Climate Science: It’s Carbon Dioxide Silly!
ICSUSA Article August 2017 - Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas [GHG], and the rising level of this GHG in Earth’s atmosphere is causing our planet to warm with major consequences [droughts, rising sea levels, increased global temperatures, extreme weather, etc]. The rapidly rising atmospheric levels of this GHG are anthropogenic in origin: we humans are the cause for this increase. This comes from the combustion of vast amounts of gas, coal, and oil, and land use changes [agriculture, and deforestation tropical forests].
Climate Change: Let’s Cool it and Talk About Ice
ICSUSA Article July 2017 - So what is happening in Antarctica? The story here is a bit different. The air temperatures in this region do not get above freezing [32°F] for any length of time and so
surface melt is relatively small. However, most of the ice lost from Antarctic glaciers as they flow off the land is caused by warmer ocean waters that eat away the glaciers or ice shelves from below. As these ice shelves melt and shrink in size, the flow of the massive land ice behind them, literally ice-rivers, accelerates as there is less ice to hold them back
Climate Science: Step Forward and Half Step Back
ICSUSA Article June 2017 - In 1989 the first layman’s book titled, ”The End of Nature,” by Bill McKibben, was published on this subject of a changing climate. During his presidency, President H. W. Bush ultimately took a more active role in international efforts to study and address global warming, which led to the Earth Summit agreement in Rio de Janeiro signed by 154 countries. That was 25 years ago. Today, rather than join the 195 countries that signed the Paris Accords in 2015 to reduce CO2 emissions, the policy of the U.S. is to accelerate its consumption of fossil fuels, the source of most of the increased CO2 in the atmosphere. This policy is condemning our planet, and ourselves, to increased temperatures with all of its attendant effects on extreme weather, species extinction and more.
Climate Change and Earth’s Carbon Budget
ICSUSA Article May 2017 - So it seems we should be taking Will Rogers quote seriously; we should “stop digging.” The primary reason is that we, the citizens on this planet, and the planet itself, have a carbon budget. Just as with our check books and credit cards there is a limit to how much we can spend. The Earth’s carbon budget is how much carbon can we burn and still keep temperature increases below 2 degrees centigrade [3.6 ºF]. Data says we should keep temperature increases below this amount to avoid the worst effects of climate change and the extreme weather events, rising sea levels, droughts and other impacts that will result. And we do actually have a budget. Note the horizontal bar chart with the large numbers associated with it. The top line shows that we have put into the atmosphere 2,103,192,995,039 [trillion] tons of carbon dioxide or 72% of the planet’s budget. We can only place 796,807,004,961 [billions] of tons more of this GHG into our air. At our current rate of consumption we will exceed our carbon budget in less than 20 years.
Climate Change; Whales and Wind Energy
ICSUSA Article April 2017 - New England had about 795 ships of the 900 in the world dedicated to this slaughter. There were tens of thousands of people involved in this industry. With few whales remaining, and voyages lasting up to 2 years or more before returning to port with whale oil, the whole industry collapsed. American business, and the workers in this trade, went through a wrenching transition to a new economy. An industrial era was emerging based on petroleum, gas, and eventually electricity and required workers to learn new skills as opportunities developed elsewhere. Today the U.S. economy is going through major changes again. Robotics used in manufacturing has displaced many workers and now a major transition is happening in the area of energy supply. Automation and robotics used in the production of coal and oil has increased output significantly, at a lower unit cost, and requires far less workers.
Climate Change and An Earlier Energy Transformation
ICSUSA Article March 2017 - In 1900, New York City had approximately 120,000 horses hauling people and goods around the streets of the city as “The Big Apple”, as it is now known, went about its daily business. Based on simple biology the horses in NYC alone delivered over 2 million pounds of manure per day on the city streets; every day. This horse power required livery stables, hundreds of blacksmith shops, wagon sales and repair businesses, wheelwright shops and hundreds more stores dealing in saddles, harnesses, hay, grain and more. . . .When we consider this, it was an amazing transformation to our economy and way of doing business. The dislocations to people, businesses, employees and other aspects of commerce at that time were huge. It was definitely a “climate change” as odors, flies, many diseases and related issues went away. . .
Climate Change: Strawberry or Watermelon Ice?
ICSUSA Article February 2017 - In a peer review paper published in Nature Communications in December 2016, a team of geobiologists from Germany and Britain collected samples from 16 glaciers across the Arctic. They found that the algae was widespread and that the normally green algae turned red upon exposure to ultraviolet rays; a kind of natural sunscreen which also happens to absorb heat . . . This inter-connectness of increasing global temperatures, decreased ice extent in the Arctic, increased amount of open water, algae blooms that absorb solar energy, and more, all work together to change Earth’s climate. And it is changing.
Volcanos and Climate Change: It’s All in the Numbers
ICSUSA Article January 2017 - This science is well understood and accepted by the rest of the world. At the Climate Conference in Marrakesh in November, 2016, 195 nations including the U.S. reaffirmed their commitment to reduce GHG emissions. See photo “We Will Move Ahead” taken at the conclusion of that meeting [courtesy COP22]. The goal is still to try to limit Earth’s temperature rise below 3.6°F [we are already plus 2°F higher than long term average]. So what can be done? There is a lot happening right now to reduce emissions. We are beginning to see a convergence of technologies, business opportunities, cost reductions, and policy leadership at the state and local level that all combine to begin the changeover from fossil fuels to renewables.