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Methane Gas And Climate Change


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Y'see , there you go again LG? You speak as though CH4 releases are a thing of little consequence and , at best, a scare storey for the future.

The only 'fright' that awaits us is the same as it has been this last 10years as science explores ,and uncovers, the scale of the ongoing changes (and there implications).

When I was 17 the thoughts then on the Siberian shelf deposits where that they were as stable as they had ever been (and it was probably true at that time as we still had cold SST's above them and ice near year round!) and would cause no concern over the coming millenia.

The same , at that time, was true of the permafrosts across the northern regions.

You speak as though my A level Geog teacher was still spot on with his info yet you have to concede that there have been massive changes across the Arctic since the early 80's? It is both the scale and speed of those changes that is re-writing what we once held as true. Not only do we know that the off shore reserves run far deeper (below a layer of 'fossil ice' from our penultimate glaciation) but also the surface layer is destabilising allowing sea water ingress into the deposits.

On land we know the permafrost is melting and that 'new' lakes are now producing large amounts of methane. We know that some areas of the permasfrost are now burning over summer as the material dries out and the ice layer shrinks further back into the ground. The land permafrost is answering to the slow warm up of the planet and so is not as great a concern as the submerged deposits which are surrounded , year round, by a melting medium that produce 'flash melt' in the hydrate deposits if allowed to come into contact with them.

With the changes to Arctic sea ice behaviour we have witnessed over the past 5 years, and the date for a seasonal pack now brought forward into a time period merely years away (no longer the decades of 5 years ago) we have to accept that the submerged deposits are at risk from continued degradation and CH4 releases.

1% loss of that deposit was what was cited as bringing as much CO2 into the atmosphere as we have done over the industrial revolution, and this will be without the mitigation that our particulate pollution has brought in terms of offsetting temp rises by global dimming, how can this not be of immediate concern?

It is one thing securing the paddock after Neddy has fled but to stand idle whilst you watch him nose the gate ajar and flee before securing the paddock is pure negligence!

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Permafrost is thawing rapidly. How much should we worry?  

fishthekiller500 posted links, maps and evidence.  I don't necessarily agree with the methane runaway global warming idea, but if I was going to dismiss it I'd 1) make it clear where the fault lies in

IMO the only honest answer you can give a child is that CO2 has the potential to change the climate but we don't know how much, where will be impacted the most or in what way. The most important thing

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.....It is one thing securing the paddock after Neddy has fled but to stand idle whilst you watch him nose the gate ajar and flee before securing the paddock is pure negligence!

GW you speak cobblers of the highest magnitude, but that aside what do you mean by "stand idle"?

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If you were stuck in a wheelchair unable to close the gate surely you'd raise the alarm so that someone more capable could do the task?

All my years of posting (and my music career before that) have been an acceptance that I am not in a position to either bring forth answers or implement solutions but that there will be folk out there who can.

The only way some of those folk will be brought to the task at hand is by alerting them to the issues (asking for help) so that they can turn their minds to the problem.

To permanently be seen to say 'there is no problem' equates, to my way of understanding, to 'standing idle'. More than that folk who take the 'there is no problem ...it's all happened before.....it's just a natural thing.....we should wait 30yrs until we have better data....are giving folk the impression that there is no issue at hand or that we have time to sit on our hands.

Currently each month brings us more confimation that things are bad , far worse than we origionally thought, and that issues we can associate with AGW are now becoming ever more common across the globe (even if we cannot say this is 100% AGW driven).

Each year shows us how quickly the Polar ice volume is reducing and that the losses no longer need a 'perfect storm' to continue losing mass. Each year brings the region accelerated coastal errosion and extreme temperatures impacting the local eco-systems (teaching native folk about the perils of Wasps kinda says it all).

I believe that solutions to our problems will be found in the imagination of common folk around the globe (think global ,act local?) but those folk need to know that the battle to save our way of life is joined and is not just an imaginary thing (in the minds of a minority od scientist) much further down the line.

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By the same token, if you're holding that gate open and they decline to pass through, should you push them, or accept that they may have plans to go another way, or perhaps sit and watch before making up their minds, or that perhaps they know of another gate on a path they prefer? Shouldn't they be left to make up their own minds?

