Long debate ended over cause, demise of ice ages -- may also help predict future

Aug 06, 2009

Researchers have largely put to rest a long debate on the underlying mechanism that has caused periodic ice ages on Earth for the past 2.5 million years - they are ultimately linked to slight shifts in solar radiation caused by predictable changes in Earth's rotation and axis.

In a publication to be released Friday in the journal Science, researchers from Oregon State University and other institutions conclude that the known wobbles in Earth's rotation caused global ice levels to reach their peak about 26,000 years ago, stabilize for 7,000 years and then begin melting 19,000 years ago, eventually bringing to an end the last ice age.

The melting was first caused by more solar radiation, not changes in carbon dioxide levels or ocean temperatures, as some scientists have suggested in recent years.

"Solar radiation was the trigger that started the ice melting, that's now pretty certain," said Peter Clark, a professor of geosciences at OSU. "There were also changes in levels and , but those happened later and amplified a process that had already begun."

The findings are important, the scientists said, because they will give researchers a more precise understanding of how ice sheets melt in response to radiative forcing mechanisms. And even though the changes that occurred 19,000 years ago were due to increased solar radiation, that amount of heating can be translated into what is expected from current increases in levels, and help scientists more accurately project how Earth's existing ice sheets will react in the future.

"We now know with much more certainty how ancient ice sheets responded to solar radiation, and that will be very useful in better understanding what the future holds," Clark said. "It's good to get this pinned down."

To make their analysis, the researchers used an analysis of 6,000 dates and locations of ice sheets to define, with a high level of accuracy, when they started to melt. In doing this, they confirmed a theory that was first developed more than 50 years ago that pointed to small but definable changes in Earth's rotation as the trigger for ice ages.

"We can calculate changes in the Earth's axis and rotation that go back 50 million years," Clark said. "These are caused primarily by the gravitational influences of the larger planets, such as Jupiter and Saturn, which pull and tug on the Earth in slightly different ways over periods of thousands of years."

That, in turn, can change the Earth's axis - the way it tilts towards the sun - about two degrees over long periods of time, which changes the way sunlight strikes the planet. And those small shifts in were all it took to cause multiple ice ages during about the past 2.5 million years on Earth, which reach their extremes every 100,000 years or so.

Sometime around now, scientists say, the Earth should be changing from a long interglacial period that has lasted the past 10,000 years and shifting back towards conditions that will ultimately lead to another - unless some other forces stop or slow it. But these are processes that literally move with glacial slowness, and due to greenhouse gas emissions the Earth has already warmed as much in about the past 200 years as it ordinarily might in several thousand years, Clark said.

"One of the biggest concerns right now is how the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will respond to global warming and contribute to sea level rise," Clark said. "This study will help us better understand that process, and improve the validity of our models."

Source: Oregon State University (news : web)

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User comments : 63

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omatumr
2.6 / 5 (17) Aug 06, 2009
YES INDEED!

"Solar radiation was the trigger that started the ice melting, that's now pretty certain," said Peter Clark, a professor of geosciences at OSU.

The Earth and the Sun are not separate entities. They are intimately connected - electrically, magnetically, and gravitationally.

See: "EARTH'S HEAT SOURCE - THE SUN", Energy and Environment: SPECIAL ISSUE: Natural drivers of weather and climate, volume 20, numbers 1 & 2, pp. 131-144 (2009) http://arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704

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


Soylent
4.1 / 5 (8) Aug 06, 2009
I think you forgot to read the rest of the article, it does indeed not agree with you on CO2 being irrelevant or the sun having anything to do with the current warming.

Indeed, without any CO2 or water vapour at all the Earth would have been a completely unlivable iceball.
brant
3.7 / 5 (6) Aug 06, 2009
I think you forgot to read the rest of the article, it does indeed not agree with you on CO2 being irrelevant or the sun having anything to do with the current warming.



Indeed, without any CO2 or water vapour at all the Earth would have been a completely unlivable iceball.


But we know that CO2 lags temperature. So I think that CO2 is largely irrelevant!!
SDMike2
3 / 5 (8) Aug 06, 2009
Dang! I thought the ice ages ended because of Republicans. Gore is going to be sooo disappointed!
zbarlici
3 / 5 (6) Aug 06, 2009
This study has merit, as we all know that the sun dumps enormous amounts of energy onto the earth.



i just thought of a few questions a little off-topic... Is the Earth venting water vapor into space? If so then i`m just wondering at what rate and what kind of effect would it have on earth in th eshort term(if any)? Dont panic now.... its just a few questions.



ps - don`t let Al Gore see this post as surely he will somehow tie it to global warming.

RobertKLR
3.3 / 5 (6) Aug 06, 2009
So, as the Earth tilt is influenced by the big planets, solar radiation starts the ice age glaciers melting, then after a lag in time greenhouse gases start to be released which accelerates it somewhat. Then the tilt goes the other way, solar raditation decreases and after another lag the greenhouse gases abate and the process starts anew...except in modern times where mankind has added to the mix of gases which throws a wrench into the process and alters it somewhat. So the connection with manmade gasses to modern GCC is where the argument starts to get nasty.

out7x
2.5 / 5 (4) Aug 07, 2009
Milankovitch cycles have been well known for a long time. Nothing new here.
RayCherry
5 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2009
The tilting mechanism (probably) has nothing to do with the gravitational pull on the large mass deposits near the crust of our planet, and more to do with large fluid masses changing position below the crust, (affecting the spin of this planet without the graviational influence of other planets).

Another possible influence is the large impacts of space debris for which the historical record is improving, but is far from complete. The large impacts that we do know of can, perhaps, be modelled for their capacity to disrupt the rotation and alter the tilt of the planet.

