The Definitive Global Climate Change (aka Global Warming) Thread — General Discussion and Questions
Thanks to Time2help for the stream of stories. We only get sporadic reports of wildfires in the US, here in New Zealand, so it's easy to think that it's not too bad or is soon contained. But it's not like that. Looks like there is also a long lived extreme heat wave in the middle-east, though I think it has only been tangentially mentioned once on news programmes that I've heard. Over 50°C in Iraq and a heat index of 73°C in Iran. 73°C! I think 55°C could burn the skin, if prolonged. That is just crazy.
So it's hardly surprising that 2015 is shaping up to be the hottest year on record, with the possibility that 2016 would be even warmer. I wonder when it was that three years in a row beat records, though let's not get ahead of ourselves. Still, we've just had the hottest 12 months on record.
And I see the Obama administration granted Shell a license to drill even deeper in the Arctic. This from an administration that apparently sees climate change as the gravest threat. If you believe that, you'll believe anything. New Zealand is just as bad, actively encouraging deep sea oil and gas exploration around it's shores, though our government don't see climate change as much of a threat, so their policies are hardly surprising.
James Hansen is getting very worried about all this and he is perhaps the pre-eminent climate scientist in the world.
The religious role call on the need for action regarding climate change continues with many Muslim clergy speaking out today, following on the Catholic Pope's encyclical on climate change and statements by leaders of many other faiths (link, link). This may be one of the few issues that these diverse groups can agree on at this point. Perhaps the time has finally come for concerted action.
Islamic environmental and religious leaders have called on rich countries and oil producing nations to end fossil fuel use by 2050.
The Islamic Climate Declaration says that the world's 1.6bn Muslims have a religious duty to fight climate change.
It urges politicians to agree a new treaty to limit global warming to 2C, "or preferably 1.5 degrees."
The Declaration asks Muslims, in the words of the Koran, "not to strut arrogantly on the Earth".
"People need to be told and politicians need to stop misleading their people, in telling them they can go on increasing their standards of living for ever and ever and ever," Fazlun Khalid, a long time Islamic environmentalist involved in drawing up the Declaration, told BBC News.
"Someone should be articulating this because it's an impossibility, they can't do it – And this applies not just to Muslim countries."
One of the Muslim prophets foresaw (for that is what a prophet does, O best beloved), that buried beneath the ground in Iraq was a mountain of gold, but that they were forbidden to touch it.
I guess he was right. Imagine an Iraq without oil. What would it look like?
Still, I must bend your ear again to the idea that the answer lies not in the soil but buried in the foundations of physics.
Seek. And do not stop looking until you find. When you find you will be perplexed. When perplexed, astounded. And rule over all.
Some other prophet. Guess who.
In a new paper published online in Geophysical Research Letters, Lovejoy shows how to directly harness the atmosphere's elephantine memory to produce temperature forecasts that are somewhat more accurate than conventional numerical computer models. This new method, he says, could help improve notoriously poor seasonal forecasts, as well as producing better long-term climate projections.
We calculate that with a physical area less than 10 percent the size of the Sahara Desert, our process could remove enough CO2 to decrease atmospheric levels to those of the pre-industrial revolution within 10 years," he says.
China has been the leading carbon emitting country since somewhere between 2005 and 2007, depending on whose numbers you use. The article below reports on an accounting error that has resulted in over reporting China's 2000-2013 emissions by nearly 3 gigatonnes of carbon.
Confusion over the types of coal being burned in Chinese power stations has caused a significant overestimation of the country's carbon emissions.
Researchers, published in the journal Nature, say existing CO2 calculations had used a globally averaged formula.
But when scientists tested the types of coal actually being burned in China, they found they produced 40% less carbon than had been assumed.
The study says the error amounted to 10% of global emissions in 2013.
The story gets all confused after that point though when it tries to put things in perspective. If you put together the 14 years worth of overcounting that would be roughly 10% of just the 2013 global emissions. Put another way, it means an overstatement of China emissions by the equivalent of ~1% of global emissions per year. It's not a conspiracy it is simply that no one accounted for the fact that China burns way more lignite (brown coal) than anyone else. This low quality coal produces less energy, less carbon emissions, more air pollution and more ash. Poor quality fuel.
Since the global quantities of carbon in the atmosphere are measured directly, this accounting snafu means one or both of two things.
1) One or more countries are emitting more than is currently being estimated.
2) The Earth System is no longer taking up (vegetation and oceans) as much carbon from the atmosphere as it has in the past.
If the issues is #1 then we just have a few more accounting problems. If it is issue #2 then we have a much more serious problem. It would indicate that carbon will continue to pile up in the atmosphere more quickly than we are currently estimating. This could be either from decreased vegetation growth rates, increased vegetation death and decay rates (fires, bug-kill, droughts), or decreased uptake by the oceans (warmer waters, less overturning). This slow down of the rate of uptake has been expected, postulated, but never convincingly shown to date.
Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report Thursday showing that July was Earth’s hottest month on record. Nine of the 10 hottest months since record keeping began in 1880 have occurred since 2005. Climatologists also expect 2015 to be the hottest year on record. This news comes as scientists from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory released a report that shows that global warming has worsened the California drought, now entering its fourth year. This new study is the first to estimate the extent to which rising temperatures are affecting the loss of moisture from plants and soil, and suggests that within a few decades continually increasing temperatures and resulting moisture losses will push California into a permanent drought by 2060. We discuss the report and the impact of the findings with the study’s lead author, Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
- Washington wildfires grow in size; emergency declaration (MyNorthwest)
- Federal emergency declared for Washington wildfires (AP)
- State asks for volunteer fire help, a first for Washington (NWCN)
- Forest Service identifies 3 fallen firefighters (KREM-TV)
- 88,000 acre North Star flames near Nespelem (KREM-TV)
- Firefighter injured in Twisp fires recovering at Harborview (King 5 News))
- NORTHWEST RESPONSE: Western Wildfires (King 5, KGW 8)
- Evacuations expand in Omak (KREM-TV)
- Oregon and Washington wildfire updates (KGW)
- Wildfires close stretches of SR 20, SR 97 (King 5 News)
- Count of Chelan Complex homes burned rises to 51 (King 5 News)
- Wildfire smoke affects air quality in Idaho (KTVB)
- 48,000-acre NE Oregon wildfire burns 3 homes, forces evacuations (KTVZ)
- Wildland firefighters' families feel emotional toll (KTVZ)
- Warm Springs fire nearly 65,000 acres; crews hunt for ash (KTVZ)
10-Day for Wenatchee, WA
A new study has been published that purports that the US could get all of its energy needs from renewables by 2050, with 80-85% achievable by 2030. And by all, they mean all, including transportation/shipping. The study is a hefty 132 pages but most of that is supplemental materials detailing how the calculations were done. It breaks everything out by state, discusses the economics/jobs, and health impacts. The transport side of things lays out the need to establish the necessary energy delivery infrastructure (e.g. electrolytic hydrogen) over 10-15 years for this to be viable. It is not completely pie-in-the-sky wishing though it would require more political will than we have seen since WWII. Not saying that it can or will be done but this seems to fit with the spirit of good new Friday (alas I am late by a few hours). If the world doesn't blow up on Monday maybe we can hope for such a transition…
This study presents roadmaps for each of the 50 United States to convert their all-purpose energy systems (for electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, and industry) to ones powered entirely by wind, water, and sunlight (WWS). The plans contemplate 80–85% of existing energy replaced by 2030 and 100% replaced by 2050. Conversion would reduce each state’s end-use power demand by a mean of B39.3% with B82.4% of this due to the efficiency of electrification and the rest due to end-use energy efficiency improvements. Year 2050 end-use U.S. all-purpose load would be met with B30.9% onshore wind, B19.1% offshore wind, B30.7% utility-scale photovoltaics (PV), B7.2% rooftop PV, B7.3% concentrated solar power (CSP) with storage, B1.25% geothermal power, B0.37% wave power, B0.14% tidal power, and B3.01% hydroelectric power. Based on a parallel grid integration study, an additional 4.4% and 7.2% of power beyond that needed for annual loads would be supplied by CSP with storage and solar thermal for heat, respectively, for peaking and grid stability. Over all 50 states, converting would provide B3.9 million 40-year construction jobs and B2.0 million 40-year operation jobs for the energy facilities alone, the sum of which would outweigh the B3.9 million jobs lost in the conventional energy sector. Converting would also eliminate B62000 (19000–115000) U.S. air pollution premature mortalities per year today and B46000 (12000–104000) in 2050, avoiding B$600 ($85–$2400) bil. per year (2013 dollars) in 2050, equivalent to B3.6 (0.5–14.3) percent of the 2014 U.S. gross domestic product. Converting would further eliminate B$3.3 (1.9–7.1) tril. per year in 2050 global warming costs to the world due to U.S. emissions. These plans will result in each person in the U.S. in 2050 saving B$260 (190–320) per year in energy costs ($2013 dollars) and U.S. health and global climate costs per person decreasing by B$1500 (210–6000) per year and B$8300 (4700–17600) per year, respectively. The new footprint over land required will be B0.42% of U.S. land. The spacing area between wind turbines, which can be used for multiple purposes, will be B1.6% of
U.S. land. Thus, 100% conversions are technically and economically feasible with little downside. These roadmaps may therefore reduce social and political barriers to implementing clean-energy policies.
I'm a bit less reticent than you. I would say this is completely pie in the sky and that it won't happen, even if only because it would take "more political will than we have seen since WWII". With a substantial portion of the US, and it seems half its politicians, in denial about climate change or its threat, there is no chance this will happen. None.
By the way, the report mentions hydrogen for aviation (and other transportation). Dangerous or what? But it doesn't appear to give any details on how that hydrogen will be produced (other than a single mention of electrolysis) or whether it's feasible. I also couldn't find any mention of rare-earths, for photovoltaics. In fact, it doesn't seem to mention the feasibility of obtaining resources for all of this new infrastructure (e.g. how the cement will be produced). It mentions gas-fired back-up but thinks it may never be needed (well I don't know who will supply natural-gas that may never be sold).
Admittedly, this is just scanning but it doesn't appear to used joined up thinking, not even anything about what happens after 100% of energy use, in the US, is WWS (plus hydrogen) – that is, how a totally renewable energy powered industrial society will continue operating, maintaining and growing itself with just renewable energy.
Of course, if others aren't doing it, there is even less likelihood of the US doing it. If everyone else does it, we'd still be on target for the 6th Extinction Event (since climate change impacts haven't even kicked in yet) and built in climate effects will continue for some considerable time and that may also have an impact on the cost calculations and site suitability.
All in all, pie-in-the-sky. However, maybe my scan wasn't compete enough.