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I'm sorry J' but that seems like a dicey gamble? I understand what you are saying but i'd guess you'd know full well that we would not have sayings including 'bolting horses' were they not prone to do just that? The saying certainly is not 'bolting the gate after the horse decided to stay put'?

Though running a little 'off topic' the issue here is playing down the serious nature of the threats we understand to exist. GHG temp forcing (and the current mitigation through cooling by global dimming), CH4 release from land and ocean as the Arctic warms, Albedo flip as we lose summer snow and ice cover across the north (not an issue in winter!) and it's local impact on ice/snow levels, sea level rises, increases in extreme weather across growing areas of the world.

If these issues are accepted as 'real' and a threat to mankinds current way of existing then the more folk turning their minds to those issues the more likely we are to find ways to either mitigate those impacts or ways to alter the current direction that climate is headed in?

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Methane only survives a short time in the atmosphere, it sounds like another overblown scare to me.

Yes 4, only a decade of 22 times the power to warm as CO2 and then it degrades into measly old CO2 to spend hundreds of years warming.

Maybe if it was released whilst a portion of the suns energy was being deflected by our particulate pollution we'd get off even lighter???

We are told that the last time CO2 was at 400ppm was over 125,000yrs ago and temps were so high as to see 1/3 of Greenland ice free and most of the west Antarctic Ice sheet absent (with a sea channel from Weddell to Ross). This in turn would free up that portion of the 'dormant' carbon cycle buried below these ice sheets (and from the melting of the permafrost).

We know that the Antarctic landmass became glaciated when CO2 levels dipped below 450ppm and it would appear we are destined to raise atmospheric CO2 beyond this level by melting out portions of the dormant ice sheet we last saw deglaciated the last time GHG's were at our current level of 400ppm.

To me it appears that we will inherit an amount of GHG's the same size as we added to the pre-industrial levels to bring them up to todays levels.

Of course this will be far above the levels that saw Antarctica first form ice sheets suggesting a total melt out of Antarctica is currently in the pipeline (and the portion of the dormant carbon cycle buried beneath this ice sheet will also come into play) as is a full melt out of Greenland.

I am not saying that this will occur over a short time frame but continuing on our current path would seem to see us locked into such raises by levering temps , via fossil portions of an ancient, long buried and removed from the surface, carbon cycle so as to liberate dormant sections of our 'current' carbon cycle (one in existence since post 65 million years ago).

We know that 55 million years ago the Carbon cycle enabled a planet with palms and crocs on Ellesmere Island and lions/Hippo's in Trafalgar sq. Is that a climate legacy we would wish to leave to our future?

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I'm sorry J' but that seems like a dicey gamble? I understand what you are saying but i'd guess you'd know full well that we would not have sayings including 'bolting horses' were they not prone to do just that? The saying certainly is not 'bolting the gate after the horse decided to stay put'?

Though running a little 'off topic' the issue here is playing down the serious nature of the threats we understand to exist. GHG temp forcing (and the current mitigation through cooling by global dimming), CH4 release from land and ocean as the Arctic warms, Albedo flip as we lose summer snow and ice cover across the north (not an issue in winter!) and it's local impact on ice/snow levels, sea level rises, increases in extreme weather across growing areas of the world.

If these issues are accepted as 'real' and a threat to mankinds current way of existing then the more folk turning their minds to those issues the more likely we are to find ways to either mitigate those impacts or ways to alter the current direction that climate is headed in?

But you're still assuming that if someone doesn't support the idea of AGW then they must live a life of wanton, destructive, consumerism. That's a false assumption and IMO an attempt to take a moral high ground to silence critics. You're also over looking the fact that individuals can do very little to alter greenhouse emissions, industry is where your criticism should lay, not on folk who disagree with you.

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I don't know where you get the impression J' but it is certainly not implicit in my writings.

I am concerned about folk understanding both the science we have currently and the way things are looking to develop.

Though increasingly corrupt the notion of supply and demand (and not our current 'create a demand' to fill your supply) still holds and so the 'consumer' does control output and so the way industry works. But that is for another conversation.

The issue of 'natural GHG's', via the workings of the carbon cycle, is a very important one. I think that nobody doubts that the carbon cycle was far larger when the world was warmer. We have discovered portions of the 'dormant' carbon cycle under both Antarctica and Greenland's ice sheets.

