Damming Evidence of Anthropogenic Climate Change

B22617 / Sun, 1 Apr 2007 13:07:42 / Environment
Google:  Rivers at Risk

For the past month or so I’ve posted a half dozen or so slightly different blogs regarding climate change and global warming along with countless posts that don’t advocate the CO2 centric claims and viewpoints of “Big Al” Gore and many of the mainstream “doom and gloom” crowd.

That said, I don’t totally discount increased atmospheric CO2 as one of many factors in climate change.

It is simply not the first order cause of climate change as are changes in land use and particularly increased anthropogenic water vapor by virtue of agricultural irrigation, flood control and various other feedbacks all leading to increased terrestrial evapotranspiration.

I am neither a global warming “denier” nor am I an ExxonMobil shill.

I am against the current rush into converting food to biofuels to further subsidize the market for liquid motor fuels and am a proponent of electromotive hybrids combined with CNG powered on board generators as the viable alternative for a more efficient and cleaner fossil fuel future in the transportation sector.

Increased reliance on geothermal home and residential heating and cooling needs driven by electricity from IGCC power plants with an eye towards subsidizing the powering of this process with non food biomass in combination with coal would provide us the means towards a transition to sustainability. Geothermal systems dovetail nicely with increased dependence on both passive and active solar heating systems.

Increasing our efficiency in the transportation, residential and commercial business energy sectors will do as much to mitigate increased CO2 emissions as any of the biofuel plans currently endorsed and subsidized by both government and big business.

Increased reliance on biofuels will hasten climate change and increase the anthropogenic impact on climate, not mitigate them. They are folly.

Today I would like to present an aspect of anthropogenic climate impact that may be more warmly received by the CO2 centric crowd and explain how actions to mitigate increased anthropogenic water vapor will positively impact and help to mitigate rising levels of atmospheric CO2 and other trace GHG’s.

Depleted fisheries, coral bleaching and increasing acidification of the oceans are largely viewed as a byproduct of global warming and steadily increasing levels of atmospheric CO2.

There is certainly a correlation between these observations, but how does it work in terms of cause and effect? Are these symptoms of climate change in the oceans caused by a single degree increase in the global average temperature?

As with the ice core evidence and the established correlation between levels of atmospheric CO2 and temperature, I don’t concur with the more mainstream assumption that CO2 drives global temperatures, nor do I espouse that increased temperature due to rising CO2 is the reason we are witnessing a reduction in the health and vitality of the oceans.

But the links between these aspects of climate change should provide the impetus to drive a movement towards finding a true scientific and political consensus that both addresses the true nature of anthropogenic climate change and can mitigate our impact while maintaining economic viability and pursuing policies that are technically viable, environmentally sound and socially just.

The past 150 years has seen tremendous change in land use and the hydrological cycle. Water power was the first industrial revolution and irrigation has been in use since agriculture itself. Mankind has harnessed the power of streams and then rivers for these purposes for centuries, but never on the scale witnessed in the 20th century.

Over 45,000 large dams are now in operation around the globe. They increase the heat storage capacity of the continents both in the heat energy stored within the reservoirs themselves and by virtue of the increase in soil moisture content of the regions that this sequestered water is used to irrigate.

This vast area of terrestrial surface then produces more water vapor in accordance with available solar energy to fuel this process and of course the additional sensible heat stored within the reservoirs and soil itself.

Water vapor as the principal GHG is increased and the impact is felt globally by virtue of both the direct impact of increased atmospheric H2O and various feedback effects of the increase in total atmospheric energy this situation creates.

There seems to exist a widespread misconception that water vapor is relatively abundant and that there is some natural balance that exists on a global scale. This is simply not the case.

Air masses at the saturation point are globally the exception and not the rule. Even with cloud cover directly overhead, most of the atmospheric column above is capable of carrying additional water vapor.

Limiting factors are air temperature or better put the available energy in the atmosphere to carry this water vapor and prevent condensation and the
availability of water vapor to begin with.

Evaporation and transpiration require huge inputs of energy and once this energy takes the form of latent heat within the atmosphere this energy, now in the form of water vapor can be carried long distances from its point of origination without loss.

The primary limiting factor is the availability of the initial incoming solar energy to fuel this process. Most of the water vapor in the atmosphere is of course fueled by the energy sequestered by the oceans.

