Monday, June 09, 2014

CO2 is the critical issue

Have you seen the relentless television commercials from the fossil fuel industry showing former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush standing together agreeing on approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline and how all that energy is good for America? Well, here’s a little truth in advertising that they don’t want you to know about.
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, humans increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere by 117 parts per million (PPM) by burning fossil fuels. For over 800,000 years before that CO2 levels hovered around 280 PPM. Now because we pump 90 million tons of CO2 up there every 24 hours, CO2 concentrations have risen to an average of 397 PPM and frequently spike into the 400 PPM range. It won’t be long until that will become the average as CO2 continues increasing. The reason CO2 levels are so important is because the more CO2 in the atmosphere the more moisture gets trapped up there heating up the planet causing extreme weather events.
Scientists say that we can’t put much more than another 565 gigatons (million tons) of CO2 into the atmosphere without passing the 2 degree Celsius limit that will cause calamitous climate events. Financial analysts calculate over 2,795 gigatons of CO2 contained in readily available oil, gas and coal reserves. That’s five times more CO2 than we can afford to burn and expect to maintain a survivable planet.
Burning fossil fuels has already increased the average global temperature from preindustrial levels by 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit), taking us almost half way to the 2 degree Celsius boundary, and we are already experiencing sea level rise, extreme storms, floods, mud slides, droughts, dust storms, and wildfires around the planet. And most alarming, 75 percent of the Arctic ice cap melted in the summer of 2012. If we keep burning fossil fuels at the current rate, scientists predict we will raise the global average temperature to at least 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) within the next 60 to 80 years. For humanity that will be disastrous.
Out of sheer survival reflex the fossil industry heavily financed a campaign to buy politicians and confuse the public about climate change through think tanks like the Heartland Institute and television and radio shows like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.
In spite of that, ninety seven percent the world’s climate scientists agree that we can’t allow the global average temperature to increase above 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) from the preindustrial average without causing very serious consequences for humanity. To put that into perspective, it’s like 7 out of 10 doctors telling you that you’d better urgently address a serious health issue. Would you follow the advice of the three doctors who don’t see a problem or the seven doctors that do? 
 At this time no one seems concerned about CO2 levels. We’re told that we need cheap oil and coal to secure our energy future. Not considered, there is enough carbon just in the Canadian Tar Sands oil deposits to send the global temperature well above the 2 degree limit which is why environmentalists are protesting the Keystone XL Pipe Line. We just can’t afford to burn that much carbon and expect to maintain a livable planet.
A smart energy policy would be to tax all carbon at its source of extraction distributing that money directly to our tax-paying citizens to cover the increase in price that fossil fuels will incur until we achieve 100% clean energy. We also must switch the $90 billion in taxpayer subsidies that the government currently gives to the fossil industry over to researching and developing clean energy that will lead to a livable planet.
The bottom line: If we don’t leave carbon in the ground humans won’t be around!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Where do you stand on Nuclear Power?

Where do you stand on nuclear energy? Please watch this video that was in the April 29 New York Times:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

This cold snowy weather does not disprove climate change.

Since we are having our first “normal” winter in several years -I say normal because that’s how I remember winters when I was a kid - I’ve been playing Whack-A-Mole with climate deniers to debunk their short sighted opinions. Many of you already have read about the Polar Vortex that has been disrupted because of the Arctic Amplification effect (the arctic warms faster than the rest of the planet)  
that has disrupted the Jet Stream which is causing very extreme weather events around the planet.

I just wanted to point a very important difference about climate and weather. Climate is measured in decades and centuries not weeks, months, seasons or years. Weather is what happens during years, seasons, months, weeks, and days.

Overall climate has a very definite effect on weather like prolonging dry or wet seasons and extreme temperature changes. This is caused by us as we continue pumping 90 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every 24 hours which raises CO2 levels causing the atmosphere to get hotter. The more heat in the atmosphere the more moisture that gets trapped up there; and the more moisture there is in the atmosphere the heavier and more extreme the storms become. If the weather is cold the storms will be big snow storms; if the weather is warm it will be flooding rains. Climate change’s main “signature” is extreme events which can be snow or ice storms, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wind, or droughts. If you pay attention to the news when they report extreme weather events, often the local person being interviewed will say something like, “we’ve always have had floods around here, but nothing like this ever before, or we always have tornadoes in the spring in this area but we’ve never seen a tornado this big before.” Again the operable is extreme or biggest ever. I hear that most of the time on the news these days.

One last thing, most people are familiar with Dr. Michael Mann’s diagram of the measured changes in CO2 levels and temperature levels called the Hockey Stick graph. It was used in Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, and became very controversial when some climate deniers who were finance by the fossil fuel industry tried to debunk it, and who now are being sued for liable because 3 different independent scientific inquiries found it to be scientifically accurate. My point is,  if you look at that lines in that graph you will see that for 800,000 years CO2 levels bounced up and down like hills and valleys but, on average, stayed within a range of 280 parts per million (PPM). Since the late 1700s, because of people relying on fossil fuels, CO2 levels now average 397 PPM and have gone into the 400 PPM range which soon will be the new average because we haven’t done a thing to reduce our fossil fuel emissions. So, one cold snowy winter does not disprove climate change, it’s just one very small down tick on the graph that has risen 117 PPM higher than any time in the last 800,000 years.