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james cobban
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Bill F, let me add my thanks to you for sending that email to Pieter Tans, David Archer, and Ralph Keeling. I think it speaks volumes to your character that all three scientists replied to you so quickly, and in such detail. It also speaks volumes of Neven's blog that such communication can take place between concerned citizens and the scientific community, and at a level that doesn't require the scientists to dumb it down. Where else but this blog can that happen?
Thank you all for putting so much time and effort into explaining your various positions. I've certainly learned a lot about the flux of CO2 across the air/sea surface boundary. But I'm still confused on the main point. D_C_S seems to be quite adamant that surface-to-deep-ocean mixing is a very slow process, contributing very little to a short-term reduction in atmospheric CO2. If he's right then if we stopped emitting CO2 today, then after a year or so CO2 would remain near 403ppm, with the ocean contributing to only a very slight yearly reduction - practically none at all. But if Rob Dekker is right, then the transport of CO2 from surface-to-deep-ocean is much quicker, the equivalent of removing about 2ppm CO2 from the atmosphere each year. If we stopped emitting today, then, in simple terms, the oceans would continue to remove about 2ppm CO2 from the atmosphere for many years, presumably until some new (pre-industrial?) equilibrium was reached. This is what I had always understood to be the case, but both sides seem to point to strong supporting evidence. Perhaps Bill will clear this up if/when he hears back from his scientist friends. It's an important point since it would seem to add more than a touch of hopelessness to our situation if we cannot count on the oceans to quickly draw down the atmospheric CO2 after we stop emitting. Is it possible that what's adding to the confusion is the difference between ocean-bottom sediment formation, which removes only an insignificant amount of CO2 each year, and surface-to-deep-ocean mixing, which perhaps transports relatively large amounts of CO2 to the deep ocean layers each year?
Navegante et al, I think D_C_S and D-Penguin are arguing that the surface of the ocean is already in equilibrium with an atmosphere containing about 400 ppm CO2, with a time lag of about a year. So the ocean cannot absorb any more CO2 unless the atmospheric concentration were to rise. Of course, it did rise in the course of the last year, to about 403ppm, so the ocean can continue to absorb CO2, at least for another year. If we emit more CO2 in that time, then the ocean will continue to absorb that new CO2, and so on. If we stopped emitting all CO2 today, then in about a year the oceans would attain equilibrium a year from now with an atmospheric CO2 of about 403ppm, moving from their current equilibruim with an atmosphere of 400ppm. This, at least, is how I understand their position. I don't have the knowledge to comment on the validity of their argument, but D_C_S provides a link that states, as he says, that "SURFACE SEA WATER REACHES CHEMICAL EQUILIBRIUM WITH THE ATMOSPHERIC CO2 CONCENTRATION WITHIN A YEAR" (bold added). The surprise to me, if this is correct, is that the surface ocean basically does not provide any short-term CO2 absorption potential at all (after a one-year lag), because it is already nearly at equilibrium with the atmosphere. In your scenario, then, humans would stop emitting CO2 and it would stay at 403ppm. The oceans are already in equilibrium with a 400ppm atmosphere, and so would continue to absorb CO2 until they came into equilibrium with the 403ppm atmosphere, which would take about a year, at which point they would stop absorbing any further CO2. Is this about right, D_C_S and D-Penguin?
