Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
 
No. of Recommendations: 9
http://grist.org/news/famed-climate-economist-i-underestimat...
Famed climate economist Nicholas Stern: ‘I underestimated the risks’ of climate change
<snip>
In an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Stern, who is now a crossbench peer, said: “Looking back, I underestimated the risks. The planet and the atmosphere seem to be absorbing less carbon than we expected, and emissions are rising pretty strongly. Some of the effects are coming through more quickly than we thought then.”
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 7
In an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Stern, who is now a crossbench peer, said: “Looking back, I underestimated the risks. The planet and the atmosphere seem to be absorbing less carbon than we expected, and emissions are rising pretty strongly. Some of the effects are coming through more quickly than we thought then.”

Or not.

http://bristol.ac.uk/news/2009/6649.html
New data show that the balance between the airborne and the absorbed fraction of carbon dioxide has stayed approximately constant since 1850, despite emissions of carbon dioxide having risen from about 2 billion tons a year in 1850 to 35 billion tons a year now. This suggests that terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans have a much greater capacity to absorb CO2 than had been previously expected.

The results run contrary to a significant body of recent research which expects that the capacity of terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans to absorb CO2 should start to diminish as CO2 emissions increase, letting greenhouse gas levels skyrocket. Dr Wolfgang Knorr at the University of Bristol found that in fact the trend in the airborne fraction since 1850 has only been 0.7 ± 1.4% per decade, which is essentially zero.

The strength of the new study, published online in Geophysical Research Letters, is that it rests solely on measurements and statistical data, including historical records extracted from Antarctic ice, and does not rely on computations with complex climate models.

DB2
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
Saw a fascinating documentary last night on the Sahara. It seems that it has gone through cycles of being a lush, tropical jungle followed by (as it is today) being a lifeless, arid desert. It has happened repeatedly over several thousand year cycles, perhaps matching with the tilt if the earth's axis or other phenomena, including atmospheric "pollution" due to volcanic activity or perhaps other causes.

The interesting part is that the transition from one state to the other, based on the readings from earth cores from the area, seems to have taken less than 200 years. According to the scientists interviewed, the changes were readily apparent within one century, and complete by two.

Imagine an are the size of the United States turned from a verdant, forested state into lifeless desert within 200 years.

(This also helps explain the abundance of oil, where forest and animal detritus litters the ground for several thousands of years, then is quickly covered over by blowing sands, then thousand of years later covered again by greenery. Repeat, endlessly, and you wind up with the perfect conditions for the production of crude.)

Climate change: it isn't for sissies.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 4
The results run contrary to a significant body of recent research

There is a sort of inevitability to your optimism.... you WILL find, no matter how much data you have to ignore to do it, some reason to hope it won't be so bad, and to THAT study, you cling. It is an impressive ability, but it is a dangerous one as well. Murphy is not honored in his proper place and he is a vengeful deity.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 7
There is a sort of inevitability to your optimism.... you WILL find, no matter how much data you have to ignore to do it, some reason to hope it won't be so bad, and to THAT study, you cling. It is an impressive ability, but it is a dangerous one as well. Murphy is not honored in his proper place and he is a vengeful deity.

You claim Dr Bob is too optimistic, but you and many others on this board are much worse in the pessimistic direction. DrBob generally relies on published papers and backs it up. You guys get a heat wave in chicago in march or a tornado in january and its another grim sign the world is about to end and we just all better smarten up and be more like you or we're doomed.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
Jack... we RELY on the body of published science that DrBob seeks to overturn and find counterexamples to, and works so hard to ignore. I DO respect DrBob for his rigor in looking for the reports that support his optimism, but it remains optimism.

The IPCC collects it so we can conveniently ignore it all at once I think.

Except some of us don't.

I don't reckon you as being quite so disrespectful of the one true god...

...Murphy. :-)
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
I don't reckon you as being quite so disrespectful of the one true god...

...Murphy. :-)


I know you're saying this tongue-in-cheek, but it does reflect a certain perspective on the world that is inaccurate. Murphy is not a true god. In fact, he's flat wrong - it is not true that everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Take a hundred discrete events that each have a 99% percent chance of success - meaning that they all could go wrong - and nearly all of them will not go wrong. If you were to make decisions on public policy in accordance with Murhpy's law, you would end up with really terrible outcomes: overallocating resources to addressing very low probability risks, and avoiding high benefit projects because of small chances of failure.

Again, I know you're half joking - but this perspective does color climate debates, because there's such wide uncertainty about the range of potential negative outcomes a century out. You have to balance the imposition of near certain costs in the near term against the various probabilities of outcomes in the long term. If you highly emphasize risk-avoidance in policy-making, you're going to get very different set of policy prescriptions than if you adopted a more risk-tolerant approach. Worshipping the false god of Murphy is going to skew rational decision-making.

