Discussion in 'science and environment' started by ferrelhadley, Jun 29, 2012.
Linking the Arctic changes to the jetstream.
I'm sure it's nothing to worry about.
yes: but what do YOU think?
Nothing you would understand.
post it in english and i'll give it a go
Good to see you post again ferrel.
Worrying. What do we do?
Hurricanes in America and ensuing devastation are common events. However, the damage caused by recent storm looks like an act of vengeance by some mythical god. The narrative of victims of lightning and thunder is vivid, and pictures of fallen trees crushing cars and property look like nothing less than an act of anger. Apparently, they couldn’t even predict it.
Well, in 5 years time - nothing, apparently. At current emissions trajectories (driven by new filthy coal fired electricity generating capacity, prompted by falling conventional oil stocks), climate change is forecasted to become irreversible (source).
Perhaps it's already too late - vast methane plumes (methane is 20 times more reactive than CO2 as a climate instability agent) activated by the warming arctic waters are now causing those arctic waters to fizz with gas (source), warming the atmosphere, and causing more methane to be released - this is the feared climate runaway scenario (or, more accurately, one of many).
We could factor the cost of mitigating climate change into the price of hydrocarbon fuels. But that would double or treble the oil price, and the economy doesn't function even at the current oil price (it is currently running on printed money). So climate degradation would be compounded by rising unemployment, falling government tax revenues, and collapsing state spending.
We could prohibit oil companies from extracting the 80% of current remaining oil reserves which collectively exceed our remaining carbon emission budget if burned (source). But the $22 trillion that would be removed from the stock market (and fund the majority of pensions) would be the least of our worries. It would destroy the energy source for industrial society and the industrial agricultural system.
Climate change is now probably more of a predicament (something without a solution) than a problem, at least if the goal is to preserve a way of living that looks like the current one. Which is why they warned us to do something about it in the 1970's, when there still were options.
If we were serious, we'd use the the remaining $8 trillion worth of hydrocarbon fuels we can burn to power the transformation of society to one with per capita energy and resource consumptions that are sustainable within the source and sink capacities of the environment. But it's not clear whether that is even possible at the current population, and pretty clear it isn't possible under anything other than emergency conditions.
But we could sketch out what such a program would have to involve: immediate energy rationing (to something like the current per-capita Chinese level), immediate reconfiguration of society around local patterns of power generation, food consumption, and living and working arrangements; immediate massive investment in renewable energy capacity based around intermediate technology programs (the current technologies, dependent on unsustainable global industrial manufacturing systems, won't work); immediate massive investment in non-hydrocarbon based agriculture methods; immediate massive public reskilling program in agricultural methods and local manufacturing and trades; immediate replacement of neoliberal capitalism with some version of a steady state/zero growth economy (the workings of which are not really clear).
Tall order. Fleming's "Lean Logic" provides about as compelling a toolkit of concepts that might work as I've seen (source).
The US is getting baked. There are some farmers on a US based board, and they're pretty worried that if they don't get some rain soon, the crops will fail. On a massive scale. Much of the crop has already started to turn yellow/brown at the roots. This could mean rocketing food prices.
What we are seeing now is what I was expecting in 2030 or 2050. I was expecting a much bigger shift in temperature before we started seeing the scale of shift in local climates we are seeing.
Parts of the arctic ocean are currently show anomalies of over 8C. Not the atmospehere but the ocean. We are a long way from nailing this down but the warmer the arctic gets the weaker the polar jet get and the weaker the jet is the more it meanders. In technical terms the amplitiude of rossby waves increases. But it appears that because these changes are driven by the arctic oceans the rossby waves also become more fixed in their pattern.
Arctic sea ice is falling much much much quicker than anticipated because as the ice thins its younger ice that is left. First year sea ice has a lot of salt in it but as the ice ages to 5 year sea ice it expells the salt. Fresh water is less dense than salt water. The result is newly melted ice is generally now 1st or 2nd year ice and this is much denser than the sea ice we used to get melting, this now sinks much deeper and pushes up deeper warmer water that accelerates the sea ice melt. We are now expecting years of near sea ice free summer in 2030 instead of 2100. 70 years earlier than projected just 5 years ago. That will mean perhaps a 10C jump (perhaps more) in Arctic air temperatures and yet more disturbance of the jet stream.
the great fucking huge elephant in the room is Arctic carbon stores like the soil, sub permafrost methane and ocean.
The last time CO2 was at 450 ppm the sea level was 20m higher. We are going to hit 400ppm in the next 3 years and 450 before 2030.(it may take decades and centuries to hit 20m sea level rise but when we hit 20m most of London is a glass bottom boat tourist attraction)
Everyone will tell you about impacts in 2100. But the real bad impacts dont really start hitting till after then.
ferrelhadley - thanks for these helpful resources.
