[Vision2020] Heat-Trapping Gas Passes Milestone, Raising Fears

Paul Rumelhart godshatter at yahoo.com
Sun May 12 10:22:20 PDT 2013

When it reaches 407.84596432222, you will be able to say the same exact 
thing.  That was my point.  "400" is a number that humans can relate to, 
not a number that has any significance in the science of climate 
change.  But it is a nice excuse to "raise fears".

Thank you for your learning resource suggestion.  Maybe I'll look into 
it.  It's something I'm sure a lot of people struggle with.


On 05/12/2013 07:36 AM, Art Deco wrote:
> "The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, 
> carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone, scientists 
> reported Friday,*reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for 
> millions of years*."
> Perhaps a course in remedial reading would not be amiss.
> w.
> On Sat, May 11, 2013 at 9:36 PM, Paul Rumelhart <godshatter at yahoo.com 
> <mailto:godshatter at yahoo.com>> wrote:
>     There is nothing notable, from a scientific viewpoint, about the
>     number 400 as it relates to parts per million of CO2 in our
>     atmosphere.  It's no different, from a scientific perspective,
>     than the numbers 398 or 407, for example.  It's not double the
>     earliest readings of CO2, it's not some threshold beyond which how
>     it acts as a gas changes.  It didn't just surpass the old record
>     of 399 sometime in our past that now makes it more important. 
>     It's just a number that humans see as impactful, because the
>     hundreds digit just changed and it's followed by two zeros, all
>     based on our choice of using base-10 for our numbering system.
>     It is, in fact, just another excuse to "raise fears". So, of
>     course, you'll see all sorts of articles about it.
>     Paul
>     On 05/11/2013 12:29 PM, Art Deco wrote:
>>     The New York Times <http://www.nytimes.com/>
>>     ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>     May 10, 2013
>>       Heat-Trapping Gas Passes Milestone, Raising Fears
>>                 By JUSTIN GILLIS
>>                 <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/justin_gillis/index.html>
>>     The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the
>>     atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone,
>>     scientists reported Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on
>>     the earth for millions of years.
>>     Scientific instruments showed that the gas had reached an average
>>     daily level above 400 parts per million --- just an odometer
>>     moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of
>>     efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are
>>     faltering.
>>     The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the
>>     air has not been this high for at least three million years,
>>     before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends
>>     large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.
>>     "It symbolizes that so far we have failed miserably in tackling
>>     this problem," said Pieter P. Tans, who runs the monitoring
>>     program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
>>     that reported the new reading.
>>     Ralph Keeling, who runs another monitoring program at the Scripps
>>     Institution of Oceanography <http://scrippsco2.ucsd.edu/> in San
>>     Diego, said a continuing rise could be catastrophic. "It means we
>>     are quickly losing the possibility of keeping the climate below
>>     what people thought were possibly tolerable thresholds," he said.
>>     Virtually every automobile ride, every plane trip and, in most
>>     places, every flip of a light switch adds carbon dioxide to the
>>     air, and relatively little money is being spent to find and
>>     deploy alternative technologies.
>>     China is now the largest emitter, but Americans have been
>>     consuming fossil fuels extensively for far longer, and experts
>>     say the United States is more responsible than any other nation
>>     for the high level.
>>     The new measurement came from analyzers atop Mauna Loa
>>     <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/22/science/earth/22carbon.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0>,
>>     the volcano on the big island of Hawaii that has long been ground
>>     zero for monitoring the worldwide trend on carbon dioxide, or
>>     CO2. Devices there sample
>>     <http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/weekly.html> clean,
>>     crisp air that has blown thousands of miles across the Pacific
>>     Ocean, producing a record of rising carbon dioxide levels that
>>     has been closely tracked for half a century.
>>     Carbon dioxide above 400 parts per million was first seen in the
>>     Arctic last year, and had also spiked above that level in hourly
>>     readings at Mauna Loa.
>>     But the average reading for an entire day surpassed that level at
>>     Mauna Loa for the first time in the 24 hours that ended at 8 p.m.
>>     Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday. The two monitoring programs
>>     use slightly different protocols; NOAA reported an average for
>>     the period of 400.03 parts per million, while Scripps reported
>>     400.08.
