I am sorry. I have said that this will be over only in a few days but I did not have the time to do it. Plus I wanted to have a text that actually explains the entire thing so I took my time. I have managed to cut the entire thing by 30% from the original which was small piece of things of what I could have said and the other parts I can use as replies
But even this short overview is one huge post. (Bluewing's style)
Also I know that many people here are not scientists so the text is not full of advanced science and terms that go with it.
I see that global warming is mentioned from time to time on this forum so I think that this forum needs something like this. So who wants to read it, the text is here.
First I want to say how I come across of information that is written here.
I was interested in astronomy and earth science since I was 3 and with the package came global warming as a scientific fact. That was somewhere in 80s and since then it is in my field of interest and I did some research about the topic so I knew basic facts.
But only when I become geology student things actually started to make sense.
Also I observe global temperatures twice a day with the help of internet
The text is very depressing so people who are fighting depression or think that ignorance is bliss should avoid this text. For people who don’t pay much attention this topic this could be even shocking.
Also I want to say that I understand people who say that they have big problems with environmentalists. I have that problem to.
But from the opposite side, I am saying that their measures, plans and fact are far from real picture and that is because someone is turning entire thing into new religion to gain political influence. So if you want political influence you must give hope to people.
I will start with more known facts.
Cause of global warming
Global climate is the outcome of few factors. Activity of the Sun, distance of earth from the Sun, angle between rotation axis and plain in which earth moves around the sun, planets ability to absorb and reflect radiation and chemistry of the atmosphere.
Global warming has started in the moment when humans output of greenhouse gases was bigger than the amount environment can absorb.
To be honest this is not 100% true.
True picture is that environment was more of less balanced until humans started to pump out greenhouse gases and concentration started to grow. What I am saying is that there were greenhouse gases in atmosphere before industrial revolution (they are there since earth was formed and concentrations.
Major gases in this story are carbon dioxide (this is key one), methane and some nitrogen oxides. But there are countless others.
Ok, problem is in this, carbon dioxide is created in use of oil, coal, natural gas and in forest fires. It is used by plants and algae, so these organisms are lowering concentration of these gases, also oceans can turn it into a limestone. But the first and second processes are very slow, so if we reduce emission to 0 (this is impossible by the way) it will take centuries to get back to normal values. Methane and nitrogen oxides also are hard to remove and environment is absorbing them through some slow and complicated natural processes. Methane is mostly product of cattle industry and nitrogen oxides of heavy industry and food production. Bottom line is: if we look at the next 10 - 20 yearseverything emitted stays there (removal is too slow).
Also emissions of undeveloped world are rapidly going up. And forests that are sucking out the carbon dioxide from atmosphere are replaced with crops for this already overpopulated region (world).
That was the cause now here is how entire thing actually works.
Best evidence for global warming is in the Artic region (North Pole) because there are large quantities of ice there. Every year large amount melts in spring and summer and this is wholly natural and entire thing freezes once again in autumn and winter.
Because of this every year you have panic in media something like «Oh my god north pole will melt away in 10 months with current rate.»,environmentalist triumph all over society whit slogan «I told you and you did not believe me, you are really such a loser! ».
6 month after that mass freeze starts at autumn and environmentalist fall in depression screaming «how is this possible I have put everything in this end of the world thing». US congress urgently wants to hear Al Gores thoughts on this and how he explains current situation on the North Pole.
Also media are full of conservative politicians saying something like «We knew this will end like this, because data show it in the start and I assure you that this is just liberal hoax to damage our economy. There is really nothing sacred to those people! ».
Now you may ask me. OK, where is the catch?
Catch is in this, when mass freeze stops at the end of winter and new cycle begins polar ice cap is a «little» bit smaller then in the end of the last cycle.
I am not certain that this works for absolutely all years in the last decades but trends are clear.
Also there is one hidden mechanism that makes entire thing much more problematic.
Mechanism is this: if ice melts the remaining ice starts to melt faster.
This is because of two reasons.
First: ice reflects 90% of suns radiation while ice free sea reflects only about 10% and spends remaining energy to warm up, so more ice can melt away and that makes things even more catastrophic. In case you are skeptical about this you can do simple experiment. On warm (over 25°C) and sunny day take two T-shirts.