Alone among major media outlets, AFAIK, the Guardian has seen fit to classify the recent crossing of the 2C threshold as front page news. Commenting on February's temp anomaly: "Regions of the Arctic were were more than 16C warmer than normal – whatever constitutes normal now. But what is really making people stand up and notice is that the surface of the Earth north of the equator was 2C warmer than pre-industrial temperatures. This was meant to be a line that must not be crossed... But what’s even scarier is the political, economic and social reaction to these landmarks in climate change... Have you heard any political speeches referring to these recent climate change records?... How was the stock market this morning? It appears febrile enough to lurch from euphoric boom to catastrophic bust on the basis of bland statements from central bankers but proves remarkably deaf to evidence that the entire industrial and financial system is headed for disaster... Know what’s trending on Twitter as I write? A photoshopped giant dog, the latest Game of Thrones trailer and Kim Kardashian’s naked body." full story:
Toggle Commented Mar 15, 2016 on PIOMAS March 2016 at Arctic Sea Ice
Thank you for the replies Rob, David and Bill. David said: "you will find that the Northern Hemisphere anomaly was 1.9 dC which puts it about 2.15 dC above pre-industrial levels." So if I understand this correctly then it can truthfully be said that we are already living in a climate regime that has exceeded the 2C limit over pre-industrial times, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, during winter, and while in the midst of a large el Nino. Yet even with those caveats, shouldn't this be front page news? It's rather like Miami being flooded. At first the water only makes new inroads deeper into previously unflooded areas during king tides, which are the harbinger of things to come, just as a NH February during el Nino is a foretaste of the not-too-distant future climate. To go even more off-topic, el Nino-related weather patterns caused it to snow here in the central Mexican Sierra Madres (around 21 North lat.)two days ago for only the second time since 1978. Killed about 11 million monarch butterflies.
Toggle Commented Mar 14, 2016 on PIOMAS March 2016 at Arctic Sea Ice
Well, I found the answer to my own question in a post by Jeff Masters at Wunderground: "Drawing from NASA’s graph of long-term temperature trends, if we add 0.2°C as a conservative estimate of the amount of human-produced warming that occurred between the late 1800s and 1951-1980, then the February result winds up at 1.55°C above average. If we use 0.4°C as a higher-end estimate, then February sits at 1.75°C above average. Either way, this result is a true shocker, and yet another reminder of the incessant long-term rise in global temperature resulting from human-produced greenhouse gases. Averaged on a yearly basis, global temperatures are now around 1.0°C beyond where they stood in the late 19th century, when industrialization was ramping up." So although February was a 'true shocker', the yearly average global temperatures remain 'only' around 1.0C above 1880 values. Still, that's a pretty fearsome monster of a monthly anomaly. Jeff Masters post is here:
Toggle Commented Mar 14, 2016 on PIOMAS March 2016 at Arctic Sea Ice
Sorry for going OT, but Joe Romm has just posted an entry over at ThinkProgress about February hitting a new peak global temperature anomaly: "It was so hot that February had the single biggest recorded monthly temperature anomaly (deviation from the 1951-1980 average temperature) — a whopping 2.4°F (1.35°C) above the average temperature for the month. The previous record deviation from the average — 2.0°F (1.13°C) — you may recall, was set in January." My question, which I'm sure many people here can answer, is this: If February was 1.35C above the 1951-1980 average, then how much was it above the pre-industrial 1880 average? I seem to remember that we must add an additional .35C or so, which would make February an astounding 1.7C warmer than pre-industrial times. Can this be so? Can we have already blown so far past the 1.5C limit that the world's leaders just agreed to do their best to avoid reaching? And how long before we reach 2.0C - maybe the next big el Nino will blow past that milestone in five or ten years. Joe Romm's article is here:
Toggle Commented Mar 14, 2016 on PIOMAS March 2016 at Arctic Sea Ice
This is OT, but I know many here will be interested. Today Greenpeace 'landed' six activists on the giant Shell drilling rig Polar Pioneer which is on its way to drill in the Arctic. Their blog is here: They are actually suspended under the main deck of the rig, 40 meters above the sea, and have made camp on one of the legs of the drilling rig, like mountain climbers. From their blog: This morning six people from onboard the Esperanza are watching first light breaking over the Pacific Ocean from the leg of Shell’s Arctic oil drilling rig, Polar Pioneer. They are up there to send a message from all of us opposed to Shell’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic: this oil rig should not be allowed anywhere near Arctic waters. We cannot avoid dangerous climate change if Shell continues with its plans Andreas, Aliyah, Jens, Zoe, Miriam and Johno left the Esperanza at daybreak today in inflatable boats and have climbed up onto one of the leg of the 97 metre tall oil drilling rig. They have the gear, supplies, and motivation to stay on the oil rig for as long as they are able to shine a light on Shell’s reckless hunt for oil in the Arctic. They will ascend the leg of the Polar Pioneer, as it transits towards imminent drilling off the coast of Alaska, and establish themselves securely there. From that point they will be talking to the world themselves – follow us! - Laura Kenyon on board the Greenpeace Esperanza
Toggle Commented Apr 7, 2015 on PIOMAS April 2015 at Arctic Sea Ice
@Susan Anderson: With some hesitation I'd like to address the Arctic incursions we've been experiencing in parts of the US and Europe. Calgary Alberta just got hit with a very unusual three-day summer snowstorm, which ended yesterday after dumping 35cm of snow and ice, knocking out power to large parts of the city, and downing thousands of trees: The temperature was +25C the day before the storm hit.