A water surface has one of the lowest albedos of any surface and effectively absorbs incoming solar radiation. Land use has been radically altered by human activity as has the terrestrial hydrological cycle.

In addition to the changes in specific heat capacity of the terrestrial surface and the increase in evapotranspiration already delineated, the impact of damming countless tributaries and major rivers has also constrained the oceans ability to sequester CO2 from the atmosphere.

If you are not yet familiar with the Geritol effect please take a moment and examine this link.

It is not necessarily a solution I would recommend for permanent mitigation of anthropogenic CO2, but it will help you to understand the larger issue of anthropogenic changes to both the hydrological and carbon cycles.

I will not attempt to quantify the volume of the reduction of terrestrial run off that has been accomplished by the creation of tens of thousands of artificial lakes and using these reservoirs for power production, flood control and of course agricultural irrigation.

What I would like to draw attention to is the nature of this runoff as compared to the precipitation that falls naturally and then runs back to the oceans.

We tend to think of rainwater as pure water. As pure as water can be. This is not the case. All precipitation is slightly acidic, by virtue of the CO2 that is absorbed within it. This forms a mild carbonic acid.

Precipitation of this carbonic acid is a principal mechanism for the sequestration of atmospheric CO2.

This CO2 once in the ocean is used by phytoplankton in the process of photosynthesis. These phytoplankton become the base of the ocean food chain. Their formation also depends upon the availability of various nutrients and minerals dissolved in the water.

These nutrients and minerals aren’t made available to the oceans by direct precipitation, but instead are brought to the oceans by the continental runoff.

Take the Mississippi River as a principal example. Millions of tons of mineral silt in combination with carbon based biological materials are carried from the North American continental interior to the Gulf of Mexico by this vast system of major rivers and countless smaller tributaries. The Mississippi basin is the third largest on earth.

But since 1850 or so major investments of labor and material have been made to “tame” this system for flood control, irrigation and increasing the availability of what was formerly floodplain for agricultural, residential and industrial use.

The entire Mississippi River Delta is now sinking for the lack of deposition of fresh material due to these changes. Channel dredging and flood control dams have changed the volume and the nature of the output as well as the very chemistry of this river and have reduced direct carbon sequestration of the biological materials both directly at the rivers delta and in the Gulf of Mexico and North Atlantic itself due to the reduction in minerals carried to the ocean to fuel the production of phytoplankton in the Gulf of Mexico and likely beyond.

Such is also the case of the Nile and Nile delta in the Mediterranean Sea and many of the other great rivers around the globe.

If you doubt the impact of flood control and reduced runoff of the great river systems around the world on the sequestration of vast amounts of biological materials carried in with the silt for direct deposition and the impact this has on robbing the seas of the necessary nutrients to supply the ocean food chain, look to the location of most of the offshore oil and gas wells and you can infer from that where for millions of years the biological carbon cycle has done its work.

Not only do the agricultural practices of soil and water conservation and irrigation impact the climate directly by increasing the specific heat capacity of the continents and increased terrestrial evapotranspiration, but we are at the same time by withholding runoff from the sea, inhibiting the natural process of carbon and CO2 sequestration and limiting the minerals and nutrients upon which all sea life, including tropical coral reefs depend.

It is primarily for these and several other secondary reasons that CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing, not simply because mankind is utilizing fossil fuels.

In the absence of deforestation and the damming of the great river systems around the globe and the flood control it provides that in turn starves the ocean of these vital minerals and nutrients and inhibiting the long term deposition of biological material in river deltas around the globe, it is unlikely we would have seen such a dramatic rise in atmospheric CO2 levels, if a rise at all.

Up until the past century deforestation had a greater impact upon the anthropogenic contribution to atmospheric CO2 levels than has the burning of fossil fuels.

The slight increase of global average temperature we’ve experienced is due primarily to the anthropogenic increases in water vapor attributable to flood control, agricultural water and soil conservation practices and of course principally agricultural irrigation.

Without centuries of deforestation beforehand and anthropogenic changes in the hydrological cycle inhibiting the natural processes of CO2 sequestration, it is unlikely that in spite of our recent dependence upon fossil fuels that atmospheric CO2 levels would be anywhere near where they are today and even at 383 parts per million, atmospheric CO2 plays a secondary role at best in determining global temperature.

