Climate change question Boffin response required

azzurribike
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Climate change question Boffin response required

Postby azzurribike » Tue Dec 02, 2008 6:29 pm

I am trying to make sense of this, some say its a problem some say its not. Bear with me.

As a non Boffin we have basically consumed all the fossil fuels the earth has taken millions upon millions of years to create in a single century.

So is that enough to cause a change the world cannot cope with?

OR devils advocate here, how does the energy consumed in 100 years equate to changes in solar activity? Just want some perspective here it may or may not even be relevant to compare this way just a Question.

Regardless consuming what the earth took millions of year to create in just 100 is just plain wrong and we need to change for sure.

brauluver
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Postby brauluver » Tue Dec 02, 2008 7:05 pm

Shouldn't this be an off topic/cafe thread/It's not really cycling related in any general way.

stryker84
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Postby stryker84 » Tue Dec 02, 2008 7:16 pm

On a tangential point to ponder:

It took MILLIONS OF YEARS to create fossil fuels.

The price goes up by a fraction of the cost of just ONE day's cup of coffee (which is seriously undercosted as well - but FairTrade's a whole different topic!), and everyone's yelling for the government's blood.

And we're burning through it at the aforementioned rate, yet the price still remains pretty much constant, at least in the grand scheme of things.

Doesn't quite make sense to me...

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eucryphia
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Re: Climate change question Boffin response required

Postby eucryphia » Tue Dec 02, 2008 7:33 pm

azzurribike wrote:As a non Boffin we have basically consumed all the fossil fuels the earth has taken millions upon millions of years to create in a single century.


Not all of it, but a large proportion. We'll never use it all, it will get progressively harder to extract whats left and become more expensive as a result. If we use the coal to oil process and increases in efficiency we could keep using it for quite a bit longer yet, at least until the end of the current interglacial (~yr2800) we will have discovered a cost effective alternative well before then I am sure.

azzurribike wrote:So is that enough to cause a change the world cannot cope with?


By world I assume you mean Humans, it depends if we can adapt quicker than any change, if any.

azzurribike wrote:OR devils advocate here, how does the energy consumed in 100 years equate to changes in solar activity?


The level of CO2 and other Green House Gasses (GHG) are one of many inputs to the dynamic climate system, solar variation is another. Complex dynamic systems can be modeled, but every time you run a dynamic model (or system) you will end up with a different answer, that's what makes them 'dynamic'. So I think it is too difficult to make that sort of calculation and of academic interest only.

azzurribike wrote:Just want some perspective here it may or may not even be relevant to compare this way just a Question.


It's relevant but not the only contributing factor.

azzurribike wrote:Regardless consuming what the earth took millions of year to create in just 100 is just plain wrong and we need to change for sure.


We can't blame people in the past for emitting GHG's if they didn't know it was (allegedly) wrong. Not everyone is yet persuaded we cannot adapt over time.

If you feel it is wrong then you have options to reduce your personal emmissions (ride a bike), but I don't think you have the right to force others to do the same, you must persuade them to do it voluntarily.

azzurribike
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Postby azzurribike » Wed Dec 03, 2008 6:28 pm

Thanks for the reply eucryphia. I would still like to compare the Energy consumed in 100 years of burning fossil fuel to a variation in energy output from the sun over a solar cycle (Is it 7 years for solar flare cycles)

Just trying to get some perspective from events that occur in the universe naturally.

Joeblake
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Re: Climate change question Boffin response required

Postby Joeblake » Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:05 am

eucryphia wrote:
We can't blame people in the past for emitting GHG's if they didn't know it was (allegedly) wrong. Not everyone is yet persuaded we cannot adapt over time.


To me it comes down to "there are none so blind as those who will not see."

I'd have to say that I was made aware of the potential problems in 1962, when I read an article by Dr Isaac Asimov "No More Ice Ages" (1957) in the collection "Fact and Fancy." In view of the happenings of the last 20 years, he was actually optimistic and talked about the end of the 21st century as a problematic timeframe.

Many "nay-sayers" in respect of global "climate change" (not merely global "warming") postulate that there have been similar or greater increases in overall global temperatures/ levels of GHGs in the past ... which I don't disagree with. However, I've never heard any of them talk about the RATE of change. The increase in the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases has been taking place within my life time (born in 1950), whereas other (non-catastrophic) increases have taken place over hundreds, if not thousands of years.

This article describes a catastrophic increase (10 degrees C) because of a sudden release of methane:

http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/2373958.htm

[cut and paste]

Narration: This resulted in massive global warming, perhaps 10 degrees or more in a couple of decades. So is it possible that the clathrate gun could fire again?


It would appear that it wasn't only the AMOUNT of GHG released, but the RATE at which it was released.

To use an analogy:

If you have two SCUBA divers, using the similar equipment, diving at the same time in the same area, at the same depth, descending at the same time, and surfacing at the same time. Yet one of them dies of "the bends". Why? The only difference was the RATE at which they returned to the surface. One ascended slowly, giving his body a chance to "adjust" to change; the other stayed deeper for longer, but ascended more quickly. His body was not able to adapt.

I'd argue that the increases in GHG's must be looked at both in terms of the total volume of gases emitted, AND the rate at which they are emitted. There is little evidence that our present rate of GHG emission has been matched in the past WITHOUT catastrophic consequences.


Joe

PS I believe the solar flare cycle is 11 years.
To acquire immunity to eloquence is of the utmost importance to the citizens of a democracy
Bertrand Russell

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lemmiwinks
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Re: Climate change question Boffin response required

Postby lemmiwinks » Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:12 am

Joeblake wrote:Many "nay-sayers" in respect of global "climate change" (not merely global "warming") postulate that there have been similar or greater increases in overall global temperatures/ levels of GHGs in the past ... which I don't disagree with. However, I've never heard any of them talk about the RATE of change. The increase in the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases has been taking place within my life time (born in 1950), whereas other (non-catastrophic) increases have taken place over hundreds, if not thousands of years..


Absolutely! I agree 100%
"...for many people your life is not worth the effort it takes to pay attention or the extra few seconds they may need to wait before they can safely get around you."-BikeSnobNYC

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rustguard
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Postby rustguard » Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:25 pm

I guess even if we did change the level of de forestation is so high how would the planet heal itself? not to mention the massive mercury poisoning of the oceans (no mercury level in tuna are not safe).

Hugo weaving (mr smith) was right, the earth has been infected with a virus, perhaps global warming is the cure!

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