Rewinding the Clock

I don’t really care about the panda bears. But that’s not saying this problem [climate change] isn’t serious. This is a people problem, this is a billion dead people problem. This is a national security problem. This is rewinding the clock 300 years to a time we don’t want to go back to.

– Nick Wood (spoken at a presentation I attended, and possibly slightly paraphrased as I scrambled to write it down; his profile is here)


4 thoughts on “Rewinding the Clock

  1. This paraphrased comment needs more background information, as it could be taken out of context. The word “this” is used five times without any reference to what “this” refers to. (You know the presenter’s subject matter, but many of your readers may not.)

  2. More Hot Air in Lima in preparation for More Hot Air in Paris

    My prediction: More Hot Air.

    The Majority of Americans have spoken—They want no Climate Change Action Americans’ message to future generations: “Don’t worry, God will save us from global warming…if it’s actually happening that is.”

    By the way, who “is the Republicans’ first choice to head the Senate committee that oversees the country’s environmental policy?”

  3. It is sad, sad, sad that far too many people have buried their heads in the melting ice. People who own ocean-front property may want to start thinking about selling it ASAP!

    “If the rate of ocean rise continues to change at this pace, sea level will rise 26 inches (65 centimeters) by 2100 — enough to cause significant problems for coastal cities…”

    The glacial flow into the ocean over western and specifically southwestern Antarctica has been accelerating since satellite observations started decades ago. While observed glacial flow accelerations in these regions have been slowly declining, this should be no indicator that the rate of sea-level rise will continue to decline in coming centuries.

    During the recent ice age, ocean temperatures have been lower than average, increasing glacier depths and methane lock-up. In addition, colder ocean temperatures have kept glacier ice-shelf cavitation rates low, allowing the build-up of unstable conditions along coastlines. In the last few millennia, warming atmospheric and ocean currents have been increasingly weakening glaciers and undermining ice shelves (boundary conditions) and reducing resistance to ice flow from land toward the ocean.

    Many measurements indicate that the rates of atmospheric and ocean temperature rises are slowly decreasing. Also the rates of ice flow into the ocean are slowly decreasing. Should that make us feel better about the future?

    It would seem so. On a geological timeframe, the last ice age was a transient event of moderate time constant, and the resulting changes in atmospheric, oceanic, and glacial properties were responses to this transient event. This was followed by a global warming transient event in the past few millennia, with a much shorter time constant. This event more recent transient event is rapidly reversing many effects of the previous transient event. Slowly decreasing acceleration rates are characteristic of decaying responses to transient events. To many people that would appear to be good news because we can expect the acceleration rates to further decrease and eventually go negative.

    But not so fast. That model may be too simple. What about the trillions of tons of carbon locked up in the ocean floors and permafrost?
    The atmosphere contains maybe 850-900 gigatons of carbon, and the total carbon locked up in permafrost and the shallower seabeds may be many times that amount. It is still unknown the large-scale effects of thawing permafrost and warming seabeds on methane release rates. Could a gradual increase in methane release rates lead to an unexpected increase in atmospheric and ocean carbon and temperatures, which would then further increase methane release rates, carbon, and temperatures? What is the probability of this happening? Are the global predictive models considering the possibility of such an event, which may have an even much shorter time constant?

    Consider this. The probability of this happening is much greater than winning the lottery, and someone always wins the lottery.

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