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Author Topic: Global Warming - Are we too late to reverse the course?  (Read 7661 times)

Offline meyanka

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There are catastrophic changes occurring in the environment and we humans are responsible for this. Weíre exploiting natural resources which are gradually coming to an end. Guys its high time we think of methods that will help us preserve Mother Nature.

« Last Edit: 19/01/2011 11:55:50 by BenV »


 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Re: Global Warming - Are we too late to reverse the course?
« Reply #1 on: 10/03/2009 06:53:25 »
Similar thread if you care to take a look: http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=19578.0
 

Offline tangoblue

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Re: Global Warming - Are we too late to reverse the course?
« Reply #2 on: 12/03/2009 17:56:51 »
global warming can be stopped or drastically slowed if all of the planet would just do their bit... but will they ever.
 

Offline tangoblue

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Offline LeeE

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Re: Global Warming - Are we too late to reverse the course?
« Reply #4 on: 16/10/2010 18:13:23 »
Shrunk
Sigh...
 

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Offline tangoblue

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Re: Global Warming - Are we too late to reverse the course?
« Reply #5 on: 17/10/2010 20:08:04 »
Shrunk
Why the sigh dot dot dot
 

Offline LeeE

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Re: Global Warming - Are we too late to reverse the course?
« Reply #6 on: 17/10/2010 22:52:08 »
The premise of this thread is intrinsically flawed: it portrays unproven speculation as fact, and is hence worthless.

(Now, at this point, I need to decide whether to offer a conciliatory gesture, for although the issue is still one of speculation it is clearly not without reasonable grounds...  Nah! - they've already gone too far by presenting their argument as unequivocal and undisputed fact - this is willful deception and deserves no mercy).
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Global Warming - Are we too late to reverse the course?
« Reply #7 on: 29/11/2010 19:46:45 »
Our planet has gone through warming and cooling cycles since the beginning of time.  Most of which was long before humans walked the face of the earth. 

Change & the unknown, of course, can be scary.  However, there is some evidence that warmer temperatures and more carbon dioxide in the air would actually promote plant growth and create beneficial changes.  Just look at the tropical periods in earth's history.

The risk of a 100,000 year global cooling period is real, and would negate any global warming.  Even a global cooling event lasting one, or a couple of years such as can happen after large volcano eruptions or asteroid impacts would be devastating.

However,
The real issue is human overpopulation as mentioned in one of the links.
Every scrap of fertile land on the valley floors has become dedicated to supporting HUMANS.
Urban Sprawl is inching into our farmlands.
Some countries can barely feed their people, and it is predicted to get worse. 
We've been fighting the problem with more technology, but there is a limit to how much we can improve our crops.

One child per person, two per couple should be enforced, and then target a gradual population decline.  There is no sense in giving tax breaks to super-sized families that burden society with their selfishness.  You can't change the laws significantly for existing children, but one can do it for future children.

Foreign aid should also consider family planning and sustainability. 

And, consider sustainable use of earth's resources for the next 4 billion years, rather than the next few centuries.
 

SteveFish

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Re: Global Warming - Are we too late to reverse the course?
« Reply #8 on: 30/11/2010 01:56:51 »
Clifford:

You need to do some studying about what the effects of increased CO2, combined with increased temperature, has on plant species that we all depend on for food. Also, the amount of CO2 already in the atmosphere is enough to cancel the upcoming (in a thousand years or so) Milankovich ice age cycle.  But, you do address the biggest elephant in the room- overpopulation.

What I find most depressing is that with the current 7 billion people and the 9 billion expected by 2050, the world will have to increase food production while costs for fossil fueled agriculture rapidly increases and the excess CO2 is lowering the pH of the oceans enough to cause a major disturbance in the ocean, and our own, food chain. What this all comes down to is a major die off of humans (you canít mess with mother nature= world ecology) that we all in developed nations will be able to watch, live, on TV. And then, our descendants (my grandchildren) will have their lives reduced to close to subsistence living.

The most frustrating part of this whole drama is that it is actually possible to avoid the catastrophe, but I donít think that the solution is realistically possible.

Steve
« Last Edit: 30/11/2010 01:58:38 by SteveFish »
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Global Warming - Are we too late to reverse the course?
« Reply #9 on: 30/11/2010 04:47:22 »
There is a lot of debate...  And I've looked at quite a bit in the past.

Here are a few studies on increased forest growth based on increasing CO2.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100201171641.htm
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091204092445.htm

Summary page about plant growth (including both C3 & C4 plants)
http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/CO2plants.htm

Ahh... found it.  C3=Trees.  C4=grasses & grains.

