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Climate Apocalypse 
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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
Please view Jonathan Trent's 12 minute video of his offshore membrane enclosure to grow algae. He explains recent progress in NASA's work in moving from laboratory to field trials in Santa Cruz and San Francisco Bay, using readily available sources of waste water and CO2.

The reason why algae is the only answer to the world energy and climate crisis is shown in the diagram below. Algae could produce 100 times the yield of oil per acre of soy, and nearly ten times the yield of the best current land based biofuel, palm oil. Algae produces orders of magnitude more oil than any other crop, does not compete with agriculture, and provides a ready abundant source of fuel, fertilizer and food.

Algae will put these first generation biofuels out of business, much as the petrol engine replaced the horse as a primary energy source. Grown at sea, algae requires no fossil fuel or land, but instead uses wave and tide and solar power to produce abundant renewable energy with potentially negative CO2 emissions.

Innovative technology and know can replicate at industrial scale the natural process that the earth used over tens of millions of years when it laid down the fossil petroleum from algae. We are now mining fossil algae like there is no tomorrow for our petrol tanks. Algae is the original source of the CO2 poison that we are now spewing into the atmosphere to kill our planet, and can also be the source of saving antibodies to reverse the threat of CO2, if we deploy it immediately on planetary scale.

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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:27 am, edited 2 times in total.



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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
From BAUT
Trakar wrote:
I fully concur with Hansen's concerns.

A recent paper sheds some light on the details of his concerns:

"Paleoclimate Implications for Human-Made Climate Change"
http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1105/1105.0968.pdf


Many thanks Trakar, this is an important paper. I have read it today and have the following comments.


Quote:
The rate of human made change of atmospheric CO2 amount is now much larger than slow geological changes. Humans now determine atmospheric composition, for better or worse, and they are likely to continue to do so, as long as the species survives.
• We have moved from the Holocene to the Anthropocene. Humans are not above nature or separate from it, but part of it. Global regulation of atmospheric composition is a key to global economic security and stability. We have no choice but to embark on massive geo-engineering, on the scale of the Manhattan and Apollo Projects, based on scientific assessment of methods that will be most environmentally and economically beneficial.
Quote:
The Cenozoic Era helps us determine the dangerous level of human-made climate Change
• Hansen studies the whole record since the dinosaurs, and finds that the climate is far more sensitive to small forcing than is generally understood. What we are doing now is extremely dangerous.
Quote:
Milankovitch (1941) suggested that these climate swings occur in association with periodic perturbations of Earth's orbit by other planets (Berger, 1978) that alter the geographical and seasonal distribution of insolation over Earth's surface. The varying orbital parameters are (1) tilt of Earth's spin axis relative to the orbital plane, (2) eccentricity of Earth's orbit, (3) day of year when Earth is closest to the sun, also describable as precession of the equinoxes (Berger, 1978).
• To clarify, point three is precession of the equinoxes combined with procession of the perihelion axis. This is why this cycle is about 21,600 years in the climate record whereas precession is a cycle close to 25,800 years.
Quote:
a target of 2°C for limiting human-made climate change is too high … paleoclimate data on climate change and climate sensitivity can be pushed further to yield an accurate evaluation of the dangerous level of global warming. Broad-based assessments, represented by a "burning embers" diagram in IPCC (2001, 2007), suggested that major problems begin with global warming of 2-3°C relative to global temperature in year 2000…. paleoclimate data imply that 2°C global warming would be a disaster scenario for much of humanity and many other species on the plane
• The geological record shows that when the world was 2°C warmer the sea was much higher. Accepting such a target as inevitable means we are storing up ‘tectonic’ pressure, with the current stability likely to have inertia, in view of the extreme rapidity of the change, but to risk shift to a new stability extremely suddenly, with collapse of Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets.
Quote:
We interpret the stability of Holocene sea level as a consequence of the fact that global temperature was just below the level required to initiate the "albedo flip" mechanism on the fringes of West Antarctica and on most of Greenland. An important implication of this interpretation is that the world today is on the verge of, or has already reached, a level of global warming for which the equilibrium surface air temperature response on the ice sheets will exceed global warming by much more than a factor of two.
• This shows the key importance of thresholds, and the immense risk that stepping across a threshold puts the planet into a completely different space. We have already reached a state where the equilibrium is across a threshold, but the move has not yet happened.
Quote:
today's climate models generally are less sensitive to forcings than the real world (Valdes, 2011), suggesting that models do not capture well some amplifying climate feedbacks and thus making empirical assessment via Earth's history of paramount importance.
• Prediction needs to be based much more systematically on comparison to what actually happened in the past. Getting all the factors into computer climate models is immensely complex. I thought some models were more sensitive to forcing than the real world, so it is interesting that Hansen says this is not the case.
Quote:
Sea level rise, despite its potential importance, is one of the least well understood impacts of human-made climate change. The difficulty stems from the fact that ice sheet disintegration is a complex non-linear phenomenon that is inherently difficult to simulate, as well as from the absence of a good paleoclimate analogue for the rapidly increasing human-made climate forcing.
• This non-linearity makes climate change as hard to predict as the timing of earthquakes. However, like plate tectonics, we know that eventually something has to give when massive forces are in slow collision. The exact timing is uncertain, but the eventual occurrence is certain.
Quote:
equilibrium (eventual) sea level change in response to global temperature change is about 20 meters for each degree Celsius global warming … eventual sea level rise of several tens of meters must be anticipated in response to the global warming of several degrees Celsius that is expected under business-as-usual (BAU) climate scenarios
• This is an amazing claim. It means we are storing up big storms for our grandchildren. It shows the expected rise of four degrees this century is not just the difference between tropical and temperate climate, but more akin to the difference between normal body temperature and a raging fever.
Quote:
the fundamental issue is linearity versus non-linearity. Hansen (2005, 2007) argues that amplifying feedbacks make ice sheet disintegration necessarily highly non-linear, and that IPCC's BAU forcing is so huge that it is difficult to see how ice shelves would survive. As warming increases, the number of ice streams contributing to mass loss will increase, contributing to a nonlinear response that should be approximated better by an exponential than by a linear fit. Hansen (2007) suggested that a 10-year doubling time was plausible, and pointed out that such a doubling time, from a 1 mm per year ice sheet contribution to sea level in the decade 2005-2015, would lead to a cumulative 5 m sea level rise by 2095.
• Yet even the linear data of global warming is alarming. It makes sense that the extreme speed of change in geological terms will produce big lags in climate response, and that when the lags hit they will do so with immense force.

