its previous equilibrium.

Wind speed augmentations have already had a spectacular effect: by shaking the waters of the Austral ocean with increasingly violent waves, carbon dioxyde is being removed as if out of a shaken carbonated drink. Thus the Austral ocean is now a net emitter of CO2 (other oceans absorb CO2, and transform it into carbonic acid).

Hence the observed variations are the beginning of something more sinister and alarming. Climate change is changing speed. Up, up, and away.

Patrice Ayme
Patriceayme.com
Patriceayme.wordpress.com.

Note on entropy: Some may object that transforming heat into collective behavior of vast masses of air or sea violates the Second Law Of Thermodynamics, namely that entropy augments always, in any natural process. Well, first of all, the genius of the genus Homo, not to say of all of life itself, rests on local violations of the Second Law. Secondly, the most recent physics recognizes that fundamental considerations allow systems where increased energy lead to increased order (such a system is said to be in a negative temperature state).

Even more revealingly, a massive greenhouse on planet Earth would lead, as happened in the past, to a much more uniform heat, all around the planet, that is, a more ordered state. Meanwhile, the transition to the present order of a temperate climate to the completely different order of an over-heated Earth will bring complete disorder, as observed.

ooOOoo

Going to leave you with a picture taken from weather.com

An emaciated polar bear is seen on a small sheet of ice in this image taken in August in Svalbard, north of mainland Norway. (Kerstin Langenberger)

Please, please, please: make a difference! Environmentally, domestically and politically, please make a difference.

Grandad, tell me what polar bears were like?

Politics, oil and our natural world – tell me it’s all a bad dream!

Note

Yesterday, Thursday, I was really under the cosh in terms of finding time to write a careful and thoughtful Post for today, being involved in meetings both in the morning and afternoon, those meetings all about launching a transition town movement for Payson.

So my apologies for taking a short-cut and reproducing an item that was published on Common Dreams that, fortuitously, linked in with yesterday’s Post Moved to help?

Obama Echoes Bush, Sets Plan for Polar Bear Extinction

“President Obama’s proposal for these magnificent and imperiled animals is a gift to Big Oil”

– Common Dreams staff

The Obama Administration issued a proposed rule yesterday that disregards the effects of greenhouse gases on polar bear habitat leading one conservation group to say that the rule echoes former President George W. Bush’s plan, and that it will lead to the extinction of polar bears.

Kassie Siegel from the Center for Biological Diversity: “President Obama’s proposal for these magnificent and imperiled animals is a gift to Big Oil and an affirmation of the pro-industry policies of the Bush government. (photo: Subhankar Banerjee)

Kassie Siegel from the Center for Biological Diversity: “President Obama’s proposal for these magnificent and imperiled animals is a gift to Big Oil and an affirmation of the pro-industry policies of the Bush government. (photo: Subhankar Banerjee)Noting that polar bears are only on the endangered species list precisely because of loss of habitat caused by greenhouse gases generated from activities outside the Arctic, the proposed rule excluding activities outside the range of polar bears from regulations will lead to the bears’ demise.

Brendan Cummings of the Center for Biological Diversity called the rule “complete doublespeak,” the Associated Press reports.  “It’s saying, ‘Here is a rule necessary for the conservation of the polar bear,’ yet the only thing it does is exempt from regulation the overwhelming threat to the species.”

“If polar bears are to survive we have to directly confront the greatest threat to them: our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute.

“With their sea-ice habitat rapidly disappearing, polar bears need the full protection of the Endangered Species Act,” said Siegel. “President Obama’s proposal for these magnificent and imperiled animals is a gift to Big Oil and an affirmation of the pro-industry policies of the Bush government. When it comes to saving urgently endangered polar bears, the only ‘change’ Obama has delivered is more climate change.”

The rule, released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has 60-day public comment period.

* * *

Center for Biological Diversity: Obama Administration Again Proposes Polar Bear Extinction Plan
New Rule Echoes Bush Plan Ignoring Polar Bears’ Plight Against Global Warming

WASHINGTON – April 17 – The Obama administration announced today that it is reissuing a Bush-era regulation that sharply limits protections for polar bears under the Endangered Species Act. Both the current proposal and the previous Bush rule exclude activities occurring outside the range of polar bears — such as the greenhouse gas emissions of industrial polluters like coal plants — from regulations that could help stop the bear’s extinction. Today’s announcement comes as a result of a court order that struck down the Bush rule in October 2011.

Polar bears were the first species added to the endangered and threatened species list solely because of threats from global warming. Regulations issued under the Endangered Species Act must provide for the “conservation” of threatened species. Notably, the press release issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announcing the new proposed rule today did not mention greenhouse gases or climate change at all, while the very purpose of the rule is to exempt greenhouse emissions from the reach of the Act.

“If polar bears are to survive we have to directly confront the greatest threat to them: our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “But the Obama administration seems to be living in a fantasy world where the way to solve a difficult problem is to deny its existence.”

The proposed rule severely undermines protection for polar bears by exempting from portions of the Endangered Species Act all activities that occur outside of the bears’ range. But the species is endangered precisely because of activities occurring outside the Arctic — namely the emission of greenhouse gases and resulting warming that is leading to the rapid disappearance of summer sea ice.

