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Author Topic: What are the implications of climate change and what do we need to do to stop it?  (Read 1535 times)

Offline thedoc

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Doug Throp  asked the Naked Scientists:
   I'm very concerned about global climate change.  I would appreciate answers to any of the following questions.  I think your listeners would appreciate the answers as well.
1. I have always heard of greenhouse gas emissions as the cause for man-made global warming. Is all of the heat created constantly by the combustion of fuels and nuclear reactors insignificant in comparison to the atmospheric effects of carbon-dioxide, methane, and other green-house gases?
2. I understand that water vapor is also a greenhouse gas. Many people think of nuclear power plants as not contributing to global warming.  Is the extra water vapor created by their cooling towers and warmed surface waters also insignificant compared with carbon-dioxide, methane, and other green-house gases created by combustion based power plants?
3. If humankind gradually reduces the burning of fossil fuels by 80 or 90 percent, will global warming slow down and stop?  That is, will a new equilibrium be created at a somewhat higher temperature?
4. What would be the effects on humankind and other species by an average world-wide increase of 3 or 4 degrees celsius?
5. What processes, events, or methods could possibly bring average world-wide temperatures back down to pre-industrial levels?
6. What are the potential dangers of using geo-engineering techniques to try cooling the earth?  

Doug Throp1943 Grayfalcon Drive,Norfolk, Virginia  23518


 
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 11/08/2016 12:23:02 by _system »


 

Offline Tim the Plumber

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1, The heat produced by the actual burning of fuel is tiny comapred to the heat budget of the earth. I think the number 1/15,000 was banded around here recently. So that's not importanat. The GW hypothesis is that CO2 acts as an insulator for IR traping radient heat on the earth's surface whilst allowing UV through. This is thought to cause warming.

The degree that this is correct is slightly debatable but the severity of it is highly debatable.

2, Water vapour is a greenhouse gas as well, In fact it's by far the most important. If you put more into the air it rains out quickly though.

3, The earth has not warmed to any measurable way (morethan the accuracy of the instrumentation) since 1998. Perhaps it has already stoped. Surely we can now consider the predictions of the famous hockey stick and IPCC forcasts to be in th ebottom half of their range for 2100.

4. An average shift of +3-4c would drive the ecosystems of the world further towards the poles by 200 to 300 miles or so. Again, surely we can now discount this.... But do you consider the life a few hundred miles south of you to be very bad or is it actually a bit nicer weather wise?

5, Putting dust or sulfur into the upper atmosphere would reduce the world temperature. This happens when a big volcanoe goes off. It has devastating effects on the world's agriculture. I hope it does not happen agin untill we are well prepaired for it by having a lot of hydroponically grown crops.

6, Why would we want to? What do you think is the worste thing that is expected to happen?
 

Offline agyejy

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The degree that this is correct is slightly debatable but the severity of it is highly debatable.

Not even close to correct.

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3, The earth has not warmed to any measurable way (morethan the accuracy of the instrumentation) since 1998. Perhaps it has already stoped. Surely we can now consider the predictions of the famous hockey stick and IPCC forcasts to be in th ebottom half of their range for 2100.

Wrong again!



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4. An average shift of +3-4c would drive the ecosystems of the world further towards the poles by 200 to 300 miles or so. Again, surely we can now discount this.... But do you consider the life a few hundred miles south of you to be very bad or is it actually a bit nicer weather wise?

So very very wrong.

Quote from: The link
BETWEEN THREE AND FOUR DEGREES OF WARMING

The stream of refugees will now include those fleeing from coasts to safer interiors – millions at a time when storms hit. Where they persist, coastal cities will become fortified islands. The world economy, too, will be threadbare. As direct losses, social instability and insurance payouts cascade through the system, the funds to support displaced people will be increasingly scarce. Sea levels will be rampaging upwards – in this temperature range, both poles are certain to melt, causing an eventual rise of 50 metres. “I am not suggesting it would be instantaneous. In fact it would take centuries, and probably millennia, to melt all of the Antarctic’s ice. But it could yield sea-level rises of a metre or so every 20 years – far beyond our capacity to adapt.Oxford would sit on one of many coastlines in a UK reduced to an archipelago of tiny islands.

