Tag Archive | "climate change"

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Poles Melt as 2016 is Hottest Year

Posted on 11 February 2017 by Jerry

It does not wait for the White House. Global warming continues all around the world but especially at the North and South poles. 2016 will go down in the record books as the hottest year on record per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This is the third consecutive year of progressively record temperatures.

An article in Science magazine in the January 27 issue of 2017 stated that this last year was “1.1°C above those in the industrial era, and 0.07°C above the previous record set in 2015.” The article goes on to say this conclusion is based on an “analysis by the Geneva, Switzerland-based World Meteorological Organization (WMO), based on data from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United Kingdom’s Met Office Hadley Centre of Climate Science and Services, and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit.”

All indications are the sea ice of both poles was at historic lows. The air temperatures over the artic and Antarctica in November and December 2015 were near normal and yet the sea ice around both poles was at a lower point than many previous years and decades.

An article by the National Snow and Ice Data Center appearing this year in January 2017 said, “Artic sea ice extent for December 2016 averaged 12.10 million square kilometers (4.67 million square miles), the second lowest December extent in the satellite records.”

In a recent January 26, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Herald, Dr. James Renwick of Victoria University is reported to have seen 2017 begin with more than one million square kilometers of ice missing at the two poles when compared with the historical average. It also reported he saw more than three million square kilometers of ice missing over a 76 day stretch of time between October 13 and December 27th of 2016.

I apologize for the absence of written articles recently. In the last couple of months I moved to a new home in another state and attempted to cope with the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. These two developments took the majority of my time during the intervening period. I must admit that my mood turned around with the Women’s March that swept the nation. It was a beacon of hope that there may be hope that the Trump overtures will not go unanswered by the people. In addition, I took comfort in all of the protests about the cancelling of “Obamacare”.

I now see that progress has just gotten harder to come by and that we must keep fighting for what we believe. Of course I continue to believe that we must have solutions to global warming, the ozone hole, nuclear weapons, nuclear technology and synthetic biology/genetic engineering. So we must keep fighting until we solve these four or five problems that we have collectively created.

For more information or to access source documents for this article please use the following links.

http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/hottest-year-on-record/

http://huffingtonpost.com/entry/2016-hottest-year-global-record_us_587e63eee4b07b9dd704f788

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid+11776133

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/sifter/last-year-was-again-hottest-record

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Two Carbon Capture & Storage Developments

Posted on 03 July 2016 by Jerry

It looks as if baking soda is a key breakthrough in carbon capture and storage. Most countries were assuming a technology breakthrough that would allow them to take carbon out of the atmosphere. We should remember that if there is excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and it contributes to global warming then a key solution is to take this out of the atmosphere. This reality serves as the basis of a significant portion of the carbon reductions signed up for by various countries.

In a new breakthrough scientists have fashioned sponges made with baking soda to capture carbon emissions. They have tested microcapsules filled with their baking soda formula and believe their approach could be up to 40% cheaper than any existing technology.

One article cites Joshua Stolaroff, an environmental researcher at the Livermore Labs. He said, “Like all the commercial CO2 schemes we have today, the goal for large scale implementation is taking many tons of gas from a power plant and finding geological features deep underground where we can inject the CO2 and it will stay indefinitely.”

This leads us to the second development to be called out in research summarized in the June 10, 2016 issue of Science magazine. This article essentially says that 95% of carbon dioxide carbonizes and turns into benign carbonate minerals within two years when injected into a site in Iceland. This assumes the site has the appropriate chemistry and composition for carbon dioxide storage.

The carbon dioxide is dissolved in large amounts of water and then stored in porous basaltic rock. Here it undergoes a chemical transition to become a carbonate that binds to iron, calcium or magnesium, all of which are natural ingredients of the basalt.

Previously, scientists believed it would take hundreds if not thousands of years for carbon dioxide to harden underground. Obviously the faster the carbon dioxide turns to a harder material the better because it can be reused by other industries. An advantage of the microcapsule approach is that the carbon dioxide can be retrieved. If the baking soda solution is heated it turns into a form of gas that increases its value to others.

As said many times, there is reason for optimism in that human beings can find a solution or react fast enough to solve or diminish any problem we might identify. If we could only combine these two technologies or even if we can use them separately, it is clear we are making progress.

Taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere is a part of the worldwide solution to climate change. This baking soda solution and the fact that it takes only two years to mineralize carbon dioxide underground, each point to progress in lessening climate change. This gives us reason for optimism when we think about our scientific community and the great problems confronting us.

Use the following links to obtain more information on these subject areas.

