Archive for the ‘Global Acid’ Category

With Such Volcanoes, WHO NEEDS ASTEROIDS?

June 21, 2015

I have long been of the persuasion that the asteroid did not extinguish the dinosaurs: it was too puny. I did not see how a big explosion could have extinguished giant life forms such as the Mosasaurs, who lived in the sea, on the other side of the planet.

Mosasaurs are central to this story: the name, Moselle Lizard, comes from the Moselle, a famous river which flows through the town of Maastricht, next to which the first Mosasaurs were found. In 1794, French revolutionary forces took control of the fossils (against 600 bottles of wine), and brought them to Paris Museum d’Histoire Naturelle for state of the art analysis. Cuvier, by 1808, had formally concluded that  le Grand Animal fossile de Maëstricht confirmed the evolutionary theory of his great rival Lamarck.

Pinatubo Warming Up, June 12, 1991

Pinatubo Warming Up, June 12, 1991

[The main Pinatubo eruption was three days later, and was obscured by ash and clouds all over; Pinatubo had strong global effects on world temperature; However, by geological standards, Pinatubo was tiny: 10 cubic kilometer of ejecta, 1% of Tambora in 1815; the Deccan Traps LIP was of the order of millions of cubic kilometers of ejecta.]

The age of the Mosasaurs accordingly became known as the Maastrichtian. Characterized by Mosasaurs, it covers the last six million years of the Cretaceous. And a tremendous discovery, the one I had been expecting all along was just made: the Maastrichtian was a time of colossal transitions. So much for the asteroid impact.

There was an obvious culprit for the extinction at the end of the Cretaceous: the Earth Core Eruption of the Deccan Traps. OK, “Earth Core Eruption” is my own semantics, and the theory behind it is not proven. The official term is Large Igneous Province (LIP).

Climate Apocalypse Well Before The Asteroid:

A decade long project in Northeastern China has drilled sediments as ancient as 100 million years ago. It is bringing results I expected, but even more so.

For millions of years before an asteroid struck the planet 66 million years ago, Earth’s climate was already in turmoil.

It has long been known, from ocean floor sediments, that the climate was unstable at the end of the Cretaceous period. Findings from deep drilling in the Songliao Basin show that the climate swings on land were far more drastic, than anyone expected. Average annual temperatures fluctuated up and down by as much as 20°Celsius over tens of thousands of years—a geological eyeblink. “It certainly wasn’t a good time for the dinosaurs,” says Robert Spicer, a paleoclimatologist at the Open University (Milton Keynes, U.K).

Sediments were piling up in the ancient lakebed in northeastern China at a much faster rate than in the ocean. This provides with a much finer chronology.

Shallow seas had contributed to warm and moisten the Earth so much in the age of dinosaurs (before, during and after the Jurassic). Evolving plate tectonic eliminated those during the last few million years of the Cretaceous. That snuffed out many species and hobbled others.

The Songliao Basin was a gigantic lake for 80 million years. During the Cretaceous, it covered 260,000 square kilometers, as much as the area of New Zealand (a micro-continent in my book). The lakebed’s sediments “provide a unique record of what the land environment was like during this turbulent time,” (Page Chamberlain, a paleoclimatologist at Stanford University, a principal investigator of the Songliao International Continental Scientific Drilling Project).

The drilling team, led by Wang from Beijing University, has gone 2.6 kilometers down. Analyzing oxygen and carbon isotope ratios in the sediments the seesawing temperatures during the last 6 million years of the Cretaceous, the Maastrichtian.

High latitude, and the pace of sediment deposit, ten times what it is in the ocean, gives a very fine record.

The sediments reveal not only astounding temperature swings, but also their likely cause.

Two major Maastrichtian warming events captured in the Songliao cores—68 million years ago and 66.3 million years ago -thus, BEFORE the asteroid impact- coincide with massive eruptions of the Deccan Traps, the Large Igneous Province in India.

Carbon isotope studies show that second warming event was characterized by a rapid doubling in atmospheric carbon dioxide. “This was the time when the bulk of Deccan eruptions occurred, which presumably released a massive amount of carbon dioxide,” says Zhang Laiming (China University of Geosciences).