More immediately, China is on a collision course with the planet. By 2030, if its people are consuming at the same rate as Americans, they will eat two-thirds of the entire global harvest and burn 100m barrels of oil a day, or 125% of current world output. That prospect alone contains all the ingredients of catastrophe. But it’s worse than that: “By the latter third of the 21st century, if global temperatures are more than three degrees higher than now, China’s agricultural production will crash. It will face the task of feeding 1.5bn much richer people – 200m more than now – on two thirds of current supplies.” For people throughout much of the world, starvation will be a regular threat; but it will not be the only one.

The summer will get longer still, as soaring temperatures reduce forests to tinderwood and cities to boiling morgues. Temperatures in the Home Counties could reach 45C – the sort of climate experienced today in Marrakech. Droughts will put the south-east of England on the global list of water-stressed areas, with farmers competing against cities for dwindling supplies from rivers and reservoirs.

Air-conditioning will be mandatory for anyone wanting to stay cool. This in turn will put ever more stress on energy systems, which could pour more greenhouse gases into the air if coal and gas-fired power stations ramp up their output, hydroelectric sources dwindle and renewables fail to take up the slack. The abandonment of the Mediterranean will send even more people north to “overcrowded refuges in the Baltic, Scandinavia and the British Isles.

Britain will have problems of its own. As flood plains are more regularly inundated, a general retreat out of high risk areas is likely. Millions of people will lose their lifetime investments in houses that become uninsurable and therefore unsaleable? The Lancashire/Humber corridor is expected to be among the worst affected regions, as are the Thames Valley, eastern Devon and towns around the already flood-prone Severn estuary like Monmouth and Bristol. The entire English coast from the Isle of Wight to Middlesbrough is classified as at ‘very high’ or ‘extreme’ risk, as is the whole of Cardigan Bay in Wales.

One of the most dangerous of all feedbacks will now be kicking in – the runaway thaw of permafrost. Scientists believe at least 500 billion tonnes of carbon are waiting to be released from the Arctic ice, though none yet has put a figure on what it will add to global warming. One degree? Two? Three? The pointers are ominous.

As with Amazon collapse and the carbon-cycle feedback in the three-degree worldstabilising global temperatures at four degrees above current levels may not be possible. If we reach three degrees, therefore, that leads inexorably to four degrees, which leads inexorably to five?

Chance of avoiding four degrees of global warming: poor if the rise reaches three degrees and triggers a runaway thaw of permafrost.

As the quote indicates runaway effects are likely to kick in at 3 degrees that would push us right through to 4,5 and 6 degrees.

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6, Why would we want to? What do you think is the worste thing that is expected to happen?

Oh just pretty close to the complete obliteration of life which happened the last time temperatures changed by that much.

Quote from: The same link
BETWEEN FIVE AND SIX DEGREES OF WARMING

Although warming on this scale lies within the IPCC’s officially endorsed range of 21st-century possibilities, climate models have little to say about what Lynas, echoing Dante, describes as “the Sixth Circle of Hell”. To see the most recent climatic lookalike, we have to turn the geological clock back between 144m and 65m years, to the Cretaceous, which ended with the extinction of the dinosaurs. There was an even closer fit at the end of the Permian, 251m years ago, when global temperatures rose by – yes – six degrees, and 95% of species were wiped out.

That episode was the worst ever endured by life on Earth, the closest the planet has come to ending up a dead and desolate rock in space.” On land, the only winners were fungi that flourished on dying trees and shrubs. At sea there were only losers. Warm water is a killer. Less oxygen can dissolve, so conditions become stagnant and anoxic. Oxygen-breathing water-dwellers – all the higher forms of life from plankton to sharks – face suffocation. Warm water also expands, and sea levels rose by 20 metres.” The resulting “super-hurricanes” hitting the coasts would have triggered flash floods that no living thing could have survived.

