Wednesday, March 07, 2018

I've Got the Green Water Blues

I haven't been posting much lately. I've been writing quite a bit, a small mountain of drafts, but I just never finish them. I give up.

I've accepted that we lack the collective will to put out the fires. Some, perhaps most, choose to look the other way. A second group sees the flames but can't be bothered to act while there's still time to make a difference. Nothing drove this home more than this latest Arctic winter that saw Europe plunged into a deep freeze (the canals of Venice froze over) while temperatures in the midst of the Arctic night were an average of 10 degrees Celsius above normal and  for a few days were in the plus column, melting temperatures. That's what is giving me the Green Water blues.

The science types responded with sharp warnings, urgent demands for action.

The Arctic winter has ended with more news that is worrying even the scientists who watch the effects of climate change closely.

The region experienced its warmest winter on record. Sea ice hit record lows for the time of year, new US weather data revealed on Tuesday.

“It’s just crazy, crazy stuff,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, who has been studying the Arctic since 1982. “These heat waves – I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Anyone who has learned to paddle a canoe is familiar with tipping points. At some point you've gone over. You learn that, by the time the water is pouring in over the gunwale, it's too late to do much. You're going to get wet.

University of Queensland professor Andrew Glickson writes that we're witnessing a tipping point being crossed, a huge one. We may have fallen into the throes of natural feedback, a.k.a. runaway global warming.

As extreme temperatures, the rate of sea ice melt, the collapse of Greenland glaciers, the thawing of Siberian and Canadian permafrost and increased evaporation in the Arctic drive cold snow storms into Europe and North America, and as hurricanes and wild fires affect tropical and semi-tropical parts of the globe, it is becoming clear Earth is entering a shift in state of the atmosphere-ocean system associated with destructive climate tipping points. As Arctic permafrost is thawing an analogy with geological methane-release events such as the 56 million years-old Paleocene-Eocene boundary thermal maximum (PETM) event is becoming more likely.

As is well known to students of the history of the climate, once a temperature threshold is breached, abrupt weather events ensue amplified by feedbacks such as decreased reflectivity of the Earth surface and enhanced release of greenhouse gases, often within short time frames.

Such abrupt changes are occurring at present. As mean global temperature has exceeded 1.2 degrees Celsius above 1880 temperatures (Figure 1), sharp reductions occur in Arctic sea ice from 45 percent in 1985 to 21 percent in 2017[i], when the ice cover was 8.5 percent lower than the average of 1981-2010[ii].

As the ice melts the near-total reflection (high albedo) of solar radiation from the ice is replaced by absorption of infrared radiation by open water; The flow of ice-melt water from the Greenland glaciers creates a large pool of cold water in the North Atlantic Ocean. The cold water region south of Greenland slows-down to aborts northward flow of the thermohaline Atlantic Meridional Ocean Circulation (AMOC), leading to cooling of the North Atlantic and adjacent North America and Europe[iii].

Rising temperature and evaporation over the warming Arctic Ocean results in build-up of masses of cold vapor-laden air, intermittently penetrating into lower latitudes through the weakened undulating boundary of the high-altitude polar vortex, which allows penetration of snow storms southward through Siberia and North America[iv]


The current warming of Earth manifest in the Arctic Sea, the melting of polar ice sheets, penetration of snow storms into mid-latitudes, permafrost thaw, hurricanes and wildfires and the rise in extreme weather events, manifesting a shift in state of the atmosphere-ocean system, constitutes an existential threat to humanity and much of nature.

Apart from sharp reduction in carbon emissions, there appears to be one chance to save the biosphere as we know it, namely CO2 down-draw using every available method (cf. basalt dust application of soils, carbon cultivation of soils (biochar), CO2 removal by air streaming through basalt, extensive sea weed farms, ‘sodium trees’ sequestering CO2 using sodium hydroxide in pipe systems). This would require funds on the $trillions-scale currently allocated for the military and for wars, humanity’s choice being between ongoing wars and defense of the Planet.

In other words, this is "last call." Here and now, right now. We either decide to at least attempt to save the biosphere or ensure our own demise.  How do we get that message across to our prime minister with his bitumen fetish?

Before I finish with Trudeau, here are a couple of articles you should check out.

The Tyee's petro-scribe, Andrew Nikiforuk, has a piece, "The Emperor's New Clothes."  And, while you're there, Tom Parkins has a thoughtful piece on the chasm between Trudeau's progressive talk and the reality of his government's actions,"'Peoplekind' is a Painful and Goofy Example of Trudeau's Hollowness."


Toby said...

Mound, your Cohn thread has a Viagra spammer with links.

As to your question here, I don't have a good answer. He won't listen to Suzuki; He doesn't listen to anyone other than Notley and the oil execs.

the salamander said...

.. rest a bit Mound,, gather your energy

Then come like the polar bear
and orca all rolled into one
the devouring time

We need exemplars
but we need them aimed
powder dry.. gun crews raking fire

But damn do we need talent
young blood.. to step in..
We need the young ones..
yes.. we need to muster the young ones

Anonymous said...

Yes, the scientists are very concerned about our planet, as are you, as am I. However, Scientists can tell us all they want about serious climate changes we face now and the dire ones we will face in the future if we globally do not reduce CO2 release into the atmosphere, but getting global consensus on this reduction is a monster task, on a global level of course, not just Canada. But for you to conclude that Trudeau is the big problem in resolving this global crisis is pure nonsense. Hate to tell you, but if Trudeau loses the next election as you seem to want, it will certainly put Sheer in Ottawa. What we then can expect is the Trumpian way, more coal, more oil, etc. So no easy win that way. I also believe that Trudeau can easily guarantee a Sheer win by limiting in a big way, as you propose, tar sands bitumen exploration and export as that would cause a negative effect on the economy, which would simply give the cons another issue to attack this mismanagement. Remember Harper’s reply to Stephane Dion’s Green initiatives?? “Do you want to screw Canada?” And who won that election, huh?? Same ones who will win the next one, if any serious attempt is made to limit production, tax revenues, etc. Petroleum is still king, man, like it or not.
So, like you, I am very pessimistic about any real progress being made on that front until it is way too late. Easter Island on a global scale awaits us. Bush was right about one thing; globally, especially in developed countries, we are addicted to oil. I mean it’s how we got the life we have. And there is not gonna be any going backwards. Not voluntarily at least.
But hey, let’s not be too pessimistic, we older folks will be long gone when the worst of it hits. What the heck, I think I’ll go buy a Hummer! Mac

The Mound of Sound said...

What concerns me, Mac, isn't whether Trudeau is any better than Scheer or all that much different than Harper. What concerns me are our children and grandchildren. That is the yardstick by which I measure all of these assholes, Trudeau included.

Anonymous said...

Anyong.....We need someone like a Martin Luther King to organize and those people with enough money to look after themselves to march. Except for a total shut down of all work to follow, I doubt if there would be many people interested in doing that....

Jay Farquharson said...

Things are not passing unnoticed.

crf said...

It would be a good idea for the general public to get a handle on the subject of geoengineering, because we are now practicing it.

It's pretty obvious that reducing emissions is very difficult, and not currently working well (at even close to the rate required for the 2° increase), for various reasons.