Differently from an asteroid impacts, large volcanic eruptions are characterized with nasty fluctuating gases and temperatures. We know this from Iceland’s Laki eruption in 1783. Europeans found themselves experiencing various gases, some floating by the ground like colored fog, and tremendous variations of temperatures: hot sometimes during winter, cold in summer.

A volcanic eruption can release sulfates, which can bring considerable cooling, for the years they can stay aloft (around five years). Pinatubo cooled the entire planet by nearly one degree Celsius, thanks to this.

However, a volcanic eruption is greatly propelled by CO2, and that can warm up the cilmate for millennia. The combination is a strong whipping around, between cold and heat.

Now in parallel essay, I will make clear that dinosaurs were ill equipped for such fluctuations.

The intense greenhouse effect caused by CO2 from the Deccan Traps drove average temperatures to about 22.3°C. This compares with only 5°C at Songliao today.

The warming was interrupted just after the K-Pg boundary by a brief cooling episode. The team attributes to dust, soot, and aerosols from the Yucatán asteroid impact. However, I would point out that this is just a theory. In 1809 an unknown volcano exploded in the south hemisphere (as determined recently by ice cores). That was followed in 1815 by the explosion of Indonesia’s Tambora. The result was the coldest decade in more than a millennium (and may well have cost Napoleon’s army tremendous losses in Russia, as the 1812 winter was the coldest on record there).

As temperatures convulsed (and probably acidity in the oceans), ecosystems changed. The Songliao sediments trapped spores, pollen, algae, and ostracods (“seed shrimp“).

To my complete non-surprise, many of the species typical of the Paleocene —the geological epoch following the Cretaceous— appeared several million years before the K-Pg boundary (the first period of the Paleocene is called the Paleogene, Pg). Turnovers in the biota, Wang says, “had already been under way when the asteroid struck.”

Dinosaurs were already on their way out. The number of nonavian dinosaur species seem to have shrunk by half in the last 10 million years of the Cretaceous, with the biggest losses during the Maastrichtian (although according to a French geologist, there may have been more than 1,000 dinosaur species at the end). The Chicxulub impact was, Wang says, “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Put another way, Spicer says, “if the asteroid came in on a less stressed system, the effects would not have been so severe.”

Well? Now the asteroid is reduced to a straw. We don’t need the asteroid. Straws sometimes change history. If Grouchy had not got lost at Waterloo, the French would have won. But not in the case of dinosaurs and mosasaurs, and pterosaurs, plesiosaurs, and maybe ammonites. Straw, or not straw, they were all condemned.

I have a general reasoning, the one I used to explain the “disappearance”, or, more exactly, dilution, of the Neanderthals, to explain this. It implies that large animals tend to disappear more readily. All the more those who did not control their temperatures well. Competition from mammals and avian dinosaurs condemned the dinosaurs.

Yet, there are lessons for today; the cataclysm we are visiting on the biosphere is orders of magnitudes more violent than anything which happened during the Maastrichtian. Even the dinosaurs were not dumb enough to organize their own doom.

Patrice Ayme’

Carbon Tax, Or Global Crash

June 22, 2014


In brief: The major plutocrat, Henry “Hank” Paulson, who presided over the 2008 financial crash as Bush’s finance minister, has come strongly in favor of a carbon tax. He compares the on-going climate catastrophe to the worst crash imaginable. After a few arguments of support of my own, I extensively quote this “suppot de Satan” (Satan’s support in Middle Age French). Facing the worst, the devils themselves can come in handy. Nothing below is new on this site, but it’s important to repeat it as a prayer, and hope.

It’s only natural that people clean the mess they make. So carbon polluters ought to pay the poisoning of the atmosphere, and the acidification of the seas. Because they are the ones causing this mess. They have to pay for the destruction they inflict. Not that people in general are innocent. Clearly some countries are living on the hog, not to say like hogs. Here are two views of the CO2 emissions per capita:

 I Pollute & Ravage, Therefore I Gloat

I Pollute & Ravage, Therefore I Gloat

CO2 list-countries-co2-per-capita

Few will argue that life is actually drastically worse in, say, France, in spite of all the carbon pinching there (France has no oil, gas, or coal; and fracking is illegal).

