Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Bill for Thawing Permafrost? Try 70 Trillion Dollars (USD)

This is one we're not going to be able to duck. We can't kick this can down the road. It's already underway, one of the knock-on effects of existing global warming. It is the thawing of the permafrost across the far north. And it's going to cost us dearly.

Dmitry Yumashev and a team of researchers at Lancaster University have studied the effects of melting ice sheets in the Arctic and concluded that an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide and methane from melting permafrost, coupled with added absorption of heat from the sun due to a lack of sea ice reflecting sunlight away from the surface of the Earth, will lead to an increase in the cost of global warming by a staggering $70 trillion. That is ten times the amount of economic benefit that might be derived by easier access to mineral resources in the Arctic and lower shipping costs across the top of the world.
The study, entitled “Climate policy implications of nonlinear decline of Arctic land permafrost and other cryosphere elements,” was published on April 23 in the journal Nature Communications.
...“It’s disheartening that we have this in front of us,” says Yumashev. “Even at 1.5 C to 2 C, there are impacts and costs due to thawing permafrost. But they are considerably lower for these scenarios compared to business as usual. We have the technology and policy instruments to limit the warming but we are not moving fast enough.” That lack of urgency is precisely what the Extinction Rebellion protesters, Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Bernie Sanders are talking about.
...The studies continue to pile up, but most countries are still pursuing a business as usual path, risking the very existence of the human race and every living thing on Earth to preserve the hegemony of fossil fuel companies. If there is any record of humanity’s all too brief time on Earth left after we die off, perhaps whatever species comes to inhabit the Earth in a few million years from now will shrug and look to William Shakespeare to explain the insanity that lead to our demise. “Lord, what fools these mortals be,” wrote the bard.
Coincidentally, Captain Pipeline was discussing climate change today and yesterday. One was on Twitter where the prime minister observed, quite righteously, that, without a healthy environment, there would not be a healthy environment. I think he stole that line from David Suzuki who later called JT a 'twerp.'  Then there was this epiphany from yesterday.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned that cities across Canada will experience more frequent flooding because of climate change and governments need to adapt to this new reality. 
"We're going to see more and more of these extreme weather events more regularly," he said during a visit to an evacuation centre in the city of Gatineau. 
"It means we have to think about adaptation, mitigation and how we are going to move forward together."
What he has to think about is how we are going to cut our greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030. Everything else is bullshit.

We know that little Canada with just 0.5 per cent of the world's population is in the top 10 nations for total greenhouse gas emissions and in the top three for per capita greenhouse gas emissions. Top ten, top three. Despite that we've got a Liberal prime minister and his would-be Conservative successor both hellbent on ramming through a mega-pipeline to flood world markets with high-cost, high-carbon, low-value bitumen.

He's dead wrong when he preaches we must think about adaptation and mitigation when we need to be thinking about how a succession of political leaders, Libs and Tories, have betrayed us on climate change and the cost future generations will have to pay for their cowardice and neglect.


Al said...

I found this animated graph showing Canada's long, steady participation in the Top Ten Emitters globally, entertaining & enlightening.

When this starts in the 1850's, the UK is at the top and way out in front but the US soon takes the lead and stays there!

Canada shows up around 1905 and runs as a strong, consistent emitter.

China enters the top 10 around 1960 and rapidly moves up.

Decades of National Carbon Footprint

The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks for the link, Al. Much appreciated.

Trailblazer said...

The bill for thawing..
Leave it for a future generation along with the debt for our out of control living!
We will rape the planet of its resources with the strongest robbing the poorest until it's all gone.
This is not the future but the present.
Why do you think interest rates re so low?


Anonymous said...

I fully concur with this rant.

I don't suppose Alberta extends far enough north to encompass melting permafrost. If it did, we could get Kenney to collect the methane in huge plastic bags and flog it to the world. Through a new pipeline of course - you gotta have pipelines. It's all Alberta knows, pump or dig public resources as fast as possible for private profit and export at firesale prices so that there's no provincial sales tax - through pipelines. Alberta - where everyone is more special than other Canadians, beggars its neighbors and examines its own navel endlessly, fascinated with the view. CBC Radio even propped up Preston Manning with cushions on a sofa today and interviewed him. I cannot stand his whiny voice so turned the radio off. Has he ever had anything important to say? I turn Trudeau off as well, and Scheer is never on the radio being so almighty boring even the host falls asleep.

That's my rant for today. I expect the underwater methane formations in the shallow Russian Arctic which is warming up fast to burst soon, and life will end quickly and dramatically. It's always what you're not expecting that gets you.


The Mound of Sound said...

TB, you've given a fine restatement of Canada's past, present and probably future federal policy. Once you start down this dead end road it's a real bugger to ever turn around.

The Mound of Sound said...

I know your anger on this, BM.

Perhaps the most insidious part of GHGs released by a thawing permafrost is that we've rarely produced solid estimates of future global warming that accounted for both man-made and early-onset runaway global warming feedback loops.

I agree that this could come on us much sooner than conventional thinking suggests.

Remember, man-made and natural greenhouse gas emissions are just two of the existential threats to life on Earth. The seismic threats to human civilization are much greater yet.

The madness that underlies these destructive policies only appears that way to those who don't have a current political or economic benefit from them.

At some point, probably when it's too late, their policies will be abandoned.

Anonymous said...

I received this informative email this AM. No small wonder there is opposition to any carbon tax, eh. Comment? Mac

The Mound of Sound said...

Highly informative, Mac. Wow, we've had it completely wrong all along. The entire scientific community must have been bought off, the bastards. I'm convinced.

The Mound of Sound said...

One other tip, Mac. If you're looking for information on climate science, don't go asking non-scientists such as me or the dork on this video. There are plenty of qualified scientists and organizations including government agencies and every national academy of sciences in the OECD that have already considered and answered your questions. Remember, this is not a matter of what you should believe. Belief has no relevance except to religion and other things you "take on faith" - i.e. claims without proof. This video wants to shape your belief. The scientific community merely wants to present proven knowledge, science and analysis. If you've got something to refute the science, which even this clown doesn't attempt to do, then the world will be forever grateful for your contribution.

In the meantime you might want to approach this as a question of science. There is the central thesis of anthropogenic global warming that has been independently explored, researched, tested and analyzed by a wide variety of scientific disciplines including geology, hydrology, glaciology, atmospherics, chemistry, physics, zoology, biology, botany, marine biology, oceanography, epidemiology, meteorology and climatology, and many more. Guess what? Each of those disciplines, using its own science and parameters, corroborates the central thesis.

Or, maybe you prefer videos that are obviously designed to shape your belief.

The Mound of Sound said...

I'm sorry if that sounded a little shirty. Just venting frustration. There's a reason why these guys go straight for our belief system. They know the science and know they've got nothing to refute it. This guy is speaking on a grade school level. No big words, nothing complicated, because science is sooooo simple.

Look at it this way. If this guy could prove even part of what he's saying it would probably be enough to destroy the whole climate change consensus. And then what would happen? Well, the fossil fuel community, all roughly 40 trillion dollars of it, would shower this guy, their saviour, with unimaginable wealth. Congress would convene hearings and denounce climate change as a sham. Climate scientists would become instant pariahs, scorned and ostracized, not to mention losing their posh five-figure salaries.

That would have happened a decade ago, two, possibly more because these same hack arguments have been around at least that long, playing on the beliefs of the easily persuaded, people I call Gullibillies and there's no shortage of them today.

Leave science in the realm of science. Leave belief in the realm of faith healers and every other variety of charlatan.