Community > Forum > The Spaceflight Cafe > Climate change with box

Climate change with box

Posted by: Lourens - Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:36 pm
Post new topic Reply to topic
 [ 15 posts ] 
Climate change with box 
Author Message
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
avatar
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2005 7:44 am
Posts: 707
Location: Haarlem, The Netherlands
Post Climate change with box   Posted on: Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:36 pm
I'm moving this from the original thread to a new one, so that that one can be about solar power, and I can reply here without making a big mess.

box wrote:
Now certainly the drastic change in the climate would be quite traumatic for the biosphere leading to mass extinction and complete alteration of existent natural biomes, but it wouldn't be the end of life on this planet, and it also definitely wouldn't mean that the diversity we see couldn't be restored or maintained while this transition occurs.

Hey! That mass extinction you're talking about includes you and me. I don't know about you, but having some jellyfish left in the ocean isn't much of a consolation to me.

box wrote:
I am hijacking this thread a bit to rant about global warming. :) The climate of this planet has always been dynamic. It responds to external changes like the change of the orbit, change of luminosity of our star, and it responds to internal changes like the complete chemical alteration of the atmosphere by photosynthesis.

The biological component of the biosphere responds to this over geological timescales, species change geographical distribution, they increase and decrease in diversity. Life has been through many drastic changes, what's happening now is only unprecedented because it is an intelligent species that is causing the climate to change.

No, what's happening now is unprecedented due to the speed with which it's happening. The atmosphere doesn't care whether its composition is changed by an intelligent species or a dumb one, the physics remains the same.

You said it yourself, these changes normally occur on geological time scales. That's hundreds of thousands of years, or hundreds of millions. What's happening now is on the scale of centuries. So it's between a thousand and a million times faster than usual. That's the speed difference between a snail and a supersonic aircraft. Just because the snail does fine at its regular speed doesn't mean it'll survive supersonic flight.

box wrote:
This constant propaganda for halting or reversing climate change is misguided because the climate was never static to begin with. So really putting all these efforts into reversing our impact is pretty futile because to actually reverse our impact we would have to simply gett off the planet or kill ourselves. Probably even then the system probably won't get back to the same "equilibrium" it was in before. Not to mention that stoping the natural shift of the global climate is just as artificial as making it shift.

You are conflating natural climate change and human-induced accelerated climate change. This is a straw man, no-one is advocating stopping geological-scale climate change. A couple million years really is way too long for anyone to worry about now. But just because snails can move about on their own doesn't mean that gluing rockets to them and setting them off is harmless to them.

box wrote:
What we need to do is be aware of the changes, be mindful of how we impact the systems around us, control our impact instead of being completely ignorant of it, and respond to the changes we inevitably cause in these systems. It is way easier to adapt to the environment than to change the environment on large scales. For instance we can try and control the intensity or trajectory of hurricanes, or redesign our living spaces to withstand such storms with no problem. I would always chose redesigning over constant meddling with atmospherical conditions. It probably would be way less expensive, and we don't have to worry about environmental impacts of moving storm systems around.

More and stronger hurricanes are not nearly the worst potential (AFAIK there is no proof that there are any more hurricanes as a result of climate change, just a hypothesis based on physics) result of climate change. Widespread crop failures due to increased or decreased precipitation seems like a much larger potential problem to me for example. How would you redesign around that? More aquifer water? We're already running out in many places. Move water around ourselves? Where are you going to get the energy to drive river-sized water pipelines for hundreds or thousands of kilometres? Or the space to buffer it?

box wrote:
So the same goes for desertification, or increased frequency of floods, or wild fires or higher or lower precipitation etc...

Certainly we need to drastically reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we release into the atmosphere, but we can forget about the climate ever staying tha same in any region because that is not what climates do to begin with.

Again, you're completely missing the problem. Of course we're not going to keep the climate stable over geological time scales. That's not the issue at all. And yes, there are some small fluctuations over human time scales, such as the Little Ice Age, but they are much smaller than what we're talking about here.

box wrote:
So the issue is and has always been is inadequate thought put into our adaptations to these changes, not how these changes could be stoped or reversed to meet our desires.

To be frank I am actually a little bit more worried about agriculture than the greenhouse gases we have been releasing. Certainly altering the climate makes it hard for species to adapt, but what makes it even harder for them to adapt is a bulldozer completely eradicating the areas they inhabit to begin with.

Yes, habitat destruction is a major problem. It's not just about cutting down rain forests though. Melting the tundra and the polar ice caps is going to wreck those ecosystems as well, and dredging all the fish out of the oceans isn't helping there either.

box wrote:
Agriculture is a major culprit in our environmental footprint but for some reason it isn't getting as much attention as other industries because it is probably the oldest industry and we have become oblivious to the drastic changes it leads to.

Well, habitat destruction as a result of agriculture threatens animal and plant species, but allows humans to eat. Humans like to eat, therefore you don't hear them complain as much. All those undiscovered species of invertebrates aren't going to go march to Washington in protest.

[Cut a bit about living in space]

box wrote:
Overall I think the future for Earth life is quite bright. Surely the biosphere will be completely altered by our activities one way or another /it already is/, but we mustn't forget that life does that to begin with, with or without intelligence being part of the equation. Also we are integrated part of the living system that inhabits this planet no matter what we do, so in all reality it has always been and always will be life altering itself and it's surrounding environment. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. In fact it is part of what makes life, life.
(/rant)

At geological time scales, yes, Earth and life will be fine. Some things will survive the present extinction event, and ultimately will evolve again to a diverse array of species covering the planet. I do think that nature has some intrinsic value, and that we should strive to share the planet with a good chunk of other species. Ten billion humans isn't significantly better than seven or even one; we can (and should) do with less people and save some of the planet for nature. The rest we can furnish to our liking. Climate change really is a problem though, and just saying "oh well everything changes all the time anyway" decreases the chances of our (and our genes') survival.

(Now playing: The Decemberists - Rox in the Box :-))

_________________
Say, can you feel the thunder in the air? Just like the moment ’fore it hits – then it’s everywhere
What is this spell we’re under, do you care? The might to rise above it is now within your sphere
Machinae Supremacy – Sid Icarus


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
User avatar
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2006 11:15 pm
Posts: 930
Location: Columbus, GA USA
Post Re: Climate change with box   Posted on: Sat Sep 01, 2012 8:59 pm
Nits to pick. :wink:

Lourens wrote:

The biological component of the biosphere responds to this over geological timescales, species change geographical distribution, they increase and decrease in diversity. Life has been through many drastic changes, what's happening now is only unprecedented because it is an intelligent species that is causing the climate to change.


And we honestly haven't been and still aren't behaving as a sentient species at the macro scale. Individually and as a society we still do what we want/are instinctively programmed to do (procreate and accumulate as many resources {stuff} as we can), without consideration for the long-term consequences.

Quote:
No, what's happening now is unprecedented due to the speed with which it's happening... What's happening now is on the scale of centuries.


Not necessarily unprecedented. The asteroid impact and super-volcanic events would have caused massive climate and ecological disruption. Also there are models that show that subtle changes to environment variables can slowly er... snowball (sorry) and lead to rapid change to a new equalibrium. It's been speculated that rising of the Isthmus of Panama cut off Pacific to Atlantic flows and allowed the Gulf Steam to establish which began to heat Northern latitudes and broke the last ice age, causing the extinction of the last batch of mega-fauna.

In those periods of rapid change, you have massive die offs of populations unsuited to the new environment. There was a paper that proposed that almost all of the mammal species that we associate with Eurasia and the ice ages are from a small pocket of cold-adapted animals from the Himalayas, which suddenly found themselves better adapted for survival during an ice age and exploded down to Africa and into the Americas.

Quote:
At geological time scales, yes, Earth and life will be fine. Some things will survive the present extinction event, and ultimately will evolve again to a diverse array of species covering the planet.


Depends on if the planet can rid itself of those pesky humans or not. If humans manage not to extinct themselves, remain at large numbers, and do not radically alter their cultural systems, it is hard to imagine the natural bio-diversity remaining intact. At some point, populations will get so isolated that either they will collapse and go extinct or they will adapt and evolve. Probably by becoming smaller and/or domesticating themselves to appeal to people. So you will have a much diminished bio-sphere of nothing but what domestic and genetically engineered lifeforms humans find useful and want around, and a much smaller populations that find niches in between the cracks of human civilization (ie: cockroaches and rats). And if humans remain the dominant species on this planet for an indefinite and geologically significant period, I don't think that will change, and the only reserve of the planet's genetic diversity will need to be kept in zoos or frozen in gene vaults.

It is a problem that we are now aware of, but are no where near being able to seriously address it. So it is a race to see what will happen first, a biosphere collapse due to human influence (mostly over population and habitat destruction, with a bit of climate change), or will we gain the technology and wisdom to arrest that from happening via active population control, technological efficiencies lightening our footprint burden, and everyone here's favorite, expanding off-planet.


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
avatar
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2005 7:44 am
Posts: 707
Location: Haarlem, The Netherlands
Post Re: Climate change with box   Posted on: Sun Sep 02, 2012 1:34 pm
Fully agree with you. Incidentally, the first bit you quoted is Box's, not mine.

How do we start behaving more intelligently as a species? That to me is the question of the 21st century. How do we make long-term thinking prevail over short-term greed? And how do we do it while keeping the entrepreneurship that has made us so successful as a species?

_________________
Say, can you feel the thunder in the air? Just like the moment ’fore it hits – then it’s everywhere
What is this spell we’re under, do you care? The might to rise above it is now within your sphere
Machinae Supremacy – Sid Icarus


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
User avatar
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2006 11:15 pm
Posts: 930
Location: Columbus, GA USA
Post Re: Climate change with box   Posted on: Sun Sep 02, 2012 2:11 pm
Come up with a realistic and successful answer to that question and there are a couple of Nobel Prizes waiting for you.

One of the big problems is that we are not a monolithic culture. What might be a good solution for one society or state won't work with others. So it would have to be adaptable, and that means compromise, which means it won't be purely rational and effective.

Watched HG Wells' "Things to Come" last night which touched on this issue.


Back to top
Profile
Space Walker
Space Walker
User avatar
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 4:32 am
Posts: 216
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Post Re: Climate change with box   Posted on: Mon Sep 03, 2012 9:24 am
Lourens wrote:
I'm moving this from the original thread to a new one, so that that one can be about solar power, and I can reply here without making a big mess.

I am surprised anybody bothered to read my boring rant. I was just wenting boredom. :)

Lourens wrote:
Hey! That mass extinction you're talking about includes you and me. I don't know about you, but having some jellyfish left in the ocean isn't much of a consolation to me.


I am neither a climatologist or ecologist, but I doubt the mass extinction we are facing is going to be as drastic as people seem to imagine. Most of the species lost are probably due to the expansion of agriculture into more wilderness areas.

Once the sensitive species are gone, we will have landscapes that look pretty much the same all over the globe. Paddicks for grazing and cropping interspaced with some forests, possibly some forestry plantations, some national park, lots of roads and cities here and there.

We aren't going to end up with desolate deserts everywhere, we will have vegetation, it will be just highly modified and quite poor. There are a whole lot of species that literally thrive in our modified and disturbed agricultural ecosystems.

Have a look at Europe. It already had it's land clearing phase, the extinction event there is already pretty much over. Certainly there are still vulnerable species left that haven't been finished off yet, but overall it's all done deal there now. Probably climate change will eliminate all the ones that are barely hanging on, the rest will be fine.

Lourens wrote:
No, what's happening now is unprecedented due to the speed with which it's happening. The atmosphere doesn't care whether its composition is changed by an intelligent species or a dumb one, the physics remains the same.

You said it yourself, these changes normally occur on geological time scales. That's hundreds of thousands of years, or hundreds of millions. What's happening now is on the scale of centuries. So it's between a thousand and a million times faster than usual. That's the speed difference between a snail and a supersonic aircraft. Just because the snail does fine at its regular speed doesn't mean it'll survive supersonic flight.

The shifts in climate between the glacial and interglacial periods happened on the scale of centuries, and millenia.

If I read the charts correctly there was a 6000 year period at the end of the last glacial period when the sealevel was rising at around 1.8 meters/century. That's a lot of change. The Taiga expanded into the North, lot of low lands have been covered in water, deserts have migrated expanded or shrunk depending on the area. I bet climatic conditions shifted a whole lot during that time.

Most likely a truckload of species went bust.

Now, why species are going bust is mainly agricultural expansion cause of our inflated populations. Climate change isn't on the table yet much, and when it will be, it will be just finishing off what we already started with the massive land clearing we did in the past 2 centuries.

Lourens wrote:
You are conflating natural climate change and human-induced accelerated climate change. This is a straw man, no-one is advocating stopping geological-scale climate change. A couple million years really is way too long for anyone to worry about now. But just because snails can move about on their own doesn't mean that gluing rockets to them and setting them off is harmless to them.

Well certainly it might end up being a fast shift to some other climatic "equilibrium". But I think the main damage on the biosphere was done by our thoughtless clearance and modification of large areas of land.

Now there is a whole lot of propaganda about the change in global temperatures, which isn't bad, but it seems to propagate a one dimensional view and doesn't really show how deep *** we are in.


box wrote:
More and stronger hurricanes are not nearly the worst potential (AFAIK there is no proof that there are any more hurricanes as a result of climate change, just a hypothesis based on physics) result of climate change. Widespread crop failures due to increased or decreased precipitation seems like a much larger potential problem to me for example. How would you redesign around that? More aquifer water? We're already running out in many places. Move water around ourselves? Where are you going to get the energy to drive river-sized water pipelines for hundreds or thousands of kilometres? Or the space to buffer it?

The farmers will have to get smarter obviously. It wouldn't have hurt if they were smarter to begin with, they could have avoided a lot of problems with being mindful about where and how much vegetation they cleared.

But it's not really their fault. We are just realising how important role the vegetation plays in generating local climatic conditions and maintaining high productivity levels.

The solution is a mixture of keeping an eye out for what direction the climate is shifting, using good varieties of crops, and better farming practices to meet the local conditions. We have such a wide range of products available already, it is a matter of using them smart.

My vote is on moving towards copying natural ecosystems with our productive lands, using wide variety of species, in conjunction with shelter belts of natural flora that supports a diverse fauna.


Lourens wrote:
Well, habitat destruction as a result of agriculture threatens animal and plant species, but allows humans to eat. Humans like to eat, therefore you don't hear them complain as much. All those undiscovered species of invertebrates aren't going to go march to Washington in protest.


I think agriculture itself is the bigger issue. Now we are worried how climate change is going to affect our ability to produce food, but our practices themselves were and are already largely unsustainable to begin with.

Then it is also the industry that has the largest impact on our biosphere so far. Climate change is only starting to enter the picture and will only finish things off. Even if we solve our energy crysis, we will still have the same problem with our agricultural practices that are focused on artifically maintained high production and don't give a damn about the long term effects it has on our ability to keep producing food in the future.


box wrote:
At geological time scales, yes, Earth and life will be fine. Some things will survive the present extinction event, and ultimately will evolve again to a diverse array of species covering the planet. I do think that nature has some intrinsic value, and that we should strive to share the planet with a good chunk of other species. Ten billion humans isn't significantly better than seven or even one; we can (and should) do with less people and save some of the planet for nature. The rest we can furnish to our liking. Climate change really is a problem though, and just saying "oh well everything changes all the time anyway" decreases the chances of our (and our genes') survival.

I think a whole lot more species will survive than what people generally believe.

Though it will depend on where we will draw the line with land clearance, and wether we will start programs to rehabilitate areas that shouldn't have been cleared to begin with.

I wasn't saying that climate change doesn't matter. I was ranting because I think the current propaganda is actually hiding the real culprit which is large population size, and the agricultural industry that is feeding that population. And although our energy hungry technological society is causing the climate to shift to a warmer one which we have trouble to predict ahead of time, the real issue is that we bulldozed/ploughed/cropped/grazed 40% of our landmass, and it's still increasing.

Maybe climate change will urge us to get smarter in all these other fields, but as long as the general public is fed one dimensional debates and only a fraction of the real problem we are facing, we can be sure there will be not much done apart from everyone getting a solar panel, and paying some form of tax on carbon.

Overall my opinion shifts all the time. But I think nature has been through a lot of ***, and life has a lot of resilience in built in its intricate networks of interactions. Temperature changes fast or slow have been on the table. Large scale destruction of ecosystems by one species is probably the new part of the picture.

Take all of the above with a couple of tons of salt. I am no expert and I know it. :)

_________________
"SCREW THE RULES, WE HAVE MONEY!"
http://www.freespaceships.com


Back to top
Profile WWW
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
User avatar
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2006 11:15 pm
Posts: 930
Location: Columbus, GA USA
Post Re: Climate change with box   Posted on: Mon Sep 03, 2012 1:52 pm
You don't have to be an "expert" to have a rational educated opinion on the subject.

What should scare everyone is that we do not know how resilient the planet's biosphere is and what kind of reactions it will have to the changes it is undergoing both natural and man-made. Also we do not fully understand the interconnectedness of and the unintended effects of our actions.


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
avatar
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2005 7:44 am
Posts: 707
Location: Haarlem, The Netherlands
Post Re: Climate change with box   Posted on: Mon Sep 03, 2012 9:20 pm
I'm a computer scientist, not an ecologist or a climatologist either. I do work in the ecology department of a university, so I pick up some things here and there, but I'm a somewhat educated layman, no more than that, and I should also make clear that I'm speaking purely personally and off-the-record here, not as a representative of my employer in any way, shape or form. One thing I do know a bit about is the methods that are used to figure out which species occur where on the planet, as that's the subject of my research. That's only a very tiny bit of the subject under discussion here though.

I'm not so sure that extinction has come to a halt in Western countries with a fully human-controlled landscape. I happen to live in such a country, and I know for sure that we have endangered species here. Reptiles, butterflies and fungi for example have not been doing well recently, but also fish and mosses. In natural areas things are actually improving for some rare species, but they're getting worse in agricultural areas. We also have a number of invasive exotic species that are displacing their native counterparts, such as American crayfish displacing our local river crabs, and species are gradually coming in from the south as temperatures rise.

For quite a few species, it's difficult to measure what's going on, because they are rare or difficult to detect. You could fail to observe the species for a couple years, and then detect it again, and that's very little data to go base any statistics on. By current best estimates, there are something like 45 to 50 thousand different species in The Netherlands. Less than 20% (my guess) of those are observed with any regularity. But for more common species and ones that aren't tiny insects or worms or stuff like that it's quite doable, and we have some good monitoring projects, so for those we know quite well what's going on.

As for agriculture, how are you going to be smart about just not having any water available, or too much? Australia has been having big drought issues in the inland recently, and the southern US is rather dustbowlish at the moment as well. You could try to plant cactuses I guess, but they're not going to feed too many people. In The Netherlands, climate models are predicting increased rainfall in the catchment areas of the rivers that flow through, which means we're going to have to beef up the river dikes (doing it already in places), set aside land to let flood as an extra buffer (we made a few, but there are now questions of how much good it'll do), or create an extra artificial river to increase the outflow capacity (big project, maybe in the future). Of course, sea levels will also rise, so we need to also improve the coastal flood defences, and we have the issue that with a higher sea level, the rivers won't be able to move the water out as well, because the height difference is less. My feeling is that we'll probably be okay, but that it's going to cost us a huge amount of money over the next century to keep ourselves dry.

Speed of change: I'm seeing a graph here that gives me (at ~240,000 to 230,000 years ago) an 8 degree rise in 10,000 years, also an ~40ppmv rise in CO2 in 5,000 years (and a drop maybe twice as fast right after). This graph shows an ~70 ppmv increase in 50 years. That's two orders of magnitude faster. That's not quite a supersonic speed, but our snail is going along at a good jogging pace. Oh, and here is a graph of sea level over the past 24,000 years, which shows a fastest rate of about 30 meters in 1,000 years. That is the same order of magnitude as current predictions, but it should be noted that that was a meltwater pulse, i.e. a sudden event. Also, the world was much more sparsely populated by then.

Finally, I completely agree with you on the problem with the media coverage of all this. It's a mess. We have scientists who are quite far beyond what a lay audience knows and who mostly don't manage to communicate well, we have university PR departments that try to make everything sexy to get more funding, we have journalists trying to dumb everything down as much as possible to reach the largest possible audience, and then we have lobbyists actively trying to muddy the waters and influence public opinion as well. Any nuance and precision are lost, there's no more room for discussion of uncertainties, and most people have no idea what to think any more.

My big dream is an online-accessible Earth simulation that encompasses all our best scientific knowledge. With it, people can test their own ideas, and see for themselves what the consequences are of their and others' actions. And then hopefully act accordingly. Of course, right now this seems quite impossible to do, and it probably won't affect people's behaviour that much anyway. But who knows?

_________________
Say, can you feel the thunder in the air? Just like the moment ’fore it hits – then it’s everywhere
What is this spell we’re under, do you care? The might to rise above it is now within your sphere
Machinae Supremacy – Sid Icarus


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
User avatar
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2006 11:15 pm
Posts: 930
Location: Columbus, GA USA
Post Re: Climate change with box   Posted on: Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:56 am
The problem is that any simulation is only as good as the algorithms it uses and the data that is plugged it. And it gets exponentially less likely to be accurate (departs) the bigger/finer/more complex your model gets.

Trying to model the planet with any kind of fidelity that would be useful (like temp, hydro, etc. prediction) boggles my mind.


Back to top
Profile
Moon Mission Member
Moon Mission Member
User avatar
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2004 11:52 am
Posts: 1384
Location: Exeter, Devon, England
Post Re: Climate change with box   Posted on: Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:31 am
Guys

I tried to read through this at a super speed so may have missed bits but I seem to remember hearing that Mars had heated up a little too. Perhaps climate change is due to a much bigger solar picture? Be interesting if Mars heated up at the same time we are.

Just a thought :P

_________________
> http://www.fullmoonclothing.com
> http://www.facebook.com/robsastrophotography
> robgoldsmith@hotmail.co.uk


Back to top
Profile WWW
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
avatar
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2005 7:44 am
Posts: 707
Location: Haarlem, The Netherlands
Post Re: Climate change with box   Posted on: Thu Sep 06, 2012 10:26 am
As far as I know, there wasn't really enough data from Mars to speak of a trend at a climate scale, just a few successively warmer years. The sun's output as measured directly has actually been steady, except for the last sunspot cycle which had an unusually long sleepy period, causing its output to drop a tiny bit. It's difficult to see how a less active sun could explain the Earth getting warmer. Also, considering how little we really know about Mars, drawing those conclusions from that little data seems...ehm...ambitious to me.

_________________
Say, can you feel the thunder in the air? Just like the moment ’fore it hits – then it’s everywhere
What is this spell we’re under, do you care? The might to rise above it is now within your sphere
Machinae Supremacy – Sid Icarus


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
User avatar
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2006 11:15 pm
Posts: 930
Location: Columbus, GA USA
Post Re: Climate change with box   Posted on: Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:48 pm
Rob Goldsmith wrote:
Perhaps climate change is due to a much bigger solar picture? Be interesting if Mars heated up at the same time we are.


Obviously it's our fault. All those probes and stuff can't be good for the Martian environment. I mean, we are even putting cars on Mars now. :wink:


Back to top
Profile
Moon Mission Member
Moon Mission Member
User avatar
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2004 11:52 am
Posts: 1384
Location: Exeter, Devon, England
Post Re: Climate change with box   Posted on: Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:04 pm
Yeah they are ruining that planet!

Image

_________________
> http://www.fullmoonclothing.com
> http://www.facebook.com/robsastrophotography
> robgoldsmith@hotmail.co.uk


Back to top
Profile WWW
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
avatar
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2005 7:44 am
Posts: 707
Location: Haarlem, The Netherlands
Post Re: Climate change with box   Posted on: Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:08 pm
Cars powered by Radioisotope Thermal Generators even. Well have liquid water on the surface soon :-).

_________________
Say, can you feel the thunder in the air? Just like the moment ’fore it hits – then it’s everywhere
What is this spell we’re under, do you care? The might to rise above it is now within your sphere
Machinae Supremacy – Sid Icarus


Back to top
Profile
Space Walker
Space Walker
User avatar
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 4:32 am
Posts: 216
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Post Re: Climate change with box   Posted on: Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:48 pm
Lourens wrote:
I'm not so sure that extinction has come to a halt in Western countries with a fully human-controlled landscape. I happen to live in such a country, and I know for sure that we have endangered species here. Reptiles, butterflies and fungi for example have not been doing well recently, but also fish and mosses. In natural areas things are actually improving for some rare species, but they're getting worse in agricultural areas. We also have a number of invasive exotic species that are displacing their native counterparts, such as American crayfish displacing our local river crabs, and species are gradually coming in from the south as temperatures rise.


I think the point I tried to make was that for instance since Europe has had higher levels of human population for a long time now, a lot of the extinctions already took place before anybody was paying attention. In comparison other parts of the world where large scale agriculture only got to recently, it is happening at higher rates now, but eventually will fall off once all the species that cannot cope with the highly modified landscape disappear.

But this doesn't mean that we will have deserts everwhere with no life in sight.

Quote:
As for agriculture, how are you going to be smart about just not having any water available, or too much? Australia has been having big drought issues in the inland recently, and the southern US is rather dustbowlish at the moment as well.

Well obviously if you have no water, you are in a desert so you might as well move to a better place. :P
If you have a lot of water, you could look into growing rice for instance. :)

We already inhabit and farm a wide range of climatic zones, we will have to shift where we grow what. It is doable. The problem is probably predicting the changes to enable the right response in time.

It will cost us a truckload of money/work, but we also have a truckload of people to do the work.


Quote:
Speed of change: I'm seeing a graph here that gives me (at ~240,000 to 230,000 years ago) an 8 degree rise in 10,000 years, also an ~40ppmv rise in CO2 in 5,000 years (and a drop maybe twice as fast right after). This graph shows an ~70 ppmv increase in 50 years. That's two orders of magnitude faster. That's not quite a supersonic speed, but our snail is going along at a good jogging pace. Oh, and here is a graph of sea level over the past 24,000 years, which shows a fastest rate of about 30 meters in 1,000 years. That is the same order of magnitude as current predictions, but it should be noted that that was a meltwater pulse, i.e. a sudden event. Also, the world was much more sparsely populated by then.

I was looking at the same charts.

I think it is interesting to look at the dust graph. It seems to indicate that warmer climate = wetter climate /less deserts and dry ground in general, probably more vegetative cover/.

I just read an article on scitechdaily about how warmer climates in the geological past correspond to higher biodiversity. The extinctions still happen due to climate change, but overall warmer climates support a more diverse biosphere.

So it seems that eventhough the change towards a warmer period will wipe out a whole heap of species /not considering habitat destruction to feed our mouths/, but on long timescales it would lead to more speciation in those warmer conditions.

So if we could reduce our overall footprint /mainly agriculture/, things still could turn out alright. Of course if we tip off a run-away greenhouse effect, we are screwed. :)

Quote:
My big dream is an online-accessible Earth simulation that encompasses all our best scientific knowledge. With it, people can test their own ideas, and see for themselves what the consequences are of their and others' actions. And then hopefully act accordingly. Of course, right now this seems quite impossible to do, and it probably won't affect people's behaviour that much anyway. But who knows?


There is a lack of feedback between our individual actions and the consequence of large number of us doing the same action the same way. It is hard to imagine the environmental cost of wiping down a kitchen bench with paper towels vs. wet sponge. Or what difference it makes if you walk to the store instead of taking a car.

Then there is the issue of a large fraction of our population living in poverty barely getting by, who have no access to any of our modern day conveniences like kitchen benchtops or stores where you can buy a wide range of food easy.

And then on top of this, the conditions we need to survive are shifting too as weather patterns change.

Shitloads of problems to solve and it's hard to see where to start because they are all interconnected in intricate ways.

Probably we have to start everywhere. Just getting smarter about everything we do, and how we respond to our environment. It has always been how we survived in the past and it worked so far. We also have no other choice. :)

_________________
"SCREW THE RULES, WE HAVE MONEY!"
http://www.freespaceships.com


Back to top
Profile WWW
Space Walker
Space Walker
User avatar
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:19 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Outside Wonko the Sane's house.
Post Re: Climate change with box   Posted on: Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:36 am
Ok, here's the thing. We're teraforming the Earth. Unfortunately, we're doing it at random as side effects from the byproducts of our technological society. Now, I'm not a luddite, far from it, but something you humans have to learn at some point is moderation. The thing is, technology is a good thing, but too much of a good thing can still kill you. Sugar, and salt aren't toxins, no matter what the neu dietary fadsters want to tell you. They're essentual nutrients, but too much Oxygen can kill you too.

Which isn't to say we're yet powerful enough to threaten All Life On Earth. Mother nature's a tough old broad, she's survived worse than us, and I'd guestimate that our ability to even wipe out all of humanity (There's your problem!) is a gross exageration as well. What you can do, with disturbing elacrity, is make life suck, for us, and everbody around us. Socially, politically, and this just in, ecologically now too.

Unfortunately, the solution to the problem is so mind numbingly simple, it'll never work. Much like Obesety, Diet, and Exercize, accept no substitutes. There's no magic pill, fad crash diet, nor surgical proceedure that works as well, and safely, but people don't wanna hear it. Nor do they want to hear this:

STOP LIVING LIKE AMERICANS. No, you don't have to drive the 7 passenger, 3 row seating 2 ton Suburban around the corner to pick up a pack of cigarettes. Get a bike, no you can't pick up the kids on it, but for just the Nic fit runs, it'll save gas, give you some cardiovascular stimulation to counter the toxins, and mean you won't have to pay someone to go to the Gym you drive your [censored] Suburban to. You don't need the vast majority of the disposable convenience products the commercials shove in your arm. You don't have to use a non recyclable single use disposable wipe every time you mop, and if you get up to clean up your house, you won't need de-odorizing sprays to mask the smell of the filth we collectively live in.

Of course, they'll never go for that, so on to Plan B. Let's launch high tech parasols into space, make carbon dioxide scrubbing solar powered instalations (We used to have those, called them "Trees.") and make internal combustion reciprocating piston 2 ton 7 passenger 3 row seating electric hybids as "green" ecomaniacal status symbols. Then when those release more particulate atmospheric pollution, fleets of shipping, and second-generation non recyclable seepage into our groundwater, hope our children will move on to plan C.

Plan C is repackaging plan A with a urgent note of deperation, because now, we really can't get out of the bed, and/or our sky is looking a lot more like picturesque Venus. (Always lovely this time of year.) Or Plan D, which is pack up the human race, leave the rest of Life as we know it to adapt to the new environment, and make another planet liveable to replace the working one we evolved on, then broke. That sounds much easier.

God, I hate you people some times.

_________________
"You can't have everything, where would you put it?" -Steven Wright.


Back to top
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 15 posts ] 
 

Who is online 

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 20 guests


cron
© 2014 The International Space Fellowship, developed by Gabitasoft Interactive. All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy | Terms of Use