Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

EARTH OUT OF OXYGEN: 1) Basic Reasoning, Objection From Atmospheric Scientist

September 2, 2019

Yes, we can run out of oxygen. When they burned the Jews, nobody came: they were not Jews, after all, and had never heard of such a thing. Now they, the same suspects, superficiality, small-mindedness, greed, idiocy, ignorance, sheer viciousness, brutishness, and madness of the crowds, burn the planet’s atmosphere. Will somebody come?

This is an extension, an update, of what I already explained more than six years ago:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/global-hypoxia/

My basic theory, in a nutshell: Increased heat and drought caused by the augmentation of CO2 launched a holocaust of primary forests, worldwide, that, in turn feeds the rise of acidity of the oceans, killing the phytoplankton. So yes, should CO2 keep on rising, the biosphere will run out of oxygen!

CAN WE RUN OUT OF OXYGEN? YES, OF COURSE! AS THE BIOSPHERE COLLAPSES, we don’t expect any less!

Philosophy is what happens when one thinks hard about the foundations. 

Civilization class philosophy is vastly superior to all the thinking done before, because before knowing (that’s called science), one has to guess what there is to know (finding out what is more significant in the morass of possible knowledge)

Foundation thinking often reveals we don’t know enough to have the deep foundations usually assumed. French President Macron went all out for the burning forests, in Siberia, Amazonia, Indonesia and Sub-Saharan Africa, burning to an extent never seen before, and I thank him for it. This unprecedented holocaust (holo-caust means all-burn in Greek) is one more step in the desertification caused by man. 

“Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rainforest – the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire,” Macron wrote in a tweetIt is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let’s discuss this emergency first order in two days!” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres reinforced the oxygen message, August 22, 2019: I’m deeply concerned by the fires in the Amazon rainforest. In the midst of the global climate crisis, we cannot afford more damage to a major source of oxygen and biodiversity. The Amazon must be protected.”

However articles sprouted all over, from US scientists insisting in the world media that French president Macron got it wrong, and that, whatever we did, we will not run out of oxygen. My first reaction was that those scientists are either feeble minded, or liars: we can run out of oxygen, thanks to the likes of the Amazon burning. 

At first, such scientists reminded me of Nazi scientists claiming under the Third Reich that nothing wrong could possibly happen with Nazism, or with the Jews.

We have not thought hard enough about the foundations in the matter of climate.

Some US scientists have even claimed that forests, as a system, actually produce no oxygen. Here is below what Dr. Scott Denning, Professor of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University says. Before I quote his entire article in The Conversation, let me point out that I do not disagree with the science he exposes, just his conclusion. This will be explained in my next essay, and Professor Denning’s kind answer:

Professor Scott Denning:

“Amazon fires are destructive, but they aren’t depleting Earth’s oxygen supply

26 août 2019

Fires in the Amazon rainforest have captured attention worldwide in recent days. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in 2019, pledged in his campaign to reduce environmental protection and increase agricultural development in the Amazon, and he appears to have followed through on that promise.

The resurgence of forest clearing in the Amazon, which had decreased more than 80% following a peak in 2004, is alarming for many reasons. Tropical forests harbor many species of plants and animals found nowhere else. They are important refuges for indigenous people, and contain enormous stores of carbon as wood and other organic matter that would otherwise contribute to the climate crisis.

Some media accounts have suggested that fires in the Amazon also threaten the atmospheric oxygen that we breathe. French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on Aug. 22 that “the Amazon rainforest – the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire.”

The oft-repeated claim that the Amazon rainforest produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen is based on a misunderstanding. In fact nearly all of Earth’s breathable oxygen originated in the oceans, and there is enough of it to last for millions of years. There are many reasons to be appalled by this year’s Amazon fires, but depleting Earth’s oxygen supply is not one of them.

Oxygen from plants

As an atmospheric scientist, much of my work focuses on exchanges of various gases between Earth’s surface and the atmosphere. Many elements, including oxygen, constantly cycle between land-based ecosystems, the oceans and the atmosphere in ways that can be measured and quantified.

Nearly all free oxygen in the air is produced by plants through photosynthesis. About one-third of land photosynthesis occurs in tropical forests, the largest of which is located in the Amazon Basin.

But virtually all of the oxygen produced by photosynthesis each year is consumed by living organisms and fires. Trees constantly shed dead leaves, twigs, roots and other litter, which feeds a rich ecosystem of organisms, mostly insects and microbes. The microbes consume oxygen in that process.

Forest plants produce lots of oxygen, and forest microbes consume a lot of oxygen. As a result, net production of oxygen by forests – and indeed, all land plants – is very close to zero.

There are four main reservoirs of oxygen on Earth: the terrestrial biosphere (green), marine biosphere (blue), lithosphere (Earth’s crust, brown), and atmosphere (grey). Colored arrows show fluxes between these reservoirs. Burial of organic material causes a net increase in atmospheric oxygen, and reactions with minerals in rocks cause a net decrease. Pengxiao Xu/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA

Oxygen production in the oceans

For oxygen to accumulate in the air, some of the organic matter that plants produce through photosynthesis must be removed from circulation before it can be consumed. Usually this happens when it is rapidly buried in places without oxygen – most commonly in deep sea mud, under waters that have already been depleted of oxygen.

This happens in areas of the ocean where high levels of nutrients fertilize large blooms of algae. Dead algae and other detritus sink into dark waters, where microbes feed on it. Like their counterparts on land, they consume oxygen to do this, depleting it from the water around them.

Below depths where microbes have stripped waters of oxygen, leftover organic matter falls to the ocean floor and is buried there. Oxygen that the algae produced at the surface as it grew remains in the air because it is not consumed by decomposers.

Tiny phytoplankton in the ocean generate half of the oxygen produced on Earth.

This buried plant matter at the bottom of the ocean is the source of oil and gas. A smaller amount of plant matter gets buried in oxygen-free conditions on land, mostly in peat bogs where the water table prevents microbial decomposition. This is the source material for coal.

Only a tiny fraction – perhaps 0.0001% – of global photosynthesis is diverted by burial in this way, and thus adds to atmospheric oxygen. But over millions of years, the residual oxygen left by this tiny imbalance between growth and decomposition has accumulated to form the reservoir of breathable oxygen on which all animal life depends. It has hovered around 21% of the volume of the atmosphere for millions of years.

Some of this oxygen returns to the planet’s surface through chemical reactions with metals, sulfur and other compounds in Earth’s crust. For example, when iron is exposed to air in the presence of water, it reacts with oxygen in the air to form iron oxide, a compound commonly known as rust. This process, which is called oxidation, helps regulate oxygen levels in the atmosphere.

Don’t hold your breath

Even though plant photosynthesis is ultimately responsible for breathable oxygen, only a vanishingly tiny fraction of that plant growth actually adds to the store of oxygen in the air. Even if all organic matter on Earth were burned at once, less than 1% of the world’s oxygen would be consumed.

In sum, Brazil’s reversal on protecting the Amazon does not meaningfully threaten atmospheric oxygen. Even a huge increase in forest fires would produce changes in oxygen that are difficult to measure. There’s enough oxygen in the air to last for millions of years, and the amount is set by geology rather than land use. The fact that this upsurge in deforestation threatens some of the most biodiverse and carbon-rich landscapes on Earth is reason enough to oppose it.

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[I beg to differ: actually I have a master reason to believe we do NOT have “millions of years” of oxygen (next essay). Hint: permafrost!]

