Posts Tagged ‘CO2’

Under Water

December 1, 2015

A Maui Native told me something stunning: when he was a teenager, the West Coast of West Maui was a wide continuous golden sand beach. Now that beach is gone, only small patches survive, between small rocky capes. He accuses sea level rise. The Native works for a taxi service, and he is scared that the sea level will take out the road which is the lifeline to West Maui. He is even scared sea level rise will soon cut Maui in two.

He showed me where the road was cut by the waves, during high tide, and I could see the makeshift barriers the government had installed, pathetically. He says the cutting of the road has become the principal threat to his employment (and to the massive tourist sector of West Maui). Traffic crawls at 5 miles an hour when the waves come in.

Sea level is very hard to estimate: it varies continuously. Yet, as I saw in Maui, and as I have seen in other coast, full grown trees of deciduous species are not capable to grow where waves batter. Seeing tree roots exposed by waves, as I found on the French Cote d’Azur, on a particular beach which I knew, but is now under a meter of water, demonstrate clearly that sea level rise is grossly underestimated.

All This Was A Golden Beach, Now It IS Under Water. West Maui Coast, Facing Lanai.

All This Was A Golden Beach, Now It IS Under Water. West Maui Coast, Facing Lanai.

A Qatari emits 33 tons of CO2 per inhabitant per year. The average Earth citizen emits 4.5 tons of CO2. Switzerland, 5.1 tons. The average in China is 6.5 tons, and 6.6 tons for a citizen of the European Union. Citizens of the USA emit, in the average, 16.1 tons (Canada and Australia do significantly worse).

48% of world CO2 emission is to produce energy and electricity. Transportation is only 23%, Industry 19%, and the rest, including home heating, only 10%.

Coal burning creates half of the world’s CO2 emission.

The inability to cut on greenhouse gases emissions is striking: they are still going up. One problem has been the crackdown on nuclear energy: for perhaps half the planet, right now, only nuclear energy can provide clean energy. Even Switzerland, full of mountains and thus endowed with vast amounts of hydro power, gets its good number from massive usage of nuclear energy (even though some of the reactors have been installed in locations which should have been completely excluded: where are the ecologists when needed?)

Yes, I said clean, when depicting nuclear power, and let no Fukushima or Chernobyl be brandished by the morally dubious, shrilly PC. Both nuclear accidents were caused by demented risks taken by foolish operators, and derelict surveillance authorities. Both situations were deeply insane, from putting reactors where super giant tsunamis have already struck, and not being ready after that happened, to using, in the case of the Soviet built reactor, hyper dangerous technology (graphite-gas), which should never have been built (such reactors are unstable under low power).

Not to do anything about the CO2 catastrophe is incomparably more demented than building nuclear reactors in every city (not that I recommend this!). It’s more demented, not just by orders of magnitude. One cannot compare the evacuations of a few zones left to wild animals (who are very happy), to the assured destruction of the biosphere. Once again, Fukushima happened because Japanese ecologists were out to lunch, and so was the government and the Tokyo Power company. And Chernobyl was the product of a dictatorship which had at least one way worse accident, and kept it hush hush.

Pseudo-ecologists have blocked stridently nuclear power (instead of insisting that it should be made safe, and how). Result? Sea Level rise has now doubled in rate relative to what it was 20 years ago.

United Nations predict a catastrophic rise of one meter by 2100. However that does not take into account the possible catastrophic collapse of Antarctica’s WAIS, Wilkes, and Aurora basins… which I anticipate. And melt massively they will, soon.

Some will smirk, and will suggest to wait until average of sea level rise are much higher than the recently registered 3.3 mm per year average. Yes, whatever. My little theory of sea level rise by catastrophic melting of Antarctica just got a timid support in the first official academic study of the subject. They admit that, instead of taking 10,000 years, catastrophic melting is only a few decades away. (I persist, and sign, that this is a ridiculous underestimate!)

Qatar is at 33 tons of CO2 per person per year. Let’s meditate what it means. That’s evil. And one evil leads to another: a consortium of British journalists just evaluated that the number of workers killed on the world cup stadiums in Qatar was in excess of 900 (yes, nearly a thousand). As we can see, enabling evil here, make it sprout all over (and yes, Qatar enables the Islamist State). Not doing anything impactful against sea level rise is enabling that rise. Thus, it is enabling evil. As average citizens are powerless, it’s our great leaders who are evil. They wanted the job, they got it, they give us hell, surely they won’t mind be called by their names?

The president of Ecuador, triumphantly re-elected, and a professional (USA PhD) economist, says that the climate catastrophe is NOT a technical problem, it is a political problem. The president of Senegal, a country at sea level, points out that there is no plan B, so the Paris Conference cannot fail.

And you know what the political problem is, at the deepest level of analysis? It’s the ultimate, the will to have evil rule. In one word: plutocracy. The will to have evil rule has no better friend than the CO2 catastrophe. As, first of all, it teaches people to live with catastrophe, and love it (as, earlier they were made to live with the bomb, and love it!)

And yes, it’s not as urgent, but even worse than the war against fascism in World War Two. Because there is a non-human operator involves, physics itself. As it is not as urgent, the frogs feel sleepy, instead of anxious. But they will get barbecued all the same.

Patrice Ayme’

Could We Colonize Mars?

October 7, 2015

Yes. There are no show stoppers. The main problem is how to get there fast, cheap and safe. That, in turn is an energy source problem. We need to go beyond chemical rockets (which were invented in China nearly a millennium ago).

Mars is a tempting prize. Mars colonization will double the extent of land humanity live on. Indeed the Red Planet is endowed with nearly as much surface area as all of Earth’s land surface combined (145 million square kilometers for Mars, 149 x 10^6 sqkm for Earth’s continents).

Mars’ rotation axis, over the eons, wobbles impressively. Right now, it’s half way (same inclination as Earth’s). But when the axis is fully inclined, my bet is that the poles melt. Then Mars has got to become much warmer, and wetter: the atmosphere would be full of H2O, water, a powerful greenhouse gas. Maybe life blossoms. Hence Mars is even more interesting than it presently looks (one could imagine life adapted to these super-summers).

