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Earth +6C fatal?


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#1 MrEnvironment

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 11:14 AM

Hello

Has anyone seen that episode of Nat.Geographic called 'Earth +6C could mean the end of the world' (don't remember the specific title)?

I am concerned about the earth's future.
Would one agree that people need to stop mass consuming electricity like they do (e.g.: one (if not several!) hdtv, dvd blu ray, stereo hi-fi on standby = 109 W))?
Thanks to technology dependent people nowadays, the earth is getting rapidly filled with CO2.
Every single appliance (iPod, iWhatever, iPhone, iPad, laptop, PC, hdtv, etc.) and cars, power plants, (heavily) release CO2 on a daily basis.

I've heard someone mention 'CO2 eating bacterias'. What can be said about that subject, concerning the safety of the earth?
Is the earth coming to its end soon (mass dry-outs, important cities and landmarks flooded, part of the Amazone drying up, billions of lives lost, etc.) or am I misinformed/unupdated?

I would like to see some opinions.

Thank you.

p.s.: here is a reference: http://www.timesonli...icle1480669.ece

Edited by MrEnvironment, 03 August 2010 - 02:06 PM.


#2 bob1

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 02:33 PM

I think you are somewhat mis-informed, your ideas seem rather vague and based on mass media coverage of the issues, which is typically less than scientific.

"What are the human sources of CO2 and how do we generate them?" would be a good starting point for you. How much (what proportion) CO2 does humanity add to the environment in a year? Over what time spans have we been doing this? What about carbon cycles? Historical carbon records/levels?

How does your laptop/computer/phone etc. generate CO2? Learning about Watts and Watt-hours might be useful.

Don't trust Wikipedia, it is NOT a good source, though it can be used as a starting point.

#3 MrEnvironment

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 04:03 PM

Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet" a book by Mark Lynas,
is based on his scientific (which is in turn based on other scientist's researches throughout human history)
intensive research for several months, several hours a day.

All the things you mentioned:
- How much (what proportion) CO2 does humanity add to the environment in a year?
- Over what time spans have we been doing this?
- What about carbon cycles?
- Historical carbon records/levels?

have been re-researched and reviewed by Mark Lynas, based on other scientist's researches.

So, do we have to be worried about a gradual end of the earth (maybe a 100 years from now) or is everything fine?
No one knows what the earth will turn out to be like in 500 years?

I am concerned.

Edited by MrEnvironment, 03 August 2010 - 04:08 PM.


#4 HomeBrew

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 07:20 PM

At least four other planets are warming up, too. See here.

#5 bob1

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 08:02 PM

Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet" a book by Mark Lynas,
is based on his scientific (which is in turn based on other scientist's researches throughout human history)
intensive research for several months, several hours a day.

Actually he is a journalist, his degrees are in history and politics not science. Have you read anything by those people who don't believe that global warming is caused by humans, which would be relevant if you want to discuss it scientifically.

Anyway, Imaa stop feeding the trolls now...

#6 MrEnvironment

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Posted 04 August 2010 - 02:11 AM

People who don't believe global warming is caused by humans?
No, I haven't read on that yet.
Can you give me some names?
I've only seen on National Geographic that there is a group of professional scientists
constantly researching the CO2 output on earth and trying to get a picture of the future of the earth.
I didn't know Mark was a journalist.
Doesn't take away he can do scientific research, though.


p.s.: I came to this forum to discuss a topic in depth and serious. However, now I read concepts like 'feeding the troll',
which really belong to the immature communities. Is this a serious forum or am I wrong?
All I want to do is have serious discussions about scientific subjects and find out more, through people's opinions,
like any curious person would.

#7 bob1

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Posted 04 August 2010 - 07:17 PM

Ok, sorry, implying that you were a troll is a little harsh, it was purely because your topic and ideas are similar to those that we see from time to time attempting to troll these forums.

Fred Singer is the only climate change denier that I can think of off the top of my head, I am sure there are plenty more.

For a scientific discussion it is necessary to acquire a knowledge of not just one view point, but also the opposing side(s) of the topic, and apply critical thinking. Climate change is an enormously complex topic, involving climatology, physics, atmospheric chemistry, mathematics (for the climate models) and probably several other fields, none of which I can even pretend to understand in any detail. So not to denigrate National Geographic which produces many fine publications, but they are very much designed for the lay audience and are not typically balanced (by opposing views), such that I would not rely on the information provided.

Having read Mr Lynas' book, you will be aware that in the past the world was much warmer than it is now and that the CO2 content of the atmosphere was much higher than it is now, and that we are coming out of a short term cool period (since the 1800's). As it was substantially warmer and we had higher CO2 levels in the pleiocene, all plants are actually better adapted to grow at those conditions, so trees will grow better and hence sequester more carbon, also we'll be able to grow more plants in more parts of the world and ahve more available rainfall, so we'll be able to irrigate land not normally irrigatable. Given all of that information, what would you say if I said that the world was warming anyway, and will self-regulate, as it has done in the past, and that global warming will be a good thing for the world?

#8 HomeBrew

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Posted 04 August 2010 - 07:38 PM

The problem is that if the planet's warming is not in large part anthropogenic, but is instead a consequence of a natural geological cycle, then we're wasting time and resources trying to stall the inevitable by nibbling around the edges. We should be putting resources into trying to make it easier to live on a warming planet, rather than spending all resources on "green" technology, which will (if the warming is not in large part man-caused) have little to no impact.

#9 perneseblue

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Posted 04 August 2010 - 09:27 PM

In my opinion, we should be concern about global warming. It is a threat and we should do everything we can to slow it down and prepare our civilization for changes that are to come.

The earth has experience higher temperatures and lower temperatures, The average global temperature at the moment is about 14C and at present we are exiting the last ice age. Global average temperature at the height of a warm period between ice ages is about 20C. So yes, the earth is warming up on its own and doing so at a rapid pace, in terms of geological time. On human terms the earth is warming slowly, but warming it is. About 8000 years ago, global warming finally turned the Sahara savannah into a desert, driving human populations east into the Nile (and believe by some to spark the Egyptian civilization) and south into Africa. It turned the upper reaches of the yellow river into an arid waste, destroying early chinese settlements and thus give birth to yellow silt now washed into the yellow river.

What humans are currently doing are doing is helping this natural trend by pumping in giga tons of carbon into the atmosphere, carbon which has been out of circulation for a very long time. In the case of coal, for about 350 million years, no since the carboniferous age, where CO2 concentration was about 1800ppm. Given this extra push, it is easy to assume that the maximum global average temperature of warm period will be higher than any other. We might even be able to break out of the cyclic ice ages.

And why should we be concern?

Not for the earth. It would be fine. Not for life, species go extinct all the time and the ones that survive will adapt and fill all the empty niches.. And from a geological scale, we already are in an extinction event, with humans doing their part to contribute. Not for the human species. I believe we are too adaptable a species.

The answer is our civilization, our modern global technological civilization. Efficient function of this civilization has resulted in specialization, to a degree we would find worrying if we thought about it.. How many of us grow enough food to feed ourselves? One? None! Or know how to build a computer from raw materials. The answer is nobody. All of us (aside from communities isolated in far away jungles) are dependent on a supply chain, which we use and in turn add to. A key component of this global supply chain are sea ports.

Take zippers found in every day clothes. Over 90% of all zippers are made in Japan and most by a single company YKK. If the trade through Japanese seaports was disrupted, either by rising sea level, or increase storms activity, the world would effectively be without zippers. Japan is also the only nation in the world (aside from russia) which can build the reaction vessel to hold the nuclear pile of nuclear power stations. No Japan, and it would be very difficult to build a nuclear power station. Similar single point weakness in the global supply chain can be found elsewhere. Take RAM, the actual memory blocks within the card are made almost exclusively in Taiwan. Take palm oil, global supply comes from Indonesia and Malaysia, which is used extensively in food products. Wool, uranium and aluminium from Australia. Titanium from India.

As for crop failure... in the warm spell 2 year ago, eastern Europe had a poor harvest. A single poor harvest and it sent flour prices in UK spiking, nearly doubling, until the government put price control on and use food reserves in warehouses to make up the deficit. Now if there were two poor harvest in close succession, what do you think would happen?

Civilization collapse. Yes, it has happened repeated in human history but never like this. To produce our civilization, we have consumed all easily available natural resources. Most concentrated ore deposits on the surface are now gone. Look at oil. Can you imagine a person with 1800 technology, trying to convince investors that he wants their money to drill for oil (a substance of limited use, as plastics have not been rediscovered) which can only be found in abundance in areas where the water depth is 1500m and then only by drilling a hole 9km underground. And with no crude oil, there are no plastics, almost no synthetic fabrics, and no high purity chemicals. IIf our current civilization collapse, I find it very hard to imagine another technological civilization rising from the ashes to take its place.

So yes we should be worried. And if the question of how important important are human contribution to global warming, trying putting yourself in this situation. Your house is on fire! Does it matter if the fire was caused by a spark from the fireplace or from playing with matches. Would your immediate actions be any different? If it were caused by sparks from the fireplace, would you stop trying and let the house burn down with you in it?

The whole point of green technology and green movement in my mind is to buy time, decades, hopefully centuries of time. We can rebuild our seaports if sea level rise over the centuries, change our crops if we are given many decades. Even move whole population centers smoothly if we had enough time. But we can not adapt without major damage to civilization if the changes are happening too quickly. And that fast pace is what human aided global warming is now setting.
May your PCR products be long, your protocols short and your boss on holiday

#10 HomeBrew

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Posted 05 August 2010 - 03:58 AM

The whole point of green technology and green movement in my mind is to buy time, decades, hopefully centuries of time. We can rebuild our seaports if sea level rise over the centuries, change our crops if we are given many decades. Even move whole population centers smoothly if we had enough time. But we can not adapt without major damage to civilization if the changes are happening too quickly. And that fast pace is what human aided global warming is now setting.


Yes, but the underlying assumption here is that mitigating human contribution to global warming will actually buy us extra decades or centuries to adapt society, which of course also assumes that the major cause of the warming is anthropogenic.

#11 perneseblue

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 09:43 PM


The whole point of green technology and green movement in my mind is to buy time, decades, hopefully centuries of time. We can rebuild our seaports if sea level rise over the centuries, change our crops if we are given many decades. Even move whole population centers smoothly if we had enough time. But we can not adapt without major damage to civilization if the changes are happening too quickly. And that fast pace is what human aided global warming is now setting.


Yes, but the underlying assumption here is that mitigating human contribution to global warming will actually buy us extra decades or centuries to adapt society, which of course also assumes that the major cause of the warming is anthropogenic.


I would argue that it doesn't matter. Man-made or natural, global warming is a threat and has to be combated, with the objective to buy time for modern civilization to adapt. Contributions made by humanity to global warming is the only factor that humanity actually have any direct control over. And when faced with a problem but given only one tool, you use that tool even if it doesn't work that well.( And yes, sequestering CO2 is an idea... though I would prefer it to be done as carbon. Nasty things happened in the past when CO2 was released en masse.)

As I have stated earlier, I am fairly certain global warming is a natural event. The earth is warming as it leaves the last ice age and has been doing so for the past 50,000 years.. What is unnatural is the pace of the past 200 years. Humanity is acting as an accelerant to a global trend. And like any accelerant we are going to see big and fast changes to the system for very modest effort. The earth "want" to get warm. And as we all know, complex system tend not to react linearly with increasing input.
May your PCR products be long, your protocols short and your boss on holiday

#12 HomeBrew

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 06:43 AM

I would argue that it doesn't matter. Man-made or natural, global warming is a threat and has to be combated, with the objective to buy time for modern civilization to adapt.


And I would argue that it does matter -- we have finite financial resources available. Is it more effective to spend those resources on green technology fixes, which will have little impact on the situation we find ourselves in if the warming is not in large part man-made, or is it better to realize that the warming is inevitable and that we have little influence over it, and thus spend our resources instead on making changes to societal infrastructure to migiagte the effects of living on a warmer planet?