Finally, I have not seen any modelling of the liquid mantle that show changes in (solar tides) distribution per rotation of the planet. If these dynamics exist, what happens when they get disrupted by tectonic plate shifts and similar crust (magma channelling) changes?
Ethelred
1 / 5 (2) Aug 07, 2009
So, as the Earth tilt is influenced by the big planets


The Moon is believed to stabilize the Earth's axial tilt. It has far more gravitational influence on the Earth than any of the planets.

Ethelred
RayCherry
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 07, 2009
Ethelred: Interesting. ;-)
Where did you find that?
MorganW
5 / 5 (3) Aug 07, 2009
Always be wary of statements like these: "Long debate ended over cause, demise of ice ages".
We're still debating the cause of gravity...
otto1923
3.2 / 5 (5) Aug 07, 2009
Ice age- bad. No ice age- good. Industrialization has provided a method for manipulating earths atmosphere. Have we: 1. Already averted the start of another ice age? Or 2. Provided the materials to do so at the proper time? The idea of removing atmospheric CO2 and storing it underground for later use, should we need to warm things up, has merit. A global 'thermostat' if you will. And if global warming is real then we pretty much have to do something with it now, right? Our hand is forced again-
omatumr
3.3 / 5 (6) Aug 07, 2009
EARTH LOSES LIGHTWEIGHT ELEMENTS: H & He

Is the Earth venting water vapor into space? If so then i`m just wondering at what rate and what kind of effect would it have on earth in the short term (if any)? Don't panic now.... its just a few questions.

ps - don`t let Al Gore see this post as surely he will somehow tie it to global warming.


1 AMU = 1 atomic mass unit

There is significant loss of lightweight elements, like H2 (2 amu) and He (4 amu), from the Earth's upper atmosphere.

But I don't think there is significant loss of H2O (18 amu).

If some process breaks water into its elements:
2 H2O => 2 H2 (2 amu) O2 (32 amu)

Then the lightest component, H2, might escape.

The solid Earth is continuously releasing volatile elements to air. Earth formed in layers, and only the outer 17% of the Earth has degassed.

See: 1. "The xenon record of extinct radioactivities in the Earth," Science 174, (1971) 1334-1336; 10.1126/science.174.4016.1334
http://tinyurl.com/nnjh4v

2. "The noble gas record of the terrestrial planets", Geochemical Journal 15 (1981) 247-267. http://tinyurl.com/2k8ds3

The US Government recognizes that He in gas wells is a natural resource that may escape from the upper atmosphere if released to air.

I understand that policies are in place to protect the Federal Helium Reserve:

http://tinyurl.com/moma8n

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
http://www.omatumr.com
MorganW
5 / 5 (2) Aug 07, 2009
That's a good point Otto1923. But it brings up a question that I've raised numerous times in these forums: what temperature SHOULD the global climate be? And I think we'd be foolish to think that we're currently sophisticated enough to actually manipulate the climate to suit our needs. If we really made a concerted effort to warm or cool the climate, the most likely result would be something entirely unintended.
QubitTamer
2.5 / 5 (4) Aug 07, 2009
This study has merit, as we all know that the sun dumps enormous amounts of energy onto the earth.







i just thought of a few questions a little off-topic... Is the Earth venting water vapor into space? If so then i`m just wondering at what rate and what kind of effect would it have on earth in th eshort term(if any)? Dont panic now.... its just a few questions.







ps - don`t let Al Gore see this post as surely he will somehow tie it to global warming.




yes the earth vents water vapor and all of the other constituent elements of our atmosphere into space every second of every day since we have had an atmosphere dense enough to be defined as an atmosphere...apparently there are limits to gravity's hold on individual or small clumps of molecules and some "boil off" into space... how this happens without reaching escape velocity i don't quite understand maybe it has something to do with the pressure gradient in the tropopause...REGARDLESS... it would take many millions of years for this process to have any significant impact on our environment... I know that liberals like to scare people into believing the earth is very very fragile and could be ruined forever by mankind's presence, however the earth is also frickin HUGE and the volume of the atmosphere is several orders of magnitude bigger than whatever number in your head represents FRICKIN HUGE... ALSO did you know that the amount of water locked into earth's crust and upper mantle = approximately 13 times the current volume of all of the oceans and lakes combined...http://www.physor...847.html
(although that is not what the hyperlinked story says... i read that somewhere else...) the water got down into the mantle via plate boundary subduction...
whatwhy
5 / 5 (2) Aug 07, 2009
What a relief to know this. Now if the world gets out of tilt again we can all stand on one side of it to avoid another ice age.
Velanarris
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 07, 2009
So, as the Earth tilt is influenced by the big planets


The Moon is believed to stabilize the Earth's axial tilt. It has far more gravitational influence on the Earth than any of the planets.

Ethelred


That's correct, however, the moon is what locks us at about 2 degrees of variance. Without the moon, the affects of Jupiter and Saturn would toss Earth around like a rubber ball in a wave pool, albeit an incredibly slow wave pool.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (3) Aug 07, 2009
Ethelred: Interesting. ;-)
Where did you find that?


Not sure at the moment. Ran across it in the last few days though.

http://en.wikiped...ial_tilt

Other planets may have a variable obliquity too, for example on Mars the range is believed to be between 11° and 49°, as a result of gravitational perturbations from other planets[3]. The relatively small range for the Earth is due to the stabilizing influence of the Moon, but it will not remain so. According to Ward, the orbit of the Moon (which is continuously increasing due to tidal effects) will have gone from the current 60 to approximately 66.5 Earth radii in about 1.5 billion years. Once this occurs, a resonance from planetary effects will follow, causing swings of the obliquity between 22° and 38°. Further, in approximately 2 billion years, when the Moon reaches a distance of 68 Earth radii, another resonance will cause even greater oscillations, between 27° and 60°. This would have extreme effects on climate.


That isn't where I ran across but hey it works.

Ethelred
Zarky
1.8 / 5 (6) Aug 07, 2009
Sorry guys, what a load of rot....

Ice Ages are cause by natural oscillations of salt in the sea.

The variations of the sun are ameliorated by corresponding cloud cover.