Smaller, But Inhabitable Even Before Terraforming

Smaller, But Inhabitable Even Before Terraforming

 

Could we conquer the seas instead? Sure, we have to. However, it’s more difficult. How could it be more difficult to conquer the ocean? The average terrestrial ocean is 3,688 meters deep. This means that we have to handle, to live there, a pressure difference of 370 atmospheres. On Mars, as it is, the pressure is 1% of one atmosphere; that is just one atmosphere difference. A light spacesuit can handle Mars. But just going down 20 meters in Earth’s sea doubles the pressure problem we have on Mars.

Radiation on Mars, and getting there, is a problem: a year stay, with the trip, would augment the probability of getting cancer by 5%. NASA, and radiation workers’ limit is 3%. The average smoker doubles his cancer habit from his gaseous drug habit. Thus, by only sending smokers to Mars, and thus preventing them to smoke (the fuel debris smokers smoke clog air filters), one would vastly diminish their probability of them getting cancer.

The problem with Mars is how to get there. Getting in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is already (very) difficult, expensive, chancy, and will stay so, barring huge advances in material science. We need better engines, better airframes, and, or, a space elevator. Work is going on, in a number of ways, from perfecting launching rockets from planes, to airbreathing reaction engines, to the simple Ariane 6 solution of switching to solid rockets (French and American ballistic missiles are 100% dependable, as they sit in submarines stuffed with thermonuclear bombs).

Some hope that space tourism (one day in LEO for $50,000, say) will provide incentives for cheaper ways to leave Earth. Maybe, but university departments working on materials built atom by atom, better get lots of money (such materials, for example nanomaterials such as graphene, can be hundreds of times stronger than steel; we need to make them work on a large scale).

Given energy, rocket fuel can be made on Mars in a number of ways. Thus, plenty of energy, plenty of fuel. There is plenty of water on Mars (the Curiosity rover found between 2% and 3% in the soil). At least, at the poles (and perhaps all over). Some universities are already bioengineering mosses and other plants to survive on Mars.

With existing technology, and materials, we (or, rather, robots) could build a Space Elevator on Mars. So Mars could turn into a very convenient outpost, while terraforming proceeds.

To get to Mars fast, and to have the plenty of energy we need there to fuel robots, which, in turn, will be able to dig in the ground and make vast caverns and the like (etc.), we need a concentrated energy source.

The only one imaginable energy source would be from small thermonuclear reactors. A number of companies and universities are working on these.

There should be a crash program  on these (while pursuing steadily ITER).

Mars had life and an ocean, for probably at least a billion years. Not having a core nuclear reactor, hence a protecting magnetic field and plate tectonic, Mars lost liquid water, warmth and most of its atmosphere (Venus has the same problem, although Earth sized). Mars is waiting the human touch to smile with exuberant life again. Colonization can expand diversity as it most often does (will cynics add perfidiously). Besides, a Mars polis would be an insurance policy.

The only way to not being able to colonize Mars? If civilization collapses first, it won’t happen. Unlikely? This is exactly where abusing fossil fuels is leading us.

Patrice Ayme’

Ice Sheets Melt: Academics Waking Up; New York Times In Denial

September 25, 2015

There has never been a more important moral, philosophical, military, civilizational, psychological, sociological and economic issue than the concerted holocaust of the biosphere by Homo Sapiens, presently passing one tipping point after another. Thus I will not present excuses for keeping abreast of any advance in understanding in the field. Even if it is just to confirm what I have long said.

The first scientific paper including computerized models of ice sheets melt predicts the obvious: if we burn all PROVEN fossil fuels reserves, ice will completely melt, all over Earth. Yet, it is a big surprise to most scientists.

This is humanity as a geologic force,” said Ken Caldeira, a researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California, an author of the paper. “We’re not a subtle influence on the climate system – we are really hitting it with a hammer.”

Nice to read. Nietzsche was doing philosophy with a hammer, we went further: we are doing climate with a hammer. Hopefully, it will crack soon: nothing like a great catastrophe to bring further fascism. Nihilism is bad thing, naivety, even worse. To please the powers that be, and thus to be taken seriously, serious climate scientists have made unwarranted, profoundly unscientific, over-optimistic declarations about the ice sheets. Now they time is up. In truth the GreenHouse emissions are completely out of control, and still increasing… At a geological scale, every year:

50 Gigatons Per Year: This GreenHouse Is Bigger Than CO2 Alone

50 Gigatons Per Year: This GreenHouse Is Bigger Than CO2 Alone

“I didn’t expect it would go so fast,” Dr. Caldeira said.To melt all of Antarctica, I thought it would take something like 10,000 years.” Didn’t they all. Why? Because only then would one be invited at the White House. Thinking correctly means, first, to think in a way that pleases those with power.

“Combustion of available fossil fuel resources sufficient to eliminate the Antarctic Ice Sheet” [Ricarda Winkelmann, Anders Levermann, Andy Ridgwell, Ken Caldeira]:

“The Antarctic Ice Sheet stores water equivalent to 58 meters in global sea-level rise. We show in simulations using the Parallel Ice Sheet Model that burning the currently attainable fossil fuel resources is sufficient to eliminate the ice sheet. With cumulative fossil fuel emissions of 10,000 gigatonnes of carbon (GtC), Antarctica is projected to become almost ice-free with an average contribution to sea-level rise exceeding 3 meters per century during the first millennium. Consistent with recent observations and simulations, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet becomes unstable with 600 to 800 GtC of additional carbon emissions. Beyond this additional carbon release, the destabilization of ice basins in both West and East Antarctica results in a threshold increase in global sea level. Unabated carbon emissions thus threaten the Antarctic Ice Sheet in its entirety with associated sea-level rise that far exceeds that of all other possible sources.”

The famous Doctor Hansen and his collaborators upset the establishment two months ago by predicting a rise of three meters within 85 years (they use the reasoning I have used before, namely that paleontological data show sea level rise of 5 to 9 meters, with a rise of just one degree Celsius; actually the reasoning was obvious since 2009, when I pointed out that “2C Is Too Much“). The new paper potentially confirms Hansen’s findings. As I said, the new paper tries to NOT upset the powers that be (differently from yours truly, who views most individuals and institutions in power more than suspiciously, and it shows).  Thus, one has to read between the lines to deduce that, from the paper itself, interpreting it optimistically is completely unwarranted.