To tax carbon enough for the damage it causes, is the only way to price correctly the activity. Non carbon polluting energies will them be able to compete with the pirates who are attacking the biosphere… For profit.

The world emits 48% more carbon dioxide from the consumption of energy now than it did in 1992 when the first Rio summit took place, and Al Gore went down there with an immense retinue of adulators… To do nothing, but self-glorification.

First notice the astounding economic inefficiency of Anglo-Saxon countries (except for the European United Kingdom which emits less than 9 tons of CO2 per person per year).

FRANCE pollutes with 6 (six) tons of CO2 a year, per person. Germany with 9 tons (nine). The USA with 18 (eighteen) tons per person per year. Canada and Australia are even worse. The European Union, and its half a billion people, is around 7.5 tons of CO2, per year, per person.

As I have explained in the past, it’s no coincidence that the three powers that annihilated the Natives are busy now annihilating the biosphere: it’s the continuation of a mood (that the same, sort of, can be said about Russia is not reassuring, either: the main reason why Putin annexed Crimea is oil and gas in the Black Sea, just off shore).

Can we get out of that spiral from hell? Yes, with a carbon tax. Also please learn that the EU and the USA, together, control most of the world GDP. So they could impose a Carbon Tax. Unilaterally. By force. Yes, force, empire, all that brutish stuff. Evil in the service of goodness. The WTO has agreed already that such a tax-for-the-good is legal in the WTO statutes (the EU, or some of its countries, notably France, already impose carbon taxes, of sorts, in spite of strident USA-China-Russia opposition).

Much of Chinese economic activity is Western industrialized activity, translated to another place. Chinese dumping, say of solar panels could be addressed (in spite of… German(!) opposition; Germans sell luxury cars to the PRC, and in exchange mount cheap solar panels).

The question that the West would be at an economic disadvantage from imposing a carbon tax is a false argument. What is true is that some of the CO2 hogs would have to become more economically active to change radically their socio-economies: more people at work, quality work.

Paulson below says nothing I have not said before, and, often, many times. Yet it’s worth having it in his own words, thus allowing me to eschew the accusation of radical lunatic unreal leftism.

Lessons for Climate Change in the 2008 Recession

By HENRY M. PAULSON Jr. June 21, 2014

THERE is a time for weighing evidence and a time for acting. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my work in finance, government and conservation, it is to act before problems become too big to manage.

For too many years, we failed to rein in the excesses building up in the nation’s financial markets. When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. Millions suffered. Many still do.

We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked.

This is a crisis we can’t afford to ignore. I feel as if I’m watching as we fly in slow motion on a collision course toward a giant mountain. We can see the crash coming, and yet we’re sitting on our hands rather than altering course

The solution can be a fundamentally conservative one that will empower the marketplace to find the most efficient response. We can do this by putting a price on emissions of carbon dioxide — a CARBON TAX. Few in the United States now pay to emit this potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere we all share. Putting a price on emissions will create incentives to develop new, cleaner energy technologies...

I was secretary of the Treasury when the credit bubble burst, so I think it’s fair to say that I know a little bit about risk, assessing outcomes and problem-solving. Looking back at the dark days of the financial crisis in 2008, it is easy to see the similarities between the financial crisis and the climate challenge we now face.

We are building up excesses (debt in 2008, greenhouse gas emissions that are trapping heat now). Our government policies are flawed (incentivizing us to borrow too much to finance homes then, and encouraging the overuse of carbon-based fuels now). Our experts (financial experts then, climate scientists now) try to understand what they see and to model possible futures. And the outsize risks have the potential to be tremendously damaging (to a globalized economy then, and the global climate now).

Back then, we narrowly avoided an economic catastrophe at the last minute by rescuing a collapsing financial system through government action. But climate change is a more intractable problem. The carbon dioxide we’re sending into the atmosphere remains there for centuries, heating up the planet.”

