spot's beginner's guide to Global Warming

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spot's beginner's guide to Global Warming

Post by spot »

Now that President Dissocial Personality Disorder is returning to private life and new ER staff take over the White House to treat the nation he mugged I thought we might have another look at Global Warming.

Compared to the huge amount of energy reaching the Earth every day from the sun there's nothing in nature which comes remotely near it as an energy store. The oceans can be warmer or cooler, the air can be warmer or cooler, water stays at freezing point while it releases latent heat becoming ice, ice won't warm past its melting temperature until it's absorbed the right amount of latent heat and melted and the same principle applies to evaporation and condensation; these are all feeble batteries compared to the daily blast of energy from the sun.

What happens to that energy from the sun, though, is it's either reflected or absorbed, trapped or free to leave easily. There's a whole set of switched states which either promote a colder or a warmer Earth. Lots of clean white Polar ice cover promotes a cooler steady state. Lots of white fluffy clouds promote a cooler steady state. Lots of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere promotes a warmer steady state.

Each of these switched steady states has a traditional energy diagram.



Random fluctuations from time to time push any switch condition some way up the hill dividing on from off. Lots are small and go only a bit of the way and fall back. Some get further. In time eventually, despite everything else being equal, a random fluctuation will flip the switch. Once a system has enough activation energy to pass the transition state it automatically falls to the other side. Getting back is a lot of work, an unlikely event, it needs another rare heavy random fluctuation.

One switch in Global Warming is whether there's an oceanic conveyor system dumping tropical hot water in polar regions and bringing cold water back to cool the tropics. Another is whether the Arctic is reflective, covered in ice, or it's absorbing energy because it's all water and no ice. There are lots of switches.

If one of the switches flips, the new steady state is a warmer or a cooler planet. Flipping one state can push conditions so far from where they were that another switch is flooded with so much transitional energy that it flips too. They can fire each other off in turn if they overlap. Switching the Arctic Ice Cover to Off has, in the past, shut down the ocean heat conveyor current. That in turn might melt the clathrate methane deposits under the Tundra, giving a new steady state which traps far more of the solar energy and leaves the planet a lot warmer still. The warmer the oceans, the more sea water ejects its dissolved carbon dioxide (which is less soluble in warm water) and, the more it ejects, the warmer the oceans end up because of greenhouse effects from the additional carbon dioxide.

The burning of fossil fuels over the last few hundred years is pushing a number of these steady state conditions toward transition.

The effects are mitigated by increased reflectivity of more cloud cover. Just as there are positive feedback systems in which adding transition energy applies pressure to add more transition energy (gradually losing ice cover is an example) so there are negative feedback systems which make adding more transition energy harder (increasing cloud cover might be an example of that).

The Doomsday argument is that triggering one switch fires off a second which in turn passes the threshold for a third and so on. Venus and Mars were arguably Earth-like at earlier stages and went to their current extremes by such a process, passing transition points which allowed no way back but led instead to the next.

The argument against Doomsday is that all the known switches have been thrown back and forth since life started on Earth and life's still here. The planet's been mostly snowball, it's been entirely ice-free, it's had thicker greenhouse gases than now, even the methane clathrates may have all entered the atmosphere in the past.

What's certainly the case is that there's two hundred feet of extra ocean stored up in the existing ice on Earth. Melting the Arctic ice cap won't add to the rise because that's already floating. Melting Greenland and the Alps and Antarctica would. Melting the Arctic icecap is a switch because the subsequent steady state absorbs more sunlight and makes the planet warmer, pushing more transitional energy against the other switches.

What's suggested is the world's ice is all going to melt if greenhouse emissions aren't reversed. Nobody, yet, has even started to discuss reversal of greenhouse gas concentrations, it's all just talk of slowing the rate of increase.
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Post by Oscar Namechange »

spot;1108943 wrote: Now that President Dissocial Personality Disorder is returning to private life and new ER staff take over the White House to treat the nation he mugged I thought we might have another look at Global Warming.



.

What's suggested is the world's ice is all going to melt if greenhouse emissions aren't reversed. Nobody, yet, has even started to discuss reversal of greenhouse gas concentrations, it's all just talk of slowing the rate of increase.


:yh_rotfl:yh_rotfl:yh_rotfl Sorry Spot.. I couldn't help myself.

