Open Mind tells us that even earth scientists outside the field of volcanology don’t know how much CO2 volcanoes emit. Claims are made that it dwarfs human activity and that Mt Pinatubo emitted more than humans in the history of the world.
The answer is that it’s probably less than 1% and that we emit in half a day the equivalent of the Mt Pinatubo event.
Four degrees conference
the Copenhagen pledges to cut emissions will, if honoured collectively, result in average warming of 4 degrees or more. So what might Australia look like then?
Melbourne will be hosting a Four Degrees conference to explore this issue. Overseas talent includes Profs Malte Meinshausen and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, both of the Potsdam Institute. Schellnhuber chairs the German Government’s Advisory Council on Global Change.
It would be nice if they got the attention from the MSM given to Lord Monckton.
The last great global warming
The Scientific American recently published an article by Lee R Kump (available here) on the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). His account of how it happened is complex. Its based on excavations in Spitsbergen, were land then submerged is now above sea level, whereas previous assessments relied on the analysis of marine sediments.
The key finding is that the carbon release took place over 20,000 years and that we are emitting at around 10 times that rate today. On land at least the biological systems coped reasonably well. Opportunities were created for the mammals that led to us.
Now it is all happening far too fast for plants and animals to adapt, so extinctions, already on the increase, are expected to proceed apace.
Attack of the jellyfish
Jellyfish have now closed down a couple of power stations.
Scientists say the number of jellyfish are on the rise thanks to the increasing acidity of the world’s oceans driving away the blubbery creatures’ natural predators.
The warning came in a report into ocean acidification – an often overlooked side effect of burning fossil fuel.
Studies have shown that higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doesn’t just trigger climate change but can make the oceans more acidic.
And a reminder that:
our oceans are acidifying 10 times faster today than 55 million years ago [during the PETM] when a mass extinction of marine species occurred.
The health of the Great Barrier Reef
Recently Bob Carter said that “the Great Barrier Reef is in fine fettle.” Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, who might just know, is doing a three-part response at Skeptical Science. In the first he looks at Current Conditions and Human Impacts. His summary:
Drawing together these three types of studies, there is fairly compelling evidence that the Great Barrier Reef has undergone significant ecological change over the past 50 to 100 years. Even the declined reported by the AIMS Long-Term Monitoring Project (Figure 2) from 28% to 22% coral cover (a decrease of 22%) from 1986 to 2004 (Sweatman et al. 2011) is of great concern given the massive size of the Great Barrier Reef and the speed of this change (10% decrease per decade).
Tar sands tipping point?
Bill McKibben at Climate Progress and Huffpost sees Canada as amongst the most irresponsible nations on earth in relation to the environment. Alberta’s tar sands, occupying an area bigger than the UK, are being exploited as fast as possible. A pipeline to the US Midwest was approved early in the Obama administration. Now:
This year, the U.S. stands poised to open a much larger spigot, the so-called Keystone XL pipeline, which will carry the heavy Canadian bitumen to Texas refineries.
Canada’s tar sands are worth about 200ppm of atmospheric CO2. James Hansen thinks that “if the tar sands are thrown into the mix, it is essentially game over.”
The game, in this case, is a livable planet.
Spanish solar produces electricity for 24 hours straight
As mentioned on another thread the Spanish have built a concentrated solar plant which can produce electricity for 24 hours straight and is expected to provide electricity for about 20 hours each day on average.
Some implications for Australia are given in Climate Spectator.
Sulphur from Chinese power stations masks climate change
The huge increase in coal-fired power stations in China has masked the impact of global warming in the last decade because of the cooling effect of their sulphur emissions, new research has revealed. But scientists warn that rapid warming is likely to resume when the short-lived sulphur pollution – which also causes acid rain – is cleaned up and the full heating effect of long-lived carbon dioxide is felt.
That part they got right. Joe Romm at Climate Progress explains the part they got wrong.
Pew centre on extreme weather
Is global warming causing more extreme weather? Yes, if you are talking about precipitation or temperature, according to a Pew Centre paper. The paper deals with US weather and can be downloaded from here.
Mainly I wanted to show you this image, which illustrates why you can get much more hot weather under a new weather regime:
And less weather near the mean.