There are aspects of the so-called “end-Permian extinction” that are unlikely to recur – most importantly, the vast volcanic eruption in Siberia that spread magma hundreds of metres thick over an area bigger than western Europe and shot billions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. That is small comfort, however, for beneath the oceans, another monster stirred – the same that would bring a devastating end to the Palaeocene nearly 200m years later, and that still lies in wait today. Methane hydrate.

What happens when warming water releases pent-up gas from the sea bed: First, a small disturbance drives a gas-saturated parcel of water upwards. As it rises, bubbles begin to appear, as dissolved gas fizzles out with reducing pressure – just as a bottle of lemonade overflows if the top is taken off too quickly. These bubbles make the parcel of water still more buoyant, accelerating its rise through the water. As it surges upwards, reaching explosive force, it drags surrounding water up with it. At the surface, water is shot hundreds of metres into the air as the released gas blasts into the atmosphere. Shockwaves propagate outwards in all directions, triggering more eruptions nearby.

The eruption is more than just another positive feedback in the quickening process of global warming. Unlike CO2, methane is flammable. Even in air-methane concentrations as low as 5%, the mixture could ignite from lightning or some other spark and send fireballs tearing across the sky. The effect would be much like that of the fuel-air explosives used by the US and Russian armies – so-called “vacuum bombs” that ignite fuel droplets above a target. According to the CIA, those near the ignition point are obliterated. Those at the fringes are likely to suffer many internal injuries, including burst eardrums, severe concussion, ruptured lungs and internal organs, and possibly blindness.” Such tactical weapons, however, are squibs when set against methane-air clouds from oceanic eruptions. Scientists calculate that they could “destroy terrestrial life almost entirely (251m years ago, only one large land animal, the pig-like lystrosaurus, survived). It has been estimated that a large eruption in future could release energy equivalent to 108 megatonnes of TNT – 100,000 times more than the world’s entire stockpile of nuclear weapons. Not even Lynas, for all his scientific propriety, can avoid the Hollywood ending. “It is not too difficult to imagine the ultimate nightmare, with oceanic methane eruptions near large population centres wiping out billions of people – perhaps in days. Imagine a ‘fuel-air explosive’ fireball racing towards a city – London, say, or Tokyo – the blast wave spreading out from the explosive centre with the speed and force of an atomic bomb. Buildings are flattened, people are incinerated where they stand, or left blind and deaf by the force of the explosion. Mix Hiroshima with post-Katrina New Orleans to get some idea of what such a catastrophe might look like: burnt survivors battling over food, wandering far and wide from empty cities.

Then would come hydrogen sulphide from the stagnant oceans. “It would be a silent killer: imagine the scene at Bhopal following the Union Carbide gas release in 1984, replayed first at coastal settlements, then continental interiors across the world. At the same time, as the ozone layer came under assault, we would feel the sun’s rays burning into our skin, and the first cell mutations would be triggering outbreaks of cancer among anyone who survived. Dante’s hell was a place of judgment, where humanity was for ever punished for its sins. With all the remaining forests burning, and the corpses of people, livestock and wildlife piling up in every continent, the six-degree world would be a harsh penalty indeed for the mundane crime of burning fossil energy.
 

Offline alancalverd

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Generally agree except for point 2. Warm air  can carry more water vapor than cold air, so the effect of evaporation is a positive feedback. Rain and snow are precipitated from low level clouds that form in unstable conditions, but a gradual near-equilibrium increase in water concentration throughout the atmosphere is sustainable until it forms high level clouds which cut off the solar heating. Taken over the entire globe, this cycle may take thousands of years and is inevitable. It is characterised by a rapid rise in temperature (due to the positive feedback effect) followed by a slow decrease (high level cloud prevents heat loss as well as heat gain) and is mediated not by land surface temperature (which can produce rapid rises and falls) but by mean ocean temperature, which changes very slowly in comparison. 
 

Offline Tim the Plumber

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Algy,

In an attempt to keep it snappy, do you have anyscience that supports a +6c temperature rise? Presmumably by 2100???
 

Offline agyejy

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Algy,

In an attempt to keep it snappy, do you have anyscience that supports a +6c temperature rise? Presmumably by 2100???