The paper says: “Consistent with recent observations and simulations, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet becomes unstable with 600 to 800 GtC of additional carbon emissions.” Hmm… Let’s see, how long would that take, at the present increasing rate? Now emissions of CO2 itself are around 35 Gt, per year (35 billion tons of CO2, per year). That’s a number often brandished, but, left at that, it’s disinformation.  With other GreenHouse Gases, we are at 50 Gigatons of CO2 equivalent emission, per year. Sorry for taxing the mathematical capabilities of our great leaders:  12 x 50 = 600. This fits perfectly my “Ten Years To Catastrophe” essay. Thus, the West and EAST Antarctic Ice Sheet becomes unstable in TWELVE YEARS (according to this paper; I obtained the same rough estimate with a paleoclimatic approach).

The United Nations has said that the rise of the sea would not likely exceed three feet in this century. Some island nations will be wiped out (oops). Yet experts officially hope that major cities could be protected from it, in the richest countries that is (re-oops), though at a cost in the trillions of dollars (contemplate the enormous works to protect London or Venice).

The New York Times mentioned the paper above, which say the ice sheets will start melting irreversibly within a decade, to argue, in Politically Correct fashion, that ice sheets respond slowly enough to changes in the climate that it simply takes longer than a century for large-scale melting to begin. As if that notion was in the paper. It is not. Far from it. As I have argued before, that notion is ridiculous.

Indeed, warm water will rush below the ice sheets in West Antarctica, and East Antarctica’s immense Wilkes and Aurora subglacial basins.

Subglacial Basins Are The Achilles’ Heel Of The Biosphere

Subglacial Basins Are The Achilles’ Heel Of The Biosphere

{WAIS = West Antarctica Ice Shelf; WB = Wilkes Basin; AB = Aurora Basin.]

Yet from that (tipping) point on, the paper found that thereafter, the sea would rise at the rate at a foot per decade, ten times faster than now, the New York Times admitted.

However the real text is much more alarming. Here is an extract:

“The Antarctic Ice Sheet is severely affected by high carbon emissions through both the marine ice-sheet instability and surface elevation feedbacks. On the time scale of millennia, large parts of the ice sheet melt or drain into the ocean, raising global sea level by several tens of meters. Most of the ice loss occurs within the first millennium, leading to high rates of sea-level rise during this period (Fig. 3; for more details, see also fig. S6). Our simulations show that cumulative emissions of 500 GtC commit us to long-term sea-level rise from Antarctica of 1.15 m within the next millenium, which is consistent with the sensitivity of 1.2 m/°C derived with a different ice-sheet model (33, 34). Paleo data suggest that similar rates of sea-level rise have occurred during past warm periods (35). If the 2°C target, corresponding to about 600 GtC of additional carbon release compared to year 2010, were attained, the millennial sea-level rise from Antarctica could likely be restricted to 2 m. In our simulations, this would keep the ice sheet below the threshold for the collapse of the Wilkes Basin. However, if that threshold is crossed, the Antarctic ice cover is significantly reduced in thickness and area (Fig. 4). If we were to release all currently attainable fossil fuel resources, Antarctica would become almost ice-free. It is unclear whether this dynamic discharge would be reversible and, if so, on which time scales.”

As I already said, since 2010, we have added another 230 Gigatons. So we are within eight year of the Wilkes ice sheet, the largest in the world, to become unstable. The paper admitted that about half the Antarctic ice sheet would melt or fall into the sea in the first thousand years.”

The New York Times’ interpretation  that it will take nearly a century for dramatic melting to start was obviously tainted. It is just driven by political Machiavellianism: let’s admit there is climate “change” just as there is sea level “change”, and misinform about the unfolding catastrophe (although Main Stream Media had to recently admit the snow pack in California last April was the lowest in at least 500 years). How do I know this? The scientific paper used computerized models of the huge ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland. It is the first paper to do so. Yet, according to the biased New York Times, it would have found exactly what the UN found, during this century… Although the UN did not incorporate the ice sheet melt models.

Once the ice sheet melting is incorporated, faster melting ought to have been predicted, for THIS century. However that grim prediction would have upset the powers that be. We don’t want that to happen. Now that they have the drone habit, killing throngs of people they know nothing about, who knows what’s coming next if one disparages them? Beheading and crucifixion at the most esteemed Saudi plutocracy?

For plutocrats, the Saudis are a model of Human Rights: thus they elected them to head the UN panel on Human Rights. And ice sheet melting is perfect: all great catastrophes call onto lining up fanatically behind whom Obama celebrates as our “leaders” (our masters). If a bit of engineered inflation could bring Hitler, imagine what an inflating ocean can bring! A great future for the few who rule us, tax-free.

Patrice Ayme’

Earth Biosphere Destruction Thanks To Plutocratic Subsidies

May 18, 2015

Plutocracy is not just about the rule of money: as its name indicates, it is the rule of evil. Obama, the American Chief Executing Officer, just allowed oil drilling in the Arctic (where pollution does not dissipate, due to low temperature). However, when the ship sinks, the rats start to bite each other. Thus here comes the International Monetary Fund, with a striking study. Although based next to the White House, the Fund just found a profound fundament to our world crisis. Fossil Fuels “energy subsidies are dramatically higher than previous estimates.

How high? The IMF estimates the fossil fuel subsidies amount to 5.3 trillion dollars in 2015. Yes, 5,300 billions, about a third of USA or EU GDP. 5.3 trillion dollars is 6.5% of world GDP. That’ is 600 million dollars an hour. It is higher than all the government spending on health care, worldwide. And it goes to whom, first? Plutocrats. Nothing else to expect from a government by plutophiles, for plutocrats.

Earth, Funding Pluto Brought A Drastic Problem

Earth, Funding Pluto Brought A Drastic Problem

We are presently destroying the biosphere which enabled the human species to evolve. It is pretty drastic. It would cause the worst mass murderers and criminals against humanity pause. It is not just a political, or philosophical, or ethical problem. It is the ultimate question of survival. We are all in a gas chamber of our own making, and the tap is fully open. Anything else is delusion.

Among the IMF’s conclusion: the highest subsidies are for the most polluting fuel, coal: “Because no country, (unlike for “road fuels) has meaningful excises on its consumption“.

Subsidies arise “mostly from countries not adequately charging for the cost of environmental damage (only one fourth of which is due to climate change)”. The World Health Organization evaluates these deaths to seven (7) millions.

The IMF observes that charging adequately would reduce CO2 emissions by 20% and cut the “premature death rate from fossil fuel pollution” by half. (Those death are evaluated

A philosophy professor from Notre Dame University ponders in the New York Times: “What Can We Do About Climate Change?”

Notice how silly the title is. Indeed, it should say that it’s not the climate that is changing, just because it’s going out tonight, but us who are polluting the planet. As all academics, the professor, from a plutocratic university, is careful to not say anything that would upset extremely wealthy sponsors of his very rich university (rich of subsidized football, TV contracts, gifts from Plutos right and left, etc.) This is how academic excellence works, in the USA: feed the rich ideas they like.

Left unsaid in the interview in the New York Times, were many things, and of some of these many things I will speak.

There are massive fossil fuel subsidies, worldwide. More than 600 billion dollars of direct fossil fuels subsidies are distributed by governments, each year, said the International Energy Agency. The least to be done would be to cut these poisonous gifts to zero.

In temperate and tropical areas, Solar Photovoltaics have become price competitive with fossil fuels, even with the aforesaid subsidies. Without them Solar PV can replace fossil fuels in an economically advantageous way.

We just reached above 403 ppm of CO2 averaged over April 2005. At 400 ppm of CO2, we know we get the warm Pliocene climate: camels in the Arctic. Under such a greenhouse, the Arctic is completely melted, except at high altitude. No more sea ice in the north, whatsoever.

And this does not mention the fact that at least a third of the CO2 goes into the sea to make carbonic acid, quickly approaching non-sustainability; it’s a matter of years, not decades. And that non-linear effects with melting permafrost are getting in gear.

More generally, four planetary boundaries have been crossed. CO2 ppm is just one of them. The crossing of any of these boundaries mean destruction of the biosphere as we have known it (thus thermonuclear war, among other inconveniences).

So much for the somewhat limited view of “Climate Change” from university professors of philosophy.

Moreover, our real greenhouse gases “forcing” the low altitude greenhouse should include man-made gases which did not exist during the warm Pliocene, three million years ago. Some of these gases are more capable of blocking infrared radiation (and thus augmenting the greenhouse) by a multiplicative factor of 25,000 relative to CO2. Those gases ought to be targeted for elimination. Nitrous oxide, much of it from agricultural nitrate fertilizers, and other soil destruction, contributes to 8% of the greenhouse forcing (with 300 times the ppm infrared effect of CO2).

Meanwhile, Germany is ever more dependent upon the world’s most polluting fuel, a type of coal, lignite (Neanderthals already used it in France, more than 80,000 years ago). Even today, Germany bent over backwards to burn even more lignite. What about giving more serious lessons to us, denizens of the German gas chamber? Is it still about giving us lessons with Pluto’s baritone voice?

Germany and the so-called “United” Kingdom tie for number one in the European pollution league. That should put in perspective their (mostly imaginary) superior economic performance. Economic performance is, fundamentally, about energy. Destroying the planet to get energized is plenty cheap, especially morally.

A worldwide tax on carbon ought to be imposed unilaterally by the USA and the EU, and imposed on imported products. Anything else will come short.

And short means, potentially, the greatest catastrophe our species has ever known.

Thanks to progress in sustainable energies, mostly Solar PV, technologically advanced empires (USA, China) are in good position to impose a low carbon economy… While advancing, and advantaging, their own economies. This devilish perspective is actually the only good news around. China has already taken drastic measures against coal.

If good people won’t help, maybe the devil will…

Patrice Ayme’

West Antarctica Melting, Amazon Not Helping

March 21, 2015

A curious fact has baffled those who observe Earth: the Antarctic sea ice has been augmenting, year after year (whereas it has been shrinking year after year around the North Pole, as expected). How could the former fact, increasing sea ice, be compatible with global warming?

Scientists have been baffled. Some meekly suggested that stronger winds spread the cold water, and sea ice, further out. Winds have increased in the Antarctic Ocean, indeed. The latter point is straight from what one would expect of global warming: heat is motion on the smallest scale, resulting in density differentials, thus pressure differentials, hence winds, from high to low pressures.

The continent of Antarctica seems to be a solid mass, but the reality below all that ice is different. If one melted all the ice, Antarctica, at this point is more like an archipelago.

All Antarctica That Is Blue Will Be Under Water Soon

All Antarctica That Is Blue Will Be Under Water Soon. So Will Be Most Coastal Areas Around the Continents.

(However, if the ice melted, the continent would raise by hundreds of meters… I would guess, taking into account that rock is about three times the density of ice. But that would take millennia. Many quakes, as still experienced in Scandinavia, which is still rising at the pace of one meter per century.)

Notice that it is often much deeper inland than along the continental margins. The West Antarctic Ice Shield (WAIS; drained by the Pine, and other glaciers mentioned below) is on the left. To the bottom of the page, one sees the Wilkes Subglacial Basin I mentioned in 2009. Right of it is the Totten catchment and Aurora Subglacial basin.

The Wilkes Subglacial Basin Was Part of the Ocean In the Pliocene, 5 Million Years Ago

The Wilkes Subglacial Basin Was Part of the Ocean In the Pliocene, 5 Million Years Ago

Most of these three giant basins have up to 4 kilometers of ice any of these If the three of them melted, sea level would go back to conditions 5 million years ago (when CO2 levels were the same as today). The ocean would be up to 40 meters higher.

I will suggest a much more sinister explanation for the spreading of the sea ice around Antarctica (sinister explanations are my specialty).

The dynamics of water in the ocean is dominated by its density, and friction of atmospheric winds on its surface (the latter creating trade winds and storms heading east below the two main temperate jet streams centered around 45 degrees, plus upwelling; all of this consequences of Earth’s mighty rotation and the Coriolis force).

Denser water sinks, less dense water rises. Water density itself is a two-dimensional quantity: it depends upon temperature, and salinity. The more salt, the more dense, the more the water sinks. The dependence on temperature is subtle: pure water is denser at 4 Centigrade, not zero Centigrade (when it freezes, by definition of the Centigrade scale). Thus the water which sinks the most, and thus wiggles the most below ice, the 4C water, is plenty warm enough to melt ice.