Bryn and i were talking about 'global dimming' on another thread. I would appreciate your views on it.
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Post by ekotter »

There are more important things to worry about than global warming. Like, world hunger, moral decay, a terrible economy. I think that the amount of green house gasses humans contribute is so insignificant, that it does not have a measurable affect on the earth's temperature. The real culprit to climate change is THE SUN. This makes so much more sense.
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Post by spot »

Noshit, Sherlock. You think, eh? That's simply fascinating, I'm so glad you posted such a persuasive argument, my mind's entirely changed as a result.
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Post by minks »

spot;1236147 wrote: Noshit, Sherlock. You think, eh? That's simply fascinating, I'm so glad you posted such a persuasive argument, my mind's entirely changed as a result.


Well I heard that cow flatulance (is that correct spelling) is methane and does this not cause global warming.... I am quite worried and think we should curb cows from well you know.... tooting. Perhaps some kind of anti gas tablet? Spot what say you?

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Post by Clodhopper »

spot, as is usually the case, is bang on the money. Think this must have been posted in one of my "off" periods.

Enjoy the present, folks.

spot, I think know why you really posted the nuclear war thread - because it would be preferable.
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Post by spot »

minks;1236150 wrote: Well I heard that cow flatulance (is that correct spelling) is methane and does this not cause global warming.... I am quite worried and think we should curb cows from well you know.... tooting. Perhaps some kind of anti gas tablet? Spot what say you?

:yh_rotfl


Cows should become an endangered species as soon as possible along with all the other domesticated farm animals. The very notion of captivity is grotesque.

As for methane, fixing rice paddies is pretty important too. I'm all for a bit of genetic engineering there.
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spot's beginner's guide to Global Warming

Post by spot »

ekotter;1236142 wrote: I think that the amount of green house gasses humans contribute is so insignificant, that it does not have a measurable affect on the earth's temperature.What aspect of this graph would you dispute, as evidence of the amount of greenhouse gases humans contribute? I make that a roughly 40% increase so far during the period of industrialization, a novel use of the word "insignificant". Or do you suggest the increase is independent of human activity?



Increase of carbon dioxide in the air over the past few centuries

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Post by Chookie »

minks;1236150 wrote: Well I heard that cow flatulance (is that correct spellingl)
No.

minks;1236150 wrote: I am quite worried and think we should curb cows from well you know.... tooting. l
Get with the programme Missis - it's FARTING.

Now, if we could switch off the cows (male and female, in all varieties), out back all the trees which have been cut down, and reduce the carbon cycle, we might have a chance........
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Post by minks »

Chookie;1236197 wrote: No.



Get with the programme Missis - it's FARTING.

Now, if we could switch off the cows (male and female, in all varieties), out back all the trees which have been cut down, and reduce the carbon cycle, we might have a chance........


ladies don't say FART :lips:

Well ok cut the trees down, but what about reforestation? Are we too late for that? I know in the next province over they are going crazy with reforestation but then again, they have chopped so much of the forested areas I wonder if we may be too late.

BTW Chookie nice to see ya as always :)
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Post by BTS »

spot, I am so disappointed you did not include the "albedo effect" in your spiel.

You missed a prime chance.
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Post by spot »

BTS;1236246 wrote: spot, I am so disappointed you did not include the "albedo effect" in your spiel.

You missed a prime chance.


Perhaps you'd like to?
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Post by mikeinie »

My guide to global warming:

1. Sell off beach front property, people are still buying it and there is a good market.

2. Purchase property on high grounds, hills, mountain sides. This will become the high value properties in the future.

3. Don’t buy in flood plains. (why anyone does anyway still amazes me).

4. Countries with high amounts of fresh water lakes and have lots of rain need to invest in infrastructure and build large water reservoirs and good quality filtration systems. Fresh water will be the next natural resource commodity.
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Post by spot »

spot;1236299 wrote: [QUOTE=BTS;1236246]spot, I am so disappointed you did not include the "albedo effect" in your spiel.

You missed a prime chance.
Perhaps you'd like to?[/QUOTE]That was slightly abrupt but I was dashing for the door when I posted it.

What I mentioned of the "albedo effect" in my spiel was:Lots of clean white Polar ice cover promotes a cooler steady state. Lots of white fluffy clouds promote a cooler steady state.

Admittedly it doesn't mention dust but I'd be interested to know what you think I left out.
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Post by Clodhopper »

I haven't seen this before. Pretty last resort, but better than nothing I suppose:

Professor John Shepherd, a researcher from the University of Southampton, chaired the Royal Society's geo-engineering study.

