‘Climate Storm’ — Unstoppable Catastrophic Calamity

February 25, 2009

In what could be a major metaphor for the entire climate change debate occurred Tuesday, starting first at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and ending up in the Indian Ocean near Antarctica.

  • NASA and climate researchers are weighing their options after yesterday’s crash of a new satellite designed to monitor atmospheric carbon dioxide with unprecedented accuracy.

The big problem with climate change is similar to the one facing the financial meltdown: The concept that got us in this mess is the same one trying to get us out.

(Illustration found here).

A function synopsis of NASA’s satellite from nature.com:

  • The $280 million mission would have provided much needed information on the origin and fate of carbon dioxide emissions.
    The instruments aboard the satellite were designed to measure carbon dioxide at a precision higher than any current space-based measurements of a trace gas, and would have helped scientists to identify sources and sinks of the greenhouse gas.
    Although the project was intended as a science mission, its results would also have been relevant to policymakers.

Yes, indeed, if any measures can be brought to bear on a situation which will make all other situations — i.e., the economy, the war on terror, Jennifer Aniston at 40, etc., etc. — seem like a walk in the park.
Despite all the discussion on climate change, nothing is really being done.
Even David Letterman knows the score.
See his ‘Dead Meat’ rant from last September on global climate change via HuffPost.
In the last couple of years, research studies are seemingly worse than previously reported.
From the UK’s telegraph.com:

  • WWF’s report, Climate Change: Faster, stronger, sooner, has updated all the scientific data and concluded that global warming is accelerating far beyond the IPCC’s forecasts.
    As an example it says the first ‘tipping point’ may have already been reached in the Arctic, where sea ice is disappearing up to 30 years ahead of IPCC predictions and may be gone completely within five years —
    something that hasn’t occurred for a million years.

And it’s not only with CO2, but also CFCs — human-produced compounds called chlorofluorocarbons — which impacts the infamous ozone hole:

  • The ozone hole over Antarctica grew to the size of North America this year — the fifth largest on record — according to the latest satellite observations.

    The main cause of the ozone hole is human-produced compounds called chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, which release ozone-destroying chlorine and bromine into the atmosphere.
    The Earth’s protective ozone layer acts like a giant parasol, blocking the sun’s ultraviolet-B rays. Though banned for the past 21 years to reduce their harmful build up, CFCs still take many decades to dissipate from the atmosphere.

However, with CO2 still legal, still blazing, the future looks really, really bad, as carbon dioxide can stay around for a long, long time.
In an interview Tuesday with McClatchy Newspapers, David Archer, one of the world’s leading climatologists, this “long tail” of CO2 would mean a certain kind of horror for planet earth.
Archer, whose new book, “The Long Thaw: How Humans Are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth’s Climate,” explains the burning of fossil fuels ignited the future: “In the long run, it could be a steep price to pay for a century or so of fossil fuel energy.”
And in order to survive, mankind must adjust:

  • “The question may come down to ethics, rather than economics,” Archer wrote, much as the issue of slavery did more than a century ago.
    “Ultimately it didn’t matter whether it was economically beneficial or costly to give up. It was simply wrong.”

Wrong doesn’t trump greed and the grind-on of civilization:

  • If the world continues its heavy use of coal over the next couple of hundred years until it’s essentially used up, it would take several centuries more for the oceans to absorb about three-quarters of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. In those centuries, there would be a “climate storm” that Archer says would be significantly worse than the forecast from now to 2100.

And to the multitudes under denial:

  • There are people who will “believe” anything they want to; the question is whether anyone has a scientifically credible justification for that belief.
    It was predicted over a century ago that rising CO2 concentrations in the air would warm the planet.
    Now it seems to be doing just that, just as predicted.
    If anyone can explain why things should not work in this way, then I’d be interested to hear, but so far there are just no completing ideas, just beliefs stemming from whatever source, and an active campaign at disinformation sponsored by the fossil fuel industry.

Is earth, then condemned?

  • No, the damage has not yet been done. We could stop releasing CO2. Technologically that is not so hard.

The problem, though, David, is not technology, but dumb-ass people and most likely we are doomed, a situation akin to George Carlin’s Hippy-Dippy weatherman predictions — and I paraphrase — ‘Rain is forecast, but our radar has also picked up some Russian ICBMs heading this way, so don’t sweat the rain showers.’

yeah…

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