The best news is that there is no need for the trace gas hysteria.

If we view the problem in the context above it remains difficult but certainly more manageable than demanding that a growing population makes substantial reductions of its total CO2 emissions.

We can do both. Reduce per capita CO2 emissions and increase sequestration by mitigating our interference with the hydrological cycle.

With improved land and water use practices we can continue to utilize fossil fuels and grow sufficient food to feed the population and end the poverty that fuels the use of destructive environmental practices around the globe.

There are huge inefficiencies within the system of surface water use that can be easily addressed economically with existing technology. 60% of the water currently held back and dedicated to agricultural irrigation is currently wasted.

Addressing this single aspect alone would do more to mitigate anthropogenic warming than caps or reductions in the use of fossil fuels alone.

The future shouldn’t be viewed through the CO2 centric lens and we should be glad to know we are not on the brink of an irreversible climate catastrophe.

By recognizing the true causes of anthropogenic climate change and effective mitigation policies we can manage through the necessary changes in land and water use without economic calamity or further social injustice if we have the will to change not just our influence of the global climate, but the political and moral climate as well.



The Geritol Solution?

A private company is already carrying out this plan. Some scientists call it promising while others worry about the ecological fallout. Planktos Inc. of Foster City, Calif., last week launched its ship, the Weatherbird II, on a trip to the Pacific Ocean to dump 50 tons of iron dust. The iron should grow plankton, part of an algae bloom that will drink up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The idea of seeding the ocean with iron to beef up a natural plankton and algae system has been tried on a small scale several times since 1990. It has both succeeded and failed.

Planktos chief executive officer Russ George said his ship will try it on a larger scale, dumping a slurry of water and red iron dust from a hose into the sea.

“It makes a 25-foot swath of bright red for a very short period of time,” George said.

The concept gained some credibility when it was mentioned in the 2001 report by the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which cited it as a possible way to attack carbon emissions.

Small experiments “showed unequivocally that there was a biological response to the addition of the iron,” the climate report said. Plankton used the iron to photosynthesize, extract greenhouse gases from the air, and grow rapidly. It forms a thick green soup of all sorts of carbon dioxide-sucking algae, which sea life feast on, and the carbon drops into the ocean.

However, the international climate report also cautioned about “the ecological consequences of large-scale fertilization of the ocean.” Tim Barnett, a marine physicist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said large-scale ocean seeding could change the crucial temperature difference between the sea surface and deeper waters and have a dramatic effect on marine life.

Cicerone, a climate scientist who is president of the National Academy of Sciences and advocate for more geoengineering research, called the Geritol solution promising. However, he noted that such actions by a company, or country, can have worldwide effects.

George, Planktos’ CEO, said his company consulted with governments around the world and is only following previous scientific research. He said his firm will be dropping the iron in open international seas so he needs no permits. Most important, he said, is that it’s such a small amount of iron compared to the ocean volume that it poses no threat. He said it’s unfair to lump his plan in with geoengineering, saying his company is just trying to restore the ocean to “a more ecologically normal and balanced state.”

“We’re a green solution,” George said.

Planktos officials say that for every ton of iron used, 100,000 tons of carbon will be pulled into the ocean. Eventually, if this first large-scale test works, George hopes to remove 3 billion tons of carbon from the Earth’s atmosphere, half of what’s needed. Some scientists say that’s overstated.

Planktos’ efforts are financed by companies and individuals who buy carbon credits to offset their use of fossil fuels.

GWHunta @ 04/01/07 17:06:36

First, this level of experimentation on the oceans is chilling. If we go down this path we’ll either turn this into Roboplanet or Venus. And I don’t want to live there.

Actually, I still don’t buy the idea of water vapor as a greenhouse gas. H2O is a greenhouse molecule, but having more of it in the atmosphere should lead to more clouds and more reflection of sunlight. This was considered to be a feedback mechanism that would limit the extent of global warming, although I haven’t seen that argument raised lately.

But there’s good news, sort of. If other global environmental crises can be called good news. There are plenty of other reasons for changing our approach to land and water use. A good first step would be to stop relying on dams. They have done far more harm than good. A very fine book on the subject of fresh water resources around the world is When the Rivers Run Dry by Fred Pearce. He reaches the same conclusions as far as solutions, but without raising global warming (at least in this context).

To paraphrase the great MC5 song: Kick out the dams, bleepity-bleepers!

