Saturday, September 30, 2017

Our Interglacial's New CO2 Level

During the last several interglacial periods, ice core readings from Greenland and Antarctica show that any increase in CO2 levels was dependent upon natural temperature increases (caused by an increase in sunlight received by changes in Earth's orbit (Milankovitch Cycles).
This means that the CO2 level increases tagged along behind the temperature increases. The ice core  data shows that the 'highest' that CO2 levels ever got was 300 parts per million. 

However, during our current interglacial, we are currently at 400+ parts per million and climbing due to our artificially unsequestering carbon and creating carbon dioxide. Now, temperatures are being dragged along behind CO2 levels. This describes the greenhouse effect, which was identified by Fourier in 1834, proved by Tyndall in 1859, and fully quantified by Arrhenius in 1896.

Graphic: The relentless rise of carbon dioxide-


History of climate change science:

Friday, September 29, 2017

Greenhouse Gas Effect Explained Simply

The "Greenhouse Effect" is a basic physics phenomenon in which the atmosphere of a planet traps radiation emitted by its sun; that is, the trapping of the sun's warmth in a planet's lower atmosphere due to the greater transparency of the atmosphere to visible radiation from the sun than to infrared radiation emitted from the planet's surface.

Gases such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane and other trace gases allow incoming sunlight to pass through, but, retain heat radiated back from the planet's surface.

Here are some short videos that help explain the above:

"How Do Greenhouse Gases Actually Work?"
3 minute video:
Here are some key words/phrases to get your googling started: 
Radiation balance - incoming radiant energy from the sun minus outgoing energy heading into space. 
Infrared radiation - electromagnetic radiation that is invisible to us; comes in longer wavelengths than visible light and provides energy transfer we call heat.  
[Actually, I suggest you copy and paste the entire block of search words into one search.]

"How The Earth's Climate Works and the Greenhouse Effect"
6 minute video:
A scientifically correct educational animation of how the Earth's climate functions and how the Greenhouse Effect works in demonstrating how global warming happens.

The "Greenhouse Gas Demo" is a short, but very effective and dramatic classroom demonstration to show the effect on temperature of increased levels of carbon dioxide
4 minute video

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Prior Global Warming Climate Change Postings

My previous couple of dozen postings on global warming climate change that immediately precede this posting  are in an uninterrupted sequence. Prior to that, they're interspersed with other subjects. So, I'm listing a couple dozen of those in their sequence:

A History of Earth's Climate and the Greenhouse Effect

Viking Shipwrecks Face Threat From Woodboring Shipworms

"Nanook of the North": Life in the Actual Arctic Of 1922

Climate Change: Why Should We Care?

Columbus: An Early Discoverer Of A Climate Change Factor

Ocean Acidification: The 'Other' Global Carbon Problem

How Can A Gallon Of Gasoline Produce 20 Lbs. Of CO2?

2175: Past the Point of No Return

Global Warming: Are We Doomed?

Fear and Climate Change Denial

Avoiding Anthropogenic Global Warming?

Is Milankovitch Cycle Tempering Global Warming?

Back-to-the-basics in Global Warming: Greenhouse Effect Demonstrations

Larsen Ice Shelf C Calves Huge Iceberg

Common Misconceptions About Global Warming

Global Warming: Fear Is The Mind Killer

15 Of The Greenest Countries In The World

China: Leader In Building Coal Plants

The Greenhouse Effect Made Easy To Understand

Climate Change: Sea Levels As An Indicator

Global Warming Induced Climate Change Facts Not Decreasing

Climate Change Beliefs and Poor Risk Perception

Climate Change and the Second Coming

Global Warming: Climate Change and Immigration

Silver Lining for Climate Change Future

Global Warming: A Misnomer

There are more prior to this.....

Climate change: Will doomsday scenarios backfire?

