Archive for May 20th, 2009

On the Upside…

Sharon May 20th, 2009

_Depletion and Abundance_ won a Bronze Medal at IPPY.  What on earth is IPPY, you ask?  It is an independent publisher’s award.  I’m told this is good.

 Just as well I stayed out of bed ;-) .

 Sharon

Going Back to Bed With a Bottle of Wine

Sharon May 20th, 2009

Ok, I’m not really, I’m actually off to do soil tests, plant herbs and corn, and start melon seeds.  But I’ve got to admit, it is tempting.  Here’s what’s making me want to put the covers over my head:

“The  most comprehensive modeling yet carried out on the likelihood of how much hotter the Earth’s climate will get in this century shows that without rapid and massive action, the problem will be about twice as severe as previously estimated six years ago – and could be even worse than that.

The study uses the MIT Integrated Global Systems Model, a detailed computer simulation of global economic activity and climate processes that has been developed and refined by the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change since the early 1990s. The new research involved 400 runs of the model with each run using slight variations in input parameters, selected so that each run has about an equal probability of being correct based on present observations and knowledge. Other research groups have estimated the probabilities of various outcomes, based on variations in the physical response of the climate system itself. But the MIT model is the only one that interactively includes detailed treatment of possible changes in human activities as well – such as the degree of economic growth, with its associated energy use, in different countries.”

And for more good cheer from the same source:

The new projections, published this month in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate, indicate a median probability of surface warming of 5.2 degrees Celsius by 2100, with a 90% probability range of 3.5 to 7.4 degrees. This can be compared to a median projected increase in the 2003 study of just 2.4 degrees. The difference is caused by several factors rather than any single big change. Among these are improved economic modeling and newer economic data showing less chance of low emissions than had been projected in the earlier scenarios. Other changes include accounting for the past masking of underlying warming by the cooling induced by 20th century volcanoes, and for emissions of soot, which can add to the warming effect. In addition, measurements of deep ocean temperature rises, which enable estimates of how fast heat and carbon dioxide are removed from the atmosphere and transferred to the ocean depths, imply lower transfer rates than previously estimated….

To illustrate the range of probabilities revealed by the 400 simulations, Prinn and the team produced a “roulette wheel” that reflects the latest relative odds of various levels of temperature rise. The wheel provides a very graphic representation of just how serious the potential climate impacts are.

“There’s no way the world can or should take these risks,” Prinn says. And the odds indicated by this modeling may actually understate the problem, because the model does not fully incorporate other positive feedbacks that can occur, for example, if increased temperatures caused a large-scale melting of permafrost in arctic regions and subsequent release of large quantities of methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. Including that feedback “is just going to make it worse,” Prinn says.”

That’s just the image I wanted in my head right now, the “Wheel O’ Doom.”  Spin the wheel, take yer chances. 

At the moment, the only thing I can think of to do is this – make sure we stop using energy. I admit to grave doubts about how quickly we can adapt to renewables, so my end of this, the place I find hope is this – perhaps, just perhaps, we can make the inevitable realization that we have to have less a little more appetizing, and a little more hopeful.  Because the price we pay for what we have is clearly too high.

 We now return this program to your regularly scheduled dirt.

Sharon