>>     Carbon dioxide rises and falls on a seasonal cycle, and the level
>>     will dip below 400 this summer as leaf growth in the Northern
>>     Hemisphere pulls about 10 billion tons of carbon out of the air.
>>     But experts say that will be a brief reprieve --- the moment is
>>     approaching when no measurement of the ambient air anywhere on
>>     earth, in any season, will produce a reading below 400.
>>     "It feels like the inevitable march toward disaster," said
>>     Maureen E. Raymo, a scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth
>>     Observatory, a unit of Columbia University.
>>     >From studying air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice, scientists
>>     know that going back 800,000 years, the carbon dioxide level
>>     oscillated in a tight band, from about 180 parts per million in
>>     the depths of ice ages to about 280 during the warm periods
>>     between. The evidence shows that global temperatures and CO_2
>>     levels are tightly linked.
>>     For the entire period of human civilization, roughly 8,000 years,
>>     the carbon dioxide level was relatively stable near that upper
>>     bound. But the burning of fossil fuels has caused a 41 percent
>>     increase in the heat-trapping gas since the Industrial
>>     Revolution, a mere geological instant, and scientists say the
>>     climate is beginning to react, though they expect far larger
>>     changes in the future.
>>     Indirect measurements suggest that the last time the carbon
>>     dioxide level was this high was at least three million years ago,
>>     during an epoch called the Pliocene. Geological research shows
>>     that the climate then was far warmer than today, the world's ice
>>     caps were smaller, and the sea level might have been as much as
>>     60 or 80 feet higher.
>>     Experts fear that humanity may be precipitating a return to such
>>     conditions --- except this time, billions of people are in harm's
>>     way.
>>     "It takes a long time to melt ice, but we're doing it," Dr.
>>     Keeling said. "It's scary."
>>     Dr. Keeling's father, Charles David Keeling, began carbon dioxide
>>     measurements on Mauna Loa and at other locations in the late
>>     1950s. The elder Dr. Keeling found a level in the air then of
>>     about 315 parts per million --- meaning that if a person had
>>     filled a million quart jars with air, about 315 quart jars of
>>     carbon dioxide would have been mixed in.
>>     His analysis revealed a relentless, long-term increase
>>     superimposed on the seasonal cycle, a trend that was dubbed the
>>     Keeling Curve <http://scrippsco2.ucsd.edu/>.
>>     Countries have adopted an official target to limit the damage
>>     from global warming, with 450 parts per million seen as the
>>     maximum level compatible with that goal. "Unless things slow
>>     down, we'll probably get there in well under 25 years," Ralph
>>     Keeling said.
>>     Yet many countries, including China and the United States, have
>>     refused to adopt binding national targets. Scientists say that
>>     unless far greater efforts are made soon, the goal of limiting
>>     the warming will become impossible without severe economic
>>     disruption.
>>     "If you start turning the Titanic long before you hit the
>>     iceberg, you can go clear without even spilling a drink of a
>>     passenger on deck," said Richard B. Alley, a climate scientist at
>>     Pennsylvania State University. "If you wait until you're really
>>     close, spilling a lot of drinks is the best you can hope for."
>>     Climate-change contrarians, who have little scientific
>>     credibility but are politically influential in Washington, point
>>     out that carbon dioxide represents only a tiny fraction of the
>>     air --- as of Thursday's reading, exactly 0.04 percent. "The CO_2
>>     levels in the atmosphere are rather undramatic," a Republican
>>     congressman from California, Dana Rohrabacher, said in a
>>     Congressional hearing several years ago.
>>     But climate scientists reject that argument, saying it is like
>>     claiming that a tiny bit of arsenic or cobra venom cannot have
>>     much effect. Research shows that even at such low levels, carbon
>>     dioxide is potent at trapping heat near the surface of the earth.
>>     "If you're looking to stave off climate perturbations that I
>>     don't believe our culture is ready to adapt to, then significant
>>     reductions in CO_2 emissions have to occur right away," said Mark
>>     Pagani, a Yale geochemist who studies climates of the past. "I
>>     feel like the time to do something was yesterday."
>>     -- 
>>     Art Deco (Wayne A. Fox)
>>     art.deco.studios at gmail.com <mailto:art.deco.studios at gmail.com>
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> -- 
> Art Deco (Wayne A. Fox)
> art.deco.studios at gmail.com <mailto:art.deco.studios at gmail.com>
> =======================================================
>   List services made available by First Step Internet,
>   serving the communities of the Palouse since 1994.
>                 http://www.fsr.net
>            mailto:Vision2020 at moscow.com
> =======================================================

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