CO2 higher today than last 2.1 million years

Jun 18, 2009
CO2 higher today than last 2.1 million years
This is Bärbel Hönisch with a mass spectrometer used to measure boron isotopes to reconstruct past CO2. Credit: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Researchers have reconstructed atmospheric carbon dioxide levels over the past 2.1 million years in the sharpest detail yet, shedding new light on its role in the earth's cycles of cooling and warming.

The study, in the June 19 issue of the journal Science, is the latest to rule out a drop in CO2 as the cause for earth's ice ages growing longer and more intense some 850,000 years ago. But it also confirms many researchers' suspicion that higher levels coincided with warmer intervals during the study period.

The authors show that peak CO2 levels over the last 2.1 million years averaged only 280 parts per million; but today, CO2 is at 385 parts per million, or 38% higher. This finding means that researchers will need to look back further in time for an analog to modern day .

In the study, Bärbel Hönisch, a geochemist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and her colleagues reconstructed CO2 levels by analyzing the shells of single-celled plankton buried under the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Africa. By dating the shells and measuring their ratio of boron isotopes, they were able to estimate how much CO2 was in the air when the plankton were alive. This method allowed them to see further back than the precision records preserved in cores of polar ice, which go back only 800,000 years.

The planet has undergone cyclic ice ages for millions of years, but about 850,000 years ago, the cycles of ice grew longer and more intense—a shift that some scientists have attributed to falling CO2 levels. But the study found that CO2 was flat during this transition and unlikely to have triggered the change.

"Previous studies indicated that CO2 did not change much over the past 20 million years, but the resolution wasn't high enough to be definitive," said Hönisch. "This study tells us that CO2 was not the main trigger, though our data continues to suggest that greenhouse gases and global climate are intimately linked."

The timing of the ice ages is believed to be controlled mainly by the earth's orbit and tilt, which determines how much sunlight falls on each hemisphere. Two million years ago, the earth underwent an every 41,000 years. But some time around 850,000 years ago, the cycle grew to 100,000 years, and ice sheets reached greater extents than they had in several million years—a change too great to be explained by orbital variation alone.

A global drawdown in CO2 is just one theory proposed for the transition. A second theory suggests that advancing glaciers in North America stripped away soil in Canada, causing thicker, longer lasting ice to build up on the remaining bedrock. A third theory challenges how the cycles are counted, and questions whether a transition happened at all.

The low carbon dioxide levels outlined by the study through the last 2.1 million years make modern day levels, caused by industrialization, seem even more anomalous, says Richard Alley, a glaciologist at Pennsylvania State University, who was not involved in the research.

"We know from looking at much older climate records that large and rapid increase in C02 in the past, (about 55 million years ago) caused large extinction in bottom-dwelling ocean creatures, and dissolved a lot of shells as the ocean became acidic," he said. "We're heading in that direction now."

The idea to approximate past carbon dioxide levels using boron, an element released by erupting volcanoes and used in household soap, was pioneered over the last decade by the paper's coauthor Gary Hemming, a researcher at Lamont-Doherty and Queens College. The study's other authors are Jerry McManus, also at Lamont; David Archer at the University of Chicago; and Mark Siddall, at the University of Bristol, UK.

Source: The Earth Institute at Columbia University (news : web)

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omatumr
2.6 / 5 (17) Jun 18, 2009
CONTRADICTORY FINDINGS?

The study supposedly rules out "a drop in CO2 as the cause for earth's ice ages" and it confirms "that higher carbon dioxide levels coincided with warmer intervals."

Since CO2 = carbon dioxide, is it reasonable to conclude that this gaseous plant food has nothing to do with climate change?

