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Thread: Leaving the Earth in one piece.

  1. #1 Leaving the Earth in one piece. 
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    My attention was drawn to today's headline about the risk of thawing in East Antarctica.

    East Antarctica significantly more at risk of melting than earlier thought

    As usual the detail behind the headlines are a little less alarming than a quick glance suggests with timelines being fairly large.

    However the question has occurred to me "are we prepared to do damage to future human populations as yet unborn by way of extreme environmental damage?"

    Suppose ,for the sake of example we are pursuing a lifestyle which can be estimated (probably extremely inacurately) as incurring a greater than 50% (insert your own degree of probability) chance of utterly destroying any quality of life -or actually life itself- for our descendants who can have no direct or indirect link with anyone presently alive -would anyone think that was acceptable?

    Should we run the risk of , say not investing (enough) in environmentally friendly technology (or heaven forbid actually consume less) knowing that there is a chance that as a direct consequence the life on the earth may be destroyed in 200 years from now?

    Knowing that risk would you say "well we won't be here will we so what difference will it make?" or would you say that we owe a duty to our unborn succeeding generations or even to the planet itself?

    What does it matter if we destroy ourselves as long as we are not directly involved and if we can fiddle when (or rather before) Rome burns?

    Or does anyone think that we are actually doing enough -or as much as is possible?


    Last edited by geordief; May 6th, 2014 at 07:47 AM.
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  3. #2  
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    Or does anyone think that we are actually doing enough -or as much as is possible?
    Certainly not.

    We're getting started about 30 years too late. But we are starting.

    My state now gets 25-30% of its power from wind, and so many households have installed solar panels that our lowest power draw from the interstate network now occurs at 2.30 in the afternoon instead of 4.30 in the morning as it used to. In Queensland, the suburban roofs now collectively amount to the 4th largest power generator in the state. New Zealand now has laws requiring all new homes to be built with double glazing. Other countries have taken other actions. All piecemeal. None of them enough. All of them a good start as long as we keep on doing more.

    We can respond when we need to. Japan closed down all its nuclear reactors after Fukushima - and very promptly cut total demand by almost half with various consumption practices and policies. Some were a bit onerous, like rotating blackouts on some days. Some were as simple as telling businesses it was OK for people to work in their shirtsleeves during summer. Now that the pressure is off, consumption is staying down. The US and Europe have similar standards of living but the US uses double the amount of power. Plenty of scope there to reduce power consumption without causing anyone any grief (perhaps the whitegoods manufacturers. Efficiency/ power consumption standards for refrigerators and air conditioners in the US are absolute shockers compared to the rest of us.)

    We can't avert some of the nasty stuff that's coming our way. But we can stop doing all the really stupid things we are doing and we can start doing more clever things. The question is whether we'll do it voluntarily or only after a real catastrophe. (Though if 20000+ people dying in France during a heatwave didn't give us the message, I don't know what will get people to face reality sensibly.)


    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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    I am not sure I agree but my central question is whether we have a strong psychological propensity to ignore damage that will not affect us but only our 3rd or 4th removed generations.

    I do hear people saying what a shame it is to leave a legacy of ruin to our grandchildren and their children but I have never heard anyone consider the generations that will have no physical connection to us or to them.

    Are they of no consequence? That is not a rhetorical question as I don't know how I stand on the question myself.

    As a kind of corollary "is the planet just a piece of real estate?" Again I am tempted to think it is but if we have this belief do we become "alone in the universe?" Is that our true state actually ?

    One of the reasons that predisposes me to pose these questions is that , unfortunately I am pessimistic of the political resolve of the various nation states to address the situation and my only real hope is of a technological series of solutions (certainly not geo engineering in case that sounds like what I have in mind).

    And that is in the lap of the gods.
    Last edited by geordief; May 6th, 2014 at 01:31 PM.
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  5. #4  
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    my central question is whether we have a strong psychological propensity to ignore damage that will not affect us but only our 3rd or 4th removed generations.
    I know a lot of people talk like this, but I personally like to think that the world of my grandchildren's grandchildren would be better than it was for me. I'm starting to think that some people really cannot think beyond what is directly in front of them*. Even if you can't think of others who are remote from you - whether by time or place or circumstance - you could at least look at how your behaviour might affect others who aren't right there in front of you to say Hold on a minute. Is that the best you can do?


    *Just look at all the people who won't give anything at all to charity, any charity of any kind, because they can't see the money being used or handed over. Some of these people are actually quite generous in person to buskers and friends and in other circumstances where they feel some control over the transaction, but they can't bring themselves to trust someone they can't see to do just as well with donated money.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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    I wonder if these people (and I do not exclude myself) would happily admit that this is (a) how they feel and (b) that it is a defensible even laudable stance.

