Geoengineering to mitigate effects of climate change
Dec 30, 2018 at 5:55 pm #3570752
One thing interesting about that plot is that when it was an ice age, the global average temperature was about 4.3 degree C (8 degree F) colder.
It doesn’t seem like that small a change would be that big a deal. If it was 50 degree F vs 58 degree F it would be no big deal. Maybe put on a jacket.
Now we’re maybe 1 degree F warmer. That’s not even noticeable. You have to take a bunch of data and analyze to even see it. But we’re 1/8th of the way to an ice age level of climate change (except in the warmer direction).Dec 31, 2018 at 8:48 am #3570825
That’s just it: 4C is HUGE. That’s why climate scientists are so worried about 2C.
Now we’re 1C warmer, on average. Yet, in only my 20 years in Alaska, winters have changed completely (they used to moderate to extreme and now they are mild to nonexistent), all our glaciers are retreating – many of them by tens of miles, trees are growing where the oldest native elders remembers no ancestral stories of there ever being trees, various fisheries are crashing, several bird species have had 90% mortality was as a result, trees are germinating on our previously treeless Aleutian Islands, and I’ve bought tuna from a commercial fisherman operating out of Homer (an upside?).
There’s so much positive feedback in either direction: a little colder or a little less solar radiation and there’s more snowy areas, that last longer, reflecting sunlight. Cold oceans hold more CO2 and algae at the base of the food chain is more productive (hence capturing more CO2).
A little warmer and that snow goes away and more solar energy is captured. A single northern tree absorbs that low-angle light, radiants IR to the snow cover for meters around, and then that bare ground absorbs more sunlight. That carbon in the tundra gets released as permafrost melts and the organics degrade. Wash, rinse, repeat.Dec 31, 2018 at 11:25 am #3570826James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
“There’s so much positive feedback in either direction: …”
It is called synergy by climate folk… A fair description, David.Dec 31, 2018 at 11:40 am #3570828Ito JakuchuBPL Member
“The Best Technology for Fighting Climate Change Isn’t a Technology –
Forests are the most powerful and efficient carbon-capture system on the planet.”
From this Scientific American post.
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-best-technology-for-fighting-climate-change-isnt-a-technology/Dec 31, 2018 at 2:26 pm #3570840
engineers call it positive feedback : )
the january issue of Scientific American has an article about geo engineering. Forestry is probably best – cheapest with a lot of potential. Grinding up basalt and spreading it on the ocean or land is another but needs development.
the situation where geo engineering would be really useful is if we find that the climate change is becoming catastrophic and we change our minds about putting all that CO2 in the atmosphere
I have heard the arctic is warming more – it’s unmistakable, not like lower latitudes where you have to take data and analyze to really see that there’s warmingDec 31, 2018 at 7:33 pm #3570879Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
I have heard the arctic is warming more – it’s unmistakable,
You don’t have to go that far. Just visit the European Alps and look at the way the glaciers there are shrinking. It’s more than unmistakable.
CheersDec 31, 2018 at 7:44 pm #3570880
Yeah, the Arctic is around 4-5C temperature rise already. The biggest short-term problem in Alaska is that reduced sea ice makes for more ocean waves combined with reduced permafrost leaves thawed, muddy shorelines subject to rapid erosion. Native villages that have been in their present location for centuries have been relocated inland, miles in some cases and some now need to be relocated again.
Longer term, releasing the carbon in that permafrost muck is going to accelerate global warming. And then there are all the deposits of methane hydrates which are very poorly understood, but when you warm them up, they release their methane and CO2. That’s one of several potential tipping points that worry me – some genies can’t be put back in their bottle.Dec 31, 2018 at 8:46 pm #3570888Monte MastersonBPL Member
@septimiusLocale: Southern Indiana
It seems like whenever humans try to control nature the outcome is disastrous. How about all the dam building that took place in the 20th Century? It was billed as good for everyone, but after decades of use the adverse effects started to become evident. And then came pesticides, remember the old Dupont commercial “DDT is good for you and me”‘ ? Oh, and nuclear power was going to be a safe miracle source of cheap energy, lol!
Of course cutting fossil fuel emissions is the best thing we can do, but how does that happen in a materialistic, consumer world where oil happens to be cheap again (SUV’s and pickup trucks are the best sellers for US automakers and small electric cars are being phased out). Also, how do you get China, India and the rest of the developing world to cut back on fossil fuel consumption? It’s a hopeless case if you ask me.
And let’s face the other huge elephant in the room…the population bomb! Seems like that gets lost in discussions about global warming. Slashing and burning of forests and increased heat islands from pavement and houses all accompanies human growth.
Man is too smart for his own good. No geoengineering please!Dec 31, 2018 at 9:39 pm #3570894Tipi WalterBPL Member
Monte—thanks! You’re a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stagnant world full of hot and stinky air.
OVERPOPULATION!! That’s the biggest problem we face. Why? Because every human on the planet strives to have a house and a driveway and 5 acres and two cars and electricity and MORE MORE MORE. And more sprawl and more Disney Worlds and more walmarts and more roads until we’re all living in a claustrophobic box peopled with our own kind. It’s called The Domestication of the World. And the Urbanization of what wild lands are left.
I think no one talks about the human population bomb because we all think we are God’s Gift to the Planet—as we eradicate every all other creatures and their habitats. We’re brainwashed about how great humans are—the City on the Hill—the Beacon of Light to the World—it’s the neverending propaganda of Us First—Humans at the center of the universe. The Anthropocene age. The terrible myth of human exceptionalism.