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
http://www.omatumr.com

Velanarris
2.7 / 5 (14) Jun 18, 2009
The research out there is starting to pile up showing CO2 is not linked to global temperature in a causative manner. Science has returned.
Shootist
2.4 / 5 (14) Jun 18, 2009
How about reporting on REAL greenhouse gases like methane and water vapor rather than continuing this CO2 canard?
Ronan
4.3 / 5 (6) Jun 18, 2009
Omatumr: Read a bit more carefully. This article isn't ruling out fluctuating CO2 levels as a mechanism to amplify the effects of orbital changes on Earth's temperature. Rather, it's ruling out changing CO2 levels as a cause for the (apparently) sudden change in duration and intensity of the ice ages about 850,000 years ago. CO2's importance to the ice age cycle itself is still quite intact; it's the changes to that cycle that, apparently, it didn't have anything to do with.

...Which is kind of fascinating, really. One suspect's been let off the hook; what else might have been responsible for that shift, I wonder?
GrayMouser
2.7 / 5 (12) Jun 18, 2009
When you combine this with prior research that shows CO2 level changes trailing climate changes you are led to the conclusion that CO2 is NOT a prime (or even a middling) driver of the climate.
This also explains how the Earth recovered from CO2 levels 10 to 20 times modern levels. Far past the so-called point of no return in the modern press.
out7x
2.8 / 5 (9) Jun 19, 2009
Yes, Milankovich cycles dominate over CO2 levels.
Ronan
5 / 5 (7) Jun 19, 2009
GrayMouser: Well, if I understand it correctly the idea is not that CO2 actually CAUSED the climate to leave ice ages; that, as Out7x (partially) points out, was due to the Milankovitch cycles. However, once the Earth started warming and CO2 levels began rising, the increased greenhouse effect from the extra CO2 would have acted as a positive feedback, raising temperatures further, which released more CO2, which raised temperatures further, etc. That process would continue until the climate reached a new equilibrium (i.e, settled into an interglacial period). The same effect would follow the exit from an ice age; orbital forcings lower temperature, CO2 begins to dissolve in the oceans, the planet cools further, more CO2 is dissolved...and so on, and so on.



As for the high prehistoric CO2 levels (in the thousands of ppm, weren't they? Correct me if that's too high/low), remember that the sun was also cooler then; the combination of cooler sun and higher CO2 concentrations would have balanced each other out. Now, though, the sun's a tad...feverish compared to then, so concentrations that would have been well and good in those days are rather intimidating for us.
superhuman
3 / 5 (6) Jun 19, 2009
So, we don't know what triggers ice ages, but what we do know is that ice ages are very real, much more so then any supposed doom brought by global warming.

If CO2 concentration contributes to warming then it certainly contributes to decreasing the intensity and duration of ice ages and if raised high enough it might even help avert the next ice age completely.

This is quite relevant as the next ice age should start pretty soon (if not already overdue):
http://en.wikiped...etit.png

Judging from the above graph the mechanism which kills global temperature after each warm period is pretty robust and since we are not even sure what it is (apparently M cycles are not strong enough on their own) we can't say how it will play out next time around.

It is possible that our CO2 emissions will prevent the downfall altogether, we will enter an exceptionally warm period and some countries will end up flooded, it is however also possible that our CO2 emissions won't even make a dent in the downfall and some countries will end up kilometers under ice.

The least probable scenario is that the Earth's climate will somehow stabilize itself.

Unfortunately, and in contrast to scientists themselves, science cannot tell us which way the climate will go since science only speaks through experimentally verified models. When it comes to global climate such models are nonexistent and due to timescales involved should not be expected any time soon.

So in the meantime we can keep on guessing, somebody's bound to be right.
Yes
1 / 5 (3) Jun 19, 2009
Mmm. If the sun is cooler/dimmer, then the plants/algae on average will use bit more oxygen, produce a bit more CO2 and produce a bit less oxygen. This will then increase the CO2 level in the atmosphere. So if CO2 would be linked to global warming, then this CO2 increase will occur at times when the sun gets dimmer, to heat up the globe and avoid extreme temperature changes.
Together with the CO2 disolving in water to H30 and HCO3- at lower temps.
A nice example of stabilizing retroalimentation.

