It’s been nearly 10 years since Plows, Plagues and Petroleum was written, and between further research by Bill, colleagues and various other groups who got interested, I think the book is a very coherent, thorough, makes-sense history of The Holocene.
It is unusually multi-discplinary, drawing on rice paddy archaeology, agricultural history, charcoal records and various other areas, and is a dandy example of real science in action:
a) Interesting hypotheses, with some loose ends or inconsistencies. Real scientists push back, hypotheses get refined. Error bars get shrunk.
c) Hypotheses get more consistent and coherent, and in this case tend to do away with “climate has changed naturally for millenia before the industrial revolution” as a sole explanation. In particular, the evidence for human contribution to the Little Ice Age has firmed, as well as effects of human wars on methane emissions.
Anyway, the book is out and is quite readable. Even at $57 (publisher sets prices, and it has ~200 color photos/illustrations, which costs), it is well worth having or at least get a library to get it. I’m told there will be an eBook version in a month or so, ~$30. Some Amazon resellers claimed to have used copies cheaper, but they were claiming that 8 months before the book came out, so I’m not sure if those are real.
2) For anyone attending AGU, Bill’s giving the Tyndall Lecture on this, “Early Agriculture: Land Clearance and Climate Effects” GC43B Thursday Dec 12, 2:40-3:40 in Moscone West 2022.
Actually, that’s a great room to be in, since the immediately preceding talk is:
GC43E Stephen Schneider Lecture
Moscone West, Room 2022, 1:40 P.M.
What Should a Climate Scientist Advocate For?
The Intersection of Expertise and Values in a Politicized
Presented by Gavin A. Schmidt, NASA/GISS, New York, USA
Sean @289 Unforced Variations – Nov 2013.
You reference your big opus magnus @229 in last month’s thread, the one that is almost 1,300 words long. I have been told by web-meisters that after about 800 words the blog-reader’s eyes begin to glaze over. That is probably the reason (or one of the reasons) why your comment @229 it didn’t precipitate a big(ger) discussion.
You should try to condense you message down into a more manageable length. Hey, you might then even identify the contradiction within your message.
And do be mindful that while a troll knows he is being annoying because he does it on purpose, to the recipient of the annoyance there is no difference between a troll and an annoying jerk. Acceptable collateral damage? Well, you are, by your own admission within your comment @229, happy with folk on a site carrying out troll whacking.
Recently watched a video by Andrew Dessler explaining the pysics of the greenhouse effect. Very clear and easy to understand but I have a question concerning the effect of an atmosphere that warms with height on a hypothetical planet. In this case extra co2 causes cooling. This all all clear enough on the hypothetical planet but I was wondering if this is the reason for the cooling of the stratosphere.
I would like to see a discussion of the likelihood that factors traditionally viewed as slow response feedback factors (such as Arctic albedo, or high methane emissions permafrost degradation) may actually become faster response feedback factors.
for Jim Shewan, there are several threads at RC over the years, which the search box (upper right corner) will find for you — people have struggled with this explanation. At one point this was recommended as a good explanation: http://www.atmosphere.mpg.de/enid/20c.html
Dear MARodger I know of cases where after about 8 words the blog-reader’s eyes begin to glaze over.
Anyway, I’m reminded of the time when Lennon first met Yoko at her art exhibition. he had to climb up a step ladder, grab hold of the magnifying glass hanging by a thread to see a single word she had written onto the ceiling.
That’s my answer. Not sure what the question was. Cheers
To: John Mashey… I looked at that link. I guess I’m a little confused, though. I find the following two ISBNs for the same book? (1464107769 and 1429255250) I looked both up at the library of congress and they both say paperback and 2013. But different ISBN numbers. One of them says its the 3rd edition, the other doesn’t say. Your link is just for one of these ISBNs. (I also found a different link showing a publication date of 2014!)
Anyway, is the edition the 3rd edition and the ISBN you linked to? Or the other one I found? Or? (Don’t want to order an older edition.)
Science 29 November 2013: Vol. 342 no. 6162 pp. 1035-1039
China’s Publication Bazaar
Science has exposed a thriving academic black market in China involving shady agencies, corrupt scientists, and compromised editors—many of them operating in plain view. The commodity: papers in journals indexed by Thomson Reuters’ Science Citation Index, Thomson Reuters’ Social Sciences Citation Index, and Elsevier’s Engineering Index.
Jim Shewan (4) – The point about CO2-based cooling in an atmosphere that warms with height is basically correct, and is the explanation for CO2-based stratospheric cooling in our own atmosphere. The mechanism is well described in basic geophysics texts such as those by Hartmann, Pierrehumbert, and others. In our stratosphere, upper level warming is due to ozone absorption of solar radiation. At stratospheric temperatures, however, emission to space is primarily in the infrared spectrum. CO2 increases emissivity in the infrared, facilitating cooling, but absorbs sunlight only minimally, and so there is no commensurate warming. In essence, stratospheric CO2 acts as an escape valve to space for ozone-induced heating. If the stratosphere contained no ozone and did not warm with height, extra CO2 would warm it rather than cool it.
[Response: Actually I disagree with the last sentence. The gradient of temperature or the presence of ozone are not relevant. For contrast look at the mesosphere where CO2 is also a cooling factor despite neither of these factors are present. It’s more useful to think of the stratosphere and above as being radiatively heated/cooled in specific bands (as opposed to a more general absorption/emission in the troposphere – mainly due to water vapour). CO2 is an important absorber all the way up, and as concentrations increase, upward LW in the CO2 band is increasingly absorbed (then thermalised and transmitted to other molecules). Looking down from the stratosphere, you will increasingly see less and less upward LW in that band as CO2 concentrations increase. Since emission in the stratosphere (and above) goes up with increasing CO2, there is a clear flux divergence in the CO2 band (more out, less in) and so there is cooling. The mechanisms that form the other part of the upper atmosphere heat budget don’t really matter. – gavin]
Gavin – We’ve had this discussion before. Raypierre has an excellent quantitative description in his book, and includes the conclusion that CO2 would warm the stratosphere in the absence of ozone heating. Dennis Hartmann also describes the same mechanism, involving CO2-based dissipation of ozone-absorbed heat. Readers might want to visit either of those texts for a more quantitative assessment. I should add, of course, that extra CO2 in the stratosphere does absorb some IR from below, but this is small compared to the extent to which it increases IR emissions, because most of the heat it dissipates comes from ozone.
[Response: I should check that out indeed. But the issue is not what other absorbers are present. It could be solar, SO2 or whatever, and the temperature gradient is not relevant either (though both issues will make a difference to any realistic calculation). The conclusion that CO2 would warm the stratosphere in the absence of O3 needs to be looked at carefully to see what the actual assumptions are (is CO2 the only strat absorber? how is the stratosphere maintained? is that a grey-body calculation? or wavelength dependent? etc.). – gavin]
One of the draft AR5 figures (the one reworked due to baseline errors, mind you) showed HadCRUT4 variability for the 2-sigma bounds around the model mean rather than model variability. Would something like that (GISS variability, for example) be worth graphing against the models?
[Response: Uncertainty in the observations is very different from the uncertainty due to possible weather variations that might have happened but didn’t (the dominant term in the near-future model spread). But it is important to know what that uncertainty is of course. Thanks. -gavin]
Gavin – I agree that a temperature gradient is not relevant. Rather, I would argue that it’s the presence of an exogenous (non-CO2) heat source. The way I visualize it is this: CO2 warms its surroundings as a result of its IR absorption and cools them via IR emission, so that in the absence of other heat sources, increased CO2 raises temperature to a level that stabilizes as a result of the increased emissions. Imagine, however, that in this situation, one suddenly warmed the surroundings by another mechanism that had little or no effect on IR absorption by CO2. The ability of CO2 to warm its surroundings would be unaffected, but because of the temperature increase, its emission level would increase, and hence its ability to cool. With sufficient exogenous heat, cooling would outweigh warming. Regarding the texts I mentioned, the concepts are discussed on page 332 of Hartmann’s “Global Physical Climatology”, and page 215 (bottom) of Pierrehumbert’s “Principles of Planetary Climate”.
I didn’t know anything about the mesospheric effect at the time of your last comment, but I’ve looked into it a little bit since then, and I gather that there is non-CO2 heating there involving ozone as well as a variety of chemical reactions.
I’m not sure about the others (this from iPhone in coffee shop, which thinks ISBN’s are phone # :-)), but:
1) The link I gave to WH Freeman website is correct, the book only just came out last month, it is definitely first edition (although Bill has several other books, of which one might have 3rd edition).
2) I’m not sure about 2013 vs 2014, although I’ve sometimes seen that before with books published near end of year.
3) I don’t understand the odd entry at Amazon.
I’m quite sure gavin is correct regarding stratosphere cooling in the absence of a solar absorber aloft.
The whole issue is that any level above what is often called the “effective radiating level” (say, at ~255 K on Earth) should start to cool as atmospheric CO2 increases, since the layers above this height are being shielded more strongly from upwelling radiation…except not quite, because convection distributes heating higher than this level, the stratosphere marks the point where convection gives out and there is high static stability. You can still get a stably stratified layer in an atmosphere devoid of an absorber aloft, even if a temperature inversion does not develop. The spectral-dependence of CO2 matters as the cooling needs to be limited to a limited wavenumber region, as planetary energy balance remains satisfied by an increase in emission at fairly transparent wavelengths and decreased in emission at fairly opaque wavelengths. This stratospheric cooling is independent of the ozone heating…without ozone, we’d be talking about a cooling upper atmosphere.
I’m interested to know what the effect on global temperature averages is by glacial and ice melt water. An enourmous amount of near zero degree water mixed into ocean currents would surely have some measurable global effect. Has anyone reasearched this phenomena?
b) A big change from ~2005 is that people couldn’t believe there were enough humans early to clear enough land or do enough rice paddies to have noticeable effects on CO2 and CH4. It turns out (the subject of big chunks of the book and the Tyndall Lecture), that early agriculture tended to have a much larger acreage footprint per person than people assumed. On the CH4 front, there is a better integration of rice paddy archeology and it fits.
Hi Chris (#19) Raypierre points out that in the absence of solar absorption by stratospheric ozone, added CO2 would warm all layers. This makes sense. Consider the alternative explanation – there exists a hypothetical level below which extra CO2 warms and above which it cools. Just below this “transition” layer, then, as CO2 is added, the temperature rises. At this point, we have more CO2 and a higher temperature. What will happen? It seems logical to me that the answer is not that less IR is emitted upwards above the “transition” layer, but rather more. It really doesn’t matter where this layer is, it would be physically implausible for it to send less IR radiation upward. Above this layer, there is also more CO2. The combination of more CO2 and increased IR from below must inevitably mean more warming rather than more cooling, unless there is some additional mechanism to accelerate cooling in excess of warming. In any case, I think the descriptions given in the text sources I cited above provide a better and more detailed explanation, but I think my comment gives a good general idea.
[Response: There is a fundamental difference btw the stratosphere and the troposphere because of the presence of massive amounts of water vapour – implying that the LW absorption is far more (spectrally) widespread than in the stratosphere. If you are modelling the GHE using a single grey body absorber that is not wavelength dependent, then you have warming throughout the whole atmosphere. But it is precisely the spectral nature of the absorber (in this case) that drives the real stratospheric (and higher) cooling. – gavin]
I need recommendations for the best 30 to 60 minute introductory documentaries to the physical aspects of climate change. It should have info about patterns of climate change and a discussion of forcings. The audience is mostly first year undergraduate biology students. The documentary must be available on YouTube or Vimeo.
I’ve done this calculation in the dark and distant past. I think that GRACE last estimated ice loss at about 500 billion tonnes per year. Multiply by the latent heat of water, and you will have some estimate. You will also find that it is tiny compared to the global energy flux.
@Sol #20 and Ray #22. I found the 500 B tons per year number also. 500 B tons = 5*10^17g. Assuming a 10 degree temperature difference between the temperature of the runoff and the average temperature of the ocean that would be 5*10^18 cal or 2*10^19 J/yr. From the graph of ocean heat gain a couple months ago in RealClimate, we know that the oceans have gained about 20*10^22 J since 1979 or about 5*10^21 J/yr. So glacial runoff might counteract 1% of ocean warming. More than I might have thought but not really significant unless my calculations are wrong.
RealClimate, we know that the oceans have gained about 20*10^22 J since 1979 or about 5*10^21 J/yr. So glacial runoff might counteract 1% of ocean warming. More than I might have thought but not really significant unless my calculations are wrong.
So I have been studying climate change as a personal interest for a couple years. I am particularly interested in paleo climate reconstructions and spent several hours studying the Wolcott paper earlier this year. So I thought I was understanding the whole thing pretty well and then along comes this Rosenthal paper on Pacific Ocean heat content over the past 10,000 years.
The Wolcott paper was fascinating in the detail but not that surprising in the big picture; warming from the early Holocene to the inter-glacial optimum about 5000 years ago and then slow but steady cooling culminating in the LIA. However, the most remarkable thing (to me anyway) is that the global average temperature hasn’t varied much more than 1C over its entire range. So what I expected to see in the ocean temperature record was a pattern lagging the land temperatures and even less volatile. But the intermediate water temperature (IWT 500-900M) seems to have no lag and a lot more volatility in terms of actual temperature change than the surface temperatures. The Northern Hemisphere (I assume from the green color in Fig 2C of Rosenthal) IWT has dropped by 4 degrees in the last 6000 years. During the Holocene optimum at a time when Wolcott shows less than 0.2C of variability, Rosenthal shows an upset in NH IWT that has the temperature rising 2C in about 500 years. The SH (again assumed) is only slightly less bouncy.
Am I the only one that finds this perplexing? Doesn’t most of the forcing move from air/surface to deep ocean? How can the surface temperature be stable and the deeper water temperature be so volatile? The IWT graphs don’t show any AGW but that might be because the proxies don’t work up to the present. By my calculations, the current warming of the IWT only amounts to maybe 0.1C, but I think I am off on that as Rosenthal (Fig 4) shows the Pacific IWT catching up to the Holocene maximum in a couple centuries at the rate we are going. So how much has the global IWT increased in the last 50-100 years?
Just hoping someone can shed some light on all of this for me. I am surprised I haven’t seen any discussion of Rosenthal in this or other climate forums.
To: John @18: Thanks. That title appears to go back more than a decade. You say it is just in the last month and that the one you linked is 1st ed. So my confusion, I suppose, is warranted. Focusing on your ISBN exclusively, I’ve ordered a copy. The bookseller swears to me that the ISBN is just exactly the same as from your link AND that inside the book it says “2014” as the pub date. No idea why, there. But that’s what the communication from them today tells me.
Perhaps odder was one that Deep Climate found in 2010: Wegman’s book on the Wegman Report.
In mid-2010, that appeared as:
‘Controversy in Global Warming: A Case Study in Statistics, December 21, 2007.’
Both DC and I tried to buy a copy from various booksellers who claimed to have it in stock. Every time I tried to order it, status changed to “out of stock” or “not yet published.”
Amazon now says 2020, and
“This item has not been released yet and is not eligible to be reviewed”
However, I got a review in a year ago…
The Rosenthal et al paper is pay-walled so making discussion by us mere mortals rather difficult. Those with access have passed comment, for instance here and here. Rosenthal et al appears to be classed as interesting but raising lots of questions, perhaps too many questions. And in such situations I think the actual questions you raise will be heavily dependent on where you’re coming from.
Re: stratospheric cooling. I hope Gavin won’t mind me ‘starting from the beginning’. This will seem too elementary for some readers. I want to know if it is more or less correct. I am not going to consider what might happen without the UV heating.
As I see it, the problem can be understood in local terms. In this particular respect it is simpler than that of the more obvious case of tropospheric warming which depends on what happens elsewhere (see later).
Warm substances, including greenhouse gases, emit more energy than cold ones at all wavelengths for which they absorb (Planck). On the other hand their absorption is independent of temperature.
If you add more greenhouse gases the absorption and emission will both rise but for different reasons. To help with understanding it often helps to throw things away e.g. the upper or lower boundaries. I am not going to consider such subtleties as the surface budget fallacy.
Tropospheric case. Assume that the heating is entirely from below. disregard direct solar heating from above e.g. by UV.
Stratospheric case. Assume that heating is entirely from above. Disregard the ground*.
Replace day/night variations with a constant average day ; and start with energy balance and steady state.
Assume that the added greenhouse gas is not ozone. Consider CO2. Then the heating from above caused by the absorption of incoming ultra-violet light by the O3 is unaltered, whereas the energy loss caused by the emission from the CO2 is raised. This creates an energy imbalance which causes cooling.
It is not essential, but for completeness, it might be worth following the energy accounting to include the so-called Planck feedback? The familiar version of this can be re-stated by considering the energy balance at ground level. An energy surplus there gives rise to warming which causes a rise in infra-red radiation leading to more energy loss at the top of the atmosphere and hence a trend back into energy balance (negative feedback). A similar effect occurs in the stratosphere, except that the negative energy imbalance now causes a cooling which causes less energy to be emitted by the CO2 (see para.3 above). This gradually reduces the energy imbalance to zero.
People seem to think that the warming of the troposphere is the simpler case and so it does not get much attention. Cooling by greenhouse gas emission will still rise but this will now be opposed by non-local effects. The land and sea warm , the infra-red from them increases and the oxygen, nitrogen and water vapour all carry more heat upwards by convection. It is only a small intuitive step to conclude that the net effect is warming throughout the region for which the UV absorption can be neglected. Can be checked by computer.
*. In this respect, and in this respect only, the problem is analogous to the addition of insulation (at floor level) of a loft subject to normal solar heating of the roof. In my first (but not my second) RC attempt, to simplify this discussion, I suggested this flawed analogy.
Gordon – this is essentially a copy of a comment left at another blog but is relevant to your question:
It’s not necessarily the case that relative trajectories of OHC and surface temperature have to be congruent over these long timescales. I’ll give an example using the MPI-ESM-P model simulation of the past millennium. This plot shows thermosteric sea level change over that period, which would strongly correlate with OHC/ocean temperature, and this plot shows surface temperature evolution.
In the first plot, relating to ocean temperatures, it is clearly warmer about 1000 years ago but current temperatures are clearly warmer at the surface.
Note that this shouldn’t at all be considered an accurate simulation of what was shown in the Rosenthal paper*. Much the same trend can be seen in the control run for this model so it’s the result of “drift”. Other models produce drift of opposite sign. The point is simply that finding a warmer ocean around the medieval period shouldn’t have much weight in debate about relative surface temperatures.
*On the other hand, I guess the processes involved in what we call “model drift” could be broadly similar to those which produce Holocene length trends like those seen in the Rosenthal et al. paper.
I have been keeping an eye on antarctic melt this past few weeks and note several substantial ‘chunks’ now free-floating, according the the AMSR2 images. Can’t find up-to-date sat images. I emailed eric to ask about this but got no reply (no blame attached).
I just want to know whether this is ‘usual’ or if 100 mile+ chunks of sea ice at 62 S are nothing of note. Any feedback?
@31 That’s rubbish Gavin. If you are the moderator, then you are biased, selective, inconsistent, irrational, unfair, participate in ad hom yourself, allow whacko denier posts just so you can comment on them, slap them down, insult them, and look good clever and a hero in front of your audience. [edit – more of the same removed.]
My work is done.
[Response: Yup. Try not take things so personally, you’ll be happier for it in the end. – gavin]
I wonder if this Sean is the same one who participated at Jo Nova’s on the Salby affair, never once saying anything useful. One never knows with anonymous commenters, but there does seem to be a similarity of style, as for example:
‘This “university” should have its public funding pulled and their charter as a university revoked.Its president should be fired, along with the department head who colluded in this. Salby should sue for breach of contract, seeking special damages for what was clearly not a good faith contract negotiation and rather intended only to deprive him of his voice and career; he should also file criminal complaints with the police for the thefts and harassment.’
‘Agreed – there seem to be a whole host of laws this university is guilty of being in breach of – more than enough to justify some terminations for cause of some top level academics and administrators.’
‘john, don’t you have some climate skeptic in your university’s physics department to go harass and otherwise not do your job of making photocopies for him?’
‘“Only those with no moral compass would suggest otherwise.”You have captured climate cult activist John Brookes to the “T”…’
‘What kind of banana republic are you Australians running down under? Sorry but i am now striking Australia off of my list of tourism destinations. Will also avoid hiring any graduates of the Australian university system.’
‘You should have asked instead for the dean of junk science – he is always in…’
July 14 (a day or two after the NSF roof fell on Salby)
‘Oh? Has the Dean of the engineering school spoken out against his biased Luddite peers? No? OK, then degrees from this uni are staying on my no-hire list.’
‘Aren’t you late for your appointment at the euthanasia clinic Catamon?’
If it is the same Sean, I’m sorry, Gavin, but I doubt anything will make him feel better :-)
Geoff Wexler (35, 36) – I’ve already commented too much on this, but I’m reluctant to see your request go unanswered, so I’ll say that although you make some simplifying assumptions, I think you’ve stated the underlying principle correctly. I agree that a Planck response to surface and tropospheric warming and to stratospheric cooling is what limits the temperature change in each case.
Cumulative emissions of ~1000 GtC, sometimes associated with 2°C global warming, would spur “slow” feedbacks and eventual warming of 3-4°C with disastrous consequences. Rapid emissions reduction is required to restore Earth’s energy balance and avoid ocean heat uptake that would practically guarantee irreversible effects.
Do you think it’s possible that almost all climate scientists also think that economic growth can go on for the rest of this century? Isn’t that what all of the RCPs assume? I find that assumption untenable, given the rate of environmental degradation and the fact that most of the marginal increase in fossil fuel production is from the harder to produce sources.
So the comment that all climate scientists think we’re heading for a 4 degree warmer world may be true but based on a questionable assumption. Not that 4 degrees isn’t possible without economic growth, of course.
Experts misunderestimate how red sky is the limit is our future.
It’s like saying, “I didn’t know there was no afterlife everlasting!” just before you die. We are killing off life on earth faster than the fatal dino asteroid. Not only is our mass extinction event faster than ever before, it will also be the biggest one in all 4 billion years of earth’s history. We will surpass the death defying 95% extinction quota for all life on earth from the Permian event of 260 million years ago. Climate shifting heat states only aggravates a larger, more immediate, once in a billion year threat, that will make you nostalgic for the super storms of yesterday. While the methane may just be a long time coming and the seas rising, they are not the immediate threat our super exponential mass extinction is. We shoot a hundred elephants per day. Lions are down 90% in 20 years. Human sperm and sea plankton down 50% in 60 years. The list goes on and on, more than mere folk normally understand.
Isn’t one important feature of cooling the stratosphere by emitting heat absorbed by ozone from incoming shortwave radiation, that this cooling has little effect on lower parts of the atmosphere since there is not much mixing between these air masses? I.e. a cooler stratosphere does not increase heat loss from the surface, or am I misunderstanding this?
@35 I am assuming that the stratification of the stratosphere means that cooling at the top by emitting more of the heat absorbed from incoming shortwave radiation does not result in cooling of the lower atmosphere or surface since downward mixing is not significant. Am I understanding this correctly?
[Response: yes. There is no convectively driven mixing (though there is vertical motion – up in the tropics, down at the poles – related to the (slow) Brewer Dobson circulation). – gavin]
[Response: Minor quibble w/ Gavin above: there IS some gravity wave-driven vertical mixing in the stratosphere. Nothing like the convective mixing in the troposphere however. -mike]
No, the stratification of the stratosphere is a simple statement about what would happen to an “air parcel” if it were moved vertically through the air column. The air is quite stable relative to the troposphere, in the sense that parcel displacement is difficult, but the term “stratification” says nothing of use about any troposphere-stratosphere interaction (which demonstrably exists in the real world; dynamics in the stratosphere can strongly influence weather at the surface. I don’t have a great grasp of the dynamical meteorology behind this coupling, but there are entire textbooks and courses on the subject).
This is tangential, but I would argue the presence of a stratospheric temperature inversion on a planet makes the troposphere a bit colder than if the entire column were a troposphere. This is because part of the outgoing radiation signal (albeit small) is emerging from relatively warm layers aloft, and thus slightly less emission is demanded from the troposphere in order to satisfy planetary energy balance. I would expect this to be a very small effect on Earth though as the troposphere is simply much more massive and optically relevant than the stratosphere. Back to the original post though, if the atmospheric column were increasing in temperature with height, the effect of additional greenhouse gases would be to cool the surface.
Request for clarification from a retired engineer: when it’s said that methane is N times the greenhouse gas that CO2 is, is that purely taking into account their absorption spectra relative to the blackbody emission from the surface, or does it take into account saturation as well, since methane constitutes a much smaller percentage wrt CO2?
The quoted values of methane being N times more powerful than CO2 (N is of order 20-30) has little to do with its absorption spectrum, but primarily a consequence of saturation (i.e., current methane background much less than CO2). If they existed at the same concentration, CO2 is actually the better greenhouse gas for an Earthlike atmosphere.
I don’t see how saturation in the atmosphere could be avoided when making a comparison of global warming potential (GWP) at the current moment. Of course, that limits its use. (It’s a local slope.) But more is involved, too.
For example, CH₄ has a much shorter τ(tau) — on the order of 10 years, or so. So the time scale matters as the comparison itself will depend upon the period under consideration. (They use an integral over time.) 20 years from now would be one figure, 100 years from now would be another, 500 years yet another, etc. In the IPCC report, I believe it also includes some side-effects and they report the multiplier for at least three (I think the three I just mentioned) periods of time. The 20 yr period is more for inter-fuel comparison purposes; the 100 yr period is for looking out enough beyond the minimum 30-yr climate averages for modeling; and the 500 yr period is for far reaching effects at the millennial level and beyond.
Another context item is the difference between “per molecule” and “per unit mass,” of course.
Another factor that I believe is included in the IPCC numbers found in the usual context is that CO₂ doesn’t affect much in the troposphere, but does affect O₃ in the stratosphere. But CH₄ affects several gases in the troposphere — hydroxyl radicals (mostly, memory serving, in the tropics), O₃, and CO₂ — and also affects O₃ and H₂O in the stratosphere. I believe all of these are also included in IPCC GWP integral-based multipliers.
Best thing to do is check the context. I don’t believe there is a single answer to your question.
But I just read once in a while and that’s just my vague understanding. Hopefully, someone better informed will repair the damage I’ve done and improve it, besides.