It is the fresh water/salt water ratio that is the determiner of ocean heat, and it is heat that brings an Ice Age on.

The article is way out of its theoretical depth and appears to be nothing but a concoction from ignorant and simplistic explanations that have been made over the years.

all thumbs down
zbarlici
3.5 / 5 (2) Aug 07, 2009
Thank you Omatumr.. i had n idea as to how the earth`s amosphere came to be until now.. glad to know that we`re only 17% done :) it also makes sense that only the lighter elements escape. Could you pls elaborate on the He issue.. i read the first couple of pages on the report you posted a link to... but i really don`t have the time to read/understand all 41 pages. Thanks again.


Thanx Qbit! Wow, there`s still a lot more water locked locked in? I hope lots of that is the fresh kind :)
Velanarris
3.3 / 5 (3) Aug 08, 2009
Sorry guys, what a load of rot....

Ice Ages are cause by natural oscillations of salt in the sea.

The variations of the sun are ameliorated by corresponding cloud cover.

It is the fresh water/salt water ratio that is the determiner of ocean heat, and it is heat that brings an Ice Age on.

The article is way out of its theoretical depth and appears to be nothing but a concoction from ignorant and simplistic explanations that have been made over the years.

all thumbs down

Problem is, there's no evidence supporting your statement, and lots of exceptions to your oversimplification.
tpb
3.5 / 5 (2) Aug 09, 2009
Quote from article
"But these are processes that literally move with glacial slowness, and due to greenhouse gas emissions the Earth has already warmed as much in about the past 200 years as it ordinarily might in several thousand years, Clark said."

So, mankind has released minimal greenhouse gasses until about 60 years ago.
I guess the other 140 years was natural.
YawningDog
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 09, 2009
Thank you Dr. Manuel for your comments. I was unaware of your work and find it very interesting. I hope that it gains wider attention.
omatumr
2 / 5 (4) Aug 09, 2009
REAL STORY RECORDED IN GEOCHEMISTRY, COSMOLOGY,
SOLAR & NUCLEAR PHYSICS ALL FIT NEATLY TOGETHER

1. Thank you Dr. Manuel for your comments. I was unaware of your work and find it very interesting. I hope that it gains wider attention.


2. Thank you Omatumr.. i had no idea as to how the earth`s atmosphere came to be until now.. glad to know that we`re only 17% done :) it also makes sense that only the lighter elements escape. Could you pls elaborate on the He issue.. i read the first couple of pages on the report you posted a link to... but i really don`t have the time to read/understand all 41 pages. Thanks again.


1. The "whole story" is explained in more detail in three pages of a dialogue with a geologist in a Naked Scientists discussion of evidence for the Big Bang:

Page 7: http://tinyurl.com/mrpgbg

Page 8: http://tinyurl.com/mlqhuy

Page 9: http://tinyurl.com/lkj7zw

The experimental data shown on page 9 (MessageID: 265839, Posted 25/07/2009 05:15:21) all point to the birth of the solar system in an explosion of the Sun five billion years ago - 5 Gyr before present:

Birth of Solar System: http://tinyurl.com/359q3u
http://www.omatumr.com/Origin.htm" title="http://http://www.omatumr.com/Origin.htm" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.omatum...igin.htm

I am now writing a summary in an autobiography of the past fifty years (1960-2010) of my research career:

"My Journey to the Core of the Sun: A Summary
of Fifty Joyful Years of Continuous Discovery"

2. I have little first hand experience with the He issue.

My measurements were mostly made with the glass mass spectrometer shown in this photograph of my lab:

http://tinyurl.com/m4v22x

Helium and Hydrogen leak through the glass envelope of the mass spectrometer, rendering my measurements useless of He and H.

H and He move upward to the top of Earth's atmosphere and "leak" out.

H and He also move upward to the top of the Sun's atmosphere.

The surfaces of almost all stars are covered with H and He, but no stars - absolutely NONE - are balls of H and He.

The H and He surface coating on stars is like the red peel on an apple.

Thanks you, YawningDog and zbarlici, for your comments and questions.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
http://www.omatumr.com/ or
http://myprofile....anuelo09


westelca21
4 / 5 (4) Aug 09, 2009
First they tell us man made co2 is the cause of global warming and the debate is over? Now they tell us that global warming is a natural function of the planetary cycle and the debate is over?

Modern science actually allows a debate over issues?

And they call religious people crazy!

Damon_Hastings
2 / 5 (4) Aug 10, 2009
westelca21--

Current thinking is that ice ages in the past were triggered mostly by changes in solar radiation, while climate change in the present (which is far faster) is caused by CO2. There's no contradiction there. According to this article, the "natural cycle" should be causing a cooling right now. But it's so slow that it's easily overwhelmed by the warming induced by the unprecedented spike in CO2 levels in the past century.
Ethelred
1 / 5 (1) Aug 10, 2009
Modern science actually allows a debate over issues?


This line shows a lack of understanding of what science is.

It is a process and not an entity. It cannot allow or disallow things. Personal politics can effect the amount of debate but is inherent in any human endeavor. Science IS debate to a fairly large extent. People(yes people not some entity called science) do experiments. Then people try to understand what those experiments mean. Then other people comment on that and decide whether of not to do more experiments to either confirm or deny the results and or the conclusions.

In the meantime someones ox is sometimes gored. They tend to pushback even if they are clearly wrong.

And they call religious people crazy!


Sometimes they are. Sometimes, like in the case of Dr. C. Everet Koop, even fundamentalists are willing to go on the evidence and try to do what is needed for the common good even if they don't like doing so.

And yes Damon is right. There are more things involved in climate change than one so different things can have different effects over both the short and long term. Plus the Sun has a VERY LOOONG term warming tendency. It is warmer, even at the bottom of a Maunder Minimum than it was at the top of its cycle in the distant past but that isn't involved in this short and medium term stuff.

