The Red-Blue Planet

September 28, 2015

Global-Warming-keep-earth-green-33320784-800-1208Crystal-clear with way-bright sunshine and a chilly air this Monday morning on California’s north coast and the next few days are forecast for the same.
Supposedly, temperatures should be warmer today, but a cool Pacific breeze will keep the lid on any heat.

Our view of last night’s “blood moon”-lunar eclipse was extraordinary as predictions warranted, even off my back patio — however, no end-of-mankind calamities and now back to the ugly work of reality.

As our own planet buckles, NASA reported this morning —  Michael Meyer, lead scientist on the Mars Exploration Program: ‘“It took multiple spacecraft over several years to solve this mystery, and now we know there is liquid water on the surface of this cold, desert planet…It seems that the more we study Mars, the more we learn how life could be supported and where there are resources to support life in the future.”

(Illustration found here).

As a before-afterthought, how about supporting future life for planet earth?
President Obama in a lengthy interview published last week in Rolling Stone, ominously said this about the ability of the earth to get a grip on climate change, especially in light of the upcoming UN conference this December in Paris:

For us to be able to get the basic architecture in place with aggressive-enough targets from the major emitters that the smaller countries say, “This is serious” — that will be a success.
I’m less concerned about the precise number, because let’s stipulate right now, whatever various country targets are, it’s still going to fall short of what the science requires.
So a percent here or a percent there coming from various countries is not going to be a deal-breaker.
But making sure everybody is making serious efforts and that we are making a joint international commitment that is well-defined and can be measured will create the basis for us each year, then, to evaluate, “How are we doing?” and will allow us, five years from now, to say the science is new, we need to ratchet it up, and by the way, because of the research and development that we’ve put in, we can achieve more ambitious goals.

And the key for Paris is just to make sure that everybody is locked in, saying, “We’re going to do this.”
Once we get to that point, then we can turn the dials.
But there will be a momentum that is built, and I’m confident that we will then be in a position to listen more carefully to the science — partly because people, I think, will be not as fearful of the consequences or as cynical about what can be achieved.
Hope builds on itself. Success breeds success.

The interview was held during Obama’s recent trip to Alaska to promote work toward getting that handle on climate change. Read the whole piece, most interesting — really can’t over-emphasize the president’s near-quip, “…it’s still going to fall short of what the science requires.”
And seemingly tying together water and science — not on Mars, but here the big Blue Planet — is a couple of recent reports on impacts of the coming El Niño on land bordering the Pacific Ocean, especially in sea rise. Although climate change didn’t create an El Niño, the warming does indeed ‘exacerbate‘ the operation’s influence and strength.
Via today’s Climate News Network:

One set of researchers reports in Science Advances that, in response to El Niño, Western Pacific sea levels will fall and rise more frequently by 2100.
When they fall, they threaten the corals with a foul-smelling tide; when they rise, they threaten to flood the atolls.
And another group reports in Nature Geoscience that the alternating impact of a blistering El Niño and its chillier sister, La Niña, could bring more extreme flooding and more damaging erosion to the entire Pacific region.

Matthew Widlansky, a climate researcher at the International Pacific Research Centre in Hawai’i, and colleagues report in that global warming will enhance El Niño-linked sea-level extremes.
This, in turn, will mean very low sea levels in the western Pacific, followed six months later by a seesaw in north-south sea levels, in which the seas drop by as much as 30 centimetres, to expose vulnerable coral ecosystems.
And these could double in frequency.

And not so good along my little stretch of the Pacific coast, either — from our Times-Standard last Saturday and a piece on local flooding, including this nasty bit:

In Humboldt County, U.S. Highway 101 and utility lines that serve Eureka and Arcata already face long-term threats from rising sea levels, according to a separate study on sea levels conducted last year by Arcata-based environmental planner Aldaron Laird of Trinity Associates.
“We’ve buried all of our gas lines, electrical lines and water transmission lines … in the farmlands behind those dikes,” Laird said in November 2014.
“All these underground utilities weren’t designed to be saturated by saltwater, and we won’t be able to get out there to maintain them if those areas become part of the bay again.
“Same thing with Highway 101. They built 101 over these low-lying areas, and over the last century a lot of that land has been compacted by as much as 3 feet. … So that’s where our vulnerability lies.”

Keep in mind, this is just problems associated with the coming winter’s festivities, not including the ever-increasing rise in sea levels due to the melting of polar ice — and speaking of our way-need to “…science the shit out of this,” in this case, climate change, and what does that mean?
From the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists earlier this month:

Today we’re only about halfway to the 2-degree mark, yet the climate is already haywire.
Numbers such as 2 degrees and 350 parts per million (or ppm, which many climate activists have identified as a “safe” level for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) have become enshrined in the climate debate.
Meanwhile, though, civilization’s industrial machinery marches on.
We’re already at 400 ppm of carbon dioxide, and it looks like we will blow by 2 degrees, too.

In hindsight, though, the idea that even 2 degrees of warming would be tolerable is baffling.
Homo sapiens have never lived in a world that hot.
In an excellent series of special reports for CNN on what 2 degrees of global warming would mean, John D. Sutter lists some of the expected impacts: a melting Arctic, enormous wildfires, more intense hurricanes, water shortages, reduced crop yields, and animals and plants at risk of extinction.
Even if warming can be held to 2 degrees, scientists predict that global sea level will rise by at least 20 feet as a result.
The Climate Vulnerable Forum, a coalition of 20 nations that expect severe global-warming effects, has called the 2-degree goal “inadequate” to protect fundamental human rights.
“How can we possibly subscribe to more than double the current warming?” asked Mary Ann Lucille L. Sering, secretary of the Philippines Climate Change Commission.

So when blue shifts to red, time….to what?

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