Thursday, October 11, 2007


An email from Don Vandervelde []:

Temperature "engineering" by manipulating a reduction in CO2 level is bound to be ineffectual to that purpose, because the known actual trivial effect on temperature of CO2 changes; even while reducing the highly beneficial ability of high CO2 levels to produce both more land and sea greening by plants that increase the earth's life-carrying capacity, while requiring less water to do so.

It may have very beneficial unintended results, though, in a couple of cases. 1) Iron fertilization of the sea not only sequesters CO2, but enhances the amount of food available at the bottom of the food chain, which will inevitably increase the quantity of other sea life at the top, including that part that is harvested for human consumption. 2) The coming boom in nuclear power generation, intended to avoid CO2 generation, will advance the human condition by providing us all cheap, reliable energy. So, let's encourage right actions for wrong reasons.


Compare with the much less dramatic North/South differences in the late 20th century

Nearly 12,900 years ago, as the last ice age was fading away, the world was suddenly plunged back into the freezer for another 1400 years. Temperatures dropped by as much as 12 degrees Celsius, and ice sheets advanced from the polar regions toward the equator. The sudden changes were thought to be global in scale, but new research suggests that the Southern Hemisphere remained relatively balmy as the Northern Hemisphere froze. The results could shed light on what might happen if deep-sea currents change because of global warming.

The cooling episode, known as the Younger Dryas event, was likely linked to currents in the Atlantic Ocean. Today, cold water sinks near the Arctic and flows deep below the surface of the Atlantic toward the southern oceans, where it rises up. It then flows back along the surface northward. Eventually, the water approaches the Arctic again, where it cools and sinks.

This "global conveyor belt" transports heat from the tropics into the Northern Hemisphere, which would otherwise be much colder. If this cycle were disrupted, as some say it might be if the Greenland ice sheet were to slide into the ocean, it could have big implications for the climate. But how big?

The geological history of the Younger Dryas might help answer that question, as a breakdown of the Atlantic conveyor may have triggered the cooling. The chill definitely hit the Northern Hemisphere, but researchers debate whether it was global in extent. In New Zealand, wood has been found under glacial debris dating to the Younger Dryas, suggesting that glaciers responded to the event by growing.

But Timothy Barrows, a paleoclimatologist at the Australian National University near Canberra, and colleagues have found evidence that the Younger Dryas had little chilling effect down under. First, Barrows and colleagues severed the connection between the glacier data and the cooling event. They studied boulders from the New Zealand site where the glacial wood had been found, measuring the concentrations in the rocks of radioactive isotopes beryllium-10 and chlorine-36, which are produced by nuclear reactions between minerals and cosmic rays. This reveals how long it's been since the rocks were last exposed to cosmic rays. The boulders, they report in the 5 October issue of Science, were deposited by glaciers 1000 years after the end of the Younger Dryas. That means that the Southern Hemisphere glaciers kept flowing after the end of the cold snap, implying that the Younger Dryas did not hold sway there.

The researchers found other hints that the Southern Hemisphere didn't cool by examining a deep-sea core drilled off the coast of New Zealand. They analyzed compounds in the rock produced by algae to track ancient ocean temperatures. The data suggested that temperatures in the region warmed during the Younger Dryas, which Barrows says makes sense: "Heat accumulating in the Southern Hemisphere as the north cooled is what we expected to see if the conveyor belt were shut down."

The results undermine previous theories that temperatures in the two hemispheres changed in synchrony, says Derek Fabel, a geomorphologist at the University of Glasgow in the U.K. The next step, Fabel says, is to use climate models to see whether the events would replay themselves if global warming shuts down the Atlantic conveyor once again.



Siberian warming predates the industrial era; does the trend apply to the entire world?

Siberia's Lake Baikal is the world's deepest lake. By water volume, its also the largest freshwater lake, containing more water than all five of the North America's Great Lakes combined. Fed by over 300 rivers, Baikal is a barometer for the entire Siberian region. Due to the lake's depth (over a mile deep in many places), it contains the northern hemisphere's most pristine, uninterrupted sedimentary record, allowing highly accurate reconstructions of past temperatures. Baikal's great distance from the moderating effects of any ocean also makes it an ideal site for detecting global warming.

Researcher Anson Mackay, of the Environmental Change Research Centre, University College, London, has done just that -- reconstructed the climate history of Lake Baikal over the past 800,000 years. The result is the most accurate high-resolution temperature record of Siberia ever constructed. And it contains several surprises. The record clearly demonstrates the region has often been considerably warmer than it is at present. More stunning is the most recent data, which shows Siberia first began warming around 250 years ago -- long before the industrial revolution, and its resultant greenhouse gas emissions.

Mackay concludes, "[Changes] started as early as c. 1750 AD, with a shift from taxa that bloom during autumn overturn to assemblages that exhibit net growth in spring (after ice break-up) ...Warming in the Lake Baikal region commenced before rapid increases in greenhouse gases, and at least initially, is therefore a response to other forcing factors such as insolation changes."

Siberia is, of course, not the entire world. However, the global warming signal is, even today, strongest there. Also, Mackay's paper is not the only research to demonstrate the current warming trend predates the industrial era -- for instance, Braeuning's research in Turkey, Hallert in Canada, or Vollweiler, et al, in Austria/Germany.