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Well, thanks, professor Denning (from the prestigious U of C at Boulder. That university got several Nobels in physics, is located next to the delightful Flatiron/Green Mountain park, where I have climbed and unwittingly charged a very large mountain lion which was stalking (long story). I was actually going to NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) when that happened… My spouse was doing there hard core programming on Sun Atmospherics. All this to say Denning is coming from what maybe the most qualified place in atmospheric matters!

However, as I will explain in the next essay, the very science professor Denning unfolded above leads me to the opposite conclusion from the one he draws.

Another point, see P/S below: up to very recently, it was viewed that forests (now burning) produced HALF of the planet’s oxygen. Professor Denning says: not so (well, OK, he is the specialist, he should know better… but I am curious to see the science…) In particular, up to very recently, the scientific literature widely quoted the Amazon as producing 20% of the world oxygen. It’s only very recently that US scientists (not just professor Denning!) changed their music. Is it that they heard that they better change their tune, should they want to be financed some more by the Trump administration, the fossil fuel plutocracy, or its delegates, surrogates and agents? Anyway, the P/S below shows what used to be the official science…

Another point is that an easy computation shows the atmosphere contains around 10^15 tons of oxygen. So some anti-Macron, and anti-panic about oxygen have argued we have millions of years of oxygen to consume, even if production stops. As I will show in the next essay, not so! Indeed, that simplicity overlooks an entire dimension. It may be frozen, but it’s all the more potent as it will come alive, all putrescent, rotting and belching all over: permafrost. 2.5 million years of it, no less! Glaciations may have help foster humanity, by creating new, exotic and demanding ecological niches which favored greater intelligence. By receding now, ice and climate change will require more creativity than ever… And better science.

Patrice Ayme

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P/S:

The following tables offer estimates of oxygen cycle reservoir capacities and fluxes… before the latest science professor Denning says is true…. Latest science which basically says it’s OK to destroy the forests, as far as oxygen production is concerned!!!!!!!!!!! (I don’t believe it, and I have a counter-reasoning, destroying professor Denning conclusion above… with his own logic!) These numbers below were taken for granted until very recently, and are based primarily on estimates from Walker, J. C. G.:[10]… 

Such numbers below were what Macron and Gutierrez based their O2 claims on…

Reservoir Capacity

(kg O2)

Flux in/out

(kg O2 per year)

Residence time

(years)

Atmosphere 1.4×1018 3×1014 4500
Biosphere 1.6×1016 3×1014 50
Lithosphere 2.9×1020 6×1011 500000000

 

Table 2: Annual gain and loss of atmospheric oxygen (Units of 1010 kg O2 per year)[1]

Photosynthesis (land)

Photosynthesis (ocean)

Photolysis of N2O

Photolysis of H2O

16,500

13,500

1.3

0.03

Total gains ~ 30,000
Losses – respiration and decay
Aerobic respiration

Microbial oxidation

Combustion of fossil fuel (anthropogenic)

Photochemical oxidation

Fixation of N2 by lightning

Fixation of N2 by industry (anthropogenic)

Oxidation of volcanic gases

23,000

5,100

1,200

600

12

10

5

Losses – weathering
Chemical weathering

Surface reaction of O3

50

12

Total losses ~ 30,000

Hint on the hidden O2 catastrophe: The mass of the biosphere: of the order of 4x(10^12) tons. Prof Denning says it can absorb all O2. OK. Indeed, notice microbial oxidation.

Suppose it all dies.

Not enough? Well, think a bit about all what got frozen during the last 2.5 million years of glaciation: the bill is coming due…

PA

Nature Collapsing, Plutocracy Thriving

May 6, 2019

Both phenomena are related. The more nature collapses, the more plutocracy thrives (see the multi-centennial fall of Rome, for reference). Small people and other losers have no interest to see nature collapse. However, plutocracy does. Because Pluto-Kratia, Evil-Power, is best expressed and justified during war-like states, and civilizational collapse sure qualifies.

Plutocracy survived the collapse of the Roman and Carolingian empires with flying colors. In the Roman case, most noble families had a bishop in their midst. The collapse of the Renovated Empire of the Romans (Renovatio Imperii Romanorum) and its renewal by the Ottos and Capets brought the feudal order, another plutocratic success.

Now is no different: we have a terminal CO2 crisis bringing in extreme, sudden temperature, acidification and ocean rises: 1% of US CO2 is from state subsidized private jets. Nobody notices, because media have made sure to create entire generations just preoccupied by celebrities, not by what is going on, which is really most significant.

Nor has the media been keen to notice the likes of Biden annihilated the Banking Act of 1933, in the 1990s, bringing in in the age of the financial plutocracy… itself a heavy financier of fossil fuels. So all what some schools are thinking of is installing “Apps”, and plastic grass, instead of teaching sustainable global citizenship. We are cruising towards an apocalypse, at an increasing pace: the Sixth Mass Extinction. The United Nations just came up (May 6, 2019) with an analysis made by 132 countries and 455 scientists: one million species are disappearing. For example, nearly all amphibians.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/06/world/one-million-species-threatened-extinction-humans-scn-intl/index.html

One problem with burning forests in the tropics is that what is left are often extremely poor soils (differently from northern European soils, which are very forgiving, explaining in great part why north west Europe replaced the Greco-Roman world…) Cattle grazing on a tract of illegally cleared Amazon forest in Pará State, Brazil. In most major land habitats, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century,,, [Credit
Lalo de Almeida for The New York Times]
In Africa, burned forest is often replaced by lateritis, a soil which is red, baked, hard… for the good reason that it is full of Aluminum.

It is the Sixth Mass Extinction, but this time the dinosaurs have thermonuclear weapons.

What to do? Get involved, get aware, protest. Protests can become unbearable to the powers that be.

This is the way the fascist government of Brunei on the island of Borneo was just dealt with. It drew powerful international condemnation when it rolled out its interpretation of sharia laws on April 3. Now, the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, reverted his decision: after all, the country won’t enforce Islamic laws that include stoning to death for rape, adultery and gay sex.

Killing all the people who got killed in World War Two was atrocious. However, what is now unfolding has the potential to be way way worse. Einstein said he didn’t know which weapons will be used to fight World War Three, but next it would be sticks and stones. That was naively optimistic. If we acidify further the ocean with acid from CO2, we may kill the Earth’s oxygen making mechanism. Not really news, as this was clear five years ago already:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/global-hypoxia/  

Many behave as if there will be no tomorrow, because they feel that way! It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, it has to be resisted.

What’s needed, beyond recording what’s going on, is interpreting it, going beyond, building ideas, and moods meant to last. Only deeper thinking can do this, and ensure a planet capable of lasting. Because we are not at the regional level anymore. When climate change, plus nefarious human impact, forced the Harappan civilization to abandon its homeland, the Indus valley, it was dealing with forces it had no idea existed. Maybe there are such forces out there. But there are also plenty of forces we can see, and which are plenty lethal enough, at civilizational scale, and the scale of the entire biosphere. Stop. And think. One million species are marching towards extinction, among the plants and animals we know.

Patrice Ayme

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From NYT:

WASHINGTON — Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival, a sweeping new United Nations assessment has concluded.

The 1,500-page report, compiled by hundreds of international experts and based on thousands of scientific studies, is the most exhaustive look yet at the decline in biodiversity across the globe and the dangers that creates for human civilization. A summary of its findings, which was approved by representatives from the United States and 131 other countries, was released Monday [May 6, 2019] in Paris. The full report is set to be published this year.

Its conclusions are stark. In most major land habitats, from the savannas of Africa to the rain forests of South America, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century. With the human population passing 7 billion, activities like farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining are altering the natural world at a rate “unprecedented in human history.”

