Chat on our ABRUPT Climate Change EMERGENCY // Published on Mar 26, 2016
Humanity is NOW, TODAY in an abrupt climate change EMERGENCY. This is what science tells us. When the public, policy makers and politicians around the planet recognize this reality, the mood will flip from indifference and ignorance to utter TERROR. Just watch.
[Paul also explicates his fabulous Hansen series, shown here. dk]
You disagree? Google “climate change” and “faster than expected”, “unprecedented”, etc. and you get gazillions of science articles. Google “climate change” and “slower than expected”, etc. and you get squat.
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Here I am, on Extinction Radio, Episode 53, from Saturday 26 March, 2016.
You are encouraged, by all means, to listen to and share the entire episode, but for folks on the go who need the segment fast, I am here at the 90:08 mark. Its about 21:29 long.
Angry Earth Causing Record CO2 Level Rise? // Published on Mar 26, 2016, 3:32 long.
Feb, 2016 the atmospheric CO2 level was 404.16 ppm, or 4 ppm larger than just a year ago. Mar 25, 2016 hit 405.81 ppm, almost 5 ppm larger than only one year ago. Average levels rose a record 3.09 ppm in 2015, slightly less in 2014 and a record (then) 2.90 in 2013.
Yet global emissions from humans have been reported to have levelled off the last few years.
What gives? Could be BAD. Could mean Earth sinks are maxed out and/or sources are rising.
This is terrifying. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reports the third year of static carbon dioxide (CO2) emission levels approximating 32 GT/year (2013: 32.07, 2014: 32.13, 2014: 32.14)(https://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2016/march/decoupling-of-global-emissions-and-economic-growth-confirmed.html). At the same time, neither the Mauna Loa Observatory nor any of the Scripps Institute CO2 Program sites atmospheric monitoring stations measured a decrease (http://scrippsco2.ucsd.edu/graphics_gallery/other_stations/global_stations_co2_concentration_trends). In fact, 2015 appears to be year of record increase in atmospheric CO2 (http://www.noaa.gov/record-annual-increase-carbon-dioxide-observed-mauna-loa-2015). Unless the IEA data is disingenuous, abrupt climate change just got a bit easier to measure. Stressed sinks and new sources are still dynamic and complex but we may know the total they are [currently] adding up to.
Paul, you don’t mention it directly, but given that we’re ~1000+ ppb methane above baseline, and this has been ongoing for more than a decade, at least 1 ppm of the current carbon dioxide increase is that degraded CH4 in its CO2 iteration. China and India are mentioned as culprits regarding under-reporting (and 2000 China has been identified as doing so by as much as 17%). Another culprit is the fossil carbon industry. They self-report here in the US, and are highly selective in where any independent corroboration of their figures are facilitated. I’ve read accounts that there is a significant descripancy between what is reported and what the actual emissions are.
Greg, methane has a half life of about 12 years so only 5.5% is broken down each year. At 1850 ppb that would add only 0.1 ppm of CO2.
E. Gadsby, I think we are doing our math differently. If you are saying 5.5% of 1850 ppb is .1 ppm in any one year, I’m looking at a decadal number, not an annual one. 10 yrs. X .1 ppm = 1 ppm. But I’m not familiar with the 5.5%/yr. factor you are using, nor if it can be used as I just did. I’ve read that initially CH4 has a CO2e of 105, 86 on a twenty year time scale, and 34 on a century time scale, while only lasting, with enough atmospheric OH, about a decade before, via a six stage chemical reaction process, ending up as CO2.
My math is based on the almost 9 decades of the carbon atom in an atmospheric methane molecule exists as CO2. Therefore, after a decade, the carbon atom that used to be the “C ” in CH4 would be among the ppm of CO2 Scripps is measuring in their monitoring. The CO2e of methane is confusing work-around for global warming potential relative to that standard where CO2 is defined as 1.
I’m interested in understanding the 5.5% per year factor you use. How is the 5.5% factor arrived at?
