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Comment: Re: It's getting hotter still! (Score 1) 612

by Chuck Messenger (#47949933) Attached to: Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

Ooops - missed a close quote! Here goes again...

The maximum we can actually recover and release is about [4,000 gtc]

Which I guess you're comfortable with. In any case, what makes you so certain about this limit? Estimates for the amount of recoverable fossil fuel keep going up over time. In part, this is due to new discoveries. In part, it is due to improved extraction technologies. And then there's the combination: when we come up with a new technology which lets us exploit a whole new category of fossil fuel (e.g. clathrates).

Who's to say what will be recoverable in the future?

Is there any level of atmospheric CO2 which would cause you to worry? And if so, what would you propose doing about it?

Primates have survived hundreds of glaciation cycles, with swings in global mean temperatures as large as 15F and much of the northern hemisphere covered by ice.

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make about the primates. You seem to be suggesting that primates - or at least humans - are highly adaptable, so no worries about climate change. In fact, primates are rapidly going extinct. The most complex primates - great apes - are the most at risk. Excluding us, of course.

What's happening right now, as we speak, is the 6th Great Extinction event, evidently caused by the exponential economic growth of humans. This is partly due to habitat destruction, and partly due to the global warming (and other environmental change, like ocean acidification) already carried out by us. And there's much more to come which is already "in the bank", regardless of what we do right now.

You see, in times past, when global conditions changed, creatures were able to roam to new areas, increasing their chances for survival. We have shut that process down in a major way.

Comment: Re: It's getting hotter still! (Score 1) 612

by Chuck Messenger (#47949917) Attached to: Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

The maximum we can actually recover and release is about [4,000 gtc]

Which I guess you're comfortable with. In any case, what makes you so certain about this limit? Estimates for the amount of recoverable fossil fuel keep going up over time. In part, this is due to new discoveries. In part, it is due to improved extraction technologies. And then there's the combination: when we come up with a new technology which lets us exploit a whole new category of fossil fuel (e.g. clathrates).

Who's to say what will be recoverable in the future?

Is there any level of atmospheric CO2 which would cause you to worry? And if so, what would you propose doing about it?

Primates have survived hundreds of glaciation cycles, with swings in global mean temperatures as large as 15F and much of the northern hemisphere covered by ice.

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make about the primates. You seem to be suggesting that primates - or at least humans - are highly adaptable, so no worries about climate change. In fact, primates are rapidly going extinct. The most complex primates - great apes - are the most at risk. Excluding us, of course.

What's happening right now, as we speak, is the 6th Great Extinction event, evidently caused by the exponential economic growth of humans. This is partly due to habitat destruction, and partly due to the global warming (and other environmental change, like ocean acidification) already carried out by us. And there's much more to come which is already "in the bank", regardless of what we do right now.

You see, in times past, when global conditions changed, creatures were able to roam to new areas, increasing their chances for survival. We have shut that process down in a major way.

Comment: Re: It's getting hotter still! (Score 1) 612

by Chuck Messenger (#47942081) Attached to: Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

And no matter how much we try, we can't actually burn all the fossil fuel deposited during the Carboniferous era because much of it has become inaccessible. There was no runaway greenhouse effect and complex, multicellular life was doing just fine during the Carboniferous era.

So what you're saying is, as long as we don't get to a runaway greenhouse effect, we're good! I agree with you part-way: if we do get a runaway greenhouse effect, we're done for.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide reached 2000 ppm again during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Again, there was no runaway greenhouse effect and complex land animals were doing just fine. And that period was recent enough that there were no significant differences in solar radiation.

Let's revisit the numbers.

                                800 gtc in atmosphere
                                1,500 gtc in surface biomass (ocean + land)
                                2,300 gtc in soil
                                6,000 gtc in deep-ocean "reactive sediments" (clathrates, I assume)
                                10,000 gtc in fossil fuel
                                27,000 gtc in deep-ocean sediments

The bolded ones are potentially available to be dumped back into the atmosphere, once we figure out how to get to them.

800 gtc puts us at the present 0.04% CO2. If we dump all 16,000 gtc of potential fossil fuel in the atmosphere, that would put our levels up by a factor of 20. In ppm terms, we'd be in the vicinity of 8000 ppm. You're quite confident that at 2000 ppm, we would not have a runaway greenhouse effect which would surely kill us all (and perhaps all other complex life). Are you as confident at 8000 ppm?

The problem dinosaurs had was that they had adapted to a stable climate and therefore couldn't deal with climate change; that's why they died out when the climate finally did change.

The proto-dinos were the ones who survived the most devastating extinction event - the Permian - which was a long-term environmental-change situation. While the dinos were enjoying an adaptive radiation, the remaining proto-mammals lived in the margins thru the Dinosaur Age - perhaps detritus-eaters living underground. The K-T boundary appears to have been an asteroid which probably incinerated all plant life, causing the most complex creatures - the tops of the food chain, i.e. the dinos - to die off.