The warm water comes from below, dragged by the current melting creates, and its higher density (caused both by its salt content, and the fact warmer water is denser, close to the freezing point, a weird fact of H2O). When it rubs along the ice shelf, it gets colder, hence less dense, all the more as it mixes with glacial sweet (thus less dense) water. (By the way, this creates inverted water channels scouring the ice sheets from below, and they can even be seen from the air.)

The Melting Of The Grounding Line Creates Surface Cold Water That Spreads Out

The Melting Of The Grounding Line Creates Surface Cold Water That Spreads Out

Thus, the more extended the sea ice is around Antarctica, at this point, the greater the evidence that the ice continent is losing cold, so to speak: it loses cold by spreading out at the surface of the ocean.

Something similar, on a much larger scale, caused a massive cooling of Europe 18,000 years ago (so-called Younger Dryas). Right in the middle of global warming, Europe froze for a millennium (due to the spread of cold water from Greenland melting, plus the subsequent short-cut of the Gulf Stream).

Here is a related fact. My friend Paul Handover called my attention on the following opinion I used to have:

“The melting of the ice sheet over Greenland is now a given. The ice sheets of West and East Antarctica a hair’s breadth from being a given.”

This is what I thought, say ten years ago. However I do not believe this opinion anymore: Antarctica will melt before Greenland. And nobody expects this.

Reason: it is easier to melt ice with warm water than with warm air, because the caloric capacity of water is much higher. Much of Antarctica, East and West is below sea level.

All the continental margin of Greenland is mountainous, and extends for hundreds of kilometers (mostly, although very long deep canyon have been found, lurking below the ice, in the last couple of years). In the case of Antarctica, the mountainous margins are either perfunctory and thin (WAIS), or inexistent (East Antarctica). This is why what was supposed to melt last, big time, East Antarctica may well melt first, big time.

Another factor, also overlooked, is that a lot of Antarctica’s coast is at pretty high latitude (hugging the polar circle), especially in East Antarctica, whereas only the mountainous tip of Greenland is south of the polar circle.

Here is the Geophysical Research Letters on 27 May 2014 about the catastrophic situation in West Antarctica: Widespread, rapid grounding line retreat of Pine Island, Thwaites, Smith, and Kohler glaciers, West Antarctica, from 1992 to 2011.

The grounding line retreat of glaciers draining the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica was documented, using Earth Remote Sensing from European satellites (which went many times over their lifespans).

(ERS-1/2) satellite radar interferometry from 1992 to 2011 showed the following:

Pine Island Glacier retreated 31 km at its center, with most of the retreat in 2005–2009 when the glacier ungrounded from its ice plain. Thwaites Glacier retreated 14 km along its fast flow core and 1 to 9 km along the sides. Haynes Glacier retreated 10 km along its flanks. Smith/Kohler glaciers retreated the most, 35 km along its ice plain, and its ice shelf pinning points are vanishing. These rapid retreats proceed along regions of retrograde bed elevation (this means that, the further inland, the lower the ice plain below the glaciers; so warm water has a potential to fall DOWN towards the INTERIOR of the continent, as the future sea floor is crushed by the mass of the ice).

The team concluded: “Upstream of the 2011 grounding line positions, we find no major bed obstacle that would prevent the glaciers from further retreat and draw down the entire basin.”

A similar situation holds under the Ronnie Ice Shelf, east of the base of the Antarctica Peninsula. There again the Ice Shield rests mightily on an old ocean floor, sloping down towards the interior, to a depth of at least a mile. I don’t see why this sort of contraption cannot melt, and disintegrate, in a few years. I really don’t. Actually, I fully expect it. I don’t see how it could be otherwise.

This is the ultimate sucking sound… And something nobody very seriously employed as a “climate scientist” can afford to believe, lest she/he, wants to go live under a bridge.

Lest some will conclude that this is just a matter of a few billion people moving out of the way, please be reminded that the littoral is often where the best lands are.

But not just this. The assault of humanity against the biosphere are many, and some of these attacks are directed at the CO2 absorbing system. For example the Amazon absorbs only half the CO2 that it did, twenty years ago.

We need much more advanced technology, just to save the biosphere. Now.

Patrice Ayme’

Outlaw Carbon Burning

December 11, 2014

Abstract: Uncertainties of climate scenarios from human pollution are so great, and potentially so catastrophic, that the only reasonable course is to outlaw carbon burning. Replacement technologies already exist. We have ten years to catastrophe. This is the bottom line for the world climate talks right now in Lima, Peru.

***

The USA and its dictatorial poodle, the People’s Republic of China, cause 44% of the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emission in the world.

The European Union causes only 11% of said emissions. The spectacular relative decrease of European Union pollution exacted a heavy price in comparative advantage.

Great Acceleration: World Ocean Temperature Record, September 2014

Great Acceleration: World Ocean Temperature Record, September 2014

Of all excess heat caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gases, 93.4% goes into oceans. Thus the temperature of oceans has reached new records, month after month in 2014.

The average September GLOBAL ocean temperature marked a record high for that month in 2014, at 0.66°C (1.19°F) above the 20th century average, breaking the previous record that was set just one month earlier.

The American and Chinese economies are progressing by leaps and bounds, greatly from their wild and cheap carbon burning. But the price on the planet will be heavy.

China and the USA are progressing by leaps and bounds, or, at least their plutocrats are: President Xi’s family has hundreds of millions of dollars of real estate, in Hong Kong alone. The climate crisis is entangled with the plutocratic crisis.

Right now, the CO2 density in the atmosphere augments by 1% a year. CO2 blocks Infra Red (IR) radiation. Thus the heat of the ground, instead of fleeing back to space, is blocked in the first few kilometers of the atmosphere (yes it should lead to a decrease of temperature at very high , stratospheric altitude, and it, indeed, does).

The rise of temperature next to the ground heats up the oceans, liberating water vapor, H2O, itself a potent greenhouse gas, which amplifies the CO2 greenhouse effect blanketing the ground.

These are highly non-linear effects, extremely difficult to compute.

Although we do not understand the details with certainty, paleontological records clearly show that high CO2 concentrations are associated with complete melting of the icecaps, as happened, say, 100 million years ago, or during the Carboniferous era.

Yet, in these cases, the changes were progressive, so life on Earth, and the Gaia system of temperature regulation by weathering of silicate rocks, volcanoes and plate tectonics, had time to adjust accordingly.

The change the present human industry is imparting on Earth is too fast for Earth’s biosphere and geology to compensate.

Hence an extreme risk to launch a run-away greenhouse episode.

The argument has been deployed by fossil fuel partisans that all is fine: OK, the ten warmest years on the record are all since 1998, but nothing much has happened. So what?

Well, the climate is the largest system known, aside from astronomical phenomena. Thus, it has extreme inertia. Yes, it barely moved. So far. But that does not mean that an enormous force is not applied to it. When the climate starts to move significantly, from one year, to the next, it will be unstoppable.

Most of the warming will be concentrated in the high latitudes: the tropics cannot get much warmer, but the poles can get much warmer. And we know that this is what happened in the past: there used to be dinosaurs in Antarctica, and Alaska, crocodiles in northern Greenland.

That may sound pleasant and intriguing, but those dinosaurs had evolved over millions of years to handle months of obscurity.

Right now, the biosphere has no time to adapt (some species will, contributing to further imbalance: for example, some parasites are infesting forests in North America, because of the lack of frigid winter weather; the forests then die, and burn).

What to do?

The case of Europe shows that there a price to be paid for expensive energy.

Europe was caught flat-footed: it decided to cut on its CO2 emissions, but that meant cut on cheap energy, thus on industry…

Proof? As the USA produced cheap energy from fracking, industry in heavy duty fields such as chemicals came back to the USA.

Cutting in European industry meant cutting on the economy, and thus on Europe’s place in the world… And thus in Europe’s influence in the fight against carbon burning.

However sustainable energy, at this point mostly solar and wind, are getting as cheap as fossil fuels.

Yet, they cannot replace fossil fuels completely, because they are intermittent, and we don’t have ways of storing massive energy, besides dams. Building dams and elevated lagoons everywhere is not realistic.

Fortunately, we have advanced nuclear energy. Or, rather, we could have it, had we tried to develop it.

Civil nuclear energy has never killed anyone in the USA, or France. (Even including the expensive Three Mile Island snafu.)

Fossil fuels kill at least seven million people a year, say the World Health Organization, which adds that the unfolding climate catastrophe kills already 500,000 people a year.

Denmark and Germany decided to use fossil fuels for base energy (and French and Swedish nuclear reactors; besides Norwegian dams). That’s the energy they need to produce when the winds die, and the sun cannot be seen.

This is not a correct decision: fossil fuel plants cost are of the same order as an Advanced Nuclear plant. That means that they cost billions of Euros. Once built, they, and the whole energy system they are part of, have to be used.

It is crucial to change the attitude relative to nuclear energy. It is changing.

In May 2011, the Swiss government decided to not build new nuclear reactors. The country’s five existing reactors would be allowed to continue operating, but would not be replaced at the end of their life span. The last would have been closed in 2034.

However, by 2014, the grotesque, and self-contradictory coal circus in Denmark and Germany came to the attention of the Swiss. In December 2014, the Swiss government announced that the lifespan of the nuclear plants would be extended indefinitely, with the same thorough controls every ten years, which presently exist.

Switzerland, once again, shows the way.

Let me hasten to add that the design of the Swiss reactors is nearly seventy years old. Although they probably can be operated safely (once taken into account quakes and terrorism), Advanced Nuclear reactors and Thorium plants ought to be developed. Those could be made safer than a wind turbine.

Uncertainties On Sea Level Rise Are Even Greater Than This 2012 Graph Shows.

Uncertainties On Sea Level Rise Are Even Greater Than This 2012 Graph Shows.

In any case, the worst case climate scenario is what ought to enter the political computation, because not only it cannot be excluded, but it seems all too likely. In that worst case scenario, the impact of the greenhouse gas crisis would not be far removed from that of a large comet.

We can avoid this because the three leading non-CO2 emitting technologies: Wind, Solar and Advanced Nuclear are all cost competitive with the cheapest fossil fuels.

Outlaw carbon burning: it is technically feasible, and it is a precaution we have to take.

Patrice Ayme’

Carbon Tax, Or Global Crash

June 22, 2014

GOLD MAN SPEAKS:

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

Earth Out Of Oxygen: GLOBAL HYPOXIA

May 30, 2014

Move over, “Global Warming” and “Climate Change”! You meek, obsolete euphemisms have been paid by your fossil fuel masters to occupy the front stage, in a masquerade of objectivity. These euphemisms pretend, in the very description they entail, that we are just going to change to a warmer state… No big deal then. Actually the real full consequences of the CO2 emission crisis, are much more catastrophic. We could run out of oxygen.

Indeed, let me introduce, instead of a “warm change”, the radical notion of GLOBAL HYPOXIA“. Yes, no less. That, running out of oxygen is the real ultimate danger in the enfolding man-made CO2 crisis.

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. With my approach 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 those who believe 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 sycophantic tyrants.

Oceans Warming Globally, But Acidity Concentrating Locally

Oceans Warming Globally, But Acidity Concentrating Locally

This is a (boosted) version of what the New York Times 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.

Thus the CO2 crisis is not just about Global Heating: It is also causing another crisis, a GLOBAL ACID environment too.

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

Now add to this that the forests will burn, and that the permafrost will met and oxidize… and so will many mineral in the ground exposed to higher temperatures. So the Green House Gases pollution is not just a question of changing climate, like one changes clothes. What we have now is a programmed destruction of the biosphere…. and even of the oxygen it breathes!

The fact the US Congress wants to prevent the Pentagon to be well armed for climate change (in particular having as much carbon free fuel as needed), 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

Notes:

Hypoxia Censored: The preceding comment I made of the Krugman editorial was censored by the New York Times, as all previous comments of mine alluding to running out of oxygen, Global Hypoxia, have also been. This shows the hypocrisy of the Times: it pretends to be worried about the climate, but it does not want its readership to be aware of the ultimate danger we are facing: not just sea level rise, and crocodiles in the Arctic, but a lowering of global oxygen levels. It’s simple, yet radical science.

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.

Antarctica’s Glaciers Disintegrating

May 14, 2014

Unstoppable Retreat Of Glacial Antarctica Officially Launched:

Two independent teams working differently arrived to similar conclusions about the main glaciers plunging in Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea next to the Pines Island Glacier (PIG) (see map below).

Modelling and radar data from Amundsen Sea suggest current melting will run away.