Just my two cents theory though.
Velanarris
3.4 / 5 (5) Jun 19, 2009
Mmm. If the sun is cooler/dimmer, then the plants/algae on average will use bit more oxygen, produce a bit more CO2 and produce a bit less oxygen. This will then increase the CO2 level in the atmosphere. So if CO2 would be linked to global warming, then this CO2 increase will occur at times when the sun gets dimmer, to heat up the globe and avoid extreme temperature changes.

Together with the CO2 disolving in water to H30 and HCO3- at lower temps.

A nice example of stabilizing retroalimentation.

Just my two cents theory though.


Yeah that's incorrect. Carbonic acid is not an Arrhenius acid. CO2 plus 2H2O leads to H2CO3 plus 2O2 for the most part. The amount of H3O and HCO2- is very, very small. And at lower temps sans catalyst, you'd just have ~CO2 (CO2 in aqueous solution).

The rest of your post is very unclear.
GrayMouser
2.6 / 5 (5) Jun 19, 2009
GrayMouser: Well, if I understand it correctly the idea is not that CO2 actually CAUSED the climate to leave ice ages; that, as Out7x (partially) points out, was due to the Milankovitch cycles. However, once the Earth started warming and CO2 levels began rising, the increased greenhouse effect from the extra CO2 would have acted as a positive feedback, raising temperatures further, which released more CO2, which raised temperatures further, etc. That process would continue until the climate reached a new equilibrium (i.e, settled into an interglacial period). The same effect would follow the exit from an ice age; orbital forcings lower temperature, CO2 begins to dissolve in the oceans, the planet cools further, more CO2 is dissolved...and so on, and so on.

The temperature changes have preceded the CO2 changes by anywhere from 500 years to 2500 years. It's difficult to posit an amplification effect from those kind of lags.

As for the high prehistoric CO2 levels (in the thousands of ppm, weren't they? Correct me if that's too high/low), remember that the sun was also cooler then; the combination of cooler sun and higher CO2 concentrations would have balanced each other out. Now, though, the sun's a tad...feverish compared to then, so concentrations that would have been well and good in those days are rather intimidating for us.

I believe the high levels were in the 7000 to 8000 ppm range (possibly even a bit higher.) As Velanarris can attest, once you get above a certain point any additional CO2 doesn't have any effect (the graph is asymptotic.)
Ronan
5 / 5 (5) Jun 20, 2009
The temperature changes have preceded the CO2 changes by anywhere from 500 years to 2500 years. It's difficult to posit an amplification effect from those kind of lags.
After reading this, I ambled off to see if I could find some more information on the subject. As far as I could see, there might be some issues with your argument when it comes to the process of warming up the Earth at the end of a glacial; while the lags you've quoted ARE large, compared to the time it takes for the Earth to transition wholly from an ice age to an interglacial, it seems as if they're still easily small enough to have had a role in forcing. The transition out of an interglacial, though...There's still a correlation between CO2 and temperature, but the temperatures associated with a certain CO2 concentration are different, and what's more there's a big difference in the rate of cooling, compared to the rate of warming at the beginning of an interglacial. Most peculiar. Tell me, do you know where I might find an explanation for the asymmetry between the rates of warming and the rates of cooling during a glacial-interglacial cycle (sorry if that was unclear, I haven't had overmuch sleep lately and my mind is a trifle befogged)? Thanks!

I believe the high levels were in the 7000 to 8000 ppm range (possibly even a bit higher.) As Velanarris can attest, once you get above a certain point any additional CO2 doesn't have any effect (the graph is asymptotic.)
Sorry, but could you (or this Velanarris feller, if he's about and has some free time; I'm not picky) clarify what "a certain point" is? What concentration range are we talking about, here, and where? I understand that in the lower atmosphere, above pretty low concentrations CO2's ability to absorb and emit infrared becomes saturated and it doesn't much matter how much more you add (and in any case, its absorption bands get muddled up with water's and with other gases, so it doesn't make much difference in any case). It had been my understanding, though, that the situation was different in the upper atmosphere; I've read that in the less dense environs there, one can continue to increase the concentration of CO2 for quite a bit (compared to in the lower atmosphere) before you reach absorption saturation.