BOGGLER @ 04/01/07 21:52:11

I don’t advocate dependence upon the “geritol effect” and don’t believe it necessary or beneficial in the long term.

I brought it up as a way to demonstrate that the oceans need the nutrients carried to them by the runoff from the rivers.

As for water vapor as a greenhouse gas, what most fail to understand is that water vapor in the air doesn’t not necessarily equate to cloudy conditions.

Clouds are the formation of precipitation that is carried in the air until it reaches sizes sufficient to make it to the ground. A cloud is fundamentally a bank of fog or small droplets that isn’t warm enough to maintain its gaseous state and and hasn’t yet cooled enough to precipitate its moisture in larger droplets to the ground.

If the water vapor was still in gaseous form and not forming small droplets of water, snow or ice it wouldn’t be visible to us.

Dams will likely be with us for a long time to come as the economic benefits to using the rivers for carrying cargo deep into the heartland are enormous. There is no cheaper way to move large volumes of freight, especially bulk freight. There are ways to mitigate the loss of sediment and nutrients without letting the great rivers run totally wild, though that is the the baseline climate of many yearn for or are using as the norm was based on climate prior to human influence.

Understanding that CO2 is not the principal driver of global temperatures and that land use changes and impacts can be mitigated over time with wise use of resources and consideration given to the effects change has on climate should relieve some of the anxiety of being on the brink of an environmental Armageddon that is currently present in the media.

Trust me water and water vapor comprise most of the greenhouse effect.


GWHunta @ 04/01/07 22:58:27

For the past month or so I’ve posted a half dozen or so slightly different blogs regarding climate change and global warming along with countless posts that don’t advocate the CO2 centric claims and viewpoints of “Big Al” Gore and many of the mainstream “doom and gloom” crowd.

Wheh! thanks GWhunta! finally, i can step out of the ranks of the “doom and gloom” crowd and into the masses of the blissfully informed! your expert armchair analysis and concrete logic (“trust me water and water vapor comprise most of the greenhouse effect”) are a relief from the decades of disturbing conclusions from all those doom and gloom scientists and environmentalists.

thanks so much for relieving my concern! now you have a duty, GWhunta, take your breakthrough research and quasi-scientific analysis and convince the rest of the “doom and gloom” club to cheer up.
start here:
the bulletin of atomic scientists doomsday clock
In the 1950s, however, scientists began measuring year-to-year changes in the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere that they could relate to fossil fuel combustion, and they began to develop the implications for Earth’s temperature and for climate change. Fifty years later, leading scientists agree that carbon-burning technologies continue to make Earth warmer at an unprecedented rate. They warn that the consequences could drastically alter both the planet and human life.

then, once you’ve convinced all those Nobel laureate scientists and humanists supporting and contributing to the Atomic Scientists bulletin to cheer up and move their doomsday clock back a few minutes you can talk to those other small contingencies who are worried about anthropogenic climate change:

once you’re done convincing the largest groups of international scientists that they have been wrong about CO2 and climate for a couple decades, please stop by Monteverde and give a presentation to the Alan Pounds and the local tropical biologists and guides at the cloud forest preserve. you, see Pounds is this science guy who thinks that anthropogenic climate change is involved in the extinction of cloud forest species like the golden toad, as well as a rise in the cloud level and increase in hotter, drier days here, and then the local guides keep reporting an increase in hot, dry days as well as shifts in the birds, reptiles, amphibians, and other animals corresponding with a change in climate and they’re a little worried about more organisms disappearing this sixth mass extinction of extant life.

good luck!

Livingston @ 04/02/07 13:06:19

Well, with everything I’m reading, I’m still doom and gloom, whether GW’s “main cause” analysis is right or not.

Chickenma1 @ 04/02/07 17:35:35


You can’t grasp up the concept that altering the rivers is starving the oceans of the nutrients needed to absorb the excess CO2.

Even today a third of anthropogenic increases in CO2 are due to deforestation, not the burning of fossil fuels.

But if the doom and gloom crowd has won your heart and you prefer the headmasters decide that social justice isn’t going to cut it and it’s either the masses or the environment, we’ll all just have to gracefully exit in favor of the whims of the wealthy.

I’m not all about saying there is no crisis and nothing is to be done. There is plenty that can and should be done immediately.

