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Thread: climate change, desertification, peak oil

  1. #1 climate change, desertification, peak oil 
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    hello everyone, i'm working on an analysis on climate change, desertification and peak oil. their mechanisms, the underlying causes and the links between these phenomena.


    it would help me greatly and i would be hugely grateful if you could check out this text. any kind of suggestions, from style and syntax to corrections and additions on the science would help me enormously. the text is in all lowercase for the time being, i plan to add some images to graphically depict the analysis.


    thanks in advance, regards.





    climate change, desertification, peak oil


    climate change

    the ecological footprint of humankind has never stopped growing, imposing greater and greater burdens on global ecology with the relentless increase of population and with ever higher consumption of resources and greater polluting per capita.

    with planet earth, its oceans and its atmosphere being a closed system, any action within this system will necessarily have reactions and those reactions will occur within this same global ecosystem. the reality of human activity having an impact in global weather is a self-evident fact. billions of people, households, billions of farm animals, plus millions of automobiles, ships, aircraft, the millions of factories, work and office spaces and industrial farms worldwide demand a huge expenditure of energy and resources daily and release stratospheric amounts of contaminants and carbon from their operation. humankind has altered the geography of the earth, has created huge cities and communication networks that have changed the surface of the earth, and it also has had a definitive impact on global ecology.

    higher concentrations of carbon / energy in the atmosphere increase average temperatures, and also cause farther apart weather extremes (higher maximum, lower minimum temperatures) and make weather phenomena like hurricanes, storms, floods, droughts markedly more violent. human CO2 emissions are around 29 gigatonnes per year, CO2 levels in the atmosphere before the industrial revolution began stood at 280 parts per million, now they are at 400 ppm. that is 100 ppm cleanly above the maximum observed in the last 400,000 years, and this time, a rise of 100 ppm has not taken 5,000 – 20,000 years like in previous episodes, it has taken 120 years of human industry.


    desertification


    desertification is the extreme occurrence of land degradation. partial / temporary land degradation can always occur because of natural, atmospheric causes like droughts or higher temperatures, but, since large scale agriculture became prevalent worldwide, severe, permanent land degradation is caused by human activity.

    most people don’t think of desertification as anything more than the visible, permanent loss of green vegetation cover, but, it is a more complex phenomenon, and it has multiple compounding effects that work as feedback loops. in an established, functional ecosystem there exists a robust vegetation cover that is present long term through drier and wetter periods. this vegetation layer serves many functions, its roots systems physically hold the top soil together (thus the humus, or dark, organic matter and nutrient rich soil builds up and is not lost to water or wind erosion), its leaves capture carbon / energy through photosynthesis and also provide cover and habitat for the billions of microorganisms that live in fertile top soil and break down dead organic matter and provide minerals and other nutrients to the plants themselves. in a stable ecosystem like a mature forest, the variety of large trees and plants also help regulate the climate and the water cycles. when plants with deep root systems are present, water percolation is enhanced, because when precipitation occurs, water runs down the bodies of plants and follows the root channels downwards and travels deeper into the ground. if a thick enough layer of top soil is present, the water retention capacity of the ecosystem is also improved, because rich, spongy soils like humus hold much more water and humidity than impermeable soils like clay, sand and rock over the which water just washes or quickly evaporates away (creating greater land degradation through water and wind erosion). so, in an established ecosystem, the vegetation cover permits higher levels of humidity because water filtrates smoother to deeper levels and is better retained in the ground. ecosystems with rich and varied vegetation also experience higher atmospheric humidity because plants with deep root systems continuously pump water from deep below to their branches and leaves, some of which will evaporate and stay around in the atmosphere, which can also help increase precipitation.


    so, the visible loss of green vegetation disrupts the functioning of all the components of a thriving ecosystem and incites land degradation. with no vegetation cover, sunlight and heat bake the soil, eradicating the microorganisms that keep the organic cycle going. this makes the soil less fertile because organic matter is not broken down and readily available in place and it comes back to make the survival of plants and trees more difficult, which becomes a vicious cycle. when not enough vegetation is present, top soil is lost to wind and water erosion; fertile, rich soils are washed away until only impermeable, heavier surfaces remain which further strengthens the vicious cycle of land degradation. with rich, fertile soils washed away and no root channels to guide water deep, soils grow more compact and impermeable, which hurts water retention and percolation, which obviously also make the survival of vegetation harder. with no large plants and trees to pump water from the ground, atmospheric humidity is lower and precipitation can also decrease, which once more has a negative effect on plant survival. in short, when an ecosystem loses its vegetation cover many mechanisms kick into gear which all push to the land being increasingly degraded and eventually becoming a permanent desert.