At the same time, a new threat has emerged: Global warming has become a major driver of wildlife decline, the assessment found, by shifting or shrinking the local climates that many mammals, birds, insects, fish and plants evolved to survive in. When combined with the other ways humans are damaging the environment, climate change is now pushing a growing number of species, such as the Bengal tiger, closer to extinction.

As a result, biodiversity loss is projected to accelerate through 2050, particularly in the tropics, unless countries drastically step up their conservation efforts.

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Thermonuclear Fusion As A Moral Imperative To Avoid Ultimate Climate Catastrophe

March 26, 2019

90% of energy comes from burning fossil fuels. We have a climate crisis without precedent in 66 million years. True, Earth had bigger climate changes than what we have seen so far. So far, we have seen one degree Celsius, worldwide, but five degrees are around the corner.

True, at the warmest, something like 50 million years ago, overall planet temperature may have been 5 degrees Celsius higher. And true, when the climate oscillated furiously in the last 2.6 million years, sometimes it was 5 degrees Celsius colder than now, during the “Glacial Maxima”, or even one degree Celsius or so  higher, during the Eemian (115, 000 years ago, the last warm episode, caused by geometrical conjunction of Earth orbit details and the disposition of the continents towards the North Pole).

True some oscillations were fast and furious, like the famous “Dryas” episodes, the first one of which was 18K ago, or so (a mini glaciation suddenly affected Europe, caused by a brutal shut-down of the Gulf Stream beyond a place forward of Iceland, caused by a sudden lid of sweet, light, super cold water from the flow of an enormous cold lake).

However, most big changes were slow, species had time to evolve. Interestingly, the erratic climate of the last 50,000 years may have led to the extinction of the Neanderthals (in a theory mixing the exponential function with the concept of “quasi-extinctions”… from yours truly…) So climate violence is not without consequences.

But, as I said, the changes, especially the warming episodes, were rather slow. Not so now. Not only we are facing potentially the greatest warming since the Carboniferous, or maybe the greatest warming, ever, but we are facing it at a torrid pace: millions of years packed in a century or two.

Greta Thunberg The 15-Year Old Child spoke, and she spoke well!:

We are stuck because the worldwide production of energy is dominated by fossil fuels, and other burning of carbon made materials… the so-called “biofuels”, which sounds good until one realizes that it means burning forest and the like…

Not only the burning of enormous amounts of carbon generating humongous CO2 is disastrous, but it is getting ever worse. At some point, soon, the climate will break.

Yes, it  is not just a question of “climate changing”, and “global warming”. At some point soon, the climate will break. Actually ice shelves in Antarctica and glaciers in Greenland have been observed, disintegrating literally in minutes.

What to do? Miracles! Science made miracles. Science fabricated miracles already. Indeed one unexpected good surprise already happened: Photovoltaic cells (PV). PV is now the cheapest unsubsidized energy source, and even more so, when the dramatically adverse health consequences of fossil fuels are taken into account (probably much more than ten million dead each year, worldwide). However PV cannot work everywhere, and are not enough for 100% transportation, residential and industrial usage, except in relatively small zones in the middle of some deserts, like the Sahara. And that’s after digging for fossil water, and vast construction, CO2 intense, of buildings and exportation of industrial finished products.

Notice that the amount of waste varies enormously, per country and per capita. For example, look for France. France creates only one percent (1%) of the world CO2. That’s amazing, considering that France has the world’s fifth GDP. Yes, bigger than Great Britain, and only less than Germany, Japan, the PRC, and the US. In particular, Russia, with twice the population of France, and much smaller GDP, emits 5 times the CO2. US citizens, per capita, make three times more CO2 than the French….

The problem is: how do we make enormous quantities of energy in a way that doesn’t create enormous pollution? Not all countries have sun and wind, and water (although California does). A first approach is nuclear fission. That has bad reputation, because it was, for decades, mostly a military program. So safety shortcuts were taken. Also now California, which is full of sun, water, towering mountain ranges all over (thus hydro trivers), and oil, has decided to close its last nuclear reactor. California is where they fabricate most movies and thus most moods.

Much of the USA’s wealth rests on the fact that, for nearly 160 years, the USA was the world’s primary oil producer. Actually the world petroleum industry, was born in Pennsylvania in 1859, when “Colonel” Drake found how to extract “rock oil”.

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/thermonuclear-fusion-or-civilization-fission/

Recently the Trump administration reinstated in full the US funding for ITER, the International THERMONUCLEAR Experimental Reactor constructed in France.

Thermonuclear fusion is the only enormous energy source that can be envisioned at this point. It is not a question of its possible existence some day, but of its profitability (ITER targets producing ten times more energy than is poured in from the French energy grid). However, because of the bad mood of the powers that be, funding for ITER was slowed down to a trickle. that’s all the more abysmal as ITER is a world project so everybody, and not necessarily the most competent countries, pitch in with some equipment of their own making…

Thus some circles started to agitate for a US thermonuclear reactor (after good results of a brand new thermonuclear reactor in Germany). A US reactor will enable to get the best talent to concentrate best practices.

Why do the powers that be love fossil fuels so much? Because oil means lots of power in very few hands. That goes very well with the present day oligarchy: oiligarchy promotes oligarchy. Countries where oil production is concentrated, with the exception of Norway are all more or less corrupt (yes, Canada, we are looking at you, kid). Massive plutocratic corruption then trickle down: some major Obama administration officials, like Susan Rice, his “National Security Adviser”, son of her dad, a director of the US Federal Reserve, had million of dollars in the stock of oil pipeline….

As Greta said, we need to listen to science, knowledge. We need more knowledge to get out of this mess. The alternative is the old fashion way: reduce human population massively, by culling. A good nuclear winter and killing 95% of humanity would give the biosphere a respite.

Otherwise, the most recent research (2019) shows that the atmosphere could heat up so much that clouds won’t form as they do now, and a further jump of eight (8) degree Celsius would occur. That is astounding. But it’s not just a theory. Actually, it was the other way around: such jumps were found in the fossil record, and couldn’t be explained… until now. Now that we have found that a tripling of the CO2 would make clouds disappear.

That explains why crocodiles have, more than once in the past, enjoyed the Arctic ocean, and sunned them on  beaches in Greenland graced by palm trees.

After such a jump of eight degrees Celsius globally, from the disappearance of clouds, on top of a rise of five degrees, at least half of the presently inhabited lands would be too hot for biological life, aside from the sort of bacteria which live below volcanoes (thermophilic bacteria). Is that what we want?

If that’s not what we want, there is only one solution: more brainiacs, more science, enough of it to replace the 90% of present day energy production by thermonuclear fusion. At this point, it’s just a matter of building big reactors.

Patrice Ayme

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Note 1: Oh, by the way, once we become good at the simplest thermonuclear fusion, we could use the fusion of Helium 3 (there is quite a bit in space, including Saturn, Jupiter, and the Moon). The charm of Helium 3 is that it fuses in such a way that it does not fling neutrons at the reactors’ walls (because it produces no neutrons). Hence there would be no radioactivity whatsoever (thus the reactor could last centuries…)

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Note 2: I thank my daughter Athena, 9 years old, to draw my attention to Greta and ask me more information on the subject at hand (my verbal answer is distilled in the essay above… poor child…)

 

Don’t Underestimate Earth’s Violence: Permian Mass Extinction Boosted By Ozone Destroying Gases

November 29, 2018

This is a violent universe. We are a violent species making peace in a violent universe, and it’s not easy. Even those who loudly advocate non-violence often end up feeding even more violence than if they had stayed silent. An example is the US peaceniks in the 1930s, who, anxious to appease the fascists and the gods of war, they claimed, refused entry to millions of refugees… including Anne Frank… Who all died (excuses anybody?) 