This has to be put in the context that, as far as official science was concerned, this was not supposed to happen. A completely independent agent such as yours truly predicted this many years ago, and incredibly much worse, because of a confluence of very precise reasons.

Don't Worry, Be Happy: Catastrophe Ineluctable, And Soon

Don’t Worry, Be Happy: Catastrophe Ineluctable, And Soon

Pine Island Glacier covers about 160,000 square kilometers, about two-thirds the area of Great Britain. Just one glacier.

Like the Thwaites, Smith, Haynes, Pope, Smith and Kohler Glaciers in this region – the PIG has been thinning and retreating rapidly. The Twaithes is much larger than PIG.

Joughin’s team found that Twaithes glacier’s grounding line — the border between sections of ice that float on the sea and sections that rest on the bedrock — currently sits about 600 meters below sea level (2,000 feet!). But 60 to 80 kilometers inland, the bedrock topography under the glacier drops to more than 1.2 kilometer below sea level!

When the grounding line reaches that inward-sloping basin, the glacier’s retreat will speed up dramatically, Joughin’s team calculates (I have explained the same phenomenon will happen in giant basins of East Antarctica in “Sun Cooling, Ice Melting“).

The reason for this is that two degree Celsius water is denser than colder water (!), and will slip below the ice. That will happen in a matter of centuries, the team suggested (to please the higher-ups).

The team has, of course, to suggest total melting would take centuries, otherwise it would irritate the powers that be, and, thus, the financing of the entire field.

These scientists have to earn a living, feed their families, bask in successful careers. They have comfortable houses, cars… They sell not just science, but hope. As the great mathematician Gregory Perelman, who solved the Soul, Thurston and Poincare’ conjectures, among other things, said, about American mathematics:

It’s possible to sell a theorem and it’s possible to buy it. Even if you don’t have anything to do with it.”

(Perelman was talking about a few dozen top mathematicians that I personally knew for years, before getting as disgusted by their dishonesty, not to say viciousness, as he later would be!)

If that intrusion of the lowest human traits happens in math, it’s worse in much more money oriented fields. Such as the confluence of the fossil fuel plutocracy and climate science (typical representative of fossil burn plutocracy: Vlad Putin.)

This buying and selling of theorems is exemplary of the problem of mixing power, politics and money, as is the case in the mightiest “private” or “public” universities in the USA (and wherever the American university system is imitated). I am NOT saying that the system these universities (Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, pseudo-public Berkeley, etc.) represent is to be condemned and eradicated like RasPutin, just that it needs to be taken for what it is: a plutophile system.

Plutophilia needs to be counterbalanced by the love of wisdom. (Thus a true public university system ought to be preserved.)

In the case of these glaciers, wisdom consists into realizing that considering that it will take centuries for these glaciers to melt, is wishful thinking. The evidence, both factual and theoretical, points the other way.

Grounding lines determined by radar from now defunct European satellites were found in some cases to retreat by more than one kilometer per year.

Radar data show that the Pine Island Glacier retreated by 31 kilometers between 1992 and 2011. It retreated fastest between 2005 and 2009.

Rignot’s team found no underlying ridge that could potentially slow the retreat, for any of the glaciers studied.“These systems, whether Greenland or Antarctica, are changing on faster timescales than we expected. We are kind of rediscovering that every day,” says Rignot.

Telling us that it will take at most centuries to melt those glaciers is exactly the sort of politeness that authorities and the plutocrats who have elected (“financed”) them would expect.

Actually Observing Glaciers Thinning

Actually Observing Glaciers Thinning

Yet, is that science? Indeed, how do they know it will take centuries? Well, they roll out “models” that are as good as what they put inside them, and no better. Let’s reason a bit.

Why will the glaciers melt ever faster? The glaciers will melt ever faster because their cold bellies rest on what would be the new ocean bottom after enough warm sea water has insinuated itself below.

The seas are warming up around Antarctica, because wind speeds have augmented, augmenting the up-welling, another of these run-about effects from global warming. Around Antarctica, surface waters are colder than those in the depths. Wind speed have augmented because of my (six year old) generalization of the Equipartition of Energy Theorem that rules the climate (and also all of thermodynamics!).

Such phenomena as the warming of the underbellies of ice sheets by sea water, tend to be exponential, not linear. And we have the proof: the Hudson Bay, now a sea, transformed itself from ice shield to ocean in a few decades. That, in turn, made the Mediterranean spill catastrophically into the fertile Black Sea area, flooding there around 100,000 square kilometers in no more than 30 years. (That gave the legend of Noah’s Ark.)

Notice that retreating over a continent at one kilometer per year (the speed of the Labrador-Quebec Laurentide ice sheet disintegration), is probably slower by orders of magnitudes to that a sub-oceanic margin. The “forcing” at the time was caused by more insolation, 8,200 years ago (from more sun in July-August then). Now, though, the situation is worse as the “forcing” is from a low lying blanket of man-made greenhouse gases (so, instead of warming equally the entire atmosphere, the greenhouse concentrates the warming at low altitudes, say below 8,000 meters; the stratosphere is actually cooling!).

It was already known, in 1990, that the disintegration of the gigantic Laurentide ice sheet centered around Hudson Bay took no more than 4 centuries. (That ice sheet used to be more than 3,000 meters thick, being the world’s largest, 20,000 years ago).

It boils down to this: is it wiser to risk underestimating the speed of melting of these glaciers, or is it wiser to risk overestimating said speed? Obviously, for those who are anxious to please their masters who feed them, it’s wiser to say there will be a problem, but only in a generation or two.

For those who don’t want to risk the biosphere we know, it’s much wiser to consider the worst possible case. Remember inertia: short of astronomical objects, the system with the most inertia is the biosphere itself. That’s a system that has been capable of maintaining the planet’s temperature within fifteen degrees (Celsius) of the present temperature for more than three billion years. It has enormous inertia. However, our stupid obstinacy to burn all the carbon we can find has definitively got that enormous system to start moving.

We imparted acceleration to the biosphere. We are pushing the biosphere around. And we know that the force we are applying is only augmenting. That means the acceleration, and even more the speed of the change, is going to get worse quick. That’s basic dynamics, first quarter of undergraduate physics.

Of course, neither the leaders of France, Great Britain, or the USA has taken such a course: they are basically ignoramuses at the helm (and Angela Merkel, who knows plenty of physics, made a risky bet she seems to be losing).