Amazon lists Ruddiman’s “Earth’s Climate” (published October 2013) at $127,
and his “Earth Transformed” published earlier in the year at only $59.
I take the newer one is not the one you suggest. Do you or anyone know what is up with the expensive new one?
Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 5 Dec 2013 @ 10:23 AM
Jon Kirwan (61)
The radiative efficiency of CH4 vs. CO2 has nothing to do with the respective lifetimes of the gases. An extra ppm of CO2 vs. an extra ppm of CH4 injected into the atmosphere will begin to interact with infrared photons immediately, and the effect on Earth’s radiation budget will be larger for the CH4 simply because that extra pulse is being added to a background atmospheric state with much lower methane than CO2. Of course, when thinking about the evolution of global warming, you have to know something about the time evolution of these gases, but that’s a different question.
The integrals I see involve time already. So the time period is included into the GWP value that is stated. That does take into account the effect as a function of time, times the infinitesimal of time.
I was commenting about the integrals used to arrive at the 20, 100, and 500 year “multipliers.” The integral equations I’ve seen are pretty clear about where they come from.
But I take your point about its effect being immediate, once it is present. It’s just that the usual use I see is a multiplier which is derived by comparing integrals for some gas vs the integrals for a reference gas (usually CO₂.) I was addressing what I imagined Stan was asking about.
The direct consequence of the absorption of ultra-violet light is to warm the stratosphere, substantially raising the importance of the emission term relative to the absorption term. This effect can be so large that the latter can be neglected. This is what lies behind the assumption of ‘neglecting the ground’ when considering the stratosphere.
Thanks for your replies, Fred Moolten (#43) and Susan Anderson (#54)
‘Amazon lists Ruddiman’s “Earth’s Climate” (published October 2013) at $127,
and his “Earth Transformed” published earlier in the year at only $59.
I take the newer one is not the one you suggest. Do you or anyone know what is up with the expensive new one?’
1) Earth Transformed(ET) is absolutely the one that I suggest, and I know you can get it from W.H.Freeman.
We do *not* know why Amazon thinks it was published in Feb 2013, because it wasn’t, and it is unclear how booksellers were offering it used before it was printed … but as noted, I’ve seen weird stuff before.
Plows, Plagues and Petroleum(PP) is a popular-press book, whereas ET is a well-updated technical textbook version with much more detail and a lot more research done in last 10 years.
Tony @ 48 wrote: “Do you think it’s possible that almost all climate scientists also think that economic growth can go on for the rest of this century?”
I don’t know. Do you? Probably most assume this, since most citizens assume this. And it is indeed an assumption worth questioning.
But let me question an assumption I’m sensing in the rest of _your_ post:
Economic growth is indeed one efficient way to burn up most the rest of the planets accessible fossil-death-fuels. But you seem to be assuming that it is the only way to do so. I would question that assumption. Increasing conflict is likely, going forward.
Many conflict will likely grow more and more into ‘hot wars’ involving lots of fuel burning for the transport vehicles, for the ordinance itself, and from direct burning of ff sources as targets or to deprive an invading enemy of resources (remember all the black smoke from burning fuel lines…in the first (and second, though the images were more tightly controlled) Iraq invasion(s)?
So lots and lots of ff can be turned into CO2 even without it fueling a (conventional) growing industrial economy. And I’m sure there are plenty of other ways that lots of ff might be burned up in the absence of standard economic growth.
So maybe it actually doesn’t matter that much what the economic assumptions of climatologist are.
At this point, it looks to me as if the best we can hope for and work toward is a rapid, planned economic downsizing as Kevin Anderson has suggested and as Hansen and others imply in their latest work, bringing emission globally down by at least 6% or more until we approach zero.
Shizel, I’m much of the same mind. Perhaps your ‘Human sperm…down 50%’ is your most hopeful stat? (…though it would be nice to have sources for that and others.)
Thanks John. I see that amazon says
Publisher: Worth Publishers (February 8, 2013)
Perhaps the book was released first in another country. I think there was a single copy of raypierre’s available from Germany via amazon before you could order it from a US source.
I went ahead and ordered the $33 + shipping copy from amazon. (no free shipping from the reseller.)
“If you can’t explain it in 10 seconds” it doesn’t get news coverage. This is about financial, er, methods, not climate — but interesting about what does and does not get covered in the news. Warning, autoplay, turn your sound down if the family’s sleeping:
However, though I suspect that most climate scientists implicitly go along with the assumptions of economic growth in the RCPs, I very much doubt many have considered warring as way to keep CO2/CH4 emissions rising. But you may be right about that being a likely scenario, in the absence of growth.
Re 28, 33, 37: Thanks MAR and Paul S. for the links. The thermosteric sea level change plot is right on point, but would be nice if someone could put some actual temperature values to this, but it sure looks like a baby hockey stick – how cute. The Mann article seems like he is a little hard on the research but I guess I am in good company scratching my head over some of the results.
GWP is a completely different issue than asking how an extra molecule of CH4 affects the planet’s energy budget vs. CO2. GWP is not a sensible metric to look at whatsoever for a useful comparison either, as some “time integrated forcing” says nothing of use about the evolution of climate. It’s a useless mathematical construction and a rather mystical way of facilitating comparison between different GHGs.
The book just arrived. ISBN 1-4641-0776-9 is shown on the inside with the publication date of 2014. It is called the “First Printing” also on that page. It is a paperback edition. Cost me $35, plus $3.99, for shipping.
Thanks, Jon, Chris and Kevin for the comments and discussion re relative “strength” of CO2 and CH4 as greenhouse gases. I wasn’t sure how this number, as reported in the media and climate change popularizing websites, should be interpreted. I’m not even sure I’ve seen the same number twice. Your definitions (radiative efficiency, GWP) all make sense to me. I’ll tack Chris’ number range of 20-30 and what it means on my mental note board and compare it to what I encounter in the media. One thing for sure, in climate science, things get complex fast.
Yes, that’s the right thing, same as my copy.
It may be that W. H. Freeman is treating it entirely as a textbook, but also distributing via resellers. The copy I ordered via Amazon hasn’t come yet, so we’ll see.
In any case, I’ll be interested to know what people think of it, starting with the cover, explained on the back cover.
To Stan K (@81, as I see it): Well, it’s not complex if you don’t really care to do much with it. As always in engineering (as I’m sure you know), the end purpose is important. So if a number is just being used to very broadly explain why a scientist is “concerned” about X, and nothing more, then a rough order of magnitude puts that to bed. A reader then says, “Oh, that’s why.” But if mincing differences or trying to perform your own “1st order” computations (current state plus local slope projections, let alone higher order corrections) then you need to be comprehensive in viewpoint. You might start by reading Hansen’s 1981 paper, “Climate Impact of Increasing Carbon Dioxide.” It’s a very nice segue for an engineer, I believe. It’s old and there are many important adjustments to that understanding (as can be seen here.) But it’s a really good start:
I was thinking about Cowtan and Way who dropped into Judith Curry blog a few weeks back. I haven’t gone back to see if they continued on. I said at the time I thought it wasn’t a wise move, and still do. However in other circumstances maybe it could be quite productive. And perhaps a good example could be made for similar approaches into the future by other Climate scientists and their mates.
I was imagining how could such a thing work and what might be achieved by confronting such activist deniers head on in their own ‘space’. There are other occasions known about on ‘discussion boards’ where such things have turned out quite well.
For this kind of confrontational public communication effort to succeed it requires a committed and experienced Action Team of members. All with a clear goal, and each with a specific role to play. Some in public view and others being a support behind the scenes.
Such a team would included a few scientists expert in a specific field of Climate Science willing to act publicly with their real names and background info available and known. Credibility is important here. Think of someone like Michael Mann and others who are used to being in the public eye in stressful situations.
Supporting them offline and observing the unfolding discussions on a Board would be very mature supporters who could be psychologists, philosophers, media communications academics, journalists, public relations professionals, maybe an ex- politician even, all being people who know their way around heated and emotional driven topics and who are used to debating such matters in front of an audience.
Using Cowtan and Way as an example again, the team would chose a specific subject; in this case the claims of a “warming pause from 1998 to 2012”. The goal is to confront Judith Curry and all her followers on this narrow subject only and argue the case for as long as it takes until the opposition is thoroughly defeated and exhausted by it. They do not need to get to a point of ‘agreement’, merely complete surrender. That will be recognised by all skeptics and deniers stopping to argue the point, or the scientists being banned from the discussion board.
If the scientists are black listed, they still win such a confrontation. So long as they follow a few rules.
Such as absolutely no emotional reactions plus being able to ignore every single barb of abuse, ad hom, and insult thrown at them. One does this by completely disregarding all such comments by other posters. However if someone makes a debating point or puts a leading question within an abusive post, then the scientist will address that point and ignore the rest. The idea is to always hone in on every single argument point raised, and to totally demolish each point using sound reason, logic, and a mountain of incontrovertible evidence…. one post at a time.
Quotes must be given with urls refs to publicly available docs, studies, data etc. The context of these quotes must be explained in the post/comment so it is clear for anyone coming along at a later time to see what the intent is and why the quoted ref is relevant to the argument being nullified.
It needs 3 or 4 active posters to do this effectively. Each scientist is to be responsible for addressing 25% of the likely info expected to be thrown and the countering refs most likely to be used. So in this scenario you do not have one person engaging in an “dialogue/debate” with Curry or any poster, as all four are able to engage and push their particular prepared role and knowledge in response.
The way the journalist, media studies or PR person can help is that each active scientist emails them their ‘draft response’ to check it. The ‘dialogue is checked or edited and returned to the scientist to post that comment.
This system works really well when each of the teams members are live online all at the same time and communicating together as comments are posted and responses come in from Curry and her supporters. eg 2 hours per day 4 days per week, for as long as it takes. Likely that would be over 4 to 6 weeks depending.
Typically the blog owner and follower will naturally use ad hom and insults, and be dismissive. Next they will try to distract the posters onto other subjects and claims and issues over climate science. It’s critical that no one allows this to work, and to repeatedly for days on end refuse to discuss topics B, C and D etc until such times as their primary subject A (the pause hiatus) is dealt with fully.
Also whilst many followers will come to Curry’s defense it’s important not to get distracted there either. The focus should 75% of the time be on her and what she says, and the claims she makes. When she (or whoever blog it is) responds by bringing up several different issues in a single post, then those need to be separated out and each point dealt with on it’s own where possible. One at a time and preferably immediately one after the other down the comments page.
AT all times one must keep in mind that the purpose is NOT necessarily convince Curry or others to change their minds and agree. The purpose is to imagine oneself directly speaking to the readers of said blog that day until eternity basically. Those ‘readers’ who rarely post a comment. They are the TARGET MARKET for all communication, for all quotes and and for all refs and for clear and concise explanations based on reason and common sense.
Using simple terms as much as possible, as well as including short notes (in brackets to define the word meanings being used, even with a short url to the IPCC Glossary or other page already prepared http:go.ogle/shorturl) ….. see?
If the team gets together on live conference skype beforehand several times then much information to be posted can be pre-prepared and drafted ready to go. All one then needs to do in the beginning is copy/paste that core info and write it up to ‘fit the response” being addressed.
Lastly on this, everyone needs to be willing to play hard ball and go for the juggler at every opportunity. NO quarter given and a take no prisoners attitude. It’s not about being insulting or abusive but being utterly tough and never forgetting one is in ‘enemy territory’ and to never make the assumption ‘well they man well and they’re only confused’. NO sir. One can be polite and still be as hard as nails at the same time. Clinical. Tough. Resolute. And openly confrontational. Something that is being misrepresented gets labelled as that, and slammed for being unscientific, irrational, or wrong, or egregiously manipulative of the readers – whatever suits the occasion. Not the person making the statement claim, but the *information* itself.
Why it is being presented is totally irrelevant. You want it to be presented for the sole reason that it can be cut down completely, and the true accurate information replacing it in the very next post by the Team on the Blog site or discussion board.
One select subject one at a time, one denier blog site at a time. Then a year later this Team should rock up to a heartland Institute presentation and tear them apart until you are all kicked out of the event by security. Video record the entire thing surreptitiously. Then hold a pre-arranged press conference outside the door or the event. And hopefully a couple of the team will get a spot that same week on The Daily Show or Colbert Report or similar.
Some of the offline tea, will be able to collate the best content posted and reuse that elsewhere on the next job. Soon enough the media communications journalist and PR guys will be able to dress up multiple “press releases” using that content and sent it worldwide to maybe be picked up by various news providers.
The main game after the skills have been developed, and several teams operating at WUWT, Curry, Jo Nova, and all the others there will be enough focused material that that can then be sent via email to every politician in the world as a global campaign of targeting outspoken denier Politicians and other activists. The best of this is to send Signed Letters to ALL the newspapers and radio stations in the local region of said Politicians.
And that all the above is done relentlessly for two years until these people and these sites have been thoroughly debunked and the Myths they promote have been totally and repeatedly ripped apart, line by line, word by word, false facts being replaced with accurate facts and accurate statments and those explained to a level he average Public can comprehend.
But the people involved in these teams need to have the personal courage t put their reputation and persons on the line in the Public Domain, and be available for Media calls into the future. It must be a team effort where everyone is able to rely upon everyone else when the going gets tough. because it will. You will be attacked vociferously in all forms of media, and every accusation will be made against you by the coordinated and highly funded PR system and MSM operatives behind the Blog Fronts.
The above is what I would like to see happen. Targets and subject could include, IPCC AR5 what it says and doesn’t say and what that actually means in plain english, what the IPCC has “foecast” in the past and what it never has or ever tries to do ie limitations; the behind the scenes processes and why no climate scientist is making a fortune from this work falsely labelled conspiracy; Lord the fraud Monckton to destroy his personal credibility forever; and other like him; Inophe etc(?), Heartland claims, the basic science of GHGs (yes people still believe it is false), plus all the “fronts” misrepresenting themselves as “Climate Institute this and that” were they run Blogs open to the public, and so on. Including making comments on newspaper domains and attack the false claims of the like of David Rose of the Daily mail the moment they appear and debunk them with hard facts and DEMAND retractions, including writing private complaints to the editorial boards relentlessly.
imho, I believe the time has come where the public who support climate science are no longer left to take the fight up to every wacko on the internet and when ever they put their head up on a public discussion board. It’s time instead for the Climate Scientists themselves, those best equipped top contribute in such a long term Project plus other like minded Academics and Professionals to take this on, to blatantly publicly confront the frauds, the deceptions the falsehoods, and the media spin and make a significant long term difference for the good of all concerned regarding the accuracy and legitimacy of the collective scientific knowledge and future risks involved.
NO need to get into the politics of it, of ETS or carbon tax or Regulation or whatever. Just push the actually science and explain in a way that makes almost impossible for “reasonable people” to continue to deny and get so easily misled.
That’s my opinion, that’s my best idea of the day. No doubt others will not find it very good at all. Oh well. imho nothing else has worked thus far since 1988, but if anyone has a better idea, by all means do speak up. Because I reckon Time is running out right now.
There ya go, very direct, simple and succinct all at once. Make of it what you will. :)
Are you aware that one trolling technique for disrupting forums, such as this, is to write very long (1,900 words plus) comments that appear to be in favor of the blog topic while being full of incorrect, impractical, and naïve information?
Regarding the recent paperback, “Earth Transformed,” by William F. Ruddiman, 2014, and mentioned by by John Mashey earlier in this thread, I’ve read enough of it to realize it’s a great segue into climate science thinking. I’m probably going to add it to another book I have been giving away for two decades, “The Next One Hundred Years,” by Jonathan Weiner, 1991 (he got a Pulitzer prize for “The Beak of the Finch,” written a few years later.)
“A Manual for Creating Atheists” by Peter Boghossian. But it should work for “converting” denialists as well, I hope.
“So the core piece of advice I give may at first sound counterintuitive, but it is simple: When speaking with people who hold beliefs based on [X], don’t get into a debate about facts or evidence or even their specific beliefs. Rather, get them to question the manner in which they’ve reached their beliefs….”
Small towns have trouble teaching science and math in any case, since they have few students and little money. So it is not surprising that RealClimate’s message cannot be received by most Americans. There is no way you are going to get anywhere with your current approach, as you have noticed. Nature is helping by displaying increasingly severe weather, but that won’t really work until it is too late.
91 Kevin McKinney: At least read what is available at the URLs I gave you first. Especially “A Manual for Creating Atheists” by Peter Boghossian. As Boghossian says, the facts are irrelevant and counter-productive at this stage. FIRST, you have to create the ability to handle facts. Most people think you are clowning or giving them a hard time [provoking] or preaching Islam. You will never communicate the way you are going. Most people have/are extreme cases of confirmation bias. They can’t hear you. Don’t be put off by the religious slant, it isn’t part of what we are doing.
“US Navy predicts summer ice free Arctic by 2016:
Is conventional modelling out of pace with speed and abruptness of global warming?”
“The paper is highly critical of global climate models (GCM) and even the majority of regional models, noting that ‘many Arctic climatic processes that are omitted from, or poorly represented in, most current-generation GCMs’ which ‘do not account for important feedbacks among various system components.'”
Thanks for pointing that out to me, SA. I’m not a big fan of Fish (the article was at least half a vehicle for him to trot out his pet theories) and I have my disagreements with Chomsky, but the pleasure of a enjoying a good lecture was definitely well articulated.
I know that in the past, when asked, Chomsky himself has said there is no line connecting his linguistics with his politics. But I’m not sure that is completely the case. Kant’s ethics, after all, are partly based on the idea that a being who can think logically (and therefor linguistically) should not be treated merely as a means to an end. This pretty well connects Chomsky’s interest in syntax (the ‘logic’ part of language) with the foundations of his political ethics.
Pretty amazing, huh? Could anyone have wondered just from looking at it that it might be a greenhouse gas, toxic, and incredibly persistent?
[Among my favorite unwritten science fiction stories: we aren’t smart enough to stop producing ever more complicated persistent molecules; the background level goes up and up. Eventually the alien invaders seed our atmosphere with a template molecule that can scavenge our persistent garbage as it floats by at the ppm or ppb level — and assembles a replicator that eats our lunch, and then us.]
Early days yet, but a reminder solar stuff’s improving still:
Solar panel manufacturer China Sunergy, is building a pilot manufacturing line for a two-sided solar cell that can absorb light from both the front and back. Where one-sided solar panel might generate 340 watts, a two-sided one might generate up to 400 watts. They expect the panels to generate 10 to 20 percent more electricity over the course of a year compared to one-sided panels.
At the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Soitec, CEA-Leti and the Helmholtz Center Berlin jointly announced a new record for solar efficiency of 44.7% using CPV or concentrated photovoltaic technology.
Although just in the research phase, these efficiencies have the potential to revolutionize the solar industry.
Recycling or reusing “old, inefficient” solar panels seems likely to become a big deal fairly soon, at the rate they’re going in — because the payback for replacing them will be an issue as efficiency of new ones goes up. I hope the points of failure (cladding, soldering) will be reduced.
Article quote: Still time to change Earth’s long-term forecast
We also need to introduce systems of governance that place more emphasis on long-term effects. Global society needs structural long-termism to counter current short-termism: for example, a world climate bank for greenhouse gas emissions rights.
Concretely, in order to create a better world for our grandchildren, we should:
have fewer children, especially in the rich world
reduce the ecological footprint, first by slowing the use of coal, oil and gas in the rich world
construct a low-carbon energy system in the poor world, paid for by the rich
create institutions that counter national short-termism.
But most importantly, the coming crisis should be used to develop new goals for modern society – to remind us all that the purpose of society is to increase a total life satisfaction, not only to have each person contribute to the gross domestic product.
Jorgen Randers is one of the key speakers at a full day symposium and evening Q&A discussion at UNSW on Limits to Growth on 11 and 12 December. The Q&A discussion will be streamed live through Google Hangouts and YouTube. https://theconversation.com/still-time-to-change-earths-long-term-forecast-21283
Jorgen Randers is professor at the Norwegian Business School BI and co-author of The Limits to Growth in 1972,and its two sequels.
His most recent book, published in May 2012, is 2052 – A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, also a report to The Club of Rome. http://www.2052.info/a-5000-word-summary/ Maybe 4950 words too many for some, but many more others will really enjoy the read. oh, imho only.
While I understand the negative reaction, I think Sean’s main points (or at least what I think his main points…) are well taken. It’s exactly what I’ve started doing (without the scientific expertise), and I’ve noticed others as well relentlessly responding to denialist b.s., pretty much as Sean describes. I personally know many, way too many folks who still see AGW as a “debate”; that’s because outside fora such as this that’s what it is – a debate, and must be treated as such. Sean is essentially correct – the only way to turn opinion at this point is to “win,” to publicly face and ‘destroy’ the very powerful and persistent meme(s) that threaten humanity. I don’t think it’s fair to ask professional working scientists to take this on; so I don’t have the answer. But many, too many people derive their ideas about this issue from ignorance polluted comment boards, from far too many essentially unchallenged liars and rank sophists. One man’s opinion.
Comment by Steven Blaisdell — 10 Dec 2013 @ 11:50 PM
I have a thought in regards to communicating land warming versus ocean warming.
Why do they call the larger land warming as land amplification rather then ocean suppression?
It seems clear to me that the ocean surface warming is being suppressed by its large heat capacity, while the land has very little heat capacity and is not being suppressed (rather than amplified).
Steven Blaisdell: “But many, too many people derive their ideas about this issue from ignorance polluted comment boards, from far too many essentially unchallenged liars and rank sophists.”
Maybe the people who browse the Internet are more wary about comment spam (if they read it at all)? Comments only represent an impression and random data and maybe give the illusion of winning an argument if your bias grants each single comment as valid. Actually most comments contain very little information and are often just noise. And there are so many different comments it’s hard to generalize them.
The key arguments are within the science paper and my impression is that the key data is better communicated to a broader audience in recent month. And to help speed up the process experts have to repeat the message till we met our climate target. That’s why good video lectures are so important.
Steven Blaisdell @101, that is so well and gently put, thank you.
However, having put myself out for five years to answer nonsense in some more neutral locations, I have found that the overwhelmingly professional (and amateur) denial generation machine, ever refining its techniques, and with vast money and politics at its command, is so relentless and so without conscience that the only thing to do was to move on and go elsewhere. It gets very personal, with precision distortion, bullying, and all.
“A lie can run a mile while the truth is putting its shoes on.”
Comment by Susan Anderson — 11 Dec 2013 @ 10:54 AM
#105–I, too, am trying to do just what Steve is. I cope with the ‘machine’ Susan identifies (rightly, I’m quite sure) in two ways:
1) I limit the fora in which I respond to just one (primarily.)
2) I try to view each repetition of the same old nonsense as an opportunity to present correct information–preferably in an engaging way (and a novel way, if one occurs to me.)
3) I try to have fun with it. As the Indigo Girls said, “It’s only life, after all.”
@103 Steven Blaisdell, Hi. The “reaction” was expected Steven and was planned for ahead of time. I could have written the piece @86 in 100 different ways, but intentionally chose to write it exactly as it was presented for good reasons.
The main one being that I did not want the “resident critics” here to read it. And they didn’t. There is clear proof of that fact already given by those that responded. That outcome is defined as “effective communication” because my specific intent and goals were successful. I wanted to hear back from people like you Steven. Your response confirms that 100+ other readers who have not replied here have also got it.
Words are mightier than the sword. It is also provably true that one can put words and ideas in plain view to everyone and yet already know that most of it will be hidden from the eyes of some. Those whose reactionary biased opinions of the “content” presented I really had no interest in hearing.
With 15 years of “social media” interactions on the Internet I am an expert at this. I know all the tricks, and I know exactly how it is that the Blogosphere and others has gone about destroying the credibility of Climate Science worldwide in the public consciousness and bent the will of Politicians. When I started on Usenet there was not even 300 million on the Internet globally. I along with a a few thousand others of my ilk were pioneers in online “discussions”. When I began I didn’t even know what the word sophistry was let alone what it meant or how it worked upon people (like on myself a victim of it) nor how self-delusion worked psychologically.
For the last 5 plus years I have been active in doing what I can to teach other Victims how to defend themselves and learn to improve their critical thinking skills. A major project ended with more time on hands now I wanted to know if I should redirect my energies to Climate Science in similar ways. My time here and on several other venues has been a ‘test’ in a way to help decide if it is worth the strain and effort. I have concluded it is not.
So I am going to other things like go fishing and spend quality time at the beach and nature instead. All I am doing through 2014 now is supporting and helping produce and improve the videos/texts as best I am able at Prokaryotes website Climate State. As well as do what I can to promote it online. Should be fun and rewarding. Anything else would be a waste of my time, experience and knowledge. This will now free me up to write a History and Biographical work, and take my time writing up several other matters of personal interest for publication in due course.
The Climate stuff I will leave to others and have already turned my back on it (except Climate State as a hobby activity). In my best interests.
Thanks so much for your comments and taking the time to read what I had written. Especially being able to grasp the nettle of it despite the ‘landmines’ I placed there to keep the riff raff away. and very happy and content. Thank you.
Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Dec 2013 @ 3:14 PM
Your comment about more efficient solar panels- “because the payback for replacing them will be an issue as efficiency of new ones goes up” doesn’t make sense. I have panels that cost $5/watt while the most recent were $1/watt. The old ones will stay up until they die (long after I do) because they are paid for, maintenance free and producing power. There are 30 year old panels around here that are still in use that were very expensive. There is no efficiency in removing the old ones. Steve
To follow on my non-science based comment, Real Climate (and it’s commenters) have been invaluable to me in understanding the most important issue of our time. Thanks for that. Re-reading “The Long Thaw,” this time carefully; “Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum” is next, along w/Hansen et al’s latest paper.
And #107/Kevin – that’s it exactly. As Sean said, it’s more about a) talking to the largely silent ‘undecideds’ than changing unchangeable minds, and b) shifting the narrative, which is just repetition, repetition, repetition, but with relentless presentation of the facts in a rhetorically persuasive manner. Which, as again Sean pointed out, means understanding that the other side has NO interest good faith argument. So be it.
Comment by Steven Blaisdell — 12 Dec 2013 @ 12:24 AM
Sulfur isotopes track the global extent and dynamics of euxinia during Cretaceous Oceanic Anoxic Event 2
Oxygen in the atmosphere and ocean rose dramatically about 600 Mya, coinciding with the first proliferation of animals. However, numerous biotic events followed when oxygen concentrations in the younger ocean dipped episodically. The Cretaceous is famous for such episodes, and the most extensive of these oceanic anoxic events occurred 93.9 Mya. Our combined carbon- and sulfur-isotope data indicate that oxygen-free and hydrogen sulfide-rich waters extended across roughly 5% of the global ocean, compared to smaller 1% today, but with the likelihood that much broader regions were also oxygen challenged. These conditions must have impacted nutrient availability in the ocean and ultimately the spatial and temporal distribution of marine life across a major climatic perturbation.