Does anyone know why we should not inherit these portions of the dormant carbon cycle?

History shows that the last time CO2 was at 400ppm Greenland was only 2/3rds ice covered and the West Antarctic ice sheet was not there.

We , via the release of deep buried carbon that had been removed from the carbon cycle for hundreds of millions of years (for most of the Carboniferous coal measures), have raised CO2 levels from the pre-industrial level to 400ppm.

Due to global Dimming and climate inertia we have not yet inherited the full temperature rise that the GHG level dictates but surely our history shows us that it is only a matter of time until temps do rise to a point comparable with past periods of 400ppm CO2?

When this occurs we know the planet will have lost 1/3rd of Greenland's ice sheet and all of the W.A.I.S. Buried beneath that ice is the portion of the dormant carbon cycle that should have raised CO2 levels from pre-industrial levels to 400ppm.

The math is simple. What we have introduced into the current carbon cycle, from portions of the planets 'fossil Carbon cycle', will be equally matched by natures dormant section of our current carbon cycle.

We now need to remember that Antarctica first became glaciated when global CO2 fell below 450ppm. My math tells me that the 'balance' that nature has had in the past pushes CO2 levels well beyond 450ppm even if we stop industrial production of CO2 tomorrow.

This would seem to suggest the total loss of both Greenland's ice sheet and that of the Antarctic ice sheet and the further addition of the carbon cycle lying dormant beneath them.

Where does this leave us? It would appear to leave us with CO2 levels the same as the last time we had an ice free planet plus the CO2 we have introduced into the carbon cycle.

Recent studies have shown the importance of peat reserves in drawing down CO2 from the atmosphere and possibly being part of that which brought about the first glaciation in our current glacial period. With our destruction of peat plus the warming such fantastical hikes in CO2 would bring will we see the destruction of 'peat' and so bring the planet from this current glacial epoch?

None of this will occur overnight. The fastest changes that we will see occur would be from rapid releases of Methane. A possible scenario for this to occur would be if current thinking on global Dimming is correct as we could find a rapid warming of the planet (to the levels that we have seen past 400ppm CO2 support) over a few years. With Methane deposits already destabilising at current rates of warming any sudden hike in temp would surely speed such a release and possibly drive a feedback loop until a balance is again established.

As I have spelled out any 'feedback loop' will include all of the 'dormant' carbon cycle currently held in suspended animation around the globe (plus the carbon we have released from fossil carbon cycles) so we would not see 'runaway warming' but would see 'Catastrophic warming'.

It would appear to me that , over time we need to claw back the CO2 that we have introduced into the system lest it kick-starts this 'meltdown , over time, of the ice sheets and feeds back into the current carbon cycle elements that have lain dormant for tens of millions of years.

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Even I'm having problems trying to make much sense out of whatever it is you're saying, Ian....

And I thought The Times crossword was cryptic. I'm not sure that even GW himself knows what he's trying to get across, just comes over to me as some floundering ramble borne of AGW fantasies. Anyways,methane.... There was a programme on telly a while back where this guy,presumably empowered with half a million grants,worked out that one of the planet's great extinctions was brought about by this vast release of methane which was touched off by lightning and caused this incredible fireball which took everything with it! Ye,that's right! I was sat staring slack-jawed at the telly wondering what depths my life had reached if I'm watching this sort of nonsense. Then snapped back into reality as I realised I do just that on a daily basis on NW, albeit for only a few minutes at a time. Gotta get a grip,gotta get a grip....

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I'm sorry if it appears that way LG , I'm just trying to pull back the spyglass to allow us a wider view of the issues the planet may face?

Without dipping into the how's , whys and wherefore's why not just look at how the planet has worked over the past 65 million years to try and understand how the carbon cycle and temps interact under forcings ( both to temps and , via flood basalts, to CO2 engorgement).

We know from looking at data over the glacial epoch that we have suffered multiple contractions and expansions of the Carbon cycle and these have had corresponding impacts on global temps. The more CO2 the higher the temps , the less CO2 the lower the temps. We have also seen what happens if nature introduces Carbon from inside the planet (and outside of the carbon cycle) and it's impacts on global temps.

all in all I think it safe to say that we can 'guess' at what global temps will be like from viewing the size of the carbon cycle at that time. Likewise we can guess at the size of the carbon cycle from a glimpse at global temps at that time.