Clearly, we should instead apply the brakes to the maximum (instead of flooring the accelerator). What would be the price of this cautious? None, for common people: hard work to de-carbonize the world economy would require dozens of millions to be employed that way, in the West alone.

That, of course, is a scary thought for plutocrats, who much prefer us unemployed, impotent, and despondent.

Patrice Aymé

References:

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

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2009/05/31/sun-cooling-ice-melting/

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/ten-years-to-catastrophe/

Ten Years To Catastrophe

April 20, 2014

Abstract: The mathematics of “Climate Change” are much more problematic than the IPCC makes it sound. Weirdly, the IPCC ignores much of the greenhouse gases injected in the biosphere from human activity (!)… and the fact that, although the main trigger, atmospheric CO2 is not the main agent of climate change (or, more generally biosphere change; the correct concept).

Integrating all agents of change, direct or indirect gives ten years to catastrophe (the present essay buttresses technically the essay “Terminal Greenhouse Crisis“).

The logic may not be perfect logic to reach this conclusion. However it is perfect catastrophic logic. In catastrophic logic, it is considered that all that can go wrong, will go wrong (“Murphy’s Law”). Planes fly safely, thanks to paying great attention to catastrophic logic (that’s why aircraft disaster are so important). Losing the biosphere would be the greatest catastrophe imaginable, as we would lose spaceship Earth. So, if there is one case when catastrophic logic ought to be used, that’s it.

***

Here is the problem, and its name is IPCC (Does IPCC mean International Panel for Coal Catastrophe?):

Pluto & Coal Go Together Well

Pluto & Coal Go Together Well

The latest IPCC (Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change) report, seven years after the preceding one, observes that adaptation is an option only if efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions are “strengthened substantially”. Without mitigation, the impacts of climate change will be devastating.

The report, under the political pressure of business-as-usual, is exaggeratingly optimistic. This best-of-possible-worlds stance has a real impact.

Notice the coal production has been augmenting exponentially recently (and that the graph above projects optimistically that this will stop magically this year, 2014!).

The coal production is reaching new height, precisely because the assessment of the climate impact of the rise in Human generated Greenhouse Gases (HGG) is not viewed as alarming.

Under the public IPCC assessment, a devastating impact of HGG will take about 40 years. How did the IPCC get there? By making “reasonable”, “most probable” assumptions. That’s perfect for business-as-usual.

Business as usual is a funny matter: a jumbo jet recently disappeared (Malaysian Airlines 370). Yet, the jet had an internet antenna, and it would have cost only one dollar per hour to keep appraised of its position, using that antenna. For years, the technology has existed to know everything about jets in difficulty, in real time, but it has not been applied, because no law exists to enforce the application of said technology.

(When the AF 447 fell to the ocean, in 2009, the plane, realizing it was losing its mind, sent 14 technical messages in 4 minutes to Airbus in Toulouse, so, even if that jet had not been found, the rough reasons for the crash were known within hours; such a system could exist for all jets; the lessons of the AF 447 crash were applied worldwide, including how pilots ought to react to such loss of lift: the old doctrine was gravely erroneous!)

Jets crashing and planet crashing have much in common, as they represent the conjunction of multiple system failures.

So the IPCC operates on a 40 year time-frame for total catastrophe, while I claim that the time scale is only ten years. The IPCC got there by being optimistic. I got to only ten years by being pessimistic. I used what I call Catastrophic Calculus.

One could say that, by using Catastrophic Calculus, I am not “objective”. But Catastrophic Calculus is what has to be applied all over the cases where failure is not an option. The obvious example is train travel, car making, and especially, aircraft flying. (Strangely, Catastrophic Calculus has been ignored for some types of very dangerous civil nuclear technologies!)

The IPCC, EPA, etc, are certainly culprit of the sin of talking about “Carbon” meaning Carbon Dioxide, CO2, sometimes meaning only the “C” inside “CO2” . I even wonder if they don’t do it deliberately, to understate the problem.

Certainly 515 billion tons of “Carbon” in 2010 the IPCC sometimes talk about, is less frightening than the 3,016 billion tons of CO2 present in the atmosphere at that time.

This is doubly unfortunate. First, it underplays the problem psychologically. Second, there is another type of “carbon” in the air: soot. When the IPCC speaks of “Carbon”, they don’t measure all the carbon in the air, but just the carbon in the CO2 that is in the air!

This is of some importance: carbon under particulate form (soot) comes in with a minus sign for the greenhouse effect! The more soot, the less the greenhouse, because soot makes the atmosphere more opaque, and less light reaches the ground, where the greenhouse effect occurs. Thus, the more the pollution by soot, the less the surface warming.

By mentioning just one type of “carbon” in the air, the IPCC underplays the impact of the greenhouse, because, if one took out the soot and micro-particles, the greenhouse effect would augment… a lot. Now one will have to remove the soot: it causes cancer, and pulmonary problems, killing millions that way. Doing so will jump up the greenhouse.

And the fact remains that the “carbon” in the air in 2010 was much more than 515 billion tons.

Another, and graver problem, that the IPCC does not insist upon: half of the CO2 goes into the ocean. The acidity has augmented 30%.

Thus the real number for the injection of CO2 of human origin injected in the biosphere is above 6,000 billion tons of CO2. Moreover, that has to be scaled up further, from the other GHGs… Including water vapor. Water vapor, the most abundant greenhouse gas is also the most important in its contribution to the terrestrial greenhouse effect, despite having a short atmospheric lifetime (around 7 days). A 10% change in stratospheric water vapor changes the change of global surface temperature by around 30%. NASA says: “Water vapor is potent enough to double the climate warming caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Now atmospheric concentration of CO2 is augmenting at 1% per year. Integrating the CO2 going into the ocean: 2%. Doubling with water vapor: 4%. Add some methane from fracking and clathrate hydrates erupting, and you sure make 5%.

Doing all the math, and expecting all sorts of non linear effect kicking in, such as release of CO2 from melting permafrost, one gets a putative doubling of the catastrophe in ten years, rather than 40 year.

This is a very different picture from the simple doubling of the catastrophe from doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere in the next 40 years the IPCC apparently expects. The IPCC is in for a rude awakening. It’s eating coal, as we speak. It has turned, indeed, into the International Panel for Coal Catastrophe.

Patrice Aymé


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