It is a curious thing to observe how far some humans will go to make themselves the center of attention. Maybe it’s out of cowardice. After all, to become the center of something, however illusory, however silly, allows one to forget the fragility of the human condition.
A handful of top notch elite scientists can be found, who are among those who are skeptical about the fact that burning the fossil fuel accumulated in the last 400 million years is causing a dangerous warming of the climate. Those who belong to the elite are generally not climate scientists, but, unsurprisingly geologists or geophysicists (that means, paid by the burning of fossil fuels).
Moreover, when one looks at their arguments, or even their graphs, one generally find obvious bias. I have explained before that denial is big business, and that the sun itself has conspired with the giant fossil fuel business (the ultimate conspiracy theory!)
But this streak of solar cooling is not enough for the partisans of atmospheric poisoning. It seems as if they were hell bound not only to poison the air and the oceans, but reason itself.
(I have explained why reason is to be poisoned, in many other essays. Reason itself is the greatest enemy of the plutocrats and their agents. By denying that there is a problem with 450 ppm of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases, and rising quickly, not only can plutocrats and their servants pursue their self enriching extractive policies, but they can destroy the reasoning and observational capabilities of normal people., an intrinsic good as far as plutocrats and their agents are concerned)
A preferred trick of those tricksters is to cut the graph depicting the concentration of CO2 at, say, 360 parts per million (ppm), when we are actually at 390 ppm! This has the undeniable advantage of masking the exponential growth of atmospheric CO2 in the last few years…
What we see in this graph is a basically flat line, followed by an exponential (the famous “hockey stick”, as a climate scientist dubbed it).
From studying ocean sea shells, we now know that the CO2 concentration did not exceed 300 ppm for the last 25 million years. That means that the basically flat line in the graph above extends considerably to the left. The basically flat line actually extends 2 kilometers to the left, at the scale of the graph above. Yes, more than a mile!
So there is no doubt that the recent CO2 exponential climb is man-made, and tied up to industry.
A related trick of the deniers is to “forget” that man has generated a lot of other gases than CO2. Those artifical, man-made gases can be up to 10,000 times better than CO2 at blocking infrared light.
A greenhouse consists into allowing visible light in, while blocking the exit of the light that heat makes, the infrared light. Three large greenhouses are Mars, Earth, and Venus. All planets are greenhouses, and earth like planets in other solar systems will have water, thus water vapor and CO2 two most powerful and natural greenhouse gases: these gases allow light in, but tend to block infrared.
Thus the heat gets trapped close to the ground, and the high atmosphere, now less warmed by infrared light on its way to space, cools down. Some ignorant fools have heard of that cooling, and screamed that it proved that there was no greenhouse, because a cooling has been demonstrated. Whereas, in truth, that high altitude cooling is expected, and proves the exact opposite, namely a greenhouse next to the ground!
When one is considering the man-made greenhouse, one has therefore to also include these exotic industrial gases and evaluate their contribution to the greenhouse. For example, the Greenhouse Warming Potential (GWP) for methane over 100 years is 25 and for nitrous oxide it is 298. This means that emissions of 1 million metric tons of methane and nitrous oxide respectively warm up the lower atmosphere as much as the emissions of 25 millions and 298 millions metric tons of carbon dioxide, respectively, over the following century.
Perfluorocarbons (CFCs) are the worst. They are used in refrigeration. The most frequent is tetrafluoromethane. Its GWP is 6,500 times that of CO2. The GWP of hexafluoroethane is 9,200 times that of carbon dioxide. Over ten years, the GWP of methane is higher than what it is over a century, because methane oxydizes quickly. Over ten years the GWP of methane is 100 times that of CO2. This means that a “methane burp“, would have a tremendous warming effect. There are reasons to believe that such “methane burps” have happened, and could happen again. They are catatastrophically violent events, complete with giant tsunamis, I know you wanted to know…
In any case we are around 450 ppm in CO2 equivalent (the exact number is fiercely debated, and irrelevant, because the yearly augmentation is so fast)… We started from 280 ppm of CO2 equivalent in 1850… At this rate, we will pass a DOUBLING within twenty years.
