TIME FOR CALIFORNIA TO CONCENTRATE ON MITIGATION
I sent this letter recently to a top California Senator
Time for California to concentrate on GW mitigation.
Numerous scientific studies indicate that we are already suffering in California and globally from global warming (climate change) impacts that will continue and accelerate. Some of these impacts are erratic rains, minimal snow storage, increasing desertification, higher temperatures leading to higher demands for shrinking water supplies, loss of productive lands and lower food production. Also sea level rise that will displace millions from low ground regions.
The Earth already passed 400 ppm of CO2 and globally we continue to emit it at the same immense levels of over 30 billion tons a year! Even if we stopped all global CO2 emissions today, in 100 years it will still be at 70% of current levels, and in a thousand year at 40% of current level. We are on an irreversible path, the glaciers and North Sea polar ice have shrank drastically and can not serve as efficient reflectors of sun energy as it used to be to stabilize the global temperatures.
Greenland massive ice coverage, a critical store of global-scale ice, is showing some unstable and troubling phenomena already. The oceans, which have been the major sink of CO2 for a million year, are now warmer and thus less able to absorb CO2. With additional heating the oceans could be net emitters of the stored CO2 and face drastic reduction in seafood production.
In addition, the oceans are the key absorbers of the additional energy generated by GW and moderated the rise in global air temperature in the process. As the ocean temperature rises by this energy absorption, it will reduce the effectiveness of this crucial heat-sink and the global air temperatures could rise faster.
Switching to natural gas (methane) would not improve the situation since on a 20 years scale unburned Methane is 80 times! more damaging to the atmosphere than coal burning, and 35 times at a 100 years scale. Any leaks above 1% would overshadow any advantage of using NG compare to coal. And it is impossible to keep the unburned leaks so low on a vast industrial setting covering much of the US.
At the same time both Germany and China are increasing significantly their use of coal.
These are but some glimpses of the global changes we are unable to stop, and unable to reverse. And we continue to ignore the elephant in the room and conduct business as if all is normal and will continue to be so. It will not!
The attached article (others said it earlier) amplifies what we suspected for years that the situation is graver than most expected. We are still unwilling to accept reality.
California government worked diligently to cut greenhouse gases as much as it could, but obviously, it does not matter globally what we do here since California contribution to greenhouse gases is one percent of the global total.
It is time to change course, time for mitigation of coming severe impacts.
People are inherently self centered and designed to deal effectively with immediate survival issues. We are considerably less able to deal with future events. We are unable to sacrifice now for future human survival. And human nature would not change in the face of GW, may be until it is too late.
California needs to reduce its high spending on non-critical GHG reductions, such as the Bullet Train that will increase GHG for years to come during construction - while its ability to reduce long term emissions is seriously doubtful. The close to $100 billions for that train would be much better spent on low-cost/high- effectiveness GW reduction projects with quick reductions only.
We must concentrate our effort not on being "an example to the world," as California loves to be, but on reducing the severe impacts of rising sea levels, drastic reduction in water supplies and other impacts we already expect. Otherwise we would face grave survival issues for much of our 40 million population.
For example, Sacramento is at sea level and practically connected to the ocean. Unless we change the situation sea level rise is expected to flood Sacramento despite its seemingly long distance from the ocean.
It takes many years to design and develop the large-scale mitigation tools and structures that we will need to protect the people of California. We need to start this crucial process now to protect our state to the level we can.
Since we are unable globally to reduce the rapid rise in GW we also need to start now to study and develop geoengineering tools to minimize and slow down the most drastic impacts of global warming. It may take decades to develop the tools and test them on a limited scale to reduce the likelihood of unexpected out of control impacts.
We need to start mitigation statewide and geoengineering planning globally now.
Dr. of Environmental Science and Engineering
Planet likely to warm by 4C by 2100, scientists warn
New climate model taking greater account of cloud changes indicates heating will be at higher end of expectations
• "Rises in global average temperatures of [at least 4C by 2100] will have profound impacts on the world and the economies of many countries if we don't urgently start to curb our emissions."
• The Guardian, Tuesday 31 December 2013 09.02 EST Damian Carrington
The role clouds play in climate change has been something of a mystery - until now. Photograph: Frank Rumpenhorst/ Frank Rumpenhorst/dpa/Corbis
Temperature rises resulting from unchecked climate change will be at the severe end of those projected, according to a new scientific study.
The scientist leading the research said that unless emissions of greenhouse gases were cut, the planet would heat up by a minimum of 4C by 2100, twice the level the world's governments deem dangerous.
The research indicates that fewer clouds form as the planet warms, meaning less sunlight is reflected back into space, driving temperatures up further still. The way clouds affect global warming has been the biggest mystery surrounding future climate change.
Professor Steven Sherwood, at the University of New South Wales, in Australia, who led the new work, said: "This study breaks new ground twice: first by identifying what is controlling the cloud changes and second by strongly discounting the lowest estimates of future global warming in favour of the higher and more damaging estimates."
"4C would likely be catastrophic rather than simply dangerous," Sherwood told the Guardian. "For example, it would make life difficult, if not impossible, in much of the tropics, and would guarantee the eventual melting of the Greenland ice sheet and some of the Antarctic ice sheet", with sea levels rising by many meters as a result.
The research is a "big advance" that halves the uncertainty about how much warming is caused by rises in carbon emissions, according to scientists commenting on the study, published in the journal Nature. Hideo Shiogama and Tomoo Ogura, at Japan's National Institute for Environmental Studies, said the explanation of how fewer clouds form as the world warms was "convincing", and agreed this indicated future climate would be greater than expected. But they said more challenges lay ahead to narrow down further the projections of future temperatures.
Scientists measure the sensitivity of the Earth's climate to greenhouse gases by estimating the temperature rise that would be caused by a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere compared with pre-industrial levels - as is likely to happen within 50 years, on current trends. For two decades, those estimates have run from 1.5C to 5C, a wide range; the new research narrowed that range to between 3C and 5C, by closely examining the biggest cause of uncertainty: clouds.
The key was to ensure that the way clouds form in the real world was accurately represented in computer climate models, which are the only tool researchers have to predict future temperatures. When water evaporates from the oceans, the vapour can rise over nine miles to form rain clouds that reflect sunlight; or it may rise just a few miles and drift back down without forming clouds. In reality, both processes occur, and climate models encompassing this complexity predicted significantly higher future temperatures than those only including the nine-mile-high clouds.
"Climate sceptics like to criticise climate models for getting things wrong, and we are the first to admit they are not perfect," said Sherwood. "But what we are finding is that the mistakes are being made by the models which predict less warming, not those that predict more."
He added: "Sceptics may also point to the 'hiatus' of temperatures since the end of the 20th century, but there is increasing evidence that this inaptly named hiatus is not seen in other measures of the climate system, and is almost certainly temporary."
Global average air temperatures have increased relatively slowly since a high point in 1998 caused by the ocean phenomenon El Niño, but observations show that heat is continuing to be trapped in increasing amounts by greenhouse gases, with over 90% disappearing into the oceans. Furthermore, a study in November suggested the "pause" may be largely an illusion resulting from the lack of temperature readings from polar regions, where warming is greatest.
Sherwood accepts his team's work on the role of clouds cannot definitively rule out that future temperature rises will lie at the lower end of projections. "But," he said, for that to be the case, "one would need to invoke some new dimension to the problem involving a major missing ingredient for which we currently have no evidence. Such a thing is not out of the question but requires a lot of faith."
"Rises in global average temperatures of [at least 4C by 2100] will have profound impacts on the world and the economies of many countries if we don't urgently start to curb our emissions."
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