Newsflash, wealthy industrialists are still building dams all around the globe, not just China.

You want to spend your time counting frogs, weeping at the loss and moaning in desperation about how beyond hope the situation is, go for it.

I prefer to think out of the CO2 centric box and not fall into the world would be better off without any human influence whatsoever analogy.

Ecotourism is big business and so is crying about the sky falling.

We have altered the environment and the alterations are causing shifts in the climate. So let’s quit crying about it, recognize the true causes and get on with making some more adjustments to mitigate the problem.

I seriously doubt my carbon footprint is any larger than any of these esteemed folks you quote and deify so just stay on your knees to them till the clock hits midnight. That’s exactly where they want you.

GWHunta @ 04/03/07 06:53:34

Yeah, I guess I’m just some kind of idiot to think the fundamental problem with the buildup of trace gases in the atmosphere is the loss of billions of tons of nutrients that used to feed the ocean life that sequesters them.


One ton of iron ore dust in the open ocean fuels the growth of sufficient phytoplankton to sequester 100,000 tons of CO2.

And as for water and water vapor being most of the greenhouse effect, the oceans (water) absorbs more than 80% of the solar energy that maintains the moderate temperature of the planet.

Most of the solar energy that strikes the surface of the terrestrial earth fuels evapotranspiration hence water becoming water vapor.

89 PW of solar energy is absorbed by the earths surface, 40 PW is converted to latent heat transforming water to water vapor. That would be the primary or principal greenhouse effect.

Agricultural irrigation has increased this 40PW by 315 TW or .8%. That is the primary anthropogenic impact and most of why the global average is now warmer by one degree F.

Water, water vapor. That is fundamentally the greenhouse effect.

If you believe the only impact we’re having on the carbon cycle is burning fossil fuels think again, or for the first time think.

GWHunta @ 04/03/07 07:46:56

GWHunta @ 04/03/07 08:01:09

Livingston et al,

What you’re reading is the political side, the lay peoples opinion, of the actual press announcement to wit the Nobel laureate scientists and humanists signed on to. The statement noted nuclear power as a significant concernlarger than the carbon emissions issue.

Global warming poses a dire threat to human civilization that is second only to nuclear weapons. Through flooding and desertification, climate change threatens the habitats and agricultural resources that societies depend upon for survival. As such, climate change is also likely to contribute to mass migrations and even to wars over arable land, water, and other natural resources.

Several factors are driving the turn to nuclear power— aging nuclear reactors, rising energy demands, a desire to diversify energy portfolios and reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and the need to reduce carbon emissions that cause climate change. Yet expansion of nuclear power increases the risks of nuclear proliferation.

Flooding and desertification:
cut-out/drown the lungs and livers of the world — the earth dies.

I do not believe you will find a consensus at the BAS that CO2 is the main concern or factor relevant to global warming. I could be wrong; but I doubt it. You can read the full volume here: Volume 63, Number 1 / January-February 2007 of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

dikweed @ 04/03/07 09:39:13

You can’t grasp up the concept that altering the rivers is starving the oceans of the nutrients needed to absorb the excess CO2.

i could grasp that if i were exposed to properly cited scientific sources on the phenomenon. the one that chickenma linked was published in Nature magazine (one of the top science journals) – it links ianthropogenic global warming to starving marine plants from their marine sources of nutrients which may lead to catastrophic alterations in the marine food web. numerous studies also link anthropogenic increases in CO2 to pH changes in the ocean waters which may result in death of marine organisms and breakdown of coral reefs.

heh. neat thing about being in the “doom and gloom” crowd is between trying desperately to emotionally connect more people to our environmental concerns we spend a whole hell of a lot more of our time enjoying what’s left of our natural world. and in that vain im putting off responding to this thread until later. i here a keel billed toucan outside and even though they’re one of the birds moving up here with the change in climate and they are known to rob the nests of other local birds they still look really cool.

if you believe the only impact we’re having on the carbon cycle is burning fossil fuels think again, or for the first time think.

didn’t you read my global change article? of course i don’t think fossil fuels are the only impact… and what’s up with repeating this “think again or for the first time think” slogan? are you from Fox news?

Livingston @ 04/03/07 09:39:42

Fox News? O.K.

The pH issues stem from carbonic acid, as in rainfall is slightly acidic because precipitation sequesters CO2.