One white and one dark blue and make sure they have same composition and that they fit you in the same way. Then put on white one and be at direct sunlight for 15 minutes, then put dark blue one and stand on direct sunlight again for 15 minutes and then compare in which was easier to stand for 15 minutes at direct sunlight. On cold days you would just feel cold.
Why all those organisms in sea water can breaths in it?
Reason is that there is solved oxygen in water. Same thing is also with the greenhouse gases. But when water freezes greenhouse gases stay trapped in ice.
So, all ice caps on earth are actually giant storages of greenhouse gases. And when they start to melt large amounts of greenhouse gases are escaping into the atmosphere and to make things worse we have autumn/ winter freeze every year which reconstructs most of ice but with new amount of greenhouse gases taken from water and ready to be pumped into the atmosphere next spring/summer. Some gas manages to be trapped every year because they return back to sea from atmosphere but large amount is new one. Also ice floats on water so when ice melts in spring and summer it surface is above water so gases have easy time escaping in to the atmosphere.
So the conclusion is that north pole is excavating it own grave and it will be very hard to stop the process because we are talking about millions of square kilometers melting/freezing in only few months but with the melting trend.
Because all of this, it looks to me that North Pole can’t be saved even if we reduce our emission of greenhouse gases for 80 – 90% in next few years.
I think like this because everything what is emitted is removed too slowly so concentration is just growing on a short run, plus reasons mentioned above.
(I am using these percentages only to show how mechanisms work) For example if at the end of cycle, ice cap is 5% smaller than in the end of previous cycle that means that after next cycle it will be 10% smaller then two years ago, because those same greenhouse gases are still there and if you add feedback and raise of concentration in equation then it is more like 13%.
That means condition to melt the entire ice cap completely are already met
(concentration is already sufficient)!
Also this is scenario where we reduce emission of greenhouse gases drastically, But in reality emission of the world are sky rocketing and world is planning construction of hundreds and hundreds of power plants that burn fossil fuels and number of vehicles with engine is growing very fast. Plus industrial production is on the rapid raise. That will result with ultra fast melt in the future. Also it doesn’t matter where are those raises of emissions because we all share same atmosphere and global winds can disperse those gases all over the globe.
In the end only one question remains: When?
Best way to calculate this is to compare sizes of polar caps in the end of spring / summer melt and then full picture is clear.
For example at the end of melt season 2006 cap was about 1000000 square kilometers larger then after catastrophically strong melt in summer 2007. That leads to conclusion that after melt 2008 ice cap will be 1000000 square kilometers smaller then after the melt in 2007. Actually it should be even bigger difference because starting ice is smaller and two already mentioned reasons (why ice is melting so fast), plus concentration of greenhouse gases is higher.
1000000 square kilometers is square 1000x1000 km.
There are forces that could buy us year or two but explanation would take too long.
When you start to think like this and project this conclusions on next few years you get the picture that Arctic will be ice free early as summer 2011. In winters there will be small ice cap again but every winter it will be smaller and smaller ice cap, as years goes by.
In every way you look at this, it is drastic reduction of time from what is accepted in public. In public year of ice free Arctic is some year between 2040 and 2050.
So, why is there so big difference in years?
In late 80s it became obvious that warming trends exist and scientific research started and conclusion was: ice free Arctic in the mid 21.century.
However scientists did not include some future stuff in equation (that stuff are in our past).Stuff like huge economy boom in all far east countries , drastic deforestation in undeveloped world to create large crops for booming population and large die off of algae in oceans. Those algae are actually the biggest consumers of carbon dioxide in the world.
The Biggest die off was in waters around Antarctic. It is because carbon dioxide can infiltrate the sea and turn it in more acidic place than it is natural (we are used to).
Second reason is famous ozone hole in ozone mantle above Antarctic and that means that solar radiation has killed those algae.
In public global warming and problem with ozone layer/ holes is the same topic.
But scientifically those are two separated problems. However few interactions like this one exist.
Some people think we should use fertilizers to increase number of algae in sea.
That project will fail, because that way you are only creating more food for organisms that eats them and that will increase their number so they will eat more algae. And then predator of that species will start too multiply eating that species and other one which number was not raised so species goes into the extinction. Also that species was predator for someone.
My point is that all animals die in the end because food chain is destroyed plus billions of people now have nothing to eat.
So today we can say that equation from 80s is inaccurate and all these reasons have greatly increased the speed of entire thing and then entire thing was multiplied with already mentioned two reasons how / why is Arctic melting so fast. From my experience environmentalists have big problem with this because it attacks many of their plans.
