Tuesday, November 24, 2015

In the 70s We Were Headed for a Full-Blown Ice Age.

Or at least that's what the news media kept on sayin'. Gnome sayin'?

But in the 80s the media turned on a dime and proclaimed the Earth was globally warming, apparently because they found out scientific consensus was in favor of it. Or was it for no reason? And now we have in the climatic record the biggest jump in climate warming since the Mediaeval Warming Period occurred in the mid-to-late 80s..

Hat tip to Abel Adamski at Robertscribbler.

Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s


Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.

Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from the Arctic to Antarctica, was centred around 1987, and was sparked by the El Chichón volcanic eruption in Mexico five years earlier.

Their study, published in Global Change Biology, documents a range of associated events caused by the shift, from a 60% increase in winter river flow into the Baltic Sea to a 400% increase in the average duration of wildfires in the Western United States. It also suggests that climate change is not a gradual process, but one subject to sudden increases, with the 1980s shift representing the largest in an estimated 1,000 years.

“We demonstrate, based on 72 long time series, that a major change took place in the world centred on 1987 that involved a step change and move to a new regime in a wide range of Earth systems,” said Professor Reid.

“Our work contradicts the perceived view that major volcanic eruptions just lead to a cooling of the world. In the case of the regime shift it looks as if global warming has reached a tipping point where the cooling that follows such eruptions rebounds with a rapid rise in temperature in a very short time. The speed of this change has had a pronounced effect on many biological, physical and chemical systems throughout the world, but is especially evident in the Northern temperate zone and Arctic.”

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sao Paolo, Brazil, May Be the First City to Dry Up and Blow Away.

It has come to my attention that Sao Paolo, the largest city in Brazil, is losing residents due to a water availability crisis that was brought on by a years-long drought caused by global warming and the deforestation of the Amazon Rain Forest, and by poor management by the privatized water company.

Hat tip to apneaman at Robertscribbler.

As Brazil's Largest City Struggles With Drought, Residents Are Leaving.

It happened slowly at first. The reservoir's water level dropped, so the resort extended the boat launch ramp.  Then they had to add another extension.  Eventually, the water dropped so much that business dried up — along with the lake.  "For this coming weekend, there's not one reservation. This business was 98 percent dependent on the water. Now that the water's gone, the customers are gone as well," says Francisco Carlos Fonseca, the manager of Marina Confiança.

Francisco Carlos Fonseca is the manager of Marina Confiança, a resort located on the banks of the Cantareira reservoir system. Behind him is a boat ramp that once led to a lake that he says used to be more than 100 feet deep.

The resort is located on what were once the banks of one of Sao Paulo's most important reservoir system, called Cantareira.  A drought has been devastating the region for the past two years.  Unless there is more rain, some water conservation groups estimate there is only enough water to last about five months.

Renata Trindade, 26, lives in a northern neighborhood of Sao Paulo with her boyfriend.  She says the government has been rationing water, so she sets aside dirty dishes to conserve water for bathing and flushing toilets.  On weekdays, she gets water from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on weekends, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

For her and many other Sao Paulo residents, this is the new normal.

And this city is not alone. Brazil's second largest city, Rio de Janeiro, is also facing water troubles, as are other coastal areas. It's been an enormous shock to Brazilians, who are used to their country being called "the Saudi Arabia of Water" — historically, it has had as much water as that Middle Eastern country has oil.

Some people are already deciding to pick up and move their lives completely, in search of more irrigated pastures.

More here.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

1500 Percent Methane Gas Flare Increase in Two Years off of New Zealand.

Hat tip to howardtra and Egor at Robertscribbler.

The year before, there were only fifty.

Hundreds of methane gas flares found off coast of Gisborne.


A team of scientists have found around 766 individual methane gas flares within an area of seabed off the coast of Gisborne, in what has been described as a "major advance" for science and a first for New Zealand. The finding comes as the 11-member expedition ends tomorrow morning with the NIWA deepwater research vessel Tangaroa arriving back in Wellington.

