Monday, February 16, 2015

Musings: Unbalanced

Here are a few bits and pieces to ponder on this President's Day....

As politicians drag their feet on reducing carbon emissions and others deny climate change outright, the National Academy of Sciences is tentatively broaching the concept of geoengineering to cool the planet.

As in injecting sulphates into the stratosphere, marine cloud brightening and sucking carbon dioxide from the air and burying it underground. The first proposals, known as albedo-modification techniques, are risky, with unknown consequences, and do nothing to address the associated problem of ocean acidification. But they're appealing because they could be done with existing technology. However, as the Associated Press reports:

[O]nce you start this type of tinkering, it would be difficult to stop because warming would come back with such a force. So a decision to spray particles into the air would have to continue for more than 1,000 years.

Removing the carbon dioxide produced by burning coal, oil and gas would be costly, require new technology and take decades to cool the planet. But it would actually treat the cause of man-made global warming.

Both approaches are detailed in a two-volume report that was requested by U.S. intelligence agencies, which have long recognized the political and social instability that could result from food shortages, prolonged droughts, coastal flooding and other weather changes associated with climate change.

The AP report continues:

Panel chairwoman Marcia McNutt, editor of the journal Science and former director of the U.S. Geological Survey, said in an interview that the public should read this report "and say, 'This is downright scary.' And they should say, 'If this is our Hail Mary, what a scary, scary place we are in.'"

Some scientists say it's time to begin small-scale outdoor tests of the solar radiation management (SRM) concept, which works by creating a cloud cover that mimics the natural effects of large volcanic eruptions. But McNutt and other scientists say some sort of oversight is needed. The AP quotes McNutt as saying:

Civil society needs to engage in these discussions where the line is to be drawn.”

But when civil society can't civilly discuss genetic engineering, vaccinations and so many other topics, how is it going to debate an issue of this magnitude?

The oceans are also in deep trouble, with The Week summarizing a report in Science magazine that warned human activity — plastic pollution, carbon emissions, overfishing, etc. — is irreparably damaging the world's oceans, which could be on "the precipice of a major extinction event.” It reports:

With oceans absorbing a quarter of the world's CO2 emissions, they have become 30 percent more acidic, causing inhibited shell growth in coral and crustaceans and reproductive disorders in fish. Power plant emissions — especially from burning coal — put tons of highly toxic mercury in the air, which settles into the ocean. The mercury is taken up by sea creatures and concentrated in predatory species. A recent study found that mercury levels in Pacific yellowfin tuna have been rising at a rate of 3.8 percent a year since 1998.

Our oceans contain an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic — most of them less than 5 millimeters wide — weighing a total of 269,000 tons.

[M]ost commercial [fish] species have been reduced by more than 75 percent — and some by 99 percent.

Like global warming, the plight of our oceans is an issue that affects every country in the world. But with each government beholden to its own voters — and its own fishing, plastic, and energy lobbies — it's almost impossible to achieve any consensus.

Meanwhile, the natural environment isn't the only thing out of balance. An Oxfam report found the combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will exceed that of the other 99 percent by 2016. The richest 80 people on the planet had accumulated $1.9 trillion in 2014 — the same amount shared by the 3.5 billion at the bottom — an increase of $600 billion in just four years.

What will it take to "Get the Balance Right"?

While we're on the topic of the 99 percent, I'll leave you with this quote from Willie Nelson:

99 percent of the world's lovers are not with their first choice. That's what makes the jukebox play.”


Anonymous said...

Politicians screw things up, scientists screw things up and religion screws things up. Isn't it is about time we ask God for some help?

Anonymous said...

Globull excuse for these nut jobs to "spray" into the atmosphere. Don't buy that!
"The CO2 "balance" allegedly from human activity intentionally ignores sub-sea volcanic production of CO2. There are an enormous number of these, by the way, and yet there is no so-called greenhouse-gas model that attempts to place upper and lower boundaries on their emissions. It is entirely possible, by the way, that due to this (and the error bands for above-ground volcanic release) man-made CO2 emissions are immaterial -- whether CO2 is involved in climate change or not!"

"Oceanic sequestering of carbon is in fact a chemical buffering reaction. Chemical buffering reactions are, as their name implies, buffers. Their equilibrium point shifts with temperature (and often other things, such as pH.) This is important because the amount of carbon contained in such compounds is enormous (many times that in the atmosphere itself) and this in turn implies that the atmospheric CO2 released or absorbed by same is a consequence of temperature, not a cause."

"The entire premise of CO2 as a "greenhouse gas" flows back to experiments over a hundred years ago. Unfortunately the premise for same may have been flawed as the scientist involved did not understand the difference between opacity and absorption spectra; that simply wasn't understood at the time."

These are just a few that I found...I could find more if I wanted to waste any more time on Globull warming ( or climate change, if you prefer). Yep, things are warming, as you might expect after the last major Ice Age. Carbon taxes, Carbon trades..more political "pollution" that obscures other, more life threatening issues.