Albaby
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
Saw a fascinating documentary last night on the Sahara.
It is also interesting to note that the Sahara is currently a desert because of cooler temps.

In the southern Sahara though, the drying trend was soon counteracted by the monsoon, which brought rain further north than it does today. The monsoon season is caused by heating of air over the land during summer. The hot air rises and pulls in cool, wet air from the ocean, which causes rain. Thus, though it seems counterintuitive, the Sahara was wetter when it received more insolation in the summer.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahara#Climate
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
Here's the latest on carbon dioxide uptake from NOAA. It says you're too pessimistic, BJ.

Natural sinks still sopping up carbon
www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/340710/description/Natur...
Earth’s ecosystems keep soaking up more carbon as greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere, new measurements find....

“The sinks have been more than able to keep up with emissions,” said Pieter Tans, an atmospheric scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo. Tans presented the findings May 15 at an annual conference on global monitoring hosted by the lab....

Ralph Keeling, an atmospheric scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, agrees that both land and the oceans aren’t yet done absorbing all the carbon they can. “The land is responding in a big way” to increasing fossil fuel emissions, he says.

DB2
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 5
As an engineer who has worked on sensors and systems that go into extremely unforgiving environments, but still has to work or we waste a heap of money, I have a definite perspective. I know what that perspective is... and yes I was half joking. I take risks, I balance them, I consider the probabilities and often I get away with things that scare the cr*p out of others. I almost as often forego taking a risk that others embrace. Mostly this works out for me.

However, the key here is the evaluation of what this risk ACTUALLY is, and there comes a fair rub... for I have for a long time seen this risk as the next best thing to a dead certainty... too many imploding factors to avoid being crunched into a critical mass.

because there's such wide uncertainty about the range of potential negative outcomes a century out.

The problem is that "negative outcomes" I mapped in 2005 start taking effect in 2015 and worsen progressively until a century out. Much of the real risk to our civilization (food and water supplies - unfriendly weather for farmers) starts NOW and kicks in heavily by 2030. If you focus on the vulnerability of our civilization instead of our inability to achieve complete certainty of the degree of some outcomes in a centuries time, you do see it a bit differently. Stern is telling me that what I said about Stern's work at the time he produced it, is what HE now thinks is true.

This isn't a game we can win and it is going to play hell to achieve the lesser goal of not losing everything... and a lot of people aren't trying real hard because they think that there is a lot of uncertainty.

I don't see much of that uncertainty. I do try to err on the side of caution more often than most, but it isn't that big a difference. The BIG difference is that I don't see significant "bad outcomes" as being that distant in time OR that uncertain.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
I got yer CO2 uptake stats right here Bub.

Do you see it slowing down at all? What's the magical magnitude that those "improved" numbers have to reach to actually implode THIS curve?

http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/history.html
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
The BIG difference is that I don't see significant "bad outcomes" as being that distant in time OR that uncertain.

I don't think that's really the big difference. There's a fair amount of confidence in that some "bad outcomes" will occur as a result of rising temperatures in the near future.

The uncertainty is in determining how bad those bad outcomes are. It's one thing to point out that food production and delivery systems have some vulnerabilities. It's quite another to have any degree of confidence about how damaging rising temperatures will be, particularly given the uncertainty of the effect of those rising temperatures on the weather of specific locales and the degree to which food systems can be adapted to them (let alone broader uncertainties about the capacity of existing carbon sinks or future growth in emissions). We just don't know what the actual impact on farm yields will be. You sometimes use rhetoric in your posts suggesting that unabated emissions will literally result in the death of mankind, with a certainty that goes well beyond any evidence.

As an aside, it's also very easy to make the same mistake in reverse when looking at the costs of emissions controls. Our global economic system is also both complex and vulnerable. Imposing the exogenous shock of higher energy and fuel costs can also have wide-ranging impacts on our civilization, and there is both uncertainty and the possibility of really catastrophic outcomes on that side of the ledger as well. It would be very bad indeed if slowing economic growth in China led to hundreds of millions more people suffering absolute poverty and sufficient political instability to throw that nuclear-armed nation into chaos. But you do not err on the side of caution with respect to those impacts.

It's obvious that you feel very certain about the magnitude of all these negative outcomes. But Murphy was wrong, and we don't have the ability to project future outcomes with the degree of certainty that you attach to your own forecasts.

Albaby
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 6
Here's the latest on carbon dioxide uptake from NOAA. It says you're too pessimistic, BJ.
Natural sinks still sopping up carbon
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/340710/descriptio...

----------------------------------------------------

Here is a quick calculation showing how much CO2 is being taken up by the sinks. NOAA measures the atmospheric CO2 on a molar basis (moles of CO2 per mole of dry air).

NASA says the total mass of the atmosphere is 5.1E18 kg, or 5.1E21 g.
http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/earthfact.htm...

With a molecular weight of 29, there are 1.759E20 moles of air in the atmosphere.

The world has been putting over 30 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. In 2010, it was 31.78E9 tonnes, or 3.178E16 g.
http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/iedindex3.cfm?tid=90&a...

This is 7.22E14 moles of CO2.

7.22E14/1.759E20 = 4.1E-6 or 4.1 ppm

The measured increase in CO2 has been going up about 2 ppm per year.
http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/mlo.html#mlo_growth...

So, about 50% of the CO2 gets taken up by trees, the ocean, etc. The 2012 CO2 production has been estimated at 35 billion tonnes. We should see in a few months what the final number is.

Speaking of being overly optimistic, isn't it rather silly to think that the trend of CO2 increase can be slowed or stopped by putting up a few windmills, solar panels, and driving a Prius?

- Pete
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
Speaking of being overly optimistic, isn't it rather silly to think that the trend of CO2 increase can be slowed or stopped by putting up a few windmills, solar panels, and driving a Prius?


I don't know anybody who thinks that. Do you?
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
Speaking of being overly optimistic, isn't it rather silly to think that the trend of CO2 increase can be slowed or stopped by putting up a few windmills, solar panels, and driving a Prius?


I don't know anybody who thinks that. Do you?


Why not? I was under the impression that you thought that wind and solar lowered emissions Ben.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
We just don't know what the actual impact on farm yields will be

I guess it is just this mate.

We all have an "integrated" model of the world in our heads. It gives us our ability to predict the future and it is to a great degree, based on language and grammar. You can argue with me about that if you like but I think you'll agree that we all carry around a model of the world in our heads that allows us to anticipate the real world rather than simply reacting to it.

Mine is not really a LOT different from everyone else's in many ways. A lot of things have probabilities attached as the model produces them. We ALL have a lot of the same experiences and knowledge of the world... and we communicate - person to person and indirectly - model to model.

To a large degree the complexity and accuracy of the model in your head is determined by education, IQ and linguistic capacity. I am not going to go into a "mine is better/bigger than yours" spiel... but I get something sometimes that is not I think, an experience that most folks get... an idea or thought that is like a pure note, the resonance of a tuning fork. I get that now.

Combine your knowledge of climate changing with your knowledge of population increasing and your knowledge of the energy basis of the "Green Revolution" and your knowledge of the increasing costs of energy.

It isn't "ONE" thing. It is a lot of things together.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 4
Speaking of being overly optimistic, isn't it rather silly to think that the trend of CO2 increase can be slowed or stopped by putting up a few windmills, solar panels, and driving a Prius?

I don't know anybody who thinks that. Do you?
------------------------------------------------------------

I live in California, and have had conversations with people who do not understand the scope of the issue, and have rather unrealistic opinions of what to do about it.

However, in terms of well known, high profile people whose quotes I can link to, there is this piece from Senator Bernie Sanders.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-bernie-sanders/transformin...

Sanders discusses "the crisis of global warming", and then lists what he sees as the technologies which will presumably alleviate said "crisis". He describes advancements in energy efficiency, solar, wind, plus geothermal (which Sanders says is replacing coal-fired power plants) and biomass.

I submit that these things have made minimal impact, and really haven't done anything substantial to change the slope of the Keeling Curve.

Of course, Bernie Sanders is also trying as best he can to shut down nuclear power in the US. He doesn't want any nuclear plant license extensions approved.
http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=f7bb513a-c93...

"In my state there is a strong feeling that we want to go forward with energy efficiency and sustainable energy. I believe that we have that right. I believe that every other state in the country has that right," Sanders said. "If we want to move to sustainable energy and not maintain an aging, trouble-plagued nuclear power plant, I think we should be allowed to do that."
--------------------------------------------------

It seems to me Sanders wants to replace a reliable and well run base-load nuclear power plant with "sustainable" energy. Under this philosophy, only certain types of politically correct technologies should be used to decrease CO2 emissions.

- Pete
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
Combine your knowledge of climate changing with your knowledge of population increasing and your knowledge of the energy basis of the "Green Revolution" and your knowledge of the increasing costs of energy.

It isn't "ONE" thing. It is a lot of things together.


I don't really disagree - but there's more that needs to go into the model than those things you mention. There's also improving information technology, the vast possibilities of future genetically modified foods and crops....

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/01/whats-...

...the potential for improvements in energy technology, untapped inefficiencies in current food markets, etc. Without including these things, you can get a model of the world that is markedly less robust than if you include them.

Much of modern agriculture didn't exist fifty years ago; I don't presume to have a model in my head that can accurately project what agriculture will look like fifty years from now, with or without climate change. That's why I question claims of certainty in projections of future calamity. There's always the chance that things could go horribly wrong, and big temperature increases have the potential to wreak havoc; but there's also a chance that things can go better than that, and that our enormous capacity to adapt and innovate will prevent the worst of nightmare scenarios from coming true.

Albaby
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Much of modern agriculture didn't exist fifty years ago

Absolutely true. The use of modern ENERGY INTENSIVE farming techniques has altered the output drastically.

Now the era of "cheap" energy is over, barring some breakthrough in fusion power or Cheap Access To Space.

I work in tech fields and have most of my life. I DO include everything, probably everything you know of and more besides, in my model and it doesn't all fit into a sentence. I understand too the difference between the delicate tech and the bucket tech.

Go ahead and discuss the changes in computation and communication over the past 40 years, the doublings, Moore's law.

Compare that to the improvements in home heating, plumbing, water purification. One is exponential... but the other is incremental. Water and Food are in the INCREMENTAL improvement realm. Thermodynamics is unyielding. We still build fires in winter and the biggest advance in 100 years is arguably the heat pump.

GM foods have proven not to be a "magic bullet", though they have helped to give us superweeds and kill off the Bees. If you rely on a future that has some breakthrough or change that saves your butt, it may not happen in time. When it doesn't, on this scale, civilizations die.

Remember the last time you lost electricity for a long time? Long enough for the food in the fridge to spoil? A week? Longer? No phone, no computer. Cars can't get petrol because it is pumped by electricity...

Civilization is more fragile than you are imagining with that "our enormous capacity to adapt and innovate". I am not saying it can't be done. I am saying that we aren't doing it and we can't PLAN on doing it... that it is wrong to build the future or our kids future on "we hope we come up with something".
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
Civilization is more fragile than you are imagining with that "our enormous capacity to adapt and innovate". I am not saying it can't be done. I am saying that we aren't doing it and we can't PLAN on doing it... that it is wrong to build the future or our kids future on "we hope we come up with something".

It is also wrong to build the future or our kids' future - and the future of hundreds of millions of impovershed Chinese and Indian people and their children - on the assumption that "we can't possibly come up with anything." Nor is it correct to say that we aren't doing it. We are building our future, every day, with every step we take forward in a million different fields.

I understand that improvements in non-electronics technologies are incremental. But neither do we need to double food capacity in 18 months. I'm not entirely sure that we couldn't adapt to changing weather patterns over the span of decades even with existing technologies, especially when you consider the efficiencies that have yet to be realized with the broader roll out of advanced information technologies to most of the world's agricultural production; add in advances from genetic engineering and the things we're still learning about the way biology works, and I'm not nearly as dour as you are.

One question, though:

Now the era of "cheap" energy is over, barring some breakthrough in fusion power or Cheap Access To Space.

This seems to flatly contradict the notion that decarbonizing can be anything other than catastrophic. "Energy," writ large, continues to be very cheap - oil is more expensive, but coal and natural gas are getting cheaper, as are renewables like solar and wind. Indeed, adjusted for inflation, electricity is cheaper today in the U.S. than it was for most of the 1990's.

http://inflationdata.com/articles/wp-content/uploads/2012/07...

The argument in favor of decarbonizing is that the price points for solar and wind, while still higher than fossils, are close enough to fossil prices that conversion can take place with only moderate pain - and that those prices are trending downwards, not upwards.

If that's true, then the era of "cheap" energy is far from over. In fact, the era of cheap energy will never be over, because energy costs won't get much higher than the marginal cost of new solar installations or wind farms - and renewable sources never run out.

Albaby
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Jck, do I really have to go into the reasons why "a few windmills, solar panels, and driving a Prius" will not offset increases of billions and billions of tons of CO2?

Short answer: wrong scale. A few of anything will not suffice, including nuclear plants.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
The argument in favor of decarbonizing is that the price points for solar and wind, while still higher than fossils, are close enough to fossil prices that conversion can take place with only moderate pain - and that those prices are trending downwards, not upwards.

If that's true, then the era of "cheap" energy is far from over. In fact, the era of cheap energy will never be over, because energy costs won't get much higher than the marginal cost of new solar installations or wind farms - and renewable sources never run out.

Albaby


This is truer than you might like to believe. With fracking, we are finding exploitable hydrocarbons in more places. Democratizing the extraction of oil and gas world wide so that we will have less and less capital movements bases on the location of hydrocarbon energy.

Additionally, we are seeing amazing, even Moore's Law, amazing developments in solar power as well as energy storage. While we think battery, or electric storage, there has been a break though in heat storage.

Electricity, while imperative for electronic devices and is about the only energy medium that is easily transported, the need for transportation of energy is reduced in a distributed energy production network.

There is a builder in Fairbanks that has built a house that uses very little energy to heat in the winter because he collects the heat in the summer. After reviewing his building methods, I found his insulation methods a little behind, and his heat collection methods are not cutting edge either.

With new insulation and heat collection methods, and distributed energy production and storage we can build houses that need no connection to the energy grid. However, it would still be less expensive to at least have a natural gas connection. (At this time)

That leaves energy for transportation. With driver-less cars we can build an infrastructure that uses a lot less energy. (I am thinking from a rural perspective and believe that high population density is not required, nor is it necessary to give up privacy and convenience.

Finally, on nuclear plants. I am pro-nuclear. However, I would not extend the license on a single existing nuke plant ever. I would issue a new license for a new ground up plant, but I would not allow the old ones to continue. They were designed using slide rules, and with not even a small percentage of the knowledge that we have now.

Cheers
Qazulight
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
It all comes down to how fast stuff happens and how fast we build out the "decarbonizing" tech.

I have been over this more than a few times, and the problem overall is not that it would be "impossible" to achieve a steady state arrangement that actually supported our current and even expectable energy requirements from renewables. Nor that it would be "too expensive".

The problem is that that arrangement is not achievable in the required timeframe. How MANY installations can you build in a year. The required effort and sacrifice on a global level is not readily distinguishable from the national effort and sacrifices made by the USA and Russia during WWII. Do you see that happening now? I personally do not. Nor do I see the level of agreement needed happening either. My models consider human societal and political dynamics as well. Action WILL NOT be undertaken until it is far far too late.

Consider for example - every tractor on every farm will have to be rebuilt to run on something that is based on biomass or electricity. I think we can solve that by "some" mods to tractors and a bigger effort to convert the biomass to usable fuels for tractors... saving us from having to build a lot of new tractors. Instead we frack for more oil. The price is right - for the oil and coal. The price for dumping waste CO2 is right as well, that is still free.

Nor, for the bulk of our civilization, is "adaptation" any sort of alternative. For a lot of people, one way or another, the lights will go out or they will starve and the likely alternatives for a planet that is better armed than fed, are pretty scary in themselves.

It is not a "single" thing, it is all of them together. The orchestra is only playing the opening notes but the concert's gotterdammerung is written into the score and the show must go on.

Can it be altered? I can IMAGINE ways that it could, my imagination is very very good, but I don't see them happening and as I try my best to make even ONE of the corrections happen (here in NZ) before it is too late, I do often regard it as one of the least productive efforts I have ever undertaken.

Yet I am obligated by my personal position (and good fortune) in the global society, to make that effort. I am not much in USian terms, just a middle-class engineer living in New Zealand... but in terms of personal advantage on a global scale? we here are all pretty close to the top, and we have a responsibility that far too few of us seem to consider at all.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I AM rec'ing your posts albaby... the questions you have are good ones.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Jck, do I really have to go into the reasons why "a few windmills, solar panels, and driving a Prius" will not offset increases of billions and billions of tons of CO2?

Short answer: wrong scale. A few of anything will not suffice, including nuclear plants.


Ben, the statement was:

Speaking of being overly optimistic, isn't it rather silly to think that the trend of CO2 increase can be slowed or stopped by putting up a few windmills, solar panels, and driving a Prius?

Do you not feel that wind and solar power can slow the trend of CO2 increase?

US emissions have decreased by fuel switching and a combination of conservation and technology, so I'm not sure why this wouldn't work for the rest of the world.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Do you not feel that wind and solar power can slow the trend of CO2 increase?


They can. Millions of them, not "a few".
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 4
The problem is that that arrangement is not achievable in the required timeframe. How MANY installations can you build in a year. The required effort and sacrifice on a global level is not readily distinguishable from the national effort and sacrifices made by the USA and Russia during WWII. Do you see that happening now? I personally do not. Nor do I see the level of agreement needed happening either. My models consider human societal and political dynamics as well. Action WILL NOT be undertaken until it is far far too late.

You don't need that much time. As pointed out upthread, fracking has completely upended the energy markets, U.S. automobile fuel economy has been skyrocketing, and emissions are falling - all within the space of a decade or less. There are some half dozen electric vehicles for sale in the U.S. You're not seeing progress towards the kind of international treaty that is favored by environmental groups, but you can see enormous changes in many other fields.

Consider for example - every tractor on every farm will have to be rebuilt to run on something that is based on biomass or electricity. I think we can solve that by "some" mods to tractors and a bigger effort to convert the biomass to usable fuels for tractors... saving us from having to build a lot of new tractors.