Oh and welcome to the forums please do not disappear after just one post.

Ethelred
Velanarris
5 / 5 (2) Aug 10, 2009
westelca21--

Current thinking is that ice ages in the past were triggered mostly by changes in solar radiation, while climate change in the present (which is far faster) is caused by CO2. There's no contradiction there. According to this article, the "natural cycle" should be causing a cooling right now. But it's so slow that it's easily overwhelmed by the warming induced by the unprecedented spike in CO2 levels in the past century.


That's false. 1 of 5 milakovich cycles are set for glacial. The AGW proponent crowd locks onto this quite often, which is extraordinarily funny as they spent 3 years stating milankovich has nothing to do with AGW.

Don't believe the hype.
Damon_Hastings
1 / 5 (1) Aug 10, 2009
Current thinking is that ice ages in the past were triggered mostly by changes in solar radiation, while climate change in the present (which is far faster) is caused by CO2. There's no contradiction there. According to this article, the "natural cycle" should be causing a cooling right now. But it's so slow that it's easily overwhelmed by the warming induced by the unprecedented spike in CO2 levels in the past century.

That's false.

Um... which part? Nothing in your response contradicts what I said.

1 of 5 milakovich cycles are set for glacial.

Yes, and getting more glacial still. They predict that we still have a little more cooling to go, and we shouldn't see a significant warming trend for a few thousand more years -- thus they can't explain the current rapid warming. See http://upload.wik...e65N.png -- which was taken from http://en.wikiped...ch_cycle ).

But even if the Milankovitch cycles did predict warming right now, those cycles happens on a 100,000 year timeframe. So their impact is relatively small on the timescale we're talking about for modern climate change (mere decades.) By all measures, natural global warming in the past has happened at a rate of less than 0.03 deg F per decade; compare this to today's rate of almost 0.4 deg F per decade.
Velanarris
not rated yet Aug 10, 2009
You might want to re-read the wiki and determine exactly what Milankovich cycles are and how they work.

There are 5 cycles of variance. Each contributes to the global climate in their own way. Different combinations yield different results. The affects are theorized to create any number of differing climate behaviors variations and means.

Now add the Landscheit cycles in.

Now add volcanic activity.

Now add average land cover and albedo.

Now add water vapor content and atmospheric partial pressure.

Now add anthropogenic affects above and beyond land use change as calculated in the land cover and albedo.

Now add in the oceanic currents...

etc, etc, etc.

All things that have been completely discounted in the "accreditted" research of the UN IPCC, the AAAS, NOAA, etc. etc. etc.

There's a lot to climate. The problem is the people who engage in the debate with no knowledge of the adjoining pieces of the climatological puzzle, can't comprehend that we're in a multifaceted, non-fragile environment.
Damon_Hastings
1 / 5 (1) Aug 10, 2009
These days I'm trying to do a better job of staying on topic -- so I won't debate the entirety of all those issues. :-) But your original comment was regarding Milankovitch cycles, and the graph at http://upload.wik...e65N.png (which is a summation of all Milankovitch cycles) shows pretty clearly that they can't explain current warming -- indeed, the graph shows a current *cooling*. Not that it matters -- most Milankovitch cycles take 20,000 to 400,000 years, while we're talking about extreme change taking place in *decades* today.

And still trying to drag us back on topic, my original point was that scientists are not contradicting themselves when they say that past ice ages were triggered by changes in solar radiation while current climate change is triggered by CO2.
Velanarris
4 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2009
shows pretty clearly that they can't explain current warming

Nothing can explain the current temperature trends accurately, which shows either there's something we're missing (probable), or we're not doing the math correctly (probable), and possibly both (most likely).

As for the scientists contradicting themselves:
There's no contradiction there. According to this article, the "natural cycle" should be causing a cooling right now. But it's so slow that it's easily overwhelmed by the warming induced by the unprecedented spike in CO2 levels in the past century.

There is no unprecedented spike in CO2. There's no unprecedented warming occuring. There's no extreme change taking place in decades.

Now, to be clear, so the fanboys don't jump all over me, I am NOT saying that there is no climatological change occuring. I AM saying that we don't know why. We have some ideas, but so far our ideas are incomplete. That's all there is to it. We're measuring great solar irradiance change occuring right now. To say that it must be CO2 now while it was solar irradiance then, while we're experiencing lower CO2 and a greater change in irradiance, is a massive contradiction.
Damon_Hastings
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 11, 2009
There is no unprecedented spike in CO2. There's no unprecedented warming occuring. There's no extreme change taking place in decades.

So you don't consider a sudden increase to the highest CO2 level in well over 2 million years to be unprecendented? (see http://www.physor...313.html ) CO2 levels were normal just 200 years ago -- a geological eyeblink.

I would like you to show me where anything even close to such a rise has happened before (without a massive meteor strike or supervolcano) in *any* record. Ice cores, tree rings, fossils... take your pick. Any record.
Velanarris
3 / 5 (2) Aug 11, 2009

So you don't consider a sudden increase to the highest CO2 level in well over 2 million years to be unprecendented? (see http://www.physor...313.html ) CO2 levels were normal just 200 years ago -- a geological eyeblink.


What exactly is "normal" when it comes to CO2 levels? Would it be the 7000ppm that was the norm for our first 100 million years, or the paltry 280 ppm that you are familiar with? Let's take a look at all the periods for which we have reasonable proxies.

Paleozoic(multiple eras): 1000-1400ppm 542mya-253mya 289 million years long

Mesozoic(Triassic through mid cretaceous):600-1000ppm 253mya-112mya 141 million years long

Cenozoic: 3800ppm-650ppm 66.5mya-28mya 38.5 million years long

Atmospheric CO2 never dropped below 200ppm in our fossil record until the beginnings of the Neogene age 23.3 mya, and even then only for short periods of time.

So what's the average? Well, it's around 900ppm average if we smooth out the Cenozoic as best we can. If anything I'd say we're exitting a period of unprecedented low atmospheric carbon content. The world is far older than you or I can comprehend.
I would like you to show me where anything even close to such a rise has happened before (without a massive meteor strike or supervolcano) in *any* record. Ice cores, tree rings, fossils... take your pick. Any record.

So let's remove the only two mechanisms that increase CO2 on the planet and present an impossible task to support our fallacious argument.

Sure, find me a 2 million year old ice cap. Oh wait, kinda difficult.

How about a 2 million year old tree ring, haha, again, kinda difficult.

What about fossils? I'm sure there are fossils that are 2 million years old or older.

But wait, no volcanoes, and no meteor strikes. Hmm...

Well guess I can't. Not because it didn't happen, but due to the fact you've made the quest impossible.

Issue is, you aren't proving a hypothesis by making it impossible to disprove, you make your hypothesis invalid. Thanks for playing.


Damon_Hastings
3 / 5 (2) Aug 11, 2009
Sorry, let me clarify. The issue at hand is the rise of CO2 from 280 ppm to 385 ppm within about 150 years -- a rate of change of 70 ppm per century. My challenge to you is to find a rate of change anywhere near 70 ppm/century in any record. It's the rate of change that matters; not the ppm value of the moment. I mean, humans might be able to handle 9000 ppm just fine -- as long as we didn't change to that overnight!

And as for the meteors and volcanoes, please do feel free to include them in your search after all. It would actually be pretty interesting to see what scale of meteor strike or supervolcano is required to equal the impact of humans.
Damon_Hastings
1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2009
Sure, find me a 2 million year old ice cap. Oh wait, kinda difficult.

There is multi-million year ice in Antarctica. And rock fossils go back much further. I agree that tree rings are useless for that age range (and dubious even for recent times). Rock fossils will be the best resource if you have to go back further than a few million years. But you might question how strong an argument you could make that today's CO2 increase is natural if you have to go back more than a few million years to find a comparable natural increase. So you might find both ice cores and rock fossils appropriate for your purposes.
defunctdiety
not rated yet Aug 11, 2009
Damon you love to tell us why we need to start doing things to change our path, all in an attempt to avoid a percieved catastrophe, all the while neverminding that it's all based on incomplete science, and the catastrophe you are so focused on (GW) is not even the actual threat.

What is it exactly that you do to contribute to change? What do you DO (or not do) that makes a difference?
Damon_Hastings
1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2009
Why do you keep trying to make this personal, defunctdiety? I'm not interested in having a pissing contest with you to determine who's the better environmentalist. It's neither constructive nor relevant.
defunctdiety
3 / 5 (2) Aug 11, 2009
Because this is personal. Because every single person and what they do is what's really important.

Of you, I'm just curious. I'm just trying to be a proponent for actual purposeful discussion and change.

All the arguing over this subject (AGW) is completely pointless, it does not matter in the least whether it is happening or not. What matters now is what people do now. What matters now is what you do to conserve.
defunctdiety
not rated yet Aug 11, 2009
And sorry, I don't mean to be attacking you personally, I would badger everyone that talks the pseudo-environmentalism talk if I could.

You just happen to be particularly outspoken, particularly adamant in your stance on AGW, and my inkling from our conversations is that you don't actually do any-freaking-thing about it despite those two things. I hope I'm very wrong.

But it's sad, it's really sad, because that's exactly what the majority of humanity is willing to do in their personal life about any of it. Nothing.

I hope you're one of the Good Guys. Just tell me you are and I'll be happy, I'll leave the reconciling of the truth with yourself, to you.
Damon_Hastings
1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2009
You're right that this board is "just words". But words are important too. Public opinion is built on words, and federal action (of the multi-billion dollar kind) is built on public opinion. Words win elections. Words pass bills. The recent investment of billions of dollars in renewable energy came entirely from the AGW debate, as has much of the recent push for conservation at all levels. The science alone would not have been enough; no politician will vote for a scientifically sound proposal which the masses are against.

Now, the physorg.com discussion forum by itself doesn't win elections or pass bills -- but it contributes its small piece. And the small pieces add up.

Now, I'm not saying that words replace action; I'm saying that they supplement and can even drive action.

And of course, words are all anyone can do on this message board. But you yourself must not consider these words completely irrelevant, or else *you* would stop posting. This is a community forum where we can debate ideas as a community. And that's what I'm primarily interested in -- debating ideas. I'll attack an idea on this board, but I try to never attack people. Please rest assured that the extent of my action is not limited to posting on boards, but I still bridle at the idea that I should have to post my credentials in order to have the right to post. It would be pointless anyway, because as you pointed out, I could just lie. So your only alternative, really, is to debate ideas on their own merit, without regard for the credentials (or lack thereof) of the writer.
defunctdiety
not rated yet Aug 11, 2009
Indeed I do find this forum very valuable for many reasons, I never wanted to imply this forum or any discourse isn't relevant, all the minds and eyes and cyber-ears one can come in contact with here, that you never otherwise would. It's truly amazing and wonderful.

But the AGW debate IS irrelevant, it's no longer a productive one: the truth is we really don't and can't have a good grasp on exactly what effect we've had/are having, how long lasting, nothing. The uncertainty in the whole thing is huge. Thanks for drawing attention to the topic AGW, but to be honest you are not that useful, please go to the back of the line with El Nino.

Industry already implements every REASONABLE measure out there, to control CO2 and green-house gas emissions and all the other pollutants there are to cough at. i.e. $1,000,000 continuous emission monitoring systems (not to mention the installtion service, maintenance, etc.), 10s of millions of $ in "updates" of older Units, annual, bi-annual, many even quarterly emissions testing, which each mobilization of a testing team is going to cost multiple 1,000s of dollars to 100s of thousands. These businesses go to extreme efforts to be sure they are in compliance with any regulation handed down or else they get potentially millions in fines. Some of the testing goes into the realm of unreasonable. But they comply anyway, few even argue.