(PS: in my previous comment it should have been “(and [since] 2000 China…”
Greg – 5.5% just comes from a 12 year half life (i.e 0.945 to the power twelve is 0.5 about). If you are counting of 10 years then I agree the total CO2 from degradation would be about 1 ppm. But in those 10 years CO2 has gone up about 25ppm. However I think you maybe are talking about CO2 equivalent or CO2e – in which case adding methane would have a bigger impact (i.e. as you say around 100 to 150 times that for CO2 based on mass basis, or 16/44 as much on a ppm basis). Sorry for any confusion.
E. Gadsby, thanks for the clarification and education. How half-lives are associated with the power of the years is also something I still need to learn, but at least I have a departure point for that research.
The divergence of the trends of the IEA metric and Scripps’ regarding CO2 is new. Since what Scripps measures is the answer to a complicated “bath tub” problem. If anthropogenic emissions of CO2 are stable, that problem got a tiny bit easier to ‘solve’/model…and/or test models. Because, possibly until now both metrics have been going up, how much if that 25 ppm you talk about is natural, and how much is anthropogenic has been a challenge to quantify. If the anthropogenic contribution from fossil carbon combustion is stabilized, ‘educated guesses’ can be refined. This is particularly important when the ‘hail Mary’ pass of effecting geo-engineering is considered. Critically controversial compounding errors will bedevil the politics of that bail out of CapitalismFail.
I’ve a generalized framing of the atmospheric CO 2 ‘bath tub’ problem I’d value a critique of. Are you interested in doing so if I post it? Also, and this may be a simplistic example of how errors can compound, only ~1100 ppb of 1850 ppb of methane are anthropogenic/new. 5.5% of that is .06 ppm/yr. CO2, or 16.666666666… years’ worth need to be added up to get that–at least–1 ppm CO2! 😉
Greg – I’d be interested in your thoughts. I think at current emission rates CO2 overwhelms the problems from methane, both from the increasing forcing from methane compare to CO2 and from degradation, i.e. in filling the tub faster than it is being emptied. If there is a arctic methane bomb potential as Paul thinks then things might change quickly though.
E. Gadsby, concerning the threat of an up to 50 GT release of methane from the Arctic, particularly the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS), Paul is simply the messenger. I heard in a report about the International Scientific Congress Climate Change meeting in Copenhagen in March of 2009 (report here:http://www.copenhagendiagnosis.org/about.html), that there are only about 20 scientists specialized in the study of methane. I have been unsuccessful in finding a confirmation of this…Paul? Anyway, the initial thermal dynamic modeling done in the ’80s identified, as you do, that CO2 is the primary [anthropogenic] greenhouse gas. Research money and careers have followed suit, as has what has passes for news about our changing climate. Relative to the metaphor of a bathtub problem, anthropogenic methane has been labeled a secondary gas (that is, at least, at its pre-fracking levels) that the economy of CapitalismFail dumps into the atmosphere.
Abrupt climate change has been, for the first generation of climate modeling scientists, a ‘future’ risk. Any focus on it detracts from the task at hand: pointing out the importance of controlling anthropogenic carbon emissions. As abrupt climate change becomes visible in the current data, motivated reasoning functions to disappears it among those working on the ‘important’ stuff: CO2. Few are the scientists who can critique trusted assumptions upon which a career has been predicated. The Gavin/Shakhova conflict concerning the Royal Society gathering the fall of 2014 is a recent and egregious example of this. (http://envisionation.co.uk/index.php/blogs/99-russian-scientists-excluded-from-presenting-important-research-as-nasa-goddard-director-tries-to-discredit-observational-scientific-research)
The early definition of abrupt climate change was such that it can’t exist until it is too late to do anything about it (seehttp://data.globalchange.gov/file/7eba50f1-6097-461f-8741-ecb3bfb5ae76). With that definition of abrupt climate change, the work of the world’s handful of methane scientists became twice irrelevant. What the study of methane will turn up will, by convention, not be as important as what is happening with CO2…until this isn’t true. In the siloed world of academia, the silo studying methane is tiny. The existence of AEMG is, in part, a recognition of this.