That is just a what if worst case scenario that maybe might happen (probably after 2100) if everything goes wrong. It is still a possibility though and I'd rather not risk the future of my potential offspring if I can help it.
 

Offline Tim the Plumber

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Algy,

In an attempt to keep it snappy, do you have anyscience that supports a +6c temperature rise? Presmumably by 2100???

That is just a what if worst case scenario that maybe might happen (probably after 2100) if everything goes wrong. It is still a possibility though and I'd rather not risk the future of my potential offspring if I can help it.

So can you actually quote any science what so ever that supports your assertion or is it just drivel?

Shouting drivel should not be done on a science forum.

The bad science of CAGW is currently killing loads of people per year. The figure of 200K is the lowest estimate but I put the practice of using food as fuel at killing at least 20 million per year. Poorest billion people paying 70% more than they should be for food.

Surely the University of Cambridge has some sort of responsibility to not have alarmist drivel spouted as science?????????????????????
 

Offline Blame

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There is indeed at least a plausible risk of runaway climate change.... and +6 degrees might even be an understatement.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runaway_climate_change

Further +6 degrees could be a worse ecological disaster than when the dinosaurs copped it.
ing
http://palaeo.gly.bris.ac.uk/Benton/reprints/2003TREEPTr.pdf

It would be extreme pig headed stupidity to deny research or debate on the topic. Almost as bad as believing that we know for sure the answer ether way.



 
« Last Edit: 13/08/2016 07:31:23 by Blame »
 

Offline agyejy

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So can you actually quote any science what so ever that supports your assertion or is it just drivel?

Given your behavior I doubt it would make any difference.

Quote
Shouting drivel should not be done on a science forum.

I agree. On a science forum people shouldn't pretend like an above 90% consensus on a scientific topic only occurred because the scientists involved are stupid or lying for money.

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The bad science of CAGW is currently killing loads of people per year. The figure of 200K is the lowest estimate but I put the practice of using food as fuel at killing at least 20 million per year. Poorest billion people paying 70% more than they should be for food.

For starters there is a whole thread where we went over the ridiculousness of this statement. Further even if we accept this at face value the problem was never the science of climate change nor the sustainable practices recommended to combat it. The problem is with pretty much the exact same people destroying the environment now by exploiting fossil fuel resources for profit. Nearly unrestrained capitalism, the large corporations it has spawned and the behavior of said large corporations vis-a-vis the exploitation of any resource worth money for profit regardless of the results of that exploitation on the environment and people (even their customers) is the issue. To be slightly more specific large agricultural companies regularly speculate on the price of food by buying large amounts of it and then storing it while the price increases. They often continue storing it while people who need it starve in order to drive the price even higher. This has been happening since long before climate change was a policy issue and would still be a problem even if climate change had never been a policy issue.

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Surely the University of Cambridge has some sort of responsibility to not have alarmist drivel spouted as science?????????????????????

Oh I'm sure that the University realizes that only people that are very wrong try to silence their opposition. After all if there are no actual valid counter arguments to someone that has demonstrated that you are wrong the only recourse is to try to shut that person up. Also, I'm fairly certain the University sides with the scientific consensus on climate change and thinks that any suggestion that climate scientists don't know what they are talking about or are lying is itself drivel.
 

Offline Tim the Plumber

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There is indeed at least a plausible risk of runaway climate change.... and +6 degrees might even be an understatement.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runaway_climate_change

Further +6 degrees could be a worse ecological disaster than when the dinosaurs copped it.
ing
http://palaeo.gly.bris.ac.uk/Benton/reprints/2003TREEPTr.pdf

It would be extreme pig headed stupidity to deny research or debate on the topic. Almost as bad as believing that we know for sure the answer ether way.

So a wiki link and a paper in an ecology journal...

Why has the earth not gone down this road in the past when the temperature was much higer than now often with very much higher levels of CO"?
 

Offline Blame

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Why has the earth not gone down this road in the past when the temperature was much higer than now often with very much higher levels of CO"?

Well, no more than a guess here but I think the real factor is organically created methane stored in very cold water/ice. You need a very long period of moderate word temperature plus the right sort of life for the storage then enough heat to release it in a relatively short time.

