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Author Topic: Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?  (Read 8164 times)

Brett

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Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?
« on: 30/09/2011 18:01:03 »
Brett  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Chris

I understand that as CO2 in the air goes up, plants grow faster, and use proportionately less water.

Since the world's two biggest issues are lack of food and fresh water, why is increasing levels of CO2 a problem?

In parallel, I watched a Discovery program on the anticipated demise of Alaska (and by extension Canada and Siberia ). They showed an ice desert wilderness being replaced by a mid latitude forest, and said this was a tragedy.

So we lost a few Polar bears, and gained millions of other species?

Your views?

Thanks
Brett

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 30/09/2011 18:01:03 by _system »


 

Offline CZARCAR

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Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?
« Reply #1 on: 30/09/2011 19:18:51 »
im scared of polar bare
 

Offline yor_on

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Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?
« Reply #2 on: 02/10/2011 19:35:24 »
:(

Read up on the subject a little.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?
« Reply #3 on: 03/10/2011 21:27:59 »
In parallel, I watched a Discovery program on the anticipated demise of Alaska (and by extension Canada and Siberia ). They showed an ice desert wilderness being replaced by a mid latitude forest, and said this was a tragedy.

NOW, there are essentially two different Alaskas.

One with 24 hr a day darkness, snow, ice, and bitter cold.
One with 24 hr a day sunlight, melting ice, green, trees, grass, and etc.

The two vastly different climates in the same place aren't going away any time soon because the Alaska climate is controlled more by the tilt of the planet than by greenhouse gases.  So, don't expect to visit Alaska in January and view a tropical rainforest.  If we stop seeing winter sea ice, & winter snow up in Alaska, then the rest of the world will be in big trouble.

It is true that some amount of warming might improve agriculture and forestry in some areas, especially in Canada and Russia.  The views of historical warmer periods such as the Eocene include the expansion of tropical rain forests and increased plant growth. 

Most people associate heat with dryness, because the driest days in the summer necessarily are also the hottest days.  However, a local heat-spell may not be representative of a planetary warming where more ocean evaporation is kicked up.

What people are afraid of is uncontrolled change.  And, if we do have climate change, there will undoubtedly be some winners and some loosers. 

The polar bears are unique animals.  Most animals have adapted to grow and gain weight during the warm summer months.  The winter months are always a challenge.  However, the polar bear has adapted to hunt in the frigid winter environment in the Arctic.  They apparently have troubles effectively hunting in the summer months.  They can migrate from ice to land as conditions dictate, but may not hunt until the fall re-freeze.  The freeze/melt cycles seem to be dictated by the spring/fall equinox.  But, areas with partial ice covering refreeze quicker than those with open water.  So, a loss of more sea ice would likely mean slower refreezing.

At this point, Polar Bears are considered "Vulnerable", but not "Endangered".  However there is even controversy over such a classification as it seems to be based more on future predictions than actual current counts.  At this point, there is still legal polar bear hunting in many regions, and numbers seem to be regulated more by hunting than natural phenomenon. 
 

Offline Apple

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Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?
« Reply #4 on: 04/10/2011 01:49:23 »
that tropic would send us into a heating spiral kill us
even a change in the earth temperature by 5 f or c (c is worst) could cause billions to die because of virus thrive in colder temp and farms all over would fail causing starvation my prove is the little ice age i Europe kill like over haft the population and sent them back to the dark ages 
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?
« Reply #5 on: 04/10/2011 04:00:31 »
Ocean acidification.
 

Offline yor_on

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Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?
« Reply #6 on: 17/10/2011 23:59:49 »
It seems as if there's a sh*load of effects coming from the ice melting, it will change not only the sea but also the way currents move, as well as the way the atmosphere acts, winds and currents together interacting and changing for example. And it's happening all over the world, changing and killing of the habitat of 'meat fish', ignoring overfishing for this, replacing them with squid, jellyfish, etc. And it seems as if the constantly growing oxygen free zones may be a result of a combination of changing climate creating new weather conditions and winds driving currents to new places, and plankton dying. from Is Climate Change Suffocating Our Seas?


"Sea levels during several previous interglacials were about 3 to as much as 20 meters higher than current sea level. The evidence comes from two different but complementary types of studies. One line of evidence is provided by old shoreline features (fig. 2). Wave-cut terraces and beach deposits from regions as separate as the Caribbean and the North Slope of Alaska suggest higher sea levels during past interglacial times. A second line of evidence comes from sediments cored from below the existing Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets. The fossils and chemical signals in the sediment cores indicate that both major ice sheets were greatly reduced from their current size or even completely melted one or more times in the recent geologic past. The precise timing and details of past sea-level history are still being debated, but there is clear evidence for past sea levels significantly higher than current sea level." From Sea Level and Climate.



So let's say around 3 centigrades Celsius there.