The Mesozoic Era is characterized by numerous oceanic anoxic events (OAEs) that are diagnostically expressed by widespread marine organic-carbon burial and coeval carbon-isotope excursions. Here we present coupled high-resolution carbon- and sulfur-isotope data from four European OAE 2 sections spanning the Cenomanian–Turonian boundary that show roughly parallel positive excursions. Significantly, however, the interval of peak magnitude for carbon isotopes precedes that of sulfur isotopes with an estimated offset of a few hundred thousand years. Based on geochemical box modeling of organic-carbon and pyrite burial, the sulfur-isotope excursion can be generated by transiently increasing the marine burial rate of pyrite precipitated under euxinic (i.e., anoxic and sulfidic) water-column conditions. To replicate the observed isotopic offset, the model requires that enhanced levels of organic-carbon and pyrite burial continued a few hundred thousand years after peak organic-carbon burial, but that their isotope records responded differently due to dramatically different residence times for dissolved inorganic carbon and sulfate in seawater. The significant inference is that euxinia persisted post-OAE, but with its global extent dwindling over this time period. The model further suggests that only ∼5% of the global seafloor area was overlain by euxinic bottom waters during OAE 2. Although this figure is ∼30× greater than the small euxinic fraction present today (∼0.15%), the result challenges previous suggestions that one of the best-documented OAEs was defined by globally pervasive euxinic deep waters. Our results place important controls instead on local conditions and point to the difficulty in sustaining whole-ocean euxinia. Link
Nitrogen cycle feedbacks as a control on euxinia in the mid-Proterozoic ocean
Geochemical evidence invokes anoxic deep oceans until the terminal Neoproterozoic ~0.55 Ma, despite oxygenation of Earth’s atmosphere nearly 2 Gyr earlier. Marine sediments from the intervening period suggest predominantly ferruginous (anoxic Fe(II)-rich) waters, interspersed with euxinia (anoxic H(2)S-rich conditions) along productive continental margins. Today, sustained biotic H(2)S production requires NO(3)(-) depletion because denitrifiers outcompete sulphate reducers. Thus, euxinia is rare, only occurring concurrently with (steady state) organic carbon availability when N(2)-fixers dominate the production in the photic zone. Here we use a simple box model of a generic Proterozoic coastal upwelling zone to show how these feedbacks caused the mid-Proterozoic ocean to exhibit a spatial/temporal separation between two states: photic zone NO(3)(-) with denitrification in lower anoxic waters, and N(2)-fixation-driven production overlying euxinia. Interchange between these states likely explains the varying H(2)S concentration implied by existing data, which persisted until the Neoproterozoic oxygenation event gave rise to modern marine biogeochemistry.Link
WebHubTelescope – That’s part of the picture but it is commonly stressed, with good reason, that land-sea warming contrast is a feature of equilibrium simulations as well as transient.
There was a paper published last month (Joshi et al. 2013; pdf link) which looks like it provides a good introduction to some of the issues and contains this quote:
‘Somewhat counter-intuitively, a land–sea surface warming ratio greater than unity during transient climate change is actually not mainly a result of the differing thermal inertias of land and ocean, but primarily originates in the differing properties of the surface and boundary layer (henceforth BL) over land and ocean (Manabe et al. 1991; Sutton et al. 2007; Joshi et al. 2008 (henceforth JGW08), Dong et al. 2009) as well as differing cloud feedbacks (Fasullo 2010; Andrews et al. 2010).’
Vegetation responses to climate and rising CO2 are often cited as causal factors for differential temperature increase near the surface.
Differential regional warming due to internal variability can also play a substantial role over periods of a few decades due to unequal distribution of land area and the ability for ocean warming to influence adjacent land. The extreme land warming amplification of the past three decades is probably partly related to contemporaneous large (relative to global) SST warming trends in the Northern Hemisphere Extra-tropics, where land area is greatest.
Nutrients as the dominant control on the spread of anoxia and euxinia across the Cenomanian-Turonian oceanic anoxic event (OAE2): Model-data comparison
The Cenomanian-Turonian oceanic anoxic event (OAE2) is characterized by large perturbations in the oxygen and sulfur cycles of the ocean, potentially resulting from changes in oxygen supply (via oxygen solubility and ocean circulation) and in marine productivity. We assess the relative impact of these mechanisms, comparing model experiments with a new compilation of observations for seafloor dysoxia/anoxia and photic zone euxinia. The model employed is an intermediate-complexity Earth system model which accounts for the main ocean dynamics and biogeochemistry of the Cretaceous climate.
The impact of higher temperature and marine productivity is evaluated in the model as a result of higher atmospheric carbon dioxide and oceanic nutrient concentrations. The model shows that temperature is not alone able to reproduce the observed patterns of oceanic redox changes associated with OAE2. Observations are reproduced in the model mainly via enhanced marine productivity due to higher nutrient content (responsible for 85% of the change).
Higher phosphate content could have been sustained by increased chemical weathering and phosphorus regeneration from anoxic sediments, which in turn induced an enhanced nitrogen nutrient content of the ocean via nitrogen fixation. The model also shows that the presence of seafloor anoxia, as suggested by black-shale deposition in the proto-North Atlantic Ocean before the event, might be the result of the silled shape and lack of deep-water formation of this basin at the Late Cretaceous. Overall our model-data comparison shows that OAE2 anoxia was quasi-global spreading from 5% of the ocean volume before the event to at least 50% during OAE2. Link
Reconstructing the history of euxinia in a coastal sea
Areas of the coastal ocean where oxygen is low or absent in bottom waters, so-called dead zones, are expanding worldwide (Diaz and Rosenberg, 2008). Increased inputs of nutrients from land are enhancing algal blooms, and the sinking of this organic matter to the seafloor and subsequent decay leads to a high oxygen demand in bottom waters. Depending on the physical characteristics of the coastal system, this may initiate periodic or permanent water column anoxia and euxinia, with the latter term implying the presence of free sulfide (Kemp et al., 2009). Global warming is expected to exacerbate the situation, through its effects on oxygen solubility and water column stratification. In many modern coastal systems, anthropogenic changes are superimposed on natural variation and lack of knowledge of such variation makes the prediction of future changes in water column oxygen challenging (e.g., Grantham et al., 2004). That natural drivers alone can be the cause of widespread coastal anoxia is evident from studies of greenhouse periods in Earth’s past, including the oceanic anoxic events of the Cretaceous and Toarcian (Jenkyns, 2010).
Sediment proxy records are essential to any reconstruction of variations in anoxia and euxinia on time scales beyond several decades to a century. A variety of biological and geochemical indicators can be used for this purpose, such as the presence of the remains of benthic and pelagic organisms, laminations, biomarkers for eukaryotes or prokaryotes, and inorganic geochemical and mineralogical signatures in the sediment, and ideally, these methods are combined. Sediments that are deposited below a euxinic water column are, for example, typically enriched in organic carbon, sulfur, iron, and trace metals such as rhenium and molybdenum (Gooday et al., 2009). Recent additions to this paleo-redox toolbox are the isotope systems of Fe and Mo (Lyons et al., 2009). Reconstruction of the temporal changes in the oxic-anoxic interface (chemocline) in the water column forms a key step in the identification of the external drivers and internal feedbacks that contribute to anoxia and euxinia in a given system. In their study of sediments from the Black Sea, Eckert et al. (2013, p. 431 in this issue of Geology), make this step by providing, for the first time, a basin-wide reconstruction of the evolution of the chemocline in this silled coastal basin over the Holocene.
Silled basins in humid areas such as Kau Bay (Indonesia), the Baltic Sea, and the Black Sea, are particularly sensitive to low oxygen conditions because of salinity stratification and associated reduced vertical mixing (Kemp et al., 2009). All these inland seas have an intriguing history and were originally coastal lakes that were transformed to marine basins due to postglacial sea-level rise. Kau Bay is only semi-euxinic, and is subject to incursions of low-oxygen non-sulfidic bottom waters that alternate with periods of anoxic, sulfidic bottom waters (Middelburg et al., 1991). The Baltic Sea also alternates between redox states: it experienced various periods of low oxygen over the Holocene, but is currently subject to a human-induced period of anoxia, with its bottom waters largely oxic around 1900 CE (Conley et al., 2009). The Black Sea is the largest euxinic basin in the world and differs in being permanently euxinic. This is the result of the strong stratification that developed after its fore-runner fresh water lake became connected to the Mediterranean Sea through the narrow, shallow Straits of the Bosporus at ca. 9 kyr B.P. Water column anoxia developed across the deep basin from ca. 7.5 kyr B.P. onward (Degens and Ross, 1974), and the chemocline is presently located at ∼100 m depth.
Strong variations in the geochemical and paleo-ecological composition and genetic signature of the sediments in the Black Sea provide testimony that the conditions in the water column have been far from constant over the past ∼7.5 kyr. Two phases of deposition are generally distinguished based on visual characteristics of the sediments. Following the onset of anoxia, a finely laminated, dark, organic-rich sediment layer formed first (Unit II), followed by deposition of alternating microlaminae of calcareous (white) and organic- and clay-rich material (black) from ca. 2.6 kyr B.P. to the present (Unit I). The shift from Unit II to Unit I was originally attributed to the invasion of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi when salinity rose above 11 (Arthur and Dean, 1998). However, genetic analyses show that this calcifying haptophyte colonized the photic zone of the Black Sea shortly after the connection to the Bosporus, and the Unit I–II transition marks the moment that coccoliths began to be preserved in the sediments (Coolen et al., 2009).
The delayed appearance of Unit II on the slopes of the basin has been taken as an indicator of a slow rise of the chemocline following the onset of anoxia (Degens and Ross, 1974). The rise was fast enough, however, for the chemocline to reach the photic zone by the time of deposition of the lower part of Unit II, as indicated by the presence of biomarkers for photosynthetic green sulfur bacteria (Sinnighe Damsté et al., 1993; Repeta, 1993). Results of similar analyses for the upper part of Unit II suggested a subsequent descent of the chemocline followed by re-establishment in the photic zone during deposition of Unit I. At the time, controversy remained about the temporal and spatial variability in the position of the chemocline, and the extent to which the water column and photic zone remained euxinic throughout deposition of Units I and II. This debate was partially resolved when Wilkin et al. (1997) showed that the size of the pyrite framboids in Units I and II were in line with a continuously euxinic water column. Using a composite record of sediment Fe, Mo, and Fe-isotopes derived from data for nine sites throughout the basin, Eckert et al. (2013) now confirm the evolution of Black Sea euxinia, as suggested in these earlier studies, and provide a more consistent and basin-wide timing for the series of events.
The variation in strength of the ‘Fe shuttle’ forms the heart of their reconstruction. This term is used to describe the lateral transfer of Fe released from suboxic shelf sediments to the deep basin. The authors use their Fe/Al record as a direct indicator of the position of the chemocline, where low Fe/Al indicates a weak shuttle with a chemocline impinging on the slope. A high Fe/Al, in contrast, indicates a chemocline allowing suboxic water to spread over part of the shelf and supporting an intense Fe shuttle. The authors also make use of the fact that Mo data can be used to reconstruct the hydrography of a basin, which for the Black Sea allows an estimate of the inflow of Mediterranean seawater. Fe isotope analyses bolster the argument for the shelf-source of Fe. The emerging timeline is as follows (Unit II): (1) a gradual rise of the chemocline over a period of ∼2 kyr following the onset of anoxia at ca. 7.6 kyr B.P., (2) fully developed euxinic conditions with an ascent of the chemocline onto the shelf at ca. 5.3 kyr B.P., (3) a subsequent descent of the chemocline, and (Unit I) (4) establishment of the chemocline in its present-day position at the shelf break from 2.7 kyr B.P. onward.
But this is not the full story. Besides a good timeline for euxinia in the Black Sea, we need to understand the hydrographic and biogeochemical processes that drove these changes in redox conditions, and there much work still needs to be done. The evolution of the salinity in the basin, for example, is not well constrained. Recent qualitative reconstructions of salinity based on various proxies suggest that values of surface water salinity in the Black Sea rose until ca. 3 kyr B.P., followed by a gradual freshening to present-day values (van der Meer et al., 2008; Coolen, 2011). Possible causes for the freshening include an increase in fluvial discharge and decreased evaporation (Giosan et al., 2012). An associated increase in stratification may have contributed to the shallowing of the chemocline at the onset of the deposition of Unit I. Also, the processes leading to the increased total organic carbon (TOC) in Unit II as compared to the overlying and underlying units are not well understood. The high TOC is frequently interpreted as an indicator of enhanced nutrient availability and productivity following the inflow of Mediterranean seawater, and transition of limnic (oxic) to marine (anoxic and euxinic) conditions (also see Eckert et al., 2013). However, the sources of the nutrients fuelling this productivity have not been identified and whether, for example, phosphorus release from sediments or river water is more important is still an open question. Finally, the cause of the descent of the chemocline after ca. 5.3 kyr B.P. remains unknown. While Eckert et al. (2013) propose a decreased seawater input or increased river input as potential causes, van der Meer et al. (2008), in contrast, suggest that the absence of a shallow chemocline can be best explained by the high sea-surface salinity at the time.
Despite the open questions, the Eckert et al. (2013) study is important because it provides a more solid timeline and integrated view of the evolution of euxinia in the Black Sea, which is highly useful for assessments of climatic and other drivers of temporal change. The tools used can also be applied to better interpret sediment records from other marine systems, both modern and ancient, and can thereby aid in the assessment of the time scales of a possible decline into, and recovery from, wide-scale anoxia and euxinia. Such knowledge is important in a warming world where water column deoxygenation in the coastal zone is becoming more and more common.Link
Pan-Arctic distributions of continental runoff in the Arctic Ocean
Continental runoff is a major source of freshwater, nutrients and terrigenous material to the Arctic Ocean. As such, it influences water column stratification, light attenuation, surface heating, gas exchange, biological productivity and carbon sequestration. Increasing river discharge and thawing permafrost suggest that the impacts of continental runoff on these processes are changing.
Here, a new optical proxy was developed and implemented with remote sensing to determine the first pan-Arctic distribution of terrigenous dissolved organic matter (tDOM) and continental runoff in the surface Arctic Ocean. Retrospective analyses revealed connections between the routing of North American runoff and the recent freshening of the Canada Basin, and indicated a correspondence between climate-driven changes in river discharge and tDOM inventories in the Kara Sea. By facilitating the real-time, synoptic monitoring of tDOM and freshwater runoff in surface polar waters, this novel approach will help understand the manifestations of climate change in this remote region.
Climate-driven changes in runoff distribution have been linked to large inter-annual and decadal variations in the freshwater content of the Arctic Ocean, and these fluctuations have important ramifications for North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation9. Furthermore, changes in runoff routing through the Arctic Ocean can regulate the extent to which Arctic tDOM is incorporated into North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) and distributed in the global ocean.
The routing of Mackenzie River outflow since 2006 coincides with observations of a rapid accumulation of freshwater in the Canada Basin. Freshening began in the 1990s and accelerated in the late 2000s18, 19, 20, 21. The realization that a large accumulation of freshwater in the Canada Basin could impact global ocean circulation stimulated research to identify the freshwater sources and climatic forcing responsible for observed changes in salinity. Pacific water, ice-melt, precipitation and river runoff are distinct sources of freshwater to the Canada Basin.
New capabilities to monitor surface tDOM distributions will prove valuable for understanding future climate-driven changes in the biogeochemistry of the Arctic. Permafrost thawing and precipitation in drainage basins of Arctic rivers are projected to intensify with escalating atmospheric temperatures and thereby enhance the mobilization of soil organic matter to the Arctic Ocean32, 33, 34, 35, 36. The fate of this material and its effects on biogeochemical cycles will depend on its routing and residence time in polar surface waters4. Furthermore, processing of organic matter in surface waters is influenced by factors that are currently being altered by climate change (e.g., ice cover, water temperature). Multiyear records of remotely sensed tDOM distributions provide direct evidence of how the routing, inventory, storage and residence time of tDOM in surface polar waters change in response to climatic forcing. Such applications will thus provide crucial information for understanding the fate of immobilized soil organic matter and its impacts on biogeochemical cycles in this rapidly changing Arctic environment.
Finally, remote sensing of continental runoff provides useful insights about the sources of freshwater in the Arctic Ocean. Ice melt, precipitation and runoff are all increasing under the current climatic trends31, 37, and are altering the freshwater budget of the Arctic Ocean. Remotely sensed runoff distributions provide direct evidence of continental runoff contributions to specific regions of the surface Arctic Ocean, and will thereby help understand the mechanisms responsible for future changes in the Arctic freshwater budget. It is important to remember, however, that the uncoupling of river water from its tDOM component during the winter freeze-thaw cycle38 hampers the use of this approach to assess year-to-year changes in freshwater runoff storage. Future applications will also likely include studying the influence of continental runoff on biological processes, such as primary production, in polar surface waters.Link
Significance of euxinic condition in the middle Eocene paleo-Arctic basin: A geochemical study on the IODP Arctic Coring Expedition 302 sediments
Eocene Arctic basin. The main purpose of this study is to reconstruct paleoceanographic conditions including the extent of saline (seawater) mass presence. To attain this goal we performed geochemical analyses of total sulfur (%TS), total organic carbon (%TOC) and stable sulfur isotopic composition (δ34S) on the early to middle Eocene section of the ACEX cores. The %TS were high in all the examined intervals and the sedimentary sulfur occurred mainly as framboidal pyrite, indicating that sufficient sulfate, indicative of seawater, was present in the deep layer of the paleo-Arctic basin and that the pyrite was formed in the sediments under sufficient iron input. The high %TS values with low δ34S values also indicate the continuous existence and supply of seawater. The high accumulation of sulfide in Unit 1/6 was due to a significant increase of TOC supply which increased sulfate reduction rates by bacteria. The %TOC–%TS diagram shows excess sulfur content relative to the TOC, suggesting euxinic condition of the bottom water during the studied period. Such an oxygen depleted environment was brought about by salinity stratification and restricted water circulation. Link
Role of the changing river runoff in the Arctic ocean stratification
We find that while the surface stratification strengthens with the increasing runoff, the surface mixed layer thins and warmer water is found closer to the surface.
However, there is little change in the force needed to mechanically mix the warm waters toward the surface, against the stronger stratification. This is seen in Figure 3 as just below the surface mixed layer temperature contours mostly followthe isolines of the force needed to mix the waters to the surface. As a result the effect on the sea ice thickness remains small in the 1D simulations (Figure 1).
The column model reproduces previous theoretical considerations (Rudels, 2010) on the Arctic freshwater content and outflow: freshwater content increases as the surface salinity decrease dominates over the thinning of surface mixed layer. In the 3D simulations we find similar warming of the subsurface layers as in the 1D simulations (Figure 6).
In addition we find changes in the cold halocline as the increasing runoff alters shelf convection processes (Figures 4-6). Doubling the river runoff results to very fresh waters at the shelves restricting the convection to shallow surface layer. Consequently the Arctic halocline is degrading and the temperatures just below the surface mixed layer increase over 0.5 °CLink
The initiated deglaciation charges the Arctic Basin with organic matter (enhanced marine productivity) and causes at least surface stratification, which will likely slow ocean currents and causes oxygen depletion. Development can be abrupt and spread.
For those of us who see humanity confronting CO2, sans fission, as akin to being “up the creek, with a broken paddle”, or perhaps, a handful of mere toothpicks, this year brought some dispiriting developments in the US. A generation has passed, and in real time, our overall architecture is still placing zero value upon the contributions to climate mitigation, for the several power-plants retired this year. I contemplated beginning a comment to Unforced V in late October, to note this sad fact, with the phrase: “I have no wish to ignite a sand-box war. . .”, but decided for silence. Some weeks later, RAMader commented upon one such spat, labeling it as “puerile”.
Agreed. But, would a complete banishment of the topic from this forum, be mature? For those of us around in the late seventies, there was an element of the “for want of a simple nail for a messenger’s horse, the whole war was lost” to the American experience, in the wake of TMI. Without that one stuck valve, the Rainbow Regs, and the mid-gestation design recalibrations, all within the context of a near-infinite spike in the real cost of bond debt, our story might have been closer to that of France. (Right now, residential power there costs two-thirds the average of UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands & Denmark. Or, carbon free modernity for no monetary cost, on the electric side.) As with the “hiatus,” perception being a good bit of the battle, today one wonders whether Fukushima may also wield a horseshoe-nail effect, recapitulating the TMI-sequence, but on a global scale. If so, it will be climatically world-shaping.
For those who do…this recent post by blogging oceanographer Dr. Kim Martini may be of interest.
In it, she addresses some of the wild commentary about strontium pollution of the Pacific. The comment thread also includes a back-&-forth peek at the mess in containment wells, with offerings in the paranoid style contrasted with those of an engineer claiming experience. While lighting up half the planet is certainly not something you yearn to write home to Ma about (Dr. Martini cites models claiming a maximum enhancement @ Hawaii of 30 becquerels per cubic meter of the seas), by my reckoning this would be about 2.3 tenths of a percent of the potassium-40 shine, or very roughly, nearly the rate at which we annually reduce alkalinity, via BAU combustion.
Sean is a “victim” in the “War on Climate Change”. He is fighting a one man battle against those who would impugn his honor and demean his character. Sean has boldly stood up to all the scientists by telling them how to improve public relations by merely telling the truth to those who refuse to listen. Take heed all who visit here. Follow His example. BUT!!! If you doubt your courage, come no further because death awaits you all with sharp pointy teeth!!
I want to know how we set up checks and balances. What we have doesn’t work well, in my opinion. Technical issues should be vetted through the heat of effective and knowledgeable debate. But I’ve seen how the walls go up and the protective ring of moats get placed to form battlements against such meaningful discourse in the US.
Years back, during the congressional hearings over the FPO (full power operation) permit for the Seabrook power plant on the east coast, I found out about a MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) between the US NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) and INPO (Institute of Nuclear Power Operations), which is a private corporation that can be hired by nuclear power operators for tasks such as investigating nuclear power plant safety deficiencies.
To cope in their own way with laws making it a public right here in the US to know about safety issues, a revised MOA was dated in October of 1988 and was a modification of a 1985 MOA, signed by Victor Stello, Jr, then the NRC’s Executive Director for Operations. It effectively transferred the NRC regulatory responsibilities to INPO, because the NRC agreed not to duplicate safety investigations that INPO had performed and to rely upon those reports, instead. This was touted to “lessen the burden” on the NRC. But the effect of it was to cause nuclear power operators, upon notification by the NRC of some intended safety evaluation per their responsibilities, to immediately hire INPO, instead, to perform exactly the same required safety deficiency investigations that the NRC was expected to perform. Since INPO documents were private between INPO and the licensed Operator of the plant, and since the NRC would then refuse to duplicate the efforts, this MOA effectively sealed out of public view any safety information.
In my opinion, this was why the MOA was constructed. And the Seabrook hearings in Congress demonstrated how the MOA operates to bypass Congressional intent when it ordered that NRC safety inspections in fact be a matter of public record. The MOA “fixed” this “problem” for the nuclear power operators.
Separately, the newer rules from the NRC on advanced reactors standardize the licensing, providing early site approval, certification of plant designs by rule (avoiding the lengthy public hearings for each plant), and simultaneous issuances of both a construction permit and an operating license (a “one-stop licensing called “combined licenses”.) I’m not opposed to some aspects of this, as I understand the need for efficient processes to get the job done. But the rules have/had all the appearances of just more of the same, similar to the NRC MOA with INPO.
Under the provisions, nuclear power plan designs can be simply certified by rule. The cert is valid for 15 years from the date of trissuance. An application can be renewed for another 10-15 years. If a utility takes full advantage of the procedures, securing an early site permit in advance and referencing a certified standard design in its combined license application, the issues available for consideration in any public hearing is severely limited. Neither the suitability issues nor the reactor design issues can be litigated or discussed. (The suitability is decided simply by the issuance of the early site permit and the reactor design issues decided by the existing certification.) The effect is to eliminate any safety siting issues in combined license hearings, even if there is new material information discovered after the issuance of the early site permit.
Here in Oregon, I was supportive of our own Trojan nuclear power plant, as I had confidence in the staff operating the system and a fair degree of confidence in the corporation, as well. But I also got a first-hand chance to see, because I attended the public hearing where this happened in front of me, how they would pile hundreds of boxes of material in response to a court order to provide a short, specific report, and only said, “We have provided the requested document. It is in those boxes. We’ve complied with the law by providing it.” But with tens of thousands of pages of useless writings to pour through, it was very time consuming to track down the report.
I am personally very very concerned about climate change, species loss, and human impacts on Earth. But I’m still not willing to allow my fears on that score to blind me to past behaviors. The NRC and the nuclear industry, washing each others’ hands, is not acceptable. That has to change. Then we’ll see, depending on what it changes into.
I don’t see a way out of this, yet. But I’ll be hide-bound before I accept the current nuclear regulatory design. It has to change.
Dave Peters wrote: “But, would a complete banishment of the topic from this forum, be mature?”
First of all, this is a climate science site, not a site about energy technologies, and the moderators — who are climate scientists with no particular expertise in energy technology or economics — quite wisely and “maturely” want to keep this “forum” focused on climate science, where they have HUGE value to contribute.
Secondly, discussions of nuclear power on this site have unfortunately tended to degenerate into repetitive and angry arguments, with some commenters engaging in insults and name-calling.
I myself have been accused of being a paid shill for the coal industry, because I argued that rapidly deploying solar and wind energy technologies, along with efficiency and smart grid technologies, is a much faster and much more cost effective way of reducing GHG emissions from electricity generation than building new nuclear power plants.
There are plenty of other sites, like Brave New Climate, where proponents of expanding nuclear power can discuss the topic to their heart’s content.
“To have a good chance at staying under two degrees C, industrialised countries need to crash their CO2 emissions 10 percent per year starting in 2014, said Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester.”
I don’t think there should be any trouble convincing the industrialized countries of the world to essentially start immediately shrinking their economies by over 10% every year for as long as it takes to get completely off of fossil carbon, do you?