    Maybe if they were pinned to the collar they would prefer to say that they did not agree with the prognosis in the first place.
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    My concern is not only about the ecological devastation we are doing but also the debt we are accumulating that out children will be burdened with. They will have the yoke of pay back around their necks for many many years.
    When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.
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    This seems more a philosophical topic than one about the environment...but we'll let it develop a bit.

    I find it pretty scary (and a bit repugnant) that someone would ask such questions about our responsibilities to future generations of humans and other life on the planet.
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  9. #8  
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    @ Lyn_Fox Would you mind expanding? If your repugnance is addressed to me or my approach I have no objection in you fleshing out your point of view.I may well share your distaste even if it is directed towards me.
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  10. #9  
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    We have a blind spot about considering the full cost of our actions. We like to believe that we live on a utterly vast world where the homeostatic forces of nature will absorb any insult we do to the environment. It never was so but for recorded history it appeared to be so.

    It would be nice if the purchase price of any bit of technology carried with it the full cost of completely restoring nature to its status prior to the manufactureing of the item. I think we would do without a lot of airconditioning if every AC unit carried the full cost of paying for its safe disposal and the damage done by escaped coolant gases.
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    I think we would do without a lot of airconditioning if every AC unit carried the full cost of paying for its safe disposal and the damage done by escaped coolant gases.
    Or we would reconsider - spending a lot more on insulation and retrofitting buildings before buying a smaller unit or none at all.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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  12. #11  
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    I am resistant to suggestions that require significant personal sacrifices from ordinary people. This is both, IMHO, unnecessary, and stupid. Unnecessary because there are better ways, and stupid because it will simply get a government kicked out of office.

    My wife and myself are carbon negative. Meaning we have taken steps to see that we sequester more CO2 than we pump into the atmosphere. We have done this by living on a four acre plot of land, and planting it in native rainforest trees, which will absorb CO2 as they grow. We have also built a house that is well insulated, and double glazed (before we had to, by law).

    The time is coming, before too much longer, when most cars will be electric, or using some other technology (such as hydrogen fuel cells) which do not contribute to releasing CO2. Wind and solar power generation is growing faster than all other sources of electricity put together. My qualm here is that nuclear, which is also not a contributor to CO2 release, is prevented from achieving its potential by irrational paranoia.

    The USA is now releasing less CO2 than it has done for 20 years. The reason is not due to a deliberate policy. Just that it has released so much extra natural gas for exploitation that it has been able to cut the burning of high carbon coal.

    There are steps in the right direction, and they do not require personal sacrifice.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    The USA is now releasing less CO2 than it has done for 20 years. The reason is not due to a deliberate policy. Just that it has released so much extra natural gas for exploitation that it has been able to cut the burning of high carbon coal..
    Perhaps, though it would be nice to see the numbers as gas is replacing coal. Another big part of drop is the export of industry to China's less efficient industries to feed US gluttonous and mostly unchanged consumerism.
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  14. #13  
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    Lynx

    A recent article I read stated that, per unit energy, burning gas released one third the CO2 of burning coal. Obviously switching from coal to gas is not a perfect solution, but it could well be a valuable intermediate step.
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    A recent article I read stated that, per unit energy, burning gas released one third the CO2 of burning coal. Obviously switching from coal to gas is not a perfect solution, but it could well be a valuable intermediate step.
    Just be careful where the gas comes from. You can't go just on the result of burning the gas delivered to individual premises if the gas provider allows lots of methane to escape directly into the atmosphere before it even gets to a pipeline. Some escape is unavoidable, but far too many sites allow a great deal of methane into the surroundings from pure sloppiness.

    Even worse is the futile coal-to-gas process. Well, it's not actually futile, it's far worse for CO2 emissions than burning coal directly. Oops. China Choosing Carbon Dead End for Part of Air Pollution Solution. | Climate Denial Crock of the Week
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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  16. #15  
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    Adelady

    I agree that it is important to avoid gas leaks. Intersting you should mention China. It has, apparently, more shale gas reserves than almost any other country on Earth, and it is only just beginning to tap them. China is also the country burning the most coal, and shale gas can be used in those coal burning stations with minimal modification. If and when China uses its shale gas reserves, this could be the biggest drop in CO2 emissions ever.
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  17. #16  
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    incidentally
    The east antarctic icecap is currently growing, not shrinking.
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    incidentally
    The east antarctic icecap is currently growing, not shrinking.
    NOT surprising given its currently approaching WINTER there. Stop trying to derail threads with your anti-warming woo.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