Unless this CO2 is processed by phytoplankton, from whom the nutrients flowing into the oceans have been reduced, it remains in the ocean water and will increase slightly in concentration over time.

Direct precipitation into the oceans carries with it this carbonic acid, but none of the other necessary minerals and nutrients.

Dams stop floods and the erosion they cause, create build ups of silt in the reservoirs they create and the water that flows from them is generally colder and carries less biological material than it would have otherwise had the rivers flow been left unimpeded.

Much of this water held back never reaches the sea in the form of mineral rich river water, it gets evapotranspirated to the atmosphere and finds its way back to the ocean as direct precipitation instead.

Many of the great river deltas are now sinking for the lack of sediment.

Being buried within this sediment is a great deal of biological material, carbon based biological material.

Any reduction of this process of river delta sediment formation is a net loss in carbon sequestration.

Coupled with the reduction of minerals and other biological nutrients to the sea that vitalize the oceans and stimulate production of phytoplankton, impeding the rivers is the principal anthropogenic cause of reduced CO2 sequestration and much of the reason for the build up of atmospheric CO2.

Ask a petroleum geologist where and why he looks for oil.

Using fossil fuels is the visible part of the CO2 imbalance ice burg, interfering with the natural processes that allow nature sequester this carbon back where it came from is the unseen and untold 6/7ths of the problem.


GWHunta @ 04/03/07 11:08:10

The pH issues stem from carbonic acid, as in rainfall is slightly acidic because precipitation sequesters CO2.

yeah, thats the stuff

from the Carnegie Institute link above:
When carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil, and gas dissolves in the ocean, some of it becomes carbonic acid. Over time, accumulation of this carbonic acid makes ocean water more acidic
The new finding offers a glimpse of what the future might hold for ocean life if society does not drastically curb carbon dioxide emissions.

The geologic record tells us the chemical effects of ocean acidification would last tens of thousands of years,” Caldeira said. “But biological recovery could take millions of years. Ocean acidification has the potential to cause extinction of many marine species.

and a bit from those folks at the American Geophysical Union
The ocean plays a major role in the uptake of carbon dioxide emitted from fossil-fuel burning, helping to moderate future climate change. However, the addition of the gas to the ocean alters marine chemistry by increasing acidity (decreasing pH), posing a threat to shelled organisms and the predators that feed off them.

ummm… dikweed, you linked your claim of “the political side, the laypeoples opinion” to the same exact site as the link “the actual press announcement” and they say the same thing: climate change poses one of the greatest threats to the future of life and it is linked to CO2 emissions.

In the 1950s, however, scientists began measuring year-to-year changes in the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere that they could relate to fossil fuel combustion, and they began to develop the implications for Earth’s temperature and for climate change. Fifty years later, leading scientists agree that carbon-burning technologies continue to make Earth warmer at an unprecedented rate. They warn that the consequences could drastically alter both the planet and human life.

The dangers posed by climate change are nearly as dire as those posed by nuclear weapons. The effects may be less dramatic in the short term than the destruction that could be wrought by nuclear explosions, but over the next three to four decades climate change could cause irremediable harm to the habitats upon which human societies depend for survival.

Stephen Hawking, a BAS sponsor, professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge, and a fellow of The Royal Society, said: “As scientists, we understand the dangers of nuclear weapons and their devastating effects, and we are learning how human activities and technologies are affecting climate systems in ways that may forever change life on Earth. As citizens of the world, we have a duty to alert the public to the unnecessary risks that we live with every day, and to the perils we foresee if governments and societies do not take action now to render nuclear weapons obsolete and to prevent further climate change.

yeah, actually dikweed, the BAS does give its opinion on emissions… remember this one?
In the 1950s, however, scientists began measuring year-to-year changes in the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere that they could relate to fossil fuel combustion, and they began to develop the implications for Earth’s temperature and for climate change. Fifty years later, leading scientists agree that carbon-burning technologies continue to make Earth warmer at an unprecedented rate. They warn that the consequences could drastically alter both the planet and human life.
that´s a summary of the BAS opinion from the BAS website.

and now i cower back into my gloom and doom world of teaching, exploring and enjoying what´s left of neotropical wilderness as the plague that is industrial civilization creeps behind me.

if im not back in a couple days to bitch and moan about our sad state of affairs its because something during my booze powered crossing of the central american rain forest corridor mountain bike trip has gone awry. rest assured i died in agony and worry over the dying froggies.