Anonymous said...

"...human activity" one of the causes of goal warming. Guess what the real solution will be, fewer humans less activity.
Any volunteers?
Probably not, but those who have the power may need to use it,despite how distasteful it may be.

Anonymous said...

I am glad Kauai is doing it's part by trying to ban Imus and Huli-Huli.
On Super Bowl Sunday it is calculated that over 20,000 hotdogs were cooked on Kauai. Mostly on Hibachis or Open Fire devices.

We are a forward thinking island and are led by true selfless visionaries.

Anonymous said...

Two words
Birth Control

Anonymous said...

You are all being fooled into believing that global warming aka climate change is going to destroy us all. It is the biggest hoax foisted on mankind. It has become the means to redistribute the wealth of the world so that everyone pays "their fair share". What a load of crap.

At least the UN Climate Chief, Christiana Figueres, had the balls to tell the truth....

Anonymous said...

20,000 hot dogs? No matter the figure, it's a guarantee that the carbon emissions from those hibachis pale in comparison to the jet that flew your sorry ass here.

Anonymous said...

Whatever the cause, the southwest and Hawaii are experiencing extremely dry weather. Don't worry, be happy.

Anonymous said...

12:19 Show love and love may find you. No jet got me here.
Tourism is the cleanest industry.
As far as jets go...consider Mining, Forestry, Manufacturing etc. Of the major industries, tourism leaves the smallest footprint and pays the biggest dollar.
We all leave footprints. But a few visitors wandering Na Pali or Kipu Kai is nothing compared to every other industry. Gee whiz, Sugar rained ashes, sprayed Paraquat till the cows came home and dust creeped in every crevice.
All the tourists do is drop dollahs.
Not bad considering there may be as many tourists on Kauai as there are resident adults. A real 50/50 split.
And for the most part these visitors are pretty well mannered and respectful. Be grateful for the tourist.
Of course as Kauai's demographic profile changes and more wealthy newcomers become residents and vote....they will want to stop all development, limit tourists, cars, open fires, block hunting and fishing trails etc. They have now found their Eden and they could give a sh*t if people need jobs or have a different lifestyle. Their pointy noses will be up in every body's bidniss.
This primarily Northshore group is becoming a significant voting block and beleeb me, they don't want no Imu, Pig, or farm next to them. Used ta be, people moved here and flowed. Now they come here and try for tell peoples how for live.
Ya better learn how to teach yoga, mow grass, be a pool boy or some other service.
Welp, 12:19 I gotta go fire up my Hibachi and pelehu some Pupu Rockets and Long Eggplant with Ebi. I might be a criminal next month if out politicians pass the no burn Bill.
As was said at the last Council meeting by a westsider.."it is a mindset"...that guy may have had had it right.
But I say, Bring back the Blalahs. Those Primo Warriors had it right, "No Ack" or it was a one way trip to the Airport.

Anonymous said...

Hey 12:17 PM, Figueres didn't call climate change a hoax. Her statement about changing from a petroleum & coal fueled economy to a sustainably fueled economy that slows the destruction already underway due to global climate change.

"The Top UN Climate Change Official is optimistic that a new international treaty will be adopted at Paris Climate Change conference at the end of the year. However the official, Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, warns that the fight against climate change is a process and that the necessary transformation of the world economy will not be decided at one conference or in one agreement."

Contrary to your scare citation, she said nothing about capitalism.

Anonymous said...

Civil society is discussing genetic engineering and concluding that its reliance on fossil fuel burning corporate monocrop ag is an ecological disaster. Why don't you get that.

Anonymous said...

You're joking, right? You don't know that even the organic farmers are corporations that use fossil-fuel? They use even more fuel because they till more. Some also grow mono crops. Nobody wants to bring back the oxen and plow except maybe you.

Anonymous said...

And who might "civil society" be? Pray tell- are they a clubby group of self nominated people destitute in critical thinking faculties, unacquainted with agriculture beyond the scale of small gardens and yet willing to offer opinions on all things that they know which appears to be not so very much after all? Nevertheless, they also assume they are better than the rest of us weenie roasters and pulehu practitioners. I think we have heard way more than we ever need from them. These "progressive activists" need to be more civil, certainly brighter, much better informed with a modicum more humility and less self assurance than the creatures advertising themselves as such on Kauai. Why don't you get that, 6:53pm?

Anonymous said...

Gary Hooser is blindly setting himself up for a trouncing in the next Council elections. He just made it in the last one. But he's managing to piss off a lot more people with his anti-local proposals which only favor of one or two whiners whose infantile mentality can't solve problems most of us adults handle with ease.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should all move to a plant based diet:

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems..."

"When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.

And it accounts for respectively 37 percent of all human-induced methane (23 times as warming as CO2), which is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants, and 64 percent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain.

Livestock now use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture but also including 33 percent of the global arable land used to producing feed for livestock, the report notes. As forests are cleared to create new pastures, it is a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America where, for example, some 70 percent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing.