February 2, 2009

Already doomed

The damage is already locked in, not for a mere few hundred years, but at least 1000 years.

Yep, we can't accurately predict when we'll all have our long promised jet packs and space cars, but thanks to beaut computer models (hey, don't knock it, where would the derivatives markets be without computer models!), we humans can predict the climate 1000 years hence.

Gawd we're clever!

(Give self pat on the back for being part of the superior species.)

Last week the National Academy of Sciences published an analysis of carbon emissions that concluded that no matter how quickly or by how much we reduce carbon dioxide levels in the here and now the climate change damage is locked and loaded for the next 1000 years.

Well, that sort of time line and precision sure sends me into a frenzy of carbon reducing activity!

Gosh darn it, if I'd known that the climate on Earth would keep changing over the next 1000 years I would have set up residence on a far more reliable planet.

"People have imagined that if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide, the climate would go back to normal in 100 years, 200 years," lead author Susan Solomon, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in a telephone news conference. "That's not true."

Alas, I can't find a definition of "normal climate". As far as I'm aware the normal state of Earth is ice-covered, semi-regularly interrupted with a few thousand years of balmy weather, briefly suitable for human breading and voracious consumption.

"... heat absorbed by the ocean is released slowly, and will continue to contribute to global warming even if the concentration of greenhouse gases should decline, the authors said.

Solomon said in a statement that absorption of carbon dioxide and release of heat -- one acting to cool the Earth and the other to warm it -- would "work against each other to keep temperatures almost constant for more than 1,000 years."

Arh ha. Temperatures are going to be warm yet constant for a 1000 years?

Gee, if I think about that for too long I'll become hysterical and spend the entire month weeping for future generations who won't need to bother listening to daily weather forecasts.

Climate change has a firm grip


  1. There are other - more "imminent" - triggers at play in this. The inverted commas because little is imminent geologically.

    During the current interglacial, glaciers have retreated apace. Glacier National Park is now 5kg Bag of Ice National Park. The Arctic sea ice continues melting as does the Greenland sheet. The Antarctic too is shedding ice.

    This is, almost certainly, natural. “Climate change” is natural: it’s been occurring since the Earth “settled down”. Thus we have glacial and interglacial periods.

    Any look at the warming at the end of a glacial period shows that it is – in geological terms – quick. Damn near as quick as Usain Bolt. It is a matter of how far and how quickly that warming goes.

    The oceans are the great engine of climate regulation – if such a term exists. The material I’ve seen (Nat Geo) is that the danger is the amount of water locked in that ice being released into the oceans and messing with their “flows”.

    No, not a “Day After Tomorrow” scenario; somewhat more gradual than that.

    Does what we contribute effect, in any material way, the how far and quickly of the current warming? Damned sure I don’t know. Even if it doesn’t, the filth we belch into the atmosphere and our seas isn’t good. And I do it too.

    I’d like to cease contributing methane too but, spending life feeling like I’m undergoing a barium enema doesn’t strike me as fun…

  2. Anonymous9:43 PM

    I rarely have ice in me drink - so a lack of ice isn't a problem.

    If I did want ice in me drink - I would get very bored having to wait 1,000 years, even 1027 years.

    As such I am gunna do what I have always done - nuffin, absolutely nuffin.

    Anyway, I've done all I can:

    I used to have three cars - red car, white car and green car. Now I only have green car. I drive on average 5,000 kms/year.

    My electricity bill is now(just)less than $200 per quarter for three adults. My wife, her Mum and me.

    We live very modestly and economically, always have.

    I've done all I can - time to sit, but not think.


  3. Father - I believe you can be spared the enemas (of any variety) if you offset your methane excesses by planting a tree, or two, each weekend.

    Of course we must change our ways, and I do mean change, not merely tinker around the edges of doilies.

    But the goal is all wrong. Setting a goal of "reversing" the climate in 100 or 1000 years is not a goal. It's neither realistic nor achievable, nor is it, in any real sense, time-bound.

    Setting real goals to address the real challenges (peak oil, peak gas, adaptation to permanent state of drought, reduced crops, and so on), will invariable have happy unintended consequences in terms of pollution, consumption, the environment, and yes, even those dreaded emissions - which, btw only make up - what? - 2% or less of the atmosphere?

    Humans are simple creatures: simple, achievable goals that solve easily understood and objectively measurable problems.