That said we know we have increased the carbon cycle by introducing 'hidden' carbon from deep in our geological past. We know how many ppm CO2 currently stands at. Is it not safe to look to parallels of past times when CO2 levels matched today's?

Is it not 'safe' to look at the global temps at that time as a guide to where our global temps will rise to now that we have this extra burden of GHG's in the atmosphere?

Is it also not 'safe' to look at what global ice levels were like when temps and GHG's were at a similar level as today's to find a guide as to what we might expect to occur?

Do we not have the data to show that , buried beneath our ice sheets and locked into the permafrosts, lies a 'dormant portion' of the planets carbon cycle that was last in circulation when global temps were high enough to take it from it's 'suspended animation'?

If Global temps and CO2 do have a rough relationship then is it not safe to say that once temps reach current GHG forcings potential that we will also inherit the part of the carbon cycle that comes into operation at those temps?

If we accept that we will then this will push global CO2 levels even higher (without human intervention) leading to further warming and further melt out releasing more of the 'dormant Carbon cycle' into the Atmosphere and further warming temps/driving releases etc,etc,etc?

I am not alone in housing the fear that by releasing CO2, that should not normally have returned into the atmosphere, we have 'kicked started' a faux interglacial with the elevated CO2 leading to warming and so re-animating parts of the carbon cycle not active since the last warm interglacial included it in the global carbon cycle. Because we have plumped up the CO2 levels global temps will continue to play 'catchup' until all of the Carbon cycle is liberated and all of the planet is again ice free. The only difference being the CO2 we have added into the atmosphere will sit on top of the carbon cycle we used to have the last time the planet was fully ice free and that must take us above the thermal maximum?

In the majority of past 'warmings' we have been dependant on slow solar forcings to melt ice and relese carbon which then slowely entered the carbon cycle as biomass increased. this time we have just dumped this huge amount of CO2 into the atmosphere over 150years. This is a very fast rate of increase and I do not think we have the detailed plot of how such a forcing will impact over time. That said should it not follow past warmings and lead us on this trend of ever shrinking ice sheets and ever growing CO2 atmospheric burden? This time around the CO2 forcing will always stay well ahead of the game and so natural 'checks and balances will just be overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the GHG forcing.

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We are told that the last time CO2 was at 400ppm was over 125,000yrs ago and temps were so high as to see 1/3 of Greenland ice free and most of the west Antarctic Ice sheet absent (with a sea channel from Weddell to Ross)

So not too long in our past in the whole scheme of things and no sign of an industrial revolution to pin this on?

Had to post this because my twins (age 10) read these pages. One of them came out with this statement.... Now if they can see the problem with conflicting messages you can understand why many adults think AGW is a load of tosh.

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Had to post this because my twins (age 10) read these pages. One of them came out with this statement.... Now if they can see the problem with conflicting messages you can understand why many adults think AGW is a load of tosh.

I would have thought that's the point where the more adult ability to comprehend processes beyond their own surroundings comes into play?

Greenhouse gasses have fluctuated naturally before, I think that's one of the few things everyone can agree on. Understanding what caused that in the past can improve ones ability to determine the current mechanism.

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I would have thought it quite plain , from the recent ice ages and interglacials that our 'carbon cycle' is rarely 'all in play' at any one time?

For those who struggle with the concept you need to go back to the last thermal max and see the scale of the carbon cycle then to understand the potential size of the 'natural' carbon cycle?

It must be just as plain that if you take a whole continent and the planets largest island out of the carbon cycle (and seal it's carbon below km's of ice) then you will see both a reduced 'working' carbon cycle and Global temperatures that reflect this?

Add into the carbon cycle GHG's from a long buried carbon cycle (the carboniferous gets it's name from ....guess what?) then you 'mimic' a release of a part of the carbon cycle currently in suspended animation below the ice sheets. Of course the planet does not know this and responds as it would had that carbon cycle been re-animated and temps rise. This then , naturally melts out the ice and reveals the long dormant portion of the carbon cycle and off we go!

