In the mid 80’s much in science was pointing to a looming climate catastrophe. I stressed over this for a few years and then felt… Que Sera, Sera. I see now, 30 years later, that it is going down just like the computer models indicated. These models were not warning of climate warming per se. The real concern would be the ensuing climatic extremes and the destabilizing effect that would have on practical survival matters such as agriculture and disease, among other things.
There is little doubt that earth’s climate is changing rapidly and that we are responsible for some part of this. First up is a 5 minute audio clip of Fareed Zakaria GPS segment, Climate Catastrophe. I imagine if you live at sea level you might want to move to higher ground at some point.
As serious as this seems, I don’t see this as a ‘we humans’ vs. ‘the Earth’ issue. I know many people do, but isn’t that the same blame game we always seem to play rather than look deeper?
Self-interest is a duel edge blade
In truth, our concerns are narrow emotional projections of personal mortality. It is all about what “I want or worry about”. Self-interest rules us, and naturally so! While completely natural, expecting a better life in a better world is just too stressful and futile for my taste. Speaking of expectations, see Science Proves Buddha Right!
I prefer to view dire circumstances as gently as possible. When I remove what I desire from my views, I am able to see all this as simply part of nature’s eternal experiment. A lot in nature is uncomfortable; adapting my outlook to conform to nature’s way makes the discomfort more bearable.
Ironically, self-interest got us into this climate predicament in the first place. Self-interest instinctively drives us to maximize our comfort and security, and we have the means now to achieve that. Where will self-interest take us going forward? Chapter 16 sheds light: Not knowing the constant, rash actions lead to ominous results.
One outstanding aspect of nature seems to be that it is a ‘the way of experiment‘. Indeed, does nature ever plan ahead of time for anything? Yet, living things have strong instincts to ‘plan ahead’… for the onset of winter, for example. Broadly speaking, evolution itself is the life-process’s attempt to ‘plan ahead’ to maximize security and comfort — survival. Nevertheless, nature goes along its merry way. Only when natural conditions are stable and conducive enough does life have a chance to set up shop. When an asteroid strikes as it did 50 million years ago, or the atmosphere bubbles away, as it appears to have done on Mars, the jig is up for some or all living things.
Whew! At least our atmosphere isn’t bubbling away
I assembled a variety of short video reports on climate change (at the end) that shows what we, or our descendants, might expect over the coming decades. These are eye opening, but also not a done deal. History tells me that future predictions have invariably turned out false, either worse or better than projected. Generally, I’d say they’ve turned out better than projected because of the human fascination with disaster. I mean, bad news is ‘good’ news; good news is ‘no news’. On the other hand, there is a lot of science behind these projections, unlike the apocalyptic prophecies of the past born of myth and fear.
At 400 parts per million, greenhouse gas concentration is now higher than it has been for millions of years: Carbon dioxide in atmosphere reaches landmark level.
On May 9, the atmosphere above Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano reached a milestone: For the first time since record keeping began there in 1958, the daily mean carbon dioxide concentration reached 400 parts per million.
The Mauna Loa Observatory the world’s oldest continuous monitoring station for carbon dioxide. In spring of 2012, Alaska, Canada and several other Arctic locations surpassed the 400 ppm benchmark. Parts of the Southern Hemisphere should top 400 ppm within the next few years. And by 2016, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expect global average concentrations of the greenhouse gas to hit 400 ppm.
The last time Earth’s global CO2 concentrations were that high was during the Pliocene epoch, 5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago, when summers in the Arctic were 8 degrees Celsius warmer than they are today. CO2 levels have been rising sharply with the increase in fossil-fuel burning since the Industrial Revolution, when the global average was 280 ppm. The rise of CO2 has accelerated in recent decades. In the late 1950s, CO2 concentrations increased about 0.7 ppm per year. In the last 10 years, that rate jumped to 2.1 ppm per year.
On the plus side, simulations suggests that the long-term effect on sea level is not as dire as some predictions, see Carbon dioxide in atmosphere reaches landmark level.
The increasing pace of ice breaking off Greenland’s glaciers and dumping into the ocean may not actually be a warning sign of runaway ice loss and catastrophic sea level rise, researchers report in the May 9 Nature.
Greenland’s ice sheet raises sea level when the surface melts or when glaciers flow into the sea and discharge icebergs. Scientists have been concerned that the last decade’s acceleration in iceberg calving would continue unchecked. Simulations have been unable to verify or refute those fears because it’s difficult to account for all of the processes, such as warm seawater’s melting of a glacier’s base, that influence how the streams of ice move and shed icebergs.
Now, Faezeh Nick of the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium and colleagues have incorporated all of these variables into a simulation that predicts the activity of four of Greenland’s main glaciers. In a scenario where global temperatures warm 2.8 degrees Celsius by 2100, the glaciers’ rate of ice loss eventually levels off, the simulation suggests. In total, the four glaciers could raise sea level by about 1 centimeter by 2100.
Applying the findings to the rest of the island’s glaciers, the researchers predict Greenland could add as much as 18.3 centimeters to sea level by the end of the century. That amount is about 35 centimeters less than a previous estimate that extrapolated Greenland’s current ice loss acceleration into the future.
Video Reports on Global Warming
Up in the air: Carbon dioxide at a record level high
Historically high levels of carbon dioxide recorded in Hawaii
Why climate change can be denied no longer
Why is it still so cold? “Global weirding” behind spring chill
Headlines at 8:30: As global temperatures rise, the Arctic wil grow more plant life