This one suggests increased plant growth gain for C3, but not C4 plants.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11655-climate-myths-higher-cosub2sub-levels-will-boost-plant-growth-and-food-production.html

As far as Rainforests...  one of the interesting thing that I've noticed is that the rainforests are all equatorial.  The desert regions lie to the North and South of the rainforests and are dependent on wind patterns.  It rains a lot in the equatorial regions because the water evaporates a lot in those regions.

http://www.srl.caltech.edu/personnel/krubal/rainforest/Edit560s6/www/where.html


Ok, I found this a while ago... indicating that the high CO2 levels favor the trees, and low CO2 levels favor the grasses, and as the temperatures cool, the rainforests shrink.  I assumed the opposite was true when the temperatures increase, favoring more tree growth and less grass growth.  Of course, we eat the grasses, but the trees also soak up the excess CO2.  There are notes that during past epochs during warmer periods the climate was more tropical.

http://rainforests.mongabay.com/0304.htm
Quote
During the ice ages, carbon dioxide levels drop by as much as 50 percent, causing the majority of plants, which require high levels of carbon dioxide (known as C3 plants) to decline. Some plants, known as C4 plants, especially grasses, grow well under low carbon dioxide conditions. Thus (according to a leading theory), when carbon dioxide levels dropped during glacial periods, rainforests full of C3 plants retreated and savanna grasses (C4 plants) expanded their range.


I am certainly convinced that countries like Russia and Canada will benefit from warmer temperatures.  The Amazon and Congo will probably only be marginally affected.  The jury is still out on the other nations.

Your point about carbonic acid is a good point.
However, keep in mind that CO2 levels have varied considerably over "recent" history.  From Wikipedia:



As far as long-term CO2 levels...  there are a few different measurements, but we are essentially at a historic low.

http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html


With levels 100 million years ago that would have been high enough to give people a serious headache.

The other effect is that the amount of CO2 that can dissolve in water increases with colder temperatures, and decreases with warmer temperatures.  I've seen several notes indicating that the CO2 was sequestered in the oceans during the last glacial period (10,000 years ago), and the reason for the rapid rise in CO2 at the beginning of the interglacial periods is the release of CO2 from the oceans.  That would indicate that during the glacial periods, the ocean water is even more acidic than it is during the interglacials.  And, if we manage to increase the temperature of the oceans, it may actually help decrease the oceanic CO2.

I think the Wikipedia graph above was atmospheric CO2.  I'll have to hunt more for long-term records of dissolved CO2 in the oceans.

------------------------

Now, all that said...  think of the Climate arguments like BP.
You have Surface oil (like CO2).
Subsurface Oil (all the other pollutants and resource depletion).
And the well...  Our Population.

We can do all we want about the nasty stuff on the surface and the beaches...  (I.E. CO2 production).
But, the efforts are futile unless we concentrate on the wellhead (population boom).
And, is it appropriate to ignore all the other types of resource depletion and ecologic changes being done by humans?

Somewhere I had found side-by-side graphs of the predicted decreases in grain production, and the predicted population growth.  The shortages were almost all following the out of control population growths.

Now,
All of this said, we do need to concentrate on conservation.  And we need to shut down those coal & fossil fuel generators.  I don't believe in "clean coal technology". 
Furthermore, I have yet to understand why the European cars get nearly double the fuel mileage of American cars, yet it is technically illegal to import a European car that gets 70+ MPG.

« Last Edit: 30/11/2010 04:49:01 by CliffordK »
 

SteveFish

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Re: Global Warming - Are we too late to reverse the course?
« Reply #10 on: 30/11/2010 18:07:23 »
Clifford:

I think that the high mileage cars are kept out of the US on the basis of emission control. I suspect that the regulations needed to do this were worked up by lobbyists. I recently saw a reference to a Nissan Micro, 60 mpg, $15K, and was excited until I found that I could get it in Canada or Europe, but not here in the US.

I get most of my information from the RealClimate web site and the IPCC report. In this area I am not a scholar, just a well-informed layperson.
http://www.realclimate.org/
http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/publications_and_data_reports.shtml


Here are some general things to check out:

The general agricultural prediction is for a relatively mild increase in agricultural production just due to warming and increased CO2 concentration until midcentury, almost completely in developed nations, and a rapid decline after this. But there are many uncertainties.

If you are not already aware of it, search for Liebig's Law of the Minimum. It turns out that the increased growth of cereal crops from increased CO2 is growth of foliage without an increase in nutrition from the grain. To increase the crop requires more fertilizer= fossil fuel.

A point that is often neglected is that the highly modified grains don't get as big of a kick from temperature and CO2 increase as their wild insect and weed competitors that are expensive to suppress.

Note that besides fertilizer, one of the very important minimums is fresh water. Just in the US, what is going to supply water to the grain belt when the Ogallala aquifer is tapped out? How many of the rivers, important to agriculture, are getting down to no flow?