Damon_Hastings
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 20, 2009
It is unclear by how much (or even whether) past changes in CO2 lagged behind climate changes. However, that has nothing to do with today. It is widely accepted that past climate changes were partly or even mostly driven by the Sun (and were thus far slower than what we've seen over the past 50 years.) So, yeah -- first the Sun causes temps to rise, and then the oceans and melting permafrost belch a bunch of CO2 into the air. That's fine. But that's not what's happening today. Or, actually, it *is* happening today -- but it's not what started the ball rolling. Think about it -- today's CO2 levels have reached levels unprecedented in at least the last 2 million years, while the global temperature is still nowhere near that point! So it's different this time. CO2 is rising first -- and unprecedentedly fast. CO2's greenhouse capabilities may (or may not) have been incidental in the past, but they're not incidental today.

Well, regardless of your reaction to the above line of reasoning, this article should at least put an end (hopefully) to the argument that humans are not responsible for the recent drastic increase in CO2.
Damon_Hastings
4 / 5 (4) Jun 22, 2009
And I should point out that global warming is not the only negative effect from increasing CO2. Often overlooked, but still very important, is ocean acidification.

Given that atmospheric CO2 was normal just 200 years ago but is now at its highest point in millions of years, I would wager that the oceans are about to acidify at an unprecedented rate. The rate of increase of atmospheric CO2 during the past 60 years has been 50 to 100 times as fast as any natural increase in at least the past 400,000 years (which is as far back as my graphs would go with sufficient resolution).
Velanarris
4 / 5 (2) Jun 22, 2009
(Disclaimer: I've withdrawn from the AGW debate)



I'd like to bring up that the oceans are a far greater store of CO2 than the atmosphere.



I'd also like to bring up that carbonic acid is not stable in aqueous solution.

As for the "a certain point":

Energy traveling through an absorbing medium, when faced with a greater abundance of the absorbing medium, cannot result in more trapped energy once the total amount of energy applied has been trapped.

Basically, through spectrometry there is an argument that more CO2 can't increase global temperatures unless the amount of black body radiation increases due to the amount of available (capturable) radiation increases along the band for which CO2 is responsible.
Velanarris
4 / 5 (1) Jun 22, 2009
Gotta love the edit timeouts:

Anyway, Ronan: there's just about no CO2 in the upper atmosphere as it's far heavier than other gasses in the atmosphere. Once you pass the tropopause the CO2 concentration would be measured in percentages of a single ppt.
defunctdiety
not rated yet Jun 22, 2009
I'm sorry if this derails the current discussion, but this article is just details and ultimately irrelevant to the culmination of the actual discussion that it alludes to and that is waiting in the wings:



Q: Is the path which our global society is following able to be maintained into the near and distant future (and it cannot be maintained into the distant future, de facto finite fossil fuels)?



It's irrelevant whether the globe is warming or if the climate is just changing, as it always has. The point of the conversation and the problem, is how much does this climate change (when combined with fossil fuel depletion) threaten the availability of water, food and energy to populations (which are ever growing and consuming more and more) capable of destabilizing the globe?



If it is a big enough/urgent threat, how do we best prevent this destabilization from occurring through the humanitarian disasters caused by water, food and energy shortages? If it is not a threat now, then everything should be good, the world's fine and is on the right path and the free-market will solve everything for everybody.



The rhetoric needs to progress beyond the symptoms to the disease. Velanarris I welcome you into my debate, no AGW involved.
Damon_Hastings
5 / 5 (1) Jun 22, 2009
I'd like to bring up that the oceans are a far greater store of CO2 than the atmosphere.

Not sure what point you're trying to argue here -- are you arguing that CO2 changes in the atmosphere do *not* acidify the ocean? The acidification is already happening and is being measured and tracked in relation to CO2 changes. And, yes, the ocean does contain much more carbon than the atmosphere (mostly as calcium carbonate), but CO2 is increasing faster than the oceans can convert it to calcium carbonate, which is causing a buildup of acidity.
Damon_Hastings
3 / 5 (2) Jun 22, 2009
The rhetoric needs to progress beyond the symptoms to the disease.

