March 20, 2014

EmissionsOvercast with a chilly breeze this early Thursday on California’s north coast as we grind through another work week.
Friday is just a flip-of-the-finger away.

We had a bit of nasty news yesterday afternoon from just south of us, down in Mendocino County, where a sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed in a shootout with guy who’d been on something of a crime spree — he was also shot and killed.
An ugly story — details at the above link.

Meanwhile, more nasty and ugly news on our environment. Readings at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii indicate the planet reached 400 ppm (parts-per-million) in CO2 last week, two months earlier than last year.
Supposedly, air with more than 350 ppm can get dicey when it comes to staying alive.

(Illustration found here).

Ralph Keeling with Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego: “We’re already seeing values over 400. Probably we’ll see values dwelling over 400 in April and May. It’s just a matter of time before it stays over 400 forever.”
Some way-nasty news, though, not new news. Climate people have been saying this for years — maybe they need to stop just “saying” this shit, and start “screaming” this shit.

And on Tuesday, the American Association for the Advancement of Science tried to do just that, but in a civilized tone.
Via the Guardian:

“As scientists, it is not our role to tell people what they should do,” the AAAS said in a new report, What we know.
“But we consider it our responsibility as professionals to ensure, to the best of our ability, that people understand what we know: human-caused climate change is happening, we face risks of abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes, and responding now will lower the risks and costs of taking action.”

The report noted the climate is warming at almost unprecedented pace.
“The rate of climate change now may be as fast as any extended warming period over the past 65 million years, and it is projected to accelerate in the coming decades,”
An 8F rise – among the most likely scenarios could make once rare extreme weather events – 100-year floods, droughts and heat waves – almost annual occurrences, the scientists said.
Other sudden systemic changes could lie ahead – such as large scale collapse of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, collapse of part of the Gulf Stream, loss of the Amazon rain forest, die-off of coral reefs, and mass extinctions.
“There is a risk of abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes in the earth’s climate system with massively disruptive impacts,” the report said.
The risks of such catastrophes would only grow over time – unless there was action to cut emissions, the scientists said.
“The sooner we make a concerted effort to curtail the burning of fossil fuels as our primary energy source and releasing the C02 to the air, the lower our risk and cost will be.”

Fat chance that happening.
The asshole who could US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Jim Inhofe, is a climate-change total denier and claims “alarmists will scare the country into enacting their ultimate goal: making energy suppression, in the form of harmful mandatory restrictions on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions, the official policy of the United States.” He also questioned whether global warming “is even a problem for human existence.”
Of course, Inhofe received nearly $1.6 million in contributions from the oil and gas industries, by far his largest donor base. Fossil fuel organizations have donated over $300,000 to him since 2009.
In the end, however, people like Inhofe will be loathed, his grandchildren will most-likely hate his very name. But it will do no good, as it will be way-way-too-late.

And all this “ppm” mess?

Since the beginning of human civilization, our atmosphere contained about 275 ppm of carbon dioxide.
That is the planet “on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.”
Beginning in the 18th century, humans began to burn coal, gas, and oil to produce energy and goods.
The amount of carbon in the atmosphere began to rise, at first slowly and now more quickly.
Many of the activities we do every day like turning the lights on, cooking food, or heating our homes rely on energy sources that emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.
We’re taking millions of years worth of carbon, once stored beneath the earth as fossil fuels, and releasing it into the atmosphere.
Right now we’re at 400 ppm, and we’re adding 2 ppm of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year.
Unless we are able to rapidly turn that around and return to below 350 ppm this century, we risk triggering tipping points and irreversible impacts that could send climate change spinning truly beyond our control.

Already there, buddy.

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