As violence is omnipresent and can’t be avoided, the next best thing is to understand it, so one can mitigate it. With floods of mind to spill like lava all over the universe… The first thing to understand is that violence is complicated, finely tuned (as demonstrated by the fact Earth itself goes at 30 kilometers per second along her orbit…)

I have argued that one of the secrets of the success of Earth’s biosphere is its powerful nuclear reactor, churning a giant iron ocean below our feet. It brings up a magnetic shield, and a CO2 burying mechanism, let alone nutrient providing volcanism. biological niches instigator…

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/life-giving-nuclear-earth-reactor/

Heat transfer from the interior of the intelligence giving planet is not smooth: it happens as catastrophic LIPs, Large Igneous Provinces, enormous eruptions which can last several million years, and create continent sized lava flows, miles thick.

It has long been obvious Siberian hyper volcanism caused the worst mass extinction:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/…/21/trapped-by-super-tr…/

The new research finding: a massive release of halogens by the eruption plume, made things worse from disappearance of ozone, thus an extreme UV mutagenicity & sterilization. Same for dinosaurs (I say)!

Even nowadays, 250 million years later the Siberian Traps are immensely impressive: everything in the picture above erupted in a cataclysm.

See: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-018-0215-4

“End-Permian extinction amplified by plume-induced release of recycled lithospheric volatiles

Magmatic volatile release to the atmosphere can lead to climatic changes and substantial environmental degradation including the production of acid rain, ocean acidification and ozone depletion, potentially resulting in the collapse of the biosphere. The largest recorded mass extinction in Earth’s history occurred at the end of the Permian, coinciding with the emplacement of the Siberian large igneous province, suggesting that large-scale magmatism is a key driver of global environmental change. However, the source and nature of volatiles in the Siberian large igneous province remain contentious. Here we present halo-gen compositions of sub-continental lithospheric mantle xenoliths emplaced before and after the eruption of the Siberian flood basalts. We show that the Siberian lithosphere is massively enriched in halogens from the infiltration of subducted seawater-derived volatiles and that a considerable amount (up to 70%) of lithospheric halogens are assimilated into the plume and released to the atmosphere during emplacement. Plume–lithosphere interaction is therefore a key process control-ling the volatile content of large igneous provinces and thus the extent of environmental crises, leading to mass extinctions during their emplacement.”

Siberian Traps today. Putorana-Taymir peninsula. Imagine all this as it was 250 million years ago: red-hot lava… Kilometers thick

The demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention. However an even more disastrous event called “the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all species of life on the planet. (Yes, it seems those extinction tend to happen every 200 million years, because blobs come up cyclically, as in a well-named “lava lamp”.)

The cause of the extinction was a massive volcanic eruption in what is contemporary Siberia in Russia, known as the “Siberian flood basalts.” What’s remarkable, the eruptions lasted for about one million years. (The eruption which caused the demise of dinosaurs lasted much longer, but peaked around the demise of these type of beasts, and many other types, such as ammonites… See my link above)

The recent study’s lead author Michael Broadley, a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Petrographic and Geochemical Research in Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy, France, observed: “The scale of this extinction was so incredible that scientists have often wondered what made the Siberian Flood Basalts so much more deadly than other similar eruptions”. I had the same objection brought up to me by a top paleontologist. This friend of mine favored the (energetically nonsensical) asteroid collision explanation of the demise of the dinosaurs. It is usually claimed that the LIP of the Cretaceous was not the largest… When, actually, the two places on Earth with giant LIP in full evidence are the Siberian Traps and the Deccan Traps…

Siberian Traps mapped. In violet: lava, In red: tuff (ashes, more or less crystallized together). 2 million square kilometers, roughly Western Europe, in area, and up to 4 million cubic kilometers… That is 4,000 times more voluminous than the largest asteroid imaginable crossing Earth’s orbit. 4,000 times the volume is the problem with asteroid theories of extinctions… Moreover, those 4,000,000 cubic kilometers of lava of the Traps were accompanied of much larger volumes of hot gases…. Same reasoning holds for the “dinosaur” extinction, the KT boundary… 

The Permian extinction affected not only larger animals, decimating about 70 percent of their species, but also killed off 96 percent of the world’s marine life, as well as countless insects. It inflicted such a loss of biodiversity that it took another 10 million years for the ecosystem to bounce back. Interestingly, large species which could burrow survived… and soon their descendants became “mammalian reptiles”… appearing dozens of millions of years before dinosaurs…

The explanation in plain language? The geologists aver that the instigated volcanic eruption was not just massive, but the plume carried massive quantities of halogen gases which destroyed the Earth’s ozone layer at the time. They found this by analyzing the composition of the lithosphere — the hard outer part of the planet, which includes the crust and the upper mantle. Before the Siberian Flood Basalts happened, the Siberian lithosphere featured much chlorine, bromine, and iodine, all chemical elements from the halogen group. Notably, breathing gas containing these elements is highly toxic and will usually result in death. But after the volcanic eruption, these elements seemingly vanished.

“We concluded that the large reservoir of halogens that was stored in the Siberian lithosphere was sent into the earth’s atmosphere during the volcanic explosion, effectively destroying the ozone layer at the time and contributing to the mass extinction,” Broadley elaborated.

Something similar happened with the Cretaceous extinction. As the time before last, animals which could burrow tended to survive… So did those with high metabolism, and the capacity to keep warm, as mammals and birds, or to lay supine and hibernate (crocs, turtles, snakes, etc.) Indeed at the end of the Cretaceous, temperatures collapsed (how the polar dinosaurs, who could survive cold winters, disappeared is probably a tale of its own… not yet told…)

***

It’s fashionable to whine we humans are violent beasts. Sure. Yes, indeed. So what? We can leave our dent on this hyper violent universe, precisely because we, too, can be violent. Yes, covering the planet with agriculture is violent (many hate the new Brazilian president, just because he dares to want to do what North Americans and Europeans long did to their own continents; devastate the biosphere to cultivate their gardens).

Yes we kill and eat animals (and may not need to do this much longer). This is how we rose. So here we are, our growing minds having been well fed by enormous quantities of animal vitamins, fat and proteins. And we are starting to understand what more and more all means. To do better than Traps and their LIPs, we need to be more deliberate. That’s called wisdom. We can only brandish our own plumes if we are smart… And the aim of all this human activity, this human violence onto the universe? Not to flood continents with lava, but the universe, with mind.

Patrice Ayme

 

Is The United Nations The Greatest Enemy Of The Climate?

October 9, 2018

In its latest report on climate change, October 2018, UN now claims that climate warming caused by human activities is reversible. That absurd claim is much more damaging than Trump clownish positions on climate change and coal. And yet, contrarily to what UN scientists claim, overshooting the target, and then cooling off will probably not work, because of nonlinear effects. Once ice is gone, ice doesn’t come back easily.

Climate change, so far, has been linear: every year a bit warmer, a bit more CO2. That’s not the main problem. The main problem is that the planet could switch to a Jurassic regime.

The UN scientific report on climate change claims that, in the likelihood that governments fail to avert 1.5 degree Centigrade (2.7 degrees F for US primitives) of warming, another scenario is possible: The world could overshoot that target, heat up by more than 2 C (3.6 F) degrees, and then through a combination of lowering emissions and deploying carbon capture technology, bring the temperature back down below the 1.5C (2.7F) degree threshold.

