It’s been hot. Damn hot. It seems that every day the weather report tells me that the heat index is over a hundred degrees. I believe them. Bloomberg News ran a great article showing that the first four months of this year are record breaking:
“This has been the hottest start to a year by far, according to data released today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The record heat is likely to continue as an already strong El Niño weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean continues to intensify, ripping more heat into the atmosphere.”
It’s a wonderful article because it shows an animated graph of temperature change going back to 1880. Watching the change over time eliminates any lingering doubt about global warming. Click on the link.
The trend continued through July. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported: “July 2015 was warmest month ever recorded for the globe.” And it wasn’t just atmospheric. They also reported: “Global oceans record warm for July; January-July 2015 also record warm.”
By the end of the year, The Washington Post wrote:
It’s official: 2015 ‘smashed’ 2014’s global temperature record. It wasn’t even close
Efforts to control global warming have also been in the news. Back in November, President Obama announced an agreement with China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
On May 20, 2015, President Obama made a speech at the US Coast Guard Academy in which he said:
“Climate change will impact every country on the planet. No nation is immune,” the President told the 218 graduating cadets. “Climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act — and we need to act now.”
On August 03, 2015, President Obama made a speech in which he announced new regulations designed to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions. See the entire article at Salon entitled “We only get one planet.”
It isn’t Just President Obama. Recently, Hillary Clinton also made a speech about controlling carbon dioxide levels through greater consumer reliance upon solar power. Here’s how The National Journal described her July 14, 2015 speech:
“Clinton’s plan calls for more than half a billion solar panels installed across the country by the end of her first term, and having the U.S. generate enough renewable energy to power every home within a decade of the start of a Clinton presidency. Achieving the goals would mean expanding the amount of installed solar-energy generating capacity by 700 percent from current levels by the end of 2020, and adding more green-power generation capacity to the electric grid than any other decade in U.S. history, according to a summary of the plan.”
Both President Obama’s approach and Hillary Clinton’s plan seem to be based on the idea that as more carbon dioxide is pumped into the air from the burning of fossil fuels, the warmer it gets. It leaves out a critical factor. The increase in global temperatures that we are seeing now doesn’t reflect the total effect that the carbon dioxide level will eventually have. It takes time.
The National Academy of Sciences Division on Earth and Life Studies describes the process:
“Because carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is long lived, it can effectively lock the Earth and future generations into a range of impacts, some of which could become very severe.”
“Because of time-lags inherent in the Earth’s climate, the observed climate changes as greenhouse gas emissions increase reflect only about half of the eventual total warming that would occur for stabilization at the same concentrations.”
In short, the temperature changes we are seeing now aren’t from the current levels of carbon dioxide. It’s like wrapping yourself in a blanket when you are cold. It takes time for the blanket to warm you up. The temperature today is warmer because of the carbon dioxide that was in the atmosphere twenty years ago. Since that time, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has more than doubled. The increases in temperature over the next twenty years will be faster and much worse even if no more carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere. Of course, we will continue to dump large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Clearly, a stronger response is needed and this point will become increasingly apparent in a few more years.
The burning of fossil fuels is a problem that truly needs to be addressed. But there is another problem that needs to be addressed Right Now. Currently, the permafrost in the Arctic Circle is melting. The impact of this melting is huge. Here is how I described it in a previous blog:
“Athropolis indicates that the size of the world’s permafrost is 9 million square miles. This is really huge. Wikipedia indicates that the area of the contiguous United States is under 3 million square mile, it indicates that China is slightly larger at 3.6 million square miles and it indicates that India is 1.2 million square miles. So the permafrost covers an area larger that the USA, China and India combined.”
The amount of carbon, in the form of tree roots and branches, frozen in the permafrost is estimated to be four times the amount of carbon that has been burned by people. Because the permafrost is melting, it is currently rotting away and leaking carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Worse, since it is underground and the bacteria consuming it have limited oxygen, much of it is being converted into methane. Methane is often cited as having 20 times the ability of carbon dioxide to retain heat in the atmosphere. The reason for that number is that methane is converted to carbon dioxide by ultraviolet light. The “20 times” figure is the power of methane to retain heat over a hundred year period and much of that time is when it has been converted into carbon dioxide. When it is first released into the atmosphere, (meaning now) it has 70 times the power of carbon dioxide. Further, there are also huge quantities of frozen methane at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. How much methane is going to be released is not known. Here are a few articles about the problem:
Nature– A sleeping giant? As the planet warms, vast stores of methane — a potent greenhouse gas — could be released from frozen deposits on land and under the ocean. Amanda Leigh Mascarelli reports on the race to understand a ticking time bomb.
