What do I think, What can I do?

Archive for the ‘Interesting Consequences’ Category

Positive consequences of Climate Change? The northern route navigation

Northern route map from http://www.fni.no/

Many people in the maritime transport industry is thinking about the possibilities of using the shorter northern passage to go and come from Asia. Even the north pole could be reachable by 2050 with a small icebreaker. This can be considered a positive consequence? I think so, as it will make easier, shorter, cheaper and less carbon intensive to transport many goods in the northern hemisphere.For climate change itself the negative impact is much bigger than the positive as the albedo, or reflectiveness of the ice is greater so more sun energy will be absorbed.

But above all, in my opinion, it is agreat prove that something really important is changing in our planet in spite of all skeptics comments, because the ice shells are a first order displays of the heat content in our planet surface. The averages of the temperatures measured in many weather stations over the world are not so easy to see but a clear ocean in the north pole is something very very expressive. What will skeptics invent then? Will they still be skeptics then?

Are top world companies fighting against Climate Change?

img_5015These news explains some reports and surveys that state the increased compromise of World’s Top Corporations in this sense. Just three fast thoughts:

  • It shows that the economic establishment does not follow the skeptics ideas. As overwhelming amount of scientific work shows climate change is happening, it is happening because of our greenhouse gas emissions and international agencies, governments and top companies believe it. Skeptics are less than it seems from mass media and even blogs, internet,…
  • The real commitment of all this institutions has not been enough to even start decreasing CO2 emissions. So are really top companies committed to change the emission path. I would like too and I suppose that some are but not all, for example the companies that obtain great revenue from fossil fuels, or the ones worried by electricity costs. In  fact, skeptic blogs and media have many private financial sources.
  • It would be great that companies really committed to change their emissions path to obtain a prize from the worldwide customers to compensate their effort. But in that case good and reliable evaluation methods would be required, to ensure the mechanism is really working.. This way the normal citizen would have another instrument to fight against climate change.

Ice Cube, a very strange telescope in the south pole

ice cubes

ice cubes

Recently I read some news about IceCube neutrino observatory in the south pole. It is an amazing installation looking for the secrets of those elusive particles and by extension to the secrets of distant galaxies, a kind of telescope really. It is not the only installation looking for neutrinos, but this is very special as it is built in the great ice desert of Antarctica. In fact, is uses the 3 Km of ice depth in this continent to find neutrinos.

I was amazed by the technology and imagination involved in this great telescope. Will it last when the climate changes?

I suppose so, I hope so, but did the scientific in charge consider this aspect? Too many times is not considered for medium to  long-term forecasts even in groups that do not deny it in any way


News about costs of climate change and vulnerability


I was gladly surprised to read this news in a local newspaper. It is also in the Guardian for example, but not in every important media. It mentions a report by DARA about climate vulnerabilities for all countries and continents in the world. After a quick read I am convinced it deserves more time and analysis from my part. However, the headlines in the newspapers is enough for a first opinion. It mentions the 1.6 drop in GDP that is caused currently by climate change. It would be enough to counteract the crisis in many countries where many fossil fuel supporters are blaming renewables energy costs for their costly electricity. And the most important issue, this economic effect is happening now, not in the unpredictable future of next generation, so what can we expect for our children? Are the renewables so expensive or climate change makes the fossil fuel far more costly? Many climate change hawks emphasize the economic balance, is not a bad strategy as counteracts the main problem of the main solution: the renewable energy.

Venecia and Climate Change

Venice collage from Wikipedia

Venice collage from Wikipedia

Some places are more worried about climate change than others, or at least shout be. It is normal as some enjoy a wonderful weather that can only be worsened, or depend a lot on their current climate or sea level. This is the case for Venice This study shows (link in Spanish)the flood frequency will increase in this wonderful city. And floods in Venice affect 75% of the city old town, it is one of the hefty prices of being so special.
Will this be definitive for Venice’s sustainability? I do not know but certainly they will have to be very aware of Greenlands melting to think about clever mitigating measurements if they do not want to become the most beautiful diving center in the world. Anyway, they will not be alone, the rest of us will suffer many other consequences of climate change some of them unpleasantly unexpected, and many will not have resources for the most basic mitigation.

Extreme heat is here too

Yesterday a new temperature record was established in Basque Country, a very unusual 44.8ª for a mild temperature region. This summer extreme weather events are one of the hot issues in climate blogosphere, Climate Progress describes the hot summer and widespread drought in USA, skeptical science displays the last research results connecting extreme events and climate change, … At the same time, in the other side of the ocean the temperatures are getting extreme too as yesterda here or the three summer heat waves in the very mild Canary Islands where I was in hollydays. I am not very fond of talking too much of weather as skeptics usually do because our weather memories are weak and it is very easy to play a tennis match: today I believe, tomorrow not at all. Climate is not just weather, it is more global and in more time length. However, extreme events are important, for these reasons in my opinion:

1 If they are frequent enough, they show that temperature distribution is changing as explained in mentioned skeptical science post and many others. Many researchers are working in this link as that post shows.

2 More important than that is that they affect our everyday life, they are one of the first effects we are going to suffer from climate change.

3 They help increase most people awareness about climate change and could convince us to start making the difficult decisions we must make. Although this can be a dangerous weapon following the tennis match model and getting many people tired. For this reason it has to be explained well.

1ºC is 20 m, sea level rise

I read this post recently and found it a terrific explanation of one of the most direct and frightening consequences of climate change: sea level rise. (I also bought his book High Tide on Main Street but I will try have to read it later).

One of the figures he gives is the best summary for me: Roughly sea level raises 20 m for each ºC, based on historic data. It does not happen immediately, the huge ice sheets need time to thaw but once the temperature is fixed it is unstoppable. Considering a moderate target of 2 ºC for our future warming if we do things relatively well and stop current business as usual in a reasonable time, this would lead to a terrifying figure of 40 m sea level rise. Others sources mention basically 21st century predictions as this article ( Antonio Zecca, Luca Chiari, Global and Planetary Change.). It calculates a lower limit of 80cm this siecle and more for the next 200 years; or the NOAA, witch estimates between 20 cm and 2m.

The problem to solve in order to predict the sea level rise is very complicated. Even knowing the exact amount of water coming from Greenland or west Antarctica, or the exact temperature rise and subsequent water dilatation it would be complex as the seas are filling the land floating in the magma. So, we have to be conscious or the great error margins and the difference between coasts.

But anyway, going back to the 40 m, I think my house would be included there, some years ago, in some floods just 3 m were enough to reach the lower floor, so I will not be here to see it but it could be sad to my grandsons to say this part of the sea was our grandfathers house.

A long time before that, with much less, it is likely that some housing market will realise about that and the wonderful coastal second houses or investment values will drop sharply causing an economical and maybe financial crack, and even before the strong storms will become a great problem for inhabitants owners and insurance companies.