Climate Change

This is a thread to discuss global warming and climate change. This will also be a repository of articles about the issue. Today at the NPR site, there was an article on how global warming is irreversible. See “Global Warming is Irreversible, Study Says”. Grim news.

I’m wondering if there is a way to “suck” or “absorb” CO2 and other global warming gasses. I’m thinking of giant blimps that float in the atmosphere carrying some absorbing mechanism (plants? or some machine or chemical) (It would be great if we could find someway to convert it to energy. I wonder if the gradual warming could be used to generate energy, too.)

The other thing is that instead of reducing carbon emissions, which seems to be the primary goal of dealing with climate change, what about making reduction of the earth’s temperature the goal? That might lead to different ways of approaching the problem. (I think I read this from an article.)

“Climate Change Shocks Scientists” is an article that came out last year. I originally posted this in the “What Are You Reading 2008” thread, but I wanted to put the link here, too.

11 Responses to “Climate Change”


  1. Reid

    This Atlantic article, Copehagen, US vs. China, gives an update on the climate change talks going on now. Apparently, the US via Sec. Clinton has just offered to contribute a $100 billion for developing nations (which is a surprising development), but it is contingent on China allowing independent inspectors to verify that they’re meeting emission’s targets.

  2. Reid

    This was an interesting article on ocean carbon sequestration. Basically, we could pump Co2 into deep ocean waters–where it would sink to the bottom in liquid form–in order to prevent it from getting into the atmosphere and shallower waters (where the Co2 would cause acidification that could harm the ecosystem).j Eventually, the Co2 would surface, but scientist predict only after hundreds, maybe thousands of years.

    It feels risky, but doing nothing might be worse. (The article also discusses burying the Co2 underground, but there seems to be too much political opposition to this.)

  3. Reid

    Weird Coalition Sounding the Alarm Global Warming. The CIA, PricecoopersWaterhouse accounting firm, and the World Bank came out with reports about dire problems head from global warming.

    I understand the political difficulties of bringing this issue up, and there are indications that President Obama is committed to addressing this, but I feel like he and many others lack the sense of urgency for this issue.

  4. Reid

    From Atlantic.comFive Charts About Climate Change That Should Have you Very Very Worried

    From the New York Times: Study Finds that West Antartica Warming Faster Than Thought

    The following comes from the Atlantic piece I linked above:

    I want to highlight some key points from this fifteen minute TED talk. Before I do I must say that I don’t know who Dave Roberts is, and I don’t know if his statements are credible. It certainly seems alarmist and somewhat extreme. But he’s not the first person who has been saying things like this, so I put some stock into the following claims. In any event, I think dismissing the claims would be highly irresponsible and foolish:

    “If we keep doing what we’re now doing, we’re almost certainly headed for catastrophe.”

    To have a chance at controlling the earth’s temperature–that is, to prevent it from escalating (in the video he mentions positive feedback loops that can be triggered, leading to an unstoppable escalation of the earth’s temperature), the earth’s temperature has to be plateau and go down by in the next five to ten years. That’s a mighty small window. Moreover, according to one study, every year we delay in stopping this problem, the cost of addressing the problem goes up by $500 billion.

  5. Reid

    Honestly, I haven’t had much of a stomach for articles about this topic, just because they would depress me, but also increase myself of helplessness. But for some reason I read Charles C. Mann’s Atlantic article, How to Talk About Climate Change so People Will Listen.

    What’s interesting is the way the article sees to by a hybrid of book reviews and a stand-alone piece on the public discourse of environmental problems, concentrating mostly on climate change. To me, it’s ambitious and largely successful. Mann utilizes a historical framework to connect the books and also manages to reveal interesting insights about climate change. Yet, one need not be interested in climate change to find this article worth reading–if you appreciate good writing, I’d recommend this.

    What impressed me is the effectiveness of the historical framework For example, the article reveals a pattern about the nature of these discussions–specifically, that the people on either side of the debate (usually environmentalists, on one hand, and business people, on the other) have exaggerated their sides. Mann suggests (or maybe even asserts, I can’t recall) that’s what’s happening now-that is, the consequences of climate change are not as cataclysmic and imminent as the climate change scientists assert and the solutions to these problems are not equally costly and cataclysmic to the economy. In other words, the problem is manageable.

    I really hope Mann is correct. Unfortunately, he doesn’t offer any compelling evidence for this–unless you count the fact that other environmental problems have been more manageable then either side of the issue thought. That does suggest that climate change is similar, but the situation could be significantly different from previous environmental challenges. Again, Mann doesn’t address this. This isn’t meant as an attack on the article so much as an expression of disappointment on my part. I want to be convinced that this problem is like previous ones!

    Later, Mann suggests a very reasonable way to approach climate change, via a comment Richard Feynman, the famous physicist, made to him. Feynman mentioned instances in science where one theory/explanation didn’t dominate and therefore no clear direction existed. In such cases, Feynman tried to determine an approach that would make sense no matter which theory turned out be correct. What would that approach be for climate change? For Mann, the answer is coal, namely retrofitting power plants that burn coal. Here’s why: a relatively small number of power plants (7,000) pump about 40% of the world’s carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Retrofitting the power plants is more feasible than alternatives–such as instituting a worldwide carbon tax.

    There are other interesting insights, and, again, it’s well-written.

  6. Reid
  7. Reid

    For those who may have doubts about the significance of climate change: We Had All Better Hope These Scientists Are Wrong About the Planet’s Future

    The Atlantic also had a article discussing the challenge with discussing the above article. To me, nothing the author says really changes how serious the matter is….

    …In a way, I feel reading/posting these articles are almost pointless. What am I supposed to do upon learning this information? It seems like very little can be done on an individual level. Don’t really have any good answers to this.

  8. Reid

    I saw several mentions of this Atlantic. It seemed to be about a Woolly Mamoth, so I had zero interest in the article. But several people I track on twitter promoted it, so I gave it shot–the enthusiasm was justified, and I would recommend it to you guys. While the ideas are interesting, I don’t know if they’ll work; but the article itself is fascinating.

    The article is about an interesting way to combat the deleterious effects of climate change–by addressing a specific problem involving permafrost. In the Artic region, permafrost lies beneath the surface soil, and usually remains frozen during warming times of the year. Because of global warming, there’s a chance this permafrost could melt. The consequence?

    If this intercontinental ice block warms too quickly, its thawing will send as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere each year as do all of America’s SUVs, airliners, container ships, factories, and coal-burning plants combined. It could throw the planet’s climate into a calamitous feedback loop, in which faster heating begets faster melting. The more apocalyptic climate-change scenarios will be in play. Coastal population centers could be swamped. Oceans could become more acidic. A mass extinction could rip its way up from the plankton base of the marine food chain. Megadroughts could expand deserts and send hundreds of millions of refugees across borders, triggering global war.

    If you don’t want to read the article, I’m going to tell you the solution featured in the article. The solution involves re-creating the biome that existed in the Pleisteocene Age–aka, the Ice Age.

    If Nikita has his way, Pleistocene Park will spread across Arctic Siberia and into North America, helping to slow the thawing of the Arctic permafrost. Were that frozen underground layer to warm too quickly, it would release some of the world’s most dangerous climate-change accelerants into the atmosphere, visiting catastrophe on human beings and millions of other species.

  9. Reid

    I don’t know if this has happened before, but I’ve never seen pictures like this, and it’s pretty disturbing:

  10. Reid

    Interesting conservative take on Paris Climate Change deal (that Trump is withdrawing from).

  11. Reid

    Cool graphic/comic strip showing the earth’s rising temperature over time. Good for those who rebut climate change with climate has always been changing.

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