Check out the rate of desertification in agricultural areas worldwide (I think there is an agency that makes a report). My recollection is that it has been increasing exponentially. This is, for the most part, due to poor agricultural practices in developing nations, but increasing warmth will have a much larger impact than it would on a well maintained agriculture region.

The ocean is the primary short term sink for CO2, and when the ocean gets warm enough for CO2 to outgas, we are already in deep do do. Further, as the ocean approaches this point the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will increase more quickly because it is not being absorbed as quickly.

Initial increases in temperature are relatively small and by themselves would have a small effect, however, the prediction is of increasing extreme events, and these can be very disruptive of agriculture where a short event can cancel the whole crop season.

I the longer term, keep in mind that the extremes of temperature and CO2 in prehistory took very long periods to develop and come back to normal. The changes happening now donít allow the time necessary for the evolutionary adaptation that allowed life to thrive in the past. In the few instances in the paleontological record where the CO2 and temperature changes were fast define the major extinction events. All of human history is a period of relatively constant climate and all of our agricultural plants and animals have been highly modified to do best in our current conditions.

Any one of these uncertainties (and there are more) can exacerbate the food scarcity problem that is developing because of overpopulation. It will take an intelligent approach to deal with it, but I havenít seen any intelligent leaders yet.

Steve
« Last Edit: 30/11/2010 18:12:52 by SteveFish »
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Global Warming - Are we too late to reverse the course?
« Reply #11 on: 30/11/2010 22:17:07 »
The Europeans have excellent emission standards today.
and they also have excellent safety standards.

They are just slightly different from US Standards.

The USA does require MPH to be on the speedometers....  which would make sense.
There may be other differences such as fuel leaking out of a fuel tank during a rollover.

Look at the UNECE, World forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Forum_for_Harmonization_of_Vehicle_Regulations

Good point on foliage vs seed production, although that may be a genetic issue.  Hopefully in the future we'll have more uses for plant fibers.

I've been dismayed at how well my dandelions grow without fertilizer, but how poorly my garden does.

Here is an article about alternative planting.
http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/pdf/em/em8803-e.pdf

With what they call "Relay Clover" they were able to get as good of crop growth as fertilized crops.



Soy, peanuts, and other legumes also do nitrogen fixing while producing crops. 

Anyway, I admit that the CO2 research seems compelling.  I'll try to go through some of your IPCC links later.  However, I don't think we're at a crisis point now.  And, believe that we'll run out of easily extracted petroleum reserves before we reach a crisis, but that alone could throw us into a bigger crisis.

The Population Bomb is an interesting book that discussed many of these issues 4 decades ago
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Population_Bomb
Including specifically mentioning Governor Reagan.
They even discussed a tradeoff between SMOG and CO2 Greenhouse effects (new proposals including actively producing SMOG to combat greenhouse effects).

I have also seen several references indicating that somewhere around 1/2 billion years in the future, our carbon dioxide could reach critical shortage levels (I believe by James Kasting).  Furthermore, there have been notes that during glacial periods the CO2 levels have fallen dangerously close to lethal levels.

But, that doesn't mean that there wouldn't be benefits of leaving some of the sequestered carbon in the ground for future generations.
 

Offline yor_on

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Re: Global Warming - Are we too late to reverse the course?
« Reply #12 on: 03/12/2010 00:35:14 »
The weather patterns are changing now. And yes, we're probably to late to stop it. But we might be able to minimize the consequences. Although looking at what people seems to take in as information it reminds me of 'the weakest link in the chain' with about eighty percent of the 'informed population' planning to start recycling to stop global warming :) With most of the rest of the inhabitants on our Earth already living 'ecologically' as they don't have the dough to do it any other way :)

Not saying that every little thing doesn't helps, but if we really wanted to do something we would have to change the world economy, and that would cause a terrible upheaval amongst the rich, and the power users, as well as amongst us others. Think about the communist revolution in Russia to see, or the red Khmer. I don't mean that we need a communist revolution by the way, I'm talking about how many life's those 'revolutions' took.

It would be a substantial power shift, and as long as the 'elite', you know, those with the bumper stickers telling you 'The richest one dying wins' don't see themselves coming up at top they won't be interested in changing any productions.

You don't have to be wise to be 'smart' :)

===

As for the change to come I would say that it weight between centralization or decentralization. Myself I expect decentralization is the way to go, but such a system is hard for the 'elite' to control. But it makes for a more 'durable' society I think if the solutions are diversified and close to those handling and needing them. Centralization have its points too though, amongst them the reins to power for those controlling it.
« Last Edit: 03/12/2010 01:20:14 by yor_on »
 

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Re: Global Warming - Are we too late to reverse the course?
« Reply #12 on: 03/12/2010 00:35:14 »

 

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