The concept of coal and conventional nuclear power as “reliable” is a relic of a planet that no longer exists. Any power plant that depends on water is now not only unreliable, but a liability for the communities surrounding that power plant.
Tag Archives: global warming
Joe Romm just wrote a piece called “The Dangerous Myth that Climate Change is Reversible”.
The title tells you what you need to know. This is a problem I’ve been noticing for some years now.
When I say climate change is not going to stop, or be reversed in our lifetimes, or the lifetimes of our great-grandchildren, it’s not because I don’t think there’s any hope, it’s because we can’t afford to wait and “reverse it later”, and we have to start preparing so that we’re not caught scrambling to cope with one disaster after another.
The results of the research are clear: global warming events are deadly – throughout the history of multicellular life, EVERY major warming event has come with a mass extinction. The speed of warming seems to be correlated with the severity of the extinction event, and THIS warming event is faster than any we know of.
Despite how it may seem, looking at the economy, we are in a time of comparative plenty. NOW is the time to think about where you live, relative to the impacts of global warming. NOW is the time to think about where you get your food and water.
This is happening folks, so buckle up.
Sorry for the long silence here. The downside of having a lot to do is that you have a lot to do. I’m hoping to start regular posts again soon (at the very least weekly) and in the meantime, here’s a good video from the Union of Concerned Scientists:
Marine snails are dissolving.
Well, their shells are, at any rate.
We’ve known for a while that the ocean is becoming more acidic. For a brief overview, the ocean’s pH has been, throughout the history of civilization, around 8.25. This means that the ocean is slightly basic (7 is neutral). Currently, the ocean’s pH is between 8.05 and 8.15 on average, with areas of lower pH (higher acidity), which may not seem like a big change, but now we have a dramatic illustration of just how big of a change it really is.
The shells of pteropod snails – free-floating sea snails - are dissolving. Pteropods are tiny “winged” snails that swim around in the water column, and are a major part of the oceanic food chain, to the point where they are sometimes called “the potato chips of the sea”.
Now their shells are dissolving. We knew this was coming – it’s basic chemistry, and it was unavoidable, with a rise in acidity – and we also know what follows. Pteropods, and other creatures like them, form the base of the food web that supports life in the ocean. Removing them from the equation will have a similar effect to removing grass from the Serengeti – the ecosystem will collapse.
The fact that this is happening already means that it may well collapse in the next 50 years.
Over the past couple of years, people have been very focused on declining crop production, as droughts, floods, and heat waves have hammered farms all around the world. Food prices have risen as supply has dropped, which has contributed to unrest like the uprisings now known as the Arab Spring. Now, on top of that, we have to add the very real risk that the 30 BILLION people who rely on seafood for protein will have that resource taken away this century.
This is bad news. There’s no other way to look at it. The ocean is already a desert, but it is on track to become a wasteland, where the only surviving organisms are those that can find refuge from the creeping acidity, and those that can survive off of the scraps that are left behind as the seas die.
Over the past few years, I’ve run into a number of people much older than myself who are carrying a heavy burden of guilt for the failure of their generation to deal with climate change. I’ve led sessions un-related to climate change in which some phrase or word, without any such intention, sparked a tearful apology to myself and others of my age and younger for the state the planet is in.
This is a terrifying problem, and a lot of people who have been complicit in its creation feel terrible about it. This video is of a woman who’s followed Bill O’Reilly for years, who convinced many of her friends not to believe in global warming, and who was in denial to the point, according to her, of kicking people out of her house for talking about it.
She just watched the documentary Chasing Ice, and this was her reaction:
This is a hard issue to deal with. The stakes have never been higher in the history of civilization, and the knowledge that we have been complicit in the creation of such a crisis can be a crushing burden.
I’ve said before that our goal must be to build a better future. To take the titanic task before us and to use it as an opportunity not just to build a society that doesn’t use fossil fuels, but to build one that wouldn’t go back to them even if it was harmless to do so because we’ve got a better way. It’s a hopeful vision – a spur in our sides to send us leaping forward into the kind of future our forefathers dreamed of at the height of the industrial revolution.