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36197603

http://www.energy.gov/articles/these-tiny-capsules-fight-climate-change

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/352/6291/1312

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/pulling_co2_from_the_air_promising_idea_big_price_tag/2197/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/02/07/scientists_use_baking_soda_to_capture_carbon_dioxide/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/06/09/scientists-in-iceland-have-a-solution-to-our-carbon-dioxide-problem-turn-it-into-stone/

 

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Disagree (and Agree) With Stephen Hawking

Posted on 26 January 2016 by Jerry

Dr. Stephen Hawking, professor and research director at Cambridge University’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, has expressed his belief that technology will be our undoing and will bring new ways for things to go wrong and end humanity’s future existence. Hawking said at a teleconference in Hong Kong, “Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of.” He made substantially the same statements in response to questions when recording the BBC’s annual Reith Lectures on January 7, 2016.

He said that he believes our only hope is to spread out in space and colonize other worlds. He believes that it will take at least 100 years to establish a colony on another world in our solar system and the next 1000 years to spread to other solar systems. Our objective must be to establish self-sustaining colonies that are independent of our home planet Earth. This is because he believes we will kill ourselves on planet Earth and we need to be self-sustaining elsewhere for humanity to survive.

While we agree on the threats, we must be a pessimist about the space options and an optimist that human beings on this planet are taking the steps necessary for us to survive. We must support space colonization because of the knowledge we gain about surviving in hostile environments. We cannot believe we can colonize other solar systems. We cannot believe that colonies can support more than a few thousand humans, certainly not any real fraction of the seven plus billion population of the world.

Dr. Hawking has reliance on the science fictional development of a technology that allows our speed to approach that of light. The author sees no practical approach that permits us to significantly increase our speed.  This Hawking suggestion represents his ‘hail Mary’ pass about the future.

In our book, Beyond Animal, Ego and Time, it is shown it would take 18,000 years at 150,000 miles per hour, our current rate of maximum speed, to reach the nearest star. Even if you triple or quadruple this speed the time to reach the star dwarfs our ability to maintain life in outer space by a large margin. The book is explicit about our practical isolation in the universe (see Chapter 4 about travel to Alpha Centuri C).

Those readers who have the book Beyond Animal, Ego and Time or follow the blog www.iamaguardian.com know that the writer has warned about these hazards specifically with the exception of artificial intelligence. The author has warned about climate change, nuclear weapons and genetic engineering/synthetic biology. While we have also warned about the ozone depletion of the planet’s atmosphere, we have recently written blog articles about asteroids and meteors hitting the earth. On these threats there is agreement.

Although the writer wishes it were not so, he is not the fatalist that Dr. Hawking is proving to be. The outcomes we fear, while all legitimate, must be solved soon by us before our worst fears come to pass. There is certainly no option to wait for a century to solve these problems. The climate change outcome is dependent upon what humanity does in the next decade.

All of these problems should be dwelt with in the next few decades. We must have faith there is a solution to each of these hazards that has been spelled out in the blog articles over the last four years or so.

The only one we have not dealt with is the meteor strike on our planet and this too can be solved. We can interrupt the trajectory of a meteor or asteroid that we know is coming toward us. So far we are making too little an effort to identify these objects and are making no effort to learn how to modify trajectories. We just need to get going.

We must stay the course on each of the threats we face. None of them involve quick or easy fixes. We cannot give up as Dr. Hawking suggests. We can be fatalistic but not in his way. We must believe human beings will confront each threat and solve the underlying problems. We should believe in ourselves to triumph over problems we have created or we can foresee.

Use the following links to access additional information or the source documents used to support this article.

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/13293390/ns/technology_and_science-space/t/hawking-says-humans-must-go-space/#.Vp6tixHSalU

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/scientific-progress-a-disaster-hawking/news-story/deadb3343090a1e679c6795cee076d32

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/28/stephen-hawking-humanity-1000-years_n_7160870.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3406751/Hawking-Threats-human-survival-likely-new-science.html

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Find Out Who Pays for “Denials”

Posted on 21 January 2016 by Jerry

Increasingly investigators are trying to find out who is paying for denial of the truth. We all watched for 50 years as the tobacco industry paid many people to lie about the dangers of smoking tobacco. If we had a smoking gun (no pun intended) like we had in the later years, we would have put warnings on cigarettes much sooner. It was the government’s filing of a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) lawsuit that ended the cigarette industry’s deception. We need to know who is paying for falsehoods today.

We see lies and denials on a variety of issues. Probably the most famous deniers are in the climate change environment. We know they are being paid or are receiving campaign donations from wealthy individuals who run businesses that will benefit from stalling negative public reaction, political retribution or regulation.