If we accept we can re-animate parts of a carbon cycle buried for hundreds of millions of years why is it so difficult to imagine the size of our current carbon cycle once we remove the ice that keeps it out of our current, 'animated' carbon cycle?

Simples (Squeak!)

My 10yr old does not have any difficulty in understanding that the current carbon cycle is far larger than we see at work at present. He appears to understand that recent (in geological times) epochs with Crocs in the Arctic needed a much warmer insulator for the planet seeing as the sun was similar in power to todays?

I'd imagine that you'd need to explain that the current glacial epoch is a bit of a rareity for our world and most ages saw a near ice free planet that was not blighted by 'ice ages' and , as such, the 'normal' size of the planets carbon cycle is far bigger than the one we see in operation at present?

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I would have thought it quite plain , from the recent ice ages and interglacials that our 'carbon cycle' is rarely 'all in play' at any one time?

For those who struggle with the concept you need to go back to the last thermal max and see the scale of the carbon cycle then to understand the potential size of the 'natural' carbon cycle?

It must be just as plain that if you take a whole continent and the planets largest island out of the carbon cycle (and seal it's carbon below km's of ice) then you will see both a reduced 'working' carbon cycle and Global temperatures that reflect this?

Add into the carbon cycle GHG's from a long buried carbon cycle (the carboniferous gets it's name from ....guess what?) then you 'mimic' a release of a part of the carbon cycle currently in suspended animation below the ice sheets. Of course the planet does not know this and responds as it would had that carbon cycle been re-animated and temps rise. This then , naturally melts out the ice and reveals the long dormant portion of the carbon cycle and off we go!

If we accept we can re-animate parts of a carbon cycle buried for hundreds of millions of years why is it so difficult to imagine the size of our current carbon cycle once we remove the ice that keeps it out of our current, 'animated' carbon cycle?

Simples (Squeak!)

My 10yr old does not have any difficulty in understanding that the current carbon cycle is far larger than we see at work at present. He appears to understand that recent (in geological times) epochs with Crocs in the Arctic needed a much warmer insulator for the planet seeing as the sun was similar in power to todays?

I'd imagine that you'd need to explain that the current glacial epoch is a bit of a rareity for our world and most ages saw a near ice free planet that was not blighted by 'ice ages' and , as such, the 'normal' size of the planets carbon cycle is far bigger than the one we see in operation at present?

I wonder if everything could go to hell with regards the Arctic methane either this summer or some time in 2014.

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I'm looking through the PDO figures from the last PDO-ve phase and comparing it to this current one (if that is possible?) and I'm beginning to believe that this -ve phase will not act in any way like that one. I have no doubt that , post event, 98' will be accepted as the start year (as originally stated by the agencies dealing with forecast and monitoring the PDO) and that the swing back positive through the early mid noughties will be part of this 'milded out' PDO -ve. That said, at some point soon we will see a flip back to warm forcings that look set to coincide with a reduction in our globally dimmed state.

The albedo flip ongoing and the loss of sea ice combined with the above will lead to a further release of the 'dormant carbon cycle' which will in it's turn add to the warming.

We are just about to try and plan a 50% reduction in CO2 outputs by 2050. that is another 40 years a 2ppm per year or another 80ppm putting the level of CO2 our current 390 odd plus 80. this is before we factor in any further releases of the carbon cycle. Antarctica started to put on ice when CO2 dropped below 450ppm. By 2050 we may already be committed to losing Antarctica (and Greenland of course) and so adding it's dormant carbon back into the carbon cycle.

As I said in my latest update....... " What have the future generations ever done for me?" ......

It can be our only excuse for inaction surely?

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I would have thought that's the point where the more adult ability to comprehend processes beyond their own surroundings comes into play?

I agree. The thing I was getting at was the lack of clarity and the similarity. Kids are left to do their own research pretty much.

My 10yr old does not have any difficulty in understanding that the current carbon cycle is far larger than we see at work at present. He appears to understand that recent (in geological times) epochs with Crocs in the Arctic needed a much warmer insulator for the planet seeing as the sun was similar in power to todays?