No worries -- the question of whether AGW is real is mainly still being debated on forums like this, and on Fox News. The rest of the world has moved on to debating what are the best solutions. Heck, even the latest *Fox News* poll showed that two-thirds of Americans have accepted that climate change is real and that human activity is a significant contributor! (Search the page at http://www.pollin...viro.htm for "is caused by".)
lengould100
5 / 5 (3) Jun 23, 2009
Hilarious. Calling Faux News a "news" medium.
GrayMouser
not rated yet Jun 23, 2009
Here's a graph of CO2 and global temperatures (all reconstructions through proxies of course):
http://icecap.us/...emps.gif
Velanarris
5 / 5 (2) Jun 24, 2009
I'm sorry if this derails the current discussion, but this article is just details and ultimately irrelevant to the culmination of the actual discussion that it alludes to and that is waiting in the wings:







Q: Is the path which our global society is following able to be maintained into the near and distant future (and it cannot be maintained into the distant future, de facto finite fossil fuels)?







It's irrelevant whether the globe is warming or if the climate is just changing, as it always has. The point of the conversation and the problem, is how much does this climate change (when combined with fossil fuel depletion) threaten the availability of water, food and energy to populations (which are ever growing and consuming more and more) capable of destabilizing the globe?







If it is a big enough/urgent threat, how do we best prevent this destabilization from occurring through the humanitarian disasters caused by water, food and energy shortages? If it is not a threat now, then everything should be good, the world's fine and is on the right path and the free-market will solve everything for everybody.







The rhetoric needs to progress beyond the symptoms to the disease. Velanarris I welcome you into my debate, no AGW involved.



Well I think it's rather obvious that of course our current path is not sustainable. There are only so many fossil fuels on this earth and I don't see their abundance matching our future needs.

A lot of people out there look at the people who disagree with AGW theory as being denialists who just want to continue down the path of fossil fuels.

That's about as incorrect as you can get. Of course we need to change, there isn't a person I'm aware of who thinks differently. I think the debate is more the scope and timeframe of the change.
defunctdiety
not rated yet Jun 24, 2009
Of course we need to change, there isn't a person I'm aware of who thinks differently. I think the debate is more the scope and timeframe of the change.








So, given that the debate is mainly about scope and time-frame, let's talk about that. Given that the "Western World" and China and India are ever consuming more at a rate that even currently outpaces the ability of fossil fuel producers to reliably meet the needs of everyone, what does that say about time-frame? Given that fossil fuels currently provide more than 85% of our nations energy, what does that say about scope?







Now, of course, we have enough coal and natural gas to power our homes and businesses for a substantially longer time than we have oil for our vehicles, but what happens once petrol is no longer a viable option for vehicles and if the, presently, most viable option of electric cars replaces that, and our transport now relies on the power grid as well?







The scope is pretty much undeniably massive and the time-frame, while debatable, is likely going to become shorter and shorter every year as we come to better understand the rate of increase of demand and the rate of change in oil/fossil-fuel supply provision, which many speculate will soon (within 5 years?) begin to decline.







So with rapidly increasing demand compounded by potentially decreasing supply, is it reasonable to speculate that the "actual" time frame may not be able to be known until we've already progressed beyond the time frame when changes "should" have began if we wanted to maintain a more or less steady standard of energy cost? Which is to say, will the free-market be able to anticipate the change in economic viability of an energy source or will it only react to it?







I think it's pretty obvious how well the market anticipates (how's your stock portfolio doing?). To me an ounce of prevention is worth a barrel of cure.
neuromancerz
5 / 5 (1) Jun 24, 2009
So, given that the debate is mainly about scope and time-frame, let's talk about that. Given that the "Western World" and China and India are ever consuming more at a rate that even currently outpaces the ability of fossil fuel producers to reliably meet the needs of everyone, what does that say about time-frame? Given that fossil fuels currently provide more than 85% of our nations energy, what does that say about scope?