(I say “over 10%”) since 2 degrees C is clearly too high of a threshold.
Re 125 I am puzzled by the idea we can keep temperatures below a 2C increase. According to the charts of greenhouse gas concentrations we have a warming of more than 2C in the pipeline already. Can somebody explain?
125 wili: NOBODY, not even the wind turbine salesmen, are advocating “shrinking their economies by over 10% every year.” There is clearly no reason to do so. We need to quit burning carbon, not shrink an economy.
Biting tongue on energy sources. I note that the renewables salesmen are out heavy.
RE #125 – yes James Hansen in his 26 page recent collaboration papers says essentially the same but calls for 6%.
Take a look at what 6-10% actually means for us all and you will see that its not possible unless it is forced upon us. greater than 1% means a depression/recession on a large scale and our systems just are not designed to cope with. We only know growth with some occasional dips lasting 5 years or so of 1-2%.
Even if we can replace via demand or supply side economics 6 to 10% a year for 50 years the world will be so very different as during the final analysis it will be revealed that everyone expects everyone else to change their lifestyle and cut back on energy consumption so nobody has or will.
“Don’t assume that tackling climate costs will make all your costs go up and that there are no good options,” Kim said at a panel discussion that marked the opening of the World Bank Group’s week of Annual Meetings in Washington. “The innovations that are happening in other parts of the world are not always apparent to ministers of finance. We would be very happy to play the role of bringing those options to the table and letting them see that they can create a better world for their grandchildren, but that it makes economic sense as well.”
IMF: Fuel subsidies and “right pricing” go a long way
Lagarde pointed to a just-released study by the IMF showing that national subsidies for gasoline and other fossil fuel subsidies now top $485 billion annually. By removing such subsidies, financially pressed countries would generate a significant new revenue stream needed for services such as health and education, while at the same time addressing climate change, the report found.
The IMF can also help country finance ministers get the pricing right as they look to carbon taxes and other fiscal instruments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Lagarde said. Link
The sensitivity of the Earth system to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide may be twice as great as scientists had thought, new climate records from the distant past suggest.
LONDON, 11 December – You may think the prospect of climate change is alarming, a call to action to slow down our emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
You’re almost certainly right. But some scientists are now suggesting you should be much more concerned than you are, because they think we may be seriously underestimating the problem.
The Geological Society of London (GSL) says the sensitivity of the Earth’s climate to CO2 could be double earlier estimates.
The Society has published an addition to a report by a GSL working party in 2010, which was entitled Climate change: Evidence from the Geological Record.
The addition says many climate models typically look at short term, rapid factors when calculating the Earth’s climate sensitivity, which is defined as the average global temperature increase brought about by a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Scientists agree that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 levels could result in temperature increases of between 1.5 and 4.5°C, caused by rapid changes such as snow and ice melt, and the behaviour of clouds and water vapour.
But what the GSL now says is that geological evidence from palaeoclimatology (studies of past climate change) suggests that if longer-term factors are taken into account, such as the decay of large ice sheets, the Earth’s sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 could itself be double that predicted by most climate models. Link
The new GSL statement outlines evidence that a relatively modest rise in atmospheric CO2 levels and temperature leads to significant sea level rise, with oceans more acidic and less oxygenated. Previous such events caused marine crises and extinctions, with the Earth system taking around 100,000 years to recover.
The fate of bioavailable iron in Antarctic coastal seas
Bioavailable iron limits biological production and also affects the composition of the phytoplankton community.
The availability of iron, therefore, can limit uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide, with important implications for the climate. Understanding iron cycling in Antarctic phytoplankton is crucial for determining whether iron fertilization can be an effective strategy for reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide.
In the Ross Sea, bioavailable iron enters the area through snow melt and dust deposition. Iron removal is calculated to be about equal to iron input. Fertilizing the surface ocean with iron increases biological productivity, but the resulting carbon dioxide removal will be much less than expected due to the increased productivity of diatoms, which incorporate and remove the bioavailable iron.
The resultant decrease in iron favors plankton communities with lower iron requirements. Phaeocystis antarctica, a non-siliceous prymnesiophyte, dominates some Southern Ocean phytoplankton communities, but loses out to diatoms when bioavailable iron is low. P. antarctica assimilates more carbon dioxide than diatoms, so a shift to a diatom-rich phytoplankton community may reduce carbon dioxide sequestration, the opposite of the desired effect. Link
Climate change is causing the North Pole’s location to drift, owing to subtle changes in Earth’s rotation that result from the melting of glaciers and ice sheets. The finding suggests that monitoring the position of the pole could become a new tool for tracking global warming. Link
… populations of both ice-loving Adélie and ice-avoiding chinstrap penguins have declined significantly…. attributes both increases and decreases in penguin populations to changes in the abundance of their main prey, Antarctic krill. …
Adélie and chinstrap penguins were never directly harvested by man; thus, their population trajectories track the impacts of biological and environmental changes in this ecosystem.
Linking trends in penguin abundance with trends in krill biomass explains why populations of Adélie and chinstrap penguins increased after competitors (fur seals, baleen whales, and some fishes) were nearly extirpated in the 19th to mid-20th centuries and currently are decreasing in response to climate change.
Variability in krill biomass links harvesting and climate warming to penguin population changes in Antarctica
Trivelpiecea et al., PNAS May 3, 2011 vol. 108 no. 18 7625-7628
C’mon, geoengineering fans. Isn’t it obvious by now that we can reverse the damage we’re doing, by letting the natural cycling recover? Instead we keep chewing it up, and proposing more of us and what we build as “improvements.”
Help the whales recover, restoring the natural iron fertilization part of the cycle. The plankton and krill will recover, taking more methane and CO2 out of the surface ocean waters.
In my comment of two days back, I erroneously stated that Dr. Martini reported on “strontium pollution” in the Pacific, from Fukushima. It was cesium-37. Apologies to the thread. I also roughly (top of me head) equated a ratio of the cited maximum expected cesium-37 becquerel enhancement (@ Hawaii), to background potassium-40 in seawater (viz. 0.23%), to annual BAU reduction in ocean alkalinity. Working from the recent Hansen paper’s assertion that we have achieved a 26% increase in hydrogen ions from pre-industrial, a better notion would equate a quarter-percent acidification to each ppm enhancement of air, or ~six months of combustion.
Susan A. OK, the crack about toothpicks was untoward of me, and my regret for making it here is sincere. I wish to push back a bit, though. I have deeply loved science all of my life. The two most hateful sentences I ever wrote were in an essay of 1988, during my effort to save a nuclear plant on climate grounds: “Moreover, almost everything which science can tell us about this problem has already been conveyed. The discovery of the basic circumstance, that we are in deep trouble here, is of far greater informative consequence, than any sharpening of understanding of particular aspects of the climate system we can hope for from continued research.” At the time (1988, & PPM 345), Ramanathan’s comprehensive assessment of “other” gases was only a couple years old, telescoping the “relevance” of carbon from beyond one’s lifetime, to the practical. Vostock drills did not make it to the Eemian until 1985, finally explaining the Pleistocene. (For those young enough to have been given Milankovcih as received wisdom, words cannot convey what a wondrous mystery it was, to have glacial causality rattling one’s curiosity–How did this world DO that?) The point I was attempting, was that these two insights ought suffice as a basis for summary judgement, regarding both the need to act in the here and now, and nuclear.
I still believe the gist of that. Take the mysteries of the “staircase” 20th Century. Did the PDO do that? Or, when are we going to wrestle clouds to within ten percent? What are our prospects for narrowing the uncertainty of indirect aerosols? I have immense appreciation for the political difficulty of prying humanity away from fire. But the scientists are well within the purview of their expertise, to opine about the reasonableness of expectations of future insight. I have very strong inclinations, that viewed from a century from now, much of our contemporary argument about the science will be regarded as naval-gazing. In the here and now, we can only turn to them for guidance about what is reasonable to expect to ever know, before we are compelled to ACT.
Among the benefits of paying the AGU associate membership even if you’re not a climate scientist — prompt notice of new papers, some about climate, e.g. how do surface meltwater lakes contribute to ice sheet collapse. First, they press the ice down, so the bottom of the ice melts a bit more; then, they drain through cracks and the ice rebounds as the weight of the water goes down; the ice rebounding was thinned by bottom melting so it bounces up higher than the surrounding ice, causing cracks around the edge of the uplift; then, ice cubes!
Breakup of the Larsen B Ice Shelf triggered by chain reaction drainage of supraglacial lakes (pages 5872–5876)
Alison F. Banwell, Douglas R. MacAyeal and Olga V. Sergienko
Article first published online: 27 NOV 2013
Larsen B Ice Shelf rapidly broke‐up by chain‐reaction drainage of surface lakes
Lake‐induced stress set fracture spacing small enough for capsize‐driven breakup
Lake interaction by flexural stress defines an ice‐shelf stability tipping point
wili wrote: “I don’t think there should be any trouble convincing the industrialized countries of the world to essentially start immediately shrinking their economies by over 10% every year for as long as it takes to get completely off of fossil carbon, do you?”
Kevin Anderson said “industrialised countries need to crash their CO2 emissions 10 percent per year”.
He said NOTHING about “shrinking their economies”.
The fossil fuel corporations fund a lot of propaganda which equates fossil fuel use with “the economy” and equates reducing fossil fuel use with “shrinking the economy”, all of which is nonsense.
Why in the world would you want to promote that bogus idea?
Reducing fossil fuel use won’t “shrink the economy” — quite the opposite — but it will result in the transfer of trillions of dollars in investments, capital and profits from the fossil fuel corporations to other sectors of the industrial economy.
He is quite clear here and elsewhere that, while a big supporter (as am I) of alternative energies, at this point he can see no way that production of the same can be ramped up at the requisite speed. Demand reduction, on the other hand, can be reduced immediately. And that is what we desperately need: an immediate drop in CO2 emissions from wherever we can get it.
Thanks for your perspectives, DP and pete. I agree that even Anderson’s dire sounding forecast is likely optimistic.
122 Jon Kirwan: Coal fired power plants are killing over a million people each year. Nuclear power is killing nobody. Coal burning is also causing the global warming that can make the human race extinct by 2060. Coal contains uranium.
Your choices are: Coal or nuclear. There are no other realistic choices. Renewables require energy storage that would cost the US $500 Trillion. So which is it? Coal or nuclear?
They had to “pile hundreds of boxes of material in response to a court order to provide a short, specific report.” Sorry, but the anti-nuclear activists have forced the situation. Please also read “Power to Save the World; The Truth About Nuclear Energy” by Gwyneth Cravens, 2007 Finally a truthful book about nuclear power. Gwyneth Cravens is a former anti-nuclear activist. Or, buy the movie “Pandora’s Promise” from iTunes and watch it.
Re- Comment by Edward Greisch — 14 Dec 2013 @ 6:18 PM
You have one very large blind spot that you exhibit repeatedly. That is- the claim that renewables are not able to provide base power. For the sake of argument we can completely ignore the various means for providing electricity when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, and wake up to the fact that there is a very simple solution. All we all have to do is accept that full electrical power, 24 hr/day, every day, isn’t really that important, and find ways to adapt. I know many well educated and relatively ordinary U.S. citizens that have no problem with the intermittent power provided by their solar panels. I would be willing to bet that the standard of living of these folks, and my own as well, is much higher than your own, or what you think might be optimal for the average Joe/Jane public.
I don’t disagree with the difficulties if we are incapable of self control regarding energy use. The answer is to reduce energy use. It won’t happen. But it is the only answer, just the same.
I spent some serious effort calculating just how many of the new NRC reactors we’d need to produce to effectively move away from fossil fuels. And how long it would take, even with unachievably short construction cycles. It’s just not doable.
Fossil fuels are the ONLY possible answer if we insist on being no smarter than bacteria in a petri dish and refuse to significantly reduce our energy use. Moving to fission isn’t an answer. It’s a distraction. And worse than that; for reasons I already mentioned.
An old textbook on history I read some 40 years ago while in school showed a ‘liberated’ gas chamber in WW II Germany, where the bodies were piled up in a pyramid in the middle of the room. The caption explained that there was a vent in the ceiling and that some of those in the room climbed onto the backs of others, trying to get closer to that vent and survive just a little longer. They all died, of course. But some got a few more seconds.
Humans and domesticated animals already occupy almost all of the land based vertebrate mass on this planet. And like that frozen image I saw many years ago, humans will yet climb onto the backs of all remaining life on earth, killing it all the faster in a vain attempt at survival, and unwilling to do the only thing that would actually save themselves and everything else.
Fission won’t solve the energy problem, which is a symptom. No time to do it, let alone do it well or right. And it won’t address the underlying problem, either.
My points remain. You didn’t address yourself to any of them.
But I think my responses on this topic are done. I feel I’ve already used up too much of what little welcome this topic may have. You can have the last word.
James Newberry @147.
The biosphere overall is doing very well at present, sucking much of our unwanted CO2 out of the atmosphere, as are the oceans. Because our atmospheric inputs from fossil fuels do not include oxygen, when our emissions are thus sucked from the atmosphere, it takes oxygen with it. Thus oxygen levels are dropping (see Scripps Inst. data.) but only by a miniscule amount.
Edward Greisch: Renewables require energy storage that would cost the US $500 Trillion
Can someone reference or elaborate on this claim?
It appears to be false just by looking at current developments.
Thermal energy storage (TES) is achieved with greatly differing technologies that collectively accommodate a wide range of needs. It allows excess thermal energy to be collected for later use, hours, days or many months later, at individual building, multiuser building, district, town or even regional scale depending on the specific technology. As examples: energy demand can be balanced between day time and night time; summer heat from solar collectors can be stored interseasonally for use in winter; and cold obtained from winter air can be provided for summer air conditioning. Storage mediums include: water or ice-slush tanks ranging from small to massive, masses of native earth or bedrock accessed with heat exchangers in clusters of small-diameter boreholes (sometimes quite deep); deep acquifers contained between impermeable strata; shallow, lined pits filled with gravel and water and top-insulated; and eutectic, phase-change materials.
Other sources of thermal energy for storage include heat or cold produced with heat pumps from off-peak, lower cost electric power, a practice called peak shaving; heat from combined heat and power (CHP) power plants; heat produced by renewable electrical energy that exceeds grid demand and waste heat from industrial processes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_energy_storage
Concentrated solar thermal is again making the news, with the world’s largest parabolic trough array with thermal storage – opening for business in Arizona.
The 280 MW Solana Generating Station constructed by Spanish group Abengoa has six hours of molten storage capacity that will allow it to produce energy into the evening, and deliver output according to the needs of the customer.
“Solana is a monumental step forward in solar energy production,” said Don Brandt, the president of APS, the local utility. “This provides a huge boost toward our goal to make Arizona the solar capital of America.”
The opening of Solana is one of three major new projects that are coming on stream, as CSP begins to recover the ground lost, and projects ceded, to solar PV when that technology delivered massive cost reductions in recent years.
The 375 MW Ivanpah project, the largest solar power tower in the world, has delivered to the grid for the first time and is due to start full operations within the next few months, as is the 110 MW Crescent Dunes facility in Nevada, which will be the world’s largest solar power tower project with molten salt.
Also, the first commercial scale solar thermal plant with storage, the Gemasolar plant in Spain, recently marked its second anniversary by delivering electricity 24/7 for 36 consecutive days. On Thursday, Dr Keith Lovegrove, the head of solar thermal at Australia’s IT Power, said CSP with storage is ”virtually unbeatable” as a technology, and the costs are coming down quickly.
Edward, where’d you get that number? Usual questions: what’s the source? Why do you trust the source so much you adopt and copypaste the claim without citing it? Or is it your own work?
I find the number tossed around, but not cited to anything.
My guess would be that’s something like the current price for doing all the needed load balancing with contemporary lead-acid battery storage, counting ramping up the lead industry to satisfy the sourcing and management of that much lead and sulfuric acid — in other words, it’s somebody saying “it would cost the Earth* to do that” as an argument that there will be no progress in energy storage, so it’d be a waste to build more renewables.
Admittedly that’s a bit of a gamble — but it’s steps along the right path investing in a future we want. Personally I’d rather gamble that energy storage will come along to satisfy the need to build out renewables.
The alternative, of course, would be gambling that space pixies will take care of the results of continuing to burn fossil fuel.
Natural Capitalism, LH Lovins, A Lovins, P Hawken – 2007 – “… If natural capital stocks were given a monetary value, assuming the assets yielded “interest” of $36 trillion annually, the world’s natural capital would be valued at somewhere between $400 and $500 trillion …”
for Jon Kirwan, “what little welcome this topic may have”
You’re not alone.
“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”
The Ben Adler piece is an example of the bull that gives a bad name to those of us who are concerned about the environment and good science.
What bull (heh), specifically, do you object to in that piece? Is the referenced science all that controversial?
Although I’ve cut my consumption way back from 20 years ago, I still loves me some meat. That said, I’m willing to pay more for what I eat if at least some of its externalities are internalized. If I have to pay a lot more for it, I’ll probably eat a lot less of it. I wouldn’t like that, but I can’t deny the GHG-based case against meat production (leaving aside the other arguments against it as off-topic at RC).
There seems to be a communications failure here between Secular Animist and those who think a rapid transition to renewables will have negative economic impacts. I suggest that differing timescales of analysis may account for some of that.
I agree with SA that, once the transition is well advanced, there’s no reason why energy from renewable sources has to cost more than energy from fossil fuels, when all costs are counted. However, for the transition to progress beyond its incipient stages (at least in the U.S), government intervention to impose a carbon price, along with targeted R&D funding, will be required. It may be possible to design that intervention so as to minimize or eliminate immediate economic impact. Speaking as a frustrated U.S. citizen and voter, though, I have little expectation that our political process will lead to optimal or even sensible intervention over the near term. Consider corn ethanol.
Again, I expect that over time, and with necessary corrections, the economic impact of government intervention will be positive. I’d personally be willing to live with short-term negative impacts caused by sub-optimal government intervention, because if vastly more severe future impacts are to be avoided, a rapid transition to non-fossil energy must commence.
Jon K @149 wrote: “The answer is to reduce energy use. It won’t happen. But it is the only answer, just the same.”
Well, and succinctly, put.
The goal of all right thinking people now must be to LIMIT human potential, particularly their potential to gobble up the planet. Given that this is the purpose that nearly all the relatively cheap and abundant energy that industrial society has used so far has been put to, this means limiting energy to said society, not increasing it.
But if you think, in spite of hundreds of years of history of industrial society becoming ever more efficient in its rape of the natural world, that it is right on the cusp of making a sudden 180 degree turn and devoting itself nearly exclusively to preserving and restoring the natural world…
Well, then all I can ask is, “What drugs have you been taking?” and “Can I have some, ’cause I’m getting tired of facing the world the way it is and would like to take a vacation in your fantasy world for a while.”
Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Dec 2013 @ 12:19 PM
And- Comment by Mal Adapted — 15 Dec 2013 @ 12:27 PM
Mal Adapted, I very much agree with your statement. I too have been restricting the animal protein portion of my diet by trying to only purchase from, for example, “organic” (silly term) cattle ranchers who raise animals solely on natural grasslands. I am currently paying more for the higher quality meat and compensating by reducing my consumption. I also have strategies for other animal proteins.
The problem with the Adler article is that he doesn’t distinguish between methane from the natural carbon cycle (cow farts), which is very much less important than the CO2 released by the damaging agricultural practice of, for example, using fertilizer made from fossil methane. There is no mention of the fact that the same bad practices are used for growing vegetables for all of us including vegans. I also have a personal strategy for dealing with this.
All of agriculture needs to make a big shift in its methods in order to correct its many damaging practices including increasing atmospheric CO2, cruelty to animals, and feeding low levels of antibiotics which produce resistant human disease organisms. Further the only well understood method for growing crops without the chemical manufacture of fertilizer is using animal fertilizer. Putting out a flawed description of the food problem just sows confusion.
for Jon Kirwan, “what little welcome this topic may have”
You’re not alone.
“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a
world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to
laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that
the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the
doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself
well and does not want to be told otherwise.”
― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
Reminds me of a phone call I made to the Clackamas County biologist, a few years ago, asking him about the status of Salmon and the smelt (Eulachons) in the Sandy River, locally. I have lived here all my life and we talked a little about what has happened in my 60 years living here (born and raised in the same place, still here.) (Sloughs once so filled with life that I could simply dip a pickle jar once into the water at random and come up with dozens of guppies and tadpole — now completely dead and stagnant, for example.) Then I just asked him about our local riverways and the near future. He said, “I won’t talk about it.” I said, “Why?” He said, “I just can’t talk about it.” I said, “Because you’ve lost hope the subject is painful?” He said, “Yes. Let’s change the subject.” Given that I only wanted to talk about how things were going in the local ecologies, the discussion was pretty much cut short.
I live 10 miles from a national forest system of thousands of square miles and my own property is kept forested, with snags and much of nature left intact for birds such as owls and pileated woodpeckers here. We have four kinds of squirrels here, including the Northern flying squirrel. (A nocturnal squirrel with the softest fur you can imagine, and retina/tapeta [tapeta lucida] with such combined efficiency you cannot see their reflection. They are also non-violent, unlike so many other wild squirrels.) I even have several kinds of bioluminescent insects on the property! I go out into the woods to just watch and observe, often. You can know the name of a bird in every language in the world and know nothing about it. Observation means everything to understanding.
My life hasn’t been that long. Yet in that short time, I’ve seen so much that has completely disappeared. Far, far fewer bird species, even going many many miles away from population. Mt Hood’s 11 glaciers declining by more than 50% of their mass balance just since I’ve become an adult. (I had to call two key scientists simply to make them aware that they needed to include Mt Hood in their studies, about a decade ago, and to get their promise to do so.)
Much has changed over a very short time. It’s not slow. It’s very fast. Insanely fast. I think we are seeing a balloon that has already been popped. It’s just that our time scales let us see the explosion in slow motion. But it’s already unraveling.
Wishing for growth without emissions growth is just that: wishing. At least at a global level, and remember that we now have a global economy, there is no nation that goes it alone, that I’m aware of. It’s a global problem and can only have a global solution.
Even if we could have unlimited renewable power (built, maintained and operated only by renewable power) or infinitely stable societies (to enable safe nuclear power for ever), we could not have both a habitable planet and economic growth. We might as well get used to that and accept that mitigating the destruction of our ecosystems is not compatable with economic growth.
Acting on climate change does not necessarily cause an economy to shrink as is evidenced by Sweden, since they established a Carbon tax the economy prospered.
The tax is credited with spurring a significant move from hydrocarbon fuels to biomass. As Swedish Society for Nature Conservation climate change expert Emma Lindberg said, “It was the one major reason that steered society towards climate-friendly solutions. It made polluting more expensive and focused people on finding energy-efficient solutions.”
“It increased the use of bioenergy”, said University of Lund Professor Thomas Johansson, former director of energy and climate at the UN Development Programme. “It had a major impact in particular on heating. Every city in Sweden uses district heating. Before, coal or oil were used for district heating. Now biomass is used, usually waste from forests and forest industries.” Economic growth appears to be unaffected. Between 1990 and 2006, Sweden’s economy grew by 44-46 percent (approx 2,8% annually) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_tax#Sweden
Hint: the use of corn ethanol has a lot more to do with the above than with the much later environmental motivations.
Looks like you got it, not that I’m surprised that you did. Any legislation ostensibly aimed at AGW abatement will have a similar backstory, requiring a deep delve into history to reveal the ulterior motives of its sponsors. Whence my low expectations.
“In the past, the Environmental Protection Agency has said that meat production accounted for only around 3.75 percent of U.S. emissions. But the estimate failed to factor in the grain fed to livestock and the transportation of grain and livestock. The new NAS study corrects that error, finding that in 2008, the U.S. released 49 million tons of methane, rather than the 32 million tons estimated by the EPA. As the Associated Press notes, that means America’s methane might contribute as much to climate change as its entire transportation sector. Some of that comes from byproducts of fossil fuel extraction, such as fracking, but most of it comes from animals.”
Adler’s claim is inconsistent with existing EPA figures, which estimate enteric fermentation and manure at 32 percent of emissions. The study he’s referring to notes in the abstract:
“Our study indicates that emissions due to ruminants and manure are up to twice the magnitude of existing inventories. In addition, the discrepancy in methane source estimates is particularly pronounced in the south-central United States, where we find total emissions are ∼2.7 times greater than in most inventories and account for 24 ± 3% of national emissions. The spatial patterns of our emission fluxes and observed methane–propane correlations indicate that fossil fuel extraction and refining are major contributors (45 ± 13%) in the south-central United States.”
The EPA’s percentages and the figure of 32 million tons cited by Adler imply that about 10 million tons of methane were attributed to livestock. Doubling the total to 20 million tons to account for the correction by Miller et al and livestock accounts for about 40 percent of methane emissions. In comparison, earlier figures from the EPA estimated that 41 percent of emissions are from fossil fuel activities. Provided the remaining 7 million tons of emissions found in the PAS study are all due to this sector, and fossil fuels account for about the same share of the revised estimate as livestock (~40 percent).
Prokaryotes, definitely. I think that the change may actually promote growth. Remember, we are creating a whole new energy infrastructure and all the technology that goes with it. The issue is that there will be winners and losers–and it is the potential losers that are screaming the loudest against the science.
Whoever develops a viable solution first will be a big winner. I think the Chinese know this and have set their minds to beating our pasty white asses.
#167, 168–Economic growth is essentially (in my heterodox view) the quantization of the process of making a society which is more in line with our values. If we value things which do not require increased energy use, and find ways to pay for them–whether it be by monetized purchase, by ‘sweat equity,’ or by pure ingenuity–then we will have economic growth without energy growth.
Now, I hope that doesn’t sound as though I think it’s ‘easy.’ Cultural change is incredibly hard.
But my intuition does keep insisting, loudly, that it’s at least possible.
#162–wili, I have a lot of sympathy for your point of view. But for God’s sake, don’t ever again formulate it that we need to “limit human potential!” It’s not really what you mean, and sure as sure, it’ll get hung around your neck and mine as evidence that environmentalists are ‘anti-people.’ Sure, it’s silly, but when did that ever stop ’em before?
The problem with the Adler article is that he doesn’t distinguish between methane from the natural carbon cycle (cow farts), which is very much less important than the CO2 released by the damaging agricultural practice of, for example, using fertilizer made from fossil methane.
Thanks, but what is the evidence for your assertion that methane from “cow farts” is very much less important than other agricultural practices? A few minutes of searching turned up this Global Methane Inventory from GISS, estimating the contribution from enteric fermentation (i.e. cow farts) plus animal waste (manure) at 21%, with rice cultivation at 12%. And why do you say that “cow farts” are part of the natural carbon cycle, when emissions from domestic livestock are anthropogenic by definition?
To be fair, Adler cites a PNAS article by Miller et al. (doi:10.1073/pnas.1314392110), and says
…America’s methane might contribute as much to climate change as its entire transportation sector. Some of that comes from byproducts of fossil fuel extraction, such as fracking, but most of it comes from animals.
I wasn’t able to find support for that in Miller et al, which concludes only that contributions from both source have previously been underestimated.
Me too. One parcel lost a foot of topsoil since the late 1800s (and has aobut a third of an inch left, said the hydrologist 30 years ago). Working on it. It’s a 200 year project to get that back. The other parcel hasn’t been touched for more than a century — Thoreau advised me the measure of wealth is what we can afford to leave alone. Good advice.
Problem is how to take care of something that can live and go on producing wildlife just about forever — under our mayfly species’ property and tax laws dedicated “ownership” transfers that end up grinding up such sites and cranking out “money” instead.
I think there are little patches of almost wild land remaining many places.
Were they somehow protected and otherwise left alone — they would keep attracting and teaching young humans effectively forever.
Kids invariably find them and are attracted to them, if they can walk or bicycle the distance — and if the ‘grownups’ haven’t trashed or infested them.
Wildland is the most robust and most fragile of environments. I don’t know what to do with mine as I get old.
The Earth Manual: How to Work on Wild Land Without Taming It
by Malcolm Margolin, Michael Harney (Illustrator)
A guide for landowners, conservationists, and youth group leaders on how to work with (rather than against) the wildness of the land.
Paperback, 238 pages
Published January 1st 1985 by Heyday Books (first published 1975)
Interesting link, as usual, prok (@181). For those who may not have clicked on his link (always a mistake to miss), read and marvel at what we have wrought:
“Now that West Antarctica is losing weight–that is, billions of tons of ice per year–its softer mantle rock is being nudged westward by the harder mantle beneath East Antarctica.
The discovery comes from researchers led by The Ohio State University, who have recorded GPS measurements that show West Antarctic bedrock is being pushed sideways at rates up to about twelve millimeters–about half an inch–per year. This movement is important for understanding current ice loss on the continent, and predicting future ice loss.”
A possibility that prok has often pointed out as likely is now well attested: GW is having effects on the very shape of the earth’s crust.
Kevin M wrote: “don’t ever again formulate it that we need to “limit human potential!”
wili replies: We need to limit human potential! We need to limit human potential! We need to limit human potential! We need to limit human potential! ‘-)
No really, once we start censoring ourselves for fear of what lunatics might say, we may as well all just go home. Even if we never said anything that could possibly be misinterpreted (which is actually a linguistic impossibility), they would then just make sh!t up (as they often have done and will doubtless continue to do).
I obviously mean limit humans: “starting with those most empowered already who are mostly using that power to limit the ability of all future generations, i.e. the global top 10% or so, probably including everyone posting here.”
In that sense, we need to limit many humans now so that humans in the future (and really not so distant future) will not be limited beyond any ability to live, or to live any marginally decent life.
But I assume that, at least in certain arenas, you and most here would agree. We certainly need to limit human use of nuclear (and chemical, and…let’s face it, most) weapons. It would nice if humans could limit our propensity to overpopulate the planet.
Most can agree that such limitations, however achieved, are necessary for a livable future. But the limits have to be extended to many more of what we have come to consider normal parts of industrial life.
I do hope it’s obvious that I am not particularly worried about “limiting the potential” of the indigenous Andamanese, or of the Aka, or the Khoisan, or any number of other (mostly already threatened) small scale traditional cultures. I would note, though, that all these peoples have strong sets of taboos that could be said to ‘limit their potential’ in ways often confusing to outsiders, but these self-restrictions have obviously allowed these folks to live sustainably in their environments for tens of thousands of years. It is the setting up of a similarly powerful (or more so) set of taboos that is needed now for ‘modern’ societies to keep them from utterly destroying everything of true value.
We obviously, for example, have to move toward a global “taboo” of some sort on burning fossil ‘death’ fuels. But if we replace these sources of energy with others that allow us to continue modern industrial society’s implicit program of turning everything on earth into toxic waste, success against GW will be a rather hollow victory (not that I think any kind of real total ‘success’ on this front is really possible at this point in any human time scale).
Re- Comment by Mal Adapted — 16 Dec 2013 @ 12:45 PM
Combining cow farts (actually mostly burps) and emissions of CO2 and methane from cow pies with the emissions derived from fossil sources is just wrong. All of the CO2 and methane derived from the cow digestive system was just previously captured CO2 from the atmosphere by the growing plants that were used for feed. So you have to subtract this from the CO2 and methane from the digestive processes of cows. This is also true for all other animals raised for humans in order to derive an accurate estimate of greenhouse potential. After 7 to 10 years, once the methane component is broken down to CO2, it is carbon neutral. This means that if the numbers of animals that are raised for human purposes remains relatively constant, the atmospheric greenhouse gas load doesn’t change at all from this source. In contrast, when fossil carbon is used for creating fertilizers and other agricultural purposes the carbon is added to the atmosphere.
Here is a simpler example. Sitting next to me as I type is 10 gallons of my homemade Uncle Steve’s Christmas Stout. It is noisily bubbling CO2 into the atmosphere from fermentation and it will emit approximately 300 gallons (at atmospheric pressure). It is releasing the carbon that was sequestered from the atmosphere by barley as it was growing less than a year ago. This is a part of the carbon cycle and is true of the many large emitters of methane and CO2, such as termites and any animal that eats cellulose and includes microorganisms in flooded rice fields, swamps and forests, and cow farts are a relatively small component of this natural cycle.
People who do not recognize this inflate the problem. Maybe they are just ignorant or trying to make the problem more spectacular or have some kind of agenda, I don’t know. The real problem is that all agricultural practices that release fossil carbon, not just meat production, will have to be revised along with all other uses of coal, petroleum, and natural gas. There are a lot of very smart people working on the agriculture problem. See here for an example- http://rodaleinstitute.org/our-work/farming-systems-trial/farming-systems-trial-30-year-report/
Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Dec 2013 @ 1:21 PM
I live on a fairly large parcel of forest in the Northern California coastal range that we would like to preserve intact. Here there is a land trust organization that helps local land owners create a legal trust that will prevent further development or logging in perpetuity while keeping it in the family. We are going to do this and I would bet that you can find a similar organization in your area. Steve
Capitalism and the Destruction of Life on Earth: Six Theses on Saving the Humans
From climate change to resource overconsumption to pollution, the engine that has powered three centuries of accelerating economic development revolutionizing technology, science, culture and human life itself is today a roaring, out-of-control locomotive mowing down continents of forests, sweeping oceans of life, clawing out mountains of minerals, drilling, pumping out lakes of fuels, devouring the planet’s last accessible resources to turn them all into “product” while destroying fragile global ecologies built up over eons.
Between 1950 and 2000 the global human population more than doubled from 2.5 billion to 6 billion. But in these same decades, consumption of major natural resources soared more than sixfold on average, some much more. Natural gas consumption grew nearly twelvefold, bauxite (aluminum ore) fifteenfold. And so on.
At current rates, Harvard biologist E.O Wilson says, “half the world’s great forests have already been leveled, and half the world’s plant and animal species may be gone by the end of this century.” Corporations aren’t necessarily evil – although plenty are diabolically evil – but they can’t help themselves. They’re just doing what they’re supposed to do for the benefit of their shareholders. Shell Oil can’t help but loot Nigeria and the Arctic and cook the climate. That’s what shareholders demand. Link
Many argue that a collapse is a solution to our problems, but what if a collapse would thwart our last chances to organize the transition, the paradigmen shift required to act in a timely manner? There are ofc many outcomes in any system change but any situation which arises probably means violent confrontations and thus the outcome might leave us in a worse state then we have now(at least this is a possibility).
There are many studies which show more violence triggered by climate impacts and thus conflicts with weapons of mass destruction become more likely in a warmer world.
The time to act is now and actions must be common sense and help the common people, because change must come from each of us. But maybe we are to much trapped in a world separated by money, hate and greed and thus we will go down in history, because we were unable to change and act united to preserve the ecosystem states we had during the Holocene.
Paleoseismology looks at geologic sediments and rocks, for signs of ancient earthquakes. It is used to supplement seismic monitoring, for the calculation of seismic hazard. Paleoseismology is usually restricted to geologic regimes that have undergone continuous sediment creation for the last few thousand years, such as swamps, lakes, river beds and shorelines.
Many notable discoveries have been made using the techniques of paleoseismology. For example, there is a common misconception that having many smaller earthquakes can somehow ‘relieve’ a major fault such as the San Andreas, and reduce the chance of a major earthquake.
It is now known (using paleoseismology) that nearly all the movement of the fault takes place with extremely large earthquakes. All of these seismic events (with a Moment Magnitude of over 8), leave some sort of trace in the sedimentation record.
Another famous example involves the Megathrust earthquakes of the Pacific Northwest. It was thought for some time that there was low seismic hazard in region because relatively few modern earthquakes are being recorded. There was a concept that the subduction zone was merely sliding in a benign manner.
All of these comforting notions were shattered by paleoseismology studies showing evidence of extremely large earthquakes, along with historical tsunami records. In effect, the subduction zone under British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and far northern California, is perfectly normal, being extremely hazardous in the long term, with the capability of generating coastal tsunamis of several hundred feet in height at the coast. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleoseismology
Waking the Giant (Bill McGuire 2009)
Accompanying the event, wholesale melting in the Earth’s mantle underlying the waking the giant region fed vast outpourings of lava across Canada’s Bafﬁn Island, Greenland, the Faeroes, and north-west Britain. In places, lavas were piled more than seven kilometres thick, while elsewhere magma intruded en masse into the local rock and sediments. Estimates suggest that the total volume of magma involved was staggering, ranging between 5 and 10 million cubic kilometres. Impressive, undoubtedly, but what has this to do with the PETM? According to Mike Storey of Roskilde University in Denmark, and colleagues, quite a lot. Storey and his fellow researchers propose that the puzzle of the initial PETM warming can be explained by the release of prodigious volumes of carbon-12 enriched methane as magma associated with the splitting of Greenland from Europe heated and baked carbon-rich sediments that ﬂ oored much of the region prior to the tectonic upheaval. The timing is just about right, with the start of the PETM occurring a little after the beginning of the great, magmatic outburst. http://ncse.com/files/pub/evolution/excerpt–giant.pdf
investigation of palynofacies and low-field magnetic susceptibility reveal significant detrital influx during the interval. Several magnetic susceptibility phases and trends are recognised and are interpreted in terms of sea-level fluctuations before, during and after the PETM. Coupled with results from other sections, our data reveal the presence of an unconformity followed by an eustatic sea-level rise (TST) in the latest Palaeocene. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-3121.2012.01064.x/abstract
There, David Biellos often cites the recent paper by Hansen/Sachs. [I have been watching this publication for decades, and they have previously published Lovins on multiple occasions. So, something of a tergiversation or sea change may be afoot.] As here, refuting Jon Kirwan’s concern (# 150): “the speediest drop in greenhouse gas pollution on record occurred in France in the 1970s and ‘80s, when that country transitioned from burning fossil fuels to nuclear fission for electricity, lowering its greenhouse emissions by roughly 2 percent per year.” [Jon, your response @ (# 122) is thoughtful , but to respond to it would tack even further from climate.]
Steve (# 148), “all we have to do” is not need electricity 24 hours per day. Did you see the Sandy victims waiting in line for petrol to feed their home generators? But, in other settings, I set the bar far lower than you. Consider the clothes line. Perfectly small scale, soft-path, distributed, and with no line losses. NO ONE line dries clothes. Below this thresh hold, are tens of millions of Rush Limbaugh listeners, who follow him to the view that AGW is a hoax. To provide this constituency with carbon free modern life, you need a power source to which they are indifferent. That is what the French have so convincingly shown the world they learned to do four decades ago. And what no other mitigation idea is within a decade of being a real alternative to.
A last point about balls-to-the-wall, and scaling. If one had polled economists in U.S. academia in 1939, about soon producing a Victory/Liberty ship per day, or aircraft by the tens of thousands, they would have encountered deep dubiety. We have portable power craft tools today, and cell phones, and portable task menu and documentation software the guys who built our fleet, and the French, did not have. There are a hell of a lot of welds in a nuclear power plant. I worked a several hundred mile hitch of a forty-eight inch gas pipeline out of Wyoming several years back. You have to wrap a seam ten-fold, so you are running bead about the length of the line. You might be amazed to see how much of that welding is done robotically nowadays.
With apologies to Secular Animist, Susan Anderson & MARodger for the name mistakes. Getting old.
It’s possible a scientist saying something like
that is hinting that a gag order has been
imposed, say due to a pending lawsuit against
a local polluter. That’s the hopeful scenario.
I understand why you might imagine so. But I didn’t report the entire conversation. Just enough to get the idea across, I thought. (Obviously, I didn’t do a good enough job of that.) He was in mental pain about the situation, not under an order not to talk, given other parts of the conversation I had with him.
And thanks for the recommended books. I will get them and read them. Our land looks almost exactly like the Mt. Hood National Forest. The woodpeckers depend upon snags, so I don’t clear them. Very dense generally, plus ferns, rhododendrons, douglas and noble firs well over 100′, etc. I only wish I felt I deserved to live her. It’s much too nice.
Land Taxes in Oregon are deferred if your get “forest deferral” (10 yr rolling period) or “farm deferral” (7 yr rolling period.) But forest deferral REQUIRES that you grow “marketable timber.” This means it must qualify, in their opinion, as a type of tree that is profitable (by some measure.) You also cannot allow “trash wood” to interfere — which means no maple, no ash, etc. You cannot just let things “grow wild.” It must be managed. Or no deferral.
Humanure is an obvious way to make use of this resource. One of my neighbors is doing this with some success. Unfortunately it is very difficult and expensive on a national scale. Sewage plants are distributed with population centers not agricultural areas. It is very expensive to process on a large scale because of the variety of diseases, medications people take, heavy metals, and whatever else is flushed down the toilet. It takes a lot of heat from natural gas to purify large quantities of humanure.
But wait, in steps Amory Lovins. He suggests that as many sewage treatment plants as is practical could create artificial marshes that sewage would seep through and the water would be cleaned by microorganisms and plants. One example of a crop that could be grown in these marshes is cattails (e.g. Typhe latifolia, one example of the common bulrush). Because contaminated cattails would not be useful near any kind of human food, Lovins suggests that the starchy rhizome could be fermented and then distilled into pure alcohol using the dried leafy portion for the distillery heat source.
573 certified deaths were due to evacuation-related stress at Fukushima. Zero due to radiation. As of February 4, 2012 http://www.beyondnuclear.org/home/2012/2/4/japanese-authorities-recognize-573-deaths-related-to-fukushi.html
In other words, regulations that were too strict on radiation caused intensive care and old folks homes, etcetera, to be evacuated. If the evacuation had not happened, nobody would have died. Please read this book: “Radiation and Reason, The impact of Science on a culture of fear” by Wade Allison. [The Wade Allison in England, not the other Wade Allison at Harvard.] http://www.radiationandreason.com/
Professor Allison says we can take up to 10 rems per month, a little more than 1000 times the present “legal” limit.
Comment by Edward Greisch — 17 Dec 2013 @ 12:06 AM
153 prokaryotes: That is my own rather rough estimate. Somewhere I found an electricity usage rate of 17 trillion watts. Is it “only” 13 trillion watts for the US? So what? Somebody else pointed out that a long, cold, calm, cloudy winter can drain a whole week’s worth out of your energy storage over 3 or 4 months in Europe. So multiply by the number of hours in a week to get 17 trillion watts X168 hours/week= 2856 trillion watt hours of energy storage =2.86 x 10 exponent 15 = almost 3 quadrillion watt hours.
Now, there are lots of ways to attack the next part of the problem.:
There is one common thread: We can’t get there from here using renewables. You keep running out of unobtainium no matter how many brands of unobtainium you try. Multiple types of storage systems run out of stuff later, but you end up in the same hole. The price is always many times economic possibility, and you can’t get enough stuff anyway. So what if I am off by 10 times? We still can’t get there from here using renewables.
So, prokaryotes and SecularAnimist: I don’t care about current developments. Current developments are irrelevant. prokaryotes and SecularAnimist should do the arithmetic personally. Is this an example of a lack of communication or is it an example of prokaryotes and SecularAnimist not being math oriented? I say it is the latter, but lack of math orientation is a pandemic. In order to “communicate,” we have to cure the pandemic.
prokaryotes and SecularAnimist: Prove me wrong. I double dare you.
155 Hank Roberts: “Admittedly that’s a bit of a gamble”
Remember what you are gambling. One of our own, Barton Paul Levenson, told us that we could have an agriculture crash between 2050 and 2055 if BAU continues. An agriculture crash immediately causes a civilization crash and a human population crash. Who knows whether there will be survivors?
You are gambling everybody on your unproven idea.
156 Thomas Lee Elifritz: It is my number. I computed it.
“Many argue that a collapse is a solution to our problems, but what if a collapse would thwart our last chances to organize the transition, the paradigm shift required to act in a timely manner?”
I assume you mean global civilization’s and or economic and political collapse and that you have at least a smidgen of hope that humanity might still come to it’s senses and and implement radical paradigm change to avoid global ecological collapse.
However to me it seems quite clear that ecologists and biologists such as E.O. Wilson are telling us that we are already in deep ecological overshoot and almost all of our critical life support systems are in the throes of a massive global collapse as we speak.
Just curious is there anything that you see happening that gives you hope? If so please share it because from where I sit I have pretty much lost all hope…
I’m not an ecologist but I do have a bit of a background in the biological sciences and have spent the last 30 years or so, both as a professional and amatuer diver, diving on tropical coral reefs. I currently live in South Florida and I can tell you that our reef system is not looking good. And that’s just one system that I have seen collapsing first hand during my lifetime, which in the big picture, constitutes just the blink of an eye!
Edward Greisch, regarding the number of $500 Trillion you toss around to make your points. The recently finished Solana Generating Station in Arizona cost 2 billion and supplies electricity to 1 million homes. Let’s pretend the US has 300 million inhabitants, that would mean $600 Billion investment for everybody powered by concentrated solar, including energy storage. The GDP of the USA is 15.68 trillion USD (2012).
On the bottom line, i’m interested to discuss reliability and security question’s when it comes to nuclear power, because i wonder how safe nuclear plants are in a warmer world with more seismic and SLR.
Fred Magyar: Just curious is there anything that you see happening that gives you hope? If so please share it because from where I sit I have pretty much lost all hope…
I think we have to look at the fundamentals of planetary system dynamics to better understand the evolution of higher life forms. Planetary boundaries appear to force us to deal with the environment if we like it or not. If we keep producing emissions and keep destroying our environment we will certainly “boot the system” and Humans likely become part of history among many other species.
Hope can be regained once we see emissions drop. And the best way to reduce emissions is to end fossil fuel driven transportation. Can we reduce emissions? Yes, ofc we can do it. So this possibility gives me hope.
Ed at #195 said: “Nobody should have been evacuated [from Fukushima after the accident]!”
Does anyone else have an opinion on this? It seems just a tad ‘around the corner’ to me…ok, it sounds freakin’ insane. But I have great respect for much else that Ed says, even when I don’t agree with it. So I would love some perspective from some others here on Ed’s opinion about this.
Correction to my above post, 280 MW can power roughly 280k homes. Though, still much lower than the figure by Edward Greisch. Further is the technology scale-able and mass production means much lesser cost which means a figure of $500 billion seems much more realistic.
if the numbers of animals that are raised for human purposes remains relatively constant, the atmospheric greenhouse gas load doesn’t change at all from this source. In contrast, when fossil carbon is used for creating fertilizers and other agricultural purposes the carbon is added to the atmosphere.
Ah, I see your point now. I still think your reaction to Adler may be a little defensive. His piece drew attention to livestock raising as a source of CH4, which as you point does oxidize to CO2, but until it does it is 21 times more potent a GHG than CO2. He also pointed out that
Raising livestock contributes to climate change and environmental degradation in other ways as well: it takes far more grain and land to produce a calorie of food for humans by feeding grains to animals than directly to people. That means more destruction of grasslands and forests for farming, more tractors burning fuel, and more pesticides seeping into the groundwater.
I certainly agree with you that all agricultural practices that release fossil carbon will have to be revised, but the disproportionate contribution of livestock raising to total GHG emissions, relative to non-livestock agriculture, speaks for itself. I don’t see that Adler is promoting any agenda other than that.
I guess my point is that there’s no need to be defensive about your dietary preference, because anyone who complains about your meat-eating has their own impacts to answer for. The only way to have a zero ecological footprint is never to be born, or if you’re already born, to die promptly and leave no offspring.
In any case, individual lifestyle changes aren’t going to stop AGW on their own. The only humane “final solution” to the Tragedy of the Global Commons is for humanity to impose limits on itself collectively: Hardin’s “mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon.”
MA: “CH4, which as you point does oxidize to CO2, but until it does it is 21 times more potent a GHG than CO2”
Wrong. It’s about 100 times the force of CO2 during the first decade or so, about 35 times over century periods. But ultimately these comparisons are like asking how many times worse it is to have a massive stroke or a major heart attack, or to have loss of liver function versus loss of kidney function. They are just very different processes with different types of patterns of heating. But certainly methane has a larger impact than CO2.
Good point about need for mutually agreed upon limits. Do you see any progress in us getting there?
(And do you have any idea what reCaptcha is trying to tell me by: “Esther techPou”??!)
“And the best way to reduce emissions is to end fossil fuel driven transportation. Can we reduce emissions? Yes, ofc we can do it. So this possibility gives me hope.”
I’m about to go out and ride my new bamboo bicycle… and no I’m not being facetious, I really do have a bicycle with a bamboo frame which I picked up in Brazil. BTW, the commercial cultivation of bamboo for multiple products is great carbon sink.
Unfortunately I don’t see many people with bamboo bicycles on the road where I live. They’re still stuck in the car culture. To add insult to injury someone recently complimented me on my bicycle’s paint job saying it looked like real bamboo… When I told them it was bamboo they kinda laughed.
I’m also the sales manager for a solar energy company and I talk to a lot of people, very few of them get it! The problem is their expectations are simply not realistic.
With 7 billion plus humans on this planet and a still growing population most of whom aspire to a first world lifestyle of eating meat, driving cars and having access to 24/7 cheap fossil fuel energy slaves, well, forgive me for not sharing your general optimism!
As the late great George Carlin once said : “The planet is fine! It’s the people who are f@cked! Pack your sh!t folks, we’re going away!”
Re- Comment by Mal Adapted — 17 Dec 2013 @ 2:28 PM
Again I agree, but I believe that if, like it has been suggested for other polluters, the agricultural community were required to cover the external costs of their practices, the subsequent increased cost of their products would greatly reduce meat consumption relative to veggies. I think that this is the appropriate way to view the problem and the whole cow burp business is just an unimportant distraction.
Hank Roberts: You have given me a clue about GW communication. I think it has been said before. The “small” minded don’t get it because they can’t think in terms of large spans of time or galactic distances, etcetera. Not an insult, I believe it to be true. Is small mindedness intentional at times? As in, are they trying to get my goat?
So, to RC: How can we increase the span of imagination of the average person? More science fiction in English class? Or more math and science class? Why didn’t movies like Star Trek, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica do it? That is the part I don’t understand.
In the English Department where I teach, at a mid-sized Midwestern university, we have just voted virtually unanimously (there are about 40 of us in the department–there was one abstention) for our university endowment to divest from fossil fuel interests. A number of these lovely and often brilliant people are functionally innumerate. They don’t necessarily understand the science at the level this blog regularly engages (though I wouldn’t say that is true across the board), but their comprehension and imagination is easily sufficient for the task of grasping the global threat. IMO the problem at scale is cultural, and any simple appeal to our cognitive abilities is going to fall well short of the mark. This is a very large ocean liner we’re trying to turn around. Science, which is what this blog is about, is part of the necessary friction to get that done, but it is far from sufficient.
McPherson, who maintains the blog Nature Bats Last, added, “We’ve never been here as a species and the implications are truly dire and profound for our species and the rest of the living planet.”
While his perspective is more extreme than that of the mainstream scientific community, which sees true disaster many decades into our future, he’s far from the only scientist expressing such concerns. Professor Peter Wadhams, a leading Arctic expert at Cambridge University, has been measuring Arctic ice for forty years, and his findings underscore McPherson’s fears…..
British scientist John Nissen, chairman of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (of which Wadhams is a member), suggests that if the summer sea ice loss passes “the point of no return,” and “catastrophic Arctic methane feedbacks” kick in, we’ll be in an “instant planetary emergency.”
McPherson, Wadham and Nissen represent just the tip of a melting iceberg of scientists who are now warning us about looming disaster ….
Good point about need for mutually agreed
upon limits. Do you see any progress in us
Not enough, nor do I have a realistic plan to
make it happen. I’m just glad I don’t have
I find myself in very substantial agreement with Mal Adapted, it seems, looking back over prior posts here. His reference, in particular, to Hardin’s (in)famous paper(s) is something that is ever on my mind, as well.
The only solution won’t happen, though. Smart enough as individuals, we are collectively no smarter than bacteria. And those willing to curtail children (such as Mal Adapted) will simply remove those genes from the pool, leaving only those genes which select for more births than fewer.
In 1944 the US Coast Guard introduced 29 reindeer onto the remote St. Matthew Island in the Bering Sea, in order to serve as the backup food source for the 19 men stationed there. When World War II ended, the base closed and the men left. David Kline, a biologist from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visited St. Matthew in 1957 and found a thriving population of an estimated 1350 reindeer. They were feeding on a 4″ thick mat of lichen that covered the 332 km² island. (There were no predators.) In 1963, he found 6000. And then, in 1966, he discovered an island strewn with reindeer skeletons and very little lichen. 42 reindeer survived: 41 females and 1 male in poor health. No fawns. The remaining reindeer all died by 1980.
We must come to grips with the idea of finding out how to run civilizations that have stable populations. It’s never been done before on a regional, let alone global, scale.