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  19. #18  
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    incidentally
    The east antarctic icecap is currently growing, not shrinking.
    In those classic words [citation needed]

    alternatively

    ... you're confusing sea ice and icesheets. Again.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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  20. #19  
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    you're wrong
    as the southern seas warm, there is more snowfall which is adding to and insulating the ice.

    get it?
    warming of the southern ocean(which seems to be changing to cooling, but that's another story)
    call it woo,
    call it your mamma's teenage lover,
    call it Fred
    I really don't care.
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  21. #20  
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    fyi

    The ice sheet covering a large part of the interior of Antarctica, mostly with
    in the East Antarctic ice sheet, has increased in mass since 1992
    Statement of Dr. Brooks Hanson | AAAS - The World's Largest General Scientific Society

    The study found reasonable agreement between the different satellite methods, and arrived at the following best estimates of mass balance changes per year for 1992 through 2011: ... East Antarctica: gained 14 ± 43 gigatons;
    SOTC: Ice Sheets | National Snow and Ice Data Center

    Please control your prejudices when actually discussing science.
    If your mind is already made up, then the facts won't change it.

    In this study, we describe the causes and magnitude of recent extreme precipitation events along the East Antarctic coast that led to significant regional mass accumulations
    Snowfall-driven mass change on the East Antarctic ice sheet - Boening - 2012 - Geophysical Research Letters - Wiley Online Library

    During 2003 to 2008, the mass gain of the Antarctic ice sheet from snow accumulation exceeded the mass loss from ice discharge by 49 Gt/yr (2.5% of input), as derived from ICESat laser measurements of elevation change.
    The net gain (86 Gt/yr) over the West Antarctic (WA) and East Antarctic ice sheets (WA and EA) is essentially unchanged from revised results for 1992 to 2001 from ERS radar altimetry.
    http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/ca...0120013495.pdf

    WOO
    WOO
    WOO
    "Nasa must be one of those commie organizations who sold out to big oil?"
    Surely you know much more than them

    Snowfall-Driven Growth in East Antarctic Ice Sheet Mitigates Recent Sea-Level Rise

    Satellite radar altimetry measurements indicate that the East Antarctic ice-sheet interior ... increased in mass by 45 ± 7 billion metric tons per year from 1992 to 2003. Comparisons with contemporaneous meteorological model snowfall estimates suggest that the gain in mass was associated with increased precipitation.
    Really
    Your prejudices are blinding you to science!

    Will you guys ever learn?
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  22. #21  
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    Perhaps you should read the links you provide.

    The following statement was released by the AAAS Office of Public Programs on behalf of the journal Science in response to public misinterpretations of two Science articles:
    To the best of our knowledge, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) did not receive permission to use Science research articles in their video. We have been unable to find a record that permission was granted to them.
    The text of the CEI ad misrepresents the conclusions of the two cited Science papers and our current state of knowledge by selective referencing. The following lay-language press summaries were approved by Science Editorial at the time when the papers were published. These press summaries therefore represent our official interpretation of the research.

    More recent research is indeed beginning to provide such an integrated view of the entire ice sheets. A study looking at the mass balance of the entire Antarctic Ice Sheet using the GRACE gravity satellite has found an overall negative mass balance for the past several years. Other studies also show a negative overall mass balance for the Greenland Ice Sheet and other evidence of accelerated melting. See, for example, several papers and a news story in Science, 24 March 2006.”
    –Dr. Brooks Hanson, deputy editor, physical sciences, Science

    Followed by ...

    Science Press Summaries
    Antarctica Thickening in the Middle:
    The ice sheet covering a large part of the interior of Antarctica, mostly within the East Antarctic ice sheet, has increased in mass since 1992, probably due to increased precipitation linked to global warming. The scientists analyzed elevation change of the Antarctic ice sheet interior from 1992 to 2003 using satellite radar altimetry measurements. The area of the Antarctic ice sheet that the authors analyzed covers approximately 70 percent of the grounded ice sheet interior. The mass balance of the entire ice sheet is still uncertain, however, since mass loss in areas near the coast that are not accessible to this technique could be even greater than the gains seen in the interior.

    The rise in sea level that would accompany melting of the polar ice sheets is one of the most serious potential consequences of global warming. Antarctica contains the great majority of that ice, so its mass balance is a critical parameter in any evaluation of what sea level may do in the future.
    ARTICLE #22: “Snowfall-Driven Growth in East Antarctic Ice Sheet Mitigates Recent Sea-Level Rise,” by C. H. Davis and Y. Li at University of Missouri, Columbia in Columbia, MO; J. R. McConnell at University and Community College System of Nevada in Reno, NV; M. M. Frey at University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ; E. Hanna at University of Sheffield in Sheffield, UK.