In that utopical UN climate round trip scenario, some damage would be irreversible, the report claims. (yes, sure, *some*). All coral reefs would die. However, the sea ice that would disappear in the hotter scenario would return once temperatures had cooled off, bleats the UN… The ice will return? This is unproven and most certainly FALSE: once the albedo of the Arctic is changed, it won’t come back, and the Arctic ocean will heat up. The Arctic ocean already contains enough heat 50 meters below its surface, to melt said frozen surface completely.

See: https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2018/09/12/prediction-the-arctic-will-melt-suddenly/

The global temperature graph up to 2018. One seems to see an overall acceleration, a nonlinearity, an exponential drawing itself… Exponentiation is the typical nonlinearity.

For governments, the idea of overshooting the target but then coming back to it is attractive because then they don’t have to make such rapid changes,” Dr. Shindell, a climate scientist at Duke University and an author of the report, said. “But it has a lot of disadvantages.” Yeah: like it won’t happen. Cheap enough CO2 capture, for example, doesn’t exist.  

Says NYT:

A landmark report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change paints a far more dire picture of the immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought and says that avoiding the damage requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has “no documented historic precedent.”

The report, issued on Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders, describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.

The report “is quite a shock, and quite concerning,” said Bill Hare, an author of previous I.P.C.C. reports and a physicist with Climate Analytics, a nonprofit organization. “We were not aware of this just a few years ago.” The report was the first to be commissioned by world leaders under the Paris agreement, the 2015 pact by nations to fight global warming.

The report was written and edited by 91 scientists from 40 countries who analyzed more than 6,000 scientific studies. The Paris agreement set out to make a big wishful thinking about preventing warming of more than two degrees centigrade (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit as US primitives have it) above preindustrial levels — long considered a threshold for the most severe social and economic damage from climate change. Heads of small island nations, hounded by rising sea levels, also asked scientists to examine the effects of 1.5 C (2.7 F) degrees of warming.

Absent aggressive action, many effects once expected only several decades in the future will arrive by 2040, and at the lower temperature, the report shows. “It’s telling us we need to reverse emissions trends and turn the world economy on a dime,” said Myles Allen, an Oxford University climate scientist and an author of the report.

To prevent 1.5 C (2.7 F) degrees of warming, the report said, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050. It also found that, by 2050, use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40 percent today to between 1 and 7 percent. Renewable energy such as wind and solar, which make up about 20 percent of the electricity mix today, would have to increase to as much as 67 percent.

These requirements are not planned by most of the industrialized world. The report concluded that the greenhouse gas reduction pledges put forth under the Paris agreement will not be enough to avoid 2C (3.6 F) degrees of warming.

Despite the policy implications, which go against Trump’s climate skepticism stance, the United States delegation joined more than 180 countries on Saturday in accepting the report’s summary for policymakers. A State Department statement said that “acceptance of this report by the panel does not imply endorsement by the United States of the specific findings or underlying contents of the report… We reiterate that the United States intends to withdraw from the Paris agreement at the earliest opportunity absent the identification of terms that are better for the American people,” the statement said. The Trump position has been that a number of provisions of the Paris Accord, such as a 100 billion fund to help the Third World, are unacceptable.  However the fact remains that, after Obama’s giant fracking effort, major US states have the most ambitious sustainable energy programs (especially mighty California).

The UN scientific report emphasizes the necessity of a tax on carbon dioxide emissions. “A price on carbon is central to prompt mitigation,” the report concludes. It estimates that to be effective, such a price would have to range from $135 to $5,500 per ton of carbon dioxide pollution in 2030, and from $690 to $27,000 per ton by 2100. 

The cost of fossil-fuel emissions rose to its highest level in more than a decade in Europe, in August 2018, surpassing 20 euros a ton ($23) and adding to the cost of electricity across the continent.

Carbon emission permits have more than quadrupled from less than 5 euros since the middle of 2017 after European Union governments agreed to cut away a surplus that had depressed prices of the CO2 permit market since the financial crisis that started in 2008. Utilities and industrial polluters need the certificates to cover greenhouse gas emissions they produce.

By comparison, in fossil fuel happy USA, under the Obama administration, government economists estimated that an appropriate price on carbon would be in the range of $50 per ton (but they did nothing, as usual in Obama’s administration). Under the Trump administration, that figure was lowered to a ridiculous $7 per ton. Those with Trump Derangement Syndrome will say: we told you so. However, in the area of climate change, Trump is mostly wind: he used to be a climate alarmist (not as bad as yours truly). Now Trump has skeptic, because it brings him votes (but in truth he does nothing, same as Obama).

Whereas what the UN is doing by claiming climate change can be reversed, (with sci-fi technology) is diabolical… and will hogtie leaders such as… Trump: how can one justify thorough changes in all of society, while being told, by the UN it’s all for nothing, it’s not necessary? 

What is going on? A form of ubiquitous corruption: scientists who authored the UN report are all, directly or indirectly, government employees. They want to please their employers, so that they can be paid, be influential, and honored. Those employers themselves are trying to please their plutocratic masters (and future employers). So they engineered a completely unrealistic wishful loophole, resting on non-existing technology (efficient, cheap, mass, planetary sized CO2 capture).

9 years ago, I pointed out the UN ignored the potential for a nonlinear climate change catastrophe:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/2-c-is-too-much/

Now the UN has done even worse: it claims that climate disasters are coming, but won’t cost that much (1% GDP for 1C of warming), & they are reversible. BS!

Patrice Ayme

Prediction: The Arctic Will Melt Suddenly

September 12, 2018

So far, the Arctic sea ice has melted at a pace which is best fitted with lines. 10.4% per decade, more exactly. It sounds reasonable, in first approximation, to suppose that will keep on that way. However, most changes start, in first approximation, linearly, before fitting higher power curves.

In the case of Arctic sea ice, a number of mechanisms seem possible to go from linear to nonlinear.  For example, the more sea ice melts, the warmer the sea gets, the harder it is to form sea ice. Such a self-feeding mechanism is an exponential.

However, we, humanity just found a huge new mechanism to potentially melt all ice, and it is operative. It is even of our own making! As with the Fall of Rome, one cause leads to others, which then can feed back on the first.

The discovery?

A blob of warm water, 50 meters below the surface of the Arctic ocean. Why does not come to the surface, if it is warmer than the water above it? Because it is abnormally salty, thus denser.

How was it created? The Chukchi Sea has become ice-free much too much of the year. It is just north of the Bering Strait, and lies on top of the flooded Beringia land bridge between Eurasia and North America. So it is shallow: average depth, 71 meters only, and warms up well. The Chukchi Sea warms up so much it becomes salty, and that salty water sneaks north below cold upper waters (it is blocked from going south by the Strait.

The redder, the more heat content in the Chukchi sea… When the Arctic Ocean starts to churn, the sea ice will all melt…Study lead author Professor Mary-Louise Timmermans, of Yale University (yes, a woman) said: We document a striking ocean warming in one of the main basins of the interior Arctic Ocean, the Canadian Basin… the upper ocean in the Canadian Basin has seen a two-fold increase in heat content over the past 30 years.

The researchers traced the source to waters hundreds of miles to the south, where reduced sea ice has left the surface ocean more exposed to summer solar warming.

Professor Timmermans added: This means the effects of sea-ice loss are not limited to the ice-free regions themselves, but also lead to increased heat accumulation in the interior of the Arctic Ocean that can have climate effects well beyond the summer season.

 

What next? A strong storm, an Arctic hurricane (they happen!)  could push cold waters out, and that would force the warm water up. I would venture to say that this is exactly what happened in August 2012 (generating thereafter the smallest Arctic sea ice ever recorded, by a long shot).