[PA’s warning: It’s worse than that: At least a third goes into the sea, turning it into an acid soda.] Paulson again:

“That means the decisions we’re making today — to continue along a path that’s almost entirely carbon-dependent — are locking us in for long-term consequences that we will not be able change but only adapt to, at enormous cost. To protect New York City from rising seas and storm surges is expected to cost at least $20 billion initially, and eventually far more. And that’s just one coastal city…

When I worry about risks, I worry about the biggest ones, particularly those that are difficult to predict — the ones I call small but deep holes. While odds are you will avoid them, if you do fall in one, it’s a long way down and nearly impossible to claw your way out.

Scientists have identified a number of these holes — potential thresholds that, once crossed, could cause sweeping, irreversible changes. They don’t know exactly when we would reach them. But they know we should do everything we can to avoid them.

Already, observations are catching up with years of scientific models, and the trends are not in our favor.

Fewer than 10 years ago, the best analysis projected that melting Arctic sea ice would mean nearly ice-free summers by the end of the 21st century. Now the ice is melting so rapidly that virtually ice-free Arctic summers could be here in the next decade or two. The lack of reflective ice will mean that more of the sun’s heat will be absorbed by the oceans, accelerating warming of both the oceans and the atmosphere, and ultimately raising sea levels.

Even worse, in May, two separate studies discovered that one of the biggest thresholds has already been reached. The West Antarctic ice sheet has begun to melt… Now that this process has begun, there is nothing we can do to undo the underlying dynamics, which scientists say are “baked in.” … those who claim the science is unsettled or action is too costly are simply trying to ignore the problem. We must see the bigger picture.

…waiting for more information before acting — is actually taking a very radical risk. We’ll never know enough to resolve all of the uncertainties. But we know enough to recognize that we must act now…

We need to craft national policy that uses market forces to provide incentives for the technological advances required to address climate change. As I’ve said, we can do this by placing a tax on carbon dioxide emissions. Many respected economists, of all ideological persuasions, support this approach. We can debate the appropriate pricing and policy design and how to use the money generated. But a price on carbon would change the behavior of both individuals and businesses.

At the same time, all fossil fuel — and renewable energy — subsidies should be phased out. Renewable energy can outcompete dirty fuels once pollution costs are accounted for.

… our failure to act on the underlying problem is deeply misguided, financially and logically.

In a future with more severe storms, deeper droughts, longer fire seasons and rising seas that imperil coastal cities, public funding to pay for adaptations and disaster relief will add significantly to our fiscal deficit and threaten our long-term economic security. So it is perverse that those who want limited government and rail against bailouts would put the economy at risk by ignoring climate change.

This is short-termism. There is a tendency, particularly in government and politics, to avoid focusing on difficult problems until they balloon into crisis. We would be fools to wait for that to happen to our climate…..

When it comes to developing new technologies, no country can innovate like America. And no country can test new technologies and roll them out at scale quicker than China.

The two nations must come together on climate. The Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago, a “think-and-do tank” I founded to help strengthen the economic and environmental relationship between these two countries, is focused on bridging this gap.

We already have a head start on the technologies we need. The costs of the policies necessary to make the transition to an economy powered by clean energy are real, but modest relative to the risks.

A tax on carbon emissions will unleash a wave of innovation to develop technologies, lower the costs of clean energy and create jobs as we and other nations develop new energy products and infrastructure. This would strengthen national security by reducing the world’s dependence on governments like Russia and Iran.

Climate change is the challenge of our time. Each of us must recognize that the risks are personal. We’ve seen and felt the costs of underestimating the financial bubble. Let’s not ignore the climate bubble.

Henry M. Paulson Jr., an ex-football player, is the chairman of the Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago, was CEO of Golman-Sachs,  and secretary of the Treasury from July 2006 to January 2009. When Satan himself is melting, the heat is on.

Patrice Aymé


May 30, 2014

Move over, “Global Warming” and “Climate Change”! You meek euphemisms have been paid by your fossil fuel masters to occupy the front stage, in a masquerade of objectivity.

Let me instead introduce GLOBAL HYPOXIA“.

