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Posts Tagged ‘Acidic Oceans’

A New Tactic in the Climate Change Debate

Tue ,27/04/2010

The old tactic in the debate on climate change was denial. Some skeptics claimed that the Earth’s temperature was not rising while others claimed that any increase observed was not from man’s activities. However, the mounting scientific evidence from many fields of science can no longer be effectively denied. The latest IPCC report (1) shows that the Earth’s mean temperature is rising, that the temperature increase is changing the environment, and that the changes are caused by man’s activities. Scientists are concerned that politicians are not getting the message and every major scientific organization in the world has endorsed a statement concurring with the IPCC’s conclusion. Clearly, denial was no longer an effective option and a new tactic was needed by those profiting from the status quo.

The new tactic is being championed by Lord Nigel Lawson, a British politician who fought for years to keep British Parliament from supporting the Kyoto Treaty (2). His new book on the subject, An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming, admits global warming is occurring and that man is responsible. However, he claims that it is impossible to do anything about it, that to try would cost too much, and that a little global warming is actually a good thing. That might be true for those who live in damp, dreary England, but the book overlooks or minimizes many of the problems associated with climate change. Lord Lawson says that we shouldn’t worry as we and the Earth will adapt: “Over the past two-and-a-half-million years, a period during which the planet’s climate fluctuated substantially, remarkably few of the earth’s millions of plant and animal species became extinct. This applies not least, incidentally, to polar bears, which have been around for millennia, during which there is ample evidence that polar temperatures have varied considerably.”

The book is highly touted by some but it blithely ignores the work of many scientists and ecologists who conclude: “Many plant and animal species are unlikely to survive climate change.” (3) A recent study at Harvard “suggests quite decisively that non-native and invasive species have been the climate change winners. Invasive species can be intensely destructive to biodiversity, ecosystem function, agriculture, and human health. In the United States alone the estimated annual cost of invasive species exceeds $120 billion.” (4) As to polar bears, they have recently been put on the threatened species list because their habitat, the Arctic ice, is disappearing. Polar bears have become uniquely adapted over many thousands of years to survive and hunt on the pack ice. It is unlikely that they, and many other species, will have time to adapt to the climate changes predicted to occur over the next century.

Even if a warmer Earth were a good thing, it is not good that our oceans are becoming more acidic, that the glaciers and polar ice caps are melting, that species are becoming extinct and invasive species are proliferating. Our use of fossil fuels is putting 30 billion tons of CO2 into the air annually along with mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, particulates, and radioactive isotopes of radon. Those end up in the air, the water, and the food chain. We are now finding mercury in fish where there are no natural sources and many places have limits on consumption. The oceans are now 20% more acidic and the coral, fisheries, shellfish, and oxygen-producing plankton are threatened. Ignoring those problems will not make them go away.

So, the new tactic is just a call to inaction. Rather than addressing climate change, Lord Lawson wishes for us to ignore it and adapt to it. He does miss one small thing that might become important to England. The large amounts of fresh water from the melting ice sheets may cause the Gulf Stream to shut down. Without the heat being brought across the Atlantic by the Gulf Stream, England may plunge to glacial temperatures with average winter temperatures of -25°C. England might have a little trouble adapting to that. No one knows the future, but we will be better off fashioning it rather than just letting it happen to us.

2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigel_Lawson
3) http://www.nature.com/nature/links/040108/040108-1.html
4) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100203111626.htm

Is EPA Regulation of CO2 a "Power Grab"?

Fri ,19/03/2010

Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK), in Frankly Speaking (3/10/2010), wants to rein in what he calls “the EPA power grab” to limit carbon emissions. That is hardly the case. The Supreme Court, in Massachusetts v. EPA, ordered the environmental protection agency to make a determination as to whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant. The EPA has found, based on the best scientific evidence, that CO2 is an endangerment to public health and has moved forward as instructed.

If Congress had acted to develop a sound energy policy and to curb pollution, the  EPA would not be forced to act in the matter. Regulation of carbon emissions would fall mainly on the coal industry and would favor a shift to petroleum and natural gas, both abundant in Oklahoma. However, all our  Republican Congressmen sat out the process and let the Democrats from coal producing states load up the cap-and-trade bill with perks for coal producing states. Some of  leaders see that limiting carbon emissions could be favorable to the Oklahoma economy, but apparently, our elected representatives have not caught on yet.

It is not just about the CO2 or climate change. Along with the 30 billion tons of CO2 we put into the air annually are large amounts of mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, particulates, and radioactive isotopes of radon. Those end up in the air, the water, and the food chain. We are now finding mercury in fish and some places have limits on consumption. The oceans are now 20% more acidic and economically important fisheries are threatened. Whether we cap pollution, tax it, or strictly regulate it, something must be done and soon.

What Causes Global Warming?

Tue ,10/11/2009

Petroleum geologist John Brock asks, “Can we really stop climate change?” (1) and concludes we can’t. I agree with him that using geo- engineering to reduce global warming is a bad idea but I strongly disagree with the idea that we can’t do anything about it. The Tulsa World article, “Turn up the Savings.”(2) lists a number of things you can do to cut global warming and also reduce your energy bill.

Geo-engineering would  have unintended consequences, and it would not address the underlying problem.  Burning fossil fuels puts 30 billion tons of CO2 into the air annually along with mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and radioactive isotopes. Much of those end up in the environment and in the food chain. Like carbonated water, the oceans are now 20% more acidic than a century ago (3) and the mercury level in tuna has gone up 30% since 1990 (4).

NASA’s data shows that the past decade has been the hottest on record and that the Earth is now 1.2° warmer than it was a century ago. Global warming, like a fever of 99.8, is a sign that something is wrong. The warming has not been caused by volcanoes, sunspots, changes in solar output, or cosmic rays from the stars, and it is not part of the natural cycle of nature. It’s caused by us and it is up to us to do something about it.

(1)   http://www.tulsaworld.com/opinion/article.aspx?subjectid=65&articleid=20091107_65_A17_Tebgni286922

(2)   http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20091109_15_A1_TlaWrd833051&archive=yes

(3)   http://observationsofanerd.blogspot.com/2009/10/climate-change-whats-worse-than-heat.html

(4)   http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2009/08/