Livingston @ 04/03/07 13:38:42

And Peace be with you in your journey my friend. But you’re still missing the larger issues here.

Deforestation, choking, constraining and redirection of the world’s rivers to the atmosphere have done far more to increase CO2 levels than the burning of fossil fuels.

Far more to the warming and alterations of the climate as well.

The sink provided by the ocean is currently sequestering more CO2 than we are emitting, even with its reduced capacity attributable to the reduction of fresh nourishment from what used to be the annual flooding of major river systems.

Were in not for centuries of deforestation, the reduction of both direct sequestration of biological material by virtue of deposition in river deltas and indirect sequestration by nutrient enrichment; even with current level of fossil fuel use, we may not have witnessed any net increase in atmospheric CO2.

More irrigation means more evapotranspiration. Water vapor is a GHG.
What we do to the world’s rivers directly and immediately impacts the oceans and as well as the chemical content of the atmosphere.

Find me a single scientist that will dispute what I’m saying.

Put the impact of CO2 in its place. Deal with the root source of this problem.

Land and water use.

Justice, then Peace.

GWHunta @ 04/03/07 14:18:24

ummm… dikweed, you linked your claim of “the political side, the laypeoples opinion” to the same exact site as the link “the actual press announcement” and they say the same thing: climate change poses one of the greatest threats to the future of life

Climate change DOES pose a threat. What I noted was the CO2 discrepancy. What the press announcement does NOT allay is a specific carbon dioxide fear. On the contrary, the BAS’ fear is that nuclear power would be the carbon dioxide alternative.

But don’t take my word for it. Find “carbon dioxide” in the press announcement and tell us what it says.

dikweed @ 04/03/07 14:30:15
Chickenma1 @ 04/03/07 22:14:00

More “gloom and doom.”

Not to discount dying sea birds but this story doesn’t establish anything except that some of these younger birds apparently couldn’t manage to keep up with the flock and the competition for food and succumbed to the struggle.

The species overall numbers are strong and the other 18,000 or so made it through the migration O.K. so maybe last years hatch was abnormally successful and there are simply too many younger birds along to make it on the available resources.

Offshore currents change and this impacts the food supply as does the weather. The early spring heat this year could have taken a toll as well. I wonder sometime how editorial decisions are made to run some stories and leave countless others untold.


GWHunta @ 04/04/07 19:21:23

3.3? Dam good blog.

Sometimes no Peace

GWHunta @ 04/15/07 16:01:41

Don’t worry GWH. People tend to vote on this site for personal reasons. It’s not your fault, just a typical human condition whereby people have difficulty separating their logic from emotion. Don’t consider your vote an indication of whether your information is right or wrong(which I am not qualified to properly assess anyway), but rather an indication of whether someone likes your ideas, or perhaps you.

I personally feel that people who vote below 5 should state why they have done so. This place should be viewed as a community, and anonymously rating blogs poorly is the equivalent to sending your neighbour an anonymous letter saying, “you suck.” What’s the point of such a thing? Probably the point is to hurt someone else’s feelings. It surely wasn’t done to help the other improve upon his/her ideas, and is therefore malicious.

That sort of thing should be viewed on this site as despicable. We are trying to elevate ourselves beyond who we fight against. Yet I tend to see an eerie similarity between many people on the left side of the spectrum and the very people whom they claim to hate. Seriously, does one honestly think everyone on this site does what they do for moral reasons? I sincerely doubt it.

That said, I commend you for giving my recent blog a five even though I have tried to challenge some of your views. That shows you’re ahead of the game in being able to separate the two factors mentioned above. I’m not voting for this because (a) I don’t know enough to judge, (b) I refuse to vote simply in favour of those whom I like/dislike.

NewWorldOdor @ 04/15/07 18:52:21

my god this is some long blogs. so long! geez. Look, the scroll bar rectangle has been reduced to a tiny cube!

cwb305s @ 05/08/07 18:48:01

Thanks for your imput.


GWHunta @ 05/08/07 19:33:32

So GW, I’m not to well informed on this theory of global warming, not that I disagree with it. But if what you’re saying is true, than what can be done?