We know for example that Harvard scientist and climate denier Wei-Hack Soon took a $1.2 million bribe from oil companies to produce 11 papers denying climate change since 2008. According to his deal, the papers were just “deliverables” he completed in exchange for their money. We subsequently found out he was actually an aerospace engineer and only a part-time employee at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

We can infer who is paying the deniers by looking at the companies that officially deny man-made climate change. Look at ExxonMobil as an example. Of 938 papers recently cited by a web site, sixty-seven papers denying climate change were written by Dr. Sherwood B. Idso. Dr. Idso is also the president of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, an ExxonMobil funded think tank. The second greatest number of articles was written by Dr. Patrick J. Michaels a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Michaels receives about 40% of his funding from the oil industry.

These deceptions are in the face of overwhelming evidence that these issues are settled science. For example, turning once again to climate change, between 1991 and 2012 there were 13,950 peer reviewed climate articles published. Of these only 24 rejected global warming. This translates to a 0.17% occurrence of climate deniers. These documents show there is no lingering debate about climate change in the scientific community.

Articles identify Willie Soon, John R. Christy and Sallie L. Baliunas are frequent writers and deniers affiliated with the George C. Marshall Institute. This institute asserts, “…Efforts to reach agreement on inferences about human influence on the climate system that can be drawn from science and policy prescriptions for addressing the climate change risk have been controversial.”

We also know that Florida officials have banned state government use of offensive terms. We know that the state of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection was ordered to not use the terms ‘climate change’ as well as ‘global warming’. This department has about 3200 employees and a $1.4 billion budget.

While this order was never put on paper, the order was passed down verbally within each organization once republican Rick Scott was elected governor of the state. He is backed by the state’s real estate industry that is afraid of a lessening of demand for the state’s beach property, 30 percent of which is threatened by rising ocean waters in future decades.

We see investigations of the truth all around us. We see this in many ways including leaked documents, Freedom of Information requests, and university disclosures related to studies subsidized by government grants. These methods are being used in a variety of venues. For instance Justin Goodman is using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests of the government to find out how U.S. laboratories and university labs are mistreating monkeys and other animals.

These same FOIA requests are being used to seek university and college documents surrounding government funded research on genetically modified (GM) organisms. The US Right to Know organization of Oakland, California is using this procedure. They are asking for copies of emails for example between Michelle McGuire, a nutrition scientist at Washington State University, and some 36 or so organizations and companies. What is being looked for is evidence of collusion between various researchers and the agricultural biotechnology industry.

We all need to know the truth of people’s motivation. Why would they deny knowledge and conviction to the rest of us? They want us to have doubt that leads to hesitation or downright refusal to act. They want to delay us from doing what is right. The question is how do these people rationalize their actions?

We must accept the reasons given by those who sell out to others. Their motivation is personal greed. The questions we have are for those who pay them to lie. How do they look at themselves in the mirror each morning? Do they know how their actions will damage human understanding and progress? Is their motivation just greed?

Why not take their successful companies and reposition them to offer the people of the world products that are relevant to the future not the past. Why not use their considerable resources to help humanity rather than hinder it.  We know that many of them believe they are doing the right thing. They must however, re-examine the evidence and give it the thought it deserves, the thought the rest of humanity deserves.

It is for us to decide. We cannot make a good decision if we have inaccurate information or reasonable doubt. Trying to do what is right will not guarantee agreement. Valid information however, is absolutely necessary to making good decisions. It is the first step to agreement. We applaud all of those truth tellers who are warning us against the foolish delay and the counterproductive results.

Use the following links to obtain more information or access the source documents.

https://cleantechnica.com/2015/09/23/scientists-urge-rico-investigation-of-corporate-climate-deniers/

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-denier-elite-20130912

http://www.zmescience.com/ecology/climate-scientist-oil-company-23022015/

http://www.zmescience.com/ecology/climate-change-papers-exxon-mobil/

http://fcir.org/2015/03/08/in-florida-officials-ban-term-climate-change/

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6220/366

http://www.nature.com/news/gm-crop-opponents-expand-probe-into-ties-between-scientists-and-industry-1.18146?wafflebotCursorid=1439158997015738:0:0

http://www.zmescience.com/ecology/climate/climate-change-credibility-12122012/

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/22/climate-change-deniers-have-won-global-warming

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/dark-money-funds-climate-change-denial-effort/

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Paris Climate Conference 2015: a Beginning

Posted on 25 December 2015 by Jerry

Many people watching the proceedings at the Paris Climate Change Conference that took place this December did not have the right expectation. They were disappointed that the 195 or so countries did not legally commit to absolute levels of emissions and penalties they would incur should they fail to achieve the targeted levels. They also reacted negatively to the failure to address the carbon fossil fuel yet to be taken out of the ground. There was no mention of a ban on further mining or extracting fuel from the ground around the world.

The detractors have to understand that all of the representatives were from sovereign nations. Sovereign nations cannot be forced to accept penalties that they would just ignore and not pay. The United Nations has tried the top down imposition of penalties for many years. In 2015 it switched to a bottoms up expression of voluntary cuts on emissions. As unpleasant as it may be, this approach has worked by bringing everyone to the table. India and China both offered reductions of emissions.