As I am quoting an 250 million year old event, its not something that happens easily. First of all remember that the theory of what happened then could be wrong but it IS a very convincing explanation of the evidence... anyway it went something like this:

1) A lot of methane got stored in very cold water over a long period of time.
2) Huge volcanic activity raises global temperatures through release of greenhouse gasses.
3) Ice caps melt resulting in more absorption of solar radiation. global temperatures rise further.
4) The methane gets released in such a short time that it can't be converted to the far lesser greenhouse gas CO2 before the damage is done. Global temperatures rocketed.
5) Just about everything dies and rots doing even more damage to the environment. 

So, for this to happen again depends on at least 3 factors:
1) The global warming we are causing being comparable to that volcanic activity.
2) The storage of methane now being similar.
3)The "end-Permian extinction event" theory is right.

Offhand I don't see any of them being implausible.
« Last Edit: 13/08/2016 11:02:27 by Blame »
 

Offline agyejy

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Why has the earth not gone down this road in the past when the temperature was much higer than now often with very much higher levels of CO"?

Evidence suggests that it has in fact happened. Runaway climatic events most likely contributed to the Permian–Triassic extinction event which killed off a good portion of life everywhere and the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum which killed off mostly life in the oceans.

Of course in neither of those situations was there a complex life form that evolved to dominate the planet with 6-7 billion individuals relying on the climate to be exactly as it is so that the delicate technological system that supports such a large population can function. Climate change probably won't lead to human extinction but that is hardly the worst thing that could happen to us.

« Last Edit: 13/08/2016 11:59:34 by agyejy »
 

Offline puppypower

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Most of the carbon dioxide of the earth occurs through natural means; 29 Gigaton manmade to 750 gigaton natural. There is one manmade activity, that is not often discussed, that impacts the natural balance, and may not show up in the manmade total. For example, dense forests of old world trees, act as a dense vertical scrubber for natural CO2 coming from the ground. If we remove the trees, and plant grass or crops, so we can open up the land for development, we lose 30-40 feet of a vertical absorption component, connected to the natural CO2 balance.
« Last Edit: 15/08/2016 11:59:34 by puppypower »
 

Offline tkadm30

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6. What are the potential dangers of using geo-engineering techniques to try cooling the earth? 

1) Ozone depletion
2) engineered drought/storms
3) acid rain precipitation
4) destruction of the biota
5) aluminium-induced neurotoxicity (Alzheimer)
6) chronic lung diseases
7) neuroinflammation
8) oxidative stress (genotoxicity)
9) cancer

Thank you for raising this question.

« Last Edit: 15/08/2016 12:54:28 by tkadm30 »
 

Offline puppypower

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One thing that we can do is stop making so many irrational regulations, that can adversely impact the natural carbon balance. For example, one large source of CO2 are forest fires, with millions of acres being burned each year. In some places, prone to fires, like California, regulations do not allow people to clear the underbrush in wooded areas. This brush is often responsible for many of the fires. One could say these regulation add to global warming.

Another set of regulations are connected to wet lands. Wetlands like swamps make methane which is considered a greenhouse gas. The wetland regulations also get irrational, to where a seasonable ponding will be called wetlands. People who can alter the land and limit methane will be fined if they try.

One of the key environmental pushes was against nuclear power, which would have reduced greenhouse gases. Environmentalists can't do math. They favored a flooded earth, over a few projected hot spots which is localized.
 

Offline puppypower

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There is another scenario that is not discussed. Say the climate change, we are experiencing is part of a natural cycle of the earth, not dependent on manmade. Instead, we are living during one of those times that has occurred before and will occur again. The end of the last ice age was connected to natural climate change. This cycle of global warming and climate change melted more squares miles of glaciers than we have left, even without man being part of the equation.

The question becomes what does humanity do, if climate change can't be fixed with more taxes and new regulations? For example, countries may not be able to afford bailing out more and more human disasters, due to people wanting to build and remain in places of high risk. This may be due to thinking regulation is fixing the problem, due to spin and propaganda. While the calculated safer zones get so crowded, as to create unanticipated problems.