“With their sea-ice habitat rapidly disappearing, polar bears need the full protection of the Endangered Species Act,” said Siegel. “President Obama’s proposal for these magnificent and imperiled animals is a gift to Big Oil and an affirmation of the pro-industry policies of the Bush government. When it comes to saving urgently endangered polar bears, the only ‘change’ Obama has delivered is more climate change.”

The special rule also reduces the protections the bear would otherwise receive in Alaska from oil-industry activities in its habitat.

When the polar bear was listed as a threatened species in May 2008 (following a petition by the Center), the Bush administration simultaneously issued a special rule under section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act. A similar rule was finalized in December 2008 and defended by the Obama administration in court. On Oct. 17, 2011, a federal district court judge struck it down owing to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s failure to conduct an environmental review of the rule’s impacts.

The challenge was brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace and Defenders of Wildlife. Today’s proposal, in response to the 2011 court order, triggers a 60-day public comment period, with the rule scheduled for finalization by the end of 2012.

So I ponder on how to respond to the question from my grandson, currently one-year-old, when, in a few years time, the polar bears are no longer?

Moved to help?

A plea to take action to preserve the Western Arctic Reserve in Alaska.

I received the following email from the Center for Biological Diversity the other day.

Dear Paul,

caribouThe Western Arctic Reserve, also known as the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, is the largest tract of unprotected, relatively pristine public land in the United States. But Big Oil has the reserve in its sights and will not hesitate to turn this vast wilderness into a sprawling industrial complex to drum up massive profits.

The 23.5 million-acre reserve is home to imperiled polar bears, seabirds and one of the densest populations of nesting raptors in the world. Its shores and lagoons harbor beluga whales, seals, walruses and other marine mammals.

In the rapidly warming Arctic, short-sighted oil and gas development will further stress the remarkable wildlife that lives and breeds there.The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is now collecting comments on a planning document that will set the stage for oil and gas leasing in the western Arctic for decades to come.

You can help save this national treasure: Take action to tell the BLM to protect the Western Arctic Reserve from dirty fossil fuel development.

The action that is requested is to email or mail the following to the BLM  (the link is here.)  The email address for Bob Abbey, taken from the relevant BLM webpage is Director: Bob Abbey E-mail: Director@blm.gov

Director Bob Abbey
Bureau of Land Management
NPR-A IAP/EIS Comments, AECOM Project Office
1835 South Bragaw Street, Suite 490
Anchorage, AK 99508
US

Subject: Comments Regarding the BLM’s National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska Integrated Activity, DEIS

The National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, or Western Arctic Reserve, comprises the largest unprotected tract of public land in the United States. It provides habitat for a wide variety of Arctic species, and its wilderness values are second to none. While the most environmentally protective alternative analyzed by the Bureau of Land Management (Alternative B) is an improvement over previous plans, it still allows over 11 million acres of ecologically intact wilderness-quality lands to be leased for oil development. As the BLM develops the “integrated activity plan” and “final environmental impact statement” for the reserve, I urge you to provide maximum protection for areas with high-value habitats by designating all of the Special Area contained in Alternative B, and to create additional protections for all other areas in the reserve that contain ecologically intact and/or wilderness-quality lands.

The BLM must also consider the long-term impacts of greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas development, and any future impacts of climate change on the low-lying western Arctic. Arctic animals are already stressed by a melting and warming Arctic, and none of the alternatives considered go far enough to protect these species from the wide array of impacts from oil and gas development.

Among other things, the BLM must account for sea-level rise due to ice melt, permafrost collapse, coastal erosion and increased high-energy storm events that will degrade, or wipe out, critical coastal habitat, including the Teshekpuk Lake area. The BLM must also consider the impacts of ocean acidification, changes in circulation, increased freshening due to sea ice melt, and shifts in productivity to the marine environment and to marine species, including polar bears, ice seals, walruses, bowhead whales, and beluga whales.

Congress has required that “maximum protection” be given to Special Areas in the reserve. I encourage the BLM to adopt an alternative that provides protections for these areas, which include Teshekpuk Lake, the Colville River, Kasegaluk Lagoon, and the Utukok River Uplands. The BLM must also protect the Dease Inlet-Meade River area, Peard Bay and adjacent wetlands, and the Ikpikpuk River and adjacent wetlands.

I implore the BLM to adopt a management alternative that includes the strongest possible protections for the Western Arctic Reserve. This means designating Alternative B as the preferred alternative, and adding additional protective measures for important wildlife habitat and wilderness areas so they are not destroyed by ecologically devastating oil and gas development, or from the long-term impacts of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

Thank you.

But if that doesn’t work then there is a full webpage offering detailed information and which also has links relevant to letting the BLM know your views.  That webpage starts,

ARCTIC OIL DEVELOPMENT

Alaska’s north coast and ocean waters are teeming with species found in few other places, and many of them are now under threat. The Western Arctic Reserve and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge provide critical denning areas for polar bears, support vast caribou herds and are essential nesting grounds for thousands of bird species, including threatened eiders and yellow-billed loons. The sea ice of the Arctic Ocean is hunting and denning habitat for polar bears and a foraging platform for Pacific walrus and numerous Arctic ice seal species. Under the sea ice, endangeredbowhead whales and other whale species live off the biological richness of the Arctic Ocean.
Nearly all Arctic species are at risk from global warming. But that’s not the only problem: In a drastically changing environment, Arctic species must now contend with dirty, industrial fossil fuel development.

Please go here, read the the full information and do your little bit.  It all makes a difference.