Now, of course, we have enough coal and natural gas to power our homes and businesses for a substantially longer time than we have oil for our vehicles, but what happens once petrol is no longer a viable option for vehicles and if the, presently, most viable option of electric cars replaces that, and our transport now relies on the power grid as well?















The scope is pretty much undeniably massive and the time-frame, while debatable, is likely going to become shorter and shorter every year as we come to better understand the rate of increase of demand and the rate of change in oil/fossil-fuel supply provision, which many speculate will soon (within 5 years?) begin to decline.















So with rapidly increasing demand compounded by potentially decreasing supply, is it reasonable to speculate that the "actual" time frame may not be able to be known until we've already progressed beyond the time frame when changes "should" have began if we wanted to maintain a more or less steady standard of energy cost? Which is to say, will the free-market be able to anticipate the change in economic viability of an energy source or will it only react to it?















I think it's pretty obvious how well the market anticipates (how's your stock portfolio doing?). To me an ounce of prevention is worth a barrel of cure.


Ok let us talk some real numbers then. People who accuse corporations of not having thought about the future should in all fairness have thought about it themselves.

Tell me if you have thought of how to replace traditional power sources with alternative ones.

What is the annual global electricity consumption? Out of that what does alternative energy currently produce and what do traditional methods produce?

Can all alternative energy methods even produce all the electricity that we need and use at the moment?

What is the total cost to the environment to manufacture hardware required to make the alternative energy possible?

At what rate would we have to change to alternative energy to make sure we can make a difference? How many wind turbines a year, how many solar panels, how many geo thermal stations?

Going back to a medieval lifestyle is hardly an option. A lot of places in rural India do not even have electricity to this day. Most places in India have massive rolling power outages. Most households in rural areas do not even have a television set. Development in India now means this will change fast. It is going to only consume more energy. Same with the rest of the third world.

How are you going to tell people living in mud hut in a rural area with no electricity no plumbing and no running water to lead a sustainable life while you type a rebuttal to this on the internet?

Personally I believe free trade and capitalism are the only things that will bring these people up to a life style that is acceptable to a human being anywhere in Europe or the USA.

I also believe nuclear power is the way to go in the next couple of centuries while we study and harness nuclear fusion. I maybe wrong in my conclusions but I do not think I am wrong in asking the questions which no one seems to. Climate change has been turned into such an emotional issue that its fervent defenders will not stop at anything to discredit people who do not agree with exactly what they have to say.
defunctdiety
1 / 5 (1) Jun 25, 2009
Ok let us talk some real numbers then.
...
What is the annual global electricity consumption? Out of that what does alternative energy currently produce and what do traditional methods produce?


I direct you to the renewable energy wiki. Says 2006 renewables were 18% of worldwide energy production, most of that (15%) was hydro-electricity, which when climate change and increasing water consumption is taken into account, can't necessarily be considered sustainable. The pie-charts for 2008 look about the same.
http://en.wikiped...e_energy

Can all alternative energy methods even produce all the electricity that we need and use at the moment?

What is the total cost to the environment to manufacture hardware required to make the alternative energy possible?

At what rate would we have to change to alternative energy to make sure we can make a difference?


I've seen statistics stating that the potential is there for renewable energies to produce 10 times more than the worlds annual energy consumption, and it makes sense, there's lots of wind, sunlight, etc. out there. Of course there are still considerable problems of reliability (wind and solar are generally intermittent, at best). There's presently, large road blocks such as storage and transmittance. The substantial and significant initial capital investment in the infrastructure to make these things viable is what prevents the free-market from being a reliable indicator to ensure our energy needs are met.

The environmental cost is irrelevant, as it is no more than production that otherwise will, does and must occur.

The rate of change needed is debatable, as mentioned in my original post. But I guarantee the market will only react once fossil fuels are no longer economically viable, it cannot and will not anticipate the actual time frame needed to maintain energy costs at what we consider acceptable.

Most places in India have massive rolling power outages. ... Development in India now means this will change fast. It is going to only consume more energy. Same with the rest of the third world.

How are you going to tell people living in mud hut in a rural area with no electricity no plumbing and no running water to lead a sustainable life while you type a rebuttal to this on the internet?