The current stating of thinking; humans did it and humans can fix it, could be placing all our eggs in the wrong basket, wasting time and resources, fooling ourselves into thinking this is all about humans and not about nature. There is comfort in thinking, if we; humans, change our behavior, we can appease the gods of climate. But what if the gods of climate already bought the ticket and are riding to a destination? The new earth may be for the better, but the transition time would be very unsettled, and would test the instincts of humanity.

One scenario that nobody is talking about, is connected to the discovery of huge deposits of water in the mantle, below the earth's crust. For example, an ocean sized deposit was found under south east Asia. If this deposit breaks the crust and leaks into the oceans, the oceans will warm. Water under the high pressure and temperature conditions of the mantle is not your normal water. Water exists in a state beyond hydrothermal, called super ionic water. Changes in pressure can cause this super sonic phase of water, to explode, fracturing the crust.

Scientists have also found a huge scar, on the floor of the Atlantic ocean, where the mantle is exposed and the crust is gone. This way well be connected to a previous hot water release from the mantle.   
« Last Edit: 22/08/2016 12:38:35 by puppypower »
 

Offline agyejy

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There is another scenario that is not discussed. Say the climate change, we are experiencing is part of a natural cycle of the earth, not dependent on manmade. Instead, we are living during one of those times that has occurred before and will occur again. The end of the last ice age was connected to natural climate change. This cycle of global warming and climate change melted more squares miles of glaciers than we have left, even without man being part of the equation.

Well that is just wrong. It has been discussed thoroughly by competing climate scientists and rejected. Do not fall into the trap of believing that just because you haven't heard of something that it doesn't exists or didn't happen. Research is a must.

I must have linked this 3-4 timed by now but here we go again:

All evidence strongly points to humans as the cause of climate change.

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The question becomes what does humanity do, if climate change can't be fixed with more taxes and new regulations? For example, countries may not be able to afford bailing out more and more human disasters, due to people wanting to build and remain in places of high risk. This may be due to thinking regulation is fixing the problem, due to spin and propaganda. While the calculated safer zones get so crowded, as to create unanticipated problems.

The current stating of thinking; humans did it and humans can fix it, could be placing all our eggs in the wrong basket, wasting time and resources, fooling ourselves into thinking this is all about humans and not about nature. There is comfort in thinking, if we; humans, change our behavior, we can appease the gods of climate. But what if the gods of climate already bought the ticket and are riding to a destination?

Non-issue see above.

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The new earth may be for the better, but the transition time would be very unsettled, and would test the instincts of humanity.

Not even remotely a chance that it will be for the better.

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One scenario that nobody is talking about, is connected to the discovery of huge deposits of water in the mantle, below the earth's crust. For example, an ocean sized deposit was found under south east Asia. If this deposit breaks the crust and leaks into the oceans, the oceans will warm. Water under the high pressure and temperature conditions of the mantle is not your normal water. Water exists in a state beyond hydrothermal, called super ionic water. Changes in pressure can cause this super sonic phase of water, to explode, fracturing the crust.

Because it is a complete non-issue as far as climate change is concerned. Basically all that water is under continents. The mechanism that puts the water there (subduction) actively removes water from the ocean. The buried water makes it back to the surface mainly through the volcanic activity of the ring of fire. It mostly gets back into the ocean via rainfall.

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Scientists have also found a huge scar, on the floor of the Atlantic ocean, where the mantle is exposed and the crust is gone. This way well be connected to a previous hot water release from the mantle.   

Please tell me you aren't talking about the Mid-Atlantic ridge. I'm not ever sure how you could be aware of its existence without knowing the processes involved with its creation. Lets just say it has nothing to do with super-ionic water explosions. You might also want to take some time to read up on plate tectonics and play special attention to divergent boundaries.
 

Offline Tim the Plumber

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Scientists have also found a huge scar, on the floor of the Atlantic ocean, where the mantle is exposed and the crust is gone. This way well be connected to a previous hot water release from the mantle.   
Yep, the idea that we fully understand the climate is just stupid.

The idea that the sea level cannot be affected by anything other than the surface climate is again just stupid.
 

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