GLOBAL warming is unusual
A common response to AGW warmists is that climate has always changed and always will. It’s natural and humans have nothing to do with it. Now via Climate Progress we learn from a study by Svante Björck of Lund University that apart from general moves into and out of ice ages the hemispheres do not warm or cool in sync. When one hemisphere changes the other stays the same or moves in the opposite direction. For example he found that during the Little Ice Age in Europe there were no corresponding changes in the southern hemisphere.
Last week I posted this graph to show that we are giving the system a helluva jerk. In fact we need to go back 15 million years to find CO2 levels as high as today. (if you are concerned about Antarctic thawing be very afraid.)
However, the following graph shows that the hemispheres are not perfectly in sync now:
The northern hemisphere is pulling away. The reason, presumably, it has more land, and at higher latitudes.
Researchers have found that as permafrost warms methane-eating microbes thaw out and convert some of the methane into CO2, which is less dangerous in its greenhouse effect.
although some [microbes] began making methane that added to the emissions, others consumed it and converted it into carbon dioxide instead.
Researchers estimate that 50% of methane could be converted, but the water table will be a factor. The higher the water table the more methane released.
Nitrous oxide, an even more powerful greenhouse gas than methane, is also released and nothing is eating it.
What we have here is early results from a few samples from Alaska. More work needs to be done.
Warmer world may split Antarctica
British Antarctic Survey scientists have worked out where seaways opened up during Antarctica’s warmer past by comparing marine organisms on either side of the West Antarctica ice sheet. Probably won’t happen for 900 years, but may have happened many times in the past. The Andrill project found that the West Antarctic ice sheet has substantially melted and regrown over 60 times in the last 5 million years.
Here comes the sun
The long term trend is revealed, taking out the distortion of the silicon shortage a few years ago.
Krugman’s conclusion is telling:
But will our political system delay the energy transformation now within reach?
Let’s face it: a large part of our political class, including essentially the entire G.O.P., is deeply invested in an energy sector dominated by fossil fuels, and actively hostile to alternatives. This political class will do everything it can to ensure subsidies for the extraction and use of fossil fuels, directly with taxpayers’ money and indirectly by letting the industry off the hook for environmental costs, while ridiculing technologies like solar.
So what you need to know is that nothing you hear from these people is true. Fracking is not a dream come true; solar is now cost-effective. Here comes the sun, if we’re willing to let it in.
The Republican brain
conservatives today believe more wrong things; appear more likely than Democrats to oppose new ideas and less likely to change their beliefs in the face of new facts; and sometimes respond to compelling evidence by doubling down on their current beliefs.
If you think he’s saying it’s a case of a simple good-bad divide, think again and read the whole post. There are some useful links at the end.
Increase in weather disasters
One thing that might impress the Rebublican brain eventually is the increase in weather-related disasters if the trend continues.
For the mathematically minded, Stefan Rahmstorf unpacks how the stats work.
Q & A on the Durban climate summit
First, the cynical note that in aviation, the one area where a global deal should be possible, we are heading to the courts rather than trying to achieve a solution.
According to Fred Pearce aviation fuel is untaxed worldwide.
Secondly, the EU is not going to recognise Certified Emission Reduction credits (CERs) earned via the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in China after 2012. Heretofore the EU has been the biggest purchaser of CERs and China the biggest beneficiary.
Coal seam gas
John D linked to the an item about the Nationals’ coal seam gas (CSG) policy on the last thread. They are preparing a discussion paper, but the five core principles are contained in their media release.
This is a devilishly complex area. On water alone you have the three main aspects. Aquifers may be damaged during drilling leading to depletion, sinking levels and/or contamination, water is used in production and there is a salty brine left over after extraction.
It’s scandalous that the industry has been allowed to charge ahead when we know almost nothing about what will happen. Research is needed. Bryce Kelly says:
The research required is complex and costly (millions of dollars) and will take several years if done correctly. Installing monitoring boreholes, running chemical tests and building 3D flow simulation models are all expensive activities.
Meanwhile Tim Flannery has weighed in, and Tony Windsor has said he won’t back the government’s Mineral Resources Rent Tax unless more is done to make coal seam gas mining sustainable, but does he have it right?
Research will take years and may not be conclusive. Damage to underground aquifers may not show up for many years and may be irreparable.
Larissa Waters reckons the Nationals have been done over by the Liberals on CSG, Ferguson slams NSW Labor on their CSG backflip and I can’t find a link, but In Queensland there are predictions that Katter’s Australia Party is going to benefit big-time from frustration with the Labor and the LNP in the boondocks.
There’s more at The Conversation.