Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I hate to break the news, but . . .

New Study Shows Climate Change Largely Irreversible

A new scientific study led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reaches a powerful conclusion about the climate change caused by future increases of carbon dioxide: to a large extent, there’s no going back.

The pioneering study, led by NOAA senior scientist Susan Solomon, shows how changes in surface temperature, rainfall, and sea level are largely irreversible for more than 1,000 years after carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are completely stopped. The findings appear during the week of January 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It's become abundantly clear that merely reducing greenhouse emissions is, at best, only half the battle. We direly need a global program to isolate and confine the C02 that's already there -- and if that entails an enormously costly and unpopular "geo-engineering" campaign then, frankly, so be it.

Personally, given the political reticence that's greeted even token efforts to address the problem scientifically, I have great difficulty imagining that we'll summon the foresight to grapple with this problem on its own terms.


Anonymous said...

It requires sacrifice one way or the other for a long term effect, so it's a hard sell. Especially since many people don't seem to believe in global warming or think it's a serous problem or simply don't care. Several people that I know expressed scepticism, putting it down to natural cycles or some such. And these are intelligent people, at least above average (not that I'm a genius, but there are a lot of dumb people around, no disrespect).

And then there's the fact that this is a global problem and I have a hard time seeing all countries in the world working together. (Maybe wars of the future will be fought over this: stop polluting or we drop some bombs!) It wouldn't surprise me if it takes till coastal areas actually start flooding that serious action is being taken.

A Day In The Life said...

I read the news today oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well I just had to laugh...

Anonymous said...

Geo-engineering is what we need to embrace if we are to survive as a species. It doesn't really matter if we are at odds with nature at this point, what matters is that we harness the power of planetary manipulation to sustain an environment that is human friendly.

AS with lofty moral arguments regarding life extension or posthuman alternatives, I feel that both us and the Earth must undergo radical manipulation in order to fully mature to our full potential.

Won't happen but it should!


Intense said...

"It's become abundantly clear that merely reducing greenhouse emissions is, at best, only half the battle. We direly need a global program to isolate and confine the C02 that's already there -- and if that entails an enormously costly and unpopular 'geo-engineering' campaign then, frankly, so be it."

Problem is, as far as I know, there is no mega-scale remediation or planetary "geo-engineering" technology existant to remove and sequester CO2 from the atmosphere itself at present. Does anyone know if any such technology exists or is in advanced development?

If not, then it's not a matter of whether it would be enormously costly or unpopular to initiate some kind of whole-atmosphere filtration mega-tech to remove CO2; if there is no technology to do so effectively, on the planetary scale required, it won't be done simply because it can't be done, and thus the question and speculation about costs, etc., is moot. And thus, the horrific consequences of continuing and accelerating global warming will persist.

Additionally, as the NOAA report posits, even if there were not another single molecule of additional artificially generated and emitted CO2 due to human activity (which is ridiculous, as the level of man-made CO2 emissions, if anything, is accelerating) produced, there is already so much CO2 in the atmosphere presently that global warming will continue unabated--that's what they mean by "irreversible."

Couple that fact alone with the financial devastation of the recession, and potentially an economic depression of unknown depth and length, continuing population growth, increasing energy usage as China and India industrialize, the reality of post peak oil production, and related increasing ecological and economic costs, in a interdependent world whose infrastructure subsists primarily on oil for energy, and we have a burgeoning recipe for complete disaster, and the subsequent decline and fall of civilization as we know it.

The subtitle of this blog, "Dispatches from a world on the cusp of terminal dissolution," suggests we are on the edge of a precipice, or cusp. I would suggest that, alternatively, we probably passed the cusp 50 years or more ago, and that we are now and will continue to witness over the next 50 years that likely remain, if that, the terminal dissolution, given all we know now, of the human species itself that may well be irreversible.

I truly hope I'm wrong, but I cannot help but feel, pragmatically, quite pessimistic about our near-term prospects. We may already be doomed.

Further bad news, in terms of the effects and consequences of global warming on the oceans: http://tinyurl.com/chnavr

Mac said...

Intense is clearly being an alarmist. Keep using low-energy lightbulbs, everybody. Everything's fine.

Boris kreiman said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading what you all have to say

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