#13 perneseblue

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 10:15 AM


I would argue that it doesn't matter. Man-made or natural, global warming is a threat and has to be combated, with the objective to buy time for modern civilization to adapt.


And I would argue that it does matter -- we have finite financial resources available. Is it more effective to spend those resources on green technology fixes, which will have little impact on the situation we find ourselves in if the warming is not in large part man-made, or is it better to realize that the warming is inevitable and that we have little influence over it, and thus spend our resources instead on making changes to societal infrastructure to migiagte the effects of living on a warmer planet?


To summarize, we disagree on two point.

1-The degree that humanity plays in the this global warming trend.

2-How humanity should allocate our limited and finite resources.

Why are those two points of contention important? I have come to realize it is because they overlay a more basic question, "Do we have sufficient time to adapt our civilization or do we need to buy time."

If we have sufficient time to adapt our civilization, I agree, we should spend our finite resources adapting. If humanity does not have enough time, it would be logical to expend some resources buying time, so we can complete the adaption process.

I stand on the side of "We don't have enough time". People take a lot of time to get their act together. Humanity has to get through the recognition stage, the denial stage (I think we are here), the anger stage, the acceptance stage, the long planing stage and finally the implementation stage.

Knowing people's propensity to procrastinate and dash madly to meet dead lines, the same would probably happen during this challenge. And worryingly, we will only know when the deadline has arrived when our crops fail, our seaports flood and shortages of goods due to disruptions from single point failures in the global supply chain. And yes, I recognize not all system failures will hit at the same time. But I believe those short few years will not provide enough time to adapt. Nor would the warning signs be recognized as such.


I also stand on the side that "Humanity do make a significant impact to the global warming trend."

Thus humanity can "buy" time to adapt by moving to green technology which has reduced emission of carbon dioxide. However I was thinking a step more than that. I was thinking of actual expenditure of resource/energy to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (my preference is to carbonize wood and storage of the charcoal produced underground). And yes, the dreadful solar shield idea with sulfur dioxide in the upper atmosphere would come under the idea of "buying time". Dreadful because knowing human behaviour, once the solar shield is up, people will stop bothering and make no attempt to adapt civilization. And when the shield goes down, we will get hit with all the changes in an instant, without even the few decades to adapt that we would receive with this warming trend.
May your PCR products be long, your protocols short and your boss on holiday

#14 HomeBrew

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 11:02 AM

I understand your position, and you've presented it well. I'm still a bit skeptical on the degree to which humans are responsible for the undeniable warming trend we're seeing. Two facts bother me -- one, that other planets in our solar system (without, presumably, SUVs) are also experiencing warming, and two, that current climate models don't accurately predict the climate today, given accurate data about the past. While there may be an "inconvenient truth" going on in all this somewhere, there are also a few "inconvenient facts" that don't fit and I, as a scientist (though admittedly not a climatologist), have found ignoring any inconsistencies to be a perilous proposition in hypothesis formation.

#15 perneseblue

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 06:28 PM

Thanks. I appreciate the complement. I understand your position for calling caution to making hasty decisions. The situation here is complicated. There are "inconvenient facts" that do not fit our models and worst yet there are inconvenient truths that we do not want to face.

As scientist, we want to have a good understand of a situation before making a decision and starting a course of action. Whether by experience or personality, we do not like to ignore dangling observations/facts that do not fit the model. These kinds observations tend to come back to bite wet bench experimenters, and often are the starting points to new and interesting things.

Yet, we must remember not all facts piece together in an easy and apparent manner. Sometimes the logic/mechanism behind an observation can be a little subtle, much like the recent understanding of how weak magnetic fields are able to shield against solar radiation, a feat that at first glance should not be possible and was deemed as such in the 1960s

In the global warming debate, I believe, mixed somewhere is this concern. If we do not take the time to build a working coherent model of climate change, we risk taking actions which at best are a waste of time and resources, and at worst could bring destruction to our civilization. However, if we take too much time, events will overtaking us and circumstance will force decisions on us.

How much time do we have? That too is another facet of the global warming debate.
May your PCR products be long, your protocols short and your boss on holiday




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