In addition, nerds, and the current model for funding careers in research, affects strutting roosters who tend to crow about minutia. Specialists, not generalists, are promulgated. This effects a culture where brilliance exists concurrently within social isolation…or the social dynamic that all too many with careers in research science have always experienced. Only generalists, like Paul, and who are not vested in an academic dynamic, are oriented to recognized abrupt climate change at its earliest stage.
Two other asides before getting into the framing of the ‘bathtub’ problem. The IEA graph reveals a bias by labeling as an “economic downturn” what was the flash freezing of the collapse of CapitalismFail. Something like $600 trillion in financial derivatives vaporized and only ‘quantitative easing’ (i.e. just printing money) and nationalizing the major insurance company for all those derivatives, and dropping the prime interest rate to zero has kept the 1% from doing a Yurtle-the-Turtle mud dive to join the rest of humanity in the muck and mire of our climate destroying economic meme. The flash freezing shenanigans employed have included allowing at least a quadrupling of the very derivatives that caused the blowup. This is reflected in the noted increase in GDP. Does GDP measure economic activity that meaningfully relates to human well being?
Regardless, with the shenanigans, Yurtle’s tower of power is now far higher, but the muddy mash pit below is drying out with abrupt climate change. When the music finally stops and the flash frozen collapse thaws, Yurtle’s re-entry speed as the tower tumbles will yield a turtle flyspeck on the windshield of the former pond’s hard pan. How’s that for a mixture of metaphors?
Also, here in the Hudson Valley, we are posed to loose this years fruit crop next week. Several nights of a bud/leaf destroying hard freeze are forecasted. The fruit crop loss is an economic impact. Among all species of plants, this hard freeze is more of the terror that Paul is talking about in this blog entry. We have accumulated about 90 growing degree days before this freeze. As an ‘early’ warm up followed by a ‘normal’ hard freeze repeats itself, plants are stressed and weakened. Too many years of this in a row of this as a pattern and we’ll have other changes to observe relative to abrupt climate change. While digging trenches the last two days, as part of my water management system for raising brook trout on this seasonally dry hillside, shad flies (this area’s version of the black fly) were pestering me. This hatching is about six weeks early.
Now the generalized framing of the bathtub problem (which may be too static a metaphor):
Atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are continuing to rise in spite of this reported leveling of measured emissions by the IEA (https://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2016/march/decoupling-of-global-emissions-and-economic-growth-confirmed.html). Is the smoke and mirrors of the world’s financial Wiz (greed-as-go[o]d) being applied at the IEA as well, or is the discrepancy between measurements more hard evidence that the solid fuel stage of the Anthropocene’s abrupt climate change’s rocket is fired; that CapitalismFail has launched humanity into a Major Tom ride to oblivion?
The metric of the IEA is a tabulation of nationally derived estimates. In the US the fossil carbon companies self-report methane emissions associated with their production activities. The self-reported figures associated fracking are, at best controversial. Non-industry data suggest significant under-reporting by the industry. Atmospheric chemistry transforms methane, CH4, in conjunction with the hydroxide radical (OH), in a multi-step process into CO2 over about a decade. Atmospheric methane has been rising and is now in excess of 1ppm above pre-industrial levels. Some of the ongoing increase in atmospheric carbon can reasonably be assigned to the increased methane in its CO2 iteration which the IEA metric would not be directly measuring.
China has been known to under-report its fossil carbon combustion since about 2000. Tentative effort to quantify this under-reporting suggest it could be as much as 17%. But some of this figure, given the other variables discussed below, could also be politically motivated and therefore biased. The blame game creates statistics that lie and liars who use statistics. As atmospheric emissions continue to rise at record rates, does the discrepancy between CO2 measurement metrics reveal promulgated propaganda and duplicity? And/or are other factors in play?
