Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Climate review October (B)

A few days ago I went to Lakeland, 50 km from USF. The only way to get there is by car. I felt stupid having to be on I-4. Why no train? There aren't high mountains and steep gorges in the way; it's all flat. Just lay track. Have a commuter bullet zip by every 15 min 24-7. Other countries can do it. Floridians, poor people, drive in their shiny bricks as if it was their religion. They are the car taliban.
But even here civil enlightenment is happening. For the first time since the summer of '68, the bourgeois paradigm is breaking up. Minds have become more open to suggestions. A new honesty, a new humility, is settling in. Is this the first step to climate evolution?

On the climate front, the first positive feedback loop--the melt loop--is up and running. Round and round it goes: thawing sea icea ... lowers marine albedo ... which increases insolation absorption ... which thaws sea ice ... and now start the sentence again. In the melt loop, we're now thirty years ahead of the predictions. In mid-autumn 2008, we see stuff that had been believed, in 2006, to happen only in 2040. The North Pole will be blue within a decade.

A second feedback loop appears to be coalescing as well. A year ago I called its first inklings the poop loop. Last fall, methane release had been seen in some spots in the high arctic, with tundra permafrost getting mushy and farting out CH4 from clathrate deposits. Now CH4 release seems to have spread to the seas. If we're lucky these will remain isolated incidents. Yet evidence is hardening that an arctic methane release has started. CH4 is a stronger greenhouse gas than CO2 but there's less of it, and to date, it has done little climate forcing. Now the poop may form a loop: more smelly CH4 heats up the air more, which warms up the sea more, which breaks down more clathrates tucked away in ocean floor sediments, which makes more CH4 bubble up to the surface ... and now start the sentence again. The poop loop. (For past reference and a present reality check, see the Permian-Triassic event.)

So the situation is sharpening. In July I guessed that even if Copenhagen 2009 will result in rational emission caps by 2012, average temps will be up 3.3 C by 2100 . Now a group, lead by J Hansen, submitted a paper to Open Atmospheric Science Journal that suggests temps will be up 6 C. Not three degrees. Six degrees. That's ten and a half in Fahrenheit. Pragmatically, this means our 385 ppm CO2 must be lowered to 350 ppm. That's where we stand.

Tearing up I-4 and turning it into a railroad corridor would be a start.


The fall issue of the Climate Philosophy Newsletter is in preparation. Kindly send information about climate-related conceptual research to the Mad Hun at schonfeld @ I plan to include an address roster of all the folks at the climate philosophy listserv. Melinda Rosenberg (U North Carolina-Pembroke) will review the conference on "Human Flourishing & Restoration in the Age of Global Warming" at Clemson University. Thom Heyd (U Victoria) will review the "Field Being and Climate" panel at the World Philosophy Congress at Seoul and the "Philosophy and Climate Symposium" at the Society for Human Ecology at Western Washington University.

This past weekend the Western Canadian Philosophical Association hosted a Climate Symposium at the University of Alberta. Thom Heyd talked on "Philosophy and Climate Change"; Kent Peacock (University of Lethbridge) made "The Case for Environmental Realism"; Bruce Morito (Athabasca University) explained "Ethics of Climate Change," and I contributed, in absentia, a paper on the Gringo Square: "The Heuristic Impact of Climate on Philosophy". Word has it that the symposium was fun, the discussion lively, and the range of ideas fresh and sparkling. Progress on critical paths ...


R F Kennedy/B De Melle, Unearthed: the News without the Chaff


"In a hundred years, all philosophy will be naturalized Hegelianism anyway."
Ivan Marquez (Bentley U), talking about Kenneth Westphal (U Kent), Oct 2008


... Yemen desert ravaged by floods 10.24.
... Honduras suffers extreme flooding 10.24.
... Siberian polar bears dying out 10.24.
... Haiti, storm-ravaged, pleas for international help 10.21.
... climate changing faster than expected (wwf)
... das Desaster naht früher als erwartet 10.20.
... climate change "faster and more extreme" 10.20.
... climate change "faster, stronger, sooner" 10.20.
... Burma typhoon help update 10.20.
... Alaska village faces eroded future 10.14.
... California wildfires lead to evacuations in LA 10.13.
... Montana gets earliest snow on record 10.11.


... Greenpeace offers climate/economics blueprint 10.27.
... ecologists raise alarm ahead of UN summit 10.13.
... preparations for Poznan Climate conference (Oct)
... US challenges to a post-Bush climate policy 10.2.


... Humans consume 30% more than is sustainable 10.29.
... Oil at $ 59 10.27.
... USA: 10 ways to steal the election (Nov)
... USA: 12 ways to safeguard your vote (Oct)
... Oil at $ 64 10.24.
... Pakistan stares into the abyss 10.23.
... Florida electronic early-voting fraud 10.21.
... W Virginia electronic early-voting fraud 10.18.
... UN: financial chills are ill wind for climate 10.9.
... grain piles up in ports 10.8.


... partying powers Dutch nightclub 10.24.
... engineering drought-resistant crops 10.23.
... A Greenspan shocked that free markets are flawed 10.23
... C Hamilton: let's call the whole thing off! 10.21.
... Singapore ecoarchitecture 10.14.
... G. Monbiot: this is what denial does 10.14.
... P Krugman wins economics Nobel 10.13.


... UK eco-town plan falters 10.26.
... US alternative energy suddenly faces headwinds 10.20.
... Bush chooses to keep Guantanamo open 10.20.
... G Palast: will the GOP steal another US election? 10.14.
... Alaskan pollock fishery near collapse 10.13.
... US media: ABC vetos airing of climate protection ad 10.10.


K Caldeira: "Climate change: taming the angry beast," book review of Broecker/Kunzig 2008, Science 322 (2008): 376-377

W Dorn et al., "The recent decline of the arctic summer sea-ice cover in the context of internal climate variability," Open Atmospheric Science Journal 2 (2008): 91-100

M Lemonick, "Global warming: beyond the tipping point," Scientific American special issue 4 (2008): 60-68

various authors, "How our economy is killing the Earth," special report, New Scientist 2678 (2008): 40-41

P Rochette et al., "Nitrous oxide emissions respond differently to no-till in a loam and a heavy clay soil," Soil Science Society of America Journal 72 (2008): 1363-1369

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