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2014 on PIOMAS September 2014 at Arctic Sea Ice
A ray of hope that the MSM might be thinking of pulling its head out of the (tar) sand, from dailykos: BBC Will No Longer Give Climate Change Deniers A Platform Finally; the tide appears to be turning against the clowns who think that their 'beliefs' trump science. According to The Daily Telegraph (in a story amusingly headlined 'BBC staff told to stop inviting cranks on to science programmes '): BBC journalists are being sent on courses to stop them inviting so many cranks onto programmes to air ‘marginal views’ The BBC Trust on Thursday published a progress report into the corporation’s science coverage which was criticised in 2012 for giving too much air-time to critics who oppose non-contentious issues. The report found that there was still an ‘over-rigid application of editorial guidelines on impartiality’ which sought to give the ‘other side’ of the argument, even if that viewpoint was widely dismissed. Some 200 staff have already attended seminars and workshops and more will be invited on courses in the coming months to stop them giving ‘undue attention to marginal opinion.’ “The Trust wishes to emphasise the importance of attempting to establish where the weight of scientific agreement may be found and make that clear to audiences,” wrote the report authors.
Toggle Commented Jul 7, 2014 on ASI 2014 update 4: high times at Arctic Sea Ice
philiponfire: "China is already in the process of replacing its public transport buses with ones running on LNG. in my city about half the fleet is running on LNG right now. the same applies to taxis." But LNG might actually be quite a bit worse than coal as far as contributing to GHG buildup - maybe 5 or 6 times worse when everything is taken into account, such as leaks during extraction, storage and shipment, and the energy required to liquify and then gassify it. Watch Years of Living Dangerously if you can. Here's the first episode on youtube: DavidR: "China has nearly one fifth of the world population. Those of us who live in countries that have three times their emissions percapita, eg Australia, USA, Canada should address our own countries excess emissions not those of a developing country." While true, that doesn't address Hans' point in any way. Of course China is responsible for its own population numbers (like every country), and it is quite aware of the fact, witness the decades-long one-child-policy. That policy led to problems such as a gender imbalance (female infants being allowed to die, as male children were seen as more desirable), but that just means the policy needs to be improved, not scrapped. It may be unpopular to talk about overpopulation, even verging on taboo, but if we, as a species, don't take responsibility for our numbers globally, then we are just like the fruit flies in Malthus's petrie dish, expanding exponentially until we collapse.
Toggle Commented Jun 13, 2014 on The day the ice cap died at Arctic Sea Ice
The Daily Kos article I mentioned above also has an interesting video about methane anomalies, using data from Methane Tracker. Commenter Apocalypse4Real is mentioned around the 8:20 mark. "A must see video below, have your medication of choice handy as you will need it Video 1 of 2. This is a short intro to the Unified Methane Layers functionality on Basically you're looking at two layers per day (0-12z and 12-24z) that contains only the methane over 1950ppb of all 100 layers from IASI for each (am and pm). Those two layers are shown at 6am (0-12z) and 6pm (12-24z) each day. The visualization using the Google Earth plugin allows you to pick a from and to data range that makes it easier to visualize the actual geographical scope of the venting episode, as well as identify specific geographic locations and dates to run a more detailed analysis using the "Individual Methane Layers" functionality."
Toggle Commented Jun 1, 2014 on Greenland 2013 in review at Arctic Sea Ice
Apologies for being OT, but this is just a quick observation for fun, and there's no open thread. Daily Kos has an article on the Sixth Great Extinction which states: "The Cretaceous Tertiary Impact Event: an asteroid 10-15 km or 6-9 miles in diameter impacted Earth at Chicxulub, in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The explosion would have been a billion times larger than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima." It's interesting to note that according to the bomb counter at the top of Neven's blog we've already accumulated more than twice the energy of the asteroid that caused the last great extinction. It's not a very good comparison because the asteroid event was instantaneous, with plenty of ejecta and particulate matter, whereas this accumulation has been slowly building since 1998. But still. Doesn't look good.