Personally, I like the idea of cutting down CO2, living near Mexico City, the air is terrible. Anybody who has ever been down here to La Capirucha knows just how bad the smog is here, for god sakes it burns your fucking nasal cavaity!! (when you first come here)

But if this theory of water vapor causing the warming is accurate, than mankind is responsible for the ensuing chaos. After deforestation and cutting off of dams (which we also create), we are to blame for the poor state of the ocean.

My question on this subject is, wouldn’t more water vapor condense in the higher atmosphere? Where the temperature is cooler? And second, why wouldnt cutting CO2 help?

We all know the earth has warmed in the past, but never as quickly as it has since the industrial revolution. Sure the temperature rised in the past by 2-3 degrees, but over thousands of years. Not in 150 years.

Thats what my biggest concern on this theory is. Looking at evidence like this, how can one not believe CO2 is to blame?

Dilated_Rebel @ 05/08/07 20:47:07

As stated in the blog, we are having an impact on the climate and the carbon cycle.

The very best thing we can do in terms of cost effective remediation is to find a way to make better use of the water we are diverting to the sea so that more can be allowed to remain within the rivers and reach the sea.

More river water to the sea means more nutrients, hence more phytoplankton and increased sequestration of atmospheric CO2.

Improving the efficiency of water use in agricultural production will reduce anthropogenic water vapor in the atmosphere.

Crops that demand large volumes of water should only be grown where there is generally sufficient rainfall to supply the needs of these crops and break the dependency of agriculture on intensive irrigation.

While this will result in increased costs for producing the same volume of agricultural product, the climatic and environmental benefits of reduction of anthropogenic water vapor, increased river volumes and more nutrients into the ocean will offset these costs and far more efficiently than trying to simply cut our dependence on fossil fuels.

In the long run, especially when considering the environmental impact of producing sufficient agricultural product for processing into liquid biofuels for the replacement of much of our current gasoline and petroleum based diesel fuels, trying to reduce overall emissions of CO2 simply isn’t going to work.

Not for 7 billion anyway.

GWHunta @ 05/12/07 19:27:00

In all of GW’s blogs, I get that human altering of the landscape over millenia does considerably more damage than driving cars. Intuitively, that feels right. Now he’s saying that one of the effects of altering the landscape is to limit co2 sequestration, and that too is more damaging than putting extra Co2 into the air.

GW, what I don’t agree on is that redoing the landscape back to nature-friendliness is less a doomsday scenario than eliminating fossil fuels – cause either way, it ain’t gonna happen. Thank you though, for your warnings about ethanol and reminding us of the true culprit – destruction of natural systems. (I still don’t see where Al Gore has advocated ethanol – he’s done nothing but good on this issue, IMHO.)

Chickenma1 @ 05/26/07 01:06:10

There is little that the two of us don’t see eye to eye on, at least once we’ve had a chance to talk it through, but Gore’s school of thought on global warming and program of dispensing his climate change propaganda isn’t honest or complete.

He portrays the relationship between atmospheric CO2 levels and global average temperature as cause and effect and espouses that past correlations make future predictions not only possible, but certain.

This is beyond being intellectually dishonest, it is simply not true and an outright lie.

There are far too many variables in the climate system to base future predictions on the atmospheric levels of a single trace gas.

Nor is CO2 the only or even the preeminent factor in anthropogenic climate change.

Legislating changes into the economic system that will alter the destinies of most of the people on the planet is far too important a task to be spearheaded by a political zealot that is not only dispensing with most of the story, but is outright lying in the part of the story he does tell.


GWHunta @ 05/27/07 09:48:18

11 Responses to Damming Evidence of Anthropogenic Climate Change

  1. Wade Roberts says:

    In Negative Feeback we show that this equilibrium is so stable that doubling the power arriving from the Sun causes only a 4°C change in the surface temperature of our planet. If we ignore the equilibrium, and estimate the effect of doubling Solar power using black-body calculations alone, we would expect the surface to warm up by 50°C.

    Although our simulation is still primitive, it does show us that the balance between evaporation and precipitation is a force that brings stability to our climate. If we ignore this equilibrium when we estimate the effect of increased Solar power or atmospheric CO2, we are likely to over-estimate the effect by an order of magnitude. If that is the case, then the effect of doubling CO2 concentration is not the 1.5°C we calculated in With 660 ppm CO2, but closer to 0.15°C.

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