I think this explains very nicely where we lost 30 – 50 years.
From all of this is quite clear that we can start building north poles gravestone today and once you accept idea that entire thing will gone in front of you eyes your picture of worlds future can’t be the same.
How Global warming will impacts the modern world?
To me it looks like impact will be catastrophic and here is why.
As North Pole melts more and more sea surface will be without ice. Which disappears and that means we will lose cooling system.
In normal situation we have tropical oceans to absorb sunlight and consequence of that is warming of the oceans which then are warming the atmosphere. But there is a small ice cap that reflects sunlight at the pole so the sun is not warming ocean beneath the ice so air remains cold and then that air get mixed with warm air created by oceans you get happy medium as a result. But when you remove that small ice cap you get warming on both places.
Arctic sea is small and receives small amount of sunlight because of geographic position but it is still enough to raise global temperatures for a few degrees plus all greenhouse gases that will escape to atmosphere from ice. Few degrees does not sound like a lot until you consider the fact that during last ice age average global temperature was only 5 degrees Celsius lower then now but that was enough to cause situation where all northern continents are covered by ice by 50%.
Also from practice you know that when your body temperature is raised for a few degrees you can’t function normally.
Same works for life on earth as we know it.
Many times when some people talk about global warming they are talking about some natural cycles of earth and how they can change things naturally.
Carbon cycle is one such an example.
This argument is bull.
The fossil fuels that we are using today were slowly created during the Phanerozoic what means in the last 550 million years.
And that means that all that carbon which took so long to store. We have released in hundred years. I am sorry, but there is no more carbon cycle about which people talk about. We have overloaded the entire system.
Before industrial revolution concentration of carbon dioxide was
270 PPM (part per million) now it is about 400 PPM. What is increase of about 50%.
Plus oceans have sucked huge parts of it and prevented even bigger concentration. But now oceans are more acidic place so many species have problem with this. Here is analogy. Try to imagine a company that is doing business for decade and they are at 0 with profit but people who work there can live their lives from what they earn there. Now imagine what happens when expenses of company go up for 50% overnight and stay like that permanently. The company is finished.
Even if carbon dioxide is not guilty for global warming (as some people believe) it is still destroying the marine ecosystem and that will cause serious problems when it comes to feeding the growing population of the world.
When you talk to average environmentalist he will tell you that the entire problem will be solved just by planting more trees.
Scientifically that is nonsense. To do that, we would have to destroy all crops and cities and slaughter billions of people around the world to create space to grow the trees and animals in which that carbon was once stored. People believe that tree can absorb huge amount of carbon dioxide with time so that it no longer a threat to us.
But that would mean that the mass of the trees would be huge.
The fact is that forest is not destroying carbon atoms it is just using them to increase its mass and …..
In the scenario in which we destroy huge parts of the civilization just to get the things as they were and place carbon atoms were they were. There would be no major difference.
In that case you would find that the entire biomass is restored but you still have a way too much carbon dioxide in the environment. And that carbon dioxide is the one that was created by burning of the fossil fuels and it was not a part of our environment some 500 years ago. So saying how climate looked like in Middle Ages or 7000 years ago is pointless because we don’t have same system anymore. Our system in the current state has much more carbon atoms in it. So creating some parallels with climate which existed few centuries ago is pointless if you are looking for the truth.
Also we can’t just pump that gas back into the oil wells because we are talking about gas which has much larger volume then liquid plus it that would require huge amount of energy. First you need to suck it from the atmosphere and then to pump it deep below the ground. Sorry but this is not going to work.
But even if someone tries to rebuild biomass that existed only few centuries ago his/her plan is doomed.
When you raise global temperature for few degrees you will have larger evaporation of water from ocean and more rain on continents.
Skeptics usually like this and say that entire global warming is actually excellent process because it will greatly decrease desert areas of the world. But there are few catches that can be easily overlooked.
Warmer climate means that rain is coming in waves and not step by step. Just try to remember how rainy day looks like in Caribbean islands and how it looks like in sub polar region. This greatly increases percentage of so called useless rain. When large amount of rain falls to the ground, soil can’t absorb all of it and you get flood that creates additional, damage. So large amount of water does not stay in region to keep soil wet instead it is creating serious damage on its way back to ocean but that is not all.