And then guess what, ever penny of it is transferred down to the consumer.

There's more specific and more real problems to focus on. One's that cannot really be argued against (unlike AGW), one's that if solved will by default fix any climate threat at all as well as potentially alleviating massive social problems. The School of Al Gore AGW preaches alot of policy that is wrong for the fundamental problems facing us.

Sorry if I attacked you, it's just frustrating when the exact same ridiculous arguing is carried on day after day, ad nauseum, when it could easily be done away with, and much more productive conversations could be had. And it's frustrating that people who seem to actually care can't see it.

Oh, and I never challenged your right to post. I just asked a question, to see what you'd say, to make you ask yourself a question. And other people ask themselves the same question.
Damon_Hastings
1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2009
There's more specific and more real problems to focus on.

I'm curious -- what problems are the most real for you, and what actions do you advocate to address them? You briefly touched on this in a previous post, but didn't really go into much detail.
Velanarris
1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2009
Hastings, there are multiple papers outlining periods of methane clathrate release due to tectonic activity on the sea floor. Methane, as you may know, breaks down into CO2 and other molecules when exposed to UV. I'd pull you a link but you won't read them. So again I'm wasting my time.
Damon_Hastings
1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2009
If CO2 increased by 70 ppm/century during that time, then I'll happily read that paper. I'll read any paper from any time period where CO2 increased at a rate of 70 ppm/century or more.
Velanarris
not rated yet Aug 12, 2009
If CO2 increased by 70 ppm/century during that time, then I'll happily read that paper. I'll read any paper from any time period where CO2 increased at a rate of 70 ppm/century or more.

Great, anything before the neogene, have at it.
Velanarris
not rated yet Aug 12, 2009
By the way, there are no proxies that are sensitive or well established enough to be able to give you a delta over 500 years, let alone a single century pre-neogene.
defunctdiety
3 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2009
what problems are the most real for you, and what actions do you advocate to address them?

While it's a subject more fit for a dissertation, and I've never really tried to summarize it in this fashion, I'll give it a go.

The most real of problems, as I see it, are those which are -direct- and -certain- threats to economic and social stability.

Economics, in very basic yet exacting terms, by it's very nature boils down to the exchange of energy (i.e. it takes energy to make any product or provide a service, what is paid buys energy to make more product/provide service plus profit), so it boils down to stable energy. Assuming the basics of the economic system are sustainable (i.e. does not rely on the creation of wealth from literally nothing, does not create artificial demand, does not rely on the export of jobs and materials, i.e. our present economic system), then the stability of energy, perhaps primarily transport energy, is the only major threat to the macro-economic system.

The most dangerous social instability (aside from ideological fueding, which my "proposal" does not/cannot account for) stems from lack of resources on the level of any given social/population unit, these resources primarily being food and water and, of course, energy. i.e. a family without dinner five out of seven nights a week, a city whose water supply is unclean, these create situations of unrest, situations where that social unit breaks down, someone in the family robs a store to feed their kids, people leave the city and it dies, along with all the energy invested in it, chaos and waste.

The fundamental concern then is insuring that any given social unit (family, business, city, state, country) has readily and widely available energy and water and food. The lower the level of population unit that these three fundamentals are based in, the more stable an economy and society will be. All of this is of course assuming the given government is doing it's, perhaps one, rightful job (protecting it's people).

Direct threats to these three fundamentals boils down to energy and how energy is spent. One of the largest factors in ensuring stable energy is conservation of resources. Using what is there first, and consuming energy to move (obtain) those resources about absolutely last. i.e. things like designing every housing unit (private home, apartment complex, etc.) to do something (as much as possible) to provide these basics, harvest rain water, grow a garden, wind turbines, solar panels, whatever is viable, and I hope you can see that A LOT of those basics being provided to a significant degree is quite viable. The earlier in the "energy ladder" we can attain these basics, the more stable and more sustainable a society is. i.e. you don't have to pay for the transport and processing of as much food or water or energy, so it is cheaper for all of society to live, it is more stable. Part of this is also a complete rethinking of civil design, of how any given societal unit (towns, cities, and up) is arranged to function within itself and with other societal units, neighboring towns, states, countries, planets, on up. Much of this comes down to transport, and even more of it is pointless to get into here. Hopefully you get the basics.

Another threat to economies and societies are, you guessed it, things we cannot control. Natural disasters/climate, disease, crazy-ass-dictators, etc. So what do we do about these? Dictators, we have snipers and bombers. Disease, we have quarantines and vaccines and all that good stuff. Ah, but what about the climate and natural disasters!

Well, you see in our steps to stabilize the economy and social units, we have already done all that can feasibly be done to negate the affects of any change in climate or natural disaster by ensuring that any given level of society is more self-reliant in it's basics. If your water is used reasonably (i.e. not to grow blue grass in arid climes, not gallons upon gallons to flush a toilet or run a dishwasher) and your food is grown indoors in green houses and using hydroponics and significant portions of your energy comes from the ground or wind or sun. You will also find that energy source viable at low societal levels are also quite clean, quite carbon friendly.

We already take drastic steps to control emissions, anything more is masochistic and counter-productive. What we need is progressive policies, progressive strategies, not punitive and regressive counter measures, to essentially change the way the entire world thinks and operates. This is sustainable development, this is what the future has to look like. Easy as that.

;P
defunctdiety
3 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2009
I could write out another post just as long about the negative aspects the AGW debate has taken this whole process.

Even though most people say the believe in it, it doesn't mean much to them in reality. The time frame is too long, the reality of it all is unclear, it sounds good, but it's very ephemeral. You talk money, food and water, people will understand.

Most of the AGW debate places no responsibility on individuals. It's the carbon emitters, darn them. They are causing this world to go to hell in a hand basket. Individuals love hearing that. But that shit ain't true. EVERYTHING comes down to individuals, and individual actions, every day.

AGW may prove to be as great a boon to some people of the world as it could be a bane to others. It's so widely varying and uncertain. What's known is known is very little, not very significant. What's known is unknown is quite large and very significant, especially when these unknowns are being largely left out, or not accounted for properly, in the determination of the future of the world. And then there are unknown unknowns, and as we hopefully learned from Rummy, you should not act solely on the known knowns, yea?

But let's look at something else. Who would not want you to be as self-reliant as you possibly could be? What group would want you to need them? A group that depends on your perception of need of them for funding, perhaps. A group that the more need you have of them, the more money they get and the more they can finance their interests and push their own personal agendas. Can you think of any bodies that rely on the public for funding? Hint, one starts with Govern- and ends with -ment, the other is Religion. Religion loses power with every passing day. Government is on the path of gaining it, everyday. Making you more reliant upon them.

Let me know what you think, please.
Damon_Hastings
1 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2009
Great, anything before the neogene, have at it.

Okay, thanks. That takes us to about 23 million years ago. I'm happy to modify my future comments on this basis. I'll change "unprecedented" to "unprecedented within the past 20 million years." Would you agree with that, then?
Damon_Hastings
1 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2009
defunctdiety,

Wow! That was really comprehensive! I see hints of permaculture, new urbanism, alternative energy, and alternative building peppered throughout your post... all things I'm becoming interested in myself. What do you like for building materials? I've been looking a lot at cob... inexpensive, fireproof, nearly earthquake-proof (with its fiber reinforcements), and combined with straw bale it can make excellent use of passive solar and insulation. It's gained a lot of traction in the Pacific northwest lately, and it's even made it into the building codes for many counties. There's something called a "rocket stove" which you can build into the house to heat it on a few sticks of wood per day (when combined with the superior insulation and passive solar) -- you might be familiar with it. I haven't looked into hydroponics, but I have been reading up on forest gardening. Wind and solar also look promising for household energy generation.

I like your analogy of the "energy ladder" -- it's sort of like the food chain. The closer a species is to the Sun in the food chain, the more abundant it can be. Not that I think humans necessarily need to be more abundant. ;-)

I think there's a lot to the idea of self-reliant homesteading. Homesteading used to be the norm -- we only lost that self-reliance very recently in human history! But it saves money, and it saves energy, so it makes sense both for the community and the individual. The big question is, how to get more people on board? The billions we've pumped into alternative energy research will do a lot to get people "off the grid" -- I mean, heck, if you could get solar panels for $0.01/kWh right now (including amortized purchase/installation costs), I think most Americans would turn off their electric service tomorrow! So I expect that part to be resolved within a decade or five. But it would take a lot more to convince people to use local food, local building materials, etc. I have trouble convincing people to use energy-efficient light bulbs!! Local food is usually more expensive, or more work. A lot of conservation ideas can be built into houses/apartments as you suggest, and these save money over the long run but cost a lot of money up front. Individual owners might make this money back if they stay in the house for several decades -- but big housing developers might prefer to invest this money into building additional houses which can immediately generate additional profit, which can be used to build more houses, etc. Perhaps there needs to be market demand first, and supply will follow. And that means reaching the hearts and minds of the people. I think you have some great ideas, and I would love to see wider adoption.
Velanarris
not rated yet Aug 13, 2009
Great, anything before the neogene, have at it.


Okay, thanks. That takes us to about 23 million years ago. I'm happy to modify my future comments on this basis. I'll change "unprecedented" to "unprecedented within the past 20 million years." Would you agree with that, then?


But you still can't say that conclusively. Using subjective terms like unprecedented are spin based. It adds unnecessary subjective information to what should be a purely factual discussion. There's too much spin, on both sides, for rational people to have a discussion in the middle.
Damon_Hastings
2.5 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2009
Okay, I think we're really closing in on a middle ground here. How about "the highest rate of CO2 increase in the past few million years?" No spin, no connotations; just math. I even cut down the time scale a little further to be safe.
Velanarris
not rated yet Aug 13, 2009
Okay, I think we're really closing in on a middle ground here. How about "the highest rate of CO2 increase in the past few million years?" No spin, no connotations; just math. I even cut down the time scale a little further to be safe.

I agree, and at least in the middle ground we can have a conversation.
otto1923
not rated yet Aug 13, 2009
Otto just returns from EuroDisney victory trip-

Crisis is Opportunity!

We live in a crisis-driven world. Look at all the essential tech and power the west gained from the 'cold war'. We now have the impetus for developing nanotech, energy production and storage, medical, robotics whose time has come. Soon we will be living comfortably in space thanks to global warming.
otto1923
not rated yet Aug 13, 2009
-Also food production, genetics, biochemistry, astrophysics ... terraforming, etc. Hail to Those who manipulate us!
defunctdiety
1 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2009
I see hints of permaculture, new urbanism, alternative energy, and alternative building peppered throughout your post...

You're analysis is spot on. I had never heard of permaculture referred to as such, but that's exactly the idea. As far as building materials, I'm trying to get my brother (who is a draftsmen/architect-to-be) interested in sustainable development and earthship type principles and leave that domain to him, sorry I can't provide any feedback there.

The big question is, how to get more people on board?
...
Local food is usually more expensive, or more work.
...
A lot of conservation ideas can be built into houses/apartments as you suggest, and these save money over the long run but cost a lot of money up front.
...
Perhaps there needs to be market demand first, and supply will follow. And that means reaching the hearts and minds of the people.

That is the big question. One of the first and most important steps to getting people on board, in my opinion, is changing the AGW focused rhetoric, i.e. more comprehensive education about the underlying principles and how it goes way beyond climate and carbon emissions.

A significant number of people (those who are able economically and of a "society/future first" mindset) would get behind these changes right away, just as they have with AGW, and incorporate them into their life, if only they are made to be aware of how much more of a difference these "base level" changes can make, over the "carbon footprint", -post-consumption- focus of the present global warming argument.