That's great stuff Ian. The more they get to see at that age, the easier their understanding becomes when they are older. The more they understand, the more they can make up their own mind on things. The clearer the information is the more likely it is that they pick the correct answer. This is a forum for all ages and was just pointing out how my daughter saw things in your post. It shows how confusing this subject can be but yet it will be that age group that may have a major job of tidying up the mess if methane becomes a major problem. Kids only have a short attention span and we need to be able to use that span to grab their attention.

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Hi P.P.!

I'm always aware of the number of 'lurkers' who flit through the threads and I do try and be as clear about my understanding of things as I can . LG makes me feel that this can be a bit of a fail at times!

For a number of years now I've been talking about 'when Mother N. takes over the warming' as I've always been mindful of the extent of the potential Carbon cycle (from the size it has operated at over recent geological past) and that any warming will just bring part of that 'hibernating' cycle back into play.

This does all depend on the relationship between temperature and GHG's and whether you can accept that either temp or GHG levels can lead the 'dance' in raising their levels in the atmosphere.

For me it appears apparent that this relationship holds and the rare occurrences of CO2 rises occurring first have lead to the global temps rising and we all know what occurs when orbital forcing raises global temps.

I know the way the cycle expands is not fully understood but if you pull back from the complexities all you are left with is that they will respond.

We have raised global temps already (and it would appear that we have not reached the potential temp that GHG's dictate it should rise to?) so we will see some melt back of the ice sheets over time. This will introduce natural carbon from the currently 'hibernating' carbon cycle.

The Methane losses from both permafrost and submerged Hydrates are part of this response and , over time, will lead to further hikes in global temp which , in their turn , will release back into the carbon cycle even more GHG's.

If we accept that we are on this path then I feel we owe it future generations to think about clawing back the CO2 that we have placed into the atmosphere in the hope that this will slow and stop the process and allow Nature to take care of the global Carbon cycle.?

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Where on Netweather will the Energy Bill be discussed? In this thread?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20451189

Seems like serious emissions control is being ignored..

Much politicking about, as revealed by the Greenpeace "sting"..

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20328297

I just wish I could take some of those politicians a walk around year-long sodden useless farmland and flooded roads in this area.

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Where on Netweather will the Energy Bill be discussed? In this thread?

http://www.bbc.co.uk...siness-20451189

Seems like serious emissions control is being ignored..

Much politicking about, as revealed by the Greenpeace "sting"..

http://www.bbc.co.uk...litics-20328297

I just wish I could take some of those politicians a walk around year-long sodden useless farmland and flooded roads in this area.

As this will impact all of us, not just those with an interest in climate, I've opened a thread here: http://forum.netweather.tv/topic/75062-new-energy-plans-and-the-cost-to-us/

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We are just hopeless addicts though Rainy. Some so hooked that they defend their addiction at every opportunity (why have your Monica as a 'Gas Guzzler' if your not such?). We know we must control GHG outputs yet we are glad we are Fracking so we don't need face our 'cold Turkey' (Peak oil pushed back as few more years?). How many 'Coal Fired power stations are planned to open over the next 5 years? How are we to get back to 350ppm if we are still actively expanding our fossil fuel usage?

I've laboured over the 'carbon cycle' as a part of the climate shift we have instigated. Antone still not grasping it look out of your window. See how winter impacts the 'seasonal' Carbon Cycle. Where will all that growth come from next spring? All those leaves? all that grass? all that biomass? Over winter the carbon cycle shrinks. It does not mean it will not expand come Spring. The 'wherewithal' is all around us awaiting warmer conditions.

The larger 'carbon cycle' is just the same. At present we don't have 'seasons' but glacial epochs and interglacials. Some interglacials bring conditions allowing a much more expansive carbon cycle. Our releasing of Fossil Carbon is bring about a very warm interglacial. The part of the carbon cycle , held in suspended animation, that will re- animate under warmer conditions is not a 'myth' or scare story but blind fact.

So where is our addiction taking us?

Only deniers of GHG forcings and buried portions of the carbon cycle need argue here. The rest of us know what is to come over time. Yet still we expand our potential to release fossil carbon that has been out of circulation for hundreds of millions of years whilst some fools still twitter on about things just being 'natural' and part of cycles that occurs normally. How daft is that?

Edited by Gray-Wolf
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