Just as global warming is increasing ocean evaporation it is also increasing evaporation of water from soil and plants. Plus rain now comes in waves so plant life has to wait longer and in dryer environment.
There is one more argument in this field.
Many rivers are very long. But if evaporation increases for 2% that will lead to catastrophe because that means that river is loosing 2% more water here and 2% more 100 kilometers down the river. What mean that river will loose very large amount of water on the long fun. As the water lever drops the amount of water drops so it is easier to warm up the water what will further increase evaporation.
Also if the wind patterns are such that they take that moisture far away the region is set for the drainage.
If we are talking about rivers that are going through valleys there will be one more mechanism at work here.
In this environment river represents the level of underground water so if river level drops the water from the soil that is around the river will try to balance itself with water level of river. What means that water level in soil will drop and in that way it will leave roots of many plants without water. Plants with more shallow roots (crops) have higher vulnerability to this.
Many global warming skeptics also like argument that earth through its history has experienced much warmer global climate and a few time larger concentrations of greenhouse gases, and they are correct.
This time catch is in this - evolution. If you believe that earth is 6000 years old you can’t use this spectrum of argument but some conservative politicians are doing it anyway.
Many millions years ago life was build from completely different species and that species were adapted for living in that world but modern species are not. There are even better arguments in this field. Evolution is very, very, very slow process and naturally climate change is also very slow so you need a lot of time if we want change that is easier to spot. In warmer geological periods large parts of all continents were covered with deserts. So if deserts start to spread quickly we will have nowhere to place huge amount of people which are alive today or grow food for them.
When climate is changing slowly it gives enough time for plant life to move towards north or south depending on is it warming of cooling and animals are always around plants that are right for them. So the entire thing goes smoothly.
Now take a look at the modern world, if humans start large crop production on large area or build a city, they create barrier that plants can’t evade when they are «fleeing» towards north with each generation.
For animals biggest problem are highways but even if they somehow pass, plant life that was right for them is left behind plus now they become problem for ecosystems that are already more northern.
They are problem because they may not have natural enemies there or consume some other species as food too fast and exterminate it that way. Than prey of that species start to multiply like insane and exterminate it pray and then their number falls drastically. So, step by step this entire ecosystem crashes. Basic principles in that crash are like crashes of economy (chain reaction).
Because if emission of carbon dioxide are sky rocketing and it looks like we will get some more out of polar ice, so definitively the last thing we need is total chaos in remaining forests of the world.
Also we can’t regulate interactions of these species because mostly we are talking about insects and microorganisms. Only thing we can is to exterminate entire ecosystems with some poison.
Once again it looks like that any analogy with the past is pointless.
Perhaps in this rapid warming, the biggest problem is maintaining of glaciers. Glaciers are actually ice caps in small.
For glacier to be stabile you need some water to join and exactly same amount to melt away. If you don’t have balance that means that glacier is growing or it is getting smaller.
If it is getting larger it will eventually merge with other glaciers and form new ice cap that will spread itself across continent.
If it is getting smaller it will melt away.
Through human history these mechanisms were in balance = glaciers of the same size.
Around the planet glaciers exist in places where you have balance and that is usually in cold mountain areas. Even if amount of incoming material is 0.5% lower than amount that melts away glacier is doomed and melting process is like ice cap.
More ice you lost the remaining one will melt faster.
Here is how glacier works.
Clouds are above the ground where is much colder and they are dropping cold rain near glacier or on glacier.
When that cold water comes in contact with glacier it freezes and glacier becomes larger, and when storm passes glacier slowly melts creating fresh water.
I have good practical example for this.
(From this point things will be totally grim)
Take for example South America and Australia.
S. America is two times larger and it spreads more toward north and south then Australia but my point is that both continents are near equator (the warmest part of earth).
Now I will compare those two continents.
S. America - is one of the most fertile continents. Northern half is dominated by the largest rainforest in the world with the biggest river system in the world. Southern half is covered with huge pasture area for cattle and it is very good for crops.
Australia - over 80% of this continent is desert or half desert, there is no rainforest or large river system just desert. It is the driest continent. So why are major cities in Australia on the coast? Because there is no reason for big city to exist is that dry desert. I think we all know how Australian outback looks like.
Now let us take brief look on distribution of ice on all seven continents
(N, America, S. America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and Antarctic).
When you scan all seven of them you will realize that only one has no ice on it, and try to guess which one is it.
It is Australia.
Is it a coincidence? I don’t think so.