The same will happen again in the future, on a grander scale.

And all the Arctic sea ice could melt, thus warming the Arctic ocean enough to melt all ice, and that in turn, could warm up the ocean enough that summer to prevent the return of the ice thereafter…

It goes without saying that, after the Arctic ocean is ice-free, trillions of tons of methane hydrates laying inside the shallow sea floor will fiercely erupt, freeing trillions of tons of methane. It has happened in the past, and can be violent enough for tsunamis. It is actually already started, albeit on a small-scale, relative to what it could become. Methane is a greenhouse gas with more than 25 times the warming power of CO2 (the “forcing” effectiveness to be a bit more technical). Thus our effort to engineer a man-made Jurassic climate will make great strides. Maybe we will see class 5 hurricane strike Canada?

Fun springs eternal!

Let’s re-engineer a few dinosaurs and pterosaurs, once Canada’s Arctic archipelago is covered with forests, as we are at it…

Patrice Ayme

    

 

Climate Catastrophe, February 2018

February 14, 2018

A climate catastrophe is enfolding out there. Potentially the biggest in 65 million years, or more. This being civilization, chances are that, as the catastrophe unfolds, our rotten leaders, or one of them at least, and it could be just the plump Kim or his Swiss educated, stern, haughty, smirking, black dressed, even younger sister, decides to distract us all, with a nice thermonuclear showdown.

(For rotten contemplate, Israeli PM Netanyahu, which Israeli police wants arrested, or South Africa’s Jacob Zuma: both are the rule, among the world’s great leaders. What makes them exceptional is that institutions, in Israel or South Africa, are after them. In most places, institutions are already too rotten themselves, to do this… Every two weeks, Obama went to visit his multibillionaire masters in the Silicon Valley tech monopolies; I know Californians who were in love with the sounds of his helicopter armada, every two weeks, as he came to receive the latest payments. And they still are in love. Never mind that this killed democracy and innovation…)

To document these titanic climate happenings while they occur, I will regularly post a “Climate Catastrophe” series, from brand new “moulins” in the supposedly indestructible East Antarctic ice shield (now melting, to the specialists’ unfathomable surprise) to Black Beetle devouring high altitude and high latitude trees…

Capetown is supposed to run out of water in April: an exceptional drought festers. It will the first large (4 million) urban area to run out of water. And NOT the last: one expects the dry belts to move up towards the poles. North of southern South Africa, there is Namibia, and it’s very dry…

The climate is getting disorganized, worldwide, as expected. In California, the drought is not just back, it never left (last year it flooded in California, right. However, flooding in some desert areas is chronic). Snow levels are now the lowest. Ever. The Sierra forest, 10,000 years old, is dying. The situation in California is hyper catastrophic, but nobody is talking. Officially the drought is over… but has never been worse!

Mount Cook, New Zealand. It is hard to believe, but we are on track to have all this ice disappear. That aesthetic blow will accompany an unconceived biological disaster, planet wide, which will disrupt all of civilization, in all ways. Mt Cook lost 50 meters in altitude, in a recent quake…

And our politicians, our self-declared leaders, are doing… nothing. Nothing much, besides moving their mouth parts. It’s not just Trump. Trump is a red herring, a scarecrow people brandish to excuse themselves from thinking, and absolve themselves, by calling him the cause of everything. In reality, the US Federal tax on gasoline is unchanged since 1993, and that has nothing to do with Trump. Obama could have brought the tax up, when he had a supermajority. But he was too busy getting guidance from big money. (Most plutocrats are gas-guzzlers, watch their private jets, or then think, like Trump, that, the more energy, the better…)

The indifference to massive taxes on fossil fuels in the USA has everything to do with the US population feeling little need to do something serious about the climate catastrophe, because it sees no catastrophe looming. Among young people (the ones with the rage to protest) the mental cancer of the so-called “social networks”, with their “likes”, “bots”, millions of “friends”, “trendings”, and veracity from (engineered) popularity or “links” have become the reference for thinking. That thought is organized by plutocrats, for plutocrats.

In England a so-called “judge” (an excellent phrase and concept of Trump, by the way) decided to keep Wikileaks’ Julian Assange under embassy arrest. He has been there for more than 5 years. The corrupt so-called “judge”, in a grandiloquent opinion, declared that Assange seemed to view himself above the law (Assange had good reason to fear deportation to the USA). Originally, Assange had been charged for raping a CIA agent (!) Sounds unbelievable, but I didn’t make it up. To celebrate that, she organized a party for him, two days later, complete with glowing tweets. But then the masters in Washington called, and everybody knew that Obama and his goons would do anything to arrest Assange (Clinton just called him a traitor and a Russian agent; Assange is not US, and Main Stream Media have authenticated many of his stories; Washington was furious, because Wikileaks revealed war crimes by the USA which were left unprosecuted… although those denounced the cover-up, were prosecuted with great ferocity).

Even worse, not content with uncovering US war crimes, Assange endangered cash cows of the so-called “democratic” party, and its pretend-opponents, such as Google.

The “rape” charges against Ms CIA agent were dropped by Sweden in May 2017. But the charge that Assange brutalized Washington and its agents (Google, etc.) is alive and well. Average US citizen don’t give a hoot: all too many are aware that one is best unaware that the USA has been doing so well from plundering, not just the nature of the biosphere, and nature itself, but also human nature.

All signals are red: global sea ice (both poles combined) is at the lowest ever, by a significant margin, sea level rise is accelerating, forests are dying, so are parts of the ocean. Plutocrats have been buying property in New Zealand, just in case. However, to give a slightly different perspective, from Ian Miller blog (Ian is a senior physical chemist):

Summer Storms, February 7, 2018:

New Zealand has just had some more bad weather. Not an outstanding statement, but it does add a little more to the sort of effects that climate change is bringing to us. We have had quite a warm summer. Certainly not as hot as Australia, but where I live we have had many days hotter than what before were outstandingly hot days. On many days, we had temperatures about ten degrees Centigrade above the January average. Apart from one day of rain shortly after Christmas, we had almost no rain from October and the country was in a severe drought. You may say, well, a lot of countries have months without rain – so what? The so what is that October and November are usually the rather wet months here.

Then a week ago we got a storm. It was supposed to be “a depression that was the remains of a tropical cyclone” but with wind speeds of 86 knots reported, by my count that is still a tropical cyclone, except it is no longer in the tropics. (It just limps in to a category 2 hurricane.) Why did it not die down? Probably because the surface waters of the Tasman are at record high temperatures, and seven degrees Centigrade above average in places, and warm sea waters feed these systems with extra energy and water.

Where I am, we were lucky because the system more or less passed us by. The highest wind speed here was 76 knots, but that is still more than a breeze. We also missed most of the rain. Yes, we did get rain, but nowhere near as much as South Westland, where 0.4 meters of rain falling in a day was not uncommon.

The rain did some good. A couple of scrub fires broke out in Otago, and it looked like they would be extremely difficult to contain, thanks to the drought. The best the fire service could do would be like spitting at it compared with what the cyclone brought to bear.

However, the main effect was to be a great inconvenience, especially to Westland. Westland is largely a very thin strip of flat land, or no flat land, running through very tortuous mountain country. If you have nothing better to do, go to Google Earth and zoom in on the town of Granity (41o37’47″S; 171o51’13″E). What you will see is the hill, which goes up very steeply to over 300 meters before rising more “gently to the town of Millerton at about 700 meters. Between the road and the sea is one layer of houses, and the storm was washing up into their back doors.