All currently successful societies depend upon age distributions distorted by an exponential growth curve. No one really knows how to run one over the long term that has zero or negative growth. There are countries, like Italy for example, that experience periods of negative growth for periods of time but even then they import youth labor or else experience difficulties.
The world’s population has almost tripled in my short life. The sheer mass of humans and their domesticated animals is perhaps now some 99% of all land vertebrates. We are consuming renewable resources substantially faster than rate at which earth replaces them. Add fossil fuels to that.
It simply cannot continue. We will either figure a way to handle it intelligently and more gradually or else the problem will seek it’s own solution precipitously.
Worse, we can’t discuss the subject on a scientific basis. There are some who want to “purify” their race. We can’t even open the door to a discussion. Even if that door were open, how does one decide that a gene or trait is “bad?” Is sickle cell anemia bad? It depends. So how do we research or otherwise find the necessary knowledge required to make informed choices about limiting our own populations, even assuming there we could enter into a rational discussion about the whole idea?
In the meantime, the resources will be exponentially tapped and species die-off will continue on a geometrically driven decline, as we “climb on their backs” to survive. Destroying all the more rapidly the very diversity that otherwise might help protect us from environmental changes we are also making, or support us more generally.
It can’t continue, yet it will. Ultimately, we are no more intelligent than deer or bacteria in a petri dish. Indistinguishable results, anyway.
That said, inaction is unacceptable. The only option is significant and rapid action and even then there are no promises. Just hope.
“Dozens of Sailors From USS Ronald Reagan Suffering From Cancer After Japan Earthquake Assistance”
“Over 50 Sailors who served on the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) are Suffering from Thyroid Cancer, Leukemia, and Brain Tumors after participating in Humanitarian assistance during the Japanese earthquake of 2011.
During the Fukushima Nuclear rescue efforts, sailors onboard the USS Ronald Reagan and apart of the battle group that responded to the disaster, were exposed to high levels of radioactive material while afloat off the East coast of Japan….
…Crew members in their mid-20′s from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan are coming down with all sorts of radiation-related illnesses after being deployed less than 3 years ago to assist with earthquake rescue operations off the coast of Japan in 2011. It looks as though the onboard desalinization systems that take salt out of seawater to make it drinkable, were taking-in radioactive water from the ocean for the crew to drink, cook with and bath-in, before anyone realized there was a massive radiation spill into the ocean.”
Jon Kirwan: the problem will seek it’s own solution precipitously.
And that is what is going to happen. Any meddling by other means will just make the situation worse for everybody in the long run. But what could possible go wrong even now? We booby trapped the globe with nuclear plants and that is going to haunt us, even if you are on the other side of the planet.
There will be more large earthquakes, higher storm surges, more tsunamis, more flooding, more storms which cut electricity etc etc. Basically it will get progressively worse and slowly we pass the short window of opportunity to turn our energy infrastructure or transportation technology, in order to reduce emissions. We are doing the opposite of what would be required. Yes, there is some progress and it’s not to late yet, but seriously i don’t see this happening. We will probably go down while fighting each other about the last nice spots and resources. Just like bacteria in a petri dish.
wili @ 220 — American Live Wire is not know to be an authoritative source of information. This story, in particular, contains many improbable elements. In particular, I am certainly under the impression that detectable cancers require many years to develop. You might contrast this story with the known cancer developments from various surface A-bomb tests conducted in the 1950s.
Color me highly dubious.
— A moderately knowledgeable skeptic.
[Finally, just what do these non-facts have to do with climatology?]
Comment by David B. Benson — 18 Dec 2013 @ 9:34 PM
The only solution won’t happen, though. Smart enough as individuals, we are collectively no smarter than bacteria. And those willing to curtail children (such as Mal Adapted) will simply remove those genes from the pool, leaving only those genes which select for more births than fewer.
My own thinking about this has “evolved”. I had assumed that the Darwinian imperative to reproduce meant the global human population would inevitably increase until it hit a Malthusian limit. Lately, though, I’ve found reason to wonder about that.
For example, there’s the well-documented demographic transition that’s taken place throughout the “first world”, and in much of the old “second world” (former Warsaw-pact nations) as well. Now it appears that fertility is falling rapidly in countries such as Brazil and India, while their economies still have a lot of developing to do. The following is from a 2011 National Geographic article:
In industrialized countries it took generations for fertility to fall to the replacement level or below. As that same transition takes place in the rest of the world, what has astonished demographers is how much faster it is happening there. Though its population continues to grow, China, home to a fifth of the world’s people, is already below replacement fertility and has been for nearly 20 years, thanks in part to the coercive one-child policy implemented in 1979; Chinese women, who were bearing an average of six children each as recently as 1965, are now having around 1.5. In Iran, with the support of the Islamic regime, fertility has fallen more than 70 percent since the early ’80s. In Catholic and democratic Brazil, women have reduced their fertility rate by half over the same quarter century. “We still don’t understand why fertility has gone down so fast in so many societies, so many cultures and religions. It’s just mind-boggling,” says Hania Zlotnik, director of the UN Population Division.
Comment by David B. Benson — 18 Dec 2013 @ 11:28 PM
David B. Benson – this admittedly still has nothing to do with climatology, but since you speculated, leukemia can easily take as little as 2-3 years to develop after exposure to ionizing radiation. I don’t know about thyroid cancer.
Just a couple of quick citations. (I know that very reliable sources will support the 2-3 year possibility, these are just fell readily to hand.)
Wikipedia (Radiation-induced cancer): “. . . radiation-induced leukemias typically require 2–10 years to appear.”
Raidation Effects Research Foundation: “Japanese physician Takuso Yamawaki in Hiroshima first noted an increase of leukemia cases in his clinical practice in the late 1940s.”
Thanks, Hank Roberts, for mentioning “Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change.” I’ll be picking up a copy, ordering one tonight. I also note that I will pick up “Bottleneck: Humanity’s Impending Impasse” written a few decades later.
I think Hansen et al. 2013 deserves a post here at RealClimate, since there are no signs of leaving carbon reserves unexplored and buried undergound. They’re even exploring new possibilities in hydrocarbons (like methane clathrate), and looking for new oil reserves (like in the Arctic).
220 wili: 223 David B. Benson is correct. Go look up “Natural Background Radiation.” I already answered your question. Get yourself a geiger counter.
WHERE DID NATURAL BACKGROUND RADIATION COME FROM?
The visible universe [ignoring dark matter and dark energy] started out with only 3 elements: hydrogen, helium and lithium. All other elements were made in stars or by supernova explosions. Our star is a seventh generation star. The previous 6 generations were necessary for the elements heavier than lithium to be built up. Since heavier elements were built by radiation processes, they were very radioactive when first made.
Our planet was made of the debris of a supernova explosion that happened about 5 billion years ago. The Earth has been decreasing in radioactivity ever since. All elements heavier than iron were necessarily made by accretion of mostly neutrons but sometimes protons onto lighter nuclei. Radioactive decays were necessary to bring these new nuclei into the realm of nuclear stability. That is why all rocks are still radioactive. The supernova made all radioactive elements including plutonium, cesium 137, etcetera.
Radiation also comes from outer space in the form of cosmic rays. Cosmic rays come from supernovas that are very far away. There will always be cosmic rays.
Again: 4 Billion years ago, the Earth was a lot more radioactive than it is today. There is no place in or on Earth or in space where there is no radiation. There never was.
If you ask the wrong question, it doesn’t matter how accurately you compute. The premise about month’s worth of storage is incorrect, as shown in the past by peer-reviewed studies linked and thoroughly discussed.
I’m tempted to get into the questions around the scalability of nuclear energy, as these are consistently ignored by some: how many nuclear engineers and other highly-trained professionals would we need to add to the workforce in order to ‘get there’ with nuclear? How would the necessary financing be done, considering that financing nuclear is extremely difficult for nuclear these days? (Companies realize that Fukushima has pretty well broken TEPCO, and really don’t want to be next, should something go wrong.) And what about the truly massive quantities of water needed for cooling–a vulnerability shared by coal plants, by the way? (The Economist noted a couple of weeks back that there is not nearly enough water available in China to cool the thermal (coal and nuclear) plants they want to build over the next couple of decades. And there have been a couple instances now where nuclear plants have had to be run below capacity over monthly timescales due to a drought-induced lack of cooling capacity. That’s going to be a problem in a number of areas around the world.)
But those really aren’t the right questions to ask, either. Remember what Mark Lynas (a nuclear fan, by the way) has to say about this:
Essentially, there is no magic bullet. Right now, renewables are scaling up in a most encouraging way, and are beginning to have discernible effects on emissions. But as I note in the overall summary Hub for “Six Degrees,” renewables need to keep expanding exponentially in order to possibly ‘get there’–if the present rate of expansion continues, wind would get us one Socalow-Pacala ‘stabilization wedge’–savings of a billion tonnes of carbon–in 38 years, solar, in 49. Those numbers are probably too pessimistic; one study estimates that addition rates for solar PV will hit 70 GW per year by 2020. If that proves out, and that rate were sustained, we’d hit our first stabilization wedge from solar in 2030.
However, we need eight wedges.
So–in the larger picture, Ed is both right and wrong. We are not likely to ‘get there’ purely on the back of the renewable revolution (though I think it is both real and vastly underestimated by many.) But we’re not going to ‘get there’ on the back of nuclear energy, either; even if some drastic breakthrough should occur, the timescale is probably too short already.
We are going to need to build all kinds of ‘wedges,’ not just renewable ones, or nuclear ones, or energy efficiency ones. Or so the numbers say to me right now, anyway.
The key factors determining carbon emissions for corn-based ethanol are (1) whether coal or natural gas is used to power the ethanol plant, (2) whether distillers grains are dried or sold wet, and (3) whether expansion of corn acreage comes mainly from reduced acreage of lower-value crops or if idled land is brought into production.
The first of these factors is largely under the control of ethanol plant owners. Not drying distillers grains is feasible only if large beef feedlots or dairies are located near the ethanol plants…. strategic siting of cattle operations can greatly enhance ethanol’s low-carbon credentials….
Re- Comment by Kevin McKinney — 19 Dec 2013 @ 9:31 AM
Kevin, I have said repeatedly that using fossil carbon to grow human or plant food is contributing to global warming, so I agree with what you are saying (I think). Now if you are saying that the poop from a natural grass fed cow wasn’t made only from previously captured atmospheric CO2, then I disagree. It is bad agricultural practices that should be the focus of concern.
No one has ever died as the result of radiation due to commercial reactors in exactly the same way as no one has ever died of lung cancer due to cigarette smoking. You cannot prove that any individual who got cancer wouldn’t have gotten it without the exposure. The causal association is always statistical.
Re- Comment by Kevin McKinney @ 19 Dec 2013 at 9:31 AM:
“…don’t forget that the plants grown were cultivated carbon-intensively…”
Sure. However, the FAO’s most recent study offers some perspective on this issue, attributing 5 percent of anthropogenic CO2 emissions to livestock (pg. 15), which includes feed production and land-use change (e.g. clearing forest for cropland for feed and pasture). The same study estimates the sector’s share of overall GHG emissions, using 100-year GWPs to convert methane and nitrous oxide emissions into CO2-equivalent figures, at 14.5 percent. Of the 7.1 GTCO2e attributed to the sector, 2 are from CO2, 3.1 are from methane and the remaining 2 are N20 (pg. 15).
If anyone is interested in a highly amateur take on what’s important about how we know we don’t know, with some epistemology thrown in, Tobis has kindly given me a platform to invite thinkers about thought to talk about communication in the context of what is not knowledge:
Please read this book: “Radiation and Reason, The impact of Science on a culture of fear” by Wade Allison. [The Wade Allison in England, not the other Wade Allison at Harvard.] http://www.radiationandreason.com/
Professor Allison says we can take up to 10 rems per month, a little more than 1000 times the present “legal” limit. The old limit was 5 rems/lifetime. A single dose of 800 rems could kill you, but if you have time to recover between doses of 10 rems, no problem. It is like donating blood: You see “4 gallon donor” stickers on cars. You know they didn’t give 4 gallons all at once. There is a threshold just over 10 rems/month [100 millisieverts/month]. You are getting .35 rems/year NATURAL background radiation right where you are right now if you are where I am.
Radiation workers were allowed 5 rems /lifetime. Divide 5 rems by your present Natural Background Radiation. For Americans, Natural Background Radiation is at least .35 rems/year. Our Natural Background Radiation uses up our 5 rems/lifetime when we are 14 years old. That old regulation is nonsense.
Natural Background Radiation is radiation that was always there, 1000 years ago, a million years ago, etc. Natural Background Radiation comes from the rocks in the ground and from exploding stars thousands of light years away. All rocks contain uranium. Radon gas is a decay product of uranium.
1rem = .01 sievert = 10 millisievert
milli means .001
And please get yourself a geiger counter. You can have fun panicking until you realize that you are measuring natural background radiation that has been here for billions of years.
Comment by Edward Greisch — 20 Dec 2013 @ 12:36 AM
217 Aaron: So what are you going to do besides divest from fossil fuel interests? Remember, we have 40 years to live, not 40 years to act.
226 Rick Brown 228 Ray Ladbury: Leukemia more likely comes from benzene which comes from petroleum, coal and burning scented candles. Refineries dump enormous amounts of benzene into the air.
Read this Book “Radiation, What it is, What You Need to Know” by Robert Peter Gale, M.D. and Eric Lax, 2013
The color plate just before page 115 shows a graphic of some things that cause cancer. From highest to lowest they are:
Sharing a room with a smoker
air pollution from hazardous chemicals
formaldehyde in indoor air
Dioxins and furans in food
PCBs in food
Current exposure to fallout
Of course, genetics is also a cause of cancer.
Comment by Edward Greisch — 20 Dec 2013 @ 12:38 AM
233 Ray Ladbury: Do you live in Rocky Flats near Boulder, CO?
232 Kevin McKinney: I have answered all of your questions about nuclear too many times. YES WE CAN do it with nuclear. But rather than repeat myself, you can read most of the equivalent on BraveNewClimate.com.
Kevin McKinney: Observe the taboo.
RC: Please enforce the taboo retroactively.
Comment by Edward Greisch — 20 Dec 2013 @ 12:40 AM
He kicked off his campaign in July 2011, by submitting an abstract “Rebound of Antarctic Ozone” accepted for a stratospheric session, got an oral timeslot at a conference, and with no notice talked instead about his ideas that CO2 rise was a side-effect of temperature rise.
This is not behavior welcomed by program committees.
John N-G attended, and commented on it here at RC.
James @~246, McPherson takes a pessimistic view which many scientists feel is too extreme. The situation is bad, but it’s likely it’s not quite that bad. Action rather than suicide, pulleaze! I’m a bit of an extremist myself, but not to that point and the guys here are very good at evaluating the evidence and are more moderate. We need to pull together, not give up and your bit like everyone’s is of value.
Comment by Susan Anderson — 20 Dec 2013 @ 11:08 AM
James@246 asks: “Is it really this bad? How bad can it get by 2020? 2030? 2050?”
It depends on what we choose to do about the threats that confront us. If we do nothing, things could get pretty bad. Up to 2020, you can expect more of the trends we are already seeing–increased weather extremes, increased losses due to severe weather, possibly some pressure on food production in marginal areas. By 2030, remember we’ll be dealing with a significantly larger population as well as worsening climate. We may start seeing significant degradation in the oceans, including coral reefs and fish stocks. More drought putting more pressure on marginal agricultural areas. By 2050 or maybe a bit after, we will hopefully see the crest of human population at 9-10 billion. This will exert serious pressure on the capacity of Earth to support us even as the climate degrades its ability to do so. The CIA has looked at this and anticipates a whole helluva lot of unrest. Maybe we should leave a time capsule with a note to posterity: “Sorry!”
Things are bad in some ways, but nowhere near as bad as he makes out.
Some of us are trying mightily to avoid a future where there is a period of collapse, which can be defined as mortality-driven human population decrease. If we have such a regression it is likely to be severe and ugly. From most appearances this decline remains avoidable; taking it all the way to extinction is nonsense.
Why McPherson enjoys scaring people this way is mysterious. Presumably he doesn’t sell enough books to make a significant income from them. They make lousy Christmas gifts!
McPherson may go overboard on a few issues, but things are getting very dire indeed.
Hansen, K.Anderson of Tyndall, IEA, Potsdam Institute, World Bank, PTC, and many others are predicting very bad things (global temps from 2-6 degrees C above background) by about the end of the century if we don’t make very radical changes right away. And those kind of changes do not seem to be in the cards right now.
Just google “McPherson” on the search bar. I just checked his Climate Arguments. Most of what he “presents” has actually been well known by the scientific community for years. He misreads and overinterprets / exaggerates most of his stuff, and references utter nonsense, like….
“(….. )John Davies concludes: “The world is probably at the start of a runaway Greenhouse Event which will end most human life on Earth before 2040.” He considers only atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, not the many self-reinforcing feedback loops described below. (……) (due to) methane release from the Arctic Ocean — Sam Carana expects up to 20 C warming by 2050. Small wonder atmospheric methane can cause such global catastrophe considering its dramatic rise during the last few years, as elucidated by Carana on 5 December 2013 in the figure below.”
Just to name some of the most extreme samples. Apart from that:
“…atmospheric oxygen levels are dropping to levels considered dangerous for humans, particularly in cities”
“the ultra-conservative International Energy Agency concludes that, “coal will nearly overtake oil as the dominant energy source by 2017 … without a major shift away from coal, average global temperatures could rise by 6 degrees Celsius by 2050, leading to devastating climate change.”
“Earthquakes trigger methane release, and consequent warming of the planet triggers earthquakes, as reported by Sam Carana at the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (October 2013)”
Check the references and the articles he mentions for yourself. Most of his “feedbacks” are not nearly as extreme as he makes them appear to be.
I do not know why he says all this nonsense (though many of the articles he links to are good science), but I am really disturbed by how many people uncritically believe his stuff.
It might perhaps be helpful if one of the moderators comments on McPhersons twaddle, as it really appears that he “attracts” many people. Although Gavin, David and the others probably do have enough to do, it would probably be a good way to get many people back to their senses if a real climate scientist clarifies this here (McPherson is NOT a climate scientist btw, he is an ecologist who never published anything on climate change).
We can not (public information) say that for certain, but there could be a sudden outburst somewhere within the next years, but probably much lower than the 50 GT mentioned. BUT in the long run this certainly needs more attention (decades). And after 2100 all bets are off (so far) … BUT we might pass a point when things get out of control /because of the slow climate inertia), even if we reduce emissions. And that is why we have to follow the precautionary principle when making decisions.
We just had the warmest November on record and this certainly means something positive feedback wise. (Think record sea ice lose, further acceleration of SLR, increased precipitation, increased wildfires…).
To James: This is strictly my own opinion and represents NO ONE else’s. But it arrives from a life’s accumulation of both science theory and personal experiences in a beautiful rain forest system in western Oregon. It’s one person’s viewpoint only, which must by needs be provincial in scope.
Climate knowledge is growing rapidly now and while there still remain some interesting challenges to the status quo on certain points (for example, exactly how it is that CO₂ and CH₄ started rising some 5000 years ago, if not by human impacts, or how it is that humans overwhelmed expected gradual declines and added enough to achieve those rises that far back) that need further research… the very conservative consensus, which must be conservative by its nature since it takes time for consensus to develop as further research helps to close gaps and remove or improve assumptions, is always playing catch-up it seems.
In engineering-speak, scientific climate consensus is way over-damped. I’d LOVE to see it get anywhere close to critically-damped. But to do that it wouldn’t be consensus anymore, either. And so I don’t want to change that. It’s just that in interpreting consensus, as it develops, I have to keep in mind this highly conservative and over-damped inherent nature of it.
In simple terms, things are likely worse than current consensus tells you. The IPCC consensus is pathetically underspun and obfuscated. Plain language would help a lot. But even then, it must be slow to evolve or else it’s not “consensus.” So things are worse and will get worse faster than they suggest. That’s just the nature of the beast.
Climate though is only one of many facets. Humans have literally taken over the planet in my own lifetime, moving from partial dominance to complete and total overwhelming affects. Forest systems are stripped down into patchwork quilts, which leave life itself in increasingly smaller “islands” to survive in. Roads, fences, etc, further divide and endanger these areas. Dr. Lovejoy studied the effects in Brazil of a policy there to prevent property owners from cutting more than 50% of a forest system they own, where they kept selling their land to new owners and the new owners cut 50% and sold them again and again. He found a clear and quantitative relationship in the 1980’s with species in these islands vs their size. That equation says that there is only ONE forest system in the North American continent that might be species-stable — the 4-park Banff/Glacier National area — but that is suffering from serious glacier system loss from climate. His equation accurately explained species changes in the Yellowstone National park system over an 80 year period that was analyzed.
Humans and domestic animals now occupy 99% of the mass of land based vertebrates. Global population has about tripled in my 60 years of life — and risen by a factor of 4 in my State. As a kid, sloughs and rivers that literally teemed with life (I could get a Fall’s supply of smelt fish from the Sandy river with a single 5-gallon bucket placed just ONCE into the river and pulled up as a teenager or dip a pickle jar into a Columbia River slough in the middle of a city — Portland — and get dozens of tadpoles and guppies with a random sweep) are now completely and totally dead and stagnant or else otherwise unrecognizable. The Mt Hood 11-glacier system has declined by 50% in about 30 years — I now see an almost bald mountain during late summers, where that was NEVER true as little as 20 years ago. That’s the water storage for perhaps 1.5 million people right now, people who are NOT yet planning other water storage replacements as this supply dwindles.
We are in the middle of the 6th “extinction” event, as well. The diversity of this life and it’s health is what we humans depend upon in ways we both understand and do not understand. It also provides the protective actions that help mitigate changes we make, as well.
If you read back here and see a couple of my other posts, you will get some additional thoughts about this from me. But the upshot is that I don’t believe we have the capability, collectively which is what is needed, to act in ways any informed view of the science suggests must take place. So we will simply keep pressing our foot on the accelerator as we run right smack into a series of upcoming “walls.” Unable even to realize the walls we’ve already hit and in complete denial about the walls we will yet hit, always with the foot stuck down hard on the accelerator too stupid to even consider the idea of lifting up on it.
It won’t all happen at once or everywhere on earth, of course. Space and time will yield varying results here and there. But terrible collision it is, just the same. And human collective systems are smart enough to climb on the backs of the rest of life on earth, tearing it down all the faster in a desperate attempt for just a little more time in that last gasp. We’re good for that much, anyway.
I expect to see crisis responses to declining ecologies we’ve quilted and hacked to death with our machetes and also climate changes to occur in my remaining lifetime. Perhaps circa 2025-2030, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see it sooner (or a little later.) We are already using up in a year what it takes Earth 18 months to replace and are at or near complete, 100% domination of the planet now. We are consuming our capital savings at a rapid rate. There is no 150% to move towards. We are at the wall, now, and already pushing up against this unmovable object. We already feel some of the pain. We just haven’t yet realized that we are moving at 60mph and the wall won’t move.
You remember the saying, “It’s not the fall that kills you. It’s the sudden stop at the bottom.” Yeah. Like that. Depending on where you are, the effect will either be a little earlier or a little later, or a little more or a little less. But sudden stop it will be.
No theory of human behavior or politics I’ve been exposed to suggests a viable alternative view. But I also prefer to live in denial, with hope. So, both needing the possibilities of hope while valuing my credulity, I must remain of split minds, aware of what is more likely and yet hopeful despite it.
I anticipate “interesting times” for my children and grandchildren.
Thanks for your responses everyone. I know things are bad, and I expect them to get worse, but “global extinction” does seem a bit much I guess. Nice to hear from some people who know that this guy is full of bunk.
Patrick at 253: The head of the IEA has indeed said that we are heading for 6 degrees C (as have many other leading scientists and organizations). But Guy’s timing seems to be off here. Though some early media coverage of Birol’s statement did give the impression that it was by mid century, iirc, the original quote did not give a date, and it seems he meant for this level of warming to come near the end of the century.
“‘With current policies in place, global temperatures are set to increase 6 degrees Celsius, which has catastrophic implications,’ IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol said. ‘If as of 2017 there is not a start of a major wave of new and clean investments, the door to 2 degrees will be closed.'”
So, yeah, Guy should be a bit more careful in his presentations. But the basic fact that well informed people are talking about the high likelihood of temperature increases of 2-6 degrees in the coming decades should have all of us very, very worried indeed. I happen to think downplaying our situation is more dangerous than focusing on relatively minor inaccuracies of those trying to ring alarms and wake people up.
So far though, no kind of messaging–no matter how dire, how accurate, how clear…– seems to be piercing the thick skull of the general populace, the politicians and decisions makers.
The house is on fire. It’s not clear how many will be able to get out before being immolated.
“Some scientists are indicating we should make plans to adapt to a 4C world,” [climate Scientist Ari]Leifer comments. “While prudent, one wonders what portion of the living population now could adapt to such a world, and my view is that it’s just a few thousand people [seeking refuge] in the Arctic or Antarctica.”
We should all be running around crying fire and pulling every fire alarm in sight.
Recent studies (November 2004) have shown that stocks of krill in Antarctica have declined dramatically in recent years. The reason for this is likely to be a fall in the amount of sea ice in the winter months particularly in the Antarctic Peninsula region.
Krill numbers may have dropped by as much as 80% since the 1970’s – so today’s stocks are a mere 1/5th of what they were only 30 years ago. The decline in krill may in turn account for the decline in the numbers of some penguin species.
Dr. Angus Atkinson from British Antarctic Survey, says: “This is the first time that we have understood the full scale of this decline. …
This new finding comes from data from nine countries working in Antarctica who pooled their separate data covering 40 Antarctic summers, in the period between 1926 and 2003. This is the first time such a large-scale view of change across the Southern Ocean has been seen.
This decline in krill will also make it more difficult for the great baleen whales to return to pre-exploitation levels following their decimation in numbers during the years from approximately 1925-1975.
Apparently, the question of whether commercial nuclear power plants result in increased rates of leukemia in children is a subject of ongoing study, with oftentimes conflicting results, possibly due to differences in methodology and quality control. Please see:
Laurier, D., et al. “Epidemiological studies of leukaemia in children and young adults around nuclear facilities: a critical review.” Radiation Protection Dosimetry 132.2 (2008): 182-190. http://www.researchgate.net/publication/…(pdf)
Further, while I would not wish to suggest that the literature in this area has been subject to systematic distortion by industry, I would bear in mind that this is a distinct possibility. Please see for example:
Regardless, I do not consider myself especially opposed to commercial nuclear power. My personal focus isn’t so much on safety but cost.