Why do we care? The useful life of a tractor is measured in years - in a decade or so, most tractors that are out there will be replaced anyway. So replace them with electric tractors - or just use electricity to generate sugarcane biofuel and use that to fuel the tractor. Remember, we're talking decades from now before you have to start changing tractors (after you've done the lower-hanging fruit like soot, heating, electricity generation, and possibly personal transportation).

Nor, for the bulk of our civilization, is "adaptation" any sort of alternative. For a lot of people, one way or another, the lights will go out or they will starve and the likely alternatives for a planet that is better armed than fed, are pretty scary in themselves.

Again, why not? Coal and natural gas aren't disappearing. You'll still use those fuels to generate the 'lights' in most of those areas as we adapt to higher temperatures.

Yet I am obligated by my personal position (and good fortune) in the global society, to make that effort. I am not much in USian terms, just a middle-class engineer living in New Zealand... but in terms of personal advantage on a global scale? we here are all pretty close to the top, and we have a responsibility that far too few of us seem to consider at all.

An obligation to impose enormous sacrifices on hundreds of millions of impovershed Chinese and Indian citizens? The sort of sacrifices that get made to reduce carbon slightly in advanced western economies may appear slight - but the type of sacrifices that are necessary to actually affect climate change are going to be borne brutally by people in developing nations. I might easily forego buying some extra cheap plastic carp from China with little pain at all - but the young woman who dies early from malnutrition or a preventable illness in rural China because she had to remain a subsistence farmer (once the factories making that cheap plastic carp disappear) pays a much dearer price. That's a very harsh 'responsibility' for citizens of western economies to take on.

As for adapation, that is not a single thing, either. It's an entire orchestra as well - billions of economic actors making trillions of small decisions that respond to rising temperatures, just as they respond to other macro events. There's more than enough time. It is really, really difficult to move the population a major city over the course of hours or days (witness New Orleans). It is really, really easy to relocate the population of a major city over decades (witness Detroit or Youngstown).

Albaby
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I AM rec'ing your posts albaby... the questions you have are good ones.

Thanks, bjchip - I am enjoying our discussion immensely.

Albaby
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
Short answer: wrong scale. A few of anything will not suffice, including nuclear plants.
---------------------------------------------

"A few" in the context I used it is admittedly a little snarky. But compared to the number of wind turbines and solar panels that are needed to really make a difference, we have only put up a small number.

The Energy Information Administration just yesterday published its Electric Power Annual data report for 2011. That year, wind plus solar generated 121,995,000 MWh of electricity, which was 3% of total US generation.

http://www.eia.gov/electricity/annual/html/epa_03_01_b.html
http://www.eia.gov/electricity/annual/html/epa_03_01_a.html

The real issue, of course, is the coal China continues to burn to fuel its ever-expanding industries. I don't have any good answers for that, but I do know that bullet trains in California or solar panels in Germany (of all places) aren't going to make a dent. If this global warming stuff is to be taken seriously, then people need to start doing the math. A little bit of education regarding how electric power grids are operated would be useful, too.

- Pete
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
Consider for example - every tractor on every farm will have to be rebuilt to run on something that is based on biomass or electricity.

Or we could do away with farms as we know them.


About Village Farms
Village Farms has almost thirty years of experience in the hydroponic greenhouse industry. Beginning with just ten acres of greenhouse facilities, Village Farms today operates more than 262 acres and markets an additional 120 acres of greenhouse. We are the leading vegetable greenhouse producer and supplier in the North America and have earned a reputation in the industry.

Village Farms grows and markets greenhouse grown, high quality hydroponic produce throughout the U.S. Our varieties available 365 days a year include a full line of hydroponic tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in a variety of colors.

Village Farms produce is sold throughout the US, Canada and select areas in Mexico in national chains and local supermarkets under the Village Farms® and Home Choice® brand names. Village Farms produce is easily recognized by its consistent superior taste, texture and appearance.

What makes our tomatoes special?

Village Farms’ growing techniques respect 21st century sensibilities for environmentally sustainable and healthy foods. Village Farms embraces an intensive Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program that uses beneficial insects to control pests and stimulate healthy plant growth. In fact, we are a leader in the IPM movement that results in naturally-perfect produce. Our Hydroperfect® growing process also uses minimal water—far less than field growing—because we recycle and sterilize the water we use. Our water is recycled and used multiple times being 100% available to the plants. In addition, we don’t use animal waste fertilizers, so the recycled water that nourishes Village Farms plants cannot be contaminated by animal waste runoff that may carry deadly e. coli and other microorganisms. Are excess water is spread onto native grasses adjacent to the greenhouse for local cattle to graze upon.

Village Farms produce is pristine and bruise-free because we only touch the vegetables when they are carefully hand picked and packed at the peak of ripeness. Our special packaging and gentle shipping methods protect the produce as it makes the short trip to your local market. The result is a perfect tomato, pepper, or cucumber that goes from plant to table in about three days or less. The produce looks, feels and tastes fresh because it is fresh—delivered all year From Our House to Your Home®!

To learn more about Village Farms and the hydroponics industry, take a virtual tour or read our press releases and articles.


http://www.villagefarms.com/AboutVillageFarms/Default.aspx

http://stockcharts.com/h-sc/ui?s=VFF.TO&p=W&b=5&...

Chart

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/village-farms-international-an...

They had some weather problems and some insurance payout issues. They are trading at a P/E of 1.5 but the forward P/E should be undefined as there will be losses going forward due to the damage in Marfa.

Cheers
Qazulight
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
Another paper on carbon dioxide uptake indicating BJ is too pessimistic. Ballantyne et al. looked at sources and sinks over the last 50 years. They write "as of 2010 there is no empirical evidence that C uptake has started to diminish on the global scale."

Increase in observed net carbon dioxide uptake by land and oceans during the past 50 years
http://211.144.68.84:9998/91keshi/Public/File/34/488-7409/pd...

DB2
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
Once again. The physical data. The INCREASE, which incorporates all the sinks that are and have been operating...

http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/history.html

Do you see it slowing down? Flattening out?

I do have to wonder why you think that these minor effects can cancel our major and continuing effort to destroy ourselves. There are two things we can do... one is agree to stop emitting so much, and that takes the form of an imposed tax on the CO2, and the other is Cheap Access To Space which still doesn't solve the ocean acidity problem but at least gives us a chance to stop warming.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
Another paper on carbon dioxide uptake, this one using modeling. Frolicher et al. look at the last 50 years and write: "In contrast to recent claims, trends in the airborne fraction of anthropogenic carbon cannot be detected when accounting for the decadal-scale influence of explosive volcanism and related uncertainties."

Atmospheric CO2 response to volcanic eruptions: the role of ENSO, season, and variability
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/gbc.20028/abstrac...

DB2
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 5
"In contrast to recent claims, trends in the airborne fraction of anthropogenic carbon cannot be detected when accounting for the decadal-scale influence of explosive volcanism and related uncertainties."
---------------------------------------------------------------

I don't get it. Yes, volcanism can affect the climate through the release of aerosols that partially block out the sun and tend to counteract the effects of greenhouse gases. But how does that change the amount of anthropogenic carbon going into the air or change the action of the CO2 sinks?

The world is burning 8 billion tons of coal per year, and over 88 million barrels of oil a day. Just where do the products of combustion end up, anyway? Some of the CO2 gets taken up by trees. Some of it gets dissolved into the oceans, which is observed by the change in pH. But the Mauna Loa observatory is definitely measuring an increase in atmospheric CO2 every year. How much the measured increase is going to affect the world's climate is open for debate, but it makes no sense to say the "airborne fraction of anthropogenic carbon cannot be detected".

- Pete
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
"In contrast to recent claims, trends in the airborne fraction of anthropogenic carbon cannot be detected when accounting for the decadal-scale influence of explosive volcanism and related uncertainties."
---
I don't get it. Yes, volcanism can affect the climate through the release of aerosols that partially block out the sun and tend to counteract the effects of greenhouse gases. But how does that change the amount of anthropogenic carbon going into the air or change the action of the CO2 sinks?


This was a modeling study; the authors found that earlier studies incorrectly modeled large volcanic eruptions and some decadal changes. When modeled correctly they found no change in the percent of carbon dioxide going into sinks (versus staying in the atmosphere).

... it makes no sense to say the "airborne fraction of anthropogenic carbon cannot be detected".

They wrote there was no trend in the airborne fraction; it is the same as it was half a century ago. The biosphere, the oceans, etc. are still absorbing as they always have and are not saturated.

DB2
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
"In contrast to recent claims, trends in the airborne fraction of anthropogenic carbon cannot be detected when accounting for the decadal-scale influence of explosive volcanism and related uncertainties."
---------------------------------------------------------------


I don't get it. Yes, volcanism can affect the climate through the release of aerosols that partially block out the sun and tend to counteract the effects of greenhouse gases. But how does that change the amount of anthropogenic carbon going into the air or change the action of the CO2 sinks?


Well, volcanoes release a significant amount of CO2, too. According to this paper, the absorption of the released CO2 depends on the climatic conditions (ENSO, mostly), and on a multiyear timescale. See this line from the abstract:

Ensemble simulations with the Earth System Model CSM1.4-carbon predict that the atmospheric CO2 response is ~60% larger when a volcanic eruption occurs during El Niño and in winter than during La Niña conditions.


All-in-all, the paper says that we don't yet know if the carbon uptake rate is changing or not. From the conclusions:

However, analysis of trends in the airborne fraction, as described in this study and elsewhere [Le Quéré et al. 2009; Canadell et al. 2007], are insufficient to make firm conclusions about whether the land and ocean uptake of anthropogenic carbon have slowed-down due to recent climate change. As pointed out by Gloor et al. (2010), trends in the airborne fraction are not identical with changes in the ocean and land carbon sinks.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
... it makes no sense to say the "airborne fraction of anthropogenic carbon cannot be detected".

They wrote there was no trend in the airborne fraction; it is the same as it was half a century ago. The biosphere, the oceans, etc. are still absorbing as they always have and are not saturated.
-----------------------------------------------------

So, is the Keeling curve wrong then? That shows a definite upward trend in the airborne fraction (actually a molar ratio) of CO2.

http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/mlo.html

- Pete
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
So, is the Keeling curve wrong then? That shows a definite upward trend in the airborne fraction (actually a molar ratio) of CO2.

http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/mlo.html



The Keeling curve shows the amount of atmospheric CO2 compared to what else is in the air (CO2 in air : total air). We're talking about the amount of CO2 in the air compared to CO2 in the land/water (CO2 in air: CO2 elsewhere).

The trend in the second has not yet been observed to change: IOW, the land, oceans, and biosphere are absorbing as much of the newly-produced CO2 as they were before, as far as we can currently tell.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
The Keeling curve shows the amount of atmospheric CO2 compared to what else is in the air (CO2 in air : total air). We're talking about the amount of CO2 in the air compared to CO2 in the land/water (CO2 in air: CO2 elsewhere).
The trend in the second has not yet been observed to change: IOW, the land, oceans, and biosphere are absorbing as much of the newly-produced CO2 as they were before, as far as we can currently tell.

---------------------------------------------------------

Thank you for explaining it. I still think that since the Keeling curve is going up, this shows the abilities of the land and oceans to reabsorb the CO2 are currently being overwhelmed. Trying to measure the ratio of CO2 in the air to total CO2 elsewhere is an interesting exercise, but the CO2 concentration in the air [CO2 in air : total air] is the important parameter with respect to climate change. If we could somehow stop all fossil fuel burning, then eventually the CO2 concentration in the air would go down as the land and oceans reabsorb the carbon. But that isn't going to happen so long as we humans keep putting 35 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. We can argue about how much of a climatic change 450 or 500 ppm will make, but I don't think there is much doubt 450 ppm is going to be seen unless there are some major changes this century.

- Pete
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
I still think that since the Keeling curve is going up, this shows the abilities of the land and oceans to reabsorb the CO2 are currently being overwhelmed.

Assume that 10 units of CO2 are being burned each year. The earth absorbs 2 unit(20%), the ocean absorbs 4 units(40%) and the atmosphere is left with 4 units.

Now double it. Burn 20 units. Let's say the earth absorbs 5 units (25%), the ocean absorbs 9 units (45%) and the atmosphere is left with 6 units.

The total amount of carbon in the atmosphere has increased, meaning that the keeling curve goes up. Yet the ability of the land and oceans to reabsorb CO2 has not been overwhelmed, it has actually increased.

Higher amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere mean an increase in partial pressure. It is entirely possible that this results in an increase in uptake by other systems.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
I still think that since the Keeling curve is going up, this shows the abilities of the land and oceans to reabsorb the CO2 are currently being overwhelmed.

No. Over the last 150 years the percentage remains approximately constant. Think of it in terms of equilibrium; if there is less CO2 in the air the ocean, for example, will absorb less, and vice versa.

DB2
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 4
Here is a graph of emitted carbon dioxide, the amount sequestered and the amount in the atmosphere (since 1960):

http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/cumulativ...
DB2
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
Here is a graph of emitted carbon dioxide, the amount sequestered and the amount in the atmosphere (since 1960):
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/cumulativ...
DB2

--------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks for the link. I went to the ORNL database and calculated what the atmospheric concentration increase should have been for each year going back to 1960 using the method I used in post #40562.

http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/meth_reg.html

http://boards.fool.com/heres-the-latest-on-carbon-dioxide-up...

Then I subtracted the actual measured Mauna Loa yearly increases to get the amount sequestered by the land and sea. From the spreadsheet, I got a graph that looks pretty much the same as the WUWT link above, though perhaps not as smooth. I suppose I could apply some smoothing factors to make it look prettier.

Anyway, it does appear that the higher the CO2 concentration goes, the more CO2 gets sequestered into the seas, forests, etc. There doesn't appear to be a slowing of this effect. However, it seems to me this is more of a first or second derivative effect. It might slow the rate of increase, but the increase is still happening as long as fossil fuels are burned business as usual.

- Pete
Print the post Back To Top