"The last time CO₂ levels were as high as present was 3 million years ago. This time interval, known as the Pliocene, has been mooted by the IPCC as a potential scenario for late 21st century climate. During this time, the mean surface temperature of the Earth was 3 °C warmer, sea level was up to 10 m higher, and forests grew in Greenland and across the northern landscapes that are now tundra. It is debated whether there was extensive sea ice around the Antarctic at this time. New data suggest that during very warm intervals of the Pliocene there may have been little or no sea ice even during the winter months, allowing scallops to grow throughout the year. Seasonal temperatures can be extracted from the shells of these scallops to paint a picture of the local and regional climate in the Southern and Pacific Oceans. This information can be used to test the validity of computer model reconstructions of ancient climate. Sea ice in the Southern Ocean also influences wet and dry periods in regions around the Pacific and as far north as California, causing draughts and periods of heavy rain (El Niño/La Niña events)." from A molluscan record of Late Cenozoic climate change and palaeoseasonality from South America.

"New information about increased melt rates for a key glacier in West Antarctica has added to the sense of urgency for a team headed to the Pine Island region later this year to make oceanographic measurements below an ice shelf. An international team of researchers reported last month in the journal Nature Geoscience that stronger ocean currents beneath West Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf are eroding the ice from below, which in turn is speeding the melting of the glacier that flows into it.

A growing cavity beneath the ice shelf has allowed greater volumes of warm water to melt the ice, the researchers say. The glacier is currently sliding into the sea at a clip of four kilometers a year, while its ice shelf is melting at about 80 cubic kilometers a year. That’s about 50 percent faster than when the researchers visited the same region in 1994 on a previous research cruise. “More warm water from the deep ocean is entering the cavity beneath the ice shelf, and it is warmest where the ice is thickest,” said lead author Stan Jacobs External Non-U.S. government site, an oceanographer at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory." From Report on increased melt rates at key Antarctic glacier adds urgency to 2011-12 expedition. 

So what will it do in a fifty year period? Don't know.
Can we stop it? Nope, but we can slow it down.

Are we going to try?
Don't think so.

What other call 'economics' I see as triggered by those 'lust centers' we all are gifted with. Anyone remember 1929? Those centers will deliver us a optimism until we start to suspect it's to late to do anything, then a panic. So far we're still quietly 'hopeful' about the 'economy', building on the glimmering insights of those people thinking that it must grow every year, for ever. Like it was some law of nature that we just can take and take.

The downside to this glimmering idea is that when people realize that Earth has a limited economic growth capacity, as there is just that much assets we can rip from it, they will close up around their 'leaders', to 'defend' what little they have, from each other. Anyone ever seen environmentalism in a feeding frenzy? Because that what it will be, around the last limited resources. And the same people that call human made Global warming a sham will then tell us what luck we had that we 'did it', as we now can reach the hidden resources in the ice free regions of the Arctic, Greenland and Antarctica.
 

Offline yor_on

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Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?
« Reply #7 on: 18/10/2011 07:44:41 »
Here is Nature Geosciences report. Stronger ocean circulation and increased melting under Pine Island Glacier ice shelf.  And here is some good added background to why  Deep Ocean Heat Is Melting Antarctic Ice.  If you read the comments section you will find the author of the report explaining what he think is the mechanisms behind it.

Seems CNN have got rid of its environmental section?  That should give us some deep insights in the coming year.:)
 

Offline widereader

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Re: Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?
« Reply #8 on: 21/12/2011 13:18:58 »
Rising Carbon dioxide level causes global warming as this gas contributes to greenhouse effect.
 

Offline Nizzle

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Re: Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?
« Reply #9 on: 06/03/2012 08:18:40 »
I honestly don't see the big problem with global warming/climate change. I'm not denying its existence, but hey, there were periods in earth's history that it was a lot hotter than it is now, and life survived.
We're thinking too much from a human perspective and not enough from an ecosystem perspective.

Sure, species will go extinct. Species went extinct long before humans appeared on the planet, just cryofreeze some semen and some eggs and it'll be allright.. For plants, we already have a nice seed bank in svalbard, just make one for animals as well

I even think that a global catastrophe that would kill, say 75% of humanity (random nr., not based on facts), would be a blessing for our planet, and mind you.. Such catastrophe will come! Even if humanity betters itself radically, there's still the chance of an asteroid or massive solar flare or gamma ray burst or whatever hitting the earth..
« Last Edit: 06/03/2012 08:21:39 by Nizzle »
 

Offline peppercorn

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Re: Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?
« Reply #10 on: 07/03/2012 12:56:59 »
Nizzle,

So are you saying that because humans are too culturally short-termist, that 75% of the pop. should be wiped out for the betterment of the remaining species?
- Even though our actions will take a major toll on all those species anyway.

And I don't see any logic that can lead us to assume even 25% of the 7 billion humans currently inhabiting the Earth will survive (it's an arbitrary, unfounded figure as you say). But even if the human species is not fatally damaged (we already came close to our inbreeding limit as early humans), the technological impact of having our energy and agricultural infrastructures decimated will not only lead to secondary crises but may mean we are not able to even keep the seed banks safe, let alone anything (far, far) more complex.