Recent research on marine fossils has allowed to find out the CO2 concentration over the last 25 million years: it never exceeded 300 ppm durably. (There were short spikes due to occasional major volcanic activity, but that’s always accompanied by marked, and brutal drops in temperature, because volcanoes also creates enormous quantities of sun masking material and gases; Antarctic records show the two contrary effects wash each other out!)
I would go as far as saying that many papers in Nature and Science, when they deal about the climate, systematically underemphasize the planetary danger we seem to be getting in. Typically the authors’ research reveals an ominous evolution, but, then, rather meek conclusions are modestly drawn. There is no doubt an implicit pressure from the powers that be to not disrupt big business as usual, and climate scientists prefer to not bite the hand that feeds them (considering where the money, hence power, goes, that would be Goldman Sachs, or, at least, the fossil fuel/pollution establishment, which is somewhere near Goldman Sachs in the Pantheon that rules over us).
The IPCC, the world panel on “Climate Change” is the number one exhibit of meekness, and of lack of common sense as far as viewing a “small” global temperature rise as tolerable. In its computations, the IPCC has refused to enter the melting of the polar ice shields, and the possibility of methane clathrate eruptions. Yet, it is known, from computing the sea level rise, and its acceleration, that the giant ice shields at the poles are melting. Surely the IPCC ought to include these factors in a “possible worst outcome scenario“.
It is also known that the methane (CH4) density in the atmosphere has doubled, or, maybe, quadrupled. During the last significant warm-up, methane eruption occured, causing a giant tsunami in the North Atlantic (in places, water went an incredible 80 kilometers inland!) The IPCC ignores all this superbly, preferring naively to stick to proven, observed and incontrovertible facts, and scrupulously rejecting inchoating, or probable events.
The IPCC claims to believe that limiting the global temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius would be fine. Instead, it would be a dangerous stupidity to approach a two degree Celsius of global temperature rise (yes, I thought carefully before using the word “stupidity“: all alternatives were found wanting).
Indeed the whole problem is not to warm up the poles too much. The global temperature rise is irrelevant. Two degrees more in Texas or Australia would just lead the offending natives to crank the air conditioning higher, and pour more prehistoric aquifer water on their greens.
Whereas the frozen poles constitute the planet air conditioning system. The frozen poles reflect light out into space, and make the atmosphere in a Carnot engine, with a warm source (the tropics) and a cold sink (the frozen poles). Heat is transported from warm to cold, from tropics to poles, by enormous oceanic currents, such as the Gulf Stream. Melt the poles, remove the heat reflectors, and shut down the currents.
But most of the warming, so far, is at the poles, and it has already reached nearly 5 degrees Celsius in parts (the Antarctica peninsula, for example). Yet, the global temperature rise, so far, is roughly ONLY one tenth of that. Scaling up, on present evidence, a global planetary rise of two degrees Celsius may mean a rise of twenty degrees Celsius in many glaciated polar areas (yes, a rise of 40 degrees Fahrenheit). So the poles would melt, and the Earth would lose its reflectors. Tipping points would tip, and things would get worse from there. Oceanic currents would stop. Europe would freeze in winter. Global temperatures would shoot up. Oxygen would disappear from huge parts of tropical oceans, which would die. (Several of the preliminaries of these effects are tentatively observed.)
Many people, reading this, will scoff, and say that this will not happen, because it did not happen before. Paleontologically, this is not true: although there was no human industry to start a CO2 bubble, they have happened before (they can be generated by continental drift or super giant volcanic eruptions known as “supertraps”).
When dinosaurs flourished, the poles were warm. Dinosaurs were roaming the forests of Antarctica. Crocodiles terrorized Northern Greenland. However, the world had dozens of millions of years to adapt. Polar dinosaurs saw with the lights of the stars for months on end. Right now, we are going to hit the biosphere with the heat shock from hell.
Besides, it’s not all about “climate change”. Half of the CO2 is presently dissolving in the oceans, so a rise of two degrees Celsius means extremely acid oceans (CO2 turns into carbonic acid after it reacts with water). At the present rate of acidification, marine life will dissolve big time by 2100. That’s how a lot of the oxygen is produced, by photosynthesizing unicellular animals, with acid sensitive skeletons. Atmospheric poisoning deniers do not want just to warm us up.
Ah, also, just a reminder: some gigantic, and deep, parts of the oceans got too warm to contain enough oxygen to support life, and they have already died.
And yes, the oceans are rising, and the icecaps are melting, both in Greenland, and Antarctica: the rise of sea level is itself augmenting at the rate of 5% a year (as many facts in this post, this was published in summer or fall of this year, 2009). It’s an exponential.
When something augments at a rate proportional to its own value, it’s an exponential. The exponential is the most important function in analysis, if not mathematics. The exponential augments extremely fast, because the bigger it is, the faster it becomes bigger. Peons who know the exponential not, have no idea the danger we are in! They have no mathematical understanding of the danger we are in. They need to take those mathematic classes they never took, to realize how immoral their ignorance is.
Accelerating down. The trend line of Greenland ice mass (green) curves downward with time, suggesting that ice losses have been accelerating.
[Credit: Isabella Velicogna, geophysical research letters.]
The more fossil fuels burned, the more hot air, the less oxygen. But not to worry, American politicians will be pleased to inform you that their super private, super bank, the one which advises the White House always, and pays bonuses with taxpayer money, Goldman Sachs, will make a future oxygen market, and will sell it short. Trust American capitalism, White House style, to adapt. Down to the last gulp of air.
On a slightly more serious note, the expression “climate change” is thus a misnomer.
In truth, we are facing a man-made collapse of the biosphere, just because full grown men want to keep on playing with fire. There ought to be an IPCB: Intergovernmental Panel on the Collapse of the Biosphere.
Atmospheric poisoning deniers want to heat us up in acid, while cutting our air supply. By 2100 CE. Of course, when that apocalypse has become the future no one can deny, there will be only one solution: nuke the coal plants. More seriously, Asia plans an enormous augmentation of its CO2 production, and that may very well become a casus belli, when the runaway exponential nature of the man-made greenhouse becomes blatant.
Technical annex 1: To calculate the radiative forcing for a 1998 gas mixture, the IPCC in 2001 gave the radiative forcing (relative to 1750 CE) of various gases as: CO2=1.46 (corresponding to a concentration of 365 ppm), CH4=0.48, N2O=0.15 and other minor gases =0.01 W/m2. The sum of these is 2.10 W/m2. One obtains CO2 equivalent = 412 ppm. That was in 2001, we are in 2010 (about). CO2 concentration is now 290 ppm, which means that CO2 equivalent is above 440 ppm.
Technical annex 2: Quoting straight from Science:
“Climate Change: Fixing a Critical Climate Accounting Error.
The accounting now used for assessing compliance with carbonlimits in the Kyoto Protocol and in climate legislation contains a far-reaching but fixable flaw that will severely underminegreenhouse gas reduction goals (1). It does not count CO2 emittedfrom tailpipes and smokestacks when bioenergy is being used,but it also does not count changes in emissions from land usewhen biomass for energy is harvested or grown. This accountingerroneously treats all bioenergy as carbon neutral regardlessof the source of the biomass, which may cause large differencesin net emissions. For example, the clearing of long-establishedforests to burn wood or to grow energy crops is counted as a100% reduction in energy emissions despite causing large releasesof carbon.”
[Science 23 October 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5952, pp. 527 – 528.]
It is hard to believe that errors of such magnitude, committed by scientists (and implemented by the European Union and the US Congress) are not deliberate.