Heavy Air

September 9, 2014

400ppm-CO-danger-300x264Overcast and chilly this early Tuesday on California’s north coast — weather we like it or not.

And not liking it — a new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) indicates the environment sucks worse than it has in 30 years.
The clock hands are moving, though — WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud: “Past, present and future CO2 emissions will have a cumulative impact on both global warming and ocean acidification. The laws of physics are non-negotiable. We are running out of time.”

(Illustration found here).

More from the BBC:

The WMO’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin doesn’t measure emissions from power station smokestacks but instead records how much of the warming gases remain in the atmosphere after the complex interactions that take place between the air, the land and the oceans.
About half of all emissions are taken up by the seas, trees and living things.
According to the bulletin, the globally averaged amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 396 parts per million (ppm) in 2013, an increase of almost 3ppm over the previous year.

Atmospheric CO2 is now at 142 percent of the levels in 1750, before the start of the industrial revolution.
However, global average temperatures have not risen in concert with the sustained growth in CO2, leading to many voices claiming that global warming has paused.
“The climate system is not linear, it is not straightforward. It is not necessarily reflected in the temperature in the atmosphere, but if you look at the temperature profile in the ocean, the heat is going in the oceans,” said Oksana Tarasova, chief of the atmospheric research division at the WMO.
The bulletin suggests that in 2013, the increase in CO2 was due not only to increased emissions but also to a reduced carbon uptake by the Earth’s biosphere.
The scientists at the WMO are puzzled by this development.
That last time there was a reduction in the biosphere’s ability to absorb carbon was 1998, when there was extensive burning of biomass worldwide, coupled with El Nino conditions.
“In 2013 there are no obvious impacts on the biosphere so it is more worrying,” said Oksana Tarasova.
“We don’t understand if this is temporary or if it is a permanent state, and we are a bit worried about that.”
“It could be that the biosphere is at its limit but we cannot tell that at the moment.”
The WMO data indicates that between 1990 and 2013 there was an 34 percent increase in the warming impact on the climate because carbon dioxide and other gases like methane and nitrous oxide survive for such a long time in the atmosphere.

And that methane bullshit is really, really scary — just last month, scientists discovered 570 methane seeps clustered along the US eastern seaboard, where the continental slope breaks and the seafloor topography swoops down toward the Atlantic Ocean basin. A shock for the brainiacs: “It was a surprise to find these features,” said Adam Skarke, a geologist at Mississippi State University.
“It was unexpected because many of the common things associated with methane gas do not exist on the Atlantic margin.”

Methane injected into the climate change trajectory is indeed scary — the substance is 20 times more potent than CO2, and right now methane concentration in the atmosphere is 200 times lower than that of CO2, but methane concentrations have risen by 150 percent since pre-industrial times, compared to only 40 percent for CO2.
This shit can quickly become a big factor in what’s called abrupt climate change, and then all bets are off: In the words of Dr. Wally Broecker, “the climate system is an angry beast, and we are poking it.”

Sounds way-way-risky — and with this, the risk factor: Nearly 90 percent of US businesses believe the world is getting riskier, and a Travelers Insurance survey indicates businesses are in for a wallop.
Via the San Francisco Chronicle: The report revealed significant differences between businesses. Most companies surveyed report a sense that the world is growing riskier, and that these risks are more complex and more difficult to manage. At the same time, many report they feel under-prepared to handle these risks.

Apparently, being alive nowadays is risky.

(Illustration out front found here).

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