As Peter Sinclair states:
The reason that nuclear power has not made much headway in the last 30 years, is because it’s proven, in the eyes of the investment community, to be a bad risk – economically. No one will put money into it without massive subsidies and loan guarantees. We are watching that process play out, for instance, and the Vogtle plant, currently under construction in Georgia – where, with the familiar pattern of cost overruns, and construction snafus, it seems possible that taxpayers will be taking yet another bath, courtesy of the nuclear industry.
As a practical matter, environmental groups have had little impact on the collapse of nuclear power in America. The countries where nuclear has dead-ended are market-based economies where the nuclear industry has simply been unable to deliver a competitive product (see “Two Years After $500 Billion Fukushima Disaster, Nuclear Power Remains Staggeringly Expensive”). Indeed, despite having U.S. taxpayers swallow most of the risk for the high-cost of new nukes through the loan guarantee program and most of the risk of a major nuke disaster through the Price Anderson act, the industry has been unable to provide a competitive product.
Re: 246 James; 255 prokaryotes
Re: Guy McPherson
I think the previous commenters have nailed Mr. McPherson pretty well. He misinterprets/misrepresents valid research, cherry picks worst case scenarios, and weaves a darkly convincing but temporally misleading narrative. It seems to me that most or all of his assertions are possible, or even inevitable given enough time and inaction. What struck me was his use of precise dates; this is a classic tactic of doomsday manipulators (think Heaven’s Gate). Further, if you visit his ‘survivalist’ site ( http://survivalacres.com/blog/ ) he appears to be selling not just books but survivalist gear. While I appreciate the “wake up” aspect of his work, the distorted eschatological tenor feeds into the exact worldview that got us here in the first place. On the other hand, maybe he knows what he’s doing, i.e., scaring the s**t out of people. He’s certainly trolling mindsets that require simplistic heuristics – “the answer” – to address extremely complex, demanding, and frightening real world problems; whether he believes what he says (I think he does, at least to some extent) is another question. Plus, America loves it some Armageddon story. To spin this as positively as possible, maybe Mr. McPherson could serve as an introduction – a “gateway” – to more authoritative information for folks just getting started. Or not.
Comment by Steven Blaisdell — 21 Dec 2013 @ 12:19 AM
254 prokaryotes: So where did Safecast hide their actual readings? I watched the youtube video. No data. Same for their web site.
“Power to Save the World; The Truth About Nuclear Energy” by
Gwyneth Cravens, 2007 Finally a truthful book about nuclear
Page 98: There is a table of millirems per year from the
background in a list of inhabited places.
Chernobyl: 490 millirem/year
Guarapari, Brazil: 3700 millirem/year
Tamil Nadu, India: 5300 millirem/year
Ramsar, Iran: 8900 to 13200 millirem/year
Zero excess cancer deaths are recorded. All are natural except for
251 Hank Roberts: WHO is going on and on about energy? I am only responding to nonsense being told by others, including you. So please Hank Roberts and prokaryotes obey the taboo.
With respect to the all-too-prevalent misunderstandings about what is possible and what is unlikely with methane and the Arctic, and other issues, I thought Richard Alley did a good job presenting the facts at the AGU, putting the different issues in perspective with his invited lecture, “Abrupt Climate Change in the Arctic”. My link will probably not work as you will need your own login, but perhaps it will get you to the right place to find it:
I know who Joe Romm is. Now drop the subject and go to BraveNewClimate.
Comment by Edward Greisch — 21 Dec 2013 @ 11:06 AM
McPherson, in my estimation, is the best of the climate change predictors. Best, however, is not perfect. He mixes hard science with speculation, and as you see here, his detractors focus on the speculation in an attempt to discredit him. However, if one were to remove his speculative comments, both his hard science references and his connections of the dots are more than enough to make his general case.
The more recent global climate models project temperature increases under a business-as-usual model on the order of 5 C, plus or minus about a degree, by the end of the century. According to Mark Lynas (Six Degrees) and many others, at these temperatures many species go extinct, including ours. These global climate models do not include the major positive feedback mechanisms, and they will only accelerate the temperature increase. So, under BAU, we can expect extinction-level conditions somewhere before century’s end. Whether it is near-term (~mid-century) extinction as McPherson predicts, or a generation or two later, cannot be determined without more accurate global climate models. But, it should be clear to all readers of this blog that every nation with significant fossil fuel reserves is rushing at breakneck speeds to extract them as fast as possible, and there is no lack of consumers for the product. In spite of what the McPherson detractors (here and elsewhere) say, it is rather obvious where we are headed.
Thank you Susan — that pointer works (as you note, one has to have the free login/password set up, but after putting those in your link opens the page for Alley’s invited update. Good way to get people to see it.
From the opening text on that page with the video:
The paleoclimatic record plus physical understanding greatly reduce the worst worries about instabilities from methane stored in cold places, but tend to support a role in amplifying future warming. Overall, the very large impacts of past Arctic changes, and the likelihood that future changes under business-as-usual fossil-fuel emissions will be unprecedented in combined size and speed, raise important questions.
No one tries to discredit someone “out of spite”. People who point out the obvious errors in McPhersons arguments are not “detractors”. Most people who tend to defend McPherson (like yourself) tend to say “yeah he’s wrong on a few (!) things, but overall he’s right, look at the IPCC/PIK/NASA/NOAA etc.”, although he tends to ridicule those institutions as far behind the science, for no obvious reasons. He references this AMEG nonsense, presents it as valid science (although it is the furthest thing from), grossly exaggerates articles to make a point, and claims utter nonsense (6°C by 2050, more than 100% more than any credible institution predicts under any scenario) and never backs up his claims with numbers (especially his feedbacks, apart from the AMEG/methane stuff). His “connecting the dots” is basically just saying “oh there’s this feedback, so WE’RE DOOMED” or “this persons says this and this, so we’re screwed”. However, there are real scientists working on these issues, like those of the PIK, one of the best institutions on this (its director, Schellnhuber, published multiple papers on tipping points, etc). I’m not saying all is well, it is not. But making up unnecessary catastrophes is not helpful at all. But I’m really shocked how many people tend to cling to McPherson, as his methodology is utterly failed. No credible scientist would work like this (makes on wonder what kind of people receive PhD’s nowadays). This is cherry-picking in order to proliferate himself. Apart from that, whether we will actually keep on BAU or switch to renewables etc is a political, not a scientific statement. Btw, 5°C under BAU has been proposed by many institutions over several years, I am always surprised why people insist on representing this as a new finding.
The simple example I presented estimates human species extinction somewhere between mid-century and 2100, under BAU. It doesn’t require the elaborate detail that McPherson presents, which includes both hard science and speculation. McPherson also believes we are past the point where human actions can prevent near-term extinction, due to all the positive feedback mechanisms being in play. I am not yet convinced of this, but under the BAU scenario that appears to be very high probability, that becomes an irrelevant issue.
[Response: Sorry, but the idea that “positive feedback and/or BAU implies extinction” is just nonsense. Please take it somewhere else. – gavin]
The New York World’s Fair of 1964 is dedicated to “Peace Through Understanding.” Its glimpses of the world of tomorrow rule out thermonuclear warfare. And why not? If a thermonuclear war takes place, the future will not be worth discussing. So let the missiles slumber eternally on their pads and let us observe what may come in the nonatomized world of the future.
What is to come, through the fair’s eyes at least, is wonderful. The direction in which man is traveling is viewed with buoyant hope, nowhere more so than at the General Electric pavilion. There the audience whirls through four scenes, each populated by cheerful, lifelike dummies that move and talk with a facility that, inside of a minute and a half, convinces you they are alive.
The scenes, set in or about 1900, 1920, 1940 and 1960, show the advances of electrical appliances and the changes they are bringing to living. I enjoyed it hugely and only regretted that they had not carried the scenes into the future. What will life be like, say, in 2014 A.D., 50 years from now? What will the World’s Fair of 2014 be like?
I don’t know, but I can guess.
One thought that occurs to me is that men will continue to withdraw from nature in order to create an environment that will suit them better. By 2014, electroluminescent panels will be in common use. Ceilings and walls will glow softly, and in a variety of colors that will change at the touch of a push button.
Windows need be no more than an archaic touch, and even when present will be polarized to block out the harsh sunlight. The degree of opacity of the glass may even be made to alter automatically in accordance with the intensity of the light falling upon it.
There is an underground house at the fair which is a sign of the future. if its windows are not polarized, they can nevertheless alter the “scenery” by changes in lighting. Suburban houses underground, with easily controlled temperature, free from the vicissitudes of weather, with air cleaned and light controlled, should be fairly common. At the New York World’s Fair of 2014, General Motors’ “Futurama” may well display vistas of underground cities complete with light- forced vegetable gardens. The surface, G.M. will argue, will be given over to large-scale agriculture, grazing and parklands, with less space wasted on actual human occupancy.
Gadgetry will continue to relieve mankind of tedious jobs. Kitchen units will be devised that will prepare “automeals,” heating water and converting it to coffee; toasting bread; frying, poaching or scrambling eggs, grilling bacon, and so on. Breakfasts will be “ordered” the night before to be ready by a specified hour the next morning. Complete lunches and dinners, with the food semiprepared, will be stored in the freezer until ready for processing. I suspect, though, that even in 2014 it will still be advisable to have a small corner in the kitchen unit where the more individual meals can be prepared by hand, especially when company is coming.
Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence. The I.B.M. exhibit at the present fair has no robots but it is dedicated to computers, which are shown in all their amazing complexity, notably in the task of translating Russian into English. If machines are that smart today, what may not be in the works 50 years hence? It will be such computers, much miniaturized, that will serve as the “brains” of robots. In fact, the I.B.M. building at the 2014 World’s Fair may have, as one of its prime exhibits, a robot housemaid*large, clumsy, slow- moving but capable of general picking-up, arranging, cleaning and manipulation of various appliances. It will undoubtedly amuse the fairgoers to scatter debris over the floor in order to see the robot lumberingly remove it and classify it into “throw away” and “set aside.” (Robots for gardening work will also have made their appearance.)
General Electric at the 2014 World’s Fair will be showing 3-D movies of its “Robot of the Future,” neat and streamlined, its cleaning appliances built in and performing all tasks briskly. (There will be a three-hour wait in line to see the film, for some things never change.)
The appliances of 2014 will have no electric cords, of course, for they will be powered by long- lived batteries running on radioisotopes. The isotopes will not be expensive for they will be by- products of the fission-power plants which, by 2014, will be supplying well over half the power needs of humanity. But once the isotype batteries are used up they will be disposed of only through authorized agents of the manufacturer.
And experimental fusion-power plant or two will already exist in 2014. (Even today, a small but genuine fusion explosion is demonstrated at frequent intervals in the G.E. exhibit at the 1964 fair.) Large solar-power stations will also be in operation in a number of desert and semi-desert areas — Arizona, the Negev, Kazakhstan. In the more crowded, but cloudy and smoggy areas, solar power will be less practical. An exhibit at the 2014 fair will show models of power stations in space, collecting sunlight by means of huge parabolic focusing devices and radiating the energy thus collected down to earth.
The world of 50 years hence will have shrunk further. At the 1964 fair, the G.M. exhibit depicts, among other things, “road-building factories” in the tropics and, closer to home, crowded highways along which long buses move on special central lanes. There is every likelihood that highways at least in the more advanced sections of the world*will have passed their peak in 2014; there will be increasing emphasis on transportation that makes the least possible contact with the surface. There will be aircraft, of course, but even ground travel will increasingly take to the air*a foot or two off the ground. Visitors to the 1964 fair can travel there in an “aquafoil,” which lifts itself on four stilts and skims over the water with a minimum of friction. This is surely a stop-gap. By 2014 the four stilts will have been replaced by four jets of compressed air so that the vehicle will make no contact with either liquid or solid surfaces.
Jets of compressed air will also lift land vehicles off the highways, which, among other things, will minimize paving problems. Smooth earth or level lawns will do as well as pavements. Bridges will also be of less importance, since cars will be capable of crossing water on their jets, though local ordinances will discourage the practice.
Much effort will be put into the designing of vehicles with “Robot-brains”*vehicles that can be set for particular destinations and that will then proceed there without interference by the slow reflexes of a human driver. I suspect one of the major attractions of the 2014 fair will be rides on small roboticized cars which will maneuver in crowds at the two-foot level, neatly and automatically avoiding each other.
For short-range travel, moving sidewalks (with benches on either side, standing room in the center) will be making their appearance in downtown sections. They will be raised above the traffic. Traffic will continue (on several levels in some places) only because all parking will be off-street and because at least 80 per cent of truck deliveries will be to certain fixed centers at the city’s rim. Compressed air tubes will carry goods and materials over local stretches, and the switching devices that will place specific shipments in specific destinations will be one of the city’s marvels.
Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone. The screen can be used not only to see the people you call but also for studying documents and photographs and reading passages from books. Synchronous satellites, hovering in space will make it possible for you to direct-dial any spot on earth, including the weather stations in Antarctica (shown in chill splendor as part of the ’64 General Motors exhibit).
For that matter, you will be able to reach someone at the moon colonies, concerning which General Motors puts on a display of impressive vehicles (in model form) with large soft tires*intended to negotiate the uneven terrain that may exist on our natural satellite.
Any number of simultaneous conversations between earth and moon can be handled by modulated laser beams, which are easy to manipulate in space. On earth, however, laser beams will have to be led through plastic pipes, to avoid material and atmospheric interference. Engineers will still be playing with that problem in 2014.
Conversations with the moon will be a trifle uncomfortable, but the way, in that 2.5 seconds must elapse between statement and answer (it takes light that long to make the round trip). Similar conversations with Mars will experience a 3.5-minute delay even when Mars is at its closest. However, by 2014, only unmanned ships will have landed on Mars, though a manned expedition will be in the works and in the 2014 Futurama will show a model of an elaborate Martian colony.
As for television, wall screens will have replaced the ordinary set; but transparent cubes will be making their appearance in which three-dimensional viewing will be possible. In fact, one popular exhibit at the 2014 World’s Fair will be such a 3-D TV, built life-size, in which ballet performances will be seen. The cube will slowly revolve for viewing from all angles.
One can go on indefinitely in this happy extrapolation, but all is not rosy.
As I stood in line waiting to get into the General Electric exhibit at the 1964 fair, I found myself staring at Equitable Life’s grim sign blinking out the population of the United States, with the number (over 191,000,000) increasing by 1 every 11 seconds. During the interval which I spent inside the G.E. pavilion, the American population had increased by nearly 300 and the world’s population by 6,000.
In 2014, there is every likelihood that the world population will be 6,500,000,000 and the population of the United States will be 350,000,000. Boston-to-Washington, the most crowded area of its size on the earth, will have become a single city with a population of over 40,000,000.
Population pressure will force increasing penetration of desert and polar areas. Most surprising and, in some ways, heartening, 2014 will see a good beginning made in the colonization of the continental shelves. Underwater housing will have its attractions to those who like water sports, and will undoubtedly encourage the more efficient exploitation of ocean resources, both food and mineral. General Motors shows, in its 1964 exhibit, the model of an underwater hotel of what might be called mouth-watering luxury. The 2014 World’s Fair will have exhibits showing cities in the deep sea with bathyscaphe liners carrying men and supplies across and into the abyss.
Ordinary agriculture will keep up with great difficulty and there will be “farms” turning to the more efficient micro-organisms. Processed yeast and algae products will be available in a variety of flavors. The 2014 fair will feature an Algae Bar at which “mock-turkey” and “pseudosteak” will be served. It won’t be bad at all (if you can dig up those premium prices), but there will be considerable psychological resistance to such an innovation.
Although technology will still keep up with population through 2014, it will be only through a supreme effort and with but partial success. Not all the world’s population will enjoy the gadgety world of the future to the full. A larger portion than today will be deprived and although they may be better off, materially, than today, they will be further behind when compared with the advanced portions of the world. They will have moved backward, relatively.
Nor can technology continue to match population growth if that remains unchecked. Consider Manhattan of 1964, which has a population density of 80,000 per square mile at night and of over 100,000 per square mile during the working day. If the whole earth, including the Sahara, the Himalayan Mountain peaks, Greenland, Antarctica and every square mile of the ocean bottom, to the deepest abyss, were as packed as Manhattan at noon, surely you would agree that no way to support such a population (let alone make it comfortable) was conceivable. In fact, support would fail long before the World-Manhattan was reached.
Well, the earth’s population is now about 3,000,000,000 and is doubling every 40 years. If this rate of doubling goes unchecked, then a World-Manhattan is coming in just 500 years. All earth will be a single choked Manhattan by A.D. 2450 and society will collapse long before that!
There are only two general ways of preventing this: (1) raise the death rate; (2) lower the birth rate. Undoubtedly, the world of A>D. 2014 will have agreed on the latter method. Indeed, the increasing use of mechanical devices to replace failing hearts and kidneys, and repair stiffening arteries and breaking nerves will have cut the death rate still further and have lifted the life expectancy in some parts of the world to age 85.
There will, therefore, be a worldwide propaganda drive in favor of birth control by rational and humane methods and, by 2014, it will undoubtedly have taken serious effect. The rate of increase of population will have slackened*but, I suspect, not sufficiently.
One of the more serious exhibits at the 2014 World’s Fair, accordingly, will be a series of lectures, movies and documentary material at the World Population Control Center (adults only; special showings for teen-agers).
The situation will have been made the more serious by the advances of automation. The world of A.D. 2014 will have few routine jobs that cannot be done better by some machine than by any human being. Mankind will therefore have become largely a race of machine tenders. Schools will have to be oriented in this direction. Part of the General Electric exhibit today consists of a school of the future in which such present realities as closed-circuit TV and programmed tapes aid the teaching process. It is not only the techniques of teaching that will advance, however, but also the subject matter that will change. All the high-school students will be taught the fundamentals of computer technology will become proficient in binary arithmetic and will be trained to perfection in the use of the computer languages that will have developed out of those like the contemporary “Fortran” (from “formula translation”).
Even so, mankind will suffer badly from the disease of boredom, a disease spreading more widely each year and growing in intensity. This will have serious mental, emotional and sociological consequences, and I dare say that psychiatry will be far and away the most important medical specialty in 2014. The lucky few who can be involved in creative work of any sort will be the true elite of mankind, for they alone will do more than serve a machine.
Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Dec 2013 @ 5:54 PM
My local expert says that for home owners the combined hot water/PV panels don’t yet pay out yet, but they could be effective in a large centralized commercial installation if the lifetimes of the two components could be equalized.
The most important development to me is that more and more top climatologists and organizations devoted to evaluating our current situation have essentially come to the concluded that our goose is cooked.
Consider these questions:
–Does anyone anywhere think that wind and solar can grow fast enough to replace over 6% of ff generation every year, year in and year out, starting now?
–Does anyone think that significant economic growth can happen while energy use rapidly shrinks?
–Does anyone think that the world will suddenly plan and carry out a 6% or more shrinkage of the world economy, or a 10% or more shrinkage of the industrial nations’ economies?
If the answer to all of these is “no” (and that is clearly the only honest answer to all of them), then we have to agree that two of the world’s top climatologist essentially said that we are now completely and utterly beyond hope.
(J. Hansen said we need immediate at least 6% annual reducsions in emissions; K. Anderson, 10% annual reductions from industrialized countries to avoid 2 degrees C increase. Potsdam Institute, IEA, World Bank, PWC, and a number of others have said much the same in their own ways.)
May the season bring what joy it can. I find that the carols stick in my throat, somehow.
Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 22 Dec 2013 @ 2:46 PM
“(J. Hansen said we need immediate at least 6% annual reducsions in emissions; K. Anderson, 10% annual reductions from industrialized countries to avoid 2 degrees C increase. Potsdam Institute, IEA, World Bank, PWC, and a number of others have said much the same in their own ways.)”
Timothy Chase @261 — This is the wrong forum for such matters. I can point out your errors, including Joe Romm’s, over on the Brave New Climate Discussion Forum. It is set up for such discussions; here is not.
Comment by David B. Benson — 22 Dec 2013 @ 4:22 PM
Gavin responded that extinction due to BAU and positive feedbacks is “nonsense”, yet I believe he said positive things, in the media, about Hansen’s latest paper. That shows 350ppm CO2 is the maximum we should aim for (and maybe lower). We’ll be at 400ppm within a year or two. What was the earth like the last time CO2 was at 400ppm, to say nothing of the other GHGs?
McPherson does cherry pick the worst cases but that, in itself, doesn’t make those worst cases impossible or even unlikely. McPherson does misrepresent some of the feedbacks (including representing a few that are theoretical as already in play) but I’m not sure he says any one will cook our goose, instead relying on listing as many positive feedbacks as possible. He doesn’t say we don’t really know how any of them will play out or how long it will take for a combination of them to make life unbearable across most of the planet (for McPherson it is all of the planet).
[By the way, someone seemed to imply that McPherson is in it for the money. Nothing could be further from the truth.]
However, BAU will quickly make BAU untenable, in my opinion, because BAU will lead to societal collapse way before all of the fossil fuels have been burned. Unfortunately, according to Hansen, et al, we are already at dangerous GHG concentrations, so, clearly, our goose is at least partially cooked. Hansen has no chance of getting governments to listen and most are still pursuing an “all of the above” energy policy.
Some people place hope on nuclear or renewables. Nuclear is likely to be out of the frying pan into the fire, a time bomb waiting for our kids, just as much as climate change. Renewables have limits, in materials, diffuseness, intermittency and environmental damage. There was a paper a couple of years ago that showed wind definitely has limits. There is only so much diversion of natural energy flows that you can have before noticeable effects on the environment, even if there was enough materials to build out renewables and renewables themselves could build operate and maintain renewables, as some hope. Some also hope that life can go on, pretty much as it is today, just powered by renewables (or nuclear), completely disregarding all the other ways our civilisation destroys the environment.
Wili, if you really believe this rant (e.g. all is lost no matter what) then why are you posting here. Do you get some kind of sick pleasure from telling everybody that they are up the proverbial creek without a paddle? There have been many paths that have charted a reasonable future if we just get going. Most recently, on my local community radio, I heard an interview with Jigar Shaw who has the chops to say that renewables can out compete fossil fuels and revitalize our economy. He has a book. Check it out.
> to protect young people, future generations and nature
Hansen et al. are right, of course.
The problem is convincing people who have never cared a bit about young people, future generations, and nature in the past — whether from blind selfishness or from some prettied up political theory that the future takes care of itself, which amounts to the same thing.
This is not a new problem and not unique to climate science. Each generation of young people discovers it — but doesn’t understand why previous generations couldn’t have figured out in their own time that much of what they were doing was stupid because it damaged those “young people, future generations and nature” — while making the current generation richer than any before.
There was so much to consume, that worked for a while — each generation could be richer _while_ degrading the resource.
Nobody imagined running out of livable planet — til the latter half of the last century of the previous millenium or thereabouts. Sometime after 1950 or so we began — those few reading the science — to get a clue we’d been a very stupid monkey for several centuries and gotten our grandchildren, and nature, into a very bad condition. The most common response was “Urp. Yum. Well, it was good while it lasted.”
Science is a very new thing in human history. Very few people have any clue about anything we’ve learned from science. Heck, writing is pretty damn new in human history, given how long humans have been on the planet — and whatever oral history there was of all those long years quit being told and sung and has disappeared, mostly.
The history of man is a series of conspiracies to win from nature some advantage without paying for it.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
History doesn’t always repeat itself. Sometimes it just screams, “Why don’t you listen to me?” and lets fly with a big stick.
— John W. Campbell Jr
WE ARE AT WAR!!! The Climate change counter movement vs the Climate change acceptance movement which I would say nearly all of us who take part in Real climate adhere to. The counter movement’s denial budget is something like $500-1000 million dollars. Those of us who actually give a damn about this planet we call home better cough up with something considerably better that that if we to win the hearts and minds of the populace. One of the most interesting articles I’ve read for a while comes from Robert J Brulle from Drexel university. Who has just finished a three part study in the insidious and murky funding of the counter movement. Url: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131220154511.htm
The first thing that hit me was the realisation that we are indeed at war and the prize…well the continuation of life on earth, can’t get much bigger than that can you. The enemy is a little difficult to pin down though. The majority of funding comes from ‘dark money’ donations to organisations where sources of their income is untraceable. Koch Industries and Exxon have channelled their funding of the counter movement into this dark money stream of late as well.
Anyone with any ideas about this issue please speak up. I intend to devote quite some research time into this highly immoral and profoundly selfish situation.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 23 Dec 2013 @ 4:19 AM
Edward Greisch: I just read your similar synopysis on the dark money matter @147 in the thread ‘A failure in communicating the impact of new findings’. The first and probably most important step in defeating your enemy is to intimately understand your enemy, that’s what we all have to do don’t you think?.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 23 Dec 2013 @ 4:46 AM
I’ve also read books about renewables. Some say that it’s impossible to run our modern, technological, industrial global economy on renewables. That seems about right, to me. So the question then becomes, what kind of global economy can we run with renewables? I think we need to be honest and objective when answering that question because look what wishful thinking leads to.
“–Does anyone anywhere think that wind and solar can grow fast enough to replace over 6% of ff generation every year, year in and year out, starting now?”
Yes, though not ‘starting now.’ And ‘can’ is of course different from ‘will.’ Although in some jurisdictions (Denmark and Germany come to mind) the growth of renewables has reduced emissions, at the global level renewables have so far just meant that we are less far behind the emissions eight-ball than would have been the case without them. (Somewhat analogously, perhaps, to the North American auto industry, whose technology could have delivered much better gas mileage long ago, but which chose instead–rationally driven by consumer preference, it must be said–to hold mileage more or less constant but to ramp up power.)
However: “In 2008, world total of electricity production and consumption was 20,279TWh. This number corresponds to a “consumed” power of around 2.3 TW on average. The total energy needed for producing this power is roughly a factor 2 to 3 higher because the efficiency of power plants is roughly 30-50%, see Electricity generation. The generated power is thus in the order of 5 TW.” (Wikipedia.)
In 2012, the world added roughly 80 GW of wind and solar; that’s about 1.6%. And one study projects that by 2020, solar could well be adding 100 GW yearly by itself; obviously, that’s 2%. There’s still a gap, of course, and one has to remember that the renewables figures I’ve given are for nameplate, not actual generation. We’d need something like 450 GW yearly being added to hit 6% of actual generation. But my guess is that that is doable, if our collective mind were concentrated enough.