It’s mind boggling that we cull and harvest animals that “don’t belong” like pythons in Florida or wild pigs in TX and yet don’t do a thing about human encroachment and sprawl in these same habitats.Dec 31, 2018 at 10:35 pm #3570900Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
In mathematical terms:
The Earth has finite resources. That is unarguable.
We may express this limit as (resources per head) x population.
What few have realised yet is that we CAN have a high-resources life style IF we limit the population to rather less than we have today.
Unfortunately, that idea is in direct conflict with those who want an ever-expanding population, either for religious reasons or out of greed for an ever-increasing GDP. It is just not viable.
CheersDec 31, 2018 at 10:38 pm #3570903
Over population: My son has been examining “effective altruism” and considering how to make the most positive difference in the world. One idea I saw raised in such circles is how to maximize human happiness.
If (say, painlessly) killing people is bad because you deprive them of the rest of their life, (i.e. human life is a good thing), then are more people a good thing? If one believes or concludes this, there are broadly two scenarios:
1) we botch it all up through excessive population growth, consumption, environmental damage, etc and while I don’t believe all humans will become extinct, the survivors could end up stone-age, hunter-gatherer setting or something akin to low-level tribal agriculture. If so, an advanced civilization is a LOT harder to achieve the second time around when all the easy ores and oil have been extracted (landfills will be the prime source of raw materials). So you have a long-term population without agriculture, of 1-15 million or 100-200 million with primitive but widespread agriculture.
2) or we decide to control population at something sustainable – maybe that’s 10 billion if we get really renewable in our resource use, maybe it’s 5 billion. Or perhaps a forward-thinking generation realizes that their grandchildren will have better lives if they each have 3-5 grandchildren (total, from 8 grandparents) instead of 12-20, do that a few times and settle in at 2-3 billion.
Point being, even if you think more humans is a good thing, we need to not don’t crash everything and we can get past this potential pinch-point, then there could be a LOT more humans, living better lives, spread out in the centuries ahead.Dec 31, 2018 at 11:19 pm #3570907Erica RBPL Member
The solution to our excess atmospheric CO2 is startling simple. Yes, it will help to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, but that won’t be enough. We need to rapidly sequester carbon back into the soil. Modern farming practices have reduced soil organic matter by 50% in many areas. We need to put the carbon back into the soil where it belongs. There are at least 3 methods I can think of quickly: stop plowing, add biochar, grow plants so healthy they deposit lipids into the soil, which leads to long term stable carbon. In a world where water is becoming scarce, the moisture holding capacity of more carbon in the soil should not be underestimated.
Project Drawdown, a non-profit organization that researches solutions to global warming, has estimated that global farmland restoration (building soil organic matter) could remove 14 gigatones (billion tonnes) of CO2.
This would reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere below the current 400 parts per million — a level unpassed for several million years — while developing more fertile, resilient soils to feed people for years to come and keep forests intact.
These approaches seem like obvious solutions. Why are they not more widely adopted? The short answer is economics.Jan 1, 2019 at 1:42 am #3570927Tom KBPL Member
“There are at least 3 methods I can think of quickly: stop plowing, add biochar, grow plants so healthy they deposit lipids into the soil, which leads to long term stable carbon.”
+1 An additional benefit is the reduction in CO2 emissions by eliminating at least one pass across the fields with a tractor, but the prevention of CO2 release by exposing organic matter to aerobic decomposition is probably the bigger saving. It needs to be quantified, however.
“In a world where water is becoming scarce, the moisture holding capacity of more carbon in the soil should not be underestimated.”
Add in drip irrigation for row crops and you’re starting to talk very significant reductions in agricultural water use.Jan 1, 2019 at 4:39 am #3570935Ito JakuchuBPL Member
“By now, the looming dangers of climate change are clear to anyone who’s been paying attention, covered extensively in both academic literature and the popular press.
But what about solutions?
This book by Paul Hawken ranks the top 100 solutions to climate change.“Jan 1, 2019 at 3:40 pm #3570953
Interesting article, thanks, geoengineering isn’t an effective solution unless you call reforestation geoengineering. CCS doesn’t work and is too expensive…Jan 1, 2019 at 3:48 pm #3570954Tom KBPL Member
“Unfortunately, that idea is in direct conflict with those who want an ever-expanding population, either for religious reasons or out of greed for an ever-increasing GDP. It is just not viable.”
As always, the problems, and their potential solutions, originate in the minds of humanity collectively. That does not give me great confidence as to where we are headed, because the greed/religion/cultural traditions alluded to by Roger will be formidable obstacles to overcome in the short amount of time most scientists think we have remaining before it is too late to prevent a disastrous climate reset. It may well be that David Thomas’s 1st scenario is the best we can hope for. War, mentioned only in passing in Ito’s link, will almost certainly play a large role in an increasingly chaotic near term future of declining fresh water resources and massive population movements, likely not for the better.Jan 1, 2019 at 4:00 pm #3570955Greg MihalikSpectator
Thank You! Ito.
An excellent article that articulates practical science versus assumptions.Feb 21, 2019 at 3:41 am #3579665Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
The US Air Force had been making mysterious large and long-lasting contrails at very high altitudes a few years back. This may have been just such anent-warming experiment but the USAF would not comment, PERIOD.Feb 22, 2019 at 5:30 am #3579870AK GranolaBPL Member
Okay, plant trees, don’t eat meat, don’t have too many kids, and how do you prepare th kids you already have, or other children in you family, for what is to come? How do you give them hope? And in the meantime, Pinot noir, and a walk in the woods. What else can you do?
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