Quote:
Pfeffer at al. (2008) … for Greenland …assume that ice streams this century will disgorge ice no faster than the fastest rate observed in recent decades. That assumption is dubious, given the huge climate change that will occur under BAU scenarios, which have a positive (warming) climate forcing that is increasing at a rate dwarfing any known natural forcing. BAU scenarios lead to CO2 levels higher than any since 32 My ago, when Antarctica glaciated. By mid-century most of Greenland would be experiencing summer melting … The main flaw with the kinematic constraint concept is the geology of Antarctica, where large portions of the ice sheet are buttressed by ice shelves that are unlikely to survive BAU climate scenarios. West Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier (PIG) illustrates nonlinear processes already coming into play … there is sufficient readily available ice to cause multi-meter sea level rise this century, if dynamic discharge of ice increases exponentially. Thus current observations of ice sheet mass loss are of special interest … data records suggest that the rate of mass loss is increasing, indeed nearly doubling over the period of record, but the record is too short to provide a meaningful evaluation of a doubling time
• Again, modelling of non-linear processes is essential, while recognising the chaotic trigger factors sit within a larger framework that is definitely linear. CO2 levels higher than an ice-free world will eventually cause an ice-free world.
Quote:
Earth in the warmest interglacial periods of the past million years was less than 1°C warmer than in the Holocene. Polar warmth in those interglacials and in the Pliocene does not imply that a substantial cushion remains between today's climate and dangerous warming, but rather that Earth is poised to experience strong amplifying polar feedbacks in response to moderate additional global warming.
• This analysis of amplifying feedbacks and the lack of cushion shows the extreme sensitivity of global climate to relatively small forcing factors, like billions of tons of CO2
Quote:
burning all or most fossil fuels guarantees tens of meters of sea level rise, as we have shown that the eventual sea level response is about 20 meters of sea level for each degree Celsius of global warming. We suggest that ice sheet disintegration will be a nonlinear process, spurred by an increasing forcing and by amplifying feedbacks which is better characterized by a doubling time for the rate of mass disintegration, rather than a linear rate of mass change. If the doubling time is as short as a decade, multi-meter sea level rise could occur this century. Observations of mass loss from Greenland and Antarctica are too brief for significant conclusions, but they are not inconsistent with a doubling time of a decade or less. The picture will become clearer as the measurement record lengthens
• Illustrates the previous point, adding emphasis on the need to shift to a non fossil fuel economy. My opinion is that large scale ocean based algae biofuel and food production is the best rapid option to regulate the global climate through geoengineering in a way that will provide a feasible transition path by retaining the use of liquid fuel.
Quote:
High latitude cooling and low latitude warming would drive more powerful mid-latitude cyclonic storms, including more frequent cases of hurricane force winds. Such storms, in combination with rising sea level, would be disastrous for many of the world's great cities and they would be devastating for the world's economic well-being and cultural heritage.
• Sudden tipping of ice sheets into the ocean could cool the poles while the equator heats up, generating massive imbalances.
Quote:
a target of 2°C is not safe or appropriate. Global warming of 2°C would make Earth much warmer than in the Eemian, when sea level was 4-6 meters higher than today. Indeed, with global warming of 2°C Earth would be headed back toward Pliocene-like conditions. Conceivably a 2°C target is based partly on a perception of what is politically realistic, rather than a statement of pure science. In any event, our science analysis suggests that such a target is not only unwise, but likely a disaster scenario.
• This illustrates the need to look at what fixtheclimate.org has said about the failure of the ‘emission reduction’ model through market signals to be a sufficient measure to address the climate crisis. We rather urgently need to geoengineer as the prime security issue for our planet. The ‘realism’ is based on existing technology, when it is very likely that large resources thrown at the problem can produce new technology fast.
Quote:
atmospheric CO2 should be rolled back from its present ~390 ppm at least to the level of approximately 350 ppm. With other climate forcings held fixed, CO2 at 350 ppm would restore the planet's energy balance and keep human-made global warming less than 1°C,
• And that needs new technology. My estimate is that algae farms on 0.1% of the world ocean could do it.


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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
Quote:
The rate of human made change of atmospheric CO2 amount is now much larger than slow geological changes. Humans now determine atmospheric composition, for better or worse, and they are likely to continue to do so, as long as the species survives.


Again, such over-reaching statements only give climate skeptics ammunition. Nothing is ever as simple as we try to make it out to be.
The IPCC climate models aren't even close to being accurate. I think the idea that we will ever be able to accurately model global climate is far from a given.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 43800.html


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Sun Sep 18, 2011 12:01 pm
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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
geo wrote:
Quote:
The rate of human made change of atmospheric CO2 amount is now much larger than slow geological changes. Humans now determine atmospheric composition, for better or worse, and they are likely to continue to do so, as long as the species survives.


Again, such over-reaching statements only give climate skeptics ammunition. Nothing is ever as simple as we try to make it out to be.
The IPCC climate models aren't even close to being accurate. I think the idea that we will ever be able to accurately model global climate is far from a given.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 43800.html


There is no over-reach in Hansen's statements here. They are clear and defensible statements of scientific fact.

We are changing the CO2 level much faster than any geological event ever did. Before industrialisation, CO2 level changed at clearly measurable and very slow rate. Since industrialisation CO2 level has rapidly and steadily increased. The rate of increase is itself increasing as poor countries industrialise. It is caused by human activity.

You obviously have not read Hansen's paper if you accuse him of over-simplifying. Indeed, just in the part I quote, he emphasises that available datasets are too short to predict timing for sea level rise.

However, as I point out, simple modeling is clear. It is a bit like a tectonic fault line - you know eventually there will be an earthquake because you can measure the rate of movement of the plates, and the only thing that can resolve the tension at the joining point is an earthquake, so it will happen. This is a model. Similarly, over earth history there is a correlation between CO2 level and sea level. A sudden rise in CO2 creates a disequilibrium, which will eventually be resolved, we just don't know how long it will take.

I read your WSJ link. It is a clever piece of oil industry propaganda, very similar in method to the creationists who cite differences between Gould and Dawkins to cast doubt on evolution.


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Sun Sep 18, 2011 4:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
Robert Tulip wrote:
geo wrote:
Quote:
The rate of human made change of atmospheric CO2 amount is now much larger than slow geological changes. Humans now determine atmospheric composition, for better or worse, and they are likely to continue to do so, as long as the species survives.


Again, such over-reaching statements only give climate skeptics ammunition. Nothing is ever as simple as we try to make it out to be.
The IPCC climate models aren't even close to being accurate. I think the idea that we will ever be able to accurately model global climate is far from a given.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 43800.html


There is no over-reach in Hansen's statements here. They are clear and defensible statements of scientific fact.

We are changing the CO2 level much faster than any geological event ever did. Before industrialisation, CO2 level changed at clearly measurable and very slow rate. Since industrialisation CO2 level has rapidly and steadily increased. The rate of increase is itself increasing as poor countries industrialise. It is caused by human activity.

You obviously have not read Hansen's paper if you accuse him of over-simplifying. Indeed, just in the part I quote, he emphasises that available datasets are too short to predict timing for sea level rise.

However, as I point out, simple modeling is clear. It is a bit like a tectonic fault line - you know eventually there will be an earthquake because you can measure the rate of movement of the plates, and the only thing that can resolve the tension at the joining point is an earthquake, so it will happen. This is a model. Similarly, over earth history there is a correlation between CO2 level and sea level. A sudden rise in CO2 creates a disequilibrium, which will eventually be resolved, we just don't know how long it will take.

I read your WSJ link. It is a clever piece of oil industry propaganda, very similar in method to the creationists who cite differences between Gould and Dawkins to cast doubt on evolution.


I agree we are changing the C02 levels to an unprecedented degree. The problem is we don't what that really means. Historically, C02 levels lag behind rises in temperature which means that the onset of warming trends are not entirely due to C02 levels. Other factors clearly affect climate, but we are predominantly concerned only with C02 levels and we don't know how significant C02 is in the grand scheme of things.

The WSJ is one of the most unbiased newspapers out there in my opinion. I thought it was a fair piece. Far from casting doubts on the issue of global warming, the new findings related to cosmic rays add a new piece to the puzzle.


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Last edited by geo on Sun Sep 18, 2011 5:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
The rhetoric in the WSJ journal was definitely loaded with bias. Some of the prose and choice of wording was of a skeptic. Whether to appeal to a skeptic reader base, or because the author is a skeptic, I'm not sure.


That point of largest impact that Robert makes is that the difficulty in producing an accurate model does not mean we can't make predictions with the information we have. If the trend is going in a certain direction rather than fluctuating around a baseline, something will give. Something will be unbalanced. I sense we're sitting in a period of calm, and the change has occurred so fast that the reaction will be like a sonic boom, hitting all at once. Many coastal inhabitants will be eaten by sharks.

If we've vastly overestimated the impact of CO2 on climate, we could just as easily have overlooked other effects of high CO2 levels(rampaging carnivorous plants). The bottom line is, drastic change in any direction is away from the point of equilibrium we've been at for a few millennia, and nature tends to be a bitch about self-correcting.


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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
I guess the WSJ's level of bias depends on where you're coming from. I have no doubt that I'm a bit off center on this topic, but I can tell you that I have looked at global warming many times and it's never very clear where things really stand precisely because it's such a highly politicized issue. Al Gore brought global warming to the forefront, but he's merely a layperson talking about a very complex scientific problem. Perhaps he's not the best publicist for such an important debate. Real scientific knowledge comes in fits and starts through exploration and discovery. There are many reasonable questions as to the extent of warming and how large a role C02 emissions play and especially what kind of political response can be made. This article points to yet another possible contingency in global warming, proving that despite all demagoguery, real science is actually taking place. Global warming is an emotionally charged issue which has folks taking sides with minimal comprehension of the facts and in that respect this issue quickly becomes as polarized as any other political issue. It amounts to people taking sides and drawing battle lines without really knowing what they're arguing about.


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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
geo wrote:
I guess the WSJ's level of bias depends on where you're coming from.
Geo, lets analyze the bias.
"The Other Climate Theory"
This title insinuates that mainstream climate theory ignores information about changing solar energy levels. False.

"Al Gore won't hear it, but heavenly bodies might be driving long-term weather trends."
Subtitle - yes, it is well known that cosmic factors of earth's orbit and changing solar radiation are long term drivers of climate change. But the fact is these long-term trends are utterly swamped by the current very short term trend of CO2 emissions. And the dig at Gore as closed-minded is just playing to the tea party.

"The theory has now moved from the corners of climate skepticism to the center of the physical-science universe: the European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN."

Scientific analysis of solar radiation is entirely mainstream. Equating this theory with "climate skepticism" is a lie by the WSJ, dignifying propaganda with the aim of confusing the public by putting it on a level with real science, so their advertisers can make short term profit, and so they can imply that CERN supports climate denial.

"Mr. Kirkby's CERN experiment was finally approved in 2006 and has been under way since 2009. So far, it has not proved Mr. Svensmark wrong. "The result simply leaves open the possibility that cosmic rays could influence the climate," stresses Mr. Kirkby, quick to tamp down any interpretation that would make for a good headline."

But that didn't stop the WSJ from using it to hype climate skepticism.

"both Mr. Kirkby and Mr. Svensmark hold that human activity is contributing to climate change"

So typical - a disclaimer buried deep in the story that gives WSJ an excuse to say their inflammatory headline is not unbalanced.

"findings don't herald the end of a debate, but the resumption of one. That is, if the politicians purporting to legislate based on science will allow it."

This method of sowing doubt by systematic censorship of real science and pumping of misleading rubbish is as evil as holocaust denial, given that climate denial could kill more people than the holocaust. Earlier in this thread, I posted a chart that shows greenhouse gasses are more than ten times the contribution of solar forcing to global warming. So for WSJ to hype a tiny stable factor, giving the impression it ranks against the real short term crisis of rapidly increasing emissions, is utterly unethical and corrupt. They are bribed by the energy sector, along with many American politicians.

If you are interested in the facts about this debate it is easy to google rebuttals of this WSJ rubbish:
http://mediamatters.org/research/201108310023

Quote:
I have no doubt that I'm a bit off center on this topic, but I can tell you that I have looked at global warming many times and it's never very clear where things really stand precisely because it's such a highly politicized issue. Al Gore brought global warming to the forefront, but he's merely a layperson talking about a very complex scientific problem. Perhaps he's not the best publicist for such an important debate. Real scientific knowledge comes in fits and starts through exploration and discovery. There are many reasonable questions as to the extent of warming and how large a role C02 emissions play and especially what kind of political response can be made. This article points to yet another possible contingency in global warming, proving that despite all demagoguery, real science is actually taking place. Global warming is an emotionally charged issue which has folks taking sides with minimal comprehension of the facts and in that respect this issue quickly becomes as polarized as any other political issue. It amounts to people taking sides and drawing battle lines without really knowing what they're arguing about.
Look Geo, if you are interested in "comprehension of the facts", how about reading Hansen's article that I linked yesterday? He is not a demagogue or a politician, he is a scientist who is deeply worried for the future of life on earth. Apparently unlike the WSJ.


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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
Quote:
I guess the WSJ's level of bias depends on where you're coming from.


This is quite true, subjectively. I think when the amount of bias in an article is nearly the same as our own, it appears to be "baseline". How else could intelligent men be afflicted by bias?

If we each read an article that was perfectly bias-neutral(an ideal), how would we judge it if we were each slightly biased away from the ideal? Would the neutral article appear biased to us, even though it isn't? Relativity, applied to our biases.

I think the answer is yes, but also no. If we're running on cognitive autopilot, it may be the case. If bias in an article matches our own, it may be so easy to digest that we swallow it up without a hiccup. But if we apply some critical thinking and introspection, we may be able to better see the truth of the matter.


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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
I still maintain the WSJ is an excellent newspaper, better than most other newspapers I can think of. (USA Today and Christian Science Monitor are pretty good as well.) The Op-Ed I posted is, in fact, an opinion piece. I guess I'm willing to give it some leeway in terms of its slant, especially the dig on Al Gore who has for whatever reason become the poster boy for global warming. But there's a big difference between news and opinion and in hindsight, I shouldn't have posted the piece and then try to defend it as a fair article. Mea culpa.

From my perspective there's so much misinformation and hysteria related to global warming that it's very difficult to see what's really going on. As a result, I'm fairly reserved (emotionally) about the issue. As I've said before, I frankly don't know why folks are so focused on global warming which is only a symptom of a much larger problem. Even if we could "engineer" the climate or somehow reduce our carbon footprint overnight (which is what we need to do, right?), there's no telling what other problems the world faces with its 7 billion (and still growing) human population.

I'm still reading through Hansen's article. Much of it is beyond my level of understanding, but he's basically making projections based on climate models and theory. I'm very skeptical that something as complex and dynamic as the global environment can be modeled in any meaningful way. It all looks good on paper, but can we actually predict future climate changes based on such models?

Paleoclimate analysis seems a rather ambitious goal when you consider that it's data points are spread apart by over a thousand years. Hansen calculates 100-year data signals which are essentially extrapolated from the larger data points. This doesn't seem much different than population projections based on current fertility rates. Hansen is basically guessing what might happen, but he's projecting well beyond his own evidence.

Over the past 100 years or so the Earth has warmed anywhere from .74°C +/- .16°C so there isn't even enough data to give us an accurate number for this century. Can we really expect to derive meaningful prognostications and set climate policies according to current climate models which cannot possibly take all factors into consideration?

So anyway, we've all heard the arguments. Whether we buy them or not, what's going to stop people from the massive fossil-fuel-bender we've been on for the past 80 years or so? What exactly is being proposed?


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Last edited by geo on Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
Anyway, here's another end of the world narrative which seems every bit as meaningful as the one being put forth by Hansen and co.

Somewhere at a place where the prairie and the Maka Sicha, the Badlands, meet, there is a hidden cave. Not for a long, long time has anyone been able to find it. Even now, with so many highways, cars and tourists, no one has discovered this cave. In it lives a woman so old that her face looks like a shriveled-up walnut. She is dressed in rawhide, the way people used to before the white man came. She has been sitting there for a thousand years or more, working on a blanket strip for her buffalo robe.

She is making the strip out of dyed porcupine quills, the way ancestors did before the white traders brought glass beads to this turtle continent. Resting beside her, licking his paws, watching her all the time is Shunka Sapa, a huge black dog. His eyes never wander from the old woman, whose teeth are worn flat, worn down to little stumps, she has used them to flatten so many porcupine quills.

A few steps from where the old woman sits working on her blanket strip, a huge fire is kept going. She lit this fire a thousand or more years ago and has kept it alive ever since. Over the fire hangs a big earthen pot, the kind some Indian peoples used to make before the white man came with his kettles of iron. Inside the pot, wojapi is boiling and bubbling. Wojapi is berry soup, good and sweet and red. That soup has been boiling in the pot for a long time, ever since the fire was lit.

Every now and then the old woman gets up to stir the wojapi in the huge earthen pot. She is so old and feeble that it takes a while to get up and hobble over to the fire. The moment her back is turned, Shunka Sapa, the huge black dog starts pulling the porcupine quills out of her blanket strip. This way she never makes any progress, and her quillwork remains forever unfinished.

The Sioux people used to say that if the old woman ever finishes her blanket strip, then at the very moment that she threads the last porcupine quill to complete the design, the world will come to an end.

http://www.aaanativearts.com/article939.html


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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
Interbane wrote:
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I guess the WSJ's level of bias depends on where you're coming from.


This is quite true, subjectively. I think when the amount of bias in an article is nearly the same as our own, it appears to be "baseline". How else could intelligent men be afflicted by bias?

If we each read an article that was perfectly bias-neutral(an ideal), how would we judge it if we were each slightly biased away from the ideal? Would the neutral article appear biased to us, even though it isn't? Relativity, applied to our biases.

I think the answer is yes, but also no. If we're running on cognitive autopilot, it may be the case. If bias in an article matches our own, it may be so easy to digest that we swallow it up without a hiccup. But if we apply some critical thinking and introspection, we may be able to better see the truth of the matter.


At the end of the day it is only possible to judge bias with hindsight. Then we can see who had insight into what was really happening and who did not. For example, if we found a newspaper article from August 1939 citing the Germany-Russia pact as evidence that war was unlikely, we would assess its author as lacking insight. If the article condemned Churchill for his opposition to Hitler we would see it as very biased. But who knows? Perhaps in the fevered atmosphere of the day it could have passed as legitimate commentary.

The situation now is that the human race has declared war on our planet, and there can be only one winner of this conflict, Gaia. Those who cling to a religious attitude that sees humanity as separate from and above nature are ethically culpable for failing to see how humanity has to adapt and evolve to survive and prosper. The harder people fight against nature, the bigger the eventual natural reaction against humanity will be. By creating a fool's paradise using fossil fuels we are setting ourselves up for the material basis of civilization to be destroyed.

Despite all that I am an optimist. I believe that paradigm shift is possible. But I find it very strange that there is such paralysis regarding practical measures to adapt. This is actually why I am so interested in religion, because I don't accept that the modern myth of secular progress will be our salvation. Innovation has to build on heritage, and part of the problem with the polarization of climate politics into rival camps based on reason and faith is that the 'rational' side does not comprehend how faith is the wellspring of human incentive. The lack of respect shown by scientists towards faith leads people of faith to lack respect for science, and then you have big cultural groups who regard each other as evil and they become incapable of dialogue.


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Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:48 pm
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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
geo wrote:
I still maintain the WSJ is an excellent newspaper, better than most other newspapers I can think of. (USA Today and Christian Science Monitor are pretty good as well.) The Op-Ed I posted is, in fact, an opinion piece.
The fact the Wall Street Journal would publish this puff piece whose dog whistle subtext is 'don't worry about the climate' illustrates how the parameters of public debate are very different from the parameters of scientific debate. Hansen is leading the scientific debate, but is on the fringe of the public debate.
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I guess I'm willing to give it some leeway in terms of its slant, especially the dig on Al Gore who has for whatever reason become the poster boy for global warming. But there's a big difference between news and opinion and in hindsight, I shouldn't have posted the piece and then try to defend it as a fair article. Mea culpa.
I see Gore's role as somewhat unhelpful, because his prominence gives the impression that only the Democrats can solve global warming, using old Democrat devices like a new New Deal. I suppose it was Democrats who were responsible for the Manhattan Project and the Apollo Project, and it is something on that scale that will be needed to achieve climate security. I would prefer to hope that Republicans can be converted to understand the climate threat, as something that can be addressed through private enterprise, instead of them just being demonized as the enemies of the planet.
Quote:

From my perspective there's so much misinformation and hysteria related to global warming that it's very difficult to see what's really going on. As a result, I'm fairly reserved (emotionally) about the issue. As I've said before, I frankly don't know why folks are so focused on global warming which is only a symptom of a much larger problem. Even if we could "engineer" the climate or somehow reduce our carbon footprint overnight (which is what we need to do, right?), there's no telling what other problems the world faces with its 7 billion (and still growing) human population.
The bottom line is that superstition is obsolete when it comes to addressing practical global problems. Policy has to be based on evidence. Global warming is like the canary in the coalmine, illustrating how delusory belief has harmful consequences. But working out what is delusion and what is rational is complex. Religion can be a force for peace and stability, so we are not going to achieve global peace and stability by any agenda for secularity alone.
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I'm still reading through Hansen's article. Much of it is beyond my level of understanding, but he's basically making projections based on climate models and theory. I'm very skeptical that something as complex and dynamic as the global environment can be modeled in any meaningful way. It all looks good on paper, but can we actually predict future climate changes based on such models?
To model global climate, we have to select a defining indicator. The wikipedia article on global warming includes this chart of global temperature for the last century. It shows the rate of temperature increase since 1980 is significantly faster than the rate before 1980. The article goes on to explain the relation between CO2 and temperature. Because our emission rate is accelerating, the projection is that global temperature will rise by more than four degrees centigrade this century. As I noted earlier, this is not just the difference between tropical and temperate, but between healthy life and a raging fever.
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Quote:
Paleoclimate analysis seems a rather ambitious goal when you consider that it's data points are spread apart by over a thousand years. Hansen calculates 100-year data signals which are essentially extrapolated from the larger data points. This doesn't seem much different than population projections based on current fertility rates. Hansen is basically guessing what might happen, but he's projecting well beyond his own evidence.
I read Hansen as being far more cautious. He points out that equilibrium sea level at the temperatures we are creating is far higher than today, but the transition path to a new equilibrium is as impossible to predict as the timing of an earthquake. So it is a bit like if you dropped a piece of plutonium into a swamp to model a sudden change to an ecosystem. Immediately it might make no difference, but science could model how the new radioactive equilibrium for the swamp would eventually appear.
Quote:
Over the past 100 years or so the Earth has warmed anywhere from .74°C +/- .16°C so there isn't even enough data to give us an accurate number for this century. Can we really expect to derive meaningful prognostications and set climate policies according to current climate models which cannot possibly take all factors into consideration?
If you consider those error bars against the chart above, you can see the inaccuracy is within a framework of accelerating global temperature increase.
Quote:
So anyway, we've all heard the arguments. Whether we buy them or not, what's going to stop people from the massive fossil-fuel-bender we've been on for the past 80 years or so? What exactly is being proposed?

