Friday, December 11, 2009


Governments, being innately cautious, can’t be expected respond to the global climate crisis particularly well. The pressure must come from below. It has always been this way.

National Geographic has a good graphic explaining the tub model of global warming. Carbon dioxide flows into the tub -- that is, the world’s atmosphere -- and gets drained out by being absorbed by plants, soil, rocks, and ocean. But the flow in is twice as fast as the drain out. The tub will flood.

The oceans, which absorb about 25% of our CO2, are meanwhile getting more and more acidic because of all that absorbed carbon. This means major changes in ocean life, upon which very many people depend on for food, with secondary effects very much unknown.

The concentration on CO2 -- of which there is now more in the atmosphere than there has been in 800,000 years – shouldn't mean we forget about other greenhouse gasses. Global warming releases methane, for instance, as the polar and tundra ice melt; methane is 20 times more damaging than CO2, and thus means more polar ice will melt, releasing more methane…and the less snow and ice-covered terrain there is to reflect sunlight (albedo), the warmer it gets. The feedback loop becomes exponential.

While the fossil fuel industry and their witch doctors (Michael Crichton, James Inhofe, & Glenn Beck, for instance, as once and current experts!) and ignorant armies scream “junk science” as they stumble over the pronunciation and definition of “anthropogenic,” the future looks grimmer and grimmer. Their bellows are working, after all, as more and more Americans, unquestionably the most ignorant people among the democracies, question global warming, while at the same time professing belief in angels and devils and other supernatural horseshit.


Marie said...

Was reading about the iceberg mammoth approaching Australia at a creep/bob. Apparently the last time smaller icebergs (offspring of similar) were seen in these shipping lanes, 'twas the 1800's.

So, at least superficially, that points a cyclical event, not all the fault of carbon emissions and global, people-caused warming?

I'm not a nay sayer, but I often feel that one has to be on the one or the other side, and rabidly.

Matthew said...

Marie, certainly climate change is cyclical- there's thousands of years of records of that in the ice cores - but what's new is the greenhouse effect human civilization is causing. Nobody can say for sure what effect this will have, but we have some good guesses on what it might mean, and very few of them are positive. Further thoughts here.