Monday, May 13, 2013

If The Oceans Rise 40 Meters, Will Your House Be Underwater?


Sometimes I wonder why I bother following the deranged rantings of right-wing sociopath Bryan Fischer on twitter. I keep wanting to delete him from my twitter-feed but, it's like a 50 car pile up you just can't stop watching... or it's my cross to bear. Yesterday I woke up with him racing about how Republican are the science party:

The hate talk radio host and satan-worshipper is like a contrary indicator of reality. I'm am glad he reminded me about global warming today though. The science section of The Guardian has a warning for humanity that satanists and End-of-Times activists like Fischer cheer with glee. Climate warming greenhouse gas have reached 400 parts per million for the first time in human history, not the first time in the earth's history, the first time since humans walked the earth. The last time there was so much CO2 in the atmosphere, there was no ice in the Arctic and the Sahara Desert was a fertile savannah... "and sea level was up to 40 metres higher than today." 40 metres... that's high-- 131 feet. There wouldn't be much of Florida above the surface.
These conditions are expected to return in time, with devastating consequences for civilisation, unless emissions of CO2 from the burning of coal, gas and oil are rapidly curtailed. But despite increasingly severe warnings from scientists and a major economic recession, global emissions have continued to soar unchecked.

"It is symbolic, a point to pause and think about where we have been and where we are going," said Professor Ralph Keeling, who oversees the measurements on a Hawaiian volcano, which were begun by his father in 1958. "It's like turning 50: it's a wake up to what has been building up in front of us all along."

"The passing of this milestone is a significant reminder of the rapid rate at which-- and the extent to which-- we have increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," said Prof Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which serves as science adviser to the world's governments. "At the beginning of industrialisation the concentration of CO2 was just 280ppm. We must hope that the world crossing this milestone will bring about awareness of the scientific reality of climate change and how human society should deal with the challenge."

The world's governments have agreed to keep the rise in global average temperature, which have already risen by over 1C, to 2C, the level beyond which catastrophic warming is thought to become unstoppable. But the International Energy Agency warned in 2012 that on current emissions trends the world will see 6C of warming, a level scientists warn would lead to chaos. With no slowing of emissions seen to date, there is already mounting pressure on the UN summit in Paris in 2015, which is the deadline set to settle a binding international treaty to curb emissions.

Edward Davey, the UK's energy and climate change secretary, said: "This isn't just a symbolic milestone, it's yet another piece of clear scientific evidence of the effect human activity is having on our planet. I've made clear I will not let up on efforts to secure the legally binding deal the world needs by 2015 to avoid the worst effects of climate change."

Two CO2 monitoring stations high on the Hawaiian volcano of Mauna Loa are run by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and provide the global benchmark measurement. Data released on Friday shows the daily average has passed 400ppm for the first time in its half century of recording. The level peaks in May each year as the CO2 released by decaying vegetation is taken up by renewed plant growth in the northern hemisphere, where the bulk of plants grow.

Analysis of fossil air trapped in ancient ice and other data indicate that this level has not been seen on Earth for 3-5 million years, a period called the Pliocene. At that time, global average temperatures were 3 or 4C higher than today's and 8C warmer at the poles. Reef corals suffered a major extinction while forests grew up to the northern edge of the Arctic Ocean, a region which is today bare tundra.

"I think it is likely that all these ecosystem changes could recur," said Richard Norris, a colleague of Keeling's at Scripps. The Earth's climate system takes time to adjust to the increased heat being trapped by high greenhouse levels and it may take hundreds of years for the great ice caps in Antarctica and Greenland to melt to the small size of the Pliocence and sea level far above many of the world's major cities.

But the extreme speed at which CO2 in now rising-- perhaps 75 times faster than in pre-industrial time-- has never been seen in geological records and some effects of climate change are already being seen, with extreme heatwaves and flooding now more likely. Recent wet and cold summer weather in Europe has been linked to changes in the high level jetstream winds, in turn linked to the rapidly melting sea ice in the Arctic, which shrank to its lowest recorded level in September.

"We are creating a prehistoric climate in which human societies will face huge and potentially catastrophic risks," said Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics. "Only by urgently reducing global emissions will we be able to avoid the full consequences of turning back the climate clock by 3 million years."

"The 400ppm threshold is a sobering milestone and should serve as a wake up call for all of us to support clean energy technology and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, before it's too late for our children and grandchildren," said Tim Lueker, a carbon cycle scientist at Scripps.

Professor Bob Watson, former IPCC chair and UK government chief scientific adviser, said: "Passing 400ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is indeed a landmark and the rate of increase is faster than ever and shows no sign of abating due to a lack of political committment to address the urgent issue of climate change-- the world is now most likely committed to an increase in surface temperature of 3C-5C compared to pre-industrial times."

The graph of the rising CO2 at Mauna Loa is known as the Keeling curve (see video up top), after the late Dave Keeling, the scientist who began the measurements in March 1958. The isolated Hawaiian island is a good location for measurements as it is far from the main sources of CO2, meaning it represents a good global average.
On February 16, 2012, House Republicans passed Greg Lamborn's H.R. 3408 to push forward the Keystone XL Pipeline Project and open up vast stretches of federally-owned territory to corporate oil and gas companies. It passed 237-187, with 21 right-wing Democrats joining most of the Republicans to pass it. The GOP made their point and then never bothered sending it to the Senate. These are the Democrats who backed it:
Jason Altmire (Blue Dog/New Dem-PA)- defeated in primary
John Barrow (Blue Dog/New Dem-GA)- still hanging on
Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)
Dan Boren (Blue Dog-OK)- forced to retire
Leonard Boswell (Blue Dog-IA)- defeated
Jim Cooper (Blue Dog/New Dem-TN)
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
Mark Crtiz (PA)- defeated
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
Joe Donnelly (Blue Dog-IN)- saved from political extinction by Richard Mourdock
Al Green (TX)
Gene Green (TX)
Rubén Hinojosa (TX)
Kathy Hochul (New Dem-NY)- defeated
Larry Kissel (Blue Dog-NC)- defeated
Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT) came within 768 votes of defeat
Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog/New Dem-NC)- came within 654 votes of defeat
Bill Owens (New Dem-NY)- came within 4,985 votes of defeat
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Cedric Richmond (New Dem-LA)
Mike Ross (Blue Dog-AR)- forced to retire
All day on the 15th and 16th of February, there were dozens of amendments offered to ameliorate the negative environmental impact of the bill. They were all voted down by Climate Change deniers and Big Oil's congressional shills. The first to be defeated was Anna Eshoo's amendment to put off approval of the Keystone XL pipeline until the completion of a safety report. 18 Democrats joined all but two Republicans voting against it. That was immediately followed by the defeat of Ed Markey's amendment to require all oil imported through the Keystone pipeline be used in the U.S. and not exported. Two dozen Democrats joined the GOP against that one. There were amendments defeated to prevent offshore drilling in California and off the coast of the Northeast. Everything was defeated by the Republican Party with the help of corrupt Blue Dogs and New Dems in the pockets of Big Oil. Next time tells you there's no difference between the parties-- or no difference between real Democrats and the toxic New Dems-- think about sea level rising 131 feet.

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