Reflections on the Surface

April 21, 2011

Dead Zones, Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — asharpminor @ 7:15 am
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Courtesy of the New York Times:

Beyond the Oil Spill…
That tragedy is the ill and declining health of the Gulf of Mexico, including the enormous dead zone off the mouth of the Mississippi and the alarmingly rapid disappearance of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, roughly 2,000 square miles smaller than they were 80 years ago.

Lets not forget that for a while there was a sense of smug complacency our there that this spill was not really as bad as had been feared. Reminds me of climate change and the GOP who regard the issue as nothing to be worried about.

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June 30, 2010

Dead Zones

New Orleans

Prof. John Kessler of Texas A&M University Oceanography department has just returned from a fact finding research visit to the Gulf of Mexico with alarming news. Methane concentrations near the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill are I Million times expected. Oxygen depletion in the waters of the Gulf  will grow the  dead zones and the seas in the vicinity will become rancid, adding to the utter mess that BP’s catastrophe has brought to the area.

Tony Hayward, BP’s hapless CEO, should do the honorable thing and resign. He has exhibited incompetent disaster management skills and has told lies at a time when transparency and truth-telling is vital for the global community.

Meanwhile, it is pretty pointless for the GOP and Tea Party zealots to blame Washington for the way this crisis is being ‘managed’. As long-time promoters of de-regulation and environmental disregard, they are hypocrites to blame the Federal Government for what’s going on right now in the Gulf. True understanding of blame will probably highlight a combination of causation which will include US companies such as Halliburton as well as lacklustre controls at the highest levels within BP.

Its a real wake-up time for the planet right now. The impacts of global climate change are creeping steadily upon the environment: soaring heat in the Middle East, in DC, in the South West, in Africa. Record LOW levels of snow cover in the US in 2010, despite what the idiots at Fox News will say. That outfit is stuffed with dumbed-down, stupid journalists whose concept of science can’t even struggle out of the bathtub, let alone grapple with evolution as a principle of probability.

But, let us not forget that we all share a culpability of sorts for the disasters in the Gulf. Each and every one of us in the oil-dependent West must share our own chip of responsibility for this mess, for there would be no need to take risks with the planet if we were all not so inherently greedy for comfort.

September 1, 2009

Blue Diamonds

Photo courtesy of Phillipe Roy/Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Phillipe Roy/Getty Images

Sermilik Fjord, Greenland

Scientists studying the meltwaters in Greenland this August have been stunned by the unexpected acceleration in the rate of loss of Greenland’s ice. Existing climate change models will need to be rewritten to accommodate these surprising findings and, it is, once again, time to take note and listen to the canary in the coal mine, for these glaciers are a stark warning that all is not well in the North.

Local Inuits will tell you of permanent changes; of an ecology that is now altering in ways that could not have been predicted even ten years ago.
Ice that had been trapped for millennia is calving blue diamond icebergs at a rate that has taken the scientists’ breath away. Rapidly warming seas are just the beginning of a much larger than predicted sea level rise to come.

Meanwhile, the Station Fire in California is expanding like a nuclear disaster. Giant pyrocumulus clouds hover above the Santa Clarita canyons, sending plumes that can be smelt as far away as Colorado.

Fire and Ice, two great metaphors for disasters of historic proportions.

How long will we have to put up with the sheer bumbling ineptitude of writers like Christopher Booker, of idiots like Viscount Monckton, of GOP politicians like James Inhofe, with their infantile  ‘lets do nothing’ charts and diagrams?

Together they represent a ghastly alliance of the stupid, the patronizing and the daft, whilst the rest of us can only take photographs and wait.

January 19, 2009

Plastiki

David de Rothschild, founder of Adventure Ecology, has created an innovated experiment: an intriguing raft crafted from disused water plastic water bottles which is to be released into the Pacific Ocean. His project is intended to raise our awareness about plastic waste and the enormity of the problem that faces the Oceans.
He writes…
“I think that the most important thing is not to make plastic the enemy, but to really reassess how we use, dispose, and reuse it. It comes down to the old cliché of stopping to think before you buy. Can you reuse the bottle that contained the water or soda you drank earlier? The small things can make a big difference. We can all minimize our impact if we fundamentally change the way in which we consume.”

Imagine this boat as it encounters the Great Pacific Gyre: an Oceanic rubbish patch three times the size of the UK that is hidden from our conscience. Plastiki will be dwarfed by the vast soup of rubbish and it plastiki-mapstands every chance of being strangled by debris.
But lets be optimistic for now and assume it makes it all the way South to the Antipodes.
It is time to listen to its message and hope that our attitudes change or face the grim reality of an ugly truth. That humanity is callous, careless and capricious and that using the Oceans as a bottomless dumping ground is a sign of our limitless capacity for self-destruction.

April 7, 2008

The New Age of Unreason

London, England

Ah the wisdom of the retired!
Lord Lawson, one of the UK’s ex chancellors is confident that climate change is all hype. Declaring this year’s cooling trend a nail in the coffin for climate change theory, he encourages us to step away from the cliff hanger of ‘unreason’.

Well I’m sorry Lord Lawson, but there are a large number of distinguished climate scientists out there who consider your sort of complacency equally ‘unreasonable’.

WMO secretary-general Michel Jarraud points this out succinctly: La Nina’s cooling effect this year is just that- a temporary cooling in an otherwise inexorable rise.

James Hanson is calling for drastic reevaluation of the EU’s 550ppm CO2 target. Downwards. Or face ‘guaranteed catastrophe’.

Sadly, if keyclimate decisions were left to the likes of Lord Lawson we may as well commit harikari. For his complacent generalisations are typical of the mental disease of climate change denial.

Meanwhile the man in the street cares little for all this, as the UK has had a swift snowfall that has surprised and delighted children from Sussex to Scotland.

But when these children are retired, the world will be changed and all that we take for granted will have ceased.
And Lord Lawson’s words will have sunk to their proper place in the gardens of oblivion.

April 2, 2008

450ppm and Rising. What is a Wedge?

London, England

How many of us out there in cyberspace have heard of a carbon wedge?

Well, for those of us who are curious, here is a superb analysis of what the Planet needs, to prevent a truly catastrophic rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the forthcoming decades.
Joseph Romm, writing on Gristmill (http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/3/31/181924/330) makes his cogent arguments in a truly sobering read. To quote:

“A wedge is a mind-bogglingly large amount of “activity.”
For instance, a post last year on the Keystone report explained that one nuclear wedge would require adding globally:
An average of 14 plants each year for the next 50 years, while building an average of 7.4 plants a year to replace those that will be retired; plus
Ten Yucca Mountains to store the waste.” …
If we built two million large (one mW) wind turbines, or 2000 gW. “Last year’s global wind power installations reached a record 20,000 mW, equivalent to 20 large-size 1 gW conventional power plants.” So we’re at half the rate needed for 1 wedge of wind (or maybe a quarter).
If the fuel economy of the 2 billion or so cars in the world in 2050 got 60 mpg, that would be one wedge.
For the conservation/peak oil folks, if the 2 billion cars in 2050 travel 5,000 miles a year, rather than 10,000.
If we grew biofuels requiring 1/6 of the world’s cropland.
…In fact, if we don’t sharply reduce deforestation, we probably need to add another two wedges
We probably need more than 14 wedges starting in 2010 to stay below 450 ppm, and we currently don’t have the political will to do more than two or three”

Is there hope?
Imagine a seachange in attitudes (so to speak). Imagine a concerted effort by all of the globe’s industrial nations to bring about constructive change. Imagine a planet that is held back from the cliff-edge of catastrophe. Imagine a future.
And then remember that deforestation is killing the Amazon; that global industrial greed is almost unstoppable; that the Malthusian population crisis is unstoppable. And remember that the Conservative Right in America is blind to the science of climate change, just as it is blind to the facts of evolution.
Today’s problems with food price inflation are nothing compared with what is to come.

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