"After years of attacks from climate skeptics, the scientific community has become overly cautious in its predictions of how climate change may impact life on Earth, and how quickly. Behind the climatologists’ public “reticence,” however, there is growing evidence that unless we act now to dramatically cut carbon emissions, by the year 2100 the human race could be living, or rather dying, on an “uninhabitable planet.” Temperatures are already rising rapidly, particularly in polar regions, and within the next few decades warmer air could melt the Arctic permafrost, releasing 1.8 trillion tons of trapped carbon—twice as much as is currently in the atmosphere. This chain-reaction effect will greatly accelerate the rate of warming, rapidly raising global temperatures by more than 8 degrees. Baking heat and drought will quickly turn most of the planet’s agricultural regions into deserts. Seas will rise by as much as 10 feet, inundating coastlines. People all over the world will literally die of 110-degree heat and suffocating humidity. The worst can still be avoided, if this scenario shocks us out of our complacency, but right now, we’re on course to destroy our planet.

But, “climate doomism,” in fact, can be just as destructive as climate-change denial. By painting an “overly bleak” picture, we risk demoralizing the public into fatalistic passivity. If an overcooked Earth is all but inevitable, why should we change our way of life now? 

However, while laying out the worst-case scenario, we need to explicitly state that the planet could still be saved with prompt and concerted action. The fact is that “most people simply have no idea how scary climate change is.”

.... there are two equally true but conflicting narratives here. On the one hand, our hotter planet is already experiencing more “mega-droughts,” wildfires, and long-lasting heat waves, at the same time President Trump has pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate-change agreement. “On the other hand, a strategy for addressing climate change is coming together,” with the plunging cost of solar and wind energy, the dawn of electric cars, and serious emissions-control efforts by most nations. To focus on the first story risks demoralizing the public, while to focus on the second risks sending the message that the problem is well in hand. The truth is that at this point in history, no one knows whether our efforts to head off disaster will be successful. Did Wallace-Wells exaggerate the threat to terrify his readers into action? No doubt. But a steadily warming climate is still “the worst problem in the world,” and terror is appropriate.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Climate Change Choices: Mega-disaster, Micro-disasters OR Proactive Change

The longer mankind delays in taking united overall action to curb fossil fuel emissions, the more dramatic and drastic will be the proactive actions required later on in order to achieve the same effect. Note however, at this point in time, it's already no longer feasible to limit future temperature increases to 2 degrees Centigrade (almost 4 degrees Fahrenheit). Why? Because the current inertia and momentum of industrial expansion to provide for of a burgeoning world population's improving life style needs will carry us well past that. Thus, this level of temperature increase WILL occur, UNLESS a 'reactive' world disaster(s) soon occurs that disrupts the entire world wide industrial economy.

The result of increasing atmospheric and oceanic temperatures will eventually result in a wide variety of induced multiple micro-disasters that will overburden the international economies ANYWAY -- just simply at a later date, when higher temperatures will guarantee an eventual cumulative overall climate change 'mega-disaster'. So, without proactive measures, a normal sized world disaster(s) would be better now, when it could curb our fossil fuel consumption and CO2 release, rather than later, when it would be too late (since the additional CO2 would already be 'un'sequestered).

Do I need to be anymore specific than this? I think not. We all, in our heart of hearts, know what we're facing. Now, what we need is the courage to take 'proactive' controlled action in order to avoid 'reactive' uncontrolled solutions.


Global Warming: Welcome To "Earth In The Future"

Pennsylvania State University offers some online course work that is very informative (and for me, strangely reassuring) on the subject of global warming in the past, present and future.

They begin:
"Our planet is warming. Data shows that the average temperature of Earth has increased by 0.6 degrees C since 1950. The Northern Hemisphere just recorded its 333rd month with temperatures above the 20th century average. In fact, Earth is warming at a rate not experienced for many millions of years, if ever before. This warming and a myriad of associated environmental changes will challenge modern society throughout the 21st century. Scientists are striving to improve predictions of how the environment will change as well as understand the impacts on humans. This course, Earth in the Future: Predicting Climate Change and Its Impacts Over the Next Century is designed to provide the state of the art of climate science, the impacts on humans and natural ecosystems, as well as ways humans can mitigate and adapt to climate change."

Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the above link to the section entitled MODULES. One example of what you'll find is:
Module 1: Past Episodes of Climate Change
This gives you a selection of more detailed titles that leads you onward.

For example:
"The PETM was associated with the largest deep-sea mass extinction event in the last 93 million years and remarkable diversification of life in the surface ocean and on land."
Ancient Climate Events: Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum

An interesting excerpt from the above:
"... as warmer waters hold less oxygen than cold waters, PETM deep waters in many locations likely were possibly close to a condition that is known as hypoxia. Finally, the input of so much CO2 into the ocean caused ocean waters to become more acidic and led to a condition known as ocean acidification. Acidification of the deep ocean during the PETM is well accepted and is observed by complete dissolution of all CaCO3 shells that rained down on the sea floor...."


Global Warming: C02 and Methane Hydrates

One climate change variable that is not receiving serious enough popular consideration is the subject of:
"Methane Hydrate Degasification + Paleoclimatology". 

Read up on this, and then consider:
since temperatures in the current interglacial period may possibly be forced to go higher than in any previous interglacial period due to the artificially higher levels of CO2's amplifying the natural Milankovitch temperatures, ocean temperatures will be warmer at greater depths than they have been in over 56 million years (in the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum). 

That means that the oceanic methane hydrate that has been building up without interglacial releases at these greater depths over the eons will begin to be released once we pass the temperature level threshold that exceed those of the Pliocene (3-5 mya).

Thus, greater amounts of oceanic methane than ever before in any interglacial period would come into play (past that point of oceanic temperatures).

Will this occur overnight? Certainly not. But those greenhouse gases being released now (and will be released in the future) will play a role in ever increasing global temperatures for many centuries. Certainly long enough to be a factor in eventual long term 'methane hydrate degasification'. "IF" this then were to lead to a self sustaining cycle, then in the worst case scenario, eventually there'd be very few higher order life forms left anywhere.

Note: We are very fortunate to have detailed ice core information from Antartica and Greenland that tell about global temperatures, etcetera. After studying the graphs from these, it's very obvious that the temperatures during the past ten thousand years take on an atypical pattern when compared to previous interglacials. The single outstanding variable is mankind's activities.

Want more? Use search parameter:
"interglacials Milankovitch cycles carbon dioxide methane hydrate degasification paleoclimatology"

Note: What is especially disconcerting is our desire to tap into methane hydrate as a fuel source. Because, this would only spike the surge levels of CO2.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Permafrost Carbon Sink Decreasing

I first began to become aware of the phenomenon of melting permafrost in the early 1980s when I read about tombstones of Alaska's early settlers tipping over because permafrost was melting. And now, a long time Alaskan resident that I met recently shared how winter's lowest winter temperatures in the Arctic are about 20 degrees above normal. Then I read about how it is the higher winter temperatures that are having the greatest influence in permafrost melting.

Search: Siberian Alaskan Arctic Permafrost


Previous Interglacials and Thermal Episodes

When one looks at the temperature graphs and paleontological evidence of previous interglacial periods and compares such with our current interglacial, one can't help but notice that we should have long ago hit the higher temperatures that we could easily have expected.

I consider the distinct likelihood that the comet swarm strike that kicked off the Younger Dryas Period is the cause of our lesser temperatures.

Note: Our currently artificially unsequestering vast amounts of CO2 in a relatively short period of time is amplifying the greenhouse effect.
If we continue with this as we have been, we can eventually expect to experience the beginnings of what was experienced due to prolonged heavy volcanic activity during the Paleocene/Eocene thermal maximum (PETM) 55 million years ago with CO2 Levels at 1500 ppm.