A curious phenomenon I've been observing in these boards is the startling conversion of some who previously accepted the concept of climate change into climate change deniers. As fas as I can tell it's because that, while climate change acting over (say) 100 years is a helpful concept if you want to change society slowly or not very much, it's an unhelpful concept if it interferes with the implementation of your pet theories (sustainable high yield non-hydrocarbon based agriculture, hypercomplex renewable energy technologies, etc.). If climate change impedes your pet theory, and your goal is to implement your pet theory, then it becomes necessary in effect to deny climate change.
The path of least resistance followed by the reversers has been to attack the current state of scientific consensus on the pace and effects of climate change. I think that they would argue that the rate of change, and the hazards present in such change, is much lower than the data and views you present would suggest.
Do you have a view on where scientific consensus lies now?
I suspect that exponential change and the onset of chaos are counter-intuitive by nature.
News headline from your last clip:
Canute actually ordered the public staging of his attempt to turn the tide back precisely in order to counter the widespread view that he was omnipotent and could fix all of society's ills. He thought society would be stronger if citizens took responsibility for their problems rather than hoping a grown up would fix them, and therefore less likely to get into trouble in the first place. It just got turned around into a parable about hubris because that was easier to tell.
We need a technology Canute in order to inject a sense of reality into what we can and can't do with it.
A very nice thought (sincerely)
But the timescales are too long and the problems too large and diffuse.
You can sit on the beach, command the tide to stay out, and get your feet wet 6 hours later.
The effects of inaction today won't be felt for many years, and it's impossible to draw an obvious, intuitive line between the two.
People get into their cars every day and sit in the same traffic jams and see cyclists whizzing past.
That's on a time-scale of 24 hours...
Many in the far left are just the same as the neoliberals. They are utterly incapable of understanding that their economic and political ideas are bound to a physical system, a physical system that has entropy. When you understand entropy you really understand peak oil. Many in the far left use climate change to be another thing they blame on capitalism, but deep down they dont understand it is a product of human activity since the neolithic not a specific means of distributing the fruits of that activity. William Ruddiman is really worth a read on this. That said the left is more willing to engage with these issue than the right by an order of magnitude.
The thing is the earth is now reacting so fast there is no real time to build a scientific consensus. It blows my mind to think of that, I can see how lab physics can get ahead of theoretical physics, thats fair enough. But to see the earth get ahead of geophysics is almost unthinkable. When the fourth assesment report was realesed the consensus position was the Arctic would be ice free for a bit during summer in about 2100. That was decried as alarmist propoganda. Today, 70s years earlier, 2030 is thought to be a fair shout. It may actually be a lot earlier. The realisation that the ice was so young that it had such a high salt content it was sinking below deeper warmer layers and driving them up to increase the speed of the ice melt was only discovered by field research last year.
Here is a great talk by Stephen Schnieder talking about the mix of uncertainty vs media 'balance'
Think about it this way. The ocean mixing layer is about 200m. That is on average the ocean has a layer about 200m deep where waves, changes in temperature and salinity mean it mixes in a scale of days or weeks. The top 2.5 meters of the ocean hold more energy than the entire atmosphere. The energy to change 25m by 1C would change the atmosphere 10C.
Think of a 4 watt LED shining onto a 1 square meter 200 meter deep pool of water that is being constantly mixed. Its not going to warm quickly. But over 20 years that 4 watts would have change 200meters of water. This is where we are today in the climate. We have only felt the full impact of the changes in CO2 since when Nirvana released Nevermind.
We have set in motion changes that will take decades to be fully felt.
Here is another example
The ablation of snow leaves the particulate it formed round on the surface while the water evaporates, this is now changing the albedo of the Greenland icesheet. This will increase its rate of melt and some strongly believe it has now reached a point where given this new forcing it will melt fully anyway over 100s or 1000s of years.
This is the effect of 1992s CO2.
So what is the right's trajectory in all of this. Does it hold on to climate change denial for as long as possible and then flip violently from climate change denial to eco-fascism?
"yes, it's happening, but it wasn't us!"
And then try and get into the lucrative water taxi market.
Has nothing to do with climate politics. It's about making money quick. The coastal areas aren't controlled by locals as much as wealthy piedmonters that own real estate there. It's been that way for as long as I remember. The islands have always been underdeveloped compared to other places but in recent times there's been a lot of building.
I learned a lot from this - thanks (the Schneider is very helpful). I'll read the Ruddiman. I'm ploughing through Burkett's "Marx and Nature" (summary here) which tries to establish some coherent ecological position within the far left's ignorance about the connection between their ideas and the physical system.
Your comments about the difficulty of establishing a bridgehead in the rapidly changing (deteriorating) field of climate instability notwithstanding, I'm still keen to learn who are the most authoritative voices.
Separate names with a comma.