New York Times– As Permafrost Thaws, Scientists Study the Risks FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A bubble rose through a hole in the surface of a frozen lake. It popped, followed by another, and another, as if a pot were somehow boiling in the icy depths. Every bursting bubble sent up a puff of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas generated beneath the lake from the decay of plant debris. These plants last saw the light of day 30,000 years ago and have been locked in a deep freeze — until now.
The Guardian– Seven facts you need to know about the Arctic methane timebomb
Weather Underground– Permafrost in a Warming World
Think Progress– Why This New Study on Arctic Permafrost Is So Scary
PRI– Thawing permafrost could have catastrophic consequences, scientists warn
Weather Underground: Permafrost In a Warming World
PHYS.ORG Is a sleeping climate giant stirring in the Arctic?
CNN: The climate is ruined. So can civilization even survive?
International Cryosphere Climate Imitative: The earth’s cryosphere – regions of snow and ice – is approaching thresholds that may tip the balance between successfully addressing climate change; or slipping into a cascade of catastrophic and near-irreversible global impacts that begin with the cryosphere.
Another indicator of exactly how bad the situation is getting is what happened on this Christmas. It was described in many media outlets. Here is how
The Washington Post described it:
“Freak storm pushes North Pole 50 degrees above normal
to melting point”
For a few days, at least, the permafrost may have been melting in the middle of the Arctic winter, when the temperature was fifty degrees above average.
Let’s sum up. Over the next twenty years, the earth will be warming from the point that we are now, a higher temperature than twenty years ago. The global warming we experienced in the past decade was from half the amount of carbon dioxide that is currently in the atmosphere. Over the next twenty years, the increase will be double and the amount of carbon dioxide will double again. That will bring us to 2035.
Over the next twenty years, we will also have the carbon dioxide released in the Arctic Circle. It is estimated that the amount buried there is four times greater than the amount that is currently in the atmosphere. No one knows how much will be released as carbon dioxide and how much will be released as methane. Let’s be conservative and say ¼ of the carbon will be in the form of methane and ¾ will be in the form of carbon dioxide. That amount of carbon dioxide is three times the current amount in the atmosphere. Let’s add it up. Call our current level one. Adding the carbon dioxide that will be added by burning fossil fuels over the next decade will make it two. Adding the carbon dioxide from the Arctic Circle makes it 5 times the current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The methane will have seventy times the global warming power as carbon dioxide. That brings us to the conclusion that the decade from 2035 to 2055 will have seventy five times the warming influence than what was experienced in the past twenty years. This will not only wipe out the human race but destroy 95% of all the species on earth.
Further, this warming power will begin to effect us very soon, well before 2035. I am simply calculating the result from all of it being released and all of it reaching its maximum heat retaining power.
Clearly, something must be done right now. It can’t wait. Incredibly, there is something that can be done, something that, in the arena of global warming is incredibly cheap, non-controversial and will begin to take effect immediately. Equally incredible, I am the only one talking about actually doing it.
The closest idea in the literature comes from David Keith. It is described in Technology Review:
“A Cheap and Easy Plan to Stop Global Warming”
Here is the plan. Customize several Gulfstream business jets with military engines and with equipment to produce and disperse fine droplets of sulfuric acid… The author of this so-called geoengineering scheme, David Keith, doesn’t want to implement it anytime soon, if ever. Much more research is needed to determine whether injecting sulfur into the stratosphere would have dangerous consequences such as disrupting precipitation patterns or further eating away the ozone layer that protects us from damaging ultraviolet radiation. Even thornier, in some ways, are the ethical and governance issues that surround geoengineering—questions about who should be allowed to do what and when. Still, Keith, a professor of applied physics at Harvard University and a leading expert on energy technology, has done enough analysis to suspect it could be a cheap and easy way to head off some of the worst effects of climate change.
This idea comes from recent investigations into the effect of recent volcanic eruptions. An article in Nature World News describes what happened:
“Sulfur Dioxide from Volcanoes Keeping the Earth Cool” Volcanoes releasing sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere are the reason behind the temperature not rising as high as expected between years 2000 and 2010, according to a new study. Ryan Neely, lead author of the study, said that sulfur dioxide emissions rise up to some 12 to 20 miles into the stratospheric aerosol layer of the atmosphere. Here, the gas reacts with other compounds in the aerosol and forms sulfuric acid and water, which later fall back to earth. These water particles reflect sunlight and cool the earth. These aerosols have compensated for nearly 25 percent of greenhouse emissions, Neely said. “This new study indicates it is emissions from small to moderate volcanoes that have been slowing the warming of the planet,” said Neely, who is a researcher at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences…”
Nevertheless, even David Keith doesn’t think it’s practical and neither do I: inject huge amounts of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere? Go back to acid rain in a really big way?
The experiment that proved the efficacy of the method I am suggesting was carried out (in reverse) on 9/11. On that day, all airline flights in the US were canceled. Weather experts, at that time, determined that the temperature in the US increased by ½ a degree. The reason for the increase was that there were no contrails produced by airlines. The contrails reflect heat back into space. Upon further consideration, those looking at the problem realized that the contrails, at night, reflect heat down, thus increasing the temperature of the earth. They wondered whether the net effect warmed or cooled the earth. Further study revealed that the net effect was to increase the heat retention of the atmosphere. See Science Daily “Jet contrails affect surface temperatures.” For more detail, see the paper “Contrails, Cirrus Trends, and Climate” by Patrick Minnis. Also, Christian Science Monitor: Airplane contrails and their effect on temperatures.
Later on, further analysis determined that there were other factors that affected the reduction of the temperature on 9/11:
BBC: “Elsewhere, a team at Leeds University, working with the Met Office Hadley Centre, ran contrails through its climate models and found that you’d need about 200 times the quantity of flights over America to produce a significant effect on DTR.”
Or, more simply, 200 times the density of contrails. It shouldn’t be hard to engineer. Not if the survival of the human race hangs in the balance.
The method by which contrails are formed is fairly complex, but there are two main methods, condensation from engine exhaust and condensation from decrease in pressure at the tips of the wings. See Wikipedia “Contrails.” Both of these methods are known to be effected in a variety of ways but no one seems interested in increasing them. Likely methods would include injecting water out of wing tips and engines. They can also be controlled by altitude adjustments. Perhaps contrails can be reduced at night by ejecting dry air out of the wing tips. A simple technique can change the contrails dramatically. This method is sky writing with smoke. The typical smoke generator consists of a pressurized container holding a low viscosity oil, such as Chevron/Texaco “Canopus 13”, formerly “Corvus Oil”. The oil is injected into the hot exhaust manifold, causing it to vaporize into a huge volume of dense, white smoke. This could be used to increase the size of contrails during the day. True, it would cause pollution but the pollution is nothing like the problem of runaway global warming.
Turning this problem over to aerospace engineers will quickly result in a variety of techniques being suggested. The problem will be monitoring the effects on climate and weather and adjusting accordingly.
Back in 2006, a woman named Linda Dischler, suggested spraying silver nitrate from planes to create contrails. Nothing came from the idea. Similarly, cloud seeding has been discussed but, again, nothing has come from the idea.
What needs to be done is to increase the size of contrails during the day and decrease them at night in the most environmentally sensitive manner possible. The effects on world wide temperatures need to be monitored carefully and the process adjusted accordingly.
What should not be a problem will be reducing the temperature, particularly over the Arctic Circle. All contrails over the Arctic Circle must be eliminated. Here’s a recent article showing why in Voice of America:
“Study: Night Clouds Promote Greenland Ice Melt”
The article describes how clouds and, by implication, contrails, hold in heat. Clicking on the link shows why contrails won’t reflect light from the sun back into space at the North Pole. The sun never gets above 23.5 degrees above the horizon. It would be impossible t arrange the flights of thousands of airline flights over the North Pole in such a way that the sun’s light wouldn’t go under the contrails rather than shine down on them. Consequently, the most urgent problem is to eliminate contrails on the flights over the North Pole.
Modifying contrails fall into the category of altering the earth’s albedo. A recent book, written by a number of well respected environmental organizations is called:
Examines a variety of methods of changing how much sunlight reaches the earth’s surface vs. how much is reflected (albedo.) They conclude:
” Recommendation 3: Albedo modification at scales sufficient to alter climate should not be deployed at this time.
Albedo modification strategies for offsetting climate impacts of high
CO2 concentrations carry risks that are poorly identified in their nature
In the case of contrails, this perspective is moot. We are already doing albedo modifications sufficient to alter climate when it comes to contrails. Unfortunately, the current approach is increasing the temperature of the earth in general and helping to melt the permafrost in particular. This needs to stop. The current way contrails are spread needs to be changed.
This needs to be done RIGHT NOW. Whether or not there has been any previous discussion of the idea is not the point. What is the point is that stopping the melting of the permafrost need to be center stage.
This is where you come in. We need to get this idea out. I will be contacting everyone I know. I need you to do the same. I need you to contact one hundred people and get them to agree to contact one hundred people. Contact them through Facebook or Twiter. Call friends. Send out e-mails. Send notes to everyone on your Christmas card list. Do something. Yes, what I am suggesting is a pain in the ass but this is important. It involves the survival of life on the planet. So what if it takes a couple of hours and costs twenty bucks. Aren’t the lives of your great great grandchildren worth the investment?
Here’s the point. You may have seen the demonstration that Greenpeace put on in Seattle to protest Shell Oil’s plans to drill for oil in the arctic. It was a huge enterprise, involving people hanging off of a bridge to stop the ship. Read about it on NPR’s site. Whatever your opinion of the enterprise, (Personally? I’m against Shell Oil’s plan and agree with Greenpeace) it doesn’t compare with the extinction of 95% of all species on earth including the human race. If that was what they did to protect one small area of the Arctic Circle, what needs to be done to protect the entire earth? This is number one and people need to know it. Send a letter to a newspaper. Call in on a talk show. Tell them to go to Right Now on my blog.
Contact President Obama. He has expressed an interest in climate change .Click on the link and give him a link to this blog page.
Contact Hilary Clinton. She is also interested in doing something about climate change. Click on the link and give her a link to this blog page.
Contact your Senator or Congressman. Click on this link and click on you Senator or Congressman. Then give him a message and/or a link to this page. If he’s a Republican, you might want to contact someone else. Maybe an email isn’t enough. Maybe you want to send letters.
Try contacting environmental organizations. They all have Live Mail links but a letter will have a greater impact.
350.org is an organization dedicated to controlling global warming. The “350” is what they believe is the highest level of CO2 (in parts per million) that should be allowed in the atmosphere and I agree. Currently, the level is over 400 ppm. Let them know that this is the single most important issue.
20 Jay St. Suite 732 Brooklyn, NY 11201
World Nature Organization is dedicated to the protection of the environment at international level. Its main focus is on energy efficiency, climate protection, sustainable development and a sustainable energy supply. They are located in Switzerland.
ACEEE promotes energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors. American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy 529 14th Street N.W. Suite 600 Washington, D.C. 20045-1000
Green Peace describes themselves as the leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future. Unfortunately, you’ll have to send them a letter:
Greenpeace 702 H Street, NW Suite 300 Washington, D.C. 20001
Earth First seeks to protect the environment through radical means.
Earth First! Journal Office PO Box 964 Lake Worth, FL 33460
Friends of the Earth– defends the environment and champions a healthy and just world.
Friends of the Earth 1101 15th Street NW 11th Floor Washington, DC 20005
Bill Moyer & Company Public Broadcasting Service 2100 Crystal Drive Arlington, VA 22202
The Climate Reality Project The CEO is Ken Berlin and the Founder is Al Gore
The Climate Reality Project 901 E St NW Washington, DC 20004
Our Children’s Trust– This organization believes (as do I) that we have the solemn responsibility to leave to our children a world that is inhabitable. They just recently won a lawsuit to that effect and you can read about it at their website.
Our Children’s Trust P.O. Box 5181 Eugene, OR 97405
Remember, this is the single most important issue facing the human race. If it isn’t solved, we will be looking up through an atmosphere with something like 70 times the greenhouse effect as the current atmosphere. It’s a problem with a readily available solution which no group opposes. Please, if you are willing to spend just a few minutes, maybe an hour of your time, this problem can be solved. What other enormous problem are you working on that can be solved in an hour?
Postscript: It appears as though this issue will not be raised at the Paris conference on global warming. This means that the only way it will receive national attention is if you notify your friends, relatives and the people on the above list through letters and e-mails. It’s up to you.