It doesn't even mean abandoning AGW, that would not be productive either, but just expand the relation of it to everything else, incorporate it into a larger vision. Education, education, education. These principles make sense, they make cold hard concrete factual sense, and people can get behind that so much easier than the tenuous AGW catastrophe.

Regarding the economics of it, your analysis of local agriculture cost is accurate to a certain degree of when you are at middle levels of the energy ladder, mass agriculture is cheaper because of volume mid-level agriculture loses that volume benefit but still has a similar proportional overhead. So ideally would be to take it down to the level of neighborhoods, or even apartment complex and individual housing. Essentially glorified gardens. And it's not practical or even ideal to completely replace commercial agriculture, but just a healthy supplement, whatever is viable. You are however completely right about the work aspect, these low level conservation efforts either require the spare-time work of those who utilize it, or paying workers which if it's a mobile workforce that tends large numbers of these micro-agricultures in a sensibly organized civic area (keep transport to minimum), I think could be economical.

Regarding the initial investment for the housing builders, you are right, at least for now. Hopefully as technology improves and is made more widespread, the initial cost will go down. Some things could be done fairly cheaply now, where they are viable, like small supplementary power wind turbines, solar water heaters, rain cistern systems. Also like you say, raising demand is important. Which goes back to the big question.

It all comes down to straight, factual, brutally honest talk and people with vision and voice. Politics stands directly in the way of all this. I believe the government and possibly segements of the free market capitalist system will resist these types of developments from becoming widespread, every step of the way. They would rather have your money, as much of it as they can get as often as they can get it. They do not want sustainable development, that's the thing about all this, it requires unimpeded observance of point blank truth and responsibility, something most of Americans seem to be loathe to for a variety of reasons.

The only people that benefit from truly sustainable development in the end is "the consumer", obviously everyone is a consumer, but I mean the average guy, in that they can consume (spend) less while maintaining the same lifestyle, the wealthy and those who depend on your constant need of everything to be provided to you, do not gain as significant a benefit.

It is also bad for the government who want you to have to worry about these things (food, water, energy) and will be sure to institute any system that perpetuates inflation into infinity (as they did in 1913 with the institution of the Federal Reserve) so that you "keep your place" as the "proliteriat" the people who do the grunt work and pay for everything to keep going, and some market sectors who want you to need them for maintaining any lifestyle. But if the Vision can get out there, you cannot stop the People.
otto1923
1 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2009
@defunctdiety
Your brother may already be aware of LEED requirements for green buildings and site development:
http://www.usgbc....oryID=19
-being adopted by jurisdictions all over. Good place to start.
defunctdiety
not rated yet Aug 13, 2009
Perhaps there needs to be market demand first, and supply will follow.


There's something more I would like to put out there regarding the above.

Market capitalism is not designed to predict. It is designed to react. It is too risky to try and anticipate when and where a market will go, so it just reacts, it's literally economical to work that way.

The only way to predict or know the demand (NEED) for sustainable technology, is to know when fossil fuel demand is going to begin outpacing supply, and when eventually supply will begin to fall. Which at that point if demand is still rising... well, things will get ugly, to say the least.

The only people that probably have any real idea about fossils supply and demand, are the people who have made unimaginable fortunes off of it. And I don't know about you, but I don't trust them to tell the world, "Hey guys, we're starting to run a little low here, you might want to start finding another way to do things."... And of course, those people will want to maintain their revenue, so surely they'll start working on the next "it" energy supply and we'll all know, right? No. They may be working on the next big thing, but we won't know, and I guarantee they will milk fossils for everything they can get.

Ergo, we, and the market, will not know there is the demand until it is too late to do anything but pay the exorbitant prices that fossils will then cost, while we try to scramble and make the transition.

Maybe a little over-exagerated... maybe not. You can determine your own reality. But I say the farther ahead of the curve we are, as much as the market can possibly allow for now, the better.
MorganW
not rated yet Aug 14, 2009
@defunctdiety: I think that they do TRY to predict market trends; certainly the fashion industry does, but it's very difficult to find the elusive bellweather. As far as the energy company's milking fossils for everything they can get, you're absolutely right - they've had the technology to maximize fuel-effectiveness since the 60's and 70's. See: http://www.seattl...urce=rss
The only thing that they chose to ignore was consumer demand.
Roger151
not rated yet Sep 02, 2009
This is new to me. I've been reading as much as I can on GW forcing agents and haven't seen any papers on this. It's an interesting view. Can you lease supply references?

Sorry guys, what a load of rot....



Ice Ages are cause by natural oscillations of salt in the sea.



The variations of the sun are ameliorated by corresponding cloud cover.



It is the fresh water/salt water ratio that is the determiner of ocean heat, and it is heat that brings an Ice Age on.



The article is way out of its theoretical depth and appears to be nothing but a concoction from ignorant and simplistic explanations that have been made over the years.



all thumbs down

Roger151
not rated yet Sep 02, 2009
I'm with Otto. I'm quite happy sunning myself in the current Holocene warm patch. Not sure I can really face the prospect of freezing for the next 80,000 years. New York will not be so much fun buried under a kilometer deep ice sheet. If we can truly influence temperature, as the AGW'ers think, then we need a grander plan of complete climate manipulation. I know... let's create a global taxation method to do just that. As we all know; taxes can control temperature!
Ice age- bad. No ice age- good. Industrialization has provided a method for manipulating earths atmosphere. Have we: 1. Already averted the start of another ice age? Or 2. Provided the materials to do so at the proper time? The idea of removing atmospheric CO2 and storing it underground for later use, should we need to warm things up, has merit. A global 'thermostat' if you will. And if global warming is real then we pretty much have to do something with it now, right? Our hand is forced again-



MorganW
3 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2009
As our Dear Leader's Chief of Staff (Rahm Emmanuel) said, "Never let a serious crisis go to waste".
http://www.usatod...2xCcGv/1

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