The greasing of the skids that extractive, exploitative, and externalization-of-costs CapitalismFail demands, continues to effect land use changes. The consequentially anthropogenically created landscapes are less bio-diverse and less efficient in terms of photosynthesis and CO2 removal than the natural systems they displace. This economic behavior adds to atmospheric CO2 emission levels.
Industrial agriculture and traditional rice farming add carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Perhaps what is being measured in the ongoing increase in atmospheric CO2 relates to anthropogenic agriculture methane production…from a decade ago. That said, the decade of tabling in methane emissions adds more wrinkles to the problem needing to be ironed out. Changes in agriculture and the fossil carbon industries took credit for the leveling, but methane emissions are on the rise again. What else might be behind this leveling of fossil carbon combustion but the continued increase in atmospheric CO2 content?
Existing carbon sinks that are being effected by the changing climate include ocean phytoplankton and tropical rainforests. A warming ocean has contributed to an average 1% per decade reduction in phytoplankton over a bit more than a century, or an estimated 40% reduction since 1950. Phytoplankton constitutes about half the photosynthetic uptake of carbon dioxide on the planet, but only a fraction of this captured carbon is sequestered. This makes quantifying what this loss contributes to the ongoing increase in atmospheric CO2, at best, educated guesses. Changes in monsoon rain patterns are contributing to droughts in tropical rainforests, which, in turn, respond by becoming net CO2 emitters. Again, quantifying this variable is a challenge. Somewhat mitigating these factors, at least in the short term, is the northward expansion of the boreal ecosystem in a warming Arctic.
New natural carbon sources are also appearing, increasingly from the Arctic. Terrestrial and continental shelf permafrost is warming and melting. Terrestrial permafrost is warming from an average -12.5°C while the continental shelf permafrost is warming up from an average -1 to -1.5°C temperature. The latent heat of ice is 14.4 BTUs/#, so the warming seems to be slower than the warm up really is. For example, and using an indicator species and military arial photographs, since the ’50s the permafrost line in Canada appears to have retreated north by around 50 miles. Terrestrial permafrost loss is currently highly variable but declining. Arctic wetlands and thawed soil are exponentially contributing carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere. The shift north of Gulf Stream waters into the Arctic Ocean, as well as increased freshwater drainage into it are creating what researchers are increasingly confident is a strongly exponential release of methane hydrates from continental shelf waters. The most studied is the ESAS. In about a decade, plumes of methane coming from the ocean floor have gone from just reaching the surface in as much as a meter wide out gassing events (i.e. most of the release is absorbed in the water column), to surface out gassing events as much as a kilometer in diameter. Humanity has been warned of as much as a 50 GT release being imminent (relative to the IEA’s measured emissions, and a short term CO2e for methane of 105, well over a century and a half of the current anthropogenic emissions could enter the atmosphere from a natural source all at once). Of course, increasing wildfires, not a threat, but a fact, and everywhere, need quantifying as well.
Which is to say that to the degree the discrepancies in metrics are not industry and governmental propaganda, we are not in Kansas anymore. However, the Paris Agreement born of COP15-21 game theory strategy ‘success’ by the Whitehouse, now delimits ambition to a world that once-upon-a-time might have been Kansas…but for CapitalismFail’s Anthropocene with its abrupt climate change. Wall Street and fossil carbon companies got everything they could wish for from this President. Republican deniers are not nearly the systemic problem that those who know there is a problem and blame inaction on the Republicans are. Republican deniers are, thanks to motivated reasoning, true believers in CapitalismFail. They act with moral integrity concerning what they trust. Those scapegoating these deniers for the intractability of the political problems are doing little more than projecting onto others the faults our iteration of motivated reasoning and trust in CapitalismFail blinds us to.
Abrupt climate change is nature’s trump card in our inane game of CapitalismFail. I am challenged, motivated reasoning aside, to see any way it has not been played. Metaphorically, abrupt climate change is a solid fuel rocket engine. The first stage of this rocket of CapitalismFail is the liquid oxygen stage. Traditionally the liquid oxygen stage is the second stage engine. An oxygen fueled rocket engine is controllable, like the pre-abrupt climate change climate change. The igniter for the solid fuel engine in this metaphor is an altitude ignition switch. If liftoff is achieved, at some range of altitude, i.e. when the bathtub fills to some level, it will be triggered. I think of this switch as being ordered by the US but made in China…the lowest bidder. The instructions are in Chinese so it has never been calibrated…and, of course, liftoff was never expected to happen.
In college lays pure science, engineering where-with-all in the buildings about with net affect of net university; a university hot spot of thinking and learning and answer real laying there as work best.
The pyramid is built in such a way, that all damage and all suffering is handed DOWNWARDS, while all profit is handed UPWARDS. That’s the exact reason, why Mother Earth is being raped in such a rude and criminal way, because she is down there, below, DOWN there. The system has to distribute goods not in a vertical, but in a horizontal way (SHARING economy). Otherwise:
Near Term Extinction is for granted.
[dk: totally brilliant!]
The credit belongs to Mother Nature, to the Nature of things. We can chose to live in accord or in discord with the Nature of things. In Nature, it’s all about interconnectedness and sharing. We share the air we breathe, the water we drink, the species we are among other species. We share the food, the sunlight, the moonlight, the planet we live on. And we will share our body with Mother Earth one day. Nothing is isolated, everything is interconnected. Therefore:
Whatever we do to Mother Earth, whatever we do to others, we do to ourselves.
The rich and superrich folks have a lot of “things”, haha, but they don’t know nothing about freedom, about freedom beyond “things”. The more “things” they need, the poorer they get.
Does anyone expect any reasonable climate politics ect from this worldwide, criminal, ignorant socalled “elite”?!:
Learn from a dead man about the End of Empire:
I think Wolff’s thinking limits his ability to see economic slavery clearly. Physical slavery is only one iteration of ‘slavery’, and perhaps, economically, the least efficient one. The current one, debt slavery, is, perhaps, the most efficient. I say ‘perhaps’ because there are iterations of ‘slavery’ based on familial relationships that are also very efficient. Those aside, I’ve a graphic that may help communicate what I intend about the iterations of economic slavery (http://opentoinfo.byethost7.com/graphics/CapitalismFailConundrum.jpg).
The graphic was made as an attempt to model power relative to social choice in matters of relationships, be they economic, social, and/or environmental. In nature there are symbiotic relationships beyond the kind you reference, particularly predation and parasitic. For example, in the last week I’ve lost two of my flock to hawks. This morning the loss of a third was barely avoided.
All symbiotic relationships occur within the constrains of the commons, and relative to those, fear and greed has made humans poor husbanders of them. Systemically, freedom is the right to be responsible…and we do not appear to be evolved enough to be free. But we are observably irresponsible enough to be irrational in spite of the sapience we’ve claimed for ourselves. And this is thanks to motivated reasoning and social memes.
I am just a poor boy, you know. No car, no house, no banking account, no yacht, no stocks, nothing. I got no wealth and I never wanted wealth. Wealth means to participate in cannibalism, murder and the destruction of Mother Earth. We can learn that from the Panama Papers once again. The rich folks will never stop cheating, lying, exploiting, until they will realize, that they can’t eat money.
” In nature there are symbiotic relationships beyond the kind you reference, particularly predation and parasitic.”
Exactly. And when the parasites destroyed their host:
” All symbiotic relationships occur within the constrains of the commons, and relative to those, fear and greed has made humans poor husbanders of them. Systemically, freedom is the right to be responsible…and we do not appear to be evolved enough to be free. But we are observably irresponsible enough to be irrational in spite of the sapience we’ve claimed for ourselves. And this is thanks to motivated reasoning and social memes.”
You know, I have seen it all comin more than 30 years ago. Therefore, I stayed away from procreation, so I will leave this planet without any regret. The socalled “elite” will go down together with the slaves, together with all their funny money. After all, extinction is part of evolution. Any species without fitting to natural laws just dies out. That’s what they teached me in school. The rich folks love social Darwinism and they wil get Darwinism for sure.
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