Source. Journal abstract here

The Dangers of Those Energy-Saving Light Bulbs

Energy-saving device advocated by Al Gore to 'reduce your carbon impact at home' poses mercury dangers and health risks -- so the Greenies, great mercury-haters though they are, are trying to cover the problem up! It shows you that controlling people is primarily what the Greenies are on about -- not the environment

It's listed as the top thing you can do by Al Gore's Web site on climate change to reduce your carbon impact at home - replacing a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL). But Gore doesn't warn you about what could happen if you improperly dispose of them or even accidentally break one. The Washington Post's Eco Wise columnist Eviana Hartman reminded readers, "they contain a small amount of mercury, a potent neurotoxin." "If you toss the bulbs in the trash, they're likely to break, potentially exposing workers to mercury or releasing it into groundwater and soil from landfills," Hartman wrote in the October 7 Washington Post.

Hartman reported each CFL contains 5 mg of mercury. That doesn't sound like a lot, but consider what happened to Brandy Bridges of Prospect, Maine when a CFL broke in her daughter's bedroom. "One broke," Joseph Farah wrote in an April 16 WorldNetDaily story. "A month later, her daughter's bedroom remains sealed off with plastic like the site of a hazardous materials accident, while Bridges works on a way to pay off a $2,000 estimate by a company specializing in environmentally sound cleanups of the mercury inside the bulb."

Hartman encouraged readers to recycle their dead CFLs or call for a "hazardous waste pickup." She also gave tips for cleaning up CFLs if they break. However, the April 2 Waste News, a trade publication that focuses on issues pertaining to waste products and the environment, reported there has been little discussion about the environmental hazards because of the hype surrounding global warming hysteria: "But warning consumers that they have to dispose of compact fluorescents with care may not be in the best interest of those trying to sell them, she [Ann Moore, recycling coordinator for Burlington County, NJ] said. Along with the additional expense and performance concerns, having to deal with disposing of the bulbs could give consumers another excuse not to buy them, she said. `You probably don't want to do that because you'd hate to wreck the momentum,' Moore said. `And that could kill the movement.'"

Another story about the dangers of CFLs and the lack of warning provided by the manufacturers was reported in the April 14 issue of The (Nashville) Tennessean. "Everybody is throwing all this mercury into the garbage. No one knows this. This should be in bold print on the packaging," Elizabeth Doermann said to The Tennessean after she broke a CFL and vacuumed it up, spreading the mercury contaminants throughout her home. "She held a new package of the lights from which she had learned about the mercury, only after putting on glasses to read the little print. This was after the vacuuming incident," Anne Paine of The Tennessean wrote. "A square, dwarfed by the bar code, contained the phrases `Mercury' and `Manage in accordance with Disposal Laws,' a phone number and a Web address. It did not say that used bulbs should be treated as household hazardous waste."


Greenies are now aiming to control space exploration!

They never let up and they are never happy

It may be a century or two, or even three, before humankind calls another planet home, but researchers say lessons learnt from the settlement of Australia will prove useful for the future colonisation of other planets. NASA plans to send human exploration missions to the Moon and Mars within the next two decades, with scientists hoping this will eventually lead to the building of a lasting civilisations beyond the Earth.

But a University of Queensland research team shows extraterrestrial colonies could end up resembling the worst aspects of outback mining towns. While the images from popular movies, television shows and books tend to shape most people's concept of space travel, the research team has now boldly gone where no researchers have gone before. In an attempt to come up with scenarios for what they say is the inevitable colonisation of other worlds, they have analysed attitudes toward space exploration.

Dr Toni Johnson-Woods says she and her colleagues found there is a prevailing belief that other planets and their natural resources are there simply to be exploited. "The focus is on exploitation of the minerals. Basically, it's just Australia all over again," she said. "You go out like the British did to Australia, you take everything you bloody can out of a place, and then you ping off." [What a totally false depiction of Australian history!]

She says the "spirit of exploration" that has marked the space age appears to have given way to thinking that is closer to that of pre-20th century colonialism. "There's also an idea that there's nothing already on Mars, which I presume there isn't, in the same way that Australia had that terra nullius, like there's nothing in Australia, so, 'we're just going to go there, take what we need and leave'," she said.

The researchers concluded that the digging up and processing of minerals is likely to be a factor driving future planetary colonisation and Dr John Cokley says that is where Australia's experiences could provide valuable lessons. "In fact, some of the space research people, they build little practice colonies, they call them biospheres," he said. "They're actually practising in the desert, in the middle of Australia, because it looks and feels like the surface of Mars."

Sustainability in space

Dr Cokley says the social and environmental mistakes made during the opening up of Australia - and in particular its rugged mining regions - could serve as examples of how not to establish communities in space. "We know that our mining towns have come a long way in the last 30 years," he said. "They used to be pretty challenging places to live and those mining towns - we've all been to pretty rough towns, they're not really sustainable and we talk about sustainability now, when people never did 50 or 100 years ago.

"The other thing is that space is not an infinite resource. If we go to the Moon and litter the Moon and wreck it, there's not another one just down the road. "It costs a lot of money to go there and if it's worth going there, then it's worth looking after."

It may be long into future before people are living and working on the Moon or on Mars or other more distant planets, but Dr Johnson-Woods believes it is not too early to consider the impact a human presence will have on these new and pristine worlds. "You put a footprint somewhere, it's never the same again," she said. "I can just see bubblegum on the undercarriage of a space station... it doesn't take long, and if we do destroy a planet that's uninhabitable, is that a problem? It's an ethical issue."



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