CO2 Currently Rising Faster Than The PETM Extinction Event:

65 million year temperature record:

Earth's geological temperature record:

Global Warming: Milankovitch Cycles

'Global warming skeptics' like to point out that previous interglacial periods achieved global temperatures a bit higher than what we have yet to experience. This is true. And interestingly, the probable reason that Earth has not experienced those higher interglacial temperatures this time around is the comet strike that induced  the 'Younger Dryas' mini-ice age 13,000 years ago which dampened the interglacial warming that had begun just before the comet strike. 

Since it's true that the higher previous interglacials' temperatures came about without the influence of artificially high CO2 levels, we know that these were the result of the natural Milankovitch cycle. 

We should note, however, that natural temperature changes induced by orbital variances do NOT occur so rapidly as what is occurring today.

We recognize now that the sudden current global temperature's rapid increase is being artificially fueled by CO2 releases. 

And because greenhouse gases endure for many centuries, we face the prospect of CO2 further amplifying any eventual natural temperature increases that the Milankovitch effect does induce.

Unlike the last interglacial that saw hippos basking in England, they'll someday be able to enjoy the fjords of Norway. Am I joking? Only time will tell. But, almost certainly Montana will some day be semi-tropical after ocean currents begin to shift. Am I joking? No, I'm quite serious. 
Climate change and ocean currents:

Milankovitch Cycles:

Friday, September 22, 2017

Global Warming: Pliocene Climate at 400ppm CO2

"...imagine the Earth where the sea level is about 16 to 131 feet higher than now. Imagine a planet that is hotter and wetter. Imagine, worldwide, it’s roughly 5.4 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than today. And the North and South poles are even warmer still – as much as 18 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than today.
Welcome to the Pliocene. That was the Earth about three to five million years ago, very different to the Earth we inhabit now. But in at least one respect it was rather similar. This is the last time that carbon dioxide (CO2) levels were as high as they are today.... 400 parts per million (ppm). This is the first time in human history that this milestone has been passed. 
CO2 is the most important man-made greenhouse gas, which means (in a simple sense) that it acts like a blanket trapping heat near the surface of the Earth. It comes from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, as well as deforestation. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen from around 317 ppm in 1958 to 400 ppm today. It’s projected to reach 450 ppm by the year 2040.
To some, crossing the threshold of 400 ppm is a signal that we are now firmly seated in the “Anthropocene,” a human epoch where people are having major and lasting impacts on the planet. Because of the long lifetime of CO2, to others it means we are marching inexorably towards a “point of no return,” into territory that is unknown for the human race."

Understand that, normally, the Milankovitch Cycles of Earth's orbital variations drives Earth's temperature fluctuations with CO2 levels lagging along behind. Currently, however, high  CO2 levels are artificially induced and amplifying the greenhouse effect. Since we are already in an interglacial period, the Pliocene gives us an approximation of what lagging temperatures will likely be, if and when they catch up to CO2 levels.

Note: The CO2 that was released to heat my home when I was a kid during the time of the Korean War is still mostly 'on the loose'. It has helped in the overall build up of CO2 levels. CO2 doesn't get resequestered easily.

Greenland Ice On The Move

"A new NASA study finds that during Greenland's hottest summers on record, 2010 and 2012, the ice in Rink Glacier on the island's west coast didn't just melt faster than usual, it slid through the glacier's interior in a gigantic wave, like a warmed freezer pop sliding out of its plastic casing. The wave persisted for four months, with ice from upstream continuing to move down to replace the missing mass for at least four more months."

"This long pulse of mass loss, called a solitary wave, is a new discovery that may increase the potential for sustained ice loss in Greenland as the climate continues to warm, with implications for the future rate of sea level rise."

New Mode of Ice Loss in Greenland:


Thursday, September 21, 2017

22,000 Years of Glaciers, Heat and Humans

"The two hottest months that mankind has ever recorded (July and August 2016) happened back-to-back. And we’re about to have back-to-back-to-back hottest years. Sea levels are also rising, storms are strengthening , carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at its highest levels in eons, and a host of other signs show that humans are altering the climate in ways heretofore unseen."

"Using data from tree rings, ice cores and thermometers, the following chart below shows that yes, the climate has indeed changed over the past 22,000 years. Slowly. The ups and downs have been driven by changes in the earth’s orbit and other natural factors that influence the earth’s climate. The changes have been slow enough, however, for humans to adapt and even thrive during that period."

"The difference in the past century has been humans adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. The subsequent temperature rise has been far more rapid than the generally gentle ups and downs over the past 22,000 years during which humans have spread out across the planet. And the temperature rise in the pipeline is even more dramatic unless we cut emissions...."

Excellent Chart: A Timeline of Earth's Average Temperature


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Purple and Green: Earth's Early Primary Colors

The earliest life on Earth might have been just as purple as much as it is green today...

"Ancient microbes might have used a molecule other than chlorophyll to harness the Sun's rays, one that gave the organisms a violet hue. 
Chlorophyll, the main photosynthetic pigment of plants, absorbs mainly blue and red wavelengths from the Sun and reflects green ones, and it is this reflected light that gives plants their leafy color. This fact puzzles some biologists because the sun transmits most of its energy in the green part of the visible spectrum. 
"Why would chlorophyll have this dip in the area that has the most energy?" said Shil DasSarma, a microbial geneticist.

After all, evolution has tweaked the human eye to be most sensitive to green light (which is why images from night-vision goggles are tinted green). So why is photosynthesis not fine-tuned the same way?

DasSarma thinks it is because chlorophyll appeared after another light-sensitive molecule called retinal was already present on early Earth. Retinal, today found in the plum-colored membrane of a photosynthetic microbe called halobacteria, absorbs green light and reflects back red and violet light, the combination of which appears purple. 
Primitive microbes that used retinal to harness the sun's energy might have dominated early Earth, thus tinting some of the first biological hotspots on the planet a distinctive purple color.
Being latecomers, microbes that used chlorophyll could not compete directly with those utilizing retinal, but they survived by evolving the ability to absorb the very wavelengths retinal did not use.
Chlorophyll was forced to make use of the blue and red light, since all the green light was absorbed by the purple membrane-containing organisms.

Chlorophyll more efficient:
The researchers speculate that chlorophyll- and retinal-based organisms coexisted for a time. 
You can imagine a situation where photosynthesis is going on just beneath a layer of purple membrane-containing organisms.
But after a while, the researchers say, the balance tipped in favor of chlorophyll because it is more efficient than retinal.
Chlorophyll may not sample the peak of the solar spectrum, but it makes better use of the light that it does absorb.
These ideas are currently little more than speculation, but they fit with other things scientists know about retinal and early Earth. 
For example, retinal has a simpler structure than chlorophyll, and would have been easier to produce in the 
low-oxygen environment of early Earth.
Also, the process for making retinal is very similar to that of a fatty acid, which many scientists think was one of the key-ingredients for the development of cells.
Fatty acids were likely needed to form the membranes in the earliest cells.
Lastly, halobacteria, a microbe alive today that uses retinal, is not a bacterium at all. It belongs to a group of organisms called archaea, whose lineage stretches back to a time before Earth had an oxygen atmosphere.
Taken together, these different lines of evidence suggest retinal formed earlier than chlorophyll....."