Mammals and humans succeeded precisely because we are capable of adapting to rapidly changing conditions. That's why we have well regulated body temperatures, strong immune systems, and big brains.

Mammals are delicate. There are lots of ways for us to go down. Complex is not good, in terms of being a hardy survivor.

Comment: Re: It's getting hotter still! (Score 1) 612

by Chuck Messenger (#47940607) Attached to: Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

I responded to this comment of yours:

"... even if we burned all of it, we'd still be on a livable planet (where do you think fossil fuel came from?)"

As I have demonstrated, it is fallacious to assert that because the fossil fuel was once non-fossil, and living things got along just fine, that it would be OK if the carbon were once again in the biosphere - what's the big deal?

What we have to do is to consider our actual circumstances now. It matters not to us whether some other creatures in some other time could survive the environmental conditions we are propelling ourselves into.

Concerning the Cretaceous, there is a critical factor you have not considered. The so-called fossil fuels (i.e. carbon laid down by land plants eons ago) was deposited in the Carboniferous, i.e. around 300 million years ago - i.e. before the dinosaurs. The term "dinosaur juice", referring to oil, is misleading. During the dinosaur period, the vast fossil fuel deposits were already - deposited. If the dinos ever figured out how to burn the fossil fuel, they'd be in the same trouble we are today.

If only they'd had another few million years of evolution before getting slammed by that hunk of space rock, they just might have gotten there, too! In which case they would possibly have wiped both themselves and us proto-mammals out along with them. So it's a good thing they got wiped out first. Now we have the honors of wiping ourselves out, possibly along with the last remaining dinos - the birds.

Comment: Re: It's getting hotter still! (Score 1) 612

by Chuck Messenger (#47933927) Attached to: Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

OK, let's run the numbers on fossil fuel. Here's the total inventory of the biosphere's carbon. "gtc" means giga-tons of carbon. All the numbers are in terms of carbon alone.

                800 gtc in atmosphere
                1,500 gtc in surface biomass (ocean + land)
                2,300 gtc in soil
                6,000 gtc in deep-ocean "reactive sediments" (clathrates, I assume)
                10,000 gtc in fossil fuel
                27,000 gtc in deep-ocean sediments

The total is 47,600 gtc. That's 60 times as much carbon as is currently in the atmosphere. Currently, the atmosphere is 0.04% CO2. So, if we put all the fossil carbon back into the atmosphere, we'd have 2.4% carbon dioxide.

Let's even set aside the apocolyptic greenhouse effects this would have. At this level, your own personal well-being would be impinged upon. In an auditorium, at 1% concentration of carbon dioxide, some people begin to feel drowsy. At 2%, most people feel its effects. Above 2%, it may cause a feeling of heaviness in the chest and/or more frequent and deeper respirations. Acidosis (an acid condition of the blood) may occur.

You see, a couple of things have changed since that carbon got fossilized. For one thing, the Sun is hotter. While the Earth used to be on the outside of the habitable zone, now we're on the inside. So while high levels of CO2 may have helped life along on a cold Earth, now that carbon must remain sequestered or we are hosed.

Which brings me to the other thing that's changed. Early, single-cellular life was adapted to whatever temperature the Earth was at. The first life may well have been extremophile - living off the energy of hot water vents on the bottom of the ocean. Life has adapted over the eons, eventually producing complex creatures such as ourselves, which/who are relatively picky when it comes to environmental conditions. What is now being contemplated is a step function environmental change from which Life will have no time to adapt. At least, not complex life like us. I'm sure the bacteria will figure out it. They always do. Clever little fellows.

Comment: Re:Time for new terminology (Score 1) 612

by Chuck Messenger (#47914557) Attached to: Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

The reason folks are dismissive is because there is a cost to doing something about it. Someone (with a financial stake in it) comes along and tells them "Hey, don't worry - the whole thing's a hoax!". It's called motivated reasoning. The whole "global warming hoax" idea is a very cynically and carefully constructed marketing campaign. One of the many bad consequences of the campaign is that it encourages people to dismiss scientific thinking.

Comment: Re:It's getting hotter still! (Score 1) 612

by Chuck Messenger (#47914491) Attached to: Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

Matters to who? The Earth doesn't care. The Earth's going to do what it's going to do - regardless of anybody's opinion.

The best we can do is to take into account all the information we have and make sense of it with models. What we know makes it pretty clear that A) avg global temperatures are rising, and B) it's because we're dumping fossil carbon into the atmosphere.

Gore's prediction 5 yrs ago that the N Pole could be ice free by now is trotted out by anti-scientific types who want to change the subject from science to politics. Physics doesn't care about politics. If we were smart, we'd focus our thinking on just the physics.

Comment: Bash & PHP (Score 1) 466

Given everything you've said, I suggest you keep using bash and PHP. Invest your effort in mastering the tools you're using. You may be surprised at just how powerful bash can be, for example.

The thing is, unless you really invest the time to master a new technology, it isn't likely to be of much use to you. So master the technologies you're using.

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