The team, led by marine geologist Dr Joshu Mountjoy, had been investigating the area after German and Kiwi researchers last year revealed 99 seabed gas flares there using state-of-the-art 3D and 2D seismic and echosounder technology. Following this discovery, Dr Mountjoy and his team sought to find out whether methane was getting through the water column to the ocean's surface and into the atmosphere, and determine what contribution it was making to global greenhouse gas.  The first objective of the voyage was to remap gas flares in the area in fine detail, using a range of acoustic techniques.  Surprisingly, the team discovered that every area of carbonate rock and every fault seen on the seafloor was expelling gas, and in total, they calculated there were near to 766 individual gas flares within the area.

Air Pollution to get a lot worse, thanks to further fossil fuel combustion.

Hat tip to dtlange at Robertscribbler.

"Just as FF carbon GHG emissions continue unabated so do particulate aerosols." -- dtlange.  The increase in aerosols will contribute to global dimming, causing the impact of increasing CO2 atmospheric content to be less than it would be otherwise if there were no such aerosol increase. Which means the temperature increase will be delayed. And the more the temperature increase is delayed, making the spike that much bigger when the FF emissions finally do cease. Faustian bargain!

CLIMATE CHANGE: Study says air pollution will get worse.


Study by UCR professor says changing weather patterns will worsen fine-particle air pollution.

Climate change could make the world’s air even dirtier than it is now, according to an analysis by UC Riverside climatologist Robert Allen recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change.  Allen used NASA’s super computers to model how global warming changes the atmosphere’s ability to cleanse itself from fine particle pollution — the airborne soot, chemical compounds, dust, and other microscopic specks associated with an array of health problems. The study found that by 2100, such pollution, also called aerosols, would linger longer and build up in the skies above much of the United States, Europe and Asia.  “All of the models show more of a burden of aerosol pollution,” said Allen, an assistant professor in UCR’s Department of Earth Sciences. “All of the models showed a consistent increase.”

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Northern and Uplands Permafrost Ready to Dramatically Increase Atmospheric Carbon.

Well it appears that peak oil really is no object -- climate change, a.k.a. global warming, and global weirding, is going to jump the gun what with the wildfires in the taiga and tundra and the immense store of Carbon locked in the permafrosts of the northern and upland regions (ex.: Alaska, Siberia, the Arctic, Tibet) is just about ready to offgas so much carbon into the atmosphere, the CO2 content in the atmosphere could actually triple (400 ppm to 1200 ppm). If that happens, we'll see a hothouse environment in nothing flat!

Hat tips to Colorado Bob, humortra and redskylite over at Robertscribbler.

Fires Rapidly Consume More Forests and Peat in the Arctic


Third of a four-part series. For the first two parts, click here and here.

Scientists who study fire in the boreal are debating how global warming will affect the fire regimes here. Their work will have global implications. Boreal forests sprawl across circumpolar Canada, Russia, Alaska and Scandinavia, and comprise about 30 percent of global forests. They contain extensive, carbon-rich peatlands that have formed over the past 10,000 years.

The upper 20 feet of these water-logged, oxygen-poor soils contains carbon in the form of partially decayed vegetation. The boreal forests store an estimated 703 gigatons of carbon, almost all of it in the soils, according to a 2009 report.

As it warms, peatlands dry out, leaving them vulnerable to fire. And if fire becomes a larger part of the landscape, these vast stores of carbon could be released to the atmosphere, which could trigger more warming and thus create a feedback loop.

If the warming trend continues, the area burned annually could double by the end of the century, according to Natural Resources Canada, the federal ministry responsible for the management and study of the country’s natural resources, including its forests. Fires, more frequent droughts and insect outbreaks could make Canada’s boreal forests a source of carbon, the federal agency warns.

Permafrost in Tibetan Plateau can be wiped out by temperature rise

Much of the permafrost on the Tibetan plateau will possibly disappear by the end of the century under the present trend of global warming exceeding 2C. Almost 40% of it could be lost in the coming years, a Chinese report has warned, noting that the region has been seeing an average temperature rise of about 0.3C every decade.

The thawing has major implications for the local environment in terms of lake outbursts and landslides, besides contributing to global warming. More than half the plateau is covered in permafrost, with large reserves of carbon dioxide trapped within the frozen soil, the report from the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) said.

Permafrost: hiding a climate time bomb?

There is twice as much carbon in permafrost than in the atmosphere," said Florent Domine, a researcher with France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

"So if we transformed all the carbon in the permafrost into CO2, we would triple the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, and that would mean the end of the world as we know it."

It contains an estimated 1.7 trillion tonnes of carbon in the form of frozen organic matter, which escapes as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane as it warms and decomposes.

Study: Alaskan Boreal Forest Fires Release More Carbon than the Trees can Absorb


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A new analysis of fire activity in Alaska’s Yukon Flats finds that so many forest fires are occurring there that the area has become a net exporter of carbon to the atmosphere. This is worrisome, the researchers say, because arctic and subarctic boreal forests like those of the Yukon Flats contain roughly one-third of the Earth’s terrestrial carbon stores.

 The research is reported in the journal Nature Climate Change.

I wouldn't wait for peak oil to correct this problem. The problem is, given the immensity of the scale of the required decarbonization of our living arrangements (especially in transportation in Australia and the USA), how do we accomplish this before it becomes completely unmanageable?
There is twice as much carbon in than in the atmosphere," said Florent Domine, a researcher with France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).
"So if we transformed all the carbon in the permafrost into CO2, we would triple the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, and that would mean the end of the world as we know it."
Permafrost is perennially frozen ground covering about a quarter of exposed land in the northern hemisphere.
It contains an estimated 1.7 trillion tonnes of carbon in the form of frozen organic matter, which escapes as (CO2) and methane as it warms and decomposes.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-11-permafrost-climate.html#jCp

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Why Do Climate Scientists and Activists Ignore Peak Oil?

Why Do Climate Scientists and Activists Ignore Peak Oil? It's not something that should be ignored, but usually is, and sometimes even stridently dismissed. Yes, there have been dire predictions that the oil will run out before, going all the way back to the mid-1800s. But still, having come into a new peak on top of a long plateau, and the fact that oil companies are now looking at Arctic, deep-water and fracking to obtain oil, even extracting it from tar sands (now that's really the dregs!), common sense should tell us that Peak Oil is occurring now, and the extraction rates will decline at some point. Of course, once the decline sets in, there will be quite a large amount on the tail end of oil production, so we're not running out anytime soon, even if the downslope begins tomorrow. Yet usually what we hear from the Climate Change people is the worst case scenario [a] of climate change: RCP 8.5 (a.k.a. A1 F1) of a continuous rise in temperatures and CO2 levels caused by ever increasing burning of fossil fuels under business as usual, warming the planet by at about 3.7 deg C (6.7 deg F) this century. Fortunately, there's apparently not enough fossil fuels to accomplish that, unless the Earth's climate is even more sensitive to levels of Carbon in our atmosphere than is typically thought (3 deg C [5.4 F] for doubling of CO2 levels) due to the cautious conservatism of conclusions by Climate Science in general and also by the IPCC reports.

The Various RCP Global Warming Scenarios
Source: Knutti and Sedlacek (carbonbrief.org)

As the latest Japan Met Agency findings show, so far we are right on schedule! Also confirmed by NASA.

Global Temperature Rise since 1890, according to JMA

Global Temperature Rise since 1880, according to NASA.

Now what we are likely to get, even with peak oil happened upon accidently-on-purpose through business as usual, simply will not avoid a climate hot-house... unless we embark on a major effort of decarbonization. So without further adieu I will hand it over to Mr. Theo Kitchener of Shift Magazine, who wrote a timely article, "An Alternative Long Shot".

