The Faucet (And The Clock) Is Running

June 28, 2011

Always a skeptic, and although never a doubt about global warming, the speed in which this shit will strike hard at everyone’s daily lives has always seemed a bit understated.

Report after report, study after study indicated the real mess of climate change will come in the future — somewhere down the line in 2020, 2030, or the end of this century, 2100, and so forth, but it appears the brains have undershot the reality and it’s here already.
Some times, I just hate being anywhere near right.

And mankind is the asshole ruler of the planet.
The human species is the polluter, even beyond the horror of volcanoes with their smoke and fire belching into the heavens: In fact, humans release roughly 135 times more carbon dioxide annually than volcanoes do, on average, according a new analysis. Put another way, humans emit in under three days the amount that volcanoes typically release in a year, according to the best estimates of volcanic emissions.
And with people like us in charge, we’re fried.

(Illustration found here).

From Nature Geoscience (full report behind a pay wall — synopsis below found at

Professor Paul Valdes of the School of Earth Sciences, discusses four examples of abrupt climate change spanning the past 55 million years that have been reconstructed from palaeoclimate data.
In two of the cases, complex climate models used in the assessments of future climate change did not adequately simulate the conditions before the onset of change.
In the other two cases, the models needed an unrealistically strong push to produce a change similar to that observed in records of past climate.
Professor Valdes concludes that state-of-the-art climate models may be systematically underestimating the potential for sudden climate change.

No shit sherlock.

And dang it, sherlock is right.
Apparently, the ocean’s currents are forcing the earth’s ice pack at its poles to melt even faster.
From Climate Progress on a new study by Columbia University’s Earth Institute:

Stronger ocean currents beneath West Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf are eroding the ice from below, speeding the melting of the glacier as a whole, according to a new study in Nature Geoscience.
A growing cavity beneath the ice shelf has allowed more warm water to melt the ice, the researchers say — a process that feeds back into the ongoing rise in global sea levels.
The glacier is currently sliding into the sea at a clip of four kilometers (2.5 miles) a year, while its ice shelf is melting at about 80 cubic kilometers a year — 50 percent faster than it was in the early 1990s — the paper estimates.

One day, near the southern edge of Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf, the researchers directly observed the strength of the melting process as they watched frigid, seawater appear to boil on the surface like a kettle on the stove.
To Jacobs, it suggested that deep water, buoyed by added fresh glacial melt, was rising to the surface in a process called upwelling.
Jacobs had never witnessed upwelling first hand, but colleagues had described something similar in the fjords of Greenland, where summer runoff and melting glacier fronts can also drive buoyant plumes to the sea surface.

The warmer it gets, the more unstable WAIS (West Antarctic ice sheet) outlet glaciers will become.
Since so much of the ice sheet is grounded underwater, rising sea levels may have the effect of lifting the sheets, allowing more-and increasingly warmer-water underneath it, leading to further bottom melting, more ice shelf disintegration, accelerated glacial flow, and further sea level rise, and so on and on, another vicious cycle.
The combination of global warming and accelerating sea level rise from Greenland could be the trigger for catastrophic collapse in the WAIS…

And to combat this quickly spiking rise in sea levels, a new approach has been offered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Don’t fight it as costly seawalls and dikes eventually fail because sea-level rise is unstoppable.
From the Washington Post last Sunday:

The analysis, “Rolling Easements,” published on the EPA’s Web site, hopes “to get people on the path of not expecting to hold back the sea” as the warming climate is expected to melt ice around the globe, EPA researcher James G. Titus said.

The EPA report said governments have three options to deal with sea-level rise: They can stay on the well-worn path of building expensive protection and raising streets and buildings.
They can beat an organized retreat from the shore, perhaps by offering financial incentives to people and organizations to move inland.
Or they can allow people to do whatever they want for their waterfront properties but tell them in no uncertain terms that they are on their own when the waters rise.

It’s all the same to every single member of the human race — in no uncertain terms, we’re all on our own as waters rise and the clock ticks away.

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