He said: "It is an unpalatable truth that unless we can succeed in greatly reducing CO2 emissions, we are headed for a very uncomfortable and challenging climate future.

"Geo-engineering and its consequences are the price we may have to pay for failure to act on climate change."


Full article below.

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Engineering Earth 'is feasible'
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Post by Bryn Mawr »

Clodhopper;1236436 wrote: I haven't seen this before. Pretty last resort, but better than nothing I suppose:



Full article below.

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Engineering Earth 'is feasible'


My favourite would be the superfine membrane at the L1 Lagrange point. It would need a fairly significant weight inbound of it to compensate for the pressure of the solar wind but could be sufficient to cut the incident radiation by the few percent we'd need to stabilise the climate.
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Post by spot »

Bryn Mawr;1236615 wrote: My favourite would be the superfine membrane at the L1 Lagrange point. It would need a fairly significant weight inbound of it to compensate for the pressure of the solar wind but could be sufficient to cut the incident radiation by the few percent we'd need to stabilise the climate.


You're not keen on maintaining a permanent artificial sulphate mist in the stratosphere then?
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Post by Bryn Mawr »

spot;1236622 wrote: You're not keen on maintaining a permanent artificial sulphate mist in the stratosphere then?


Nah - stinks too bad :-)
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Post by spot »

So, finally we have an update.

The UK government has announced the country will have zero percent carbon emissions by 2050. There is a plan, there are targets, there is a fixed deadline. All to the good, one might think. Besides, it might placate the rioters.

I've always been an avid reader of New Scientist, a UK equivalent to, say, Scientific American but without the jokes and adverts. Up until I was thirty the New Scientist was prone to run editions dedicated to all the signs that the world was slipping into a new Ice Age, of which there were lots. Signs, that is. Then the focus fell on rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and the greenhouse effect. Perhaps we had dodged the Ice Age solely as a result of industrializing. I only mention this because the rioters blindly claim that global warming is a bad thing. I think the jury is out on that, but I do agree with them that it's quite definitely happening.

So, the 2050 UK target pledge. I have three observations to make.

One is that we haven't pledged the planet will achieve this goal, just that the UK will. My eye is firmly on American Exceptionalism as I say this. It makes bugger all difference what we do in the UK if the bloody Americans keep pouring vast quantities of greenhouse gases into the air. Will we see Americans act for the benefit of humanity beyond their shores? Will we hell as like, the notion is pure comedy. America is, after all, Exceptional. The US of A may well be pleased someone's cleaning up the mess but it's not going to chip in for anything other than increased arms spending to protect "Freedom".

The second thing is that, even if the world did manage to achieve zero percent carbon emissions by 2050, the fine print hasn't been publicised. What "zero percent carbon emissions" means is that by 2050 the amount of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere will balance the amount being removed. The level of carbon dioxide actually in the atmosphere will be at its maximum since lord knows how many millions of years ago and it will stay at that record level. The only thing which will reduce the level will be a negative value in this perverse measure that's been chosen. There needs to be less added than is being removed, at which point the record high will start to reduce and we can start to predict how much further we need it to fall before we can say we've made real progress. Nobody has even discussed how to do that, all they've discussed is bringing the rise to a fixed maximum instead of letting it continue upwards.

My final point is that the 2050 pledge relates to carbon dioxide. There are several other greenhouse gases. As ForumGarden discussed over ten years ago, if the methane clathrates under the tundra and coastal oceanic seabed start a runaway entry into the atmosphere, we'll have triggered an immense positive feedback loop. At that point carbon emissions will be a trivial irrelevance. I did try pointing this out to Paul when he was here but he wasn't in a listening mood during that decade.
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Post by tude dog »

spot;1236154 wrote: Cows should become an endangered species as soon as possible along with all the other domesticated farm animals. The very notion of captivity is grotesque.


I took this picture a year ago almost to the day.



I actually drove by that same area this morning and there seemed to be more cattle and calves which should come as no surprise as it is a big parcel of land and the picture shows a small part. Actually does not very much like captivity. Lots of food and land and protected by the rancher.

After thousands of years they are dependent on people, in return for their protection and leasury lifestyle, we eat them.

[QUOTE=spot;1236154 wrote: As for methane, fixing rice paddies is pretty important too. I'm all for a bit of genetic engineering there.


I suppose we should be thankful for the wooly mammoth for ending the last ice age.

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