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The Beginning of the End?

Can anyone explain how Mankind is going to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere (now above 4 parts per million), without which GW will be catastrophic, with an average rise of 6̊C or even more in the worst-case scenario?

Pollticians blather on about renewables, but even as I write, many countries are planning to extract shale oil; Iraq and Iran are racking up oil production; nuclear is being phased out in Germany and elsewhere, while coal burning increases – last year China was opening one new coal-fired power station PER WEK – not sure if this extreaordinary rate has slowed, but India is also vastly increasing emissions….

No economy can stay solvent without growth, but growth is currently impossible without even more emissions.

My conclusion is that it is almost impossible to imagine how bad this could get, economically, socially and in terms of natural disasters.

And in the short-term (which is of most interest to politicians), European industry is going to be decimated. Gas prices in the US are now around three times lower than in Europe. How the hell can high-energy European firms stay competitive? Even German industry is looking down the barrel of a gun.

This is from “The Daily Telegraph”:

“Last week, I spoke to Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Authority (IEA), who is often described as the world’s leading forecaster in this field. He has been telling anyone in Europe willing to listen that the continent faces a major crisis of competitiveness because of high energy prices. “This year is critical,” he told me. “I don’t see many such junctures in the economic history of Europe in which energy could play such a critical role for the long-term prosperity of the European people.”

The problems are these. Europe’s high subsidies for renewables to meet climate change targets, coupled with the switch to gas, which is expensive to import, are damaging energy-intensive manufacturers, who between them employ some 30 million people. Nuclear power has either been blocked, as in Germany, or delayed, as in the UK, and the take-up of shale has been painfully slow. In America, by contrast, the shale revolution has seen energy prices tumble, making industry more profitable and putting extra money into the pockets of consumers – so far, $1,300 a year for every American, expected to rise to $4,000 by 2015.

The head of one of Europe’s biggest energy companies told a conference I attended recently that the EU’s energy policy was a “total mess”. He added: “Not only are we unable to attract investment to create new jobs, but we risk losing them as well.”

My advice? Plant potatoes, prepare sandbags, get a gun – and pray.

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NO. Apparently it is NOT a total myth!

John Gardner, an old schoolfriend, has sent me his reaction to the claims of the “denialists” quoted in my last post, and I append his comments below. As a layman I would not presume to make a definitive judgement on all this, but I do think it is important for us to try to follow what is going on – difficult though it is. After all, we will also suffer whatever consequences there may be and in any case we will be PAYING for and living through any measures taken! There is even a small chance that if we work together we might be able to INFLUENCE what measures are taken …….

This really is one instance where a reaction of “I’m not interested in politics.” or even “I’m not interested in science.” would be just dumb.

Thank you for these fascinating comments, John, who writes ……….

The interesting thing about the arguments from denialists is that they all come from totally different directions. One set say that CO2 doesn’t cause global warming, some say that anthropogenic CO2 doesn’t cause global warming, some say that CO2 does cause global warming but the oceans will sort it out, some say that global warming doesn’t exist, and others that global warming does exist but it’s all the sun’s fault.

They can’t all be right! It reminds me of the variation of arguments put forward by Creationists.

To get to the basic science of Greenhouse Gases:

1. Do you believe that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that serves to warm global temperatures?

Very simple models show that given the solar radiation received from the sun the Earth would have a temperature of 253K without CO2. The same simple model shows that with the current atmospheric CO2 the Earth should have a temperature of 303K. It actually has a temperature of 295K – and that is with a model that just includes solar radiation, a bare Earth with an albedo of 33%, and a layer of CO2.

The science of greenhouse gases is well understood. In essence, the sun’s radiation is absorbed by the Earth and re-emitted as black body radiation with the peak in the infrared. The CO2 absorbs a significant proportion of
this radiation, and re-emits it, much of which reaches the ground again.


2. Do you believe in Anthropogenic CO2 loading of the atmosphere?

There really is no reason not to. We oxidise fossil fuels and make CO2. CO2 levels have risen by 30% since the industrial revolution, and this increase matches the increase in economic production. We supply about 10 Gigatons of carbon to the atmosphere per annum, mainly in the form of  CO2, compared to about 0.1-0.2 emitted by volcanoes.

(Incidentally, there are about 700 Gigatons of carbon in the atmosphere, 2,000 Gton on the land, 3,800 Gton in the oceans, and 1,200,000 Gton as limestones and fossil fuels. And it cycles round the four reservoirs.)


3. How can CO2 be such a big factor in all this if it comprises only 0.0405% of the atmosphere?

A good question, but easily answered. Each molecule of CO2 can absorb radiation around the 667 cycles per second waveband, which warms it up. That’s 405 molecules out of one million. Now think how many billions of molecules there are in a column of the atmosphere (90% of them are in the troposphere within the bottom 15 km), and you’ll appreciate that 0.0405% amounts to a significant number.

Interestingly enough, there is a finite amount of energy being emitted by the planet at 667 cycles, so one would think that it would all be absorbed by a certain amount of CO2, and then there will nothing else to absorb. This is true, except that a phenomenon called ‘pressure broadening’ starts to take effect such that the range of IR frequencies absorbed by CO2 becomes broader. This is caused by the gas molecules interacting with each other. The result of this is that the Earth’s temperature rises in proportion to the number of CO2 doublings – i.e. if 4 dollops add 1K to the global temperature, it will take 8 dollops to raise it by 2K, and 16 to raise it by 3K.


4. The Earth has warmed over the last 150 years

The Earth has warmed about 0.5K over the past 150 years. This 0.5K is consistent with climatic models when run with the actual CO2 levels, and then run without the anthropogenic input.


5. Increasing CO2 will continue the trend. ->
Commonsense and modelling indicates that it will.


To me, all the above is all very clear and obvious. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.


FREQUENT OBJECTION
S BY THE DENIALISTS

Some of the objections put forward are easily dismissed, and some of them have actually been withdrawn but are still being recycled.

1. The sea will soak it up.

The sea is actually soaking up about half our emissions. However, there are things to be aware of.

a) Given enough time, the CO2 in the atmosphere will be in equilibrium with that in the sea. The equilibrium used to be a given concentration in the sea, and 300 ppm in the atmosphere. Raise the CO2 in the atmosphere and the concentration in the sea will rise. But because it is in equilibrium it will not take it all.

b) Because there are relatively few windows between the surface and the sea and the depths of the oceans, it takes about 1,000 years to reach equilibrium.

c) Increasing the CO2 in the sea decreases the pH (it has decreased by 0.1 in the last 150 years), which will have a catastrophic effect on the marine ecosystem.


2. Increases in CO2 occur 700 years after the increase in temperatures
(Point 2).

This is obviously nonsense as a glance at any graph showing rising temperatures over the past 150 years with CO2 increase will confirm. It is actually referring to the fact that this is observed during the retreat of ice during
the last ice age. The main agent behind the ice ages is the variation of solar flux reaching the northern hemisphere during the course of the Milancovic Cycle. It seems that the retreat of ice from the landscape
results in CO2 being released as the biosphere re-established its hold. This does not stop the CO2 so released having a positive feedback on the rate of the decreasing ice.


3. Satellites show no increase in global temperatures.

This did puzzle climate scientists for some time, until they realised that the temperatures being measured were being affected by the temperature of the stratosphere which has been getting colder. This has now been taken into account, and the measurements now match those of other means.


4. Sea Levels aren’t rising

This is just crap. Sea levels are rising by about 3mm per year, and have risen by about 250 mm in the last 150 years. It does seem, however, that most of the islands currently seen to be at risk are suffering from increased tides due to El Nino, and increased erosion due to more energetic weather, rather than from rising sea-levels.


5. It’s all down to the Sun

There has been no changes in solar radiation measured in the past 150 years apart from that expected from the 11-year solar cycle.

CONCLUSIONS

The climate scientists do not know it all. There will always be unknowns which are not being modelled; there will always be errors in the modelling; and there will always be problems with things that can’t be properly modelled.

Having said that, if one accepts the basic science, it is clear that increasing the rate at which we inject CO2 into the atmosphere will be bad for those alive in a 100 years, and even if we steady reduce our CO2 output, it still won’t be good.

The good news, however, is that it will all sort itself out over the next 60 million years. We can’t do anything that will totally screw up the carbon cycle for ever.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2013 in Environment

 

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CLIMATE CHANGE??

My gut instinct:

1) Whether Man is to blame or not is irrelevant. GW is almost certainly occurring and is too late to halt; stopping all emissions TOMORROW would not do enough to reverse the process. The Earth is going to heat up at LEAST 6̊C and maybe much more, leading to massive flooding, huge storms, immense devastation of crops, starvation, disease and horrendous wars as people fight for scarce resources and die in their hundreds of millions.

2) As for stopping emissions tomorrow or even slowing them down, it is pure fantasy. India and China are putting one new coal-fired power station online EACH WEEK even as a conference of worthies starts up somewhere, no doubt with plenty of caviar and champagne as millions in the Phillipines struggle to survive.

Most nations are desperately looking for new reserves of fossil fuels. Even those admirable Norwegians are still burning their oil. Do you notice any of the oil producers cutting back on their sales? I don’t; they are all selling as much as they can and there is in any case the eternal lust for growth, which means of course more industrial activity even if there is the occasional conscience-sopping gesture such as buses running on gas rather than oil.

Germany idiotically and knee-jerkedly has started to halt all nuclear generation, and is therefore importing and burning MORE coal as well as leaving itself open to the danger of running out of power in a few years. And you thought Merkel was clever??? Oh dear.

Humans are hard-wired from cave-man days to give priority to the short-term.We can pretend we are doing our bit by erecting fatuous wind-turbines, but they are only a sop to our pathetic consciences – besides being totally ineffective.

No, the end of the world approaches, as is also seen by the increasing examples of lunacy stalking the planet.

Speaking of which, I note that hundreds of people have been executed by firing-squad in North Korea, that great friend and ally of China and Cuba. Their crime? Watching foreign TV.

Until the NK regime is destroyed I shall always consider Man as collectively undeserving of survival. There are just not enough Mother Theresas to offset the appalling cruelty and suffering imposed by the dictators of our planet.

It is a great pity. Man is capable of such good things, but fatally flawed, above all because good people do not show enough collective resolve to defeat brutality and wipe out those carrying its odious gene (as of course we did in WWII – THANK YOU AMERICA).

The idea that I shall have lived my entire life hoping desperately for an end to the hideous NK regime and yet be disappointed is profoundly saddening.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2013 in Core Thought, Environment, Politics

 

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Where Does the Carbon Dioxide Really Come From?

Ian Rutherford Plimer is an Australian geologist, Professor Emeritus of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Professor of Mining Geology at the University of Adelaide, and the director of multiple mineral exploration and mining companies. He has published 130 scientific papers, six books and edited the Encyclopedia of Geology. Professor Ian Plimer could not have said it better!

If you’ve read his book you will agree, this is a good summary.

PLIMER: “Okay, here’s the bombshell. The volcanic eruption in Iceland . Since its first spewing of volcanic ash has, in just FOUR DAYS, NEGATED EVERY SINGLE EFFORT you have made in the past five years to control CO2 emissions on our planet – all of you.

Of course, you know about this evil carbon dioxide that we are trying to suppress – it’s that vital chemical compound that every plant requires to live and grow and to synthesize into oxygen for us humans and all animal life.

I know….it’s very disheartening to realize that all of the carbon emission savings you have accomplished while suffering the inconvenience and expense of driving Prius hybrids, buying fabric grocery bags, sitting up till midnight to finish your kids “The Green Revolution” science project, throwing out all of your non-green cleaning supplies, using only two squares of toilet paper, putting a brick in your toilet tank reservoir, selling your SUV and speedboat, vacationing at home instead of abroad. Nearly getting hit every day on your bicycle, replacing all of your 50 cent light bulbs with $10.00 light bulbs…..well, all of those things you have done have all gone down the tubes in just four days.

The volcanic ash emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere in just four days – yes, FOUR DAYS – by that volcano in Iceland has totally erased every single effort you have made to reduce the evil beast, carbon. And there are around 200 active volcanoes on the planet spewing out this crud at any one time – EVERY DAY.

I don’t really want to rain on your parade too much, but I should mention that when the volcano Mt Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, it spewed out more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the entire human race had emitted in all its years on earth.

Yes, folks, Mt Pinatubo was active for over one year – think about it.

Of course, I shouldn’t spoil this ‘touchy-feely tree-hugging’ moment and mention the effect of solar and cosmic activity and the well-recognized 800-year global heating and cooling cycle, which keeps happening despite our completely insignificant efforts to affect climate change.

And I do wish I had a silver lining to this volcanic ash cloud, but the fact of the matter is that the bush fire season across the western USA and Australia this year alone will negate your efforts to reduce carbon in our world for the next two to three years. And it happens every year.

Just remember that your government just tried to impose a whopping carbon tax on you, on the basis of the bogus ‘human-caused’ climate-change scenario.

Hey, isn’t it interesting how they don’t mention ‘Global Warming’ anymore, but just ‘Climate Change’ – you know why? It’s because the planet has COOLED by 0.7 degrees in the past century and these global warming bullshit artists got caught with their pants down.

And, just keep in mind that you might yet have an Emissions Trading Scheme – that whopping new tax – imposed on you that will achieve absolutely nothing except make you poorer. It won’t stop any volcanoes from erupting, that’s for sure.

But, hey, relax…… and have a nice day!”

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2013 in Core Thought, Human Interest, Politics

 

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