Toggle Commented May 31, 2014 on Greenland 2013 in review at Arctic Sea Ice
Here's a good little article about MSM's misbalancing of climate change reportage, posted at ThinkProgress by Joe Romm on May 12, with a very amusing video clip from John Oliver: Some 97 out of 100 actively publishing climate scientists agree with the overwhelming evidence that humans are causing global warming. The challenge for the media is how to accurately reflect that consensus. One way NOT to do it is to give equal time to climate science deniers. Unsurprisingly (yet tragically), that is the preferred strategy of most of the MSM. False balance lives at CNN, Reuters, Bloomberg, and even PBS. Only one cable news show has been brave enough to take on false balance with a “statistically representative climate change debate.” Unfortunately, it’s a fake news show, John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight,” on HBO. Here is the must-see segment: ThinkProgress article:
Toggle Commented May 22, 2014 on ASI 2014 update 1: melt pond May at Arctic Sea Ice
Reported Aug. 29, 2013, from NASA (sorry if this is old news to everyone): "Hidden for all of human history, a 460 mile long canyon has been discovered below Greenland's ice sheet. Using radar data from NASA's Operation IceBridge, scientists found the canyon runs from near the center of the island northward to the fjord of the Petermann Glacier. The researchers believe the canyon plays an important role in transporting sub-glacial meltwater from the interior of Greenland to the edge of the ice sheet into the ocean. Evidence suggests that before the presence of the ice sheet, as much as 4 million years ago, water flowed in the canyon from the interior to the coast and was a major river system. "It is quite remarkable that a channel the size of the Grand Canyon is discovered in the 21st century below the Greenland ice sheet," said Studinger. "It shows how little we still know about the bedrock below large continental ice sheets." The IceBridge campaign will return to Greenland in March 2014 to continue collecting data on land and sea ice in the Arctic
Toggle Commented Nov 25, 2013 on PIOMAS November 2013 at Arctic Sea Ice
Colorado Bob, Here's a quote I like, to add to your others: “It's the tide. It's the dismal tide. It's not the one thing.” ― Cormac McCarthy
Toggle Commented Nov 7, 2013 on PIOMAS October 2013 at Arctic Sea Ice
@jdallen_wa "Regarding the "100 million" assertion, I've seen a bit of this before, and don't buy it." While you're undoubtedly right that improvements in materials science will be relevant to carrying capacity, I'm not so sure I can agree with your other arguments. You say "It is founded on a number of assumptions which are not dependable. First, that classic capitalism will remain as the driving economic force." I haven't delved deeply into Alpert's publications, but he does not seem to premise his ideas on 'classic capitalism' continuing to operate. He makes it clear that any expansion of consumption must be balanced by a further reduction in carrying capacity; even an increase in average life-span from 85 to 86 years would require a 1% reduction in population for sustainability to be maintained. Capitalism is premised on infinite growth, and would seem to run counter to the spirit of what Alpert is trying to say. "Next it presumes "North American" quality of life cannot be reached sustainably." But he does so presume, though only for 100 million or so people. That's his whole point. "Lastly, it assumes we cannot or will not change our behavior." I think you might be right there. Alpert makes it clear that he thinks those 100 million humans will probably want to continue to improve their quality of life, but that IF that improvement required more material throughput from the environment, then the carrying capacity would have to drop commensurately. OTOH, if people gave up some of the North American habits, like eating so much meat, then the carrying capacity would increase. He's not asking what the absolute number of humans is that the earth could support, but what that number would be at a North American level of comfort (or indulgence). "I do not doubt that humanity is going to suffer a few rather painful reversals; it has happened before." Well, it hasn't really, not like this. Sure, we were down to perhaps 4000 individuals at one point in the distant past, but that did not involve the potential collapse of a global civilization, or the potential death of many billions within just a few generations, nor the accompanying loss of biodiversity that is clearly happening now. For that you have to go back 65 million years, before humans existed, and this extinction event might even outdo that one. I too have some criticisms of Alpert, but they are of a different nature than yours. For one thing, he has assumed that 100 percent of the arable land would be used for food production for humans, with none of the most productive land being set aside for other species' exclusive, and perpetual, use. Fields would lie fallow for 15 years, but would not revert to old-growth forests or any other kind of self-sustaining ecosystem, because they would be plowed under again too soon. This would have to have some impact on the rest of Earth's ecosystems, in ways that might not be favourable to humanity's perpetuation, at least not at that level of land-usage. Secondly, he doesn't seem to address the northward shift of the growing belts into regions of poor soil quality. Your idea of growing lyme grass notwithstanding, I don't see how those regions could make up for the loss of productivity of our current agro-belts, especially around the major deltas. How many calories/hectare could lyme grass and the like produce anyway, even if such arctic species were able to survive in their new, sub-arctic or temperate climate? As for a Malthusian collapse not being inevitable, I hope you're right but I fear mightily that you're wrong. A controlled economic contraction of about 9 percent/year is thought to be required this century, IIRC, to avoid intolerable climate change, and Soviet Russia imploded with only a 1 percent/yr contraction. The idea of contraction is repellent to capitalism, and to capitalists who want to see healthy returns, and to a debt-based banking system that requires endless expansion to work, and to politicians who have counted on growing their way out of debt. What are the odds that we can keep a tightly-integrated global economy functioning, with just-in-time delivery (and therefore with little resilience to shock), practically no food reserves, diminishing oil for (food) transportation, a teetering banking system, and many, many other factors that readers of this blog are familiar with, all the while maintaining degrowth at 9%/yr, without descending into conflict and systemic disruption or outright failure? I think its best to expect a massive disruption, and for smart, creative people to start thinking about what it would look like, and what might be done to ameliorate its worst effects. Just in case you're wrong. :^)
Thank you Wal, I think you've found who I was looking for, or at least a prominent member of the same camp. Jack Alpert comes up with the figure of <100 million, assuming that all 100 million will be able to live at current North American levels of consumption indefinitely. Here's a six-minute video for anyone who wants to hear Jack Alpert summarize his ideas:
Colorado Bob, or anyone, I've been trying to remember the source of something I read within the last few months on the topic of the Earth's sustainable carrying capacity for humans. Someone here may have linked to it, but I couldn't locate it with a google search. The author's conclusion was remarkable - that the carrying capacity was a mere 70 million. This is far lower than other estimates, of course, but the reasoning they used seemed quite sound. He or she took more issues into consideration than other writers in this field do, which, IMHO, causes those writers to posit unrealistically high figures for a sustainable human population, on the order of 1.5 billion. He/she points out that in the absence of FF-based nitrogen fertilizers, upon which our current civilization is based, a field will have to lie fallow for 17 years between each crop, with a cover crop of clover or some other nitrogen-fixer, if it is to be truly sustainable indefinitely and not become exhausted in a few years or decades. This requirement alone radically reduces the amount of usable arable land, which, IIRC, comprises a mere 9 percent of the planet's land surface. And this figure will drop very precipitously (does anyone have estimates of how much?) in the fairly near future due to desertification, drought/flood intensification making it more difficult to bring a crop to maturity, salt-water intrusion due to rising sea levels, northward shift of the growing belt (into areas with poor soils, as stated above), and the expected increase of days with daytime highs, in the agricultural belts, hitting a maximum temperature of 112 F. or above, a temperature which instantly kills wheat or corn crops (can't remember which). I would like to re-read that article, so if anyone knows of it, I'd be thankful if they could post a link to it.
Larry, I would like to change my entry upthread from 2.8 to 4.8 Mkm2. I no longer think there can be a huge flash melt in August given the moribund state of the melt in the last week and the -5C air temperatures.
2.8 I'm sticking to my original figure out of sheer bloody-mindedness. Commenters on this blog make powerful arguments for both higher and lower figures, making it difficult for me to decide who's more likely to be right, and having no real knowledge of my own to draw upon, I am left as adrift as a bouy at the North Pole. Admittedly, most of the weight of those arguments is in the direction of higher estimates, and if I were betting money I would raise my estimate substantially. But my gut feeling is that the ice is vulnerable this summer, and will flash melt sometime in August, and then continue to melt until around the end of the third week in September, giving a low monthly average.
james cobban added a favorite at Arctic Sea Ice
Jun 30, 2013
2.8 MKm^2 Same estimate as May, based on the weak and well-churned state of the ice.
Its too much to get into right here, but perhaps the Christian environmental theology you mention is at least somewhat influenced by the Gnostic traditions Elaine Pagels writes about in 'The Gnostic Gospels', which deals with the 52 papyrus texts found at Nag Hamadi in 1945, and which clearly demonstrate that the Church in the early Christian era in the first and second centuries AD was far from monolithic, with many branches of Christianity simultaneously extant, some of which promulgated an Immanent God. Scientific materialism was a development that occurred within the culture-sphere of these Occidental religions, rejecting the belief in the Transcendent God, but continuing to accept the idea of duality, the separation of the material world from the mental (what religion would term the spiritual) world (this is Cartesian duality). Science could operate without persecution from the Church so long as it confined itself to investigating only the material aspect of things. But, as Rupert Sheldrake argues, this materialistic view has hardened into a dogma amongst modern scientific materialists, who position themselves as self-appointed guardians of the materialist creed, pretending to represent science as a whole, when in fact science is a method, not a position, and the materialists are actually defending an ideological position that can be termed 'materialism'. Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens are two prominent materialists. Rupert Sheldrake points out that these dogmatic materialists tend to be atheists whose antipathy towards Christianity is so strong that they will go to any lengths to deny scientific evidence for the existence of consciousness existing independently of the brain, lest this open the way for spirituality, or worse, the Pope, to slip in through the back door. The point I was trying to make is that our cultural traditions in the West have made it easy for us to regard the Earth as something that is there to be exploited, without any real concern for its well-being. The field of Economics has run with this idea, with its concept of 'externalities'. I was trying to suggest that we should try to understand what elements of our culture have brought us to this unfortunate point, the point that Edward Albee has called 'the saddest of all points, the point where there IS something to be lost', so that we may pick out the best elements to carry forward, while leaving behind the worst. I am not hostile to Christianity, for it has at least kept alive the idea of divinity, of sacredness. Nor am I hostile to science, which, as a method of rational inquiry, is innocent of ideologies such as materialism. I think, in fact, that it is time for science and religion to become much more unified through the scientific exploration of consciousness. The word 'religion' itself, I remember from my Joseph Campbell, comes from re-ligio, referring to the ropes (ligatures) that bound a team of oxen together, with 're', indicating a re-uniting with the ineffable, with God, binding us once again to God. Science, without the dogma of materialism, seems to me to be a quest for exactly that.
Toggle Commented Feb 10, 2013 on PIOMAS February 2013 at Arctic Sea Ice
And from: "Who or What Is God? Joseph Campbell made a useful distinction. In the religions that originated east of Iran, ultimate reality is generally understood as an immanent, impersonal energy within everything, whereas west of Iran, ultimate reality is understood as a transcendent being, a personified entity above and outside the created world. This fundamental distinction would have far-reaching effects. In Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism, this immanent source is known as Brahman, Buddha-consciousness and Tao, a reality beyond all concepts and definitions—the mystery behind the masks. All existence, including the gods, flows from this ultimately nameless source. In Hinduism, this is particularly apparent. The many gods of the Indian pantheon are part of the created world, not its ultimate cause. West of Iran a very different understanding of God or ultimate reality emerged out of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Here God attained personhood and stands above and outside the created world. We are not manifestations of God-consciousness; He is the creator and we are merely creatures. This fundamental dualism shapes all of the other elements of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic worldview. In the fundamentally nondualistic eastern worldview, the spiritual path involves realizing one's unity with this divine source, a realization covered over by ignorance. God-discovery is, in a very real sense, self-discovery. The purpose of religion and spirituality in the east is to awaken us to who and what we really are. In the western traditions, the spiritual path is one of obedience to a set of divinely revealed doctrines, beliefs and practices designed to bridge the chasm between us and a distant God, a God who cares, but a God who we have exiled through disobedience."
Toggle Commented Feb 10, 2013 on PIOMAS February 2013 at Arctic Sea Ice