The hills and mountains are very young, which means they have very little erosion, whole a lot of the rock is relatively soft sedimentary rock. There are some granitic extrusions, and these merely provide another reason for the rest to be even more tortuous. The whole area is also torn apart, and constructed, from continuing earthquakes. Finally, there is fairly heavy subtropical rain forest, parts getting over ten meters of rain a year. The area is quite spectacular, and popular with tourists, and it is very well worthwhile driving through it. Once you could see glaciers flowing through rain forest; now, unfortunately, the glaciers have retreated thanks to global warming and they only flow down mountainsides but they are still worth seeing.

The net result of all this is that when this cyclone struck, the only road going north-south and was west of the mountains got closed thanks to slips (one was a hundred meters wide of fallen rock from a hill) and trees knocked over by the wind. Being stuck there would be an experience, especially since the place is basically unpopulated. If you want to see the wild, you tend to be short of facilities. Some were quite upset about this, but my question to them was, this cyclone was predicted for about three days in advance. If you really could not put up with it, why go there? One grump was recorded as saying, “This sort of thing would not happen in . . . ” (I left out the country – this person did not define them.) Well, no, it would not. They don’t get tropical cyclones, hurricanes typhoons, or whatever you want to call them, and they don’t have this difficult terrain. One way or another, we have to put up with weather.

However, the real point of this is to note there is still glacial progress being made to do anything sensible to hold global warming. There is a lot of talk, but most of it is of the sort, “We have to do . . . by the next fifty years.” No, we have to start a more determined effort now.

***

Another force 4 hurricane just struck Tonga and is now heading towards New Zealand. Yes, extra-tropical tropical cyclones were predicted, as a consequence of global warming, and have become facts (one hit Portugal last Fall; its enormous winds fed hundreds of fire storms before the rains hit). See the following essay, from 2008, to understand why the rise of temperature is just part of the problem:

Applying Equipartition Of Energy To Climate Change PREDICTS WILD WEATHER

“We” have to start a more determined effort? I agree. We are running out of time. As I said, raising fossil fuel taxes should be done immediately. And it’s not enough. And who is “we”? There is no “we” here! Our masters like it as it is, complete with a feeling of doom and gloom, alleviated by industrial escapism… The French president just declared that “counter-power” should not rise to the power of putting our great leadership, that great power, in difficulty, worldwide (or words to that effect). All our present leadership, worldwide, have not realized they are a new feudalism.

To get out of the hellish spiral we are in, a massive, total war effort in research and development should be engaged. Especially with thermonuclear fusion. However, the exact opposite has happened: the effort on ITER, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, has been slowed down by ten (10) years… to save money (or, more exactly, how much it cost per year). Yet, at this point, it’s highly likely to work (especially in reactors larger than ITER)… modulo specific progress on an arsenal of attainable technologies. Thermonuclear fusion would replace ALL fossil fuels…

And the alternative is world war and one more return to the traditional fare of cannibalism (forget vegetarianism, when land is at a premium!)

You have been warned. It may be time to reconsider how people in general, and in particular the intellectuals, or experts, advising the great leaders, think! Hint: they are more biased than they think, and the more official the thinker, the more biased!

Patrice Aymé

Climate Catastrophe: California Forests Dying. Giant Fires Coming In 2018

January 10, 2018

Power corrupts, and apocalyptic power corrupts apocalyptically.

The Sierra Nevada forests are dying. The deterioration in a few weeks has been spectacular.  I did twice the same long-range high altitude run in 6 weeks, and I was astounded by the deterioration, during those six weeks. I would have expected such a deterioration in 6 years, and would have called it fast. A related, but greater worry occurred when I discovered hundreds of bear tracks in the snow at 9,000 feet. In the middle of winter, bears, up high in the mountains, are supposed to sleep. It looked instead as if they were looking for dinner: ain’t cold enough! And dinner there is! Besides yours truly, I saw deer happily grazing at 8,000 feet. In January. A picture is worth a long discourse:

December 31, 2017. Picture From Tahoe Rim Trail At 8,200 feet, looking down 300 meters (1000′) lower, towards the south. The forest should be green, if not covered with snow. Instead thousands of the conifers below are grey, or rust color. All dead, or dying. Many of these trees are centuries old, and are uniquely adapted to high altitude. Next summer, after the first lightning strike accompanied by a gusty wind, they will all burn. Notice the spectacular absence of snow, in the heart of winter. Thirty years ago, you would have had ten feet of snow there. For eight months.

Many naive locals think the trees are dying from drought. Actually they are dying from an invasion of Bark Beetles. Up to a few years ago, the Bark Beetles were killed by hard freeze. Now, because of the global warming, the hard freeze happens only at higher elevation. A rough computation says that one loses 7 degrees Centigrade per 1,000 meters gain. As the Sierra has arguably warmed up by 3 degrees Centigrade, that would correspond to an altitude gain for the Bark Beetles of 500 meters, as observed. Lower elevation trees, such as giant Ponderosa pines, are genetically adapted to the Bark Beetles.

In some places, woodpeckers thrive, as they find the Bark Beetles delicious. However, the trees are otherwise unexploitable. The trees rot, and, once down, one can kick right through them. This also makes the trunks soft and younger trees bend, while still alive. Example: t

Picture at 7,000 feet (2,150 meters). High altitude conifers, beautiful white firs, behind with the rust color should be green. The tree in front had its trunk so weakened by the beetles, it is bent. This is very frequent with younger trees..

White firs are now dying in large numbers. The primordial cause for the fir mortality is the fir engraver (Scolytus ventralis), a small black bark beetle that flies to a tree (often in high numbers), bores an entrance hole, excavates an egg gallery, and lays up to 300 eggs. The larvae feed on the cambium layer underneath the bark, creating a maze of small galleries. If the adult gallery or the larvae galleries girdle the tree, the flow of water and nutrients is blocked – killing the tree. The trees only defense is gluing the offenders in sap, but they need to have plenty of water to produce sap. Not the case during this millennial drought.

Notice the tini tiny patch of snow, just above the word “snow”. A few years ago, this would be covered with snow for 6 months each winter. (It is taken in an ex (?) cross-country ski area, Tahoe X country… X country areas have not opened in Tahoe this year, nor will they. All the dead or dying trees in this picture were healthy looking, two years ago.

When people think of “climate change”, they repeat that soporific, propaganda laden semantics, “climate change”. A soothing incantation. Like, excuse me, I will change now. This is mistaken: climate change will show up, and already shows up as “galloping glaciers” (yes! Albeit counterintuitive), hundreds of millions of dead trees, enormous fires of a style generally associated to an asteroid impact, surging seas, giant storms, lethal massive floods, droughts unheard of, in the last three million years. Oh, yes, because the climate may reverse 50 million years in a few decades. Time travel is upon us.

It’s not “climate change”. It’s climate catastrophe.

Patrice Aymé

P/S: Most of the world’s mountain, temperate and Arctic forests are threatened by a similar catastrophe. As they burn, the CO2 greenhouse will evolve into a CO2 greenhouse chain reaction. I am against geoengineering, as a misplaced hope. However, I am not against bioengineering. Powerful biological weapons should be brought to bear upon the devouring insects. One may be capable of slowing them down through sterilization programs. And then there is the possibility of using gene drives.