One other reason for the change in approach is Obama’s need to get congress to ratify a treaty that requires U.S. approval or additional expenditures. The scuttlebutt is this agreement, since it is voluntary and does not require any approval of additional funds, can be ratified by Obama without the further involvement of congress.

Yes, the emissions do not add up to the low level necessary to avoid a significant increase beyond 2° C. Present commitments add-up to a 2.7° C level. As cited in an earlier article on this blog (see http://iamaguardian.com/1777/will-the-paris-climate-meeting-make-a-difference ) this 2.7° Celsius level converts to a 4.9° Fahrenheit increase.

To deal with the carbon fuel still in the ground the present approach is voluntary to each country. Representatives at the UN will allow the countries themselves to regulate their own energy industries. The betting is that the governments will let the prices of un-pumped oil and un-mined coal fluctuate to a level that is uneconomic. They believe that under this approach the Keystone pipeline project will not be revived.

Of course there were winners and losers at the conference. While the European Union wanted to be perceived as the leader in climate change (and their achievements actually make them a leader) they were not perceived as such. This is while France, a EU country recovering from an attack, showed that it could marshal the world’s nations to reach a major agreement to save the world from climate change in the face of terrorism.

China emerged as a full participant instead of blocking agreement as was perceived at the climate summit six years ago. At the same time India had wanted access to western technology with no restraints from intellectual property rights and did not gain the free access they were seeking.

The big winners of the climate conference were the small islands of the world.   They won a commitment from the world’s developed nations to provide funding for emergency efforts in the event of rising seas from climate change. They also received a concession from the world’s nations that the world would actually seek to not go beyond a 1.5° Celsius temperature rise.

This conference was marked by discussion of mass migration due to climate change’s effects. Scientists and scholars have said that a drought in Darfur, Sudan in part caused migration in the last decade. In addition, they cite a drought lasting from 2006 to 2011 in Syria as a factor in the mass migration of the Syrians.

E.U. leaders warned the world about mass migrations as a result of climate change in the future. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission on Climate Change was quoted as warning world leaders that climate change could “destabilize entire regions and start massive forced migrations and conflicts over natural resources.” This quote appeared in an article in the New York Times by Sewell Chan on December 12, 2015.

The same article quoted Marine Franck who works on climate change and migration for the high commissioner for refugees. He stated, “Climate-related displacement is not a future phenomenon. It is a reality; it is already a global concern.”

People who read this blog know that migration and how the world handles immigrants is a continuing topic. Among the prominent mentions of migration, the article appearing on September 8, 2013 comes to mind (see http://www.iamaguardian.com/1488/what-would-you-do-life-or-death/ ). Migration because of drought or other climate change induced calamity should be top of mind for all of us. We need to consider how we relate to distressed migrants from many countries. Do we personally try to help them or resist? Are we sensitive to their plight or not?

This recent conference on climate change represents a new beginning that unfortunately does not lessen our personal workload. While it does signal a worldwide agreement to fight climate change, it also signals continued work within each country to agitate and apply pressure to keep our governments working on lowering emissions.

We need each country to reduce their emissions further than they have committed. Especially the big offenders (USA, China and India) need to continually work the issue to better their performance. This will require further work from each of us and signals a long haul for the world to once and for all control climate change.

Use the following links to gain additional information or access the source documents used for this article.

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/12/06/paris-climate-negotiations-wont-stop-planet-burning

http://newsdaily.com/2015/11/u-s-senators-vow-to-block-climate-aid-scrutinize-paris-deal/

http://www.xyz.net.au/paris-climate-conference-a-failure/

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-12-17/the-paris-climate-summit-a-useful-failure

http://www.nationalobserver.com/2015/07/20/news/two-degree-target-may-still-cause-catastrophic-sea-level-rise-james-hansen-warns

http://news.yahoo.com/paris-climate-deal-cop21-criticized-063148941.html:_ylt=AwrSbnWlo3xWencAe3NXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTByb2lvbXVuBGNvbG8D3ExBHBvcwMx

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/world/europe/paris-accord-considers-climate-change-as-a-factor-in-mass-migration.html

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo2595.html

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/350/6267/1451.summary?sid=f30bec59-791a-492f-9b4c-3576af2da825

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/350/6267/1450.summary?sid=f30bec59-791a-492f-9b4e-3576af2da825

http://iamaguardian.com/1777/will-the-paris-climate-meeting-make-a-difference/

http://iamaguardian.com/1488/what-would-you-do-life-or-death/

http://grist.org/climate-energy/how-to-read-the-jargon-at-the-paris-climate-change-talks/

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/climate_consensus_signs_ofnew_hope_on_road_paris/2843/

 

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