    peak oil

    peak oil is a term coined by m. king hubbert that refers to global petroleum production’s moment of maximum output, after the which decline will be continuous and accelerating. in many different local regions oil production has followed this very pattern, and within this decade the peak will be reached on the aggregate global level. an illustrative case is the aggregate oil production of méxico, which has displayed the bell shape described by hubbert. the largest oil field in the history of méxico was cantarell, and it has produced more than half of the total annual oil barrels extracted in the country since it began operating. its importance, especially for the income it generated annually for the mexican government cannot be overstated, cantarell was the backbone of local oil production. around 2005, the cantarell oil field peaked, and it has dwindled ever since, and with no fields producing anywhere near the number of annual barrels, the aggregate oil production in méxico has decreased in parallel.

    with the term peak oil i also refer to how oil extraction is ever more expensive, polluting and damaging. petroleum drilling in industrial scale for commercial purposes can be considered to have begun in pennsylvania, in the usa, in 1859. before that time whatever petroleum oil was used was obtained from fields and springs where it seeped naturally to the surface, which happened frequently and in such varied places as ancient greece, mesopotamia, ancient romania, azerbaijan, pennsylvania and other parts of the usa, scotland, canada, russia and many more. the cantarell oil field i mentioned earlier owes its name to rudesindo cantarell jiménez, citizen of ciudad del carmen, who in 1961 noticed oil stains in the water while fishing in the gulf of méxico. the cantarell field was one of those places on earth where oil was bursting out ---- and no prospecting or research was necessary to come upon it, but all those natural springs have been depleted worldwide by now, as have been most of the fields of shallow depth. the global reserves of liquid petroleum decrease each year and now drilling has to be done miles deep and other costly and polluting methods like tar sand processing are being transitioned to. the exploitation of liquid petroleum was polluting, but at least very efficient in energy terms and nicely profitable financially. there is little liquid petroleum left, so drilling operations now require enormous amounts of energy to extract the oil, and tar sand processing is not only manifold costlier in energy terms but is also extraordinarily polluting and as destructive as open pit mining.


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  3. #2  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcosagg View Post
    hello everyone, i'm working on an analysis on climate change, desertification and peak oil. their mechanisms, the underlying causes and the links between these phenomena.


    it would help me greatly and i would be hugely grateful if you could check out this text. any kind of suggestions, from style and syntax to corrections and additions on the science would help me enormously. the text is in all lowercase for the time being, i plan to add some images to graphically depict the analysis.


    thanks in advance, regards.





    climate change, desertification, peak oil


    climate change

    the ecological footprint of humankind has never stopped growing, imposing greater and greater burdens on global ecology with the relentless increase of population and with ever higher consumption of resources and greater polluting per capita.

    with planet earth, its oceans and its atmosphere being a closed system, any action within this system will necessarily have reactions and those reactions will occur within this same global ecosystem. the reality of human activity having an impact in global weather is a self-evident fact. billions of people, households, billions of farm animals, plus millions of automobiles, ships, aircraft, the millions of factories, work and office spaces and industrial farms worldwide demand a huge expenditure of energy and resources daily and release stratospheric amounts of contaminants and carbon from their operation. humankind has altered the geography of the earth, has created huge cities and communication networks that have changed the surface of the earth, and it also has had a definitive impact on global ecology.

    higher concentrations of carbon / energy in the atmosphere increase average temperatures, and also cause farther apart weather extremes (higher maximum, lower minimum temperatures) and make weather phenomena like hurricanes, storms, floods, droughts markedly more violent. human CO2 emissions are around 29 gigatonnes per year, CO2 levels in the atmosphere before the industrial revolution began stood at 280 parts per million, now they are at 400 ppm. that is 100 ppm cleanly above the maximum observed in the last 400,000 years, and this time, a rise of 100 ppm has not taken 5,000 – 20,000 years like in previous episodes, it has taken 120 years of human industry.