But it’s going to be hard. We can be as positive as we want, but that will never erase the horror of realizing that our children will be faced with unprecedented trials, and the guilt from our involvement. This is a time when we must work to welcome every hand that comes to help, no matter their background.
This woman has worked, for most of her life, to create the crisis she has only just accepted as reality, and now it’s time to welcome her with open arms, and without recrimination. We all need support. We need to care for each other, and we need to recognize that as more and more people wake to the reality of our circumstances, that we have to be there for them.
This is as much a part of the work as building solar panels, and trains, and drought-proof farms.
I, for one, am glad to have this woman, whoever she is, on board. It matters little that she was fighting against us until just a couple days ago. Now she’s working with us, and I hope that she can find the support she needs to cope with her revelation, and the hard, hard work that will come from it.
This is wonderful!
The truth is that climate action is that it is the new futurism. It is what will catapult us into a reality that is far better in every way than the one in which we currently live despite the ravages of a warmer planet.
So Treehugger just published a list of nine records broken by HurriFrankenSuperCane Sandy, which include highest storm surge and highest wave in NY harbor. Both of those records are directly connected to sea level.
Sea levels have risen about an inch, worldwide, since 1990, and while deniers will tell you that’s not much, here are some numbers to consider.
To raise the entire Atlantic ocean by one inch requires approximately 714,266,707,200,000 gallons of water – that’s over 700 trillion gallons of water (feel free to check my math).
Now, that’s the whole ocean. Let’s just look at Sandy. Sandy, according to NOAA covered 1.8 MILLION square miles. The one inch in increased volume since 1990 for THAT area amounts to a mere 31,327,487,157,895 (over 31 trillion) gallons of water moved by the storm that weren’t there ten years ago.
Now, those numbers aren’t precise, and the one inch number is the average over the whole ocean, so it’s more in some areas and less in others, but it’s good enough to go on. When you’re moving that much water around, it’s not hard to see how an inch makes it suddenly a lot more likely for some water to slop over the edge of the continent and into low-lying places like NYC, and it’s not hard to see how a storm surge record or a wave height record would be broken.
Averaged across the planet, sea levels have risen by about 8 inches since 1870, and they’re going to keep rising. It’s nice to think about sea level rise as creeping waters slowly filling in the low places like we’ve seen in all those simulations, but THIS is what it looks like.
The GOP likes to talk about the trillions in national debt that we’re placing on our grandchildren, well, I’ve got another number for a much larger burden. Since the first televised warning in 1958, we’ve accrued 357,133,536,000,000, or three hundred fifty-seven trillion, one hundred thirty-three billion, five hundred thirty-six million gallons of water in the Atlantic ocean alone.
Think about that when you hear the GOP talking about $16 trillion in national debt, and the unfair burden on our grandchildren, and how that number means we can’t address the problems raised by the other numbers I’ve raised. Sixteen trillion against three hundred and fifty seven trillion, and that’s JUST ONE OCEAN.
Well, the sea level hasn’t risen enough the put those areas permanently under water, but here’s what the 9/11 memorial looked like last night thanks to a few millimeters of sea level rise, and a couple degrees of warming.
This was the first time. It won’t be the last. Soem folks have called this the “storm of the century”, and maybe they’re right, if they’re talking about the LAST hundred years, but if they’re talking about the century from 2000 to 2100, we’re going to look back and see this as the first, and by no means the worst, of many.
Hanging out in the outskirts of the hurricane in Boston’s Government Center. The vigil, which was supposed to go through noon tomorrow, was called off, but I wanted to make an appearance anyway, so I’m here with one other brave soul who’ll be spending the night out. There were a few others here earlier, and we went down to the Long Warf to see high tide combining with the storm surge. There are a couple buildings and a parking lot down there that only have a couple more years before they’re probably going to be flooded on an annual basis.
It’s very windy here, and I’m glad there aren’t any trees to fall. Doesn’t look like the power’s going to go out though, so that’s good.