Greenhouse gas emissions shock scientists – Los Angeles Times

Greenhouse gas emissions shock scientists – Los Angeles Times

This is not good news.  Despite the economic slowdown, greenhouse gas emissions have grown at a higher rate than anticipated.  Carbon dioxide output actually grew by 3% when it was expected to fall.

Our natural carbon sinks on the planet – the oceans and the forests – appear to be slowing in their capacity to capture carbon dioxide.

There are a lot of potential tipping points and potential feedback loops we are facing that could accelerate global warming.  One of these is pretty well understood, it is the release of methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, as the planet warms.  The methane release would be expected from tundra and from the Arctic ocean beds.  These are not knife-edge changes where the impact could go one way or another, they are tipping points where change is expected to go in a certain direction.

Are there unforeseen controls on global warming?  Changes in the environment that will counterbalance the changes brought on by the burning of fossil fuels?  We should certainly hope so because the anticipated and predicted changes are not good for many species of life, including industrial bipeds.

Hat tip to The Independent: The methane time bomb – Climate Change, Environment – The Independent

Exclusive: The methane time bomb – Climate Change, Environment – The Independent

Methane release as the planet warms looks like bad news.

Here is an article on the Arctic methane release issue.

Arctic Sea  Looks ok, but there is trouble bubbling up from below in the form of methane being released from the seabed as the Arctic warms.

Methane is 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

The planet will continue to warm faster than the models predict and we are going to be faced with some horrendous choices that will include taking part in a major die-off on the small blue planet or engaging in some dangerous bio-engineering solutions such as the release of huge amounts of sulfates into the environment to attempt to stabilize the environment.  These are ugly scenarios.

I am searching for any hint of good news in these stories and the methane release does cause me to wonder if we have any capacity to drill and capture methane as a fuel source.  Burning methane as a fuel certainly makes more sense than letting huge amounts of it loose in the atmosphere where we know it will cause more global warming.

Hurricane Ike Roars Ashore, Batters Southeast Texas –

Hurricane Ike Roars Ashore, Batters Southeast Texas –

Photo courtesy of Carlos Barria of ReutersThis storm, Hurricane Ike, came through the area that I described earlier, the space between Cuba, Florida, and the Yucatan Peninsula.  That put the storm over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico that are now slightly warmer than these waters were even a few decades ago.  This storm responded to the warmer waters by becoming a huge storm, but not a huge and strong storm.  It was a Category 3 Storm.  Katrina was a Category 4 or 5 when it struck New Orleans.  Katrina is really the model of the mother of all storms, a really large hurricane that is also really powerful in terms of wind speed.

There is some irony in the fact that the Gulf Coast has become a death zone of monster hurricanes as it hosts so much of the American petroleum refinery industry.  The hurricane path is set to bear down now and ravage the area that has been so instrumental in American petroleum  production.  These companies who have fought so hard to create confusion about the role of petrol burning in global warming will now have to figure out how to cover their business costs and the losses that will come regularly Courtesy David Phillips Associated Pressfrom hurricanes like Ike and Katrina.  You can take it to the bank,  the insurance industry will not feel any loyalty to long term customers and clients who choose to rebuild in this death zone.  If you want to rebuild, you will pay huge premiums if you can find insurance.

And, of course, no matter what other lessons can be learned as the years go by and these really large storms change the life-support capacity of this small region of a small blue planet, it must be noted that everyday working women and men, families who have been fed misleading propaganda by industry and the corporate media will pay a price.

This is a teachable moment.  It is time to leave the Gulf Coast.  We may have years like we had between Katrina and Ike, relatively mild hurricane seasons, but the Ike and Katrina years are going to be a regular pattern now.

The small blue planet does not respect our species’ desire to see it as a commodity.  It is not a commodity, it is a complex system and when you change the chemistry and makeup in significant ways, like running up the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, you do so at your peril.

I am waiting for a tipping point, a moment when the American consciousness absorbs the impact of global warming.  A moment when we recognize that polar bears are not the only ones threatened by our short-sighted approach to the planet that we inhabit.

Hurricane Gustav – Is this Global Warming?

The simple answer to this question is yes.  Yes, Hurricane Gustav, like Hurricane Katrina is global warming brought live to the doorsteps at the Gulf Coast.

I grew up about 150 miles from the Gulf Coast of Texas and spent my youth watching hurricane season with great interest.  I never saw a category 1 hurricane blow up into a category 5 monster in the way that Katrina did in 2005.

Hurricane Gustav

The simple truth is that a few decades ago, Katrina would have made landfall in Louisiana as a category 2 or 3 storm.  Pretty impressive and damaging, but not the ravaging storm that Katrina became.  The reason that Katrina blew up in to a category 5 hurricane is that the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are warmer than they were a couple of decades ago.

I think that we will see that hurricanes that move slowly over the warm waters of the Gulf, north of Cuba, west of Florida, north of the Yucatan Peninsula routinely build in magnitude to an extent that we did not see just a few decades ago.  I don’t know what this means for the communities that have built up along the Gulf Coast based on the storm strength, the storm surge, the windspeed of weaker storms.  I don’t know if those communities can rebuild their structures to have the strength of survival bunkers to stand category 5 storms.