A ‘wake up’ too late?

March 9, 2013

fossil-fuels-skeleton-hand1Wondering a bit this evening, reading about another astro-podic close encounter of earth with a chunk of space rock, the one this afternoon ‘…big as a city block…’ glided past about 600,000 miles up — as Reuters explained: That’s about 2-1/2 times as far as the moon, fairly close on a cosmic yardstick.

A space rock or fossil fuel?

(Illustration found here).

Earth seemingly is in the cross-hairs — at first glance a most-recent phenomenon, but in reality forever more and then some. There’s much to current life that’s way-more than just incredible.

From the Reuters link above:

“The scary part of this one is that it’s something we didn’t even know about,” Patrick Paolucci, president of Slooh Space Camera, said during a webcast featuring live images of the asteroid from a telescope in the Canary Islands.
Moving at a speed of about 26,000 miles per hour, the asteroid could have wiped out a large city if it had impacted the Earth, added Slooh telescope engineer Paul Cox.
Asteroid 2013 ET is nearly eight times larger than the bus-sized asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, on February 15.

Two other small asteroids, both about the size of the Russian meteor, will also be in Earth’s neighborhood this weekend.
Asteroid 2013 EC 20 passed just 93,000 miles away on Saturday – “a stone’s thrown,” said Cox.
On Sunday, Asteroid 2013 EN 20 will fly about 279,000 miles from Earth. Both were discovered just three days ago.
“We know that the solar system is a busy place,” said Cox.
“We’re not sitting here on our pale, blue dot on our own in nice safety … This should be a wake-up call to governments.”

Cox also said one of the reasons we’re seeing more of this shit is more people looking upward — but there’s always been star-gazer people, and what about all that satellite detection systems, etc., that stuff didn’t get sent up yesterday. The detection apparatus has been on alert for years.
All of a sudden more space rock whizzing past? Or more easily seen? Though, nearly all the current space debris have appeared suddenly without warning — the big one this morning discovered only six days ago, the other two just three days ago.

And Cox’s statement at the end there — this should be a “wake-up call” for asteroid detection — sounds way-familiar when applied to weather events lately, especially with Hurricane Sandy.
But what about this:

“…only a 1 percent chance of an accidental warming of this magnitude. … The greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.”
— Climatologist James Hansen, testimony before a US Senate committee, June 23, 1988

Here 25 years later and humanity is now eyeball-deep in shit. Despite even Hansen’s wake-up cry a quarter-century ago, or another he gave recently — it would be “game over” for earth’s survival in a warming climate if the Keystone pipeline is approved and constructed — the reality of what’s facing all of us is monstrous and coming quickly.
And the great wad of humanity haven’t a clue.

A disturbing bit this morning via the Vancouver Sun:

In April 2009, the science journal Nature published a paper entitled Greenhouse-Gas Emission Targets for Limiting Global Warming to 2 C.
Its subject was the end of the modern world.
At the time, it attracted little notice.
It was a half-dozen pages long.
For laymen, its technical content was impenetrable.
The purpose of the paper — researched and written by a team of European scientists headed by Malte Meinshausen, a climatologist with Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact — was to determine just how much time mankind had left before our burning of fossil fuels would cause catastrophic global warming.
The marker for what would be considered “catastrophic” warming was generally agreed to be anything above a rise of two degrees Celsius in global temperature.

The problem was, no one was exactly sure how much fossil-fuel consumption had already contributed to global warming, or how much fossil fuel mankind could consume without going over the two degrees Celsius marker.
Those phenomena needed to be quantified.
Meinshausen’s team did just that.
It constructed a rigorous model by incorporating hundreds of factors that had never been grouped together before, and then ran them through a thousand different scenarios.
The team’s conclusion?
Time was perilously short.
It found that if we continued at present levels of fossil fuel consumption (and, in fact, consumption has been rising annually), we have somewhere between an 11- to 15-year window to prevent global temperatures from surpassing the two degree Celsius threshold in this century.
And the longer we waited, the worse the odds got.

“Yes, I use Meinshausen’s study,” wrote Prof. Mark Jaccard, environmental economist at Simon Fraser University, in an email.
“But I also use about five others that basically say the same thing.
The reason they all say the same thing is because the math is trivial — no independent analysts dispute it.
“This is not groupthink,” Jaccard wrote.
“Even when we bring in vice-presidents from oil and coal companies to be parts of the study groups, they quietly agree.
When you are sitting in a meeting at Stanford (University) with top researchers — and away from your marketing department — it is pretty hard to sustain the myths that ‘business-as-usual’ is OK.”

An even more alarming assessment comes from University of B.C. Prof. William Rees, originator of the “ecological footprint” concept.
“I haven’t read this particular study,” Rees wrote, “but it sounds about right.
If I recall, the United Kingdom’s Tyndall Centre (for Climate Change Research) suggests that a 90-per-cent reduction in carbon emissions from high income countries may be necessary.
“In any event, various authors don’t believe we have any hope of cutting greenhouse gases sufficiently in time to avoid a two Celsius degree increase in mean global temperature since to date, no serious steps have been taken to wean the world off fossil fuels.”

But the remedies needed, Rees suggested, might have to be even more draconian than that.
“Even the International Energy Agency and the World Bank have recently conceded that even if present agreed-upon policies were implemented, the world is likely headed to four Celsius degrees warming by the end of the century.
This would render much of the most heavily populated parts of the earth uninhabitable …”

I’ve reprinted most of the article — devastating shit.
The bottom line is humans need to lay off the fossil fuels and leave what’s in the ground, in the ground. Bill McKibben’s piece in Rolling Stone last summer displayed the brutal math on fossil fuel extraction — if we’re to survive, we have got to leave that shit alone.
And my underline above of that 11-to-15-year window to turn the tide — way optimistic.
Factor in stuff like that permafrost-methane nightmare scenario, and DOGSHIT!

And another example of this peculiar, particular age of the nowadays — in this instance, earth’s radiation regions, properly called the Van Allen belts, a bit of science I learned in sixth-grade.
An update is there’s a third one – or was.
Via CNN this morning:

Two NASA probes detected a third radiation belt, which disappeared a few weeks later.
It appears that solar weather caused its formation, and disappearance.

The probes observed it almost immediately after they were turned on to collect data.
The observation was so unexpected that the science team made sure to rule out an instrument malfunction.
Just as startling as the discovery of a third belt was the observation of its disappearance four weeks later, in the wake of solar activity.

His colleague Mona Kessel, a Van Allen Probes program scientist, pointed out that we still don’t completely understand what’s happening in the Van Allen belts: “We’re trying to piece this all together right now. Stay tuned — we will know more.”


Do we need a wake-up call in the morning? Maybe, as Day Savings Time kicks off and time might be a-wasting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.