Why the rush? because it’s urgent! At this rate, California, or Pacific Northwest forests may disappear in five years. Applications of gene drive include preventing the spread of insects that carry pathogens (in particular, mosquitoes that transmit malaria, dengue, and zika pathogens), controlling invasive species… The technique can be used for adding, disrupting, or modifying genes, in such a way as to cause a crash in the population of a disease vector by reducing its reproductive capacity. The San Francisco Bay Area, a great bio research center, endowed with self-declared “philanthropists”, should re-orient itself as a tree-huggers capital… Considering the disaster, one can take some risks (with a well-chosen method, it’s not clear there is any, differently from the hare brained geoengineering proposals…)

 

 

Physics Of Hurricanes: Force Six Hurricanes Someday Soon?

September 18, 2017

There is another powerful hurricane on the way in the Caribbean: Maria now already, category V and strengthening, will hit the large islands of Guadeloupe (population 500,000), Martinique (400,000), and Dominique (75,000) today. Steady winds up to 260 kilometers an hour (150 miles per hour) are already experienced, with gusts at 350 km/h. Meanwhile, long lasting hurricane Jose is still active, out there in the Atlantic ocean.

The physics of hurricane as usually depicted in the media shows what’s going on, but not fully, why it’s going on. Probably because those who write the articles have insufficient understanding. Let’s fill in the cognitive gap.

Overall, a hurricane works like a rotary thermal engine, with a warm source, the warm, moist ocean, and a cold sink (the icy stratosphere, up high). The warm moist air goes up, because it’s lower density than colder air.

Hurricane Physics Improved Notes_170918_121839_3f6_0

The mechanism above depends only upon having a warm source and a cold source (known in thermodynamics as a “Carnot engine”). So one can have Polar Cyclones, or Cyclones on Jupiter (“Great Red Spot”)!

How does it start, why is it self-feeding? If the ocean is warm, many of these large clouds will rise, and dot the ocean. Now the overall rising of warm air creates a low pressure L in the center of a particularly active zone of storms (or “cells”). This is not, per se, exceptional: the entire tropical belt tends to be low pressure, just because the warm air rises more than colder air up north.

That phenomenon creates the trade winds, air from the upper tropical belt which rushes in towards the equator, the “inter-tropical convergence zone” (ITCZ). Because of the rotation of the Earth, the trade winds, which would just go straight south if the Earth didn’t turn, get deflected to the west.

Hurricanes have been piling up in September 2017, from lack of wind shear in the hurricane forming region… Six hurricanes in the Caribbean in 2 weeks… If this keeps up the question of evacuation of many islands arises…

Now let’s go back to hurricane formation. Three or four large cells in the ocean, if close by, will develop a particularly low Low L in the center of the formation. At that point, the cells will tend to gather towards that center. However, the cell closest to the equator will have a greater momentum to the east, thanks to the Earth’s rotation, and the one furthest to the equator, will deviate west. Thus a counterclockwise rotation (in the northern hemisphere) of the set of cells will appear. From conservation of angular momentum, the more the warm air rushes towards the center, the more it tends to rotate (the same effect which makes a skater rotate faster by closing her arms). Next, the cells will merge, a hurricane is formed.

Now the warmer the ocean, the more powerful the rise of air in the middle, the lower the Low L, the greater the rush of air towards the center, and thus the greater the rotating winds. And the greater the winds, the more warm, moist air can rush in from low above the surrounding seas, thus feeding the hurricane.

When part of the frontal edge of the hurricane touches land, or, worse, a mountain range, it loses power in that part (as the power comes from rushing warm, moist air), losing its low there. So naturally the hurricane steers towards areas which can feed it, avoiding large land masses and mountain ranges.

(Thus hurricane steering is reminiscent of how an elementary particle should be steered by the geometry in a future Sub Quantum Mechanics.)

In any case, the hurricane is a rotating engine, whose rotation brings in the warm moist air it uses as fuel. Thus, if the rotation can’t develop, the engine won’t start. And the rotation develops because of the unequal drag of the clouds depending upon how far the equator is (big word: Coriolis Force). In particular, if the clouds cells are astride the equator, they will be equally dragged, and no rotation will occur. Thus, there are no hurricanes around the equator itself.

(The energies involved are enormous: around a ten megaton H bomb every twenty minutes; nuking a grade 5 hurricane would have no effect whatsoever, but for augmenting a bit more the sucking action of the hurricane…)

What of the frequency of hurricanes? The scenario above supposes that the large storm cells can start to rotate. However, the greenhouse augments winds all over. Linear winds, not just rotating winds. It’s a question of equipartition of energy (spreading the energy around in all dimensions available).

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2008/03/08/the-equipartition-of-energy-theorem-should-be-applied-for-climate-change-and-predicts-wild-fluctuations-of-temperatures/

Those winds can, and will, shear thunderstorm cells… Just as Saharan sand can collapse them (so stronger trade winds also play against hurricane formation, at least in the Atlantic). Thus hurricanes will tend to form a more ferociously, but not more frequently. What will augment, though, will be the ferocity and frequency of linear storms, and many have ravaged Europe in the last decade.

So far, the Earth has warmed up one degree centigrade, from the anthropogenic greenhouse, since 1800 CE. Another two degrees seems baked in. In the Carboniferous (“Carbon-making”) era, 400 million years ago, the CO2 and the heat were greater. There is also evidence that pretty much all the continents had joined. Yet, there was moisture in the interior of said continents (because there were plants). Moisture, in the sort of climate we know now, should never have penetrated so deep. How come? Super giant hurricanes, obviously. So we can expect force six, or more, hurricanes in the future… It happened before.  

Patrice Ayme

Increasing Greenhouse Means Increasing Floods, Droughts

August 28, 2017

Among other dynamic activities… As I long predicted, a decade ago, on theoretical grounds, namely the Equipartition of Energy theorem.

Part of Texas was struck by a spectacular hurricane and tropical storm, Harvey, which dumped, and is dumping, an unheard of quantity of rain. That was to be expected, it’s a long foreseen effect of the increasing greenhouse. It is even suspected that, hundreds of millions of years ago, when a greater greenhouse than now ruled, and there was just one major supercontinent, enormous weather systems, of a power unimaginable today, occasionally flooded the otherwise dry interior.

The US President Trump used to complain about CO2, when he was funding and  supporting the so-called “Democrats”, less than ten years ago. To be elected, he engaged in a masquerade denying the shattering potential of a brutal augmentation of the greenhouse. Now he is rising to the occasion, a modern Noah, engineer of his own destiny.

Flood in the Atacama Desert, Northern Chili in 2012. Atacama is the world’s driest desert.

Increasing greenhouse means increasing floods, and not just in the Atacama… Just as it means increasing droughts. The fundamental reason is the increasing temperature: warmer air carries more water molecules. Basically temperature is agitation, and greater agitation keeps more molecules aloft.

Similarly, greater temperatures means greater agitation of water molecules of water in the soil, which then escapes, thus dryer soil, ultimately.

Contradictory effect can emerge, from the same causes. An example: increased floods and droughts, from the same increasing greenhouse.

This has long been well-known in a great desert such as the Sahara.

It’s instructive that a state such as Texas, which produced so much fossil fuels over the last century was struck hard. But so will be the USA, overall: many of the great US cities are threatened by flooding, as sea level will rise.

Somebody just told me: it won’t be tomorrow, that the greenhouse bites. But, in Houston, tomorrow is today, as the city turns into a lake. What people may not understand that much of the greenhouse warming is spent on melting the poles. In particular, the giant frozen expenses of the north. Once all those will be melted, temperatures and storms will shoot up. Why? Because, first, melting ice requires a huge amount of energy. Once the ice is melted, all the heat will go towards other effects. Secondly, the ice creates a strong albedo, the reflectivity of the Earth. Once that’s gone, the soil and water expanses will be capable of much greater warming, as the Sun’s energy will dive deep down inside…  

Patrice Ayme’