I have explained that I do not believe in the Impact theory of previous mass extinctions. Instead I believe in what I call (Earth) Core Volcanism. Core Volcanism would have erupted with huge quantities of CO2, hence would have devastated the seas. Hint: at the time when the dinosaurs died, mammals and birds (a type of dinosaur) survived handsomely. Yet the devastation in the ocean was total.

Kill Seas With Acid,  Kill Oxygen Production

Kill Seas With Acid, Kill Oxygen Production

Krugman wrote an editorial “Cutting Back On Carbon“, that explained the obvious, namely that switching to a non carbon economy would not cost much, if at all:

“Next week the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce new rules designed to limit global warming. Although we don’t know the details yet, anti-environmental groups are already predicting vast costs and economic doom. Don’t believe them. Everything we know suggests that we can achieve large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at little cost to the economy…

You might ask why the Chamber of Commerce is so fiercely opposed to action against global warming, if the cost of action is so small. The answer, of course, is that the chamber is serving special interests, notably the coal industry — what’s good for America isn’t good for the Koch brothers, and vice versa — and also catering to the ever more powerful anti-science sentiments of the Republican Party.”

I sent an approving comment. However, it was censored. On my angle on this particular subject, it’s systematic. It seems that the censors at the New York Times are either very well paid by very clever supervisors, or so stupid that they believe that who believes in GLOBAL HYPOXIA are genuinely mad.

Out of charity, I decided to operate under the later hypothesis, and to make even more efforts to educate those ignorant little Wall Street proximity tyrants.

Oceans Warming Globally, But Acidity Concentrating Locally

Oceans Warming Globally, But Acidity Concentrating Locally

This is a (boosted) version of what I sent (and was censored):

Agreed to all, well analyzed. Now to add a few points
Cutting carbon burning to zero is not just a question of cost, but a matter of survival. The present Green House Gases concentrations already guarantee that the planet’s climate will be brought back to the Jurassic. That guarantees flooding where billions of people are presently living: the Jurassic was characterized by shallow seas.

But that’s not all. Because this is the most violent eruption of CO2 in at least 65 million years, at least a third of the CO2 created by man’s folly goes straight in the ocean. It does so at a rate at least one hundred times faster than at any times in the last tens of millions of years (as ice core studies for the last 650,000 years have confirmed).

Once in the ocean, the carbon dioxide chemically reacts with water to create carbonic acid. The acidity has already climbed by 30%, globally. However, it concentrates mostly in some surface layers… Where sea life is also the most concentrated.

Not Just Global Warming: GLOBAL ACID too.

Not Just Global Warming: GLOBAL ACID too.

If the acidity rises too much, the phytoplankton will die and half of the oxygen supply will be lost.

So the Green House Gases pollution is not just a question of changing climate. What we have now is a programmed destruction of the biosphere.

The fact Congress wants to prevent the Pentagon to be well armed for climate change (in particular having as much carbon free fuel as needed), it shows indeed that all what the Congress of the USA cares about is preserving the existing power structure. Well, it may be paid for that, but that’s a fatal disposition.

Patrice Aymé


Hypoxia Censored: The preceding comment of the Krugman editorial was censored by the New York Times, as all previous comments of mine alluding to Global Hypoxia have also been.

Scientific Background, From Anthropogenic Decline in High-Latitude Ocean Carbonate by 2100 : “The surface ocean is everywhere saturated with respect to calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Yet increasing atmospheric CO2 reduces ocean pH and carbonate ion concentrations, and thus the level of saturation. Reduced saturation states
are expected to affect marine calcifiers even though it has been estimated that all
surface waters will remain saturated for centuries.

Here we show, however, that some surface waters will become undersaturated within decades. When atmospheric CO2 reaches 550 ppmv, in year 2050 under the business-as-
usual scenario, Southern Ocean surface waters begin to become undersaturated
with respect to aragonite, a metastable form of CaCO3.

By 2100… undersaturation extends throughout the entire Southern Ocean and… Pacific. These changes will threaten high-latitude aragonite secreting organisms including cold-water corals, which provide essential fish habitat, and shelled pteropods, an abundant food source for marine predators.”

That was published ten years ago, in 2004. Ever since the CO2 injections from human industry have accelerated considerably.