chownah wrote:Kim OHara,
The only either or proposition I have mentioned is that either the globe will stop warming and stabilize while life as humans would like to live is still possible or it will not stabilize at a level conducive to human life or it will not stabilize at a level for life to survive at all.
That's what you said, but it doesn't include the possibility that climate never
stabilises - which is actually the truth. Look at any climate chart and you will find constant change. What's new with AGW climate change is that bigger changes are coming faster. Our civilisation has developed in a period of 10,000 years or so of relatively stable, relatively warm climate. Climate is changing very fast now, away
from the conditions we are used to. If we're smart and a bit lucky, we will stop that fast change sooner rather than later so that we have a new set of relatively stable conditions - but still only relatively
chownah wrote:Mars once had an atmosphere and abundant surface water (assuming the scientists are correct in this) but now it has neither.....could Mars be a sign of what is to come? The earth has been relatively stable atmospherically for a long long time but there is a new influence which never existed before i.e. human industry. It could be that human industry could send the environment past a tipping point after which processes beyond our present abilities to control will take over and take the environment to a place truly inhospitable.
I don't think we're likely to end up like Mars but yes, we could end up with a planet that's quite inhospitable to life as we know it.
chownah wrote:Frankly, the things you describe as being the problem(drought, storms, rising sea level) do not concern me much.....historically if it isn't the Mongol hordes it is drought or flood or plague....dukkha happens. My concern is for complete loss of human habitat.....but of course that would be just another kind of dukkha...
One impact of the climate change we're already experiencing is extreme weather, driven by the excess heat in our planetary weather system. Yes, we've always had floods and droughts and storms, but what we're getting is far worse than what we have (sort of) adjusted to. See http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/dec/18/2013-extreme-weather-events
for more and http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/hansen_17/
for the theory behind it.
chownah wrote:You seem to be of the opinion that the next ten or twenty years is a "crunch time". How is that time frame a crunch time....and what if the "crunch" is not dealt with adequately?
We have two problems.
One is climate change driven by CO2 emissions. It is already impacting us and will continue getting worse for a while whatever we do because of the huge inertia of the weather system. The only way to slow it and reverse it is by reducing emissions, but the infrastructure (and politics) of our emissions also has its own huge inertia. It's like we're in a ship heading for rocks: if we turn the wheel a little bit, right now
, we may veer away in time to avoid serious damage but if we wait an hour or two we have to turn the wheel much harder and if we wait longer we won't be able to avoid the rocks.
We should have started turning that wheel twenty years ago ... and the turn might have been so gentle we hardly noticed. At this stage we're already scraping the rocks and we have to wrench it quite hard to avoid being wrecked. And if we don't change a lot
in the next twenty years, we're looking at tens or hundreds of millions of deaths, and maybe the collapse of civilisation as we know it.
The other problem is Peak Oil.
Our society was built on cheap energy and it's running out.
wikipedia wrote:Optimistic estimations of peak production forecast the global decline will begin after 2020, and assume major investments in alternatives will occur before a crisis, without requiring major changes in the lifestyle of heavily oil-consuming nations. These models show the price of oil at first escalating and then retreating as other types of fuel and energy sources are used. Pessimistic predictions of future oil production made after 2007 stated either that the peak had already occurred, that oil production was on the cusp of the peak, or that it would occur shortly.
Chris Nelder wrote:Chris Nelder: What EROI tells us
Declining EROI [Energy Return On Investment] has a “nearly inconsequential” effect on prices until it reaches about 18, then has an increasing effect until EROI falls below 10, when prices jump dramatically. …
And this should send a chill up your spine, because the EROI of domestic U.S. oil production is now approaching 10, having fallen from around 100 in the early days of oil (Cleveland, 2005). Even in the few prospects where we can still drill a well that will produce over 100,000 barrels of oil per day, like the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, the EROI varies from 4 to 14 (Moerschbaecher, 2012).
Hall and Murphy have also found that a given fuel must have an EROI of at least 3 to deliver a net benefit to society because of the associated infrastructure needed to support and use the fuel, and that an overall EROI of at least 10 may be required to sustain a complex society. It takes a significant energy surplus to support things like higher education, entertainment, personal vehicles, a middle class with health care, outsized amounts of credit, and yes, subsidies for low-EROI fuels.
… The researchers conclude that a smooth transition away from oil is unlikely without a deliberate policy effort to steer us toward alternative energy sources and manage the economic effects of depletion.
Put the two problems together, and you see that we are likely to be fighting a permanent recession while needing to (and finally trying to!) change our whole energy production system. If we don't do enough in the next ten to twenty years, society will be too poor and too traumatised to recover in any reasonable timeframe from the conditions they are by then faced with. At that stage, our children will face new "Dark Ages".
Recovery isn't out of the question but it will be painfully slow and probably come after a very low trough.
It's a depressing and daunting prospect.