400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide Levels Cross Threshold

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400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide Levels Cross Threshold

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:23 pm

Last week we passed an unfortunate marker when it comes to climate change: concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere have hit 400 parts per million (ppm) near the Arctic.


http://insights.wri.org/news/2012/06/40 ... -threshold

To make matters worse...

The news of surpassing the 400 ppm marker was made more troubling as it coincided with new data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), which indicates that global CO2 emissions increased 3.2 percent over the past year, reaching a record high of 31.6 gigatonnes (Gt). The IEA suggests that the world is now just 1 Gt away from the level at which CO2 emissions must stay if we are to have a 50 percent chance of keeping the rise in global average temperature to 2°C above preindustrial levels. And most scientists suggest that even a 2°C increase is too high, as some parts of the world—such as the polar regions—would face temperature increases of two-to-three times the global average.


Meanwhile nations give token gestures in support of carbon emission reduction and some companies capitalize on consumer interest in "carbon neutral" products.

Things just keep getting worse. I've accepted this, but still I can't help but look in awe at how this is unfolding.
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Re: 400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide Levels Cross Threshold

Postby kirtu » Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:23 pm

There are reports in the last week in the media that forest is beginning to grow in some tundra regions. Although this will absorb some CO2 the net effect will be to contribute to warming. Additionally it may accelerate subsurface methane release.

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Re: 400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide Levels Cross Threshold

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jun 07, 2012 12:51 am

Nature Magazine has published some dire concerns:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/47708896/ns ... 8_tKIG8iIA

Writing Wednesday (June 6) in the journal Nature, the researchers warn that the world is headed toward a tipping point marked by extinctions and unpredictable changes on a scale not seen since the glaciers retreated 12,000 years ago.

"There is a very high possibility that by the end of the century, the Earth is going to be a very different place," study researcher Anthony Barnosky told LiveScience. Barnosky, a professor of integrative biology from the University of California, Berkeley, joined a group of 17 other scientists to warn that this new planet might not be a pleasant place to live.


I wonder if those scientists drove to work in cars...
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Re: 400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide Levels Cross Threshold

Postby dharmagoat » Thu Jun 07, 2012 12:53 am

Huseng wrote:Things just keep getting worse. I've accepted this, but still I can't help but look in awe at how this is unfolding.

I am the same. It can't be said that we are not living in a very interesting time.

I am sad for those who are just starting out in life. When I was young it was the threat of nuclear war that loomed large, that was bad enough.
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Re: 400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide Levels Cross Threshold

Postby dharmagoat » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:00 am

Huseng wrote:I wonder if those scientists drove to work in cars...

Or caught a bus, or cycled to work on a bicycle made using fossil-fuel energy... The problem is that we don't have enough options in place to behave any better.
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Re: 400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide Levels Cross Threshold

Postby Nemo » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:53 am

Ironically if we had kept researching nuclear we would be fine now.

In the 1950's we had nuclear powered jets(Corvair Crusader) and the gains in nuclear technology for the next 20 years were staggering. Then we chickened out, thanks peaceniks. Research since then has been a joke by comparison. But even so we have two types of reactors that have very little radiation danger. Thorium reactors with isotopes with very short half lives and the experimental fusion fuels that produce no radioactive isotopes researched by DARPA.
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Re: 400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide Levels Cross Threshold

Postby dharmagoat » Thu Jun 07, 2012 2:36 am

Nemo wrote:In the 1950's we had nuclear powered jets(Corvair Crusader) and the gains in nuclear technology for the next 20 years were staggering. Then we chickened out, thanks peaceniks. Research since then has been a joke by comparison. But even so we have two types of reactors that have very little radiation danger. Thorium reactors with isotopes with very short half lives and the experimental fusion fuels that produce no radioactive isotopes researched by DARPA.

Hang about. Isn't it dangerous enough having nuclear reactors in the path of tsunamis, let alone flying around at supersonic speeds while efforts are made to destroy them?

Though I take your point about possible safer forms of fission and fusion being found.
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Re: 400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide Levels Cross Threshold

Postby Nemo » Thu Jun 07, 2012 2:41 am

Not if the nuclear energy is made from fusion and none of the break down products are radioactive. DARPA designed it for nuclear aircraft carriers and subs.I think we may have been there by now if we had not abandoned this technology 40 years ago. Also if a nuke jet was flying over me I would not even put my finger on the trigger.

Instead we die slow from global warming caused by fossil fuels.
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Re: 400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide Levels Cross Threshold

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:29 am

There's still a few years to act. We might, just might, make it through. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed.
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Re: 400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide Levels Cross Threshold

Postby dharmagoat » Thu Jun 07, 2012 9:20 am

Only 400 PPM? Doesn't that mean we still have 999600 PPM to go? :popcorn:
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Re: 400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide Levels Cross Threshold

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:19 pm

dharmagoat wrote:
Huseng wrote:I wonder if those scientists drove to work in cars...

Or caught a bus, or cycled to work on a bicycle made using fossil-fuel energy... The problem is that we don't have enough options in place to behave any better.


If a tall ship voyage across the pacific didn't cost over $10,000 or more I'd actually be happy to travel that way (and work as a boatswain along the way too).

Unfortunately I have to fly when I travel.
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Re: 400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide Levels Cross Threshold

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:27 pm

treehuggingoctopus wrote:There's still a few years to act. We might, just might, make it through. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed.


Unlikely. By 2070 or so, possibly sooner, we'll have extracted most of the feasible oil supplies out of the ground. Most of it will be burned.


Even if we collectively decided in the first world to use less, it would just be picked up by up and coming economies like China or India at a reduced price (and consumption would consequently increase).

Once the cost of extraction exceeds possible profits the whole industrial system will fail even if there is still -some- oil left in the ground.

There is no way to save this sinking ship. Less consumption means less economic growth which in turns means less military power in the long-term.

There is no miracle technology that will save us and even if there were we still have trillions of dollars of infrastructure that relies on fossil fuels. Most alternative energy sources rely on fossil fuels for their construction and maintenance as well. I doubt you could build a Hoover Dam with solar powered machinery and wind powered cement factories.

On top of all this is meteorological revenge and ecological payback for our collective misdeeds. We're already seeing this starting to play out.

In the long term I'm seriously interested in relocating to the Himalayas. Right now that isn't feasible, but eventually it might turn out to be optimal.
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Re: 400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide Levels Cross Threshold

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Thu Jun 07, 2012 2:56 pm

Huseng wrote:
treehuggingoctopus wrote:There's still a few years to act. We might, just might, make it through. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed.


Unlikely.


That's the factually true part of your post. The rest is conjecture - a very likely scenario, of course, but by no means a fixed one.

I'm not saying there's a good reason to be hopeful. There isn't, and things are looking grim. But the problem with that kind of miserabilism, to use Andre Breton's felicitous term, is that it's highly disempowering - and as a result its predictions tend to be self-fulfilling (I could add also that I've witnessed that sort of thinking many a time used in order to justify comfy inertia and/or reactionary permisiveness - but I'm fairly sure that kind of criticism doesn't apply to anyone at DW). Despair, whether justified or not, always robs us of what little strength we might still have - or, alternatively, makes us do things we'd be better off never even considering doing.

Besides, there might indeed be some surprises still. Human beings sometimes do find themselves acting pretty rationally in the good sense of the word - just as some of us do occasionally perform feats of mind-boggling altruism: Good to remember the Cuban missile crisis at a time like this: in terms of the rules of the game, there was every reason for our world to end in 1962 - and yet the rules got suspended for a moment, and instead of pressing buttons people started talking. Sure enough, dealing with climate change or overpopulation may prove way more difficult. And yet . . .
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Re: 400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide Levels Cross Threshold

Postby Indrajala » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:58 am

treehuggingoctopus wrote:Sure enough, dealing with climate change or overpopulation may prove way more difficult. And yet . . .


Ironically if a new technology was suddenly able to provide everyone with abundant clean energy (which is what a lot of people are hoping for), it would just encourage higher population levels given the abundant energy, only increasing demands on the ecosystem and resource base of the planet. The oil would still be used for other things like plastics and petrochemicals, though it might last a bit longer. It might be twice as worse than if no new energy technologies are developed.

I think optimism will just have people continue on with their lives, business as usual, until crisis after crisis crushes them and their lives become unravelled because of a lack of preparation.
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Re: 400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide Levels Cross Threshold

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Fri Jun 08, 2012 8:54 am

Huseng wrote:Ironically if a new technology was suddenly able to provide everyone with abundant clean energy (which is what a lot of people are hoping for), it would just encourage higher population levels given the abundant energy, only increasing demands on the ecosystem and resource base of the planet.


Again, it's quite possible - but by no means set in stone. There are difficult but humane, and feasible, options of solving the energy vs population dilemma available even now - but of course the Powers that Be are not interested, because the aforementioned options would hardly be lucrative to them. Still, the game's not over yet.

Huseng wrote:I think optimism will just have people continue on with their lives, business as usual, until crisis after crisis crushes them and their lives become unravelled because of a lack of preparation.


And yet again, that's likely, very likely perhaps.
But stated like that it's just another piece of miserabilism - unhelpful and enervating.

I sometimes get the feeling that some people secretly enjoy, and very much so, proclaiming to the world that we're all oh, so screwed and there's no way out and we're all going to suffer horribly and die.
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Re: 400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide Levels Cross Threshold

Postby Fruitzilla » Fri Jun 08, 2012 9:37 am

treehuggingoctopus wrote:I sometimes get the feeling that some people secretly enjoy, and very much so, proclaiming to the world that we're all oh, so screwed and there's no way out and we're all going to suffer horribly and die.


Yeah, I notice this tendency quite a lot also. I used to have it bigtime, maybe that's why I can see it so easily.
If you read closely you can notice it's got a lot to do with unrecognized anger.
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Re: 400 PPM: Carbon Dioxide Levels Cross Threshold

Postby Indrajala » Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:33 pm

Some scientists discovered plankton in the Arctic where there shouldn't be:




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oce7fBg1Is
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