    Of course, the most notable feature of this item is that it's 8 years old. There's a lot more recent research in Antarctica and several years more of GRACE data. Like this ...

    ... More recently, we showed that the rates of ice sheet mass loss are unequivocally increasing with time (Velicogna, 2009).

    These results go well beyond estimating ice sheet mass balance. The gravity data provide an unprecedented record of inter-annual to decadal mass change variability. This information is critical to evaluate atmospheric model outputs, e.g. net precipitation in Antarctica or melt and precipitation in Greenland. It also provides critical information about the spatial and temporal patterns of ice mass loss.


    Antarctic & Greenland mass changes relative to average ice mass since 2002 (Velicogna and Wahr, 2013)

    That extract and 2013 graphic is from here.
    1. Characterize the inter-annual to decadal variability in ice sheet mass balance and quantify its impact on mass balance uncertainty. | Velicogna Research Group

    More GRACE results later when new satellite set up kicks in.
    Recent Satellite Data Inconclusive on Climate Change, Prompts New Mission - Via Satellite

    Your next link SOTC: Ice Sheets | National Snow and Ice Data Center has lots and lots of good stuff. Have you read all the abstracts linked in this paragraph?

    From 1997 to 2003, volumetric methods showed that average loss of ice in Greenland was 80 ± 12 cubic kilometers per year. This is compared to roughly 60 cubic kilometers per year for 1993 through 1994. About half the increased ice loss was from higher summer melt. The rest of the loss resulted from the velocities of some glaciers outstripping those needed to balance upstream snow accumulation (
    Krabill et al. 2004). Later research showed Antarctica and Greenland have both lost overall mass at about 120 gigatons of ice per year. The suspected triggers for accelerated ice discharge on both continents include surface warning and melt runoff, ocean warming, and circulation changes. Over the 21st century, the team predicted, ice loss would counteract snowfall gains predicted by some climate models (Shepherd and Wingham 2007). Recently an improved radar altimetry study confirms and extends earlier measurements (Flament and Rémy 2012).
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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  23. #22  
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    Of course i read the links
    and much much more
    the preponderance supports my above:

    incidentally
    The east antarctic icecap is currently growing, not shrinking.
    Which of course is why I made the statement in the first place.

    Which brings us to the science question of the day:

    Are the northern and southern hemispheric climates/temperatures disengaging/decoupling?
    This has happened several times as recorded within the ice core records.

    Meanwhile, NH winters are getting colder, and extending the cold further into spring.
    Kind of an anthropogenic feedback loop in the making---the colder it gets the more energy is invested in heat--the more CO2 is released.
    Even in my super insulated space(r38-44 walls, r60-80 ceilings), the cost of heating is growing year by year. As per the utility company's news letter, this is true for all of their customers...more therms used year over year for the past decade.

    Looking back at the lgm, you will note that the glaciers extended much further south in America than in Eurasia.
    And, as a fellow poster in here pointed out, while we in america were suffering from extreme cold, it was almost balmy in finland.

    Are the hemispheres n and s , e and w disengaging/decoupling?

    edit..addendum
    The Beaufort bulge is said to be fresh water supplied by Siberian rivers.
    Is precipitation in Siberia on the rise?
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    get it?
    That really is the question we are all wondering about.

    On the one hand the factoid that East Antarctica is growing was true. https://skepticalscience.com/Weighin...ntarctica.html

    The next question is: was that strongly related to the OP? Particularly when it acknowledged that the threat of the East Antarctic ice cap and attendant sea level rise was long term ....in fact so long that it wouldn't be seen during our lifetimes....but a concern for our grandchildren. Hence the question: ""are we prepared to do damage to future human populations as yet unborn by way of extreme environmental damage?"

    In other worlds your quip was factually correct, but rather irrelevant to the context of the OP, or its linked article--since they had nothing do with the current rates.

    And thus, I completely agree with Paleo; it appears you were merely trying to derail another thread with your habitual poor understanding of climate science---an too often pattern over the past few months.
    As said before, we are clamping down on such misbehavior. I'm giving you a week off to think about it and strongly suggest the next time you post something quantifiable in the hard science parts of the forum, you consider whether it's really relevant to the thread and than prepare to back your comments with credible links directly related to them.
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; May 9th, 2014 at 11:49 AM.
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