It's the responsibility of those people and their government to develop in such a way that, once fossil fuels are no longer economically viable, they can continue to rely on the institutions of clean water and food that cheap energy makes available.

The Western world was able to avoid this responsibility because there was no end in sight to cheap energy, now we are looking at reaping those consequences.

The funny thing is, "3rd World" ways of life are sustainable. Most of Africa and Central and South America, and rural China and India, those people have been living the way they live for thousands and thousands of years. Modern convenience is nice, but it now requires much forethought and responsibility.

Personally I believe free trade and capitalism are the only things that will bring these people up to a life style that is acceptable to a human being anywhere in Europe or the USA.

I also believe nuclear power is the way to go in the next couple of centuries while we study and harness nuclear fusion. ... Climate change has been turned into such an emotional issue that its fervent defenders will not stop at anything to discredit people who do not agree with exactly what they have to say.


You are absolutely right, capitalism is the best way to achieve that. But this Western lifestyle you tout HAS to change. Westerners especially have to change. The way of life people have come to expect and idolize over the past 60-70 years cannot continue as it has. This does not mean reverting back to medieval lifestyles. But it does mean changing the way we think and live, everyday. It means being conscious of your actions and their consequences down to flipping on a light switch and flushing the toilet.

Nuclear is no more sustainable than fossil fuels. I agree that it is a good supplement while we transition out of fossil fuels. But it also presents considerable security and environmental problems.

The rhetoric needs to change. It doesn't matter what the climate is doing, we can't control it. What does matter is what happens when that climate does change, and we no longer have the cheap, readily and widely available energy that the entire world has come to depend on.

If we don't get it right, when the fossil fuels are gone, wars will be fought over water and grains.

These are all good and important questions, ones that must be asked and answered by the people and by the world's leaders.
Velanarris
not rated yet Jun 25, 2009
The best solution, even if being used jsut as a stop gap, is nuclear fission. I'm talking about functional small scale breeder reactors.

Nuclear as it currently stands is not sustainable. Whether we're talking standard reactor, which would burn through our easily retrievable Uranium by 2080 at current grid needs and projected growth rates, or breeder systems, which would lengthen that time for about 100 more years. So briefly, best case scenario, current nuclear tech gets us until 2180. Now that's a lot of breather room. That gets us another 200 years, however, there is a large water need with Nuclear in terms of cooling, however, Thorium is almost perfect.

Thorium based breeder reactors, while fairly mature right now, do have one significant drawback. The most effective available coolant is liquid sodium, which as you probably know, is highly reactive with our atmosphere, causing intense fires if it leaks. The breeder reactor in Detroit was brought down by a fire like this. The aforementioned Uranium based fission can get us the time and fulfill the need until we can fully mature Thorium reactors, we're almost there now, at which point in time existing breeders can be refit, and new ones commissioned.
JZippy
1 / 5 (1) Jun 25, 2009
"CO2 higher today than last 2.1 million years"

Wow, I remember that day back in light year 115.4.x31 when the CO2 levels really took off. However, after the alien ship left the planet, CO2 levels returned to normal. The aliens returned from time to time of course.

I'm amazed how easily 'scientists' pass off their multi-m/billion year models as absolute fact. Just amazed. I'm confident another scientist will get a government grant to refute this research. Oh well, it's only money.
Velanarris
5 / 5 (1) Jun 26, 2009
I'm amazed how easily 'scientists' pass off their multi-m/billion year models as absolute fact. Just amazed. I'm confident another scientist will get a government grant to refute this research. Oh well, it's only money.

Well, having an inate distrust of scientists, regardless of the topic isn't a good stance to maintain. Yes, scientists are human and make mistakes. No, not all scientists are trustworthy.

The real big deal here is why would you have an immediate distrust of a scietist who has a view that dissents from your own without evidence of malfeasance?

I personally won't trust anything Hansen says, writes, or his reviews based off of evidence of his alleged tampering with results.

That does not mean that I will discard offhand what Sidall is stating as I have no reason to distrust him.