Could we even possess the tech. for animal gene storage and reanimation in time? ...plus trillions of insect, fish and reptile species that are needed for an operational food-chain.
- it's fantasy!

As for the tired argument about "ooo well, it was hotter/more CO2, etc in the past, blah, blah, blah." - it's always, Always rate of change that counts in evolution, people!!!
Species will come and go as evolution dictates - as one species finds it's better suited to a new niche, etc. But if you globally change things overnight (by geological-time) pretty much every species is in desperate trouble... and there will likely be a mass extinction event.  Rate of Change is the key phrase here!

As for taking an attitude of  'we're likely to be hit by an asteroid anyday', etc .... that's like me saying 'I'm going to die one day (hopefully a heart-attack doing something fun at 102!), so I might as well run every red light and jump in front of buses.' (!)
« Last Edit: 07/03/2012 13:12:28 by peppercorn »
 

Offline Nizzle

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Re: Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?
« Reply #11 on: 08/03/2012 13:24:13 »
peppercorn,

Nice rhetoric, but you overlooked two things in my earlier post.

1. We're thinking too much from a human perspective and not enough from an ecosystem perspective.

2. I even think that a global catastrophe that would kill, say 75% of humanity (random nr., not based on facts), would be a blessing for our planet

I completely agree with all your statements, but Global Climate Change, at any Rate of Change is not a concern for our planet, only for humanity.

Now, if we do look from a human perspective, then I still believe that any major catastrophe that greatly reduces the human population, but does not make humans extinct, will in the long term benefit the surviving xx%
Even if humanity falls back 500 years technologically/scientifically (I doubt it'll be more than that), we will still have the "Global Catastrophic Event" etched in mankind's memory and when we have regained our current sci/tech level, we will use it more responsibly.
 

Offline peppercorn

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Re: Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?
« Reply #12 on: 09/03/2012 13:31:05 »
peppercorn,

Nice rhetoric, but you overlooked two things in my earlier post.
It is not rhetoric. I am questioning some of the assumptions that led to your assertions.
The rate-of-change statement is, I admit, one of my pet grievances against the C.C. denying flat-Earthers (ie. not aimed at you).

But, moving on from that (plus putting aside that we are human, so we can not but be self-interested), I'm confused:
I even think that a global catastrophe that would kill, say 75% of humanity (random nr., not based on facts), would be a blessing for our planet
....
I completely agree with all your statements, but Global Climate Change, at any Rate of Change is not a concern for our planet, only for humanity.
Either 'our planet' cares/is-blessed or it's doesn't/isn't.
If by 'our planet' you mean a lump of rock with the capability for some life (bacteria upwards) to continue/return. Then, no, it changes very little.   And to say that having many fewer humans would allow a far more balanced condition for the planet's inter-reliant ecosystems, then all's well and good.

But we're not discussing a situation where only the number of humans change. In this case it comes at a devastating price for all higher lifeforms.
 

Offline yor_on

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Re: Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?
« Reply #13 on: 14/03/2012 05:15:30 »
I don't know, maybe we will come through if worst comes to worst?
But, it's a complex system, a whole earth dependent on each other, and we already has taken a big bite out of the gene pool (Not humans but the whole gene pool that is earth) without any global warming.

It's like that guy said, what does he care if the whole animal population is wiped out, and the flora. Sh* we can build self contained 'space bubbles' and grow our food in vats, and do you know the worst thing?

I think he means it :)

But as you say Peppercorn, there will be organisms thriving, but I guess it will take some hundreds of thousand of years, or million, before the planet again has a oxygen thriving population. Nature doesn't keep up with us, we are much too fast for her.
==

me spelling sux..
« Last Edit: 14/03/2012 05:19:20 by yor_on »
 

Offline Geezer

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Re: Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?
« Reply #14 on: 14/03/2012 06:13:38 »
Actually, rapidly rising CO2 levels might have a much more dramatic impact on marine life because of increased acidity in the oceans. I'm not trying to be a scaremonger (or even a fishmonger) but I'm worried that the entire marine food-chain could collapse, quite suddenly.

The knock-on consequences of that might be really ugly, and fast. In a sort of a way, that might not be such a bad thing because it would force us to recognize that this is an immediate problem rather than something we can leave for future generations to deal with.
 

Offline yor_on

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Re: Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?
« Reply #15 on: 15/03/2012 01:02:22 »
You will like this one Geezer.
Truly intelligent technology.
That one would be something for a TNS program by itself, who came up with the idea etc.

Very impressive.
 

Offline Nizzle

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Re: Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?
« Reply #16 on: 21/03/2012 10:16:31 »
In a sort of a way, that might not be such a bad thing because it would force us to recognize that this is an immediate problem rather than something we can leave for future generations to deal with.

Exactly.
Unfortunately, humanity is very short sighted and we need a global catastrophe for a significant mentality change to occur.
 

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Re: Why are rising CO2 levels such a problem?
« Reply #16 on: 21/03/2012 10:16:31 »

 

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