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

What If: The Dino Killer Asteroid Had Hit 30 Seconds Earlier Or Later

"One pivotal day 66 million years ago, a 6-mile-wide asteroid slammed into the earth off the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. The explosion—as powerful as millions of nuclear bombs—kicked up billions of tons of vaporized rock, filling the sky with a dark cloud that blotted out the sun for decades. Global temperatures plunged 50 degrees. The dinosaurs that dominated the planet died off for lack of food. Their disappearance led to the rise of mammals, and eventually to the evolution of Homo sapiens. In a new BBC documentary, scientists who’ve drilled down into the asteroid’s crater say that it hit “in the worst possible place”—shallow coastal waters where the underlying sediments were filled with gypsum; if the big rock had entered the atmosphere just 30 seconds earlier or later, it would have landed in the deep Atlantic or Pacific ocean and not created the catastrophic cloud of sulfur. Most dinosaurs (if there were any still alive at this time) would have survived. The human race might never have arisen."
The Week; Issue June 2, 2017

The 3-meter gap controversy surrounding question of dinosaurs' demise:


Monday, September 18, 2017

Human Extinction Threats Drive Human Evolution: New Humans In The Offing?

100,000 years ago, there were several different kinds of humans on Earth. Then super-volcano Toba erupted 70,000+ years ago and pushed Homo sapiens to the fore. Now, we're faced with a looming 'bottleneck' called global warming.

Our current human population is so numerous that multiple mutations have occurred alongside the potential for genetic engineering. "Over the past 10,000 years, human evolution has occurred a hundred times more quickly than in any other period in our species’ history."
What will the new species be called that may arise the devastating results of our current quagmire?

New Humans In The Offing

Is it time for nature to take its course and 'thin the herd' to see which of our newer mutations will be beneficial towards the further evolution of our species? Especially, since mankind is making remarkably little progress in genuinely comprehending that there can only be one God (one Creator) no matter what the anthropomorphic tribal name given by different religions. If we'd just more fully realize this, then perhaps we would treat each other more like brothers and sisters? [Oops! I just realized that we already do generally treat one another like siblings (sibling rivalry)]. Perhaps 'friends' would be a more appropriate concept to aim for. Brethren implies those of a like mind which is limiting. We need those who are more enlightened towards the Universal Mind.

I once knew a fellow who would openly state, "I'm a racist. (pause) I believe in the human race". I can only hope that he was right.

Note: If there is a population crash in the future, after the 'new humans' rebuild society, perhaps they will be a bit more astute than we have proven to be. At any rate, they won't have the oil reserves that we've had to fully repeat our kind of industrialization errors even if they do muck it up as badly as we have. I just hope that they develop interstellar travel before a truly 'natural disaster' brings about an extinction event that finishes us all off.

new future human species evolve

How Evolution Works (12 minutes)
Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell

Global Warming: ¿Cuál es el punto?

In Spanish, there's an expression that means "What's the point".  I take it to 
simultaneously mean both 'why we are doing something' and 'why even bother'. You search for the balancing point between the two diametrically opposed concepts without expecting a resolution. Meaning comes within the 'point of tension' that their opposition creates. You allow this energy to help you maintain a balanced viewpoint and realize deeper meanings.....

With this playing in the background of your mind, read and assimilate the following four insightful comics:

There's a comic strip where a grandfather says to his grown daughter: "The science may be convincing, but there's a good reason not to believe in global warming. If we were really convinced it was real, then we'd actually have to DO something about it."

In a Calvin and Hobbes comic panel, Calvin comments to Hobbes:
"It's true. Ignorance is bliss...(because) once you know things, you start seeing problems everywhere, and once you see problems, you feel like you ought to try to fix them and fixing problems always seems to require personal change and change means doing things that aren't fun... but if you're willfully stupid, you don't know any better, so you can keep doing whatever you like.. The secret to happiness is short term, stupid, self-interest."

In another comic, a college student is remarking to his professor:
"You're the best teacher I've ever had. You opened my eyes to the world and showed me how to think critically... I was happy until I met you."

In the last comic, the setting is at a world climate summit. Besides combatting global warming, auxiliary reasons for minimizing fossil fuel usage are listed as: energy independence, preserve rain forests, sustainability, green jobs, livable cities, renewables, clean water and air, healthy citizenry, etcetera. Then a spectator exclaims, "What if it's a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing."