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LJWorld.com weblogs Global Warming from a Conceptual Standpoint

Where We Are Going

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It has been a while since climate change was an active discussion here. I suppose people in general are more concerned about their welfare in the short term (and hence a focus on the economy) than they are about their welfare in the long term. Or, perhaps it has become too much of a polarized issue, and people avoid talking about it in polite company. In any event, it is not the case that the laws of physics have been put on hold while we try to fix our economy. I came across a post on Skeptical Science, and I thought, what the heck, I'll go there. Below is my comment on that topic, with some additional content at the end.

Let's imagine that the leading industrial nations, China, the U.S., Germany (God bless you for your self-imposed limits to growth (gaseous fuels at least) so far.), etc., decide this year to take aggressive action to shift off of fossil fuels. How long would that take without wrecking their economies, which we can assume they are unwilling to do?

I'll ballpark 2-3 decades to shift the energy infrastructure to a new paradigm. Let's assume that these leading industrials influence others to follow suit, and so we can map global emissions along the same path. As a rough estimate, we can say that for this approximately 25 years, emissions will be half of what they are now. (Just figure a steady decline from where we are now to zero.) Currently, we are increasing CO2 ppm at a rate very close to 2ppm / year, and in context. So, assuming action this year, halved CO2 output, over 25 years, leads to a ballpark of 425 CO2 ppmv by the time we could level it off, even given a strong desire to do so.

Climate sensitivity estimates are narrowing in more and more toward about 3 degrees C per doubling of CO2, based on both models and paleoclimate studies. Another source for this estimate is here, complete with about 30 peer-reviewed references.

That amount of CO2 puts us close enough to 2 degrees C of warming to make me nervous, and does not factor in any feedbacks, like melting permafrost or destabilized clathrates.

Judging by the lack of any real progress at any of the recent climate change talks, it will be some more years before we get serious about reducing CO2 emissions. So, we are likely going to hit 2 C warming, plus whatever feedbacks ensue. I'm not trying to give credence to those that say there is no point in attempting mitigation, because it is not the case that 2 C of warming will be as bad as 3 C, or 4 C, etc.

Since agriculture is a major business here in Kansas, let's talk about what is expected to happen here. Hadley cells largely determine where rain falls. (Feel free to Google up your own reading on Hadley cells and how they have already started shifting.) In addition to climate zones shifting toward generally warmer conditions, rain patterns are shifting poleward. Roughly, Texas is becoming more like northern Mexico was, Oklahoma is becoming more like Texas, and Kansas is becoming more like Oklahoma, and so on. Regardless of what some say about a warmer climate being beneficial, I don't see this as being a positive development. A drier, hotter climate will lead to more demands on an irrigation aquifer already being depleted. I have to figure that will mean it will be more difficult to make a living by farming in Kansas.

As a side note: I have an idea; let's put up a coal plant in western Kansas that will not only contribute to a degradation of our ability to produce food, but will directly compete with agriculture for water in a drying environment. Oh, but we need the electricity, never mind that most of it has already been guaranteed to go to Colorado.

Comments

tbaker 1 year, 10 months ago

Yawn. Calling data that refutes global warming theory "non-science" does not make it so. What it does do is prove my point: Alarmists have to attack any and all information that contradicts global warming. This makes them shrill demagogues who are not willing to subject their dogma to any degree of critical reasoning /intellectual challenge. I’ve lost track how many times the IPCC has been caught altering data, concealing data, or out-right lying about data they claim supports the global warming theory.

This speaks volumes about the quality of their argument, which is probably why we see a steady decline in the number of people who actually believe in this hoax and care about this topic. Check out the latest polling. This snake oil will go the way of the “Global Cooling” hysteria the same group of climate “experts” breathlessly warned us about in the 70’s. Incidentally, they were probably closer to being right than their global warming brethren are today.

But like I said to start with, reasonable people can genuinely care about the environment and do their best to promote things that are good for it, and at the same time NOT believe in the global warming hoax. That doesn’t make bad, enemies of the planet, it just makes them less gullible and unwilling to give government more power and control over people’s lives for a bogus reason.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 10 months ago

No, it demonstrates that the debate between science and non-sense is not settled.

Well what is being asked by the advocates of extreme climate change is extreme. Since I come at this issue from the other end I am still waiting for the program that would arrest and reverse climate change. A program with specifically defined actions, their consequences to all of us and measurable milestones of accomplishment is needed

I am tired of stupid statements in the alarmist argument about the horrible nature of the alternatives. I am not convinced that an average temperature increase of 2* necessarily destroys life as we know it.

I also note that down in Rio they have finally discovered population as a contributor. Wow - such brilliance.

A scientifically based program of remission as above is the answer - produce one that we can argue about and develop a consensus around – rather then generalist arguments about a “carbon” free world by the day after tomorrow.

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Chris Golledge 1 year, 10 months ago

"The simple fact this occurs (is able to occur) is clear indication the science is not settled,..."

No, it demonstrates that the debate between science and non-sense is not settled. The debate amongst scientists was settled some time ago.

Anyway, more of the same, but timely. Seems that this year so far is well in line with the predictions made earlier.

Scroll down to page 10 if you want the quickest look. http://www.kwo.org/reports_publications/Drought/rpt_10_May_DROUGHT_UPDATE_060112_dc.pdf

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tbaker 1 year, 10 months ago

This is why I pointed out exactly what would happen - debate about sources. The simple fact this occurs (is able to occur) is clear indication the science is not settled, which is precisly why Global Warming Alarmists automatically turn the discussion into a debate about citations/sources. They have to. For their argument to stand, they first must discredit any competing viewpoints. This of course isn't how real scientific study works, but at the end of the day this argument really isn't about science.

I did not deny human activity was putting CO2 into the atmosphere. I did not deny CO2 slows the travel of longwave radition. To be clear, I am not convinced, as are hundreds of climate scientists, that human CO2 creation is capable of warming the planet on the scale necessary to cause the disaster the alarmists claim is happening. CO2 makes up only a tiny fraction of atmospheric gases (0.1%) and only a tiny fraction of that is man made. The idea of it playing any significant role in determining our climate is simply silly. One of the "fathers" of global warming theory (which I cited in my orginal post) said so himself. By Earth's historical record and the solar cycle (what we know about it) we are much closer to begining a new ice age than we are global warming.

The Minoan and Roman warming periods were much greater than what we see in the warming trend today, and the later was followed by a mini ice age. Clearly man-made CO2 had nothing to do with either of them. The effect of CO2 on Earth's climate is insignificant. If you overlay solar activity with average Earth temperature (In the 130 or so years we have actually been able to measure it) you will see the corelation. When the sun gets hotter, so does Earth. When solar output drops, it gets cooler on Earth. The Sun is much more likely to be responsible for what is being called "climate change" nowadays - not people.Of course alarmists won't accept this no matter how much data is produced simply becuase the argument is not about climate, it's ultimately about power and control over people.

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tbaker 1 year, 10 months ago

cg -

I have felt free and looked up the references you cite, and a lot more. For everyone you can throw out there, there is an opposing theory of simular voracity. Like I said - it is not settled science, and also like I said, this quickly devolves into a pointless debate about the credibility of the many competing ideas and sources.

I am all for doing things in an environmentally friendly way. I and everyone I love and care about has to breath the air, drink the water, and eat the food that comes from our Earth. It is stupid not to care about the environment for numerous very easy to understand reasons starting with self-preservation.

When the environmental debate moves on to the idea we should allow government to assume more and more power to control our lives and take more of our money all for an idea based on hotly debated, unsettled scientific theory, thats where I have to throw the BS flag. For all we know, elevated CO2 may well prevent or delay the next ice age which would be a disaster for the human race. Read about what the little Ice Age did to the people living in the 14-17 centuries.

By the time we have gained enough climate knowledge to finally settle the science, we won't be burning fossil fuels like we are now and the debate will have shifted back to the coming ice age like it was in the 70's. In the mean time, we have quite enough government in our lives already.

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tbaker 1 year, 10 months ago

About 12,000 years ago there was a sheet of ice several hundred feet thick on top of my 20 acres in southern Leavenworth County. Roughly a third of the Earth was covered with ice for about 50,000 years. This was the 10th or 11th time this kind of glaciation has occurred in Earth’s history, or that’s what the KU geology department says anyway.

Then one day about 12,000 years ago Earth got warmer and the ice melted, again, that’s what the KU geology department says. It’s pretty obvious human beings had nothing to do with the planet getting warmer and ending the last ice age, or the ending of the 10 or 11 ice ages before that.

Why did the planet got warmer? Where is the peer-reviewed theory that the vast majority of climate scientists mostly agree explains how the last (and previous) ice ages ended? Anyone? Bueller?

The science that explains the cause of the global warming that ends ice ages is not settled. There are a variety of competing theories. How the Earth gets cold and causes the ice ages isn't settled either.

So, common sense says why would a reasonable person accept the idea that human activity is now causing the Earth to get warmer, when the same group of climate scientists who supposedly have all the answers about man-made global warming cannot agree on an explanation for what caused it to get warmer the last time - when we know humans had nothing to do with it?

Doesn't prudence demand we understand climate process well enough to explain the end of the ice age before we can claim to understand a far more complex process?

When you apply even the most basic form of critical reasoning to this topic, it falls apart. I would argue this is the only way to examine this topic simply because it will otherwise devolve into a pointless argument about the credibility of sources and citations. This happens because there are so many competing ideas. There are so many competing ideas because the issue is NOT settled science. If it was settled science, there wouldn’t be so many competing ideas and the few there were would have no professional constituency. That cannot be said right now.

Even one of the founders of the Global Warming alarmism [James Lovelock] recently said; “Who knows? Everybody might be wrong. I may be wrong." He continued...”The problem is we don't know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn't happened,” Lovelock said. “The climate is doing its usual tricks. There's nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now,” he said. “The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time... it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising….” All this came from an MSNBC article.

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Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 10 months ago

Future generations will adapt and solve the problems created by the present generation just as the current generation solves the problems created from past generations. Look in the mirror and tell yourself "I'm not all that important in the grand scheme of things."

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George Lippencott 1 year, 10 months ago

Well it is obvious you have thought about this a bit. A couple of points

  1. Population drives it all
  2. Moderation is important
  3. There will be winners and losers
  4. People skills will be more important than scientific facts.
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Chris Golledge 1 year, 10 months ago

Also, running out of food is not like an all-at-once-and-everywhere kind of thing. It will first be felt as a rise, possibly dramatic, in food prices. Rich nations will be able to feed themselves, but poor nations will not. The result of that will be a mix of civil unrest, migrations, probably war, and famine. The US will be relatively shielded, but it isn't as though what goes on in the rest of the world has no affect on us.

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Chris Golledge 1 year, 10 months ago

FWIW, I picture a combination of solar, wind, etc, with the base load carried by breeder reactors. I don't try to predict what the market will sort out as the best solution; I have reasonable confidence that the market will sort out a solution if given a predictable rise in the cost of using carbon fuels. Getting off topic, but my favorite incentive is a revenue neutral, carbon tax and dividend scheme.

http://www.carbontax.org/

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Chris Golledge 1 year, 10 months ago

"Some will require decades more to perfect. "

Which is pretty much why I'm saying we should start with the incentives now. I'm not advocating like cutting out all fossil fuel use this decade. I did say there were limits to how quickly we could make changes without wrecking the economy.

We will not reverse it in the foreseeable future; all we can do is limit how bad it gets.

"...in my world as land is rendered unfit for production by climate other lands will become available for the same reason."

It is a nice thought, but the details in this world don't look as good. For instance, I doubt that land that had until recently been Canadian tundra will have the same productivity as land in our region that has been growing some species or other of grass for thousands of years. Never mind the lack or railroads, highways, towns, and other infrastructure needed in agricultural areas. Not too far into Canada you run into the Canadian Shield, which is a very broad region of thin soil over, basically, granite. I can't imagine that will be as good for growing grain as the plain states are now.

Australia is a major grain exporter and has a large portion of its agriculture in the south. Let's see, what land is south of Australia?

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George Lippencott 1 year, 10 months ago

Your focus appears to be on fossil fuel. First if "green" energy costs 1.5 times current we would move to about6 11% of GDP fore "green" energy. What do we give up?

I simply do not agree with you that most "green" energy sources are available as you claim. Some will require decades more to perfect. Some are available now but have defects (wind energy is only 50% effective) we either need double the number for basic energy distributed so that at least half are on line at any time. We will probably still need a backup. Which will cost more.

I disagree with the notion of being unable to feed the population although my basic number 1 requirement is that w reduce it by limiting children. Each kid is 300 tons of carbon on the hoof. Time for sacrifice from everybody! By the by if we reduce population we solve the food problem although in my world as land is rendered unfit for production by climate other lands will become available for the same reason.

My issue is time. We transition slowly using incentives without redirecting more than a few percent of GDP at any one time so massive unemployment does not result.

And now the biggie. Where is the data that says we reverse climate change if we reduce the fossil fuel by X?? How much change must we make to reverse it totally? Can we do that? Yes our children may live in a very different world than we do. WE live in a very different world than our grandparents.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 10 months ago

cg22165 (anonymous) replies…

Except, every scientific body in the world says we are going somewhere we really don't want to go, b

Moderate Opines I think far more people are aware of it then you believe. Exactly how do you presume to get them on board if all you offer is endless sacrifice toward an unclear objective using harsh methods of great cost to most.

The simplistic notion of climate change played out in anecdotal clips will get you very little. You must convenience people you know how to fix it and can explain the costs and the alternatives. Remember the dates being thrown around are after most of us are dead.

Exactly why would someone want to return to the 18 century because some people may find themselves under water in 50 years. For the children does not work here. Reducing the population is high up on the list of actions we should take to control carbon emissions. When we do what China has already done I will begin to believe we are serious.

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Liberty_Or_Death 1 year, 10 months ago

We've been slowly milking ancient sun energy from the earth aka Black Gold or oil and then re-releasing it into our atmosphere slowly but surely recreating a volatile atmosphere that existed during a period in history I challenge you to research... Guess what happened, life thrived and then one day the volatile environment nature created exploded giving way to an earth wide turnover! History repeats itself, let's not force a lesson we may easily learn on earths ignorant monetarily driven population! .Love&Light.

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Charlie Bannister 1 year, 10 months ago

Right on blue73harley. What a farce and hoax this climate change nonsense is!!!!

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tange 1 year, 10 months ago

There's a little black spot on the sun today...

http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/

/ that's my soul up there

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blue73harley 1 year, 10 months ago

After driving I-40 across Texas and seeing the land raped by thousands of wind turbines, I wonder what the hell you greenies are smoking.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 10 months ago

So we should eliminate all cars and trucks and all ride buses or trains. That is not going to happen. We would still need roads and bridges and maintenance so exactly what we are trying to suggest when bringing roads into the discussion on our bus system

It is simplistic comments like this that undermine the seriousness of the topic. The bus system has to compete with the alternative which would be a bunch of short trips by local citizens (not a whole lot of carbon in the 24K miles inherent here – the students ride for other reasons.) against other investments in carbon reduction with a better ROI.

The continued notion by those who pay little tax that we can have everything by just taxing somebody else more is bankrupt, immoral and beginning to tear this country apart. Yes, tax the rich a fair amount but even Mr. Obama pegs that at about $10-25 billion a year – chump change when we consider an annual deficit of almost a trillion.

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Ken Lassman 1 year, 10 months ago

For some useful background information, NASA has done a fine job of presenting the various components of the carbon cycle here: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/CarbonCycle/page1.php

It covers the geological (slow carbon), biological (fast carbon) and orbital (milankovich) components of the cycle, then adds the release of geologically and biologically sequestered carbon into the atmosphere through humanity's activities. This is most helpful for most folks in understanding how humanity can have such an impact on the climate.

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melott 1 year, 10 months ago

I believe that is a mean, and in fact most climate models predict the greater warming away from the tropics. Permafrost melting releases methane and carbon dioxide--feedback.

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camper 1 year, 10 months ago

I am curious if the 2 degrees is an average for global temperature. From my limited knowledge I've heard that the temperature changes may be greater at the poles and less at the equator. If this is true, and let's say the polar increase is 4 degrees, we may be dealing with more factors.....and exponential at that. Permafrost melt is also something I am concerned about and try to follow.

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Liberty_One 1 year, 10 months ago

I'm much more worried about pressing concerns like the impending dragon problem. Dany's dragons are small and cute now, but what about when they are grown? Our top minds need to be on this problem STAT!

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tange 1 year, 10 months ago

So, which of the spermatozoa in the above diagram actually fertilizes the egg?

/ lemme see... excited state... emission...

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grigori 1 year, 10 months ago

Even if developed nations were to reduce emissions by 40% 2050, global demographic growth alone from developing nations would completely offset the savings. As a global civilization, if we are able to level emissions, it will occur somewhere around 600 ppm of CO2e, and stabilization will only be as a result of exhaustion of easily obtainable oil, gas, and coal... the energy powers of 2050 will be Canada & Venezuela... it's going to be pretty ugly. I can't wait.

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eric_skeptic 1 year, 10 months ago

Nobody knows if there will be any rainfall pattern changes with global warming, what they will be, or whether they will be beneficial or not. Statements that there will be detrimental pattern changes are speculative and frankly, alarmist. To save people having to "google" Hadley cells, let me point out that it is mostly theoretical and applies mainly to open ocean areas. The geography of the US will determine pattern changes, if any, under global warming. So far the data indicates that there is more rain, not less, in Kansas. See http://ks.water.usgs.gov/pubs/reports/wrir.01-4203.html#HDR9 for example.

I must also point out that canceling a coal plant will not make any measurable difference to the trend in manmade CO2, will not change the future temperature and will not change the weather patterns.

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