My personal view remains that large scale ocean based algae biofuel is the key to climate stability, by presenting a path forward that is compatible with ongoing economic growth. I find it very surprising that there is so little public discussion of workable responses.

It is not clear that "a post carbon-fuel economy" is needed. If we find methods to remove more carbon from the air than we put it, carbon can remain an important fuel. The broad point is the role of new technology, and how to catalyse geoengineering. Relying on tax measures would be like the USA having said in World War Two that market instruments such as trade sanctions would be enough to defeat Germany and Japan. In fact, such sanctions, like carbon taxes, are like a flea on an elephant, entirely insufficient to cause any change in direction. What is needed is visionary public investment on large scale.

http://fixtheclimate.com/ lists fifteen responses, in priority order. Climate engineering and new technology are at the top of the list, while cutting emissions is at the bottom.


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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
Here is my latest summary of my proposal to prevent a climate apocalypse, from a comment I sent to a geoengineering group. Still no interest from anyone...

Algae for Geoengineering
This post explains my ideas on large scale ocean based algae production as a possible technological breakthrough to implement geoengineering. I am an amateur researcher, so I accept there may be flaws in my ideas. However, they have not been field or lab tested, so the research is needed before these proposals can be assessed.

My work as an international development professional with the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) has exposed me a range of sectors – climate, infrastructure, food, energy, fisheries, private sector development, banking and mining - that suggests to me that a multidisciplinary innovative proposal is needed for real progress to address climate change. I would welcome advice on the feasibility of this proposal and potential strategies for research and pilot testing. These ideas are in the public domain, and while I explored patenting, I did not proceed. My main interest is to contribute to real response to global problems.

My proposal is to grow algae in large floating ponds, initially in shallow warm sheltered seas, with buoyancy, stability, transport and pumping provided by plastic bags of fresh water. Relative density of fresh and salt water means 1/40th of a fresh water bag will float above the ocean surface. Using energy from sun, wave, wind, tide and current, such fresh water bags can pump nutrient-rich water across a shallow sheet of plastic to optimise algae growth. This idea builds on NASA’s work on Offshore Membrane Enclosures to Grow Algae (OMEGA) and Mr Terry Spragg’s waterbag invention. It mimics both the original natural process of petroleum deposition and the upwelling of deep water for algae production.

My related inventions include use of wave energy to sink bags of algated water deep in the ocean in order to use pressure to dewater it and separate oil, use of wave pumping to aerate the system and enable rapid temporary sinking in event of storm, use of water bags as tidal pumps for both nutrient-rich deep water and CO2 inputs, and use of waterbags to support ocean structures and to transport water and other commodities.

Geoengineering is advanced as a solution to global warming, using solar radiation management and carbon dioxide removal. Main constraints are cost, acceptability and effectiveness. This proposal addresses these geoengineering constraints as follows:

Cost: the aim is to use algae to produce biofuel, and other commercial commodities such as food, fertilizer and fabric. Aiming for profitable commercial operation is essential for rapid scalability. Aiming for use of 100% renewable energy sources based on low capital expenditure and operating expenditure methods is a key to profitability. Using produced algae for fabric to build the ponds and bags can provide a potential cheap and sustainable material that will also provide short term sequestration. Species selection can enable highly productive algae growth, orders of magnitude above other plants.

Acceptability: The primary aim is ecological sustainability. This method has potential to rapidly remove CO2 from the air on large scale, mitigating likelihood of a climate crisis. It is also designed to reduce ocean acidity and temperature, so could be located in strategic places of high risk such as coral reefs and the Arctic to help insure against these risks. As well, co-location with CO2 emitters (eg Gorgon Gas on Australia North West Shelf) presents a commercial sequestration and commodity production method with potential for investment by extractive industry firms. My very rough calculation is that placement of algae ponds on about 0.1% of the global ocean would be enough to balance all human CO2 emissions. The scale of the world ocean (71% of planet surface) means that initial acceptable test locations should be readily available. As such, it presents a pragmatic method to enable continuation of the fossil fuel economy alongside growth of a new replacement system.

Effectiveness: This method combines the goals of solar radiation management and carbon dioxide removal to produce profitable products and mitigate and adapt to climate change and resource constraints. Ponds on the ocean surface aim to transform as much as possible incoming solar heat into algae, significantly cooling the local ocean and providing a transportable concentrated energy source. Combination with other CO2 removal technologies can enable a local use of the captured CO2 to produce commercial products from algae. Coastal coal fired power plants are a potential major CO2 source. It may be possible to use produced algae as a fuel source for electricity plants.

My documents are at http://rtulip.net/ocean_based_algae_...isional_patent

I encourage readers to look at the linked documents at this site. I am sure you will see some ideas that you will regard as impractical, but I urge you to set aside any ‘blue sky’ material and focus on whether there is anything with practical potential. To date, none of these ideas have been prototyped or lab tested. I would welcome interest in taking this forward.

Sincerely

Robert Tulip


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Post Re: Climate Apocalypse
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Game Over for the Climate
By JAMES HANSEN
Published: May 9, 2012
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/10/opini ... imate.html

GLOBAL warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves “regardless of what we do.” If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.

Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.

That is the long-term outlook. But near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.

If this sounds apocalyptic, it is. This is why we need to reduce emissions dramatically. President Obama has the power not only to deny tar sands oil additional access to Gulf Coast refining, which Canada desires in part for export markets, but also to encourage economic incentives to leave tar sands and other dirty fuels in the ground.

The global warming signal is now louder than the noise of random weather, as I predicted would happen by now in the journal Science in 1981. Extremely hot summers have increased noticeably. We can say with high confidence that the recent heat waves in Texas and Russia, and the one in Europe in 2003, which killed tens of thousands, were not natural events — they were caused by human-induced climate change.

We have known since the 1800s that carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere. The right amount keeps the climate conducive to human life. But add too much, as we are doing now, and temperatures will inevitably rise too high. This is not the result of natural variability, as some argue. The earth is currently in the part of its long-term orbit cycle where temperatures would normally be cooling. But they are rising — and it’s because we are forcing them higher with fossil fuel emissions.

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from 280 parts per million to 393 p.p.m. over the last 150 years. The tar sands contain enough carbon — 240 gigatons — to add 120 p.p.m. Tar shale, a close cousin of tar sands found mainly in the United States, contains at least an additional 300 gigatons of carbon. If we turn to these dirtiest of fuels, instead of finding ways to phase out our addiction to fossil fuels, there is no hope of keeping carbon concentrations below 500 p.p.m. — a level that would, as earth’s history shows, leave our children a climate system that is out of their control.

We need to start reducing emissions significantly, not create new ways to increase them. We should impose a gradually rising carbon fee, collected from fossil fuel companies, then distribute 100 percent of the collections to all Americans on a per-capita basis every month. The government would not get a penny. This market-based approach would stimulate innovation, jobs and economic growth, avoid enlarging government or having it pick winners or losers. Most Americans, except the heaviest energy users, would get more back than they paid in increased prices. Not only that, the reduction in oil use resulting from the carbon price would be nearly six times as great as the oil supply from the proposed pipeline from Canada, rendering the pipeline superfluous, according to economic models driven by a slowly rising carbon price.

But instead of placing a rising fee on carbon emissions to make fossil fuels pay their true costs, leveling the energy playing field, the world’s governments are forcing the public to subsidize fossil fuels with hundreds of billions of dollars per year. This encourages a frantic stampede to extract every fossil fuel through mountaintop removal, longwall mining, hydraulic fracturing, tar sands and tar shale extraction, and deep ocean and Arctic drilling.

President Obama speaks of a “planet in peril,” but he does not provide the leadership needed to change the world’s course. Our leaders must speak candidly to the public — which yearns for open, honest discussion — explaining that our continued technological leadership and economic well-being demand a reasoned change of our energy course. History has shown that the American public can rise to the challenge, but leadership is essential.

The science of the situation is clear — it’s time for the politics to follow. This is a plan that can unify conservatives and liberals, environmentalists and business. Every major national science academy in the world has reported that global warming is real, caused mostly by humans, and requires urgent action. The cost of acting goes far higher the longer we wait — we can’t wait any longer to avoid the worst and be judged immoral by coming generations.

James Hansen directs the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and is the author of “Storms of My Grandchildren.”


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