However–on the hopeful side–other ‘Stabilization wedges’ are growing, too. For instance, falling US emissions are being driven mostly by cheap natural gas displacing coal–something that may happen elsewhere. And automotive efficiency is rising once again–though the increase in usage may nullify the emissions effect.
So, I don’t think we are certainly ‘cooked’ in this regard.
“Does anyone think that significant economic growth can happen while energy use rapidly shrinks?”
Actually, yes. energy intensity per unit economic growth has been declining globally for several years, and my guess is that the surface has barely been scratched.
Steve Fish @ #298: If you really believe your rant (“I don’t like what you’re saying, so shut up”), perhaps you should find another forum. This is a forum to discuss science and its consequences; if you can only handle scientific conclusions that you find comforting, I would advise focusing on something other than climate science.
One other point, since there has been much discussion of late about communication. My conclusion was sincerely derived by looking at the (im)probabilities of the actions needed to be taken as spelled out by our leading scientists. But as a strategy, it is a fairly well established and tested approach, particularly in locker rooms, for an authority/coach, who up to that point had been the biggest encourager of the team, to suddenly announce at half time that the game is lost and that there is now no hope.
The usual result is that the team members themselves rally and start encouraging the coach (and so themselves) that they can put forth the extra effort to win. It doesn’t always work, but climate communications strategies used so far have not moved the gauge very far (i.e. at all) in the right direction.
Kevin McKinney @ #297: Thank you for your careful response. I am particularly impressed by your condensation of Lynas’s book. Do you mind if I use it in an upcoming class? I could have my students send you their response papers, if you would like the feedback.
You are right that in _theory_ most of those things _can_ happen. The likelihood that they will seems vanishingly remote to me at this point, hence my gloom in this holiday season (though ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ often puts me in something of a funk, anyways).
I find it interesting that the thing you can least imagine happening is a commitment to degrowth, even though that essentially is just a commitment to words (rather than massive infrastructure buildouts required for a major ramp up of alternatives); and to imagining an economy that can actually be potentially sustained long term on a finite planet.
But I fear that you are right that such a change of wording and perspective is too far outside the imaginations of most leaders and the populace to have much traction for the foreseeable future. As Ray said so well on the other thread, what is needed most now is wisdom and courage, but both seem to be in rather short supply.
(Recaptcha wisely suggests in its garbled way: “eRoom the”)
#298–“I find it interesting that the thing you can least imagine happening is a commitment to degrowth, even though that essentially is just a commitment to words (rather than massive infrastructure buildouts required for a major ramp up of alternatives); and to imagining an economy that can actually be potentially sustained long term on a finite planet.”
The problem with a ‘commitment to degrowth’–as a side note, spell-check wanted that to be ‘regrowth!’–is that such a path heightens the political obstacles to the nth degree. That, after all, is the nub of what’s rendering the COPP process so tortuously slow: developing nations are not willing to be locked into a position of perpetual economic inferiority. And developed nations are not willing to do more than see the developing ones catch up through relatively faster growth.
And the problem exists internationally, as well. One of the notable aspects of the last couple of decades has been a global trend toward labor contributing a smaller percentage of economic productivity, with wages following the trend. That has meant that the poor have been losing ground, and the middle has been barely keeping up, at best, even as the economic elite has been getting much bigger slices of the economic pie. That’s been part of the divisiveness in American politics, IMO, and probably in other jurisdictions as well, albeit played out in a complicated fashion due to concentrating ownership of media.
In a shrinking economy, inter-group strife will tend to grow dramatically–or so one would presume, based upon history. Such a presumption will discourage many from trying the experiment.
But we certainly need to be looking at the issue of growth and working our way toward a ZEG economy; there’s nothing more certain than that we’ll have to cap human energy use at the planetary scale *sometime.* Just when isn’t really known yet, but the reductio ad absurdum is itself absurdly simple, as the “Galactic-Scale Energy” post shows.
Yes, please cite/link my Lynas review. Page views are a good thing, from my perspective… and thanks for the kind word.
You say- “I don’t like what you’re saying, so shut up.” This is a childish response. I think you should follow your own advice- “I would advise focusing on something other than climate science” because this is a science forum and your manufactured dire predictions are not appropriate. Your list of- “Does anyone anywhere think that” questions are a good example. There have been references here to quite a few analyses that suggest that solar and wind can be upscaled fast enough to avert catastrophe, many provided by SecularAnimist, and my suggestion to check out Jigar Shaw is regarding how renewables can not only accomplish the task but revitalize the economy. Shaw says that solar and wind can’t do it all, just most.
My confidence in renewables is informed by my own experience. I obtain the electricity for two households on solar power (1.8KW rated panels) and about one automobile tank measure of gasoline (15 gal. last year) for a 1KW Honda generator. I would have thought this impossible 10 years ago but all it took was expert advice, planning, and paying attention day to day. I am finally moving into my new house and it will be the lap of luxury with more PV, energy star appliances, a very efficient wood boiler, and a solar water heater. There will be no air conditioning required. Hear that Ed? I brewed beer in the insulated but unfinished house during a heat wave this summer and it stayed below 70 degrees inside on days up to 107 degrees.
I have a different interpretation of “can”. It is almost the same as “will” because “can” is being applied to humans and you have to accept that humans simply don’t act in a rational way (most of the time). So many of the things you say “can” happen, simply can’t happen on this planet. Now, hypothetically, some of those things might be possible (though please remember that there are always limits), but they neither can nor will happen on this planet with this mix of species.
Your two posts are excellent, insightful, complementary, and reflect the seriousness of the situation. No need to apologize to any of the critics.
Tony, I will take issue with your paraphrasing of what McPherson said about positive feedbacks. The easiest way is to quote him verbatim. He lists 29 positive feedbacks, the last two of which are human behaviors (fast-track Arctic drilling; supertanker use of ice-cleared waters). He states:
“As nearly as I can distinguish, only the latter two feedback processes are reversible at a temporal scale relevant to our species. Once you pull the tab on the can of beer, there’s no keeping the carbon dioxide from bubbling up and out. These feedbacks are not additive, they are multiplicative. Now that we’ve entered the era of expensive oil, I can’t imagine we’ll voluntarily terminate the process of drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic (or anywhere else). Nor will we willingly forgo a few dollars by failing to take advantage of the long-sought Northwest Passage.”
That’s pretty clear to me; they are irreversible on times scales of interest to our survival. How one proves or disproves these assertions is another story, but it seems to me that as temperature increases, the existing feedback mechanisms accelerate and new ones seem to be getting uncovered. The top handful of feedbacks have enough reserves behind them to lead to his prediction of extinction (especially if we keep on the path of BAU, which all but guarantees temperature increases on the order of 5 C by century’s end even without the positive feedbacks), and he would do well by focusing on the key feedback mechanisms.
Subreddit Announcement: Nature Partnership with Journalists and Editors (self.science)
… by ScienceModerator[M] – stickied post
One of the big things we’re doing with /r/science now is trying to bridge the gap between the people who do or report science and the public that enjoys it. You guys have very likely noticed the credential-verified panel system we’ve implemented …. We’ve been encouraging scientists and journalists to make their affiliations public and participate actively when they see a user has submitted their article or their publication.
… we’ve been working with Nature to get access to a handful of their editors and journalists who will regularly participate on articles submitted to /r/science from Nature or nature.com. Nature is one of the most reputable and most cited scientific journals in publication and we’re beyond ecstatic that they want to participate in our subreddit.
See also: http://grist.org/climate-energy/reddits-science-forum-banned-climate-deniers-why-dont-all-newspapers-do-the-same/
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE AT REAL CLIMATE AND ALL IT’S CONTRIBUTERS.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 24 Dec 2013 @ 6:27 PM
Tony (#305), don’t underestimate the capacity of humans to fool you. It’s tough enough to predict what Arctic sea ice will do in a particular season, but humans are orders of magnitude more unpredictable.
Case in point: South Africa. I remember the 60s, 70s, and 80s; no-one could have rationally predicted things would turn out half as well there as in fact they did. So be cautious about mentally foreclosing the human capacity to surprise. Sometimes the surprises will even be good ones…
It’s tough enough to predict what Arctic sea ice will do in a particular season, but humans are orders of magnitude more unpredictable.
Actually the predictions of the overall sea ice trend have been accurate. The trend of sea ice decline, where it lacked was the time span involved, which we know today has been underestimated, in part because of conservative estimates. Prediction adjustment are in control by humans, depending primarily on CO2e emissions. Single human interactions are noise in the system, when accounting for collective behavior it becomes more predictable.
Emergent Collective Behavior
Some animal societies display coordinated and purposeful navigation of several individuals (from tens to thousands). Each individual uses only local information about the presence of other individuals and of the environment. There is no predefined group leader
The human societies have in addition more complex decision making involved through the political processes.
Systems Thinking for Climate Systems A simple introduction to systems thinking usually starts by pointing out how familiar we are with the idea of “a system” – for example we use the word as a suffix in many different ways: an ecosystem, the transport system, the education system, a weather system, the political system, a computer system, and so on.
Most people are used to the idea of identifying different aspects of a system they wish to describe: inputs and outputs, a control (or management) mechanism, a boundary that separates the system from its environment, a possible purpose or function of the system, different elements or subsystems, different states that the system can be in, and so on.
This then leads to insights about the dynamic behaviour of a system, especially in terms of stocks and flows, and positive and negative feedback loops. For example, John Sterman has a simple demonstration of stocks and flows in an atmospheric system, with his bathtub model of greenhouse gas emissions and concentrations.
But where systems thinking really gets interesting is when we include ourselves as part of the system we’re describing. For example, for the climate system, we should include ourselves as elements of the system, as the many of our actions affect the release of greenhouse gases. But we’re also the agents that give some aspects of the system their meaning or purpose – the fossil fuel extraction and production system exists to provide us with energy, and one could even argue that the climate system exists to provide us with suitable conditions to live in, and that ecosystems exist to provide us with food, resources, and even a sense of wonder and belonging. The interesting part of this is that different people will ascribe different meanings and/or purposes to these systems, and some would argue that to ascribe such purposes is inappropriate.
Which leads us to the next level of insight, which is that these descriptions of systems are really just ways of looking at the world, and different people will see and describe different systems, even when observing the same parts of the world. As Reynolds points out (Ecological conversations and systems thinking
), systems thinking starts when we begin to see the world through other people’s eyes, and the idea of multiple perspectives is a central concept. In this sense, systems don’t really exist in the world at all, they only exist as convenient descriptions of the world. Moreover, when we choose to describe some part of the world as a system, we make explicit choices about where to draw boundaries, and which things to ignore, and these choices themselves are important, because they reveal our biases and interests, and certain choices may help or hinder our attempts to analyze a system.
Taking this even further, we can then conceive of the system that consists of a group of people and their descriptions of the systems they are interested in, and we can study the dynamics of this system: how people affect one another’s perceptions of the systems, and how those perceptions shape their interactions with those systems. For example, we could describe climate change primarily in terms of the physical processes: carbon emissions, the radiative balance of the atmosphere, average temperatures, and impacts on human life and ecosystems. The leads to a view the problem of climate change as primarily about reducing emissions (and many people who write about climate change take this view). Alternatively, we could describe climate change as one aspect of a system of human growth (in population, energy use, resource use, economic activity, etc) and the many ways in which that growth is constrained on a finite planet. Which then leads to a very different characterization of the problem in which carbon emissions are really just a by-product of a cheap energy consumerist society, and the problem isn’t to reduce emissions, it is to restructure our entire societies (and our conceptions of them) so that we no longer depend on growth in resource consumption as our definition of human progress.
A key term here is second-order cybernetics. Cybernetics (of the first order) studies the ways in which processes can be controlled, and the engineering of process control systems. Second order cybernetics studies how our perceptions of systems affects our ability to design ways of controlling them. In other words, there are interesting dynamics in the interplay between our understanding of systems, and our attempts to design controllers for them. Much of the problem in understanding and responding to climate change is due to a failure by most writers to appreciate the dynamics in second order cybernetic systems. http://www.easterbrook.ca/steve/2011/02/systems-thinking-for-climate-systems/
Groups and types of systems interact with each other through positive and negative feedback processes, which can trigger a threshold behavior in humans.
Mark Granovetter, following Schelling, proposed the threshold model (Granovetter & Soong, 1983, 1986, 1988), which assumes that individuals’ behavior depends on the number of other individuals already engaging in that behavior (both Schelling and Granovetter classify their term of “threshold” as behavioral threshold.). He used the threshold model to explain the riot, residential segregation, and the spiral of silence. In the spirit of Granovetter’s threshold model, the “threshold” is “the number or proportion of others who must make one decision before a given actor does so”. It is necessary to emphasize the determinants of threshold.
A threshold is different for individuals, and it may be influenced by many factors: social economic status, education, age, personality, etc. Further, Granovetter relates “threshold” with utility one gets from participating collective behavior or not, using the utility function, each individual will calculate his cost and benefit from undertaking an action. And situation may change the cost and benefit of the behavior, so threshold is situation-specific. The distribution of the thresholds determines the outcome of the aggregate behavior (for example, public opinion). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threshold_model
For instance certain behavior will rule under special circumstances, which could result in collective behavior change. The general assumption here is an expected behavior change in the human population, which rises and gains with more pronounced climate change.
Climate change is the strongest force on species, which means that it dominates human behavior. Though this only becomes visible for society under non-equilibrium conditions when things change radically and force a dynamic state.
The warming is unequivocal.
Humans caused the majority of it.
The warming is largely irreversible.
Most of the heat is going into the oceans.
Current rates of ocean acidification are unprecedented.
We have to choose which future we want very soon.
To stay below 2°C of warming, the world must become carbon negative.
To stay below 2°C of warming, most fossil fuels must stay buried in the ground.
The spring of 2013 has been Australia’s warmest on record. Mean temperatures for the season were 1.57C above the 1961-1990 average, surpassing the previous record of 1.43C (set in 2006) by 0.14C. Daytime maximum temperatures were also the highest on record, coming in 2.07C above average and 0.24C above the previous record (also set in 2006), while overnight minimum temperatures were the fourth-warmest on record.
The warmth was most dramatic in September, which saw a mean temperature anomaly of +2.75C, setting a new monthly record by more than a degree. October was also a very warm month, 1.43C above average.Australia records its warmest spring
If humanity gets truly serious about emissions reduction — and by serious I mean “World War II serious” in both scale and urgency — we could go to near-zero global emissions in, say, two decades and then quickly go carbon negative.
Merry Christmas, folks.
“Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only? Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead. But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!”
. Higher levels of extinction (41–60%) had effects rivalling those of ozone, acidification, elevated CO2 and nutrient pollution. At intermediate levels, species loss generally had equal or greater effects on decomposition than did elevated CO2 and nitrogen addition.
hat tip to http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2013/12/gw-news-december-22-2013/#AWOGN20131222_HaHa
I’ve no idea why you could mistake any of my posts as a sales pitch for solar or wind. I would never do such a thing on any forum, as I don’t believe either of them are an answer to the predicament we face.
The problems I see with McPherson’s feedbacks is that he sometimes misrepresents the information he links to, sometimes separates out feedbacks that are really the same feedback process and assumes that the effects of the feedbacks are virtually immediately (a few decades) catastrophic. What he hasn’t done is show that his assumption is valid. Having said, that, there are probably enough serious feedbaxcks in there to give anyone alive today concern for both themselves and their descendents.
Oh, I don’t thnink humans are out to fool me. Whilst there may be a few surprises in store (though I’m not sure that the SA situation has turned out that well), I don’t expect humans, collectively, to act in any way that could be regarded as rational. As Dave Cohen has written, “Homo sapiens is a species, so what you see is what you get”. If anyone expects “us” to get “us” out of this mess, he or she is likely to be sorely disappointed.
[edit – I am fed up policing the comment threads on this. Both you and Greisch are respectfully requested to stop reading each others posts. Do not rise to whatever bait you perceive.]
Comment by SecularAnimist — 26 Dec 2013 @ 12:56 AM
” enough of the attacks against commentators. Stick to issues, not personalities”
“I am fed up policing the comment threads on this. Both you and Greisch are respectfully requested to stop reading each others posts. Do not rise to whatever bait you perceive”
… As just another journo trying to make sense of the science, it wasn’t obvious to me at all that Shakhova’s work is speculative.
That some prominent Arctic scientists seem to agree with her only made it seem more incredible to me that her assertions about gas hydrates at the ESAS are not actually confirmed, but rather hypotheses. Yours and Gavin Schmidts comments have now made this point really clear.
I didn’t really get this before – the language that has been used by Shakhova and others on this issue has been almost definitive in tone (there *are* this quantity of hydrates etc etc).
On twitter when Gavin first responded saying ‘but there’s no evidence for this’ after I’d sent a link to a paper by Shakhova and Semiletov talking in some detail about methane clathrates at the ESAS and permafrost, I didn’t grasp that their discussions were actually not proven.
Journos generally assume that strong statements of fact about science issued – whether in press releases from credible sources or in journal articles – have been checked enough to be reliable. I’m now starting to realise, with some shock, that this is not necessarily the case. (I’ve been a journo for a while but working on enviro related stuff in last few yrs)…
“Two German scientists have just confirmed that you can’t balance the Earth’s rising temperatures by simply toning down the sunlight. It may do something disconcerting to the patterns of global rainfall…
The argument for geoengineering goes like this: the world is getting inexorably warmer; governments show no sign of drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions, so why not control the planetary thermostat by finding a way to filter, block, absorb or reflect some of the sunlight hitting the Earth?
…the two biogeochemists at Jena report in the journal Earth System Dynamics that they used a simple energy balance model to show that the world doesn’t work like that. Water simply doesn’t respond to atmospheric heat and solar radiation in the same way…
…the traffic of water vapor around the planet, plays a powerful role in the making of climate. To change the pattern and degree of evaporation would inevitably disturb weather systems and disrupt agriculture, with unpredictable and potentially catastrophic consequences.
The authors say: ‘An immediate consequence of this notion is that climate geoengineering cannot simply be used to undo global warming.'”
Thinking of use of solar electric in the northern latitudes seems seasonal.
For thinking of using it in the winter dark season is probably more the issue
Than having it to use. So if I move way north expecting the weather to warm
Wind and natural gas from methane hydrates could be captured more easily
Than distant solar radiation. But then there is the ozone hole and how to protect
Self from exposure. So if I end up hanging out in a abandened mine way up north
What if a group takes off with my windmill whilst I’m not paying attention. So
A way to gain natural gas for fuel cell use seems the most discrete.
How many months are the dark winter months way up north?
Tracing anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers, 1854–2010
Climate Accountability Institute, 1626 Gateway Road, Snowmass, CO 81654, USA
This may be useful practical information to help do something about it. Maybe.
Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 29 Dec 2013 @ 4:29 PM
I have not found disagreements about the “climate departure” paper. If it is sound, I think it provides valuable communication tools.
Here, we use the most recent simulations performed in the framework of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 to assess how these stressors may evolve over the course of the 21st century. The 10 Earth System Models used here project similar trends in ocean warming, acidification, deoxygenation and reduced primary productivity for each of the IPCC’s representative concentration parthways (RCP) over the 21st century. For the “business-as-usual” scenario RCP8.5, the model-mean changes in 2090s (compared to 1990s) for sea surface temperature, sea surface pH, global O2 content and integrated primary productivity amount to +2.73 °C, −0.33 pH unit, −3.45% and −8.6%, respectively. For the high mitigation scenario RCP2.6, corresponding changes are +0.71 °C, −0.07 pH unit, −1.81% and −2.0% respectively, illustrating the effectiveness of extreme mitigation strategies.
This summary for policymakers reports on the state of scientific knowledge on ocean acidification, based on the latest research presented at The Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World, held in Monterey, California, in September 2012. Experts present the projected changes from ocean acidification for ecosystems and the people who rely on them, according to levels of confidence for these outcomes.
Do you know where most of the oxygen you breathe comes from?
Do you know when that was discovered?
Primary productivity — production of oxygen and carbohydrate, using sunlight and carbon dioxide and water — for this planet is barely partially understood, and changing fast due to climate change.
Do we feel lucky? Really, really lucky?
When you start reading the very recent history of science, you’ll likely realize that much of what people set out to study in the past few decades turns out to already be changing very fast due to climate change. “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” applies.
This will tell you that among much else. There are surprises:
The United Kingdom tabloid the Daily Mail could be dubbed “the Fox News of the Internet.” It has a huge audience, a conservative slant and has a blatant disregard for the facts. The paper wields huge power in the UK, and with its website plotting a U.S. expansion … it is increasingly gaining that traction in the U.S. as well.
The Daily Mail is best known for its celebrity gossip, but this year U.S. media turned to it for science reporting.
The list of bogus stories — and of the many, many times they were reported as fact by US media and US politicians — is at the link.
why does snow produce cold surface air temperatures? And remember surface air temperatures are measured at 2 meters above the ground level.
First, snow is highly reflective, allowing it to reflect the warming rays from the sun back to space.
Second, snow is a very good EMITTER of infrared radiation, much better than the atmosphere. Such emission of infrared radiation to space produces substantial cooling…think of a refrigerator coil at the surface.
OK, so snow prevents the sun’s rays from warming and snow cools by emitting infrared radiation.
But there is more. Snow is a good insulator. The ground and particularly the subsoils can be relatively warm. So the snow prevents the conduction of heat from below. That contributes to cooling.
And finally, if air temperatures get above freezing, melting snow stays at 32F until it gone.
Assuming that the current slowing of the global surface temperature is due to the ocean taking up more CO2 at the higher latitudes, at what point does the ocean begin to get ‘saturated’..relatively speaking and the CO2 uptake starts showing signs of plateauing? Given the current concentration of CO2 and it’s upward march, how many years do we have of this temporary reprieve do you guess/estimate/forecast? I’m not sure which is worse the global temp taking a brief hiatus or the ocean’s acidification accelerating? We really can’t afford to pass the threshold that there is wholesale die off of diatoms and plankton and a subsequent collapse of the ocean’s food chains.
[Response: There is no obvious decrease in the rate of atmospheric growth of CO2. CO2 is taken up in higher latitudes, mostly in the Southern Ocean, but while the uptake rate is a non-linear function of the chemistry, ocean biology and circulation, it isn’t going to ‘saturate’ any time soon (though it may slow over the next few decades). Ocean acidification is a continuing problem that will get worse though. The IPCC report had a good discussion on this section 6.4.4. – gavin]
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 30 Dec 2013 @ 11:28 PM
340: Thanks Gavin, I’ll read that report. Cheers! Happy New Year to you and again all at Real Climate!
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 31 Dec 2013 @ 10:23 AM
pete best @341.
The actual paper from the two “scientists” (apologies to genuine scientists for misuse of the term) is available here. You will note the perils of curve-fitting a 250-year data series with a 254-year cycle. Or is it the talking to stalagmites in caves for too long. Note that these guys may be suggesting from their grand formula that temperatures as cool as 1880s will return by the early 2100s but strangely they ran out of ink for that part of their little graph.
We examined the availability of data from 516 studies between 2 and 22 years old
The odds of a data set being reported as extant fell by 17% per year
Broken e-mails and obsolete storage devices were the main obstacles to data sharing
Policies mandating data archiving at publication are clearly needed
We are in the very early days of a better killfile (v 0.24 as of now)
This is a Chrome extension designed to provide functionality like the usenet killfile to the comments sections of certain blogs. With it, readers can decide that they would rather never see comments from certain individuals, and hide those comments from view.
It is not intended as a replacement for comment moderation, but merely as a personal measure an individual reader can take for their own peace of mind.
This extension is a revival of code from an old greasemonkey script
Science from 1957 – copyrighted research, still behind paywalls
1957 was a noteworthy year for science: the USSR launched Sputnik 1 and Sputnik 2, IBM released the first FORTRAN compiler, and the UK’s Medical Research Council published an early report linking smoking and lung cancer. There were groundbreaking publications in the fields of superconductivity and astrophysics such as “Theory of Superconductivity” by John Bardeen, L.N. Cooper, and J.R. Schrieffer and “Synthesis of the Elements in Stars (‘B²FH’)” by Geofrey Burbidge, Margaret Burbidge, William Fowler, and Fred Hoyle.
On The Road, Next Exit…2053Both of the articles above are copyrighted, but thankfully their publishers have made them available in full online, so that you can read them, even though it may still be illegal to copy and distribute them. Many articles from 1957 remain behind paywalls, including those in major scientific journals such as Science, Nature, and JAMA. Are you interested in a historical perspective on, for example, “Soviet and U.S. Professional and Technical Manpower” or the “Breeding Behavior of Cichlids”? You can’t read those articles unless you pay or subscribe (the first costs US$20 for one day of access; you can purchase the second for US$32).
It’s remarkable to find scientific research from 1957 hidden behind publisher paywalls. True, some older articles – especially those with enduring impact – have been made available on third party websites, though it is often unclear whether this is being done with the consent (or temporary forbearance) of the copyright holder, or simply being provided by enthusiasts who cannot imagine that access to these works is still legally restricted. But this is not a stable solution for providing reliable access to science. Third party postings can be difficult to find or taken down, links can get broken, and would-be posters may be deterred by the risk of a lawsuit. Under the pre-1978 copyright term, all of this history would be free to scholars, students, and enthusiasts. http://web.law.duke.edu/cspd/publicdomainday/2014/pre-1976
I wonder what percentage of the online publications related to climate science is buried behind paywall’s? 90%? Does it make any sense to prevent reading science to improve our understanding of climate change?
Re #344 obviously because it is a lot of nonsense but posted on many a website as FACT citing no references or stating the alleged German scientists credentials. It is very easy on the Internet to pop stuff as fact and easy enough to spot it but on WUWT it was posted as fact to but then of course it would be.
It all comes down to the same thing – since the first earth summit in 1992 emissions have doubled. Obfuscation, lobbying, listening to the 3% in the media (they don’t know science any more than any other average member of the public) and are determined to put up all arguments on equal and unbiased, and many other ways of delaying action is working just fine would you not say.
So where are we on our way to limiting emissions to 2C (EU directive mainly as the USA and China don’t say much on this)? Well its obvious really, dig a little and its quite obvious that the assumptions made by the political economists (stern report etc) are somewhat off of the mark and continue to peddle a myth based around the need for growth to continue.