An Alternative Long Shot

Theo Kitchener, November 16, 2015

This article is an attempt to chart what might happen in terms of climate change, both in terms of science, and particularly the potential politics, if we see a serious financial collapse followed by further contraction due to peaking energy and resources. Despite this being quite a likely scenario, there is barely anything written on the topic.
Peak oilers, often end up thinking that we don’t need to worry about climate change because peak energy will take care of it for us. I think this view is strongly mistaken. While it is true that peak energy leads to less emissions than would otherwise be possible,[1] we still end up in the zone of highly likely runaway climate change, and there will still be much that needs doing on an activist front in order to minimise our risk. On the other hand, climate change activists are often blind to the possibility of financial collapse or even peak energy collapse. Accordingly, I think their strategies are based on business as usual continuing, which I don’t think is realistic.
Climate change activists tend to already know that their hopes to create a mass movement that will convince governments to act, and act enough, are likely to fail, but it’s a long shot worth fighting for if the current context is all you have to go on. What I’m offering below is simply an alternative long shot, one I think is more likely to succeed, considering it is based more on the short term interests of the population rather than long term interests, which are harder to get people active on.
Below is a brief analysis of what financial collapse means for the climate, followed by an analysis of potential political scenarios, and particular detail on what I see as the most likely strategies to create a safe climate. These include a decentralised movement to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations, emphasising a shift to permaculture and appropriate technology, the continuation of the anti-emissions movement, a mass movement mobilising to take what’s left of our industrial capacity out of the hands of elites, and put it into good use drawing down carbon, remediating the planet and providing for our needs. This scenario could definitely be seen as an unlikely long shot; however, considering the situation we find ourselves in, a long shot is much better than no shot.

More here: http://shift-magazine.net/2015/11/16/an-alternative-long-shot/.


[a] Granted, the linked author who brought this up (Charles C. Mann, "Peak Oil Fantasy", Orion Magazine, comment dated 11 October 2015,) actually brought up two cases where analysts had stated that Peak Oil will ensure that RCP 8.5 will not be reached; but, he goes on to say that "this type of argument, which stems directly from peak-oil beliefs, is anything but an obstacle to controlling climate change."

[1]   See for example http://judithcurry.com/2014/04/22/coal-and-the-ipcc/ and http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/4807

Thursday, October 15, 2015

New Orleans St Claude Line Stops Short of Press Street.

The New Orleans RTA streetcar line down St. Claude Avenue to Poland Ave. is stopped short for now; the line will end at Elysian Fields Ave. because the Norfolk Southern Railroad will have nothing to do with a streetcar line crossing their tracks at Press Street. There's nothing mentioning a possible flyover or duckunder at the NSRR tracks, but I suspect they'd have nothing to do with that, either. Considering how unsafe the existing St. Claude Ave. grade crossing is , if I were the railroad, I'd demand that the state and the city shut it down immediately! Plus all other grade crossings on the riverside of Gentilly Boulevard, all the way to the river.

Anyway, here are some images:

Suggested forty-five year plan for New Orleans area rapid transit to 2050.
Basically, light railways and commuter rail. [1]

Closeup of same, at the historic core. [2]
So what I would suggest, is sever the Rampart Street section of the line at Franklin Ave. and send it out that way to the Lake. I would then take the section of the line east of the NSRR and hook it up to the riverfront Streetcar in the French Quarter. Both suggested modifications are shown in blue. 

My suggested changes using a nola.com-generated map.
Because eventually, we are going to have to get around using non-petroleum dependent forms of transportation because we won't have oil extraction at the rates we've been having since 1995 for much longer. Peak Oil, you know.
[1]  Eugene L. Birch & Susan M. Wachter, eds. Rebuilding Urban Places After Disaster / Lessons from Hurricane Katrina. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006, Plate 20: Transit and transportation plan.
[2] Ibid.