    desertification


    desertification is the extreme occurrence of land degradation. partial / temporary land degradation can always occur because of natural, atmospheric causes like droughts or higher temperatures, but, since large scale agriculture became prevalent worldwide, severe, permanent land degradation is caused by human activity.

    most people don’t think of desertification as anything more than the visible, permanent loss of green vegetation cover, but, it is a more complex phenomenon, and it has multiple compounding effects that work as feedback loops. in an established, functional ecosystem there exists a robust vegetation cover that is present long term through drier and wetter periods. this vegetation layer serves many functions, its roots systems physically hold the top soil together (thus the humus, or dark, organic matter and nutrient rich soil builds up and is not lost to water or wind erosion), its leaves capture carbon / energy through photosynthesis and also provide cover and habitat for the billions of microorganisms that live in fertile top soil and break down dead organic matter and provide minerals and other nutrients to the plants themselves. in a stable ecosystem like a mature forest, the variety of large trees and plants also help regulate the climate and the water cycles. when plants with deep root systems are present, water percolation is enhanced, because when precipitation occurs, water runs down the bodies of plants and follows the root channels downwards and travels deeper into the ground. if a thick enough layer of top soil is present, the water retention capacity of the ecosystem is also improved, because rich, spongy soils like humus hold much more water and humidity than impermeable soils like clay, sand and rock over the which water just washes or quickly evaporates away (creating greater land degradation through water and wind erosion). so, in an established ecosystem, the vegetation cover permits higher levels of humidity because water filtrates smoother to deeper levels and is better retained in the ground. ecosystems with rich and varied vegetation also experience higher atmospheric humidity because plants with deep root systems continuously pump water from deep below to their branches and leaves, some of which will evaporate and stay around in the atmosphere, which can also help increase precipitation.


    so, the visible loss of green vegetation disrupts the functioning of all the components of a thriving ecosystem and incites land degradation. with no vegetation cover, sunlight and heat bake the soil, eradicating the microorganisms that keep the organic cycle going. this makes the soil less fertile because organic matter is not broken down and readily available in place and it comes back to make the survival of plants and trees more difficult, which becomes a vicious cycle. when not enough vegetation is present, top soil is lost to wind and water erosion; fertile, rich soils are washed away until only impermeable, heavier surfaces remain which further strengthens the vicious cycle of land degradation. with rich, fertile soils washed away and no root channels to guide water deep, soils grow more compact and impermeable, which hurts water retention and percolation, which obviously also make the survival of vegetation harder. with no large plants and trees to pump water from the ground, atmospheric humidity is lower and precipitation can also decrease, which once more has a negative effect on plant survival. in short, when an ecosystem loses its vegetation cover many mechanisms kick into gear which all push to the land being increasingly degraded and eventually becoming a permanent desert.



    peak oil

    peak oil is a term coined by m. king hubbert that refers to global petroleum production’s moment of maximum output, after the which decline will be continuous and accelerating. in many different local regions oil production has followed this very pattern, and within this decade the peak will be reached on the aggregate global level. an illustrative case is the aggregate oil production of méxico, which has displayed the bell shape described by hubbert. the largest oil field in the history of méxico was cantarell, and it has produced more than half of the total annual oil barrels extracted in the country since it began operating. its importance, especially for the income it generated annually for the mexican government cannot be overstated, cantarell was the backbone of local oil production. around 2005, the cantarell oil field peaked, and it has dwindled ever since, and with no fields producing anywhere near the number of annual barrels, the aggregate oil production in méxico has decreased in parallel.

    with the term peak oil i also refer to how oil extraction is ever more expensive, polluting and damaging. petroleum drilling in industrial scale for commercial purposes can be considered to have begun in pennsylvania, in the usa, in 1859. before that time whatever petroleum oil was used was obtained from fields and springs where it seeped naturally to the surface, which happened frequently and in such varied places as ancient greece, mesopotamia, ancient romania, azerbaijan, pennsylvania and other parts of the usa, scotland, canada, russia and many more. the cantarell oil field i mentioned earlier owes its name to rudesindo cantarell jiménez, citizen of ciudad del carmen, who in 1961 noticed oil stains in the water while fishing in the gulf of méxico. the cantarell field was one of those places on earth where oil was bursting out ---- and no prospecting or research was necessary to come upon it, but all those natural springs have been depleted worldwide by now, as have been most of the fields of shallow depth. the global reserves of liquid petroleum decrease each year and now drilling has to be done miles deep and other costly and polluting methods like tar sand processing are being transitioned to. the exploitation of liquid petroleum was polluting, but at least very efficient in energy terms and nicely profitable financially. there is little liquid petroleum left, so drilling operations now require enormous amounts of energy to extract the oil, and tar sand processing is not only manifold costlier in energy terms but is also extraordinarily polluting and as destructive as open pit mining.
    I think your statements about peak oil are highly questionable. Many people doubt that the peak will be reached when you say, due to the enormous proportion of oil that is still left in most wells (but is not yet economic to bring to the surface) and of course the recent exploitation of oil and gas shale. As prices rise, more of the remaining oil will become economic to extract, so it is far from clear that we are anywhere near the peak. At the very least I think it would be worthwhile for you to read a bit more widely on this aspect and perhaps indicate that estimate vary and acknowledge the lack of consensus about when the peak will be reached.


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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcosagg View Post
    peak oil is a term coined by m. king hubbert that refers to global petroleum production’s moment of maximum output, after the which decline will be continuous and accelerating. in many different local regions oil production has followed this very pattern, and within this decade the peak will be reached on the aggregate global level.
    I would be careful to describe this as peak CONVENTIONAL oil, since nonconventional sources are currently ramping up.

    with the term peak oil i also refer to how oil extraction is ever more expensive, polluting and damaging.
    "Polluting" and "damaging" are not related to peak oil.
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  5. #4  
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    "Polluting" and "damaging" are not related to peak oil.
    Sure they are. The BP spill, for example, was trying to tap deep oil reserves under the Gulf. The research and industry regearing attempting to reach such places is directly related to extending known and reachable oil reserves and in turn delay peak oil.
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    "Polluting" and "damaging" are not related to peak oil.
    Sure they are. The BP spill, for example, was trying to tap deep oil reserves under the Gulf.
    Let's put it this way. By cleaning up the extraction of oil, peak oil will not be avoided or postponed. They are somewhat orthogonal. The primary factor here is economic - it's cheaper to be dirty.
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  7. #6  
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    thanks all.


    i will do change the wording. when mentioning liquid oil i meant to refer to conventional oil, i will fix the misnomer.

    i will also explain peak oil as dealing mainly with conventional oil and still subject to how actual extraction and confirmed reserves do going forward.

    still, i understand that global conventional oil reserves estimates have been revised several times, and always to make them lower. indeed, i read or learned of many people before the 2003 invasion saying the oil deposits in iraq could potentially be the largest in the world outside of saudi arabia, and how it would have been extraordinarily convenient for the usa if iraq became the major oil exporter outside of opec thus helping keep oil cheap. and as far as i know, iraq's oil production has been very limited and the verified oil reserves are significantly smaller than thought. and i would think the reasoning still holds, as conventional oil runs out, the price of oil / energy will be significantly higher in monetary terms, and as unconventional oil varieties are transitioned to, extraction will be costlier, will require more energy to perform and will be ecologically more polluting. peak oil, meaning the end of cheap conventional oil won't mean the end of oil exploitation, but it will mean the end of cheap energy and a huge increase in the energetic / ecological cost of generating energy.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcosagg View Post
    ...still, i understand that global conventional oil reserves estimates have been revised several times, and always to make them lower.
    Actually proven and estimated reserves have climbed and nearly doubled over the past 30 years (See table 1 of http://shadow.eas.gatech.edu/~kcobb/...gs/Watkins.pdf).

    You are right to point out the wild fluctuations in Iraq oil, though most official estimates have remained about 150 billion barrels with some politically motivated ones ranging up to 300. Of course it's not all that simple given the area has been in continual warzone and some of the oil fields straddle Iran with both sides often playing a cat and mouse by shifting the borders and taking over wells.
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