Saturday, November 26, 2005

Greenhouse Gasses Highest in Over Half Million Years


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Greenhouse gasses are highest in last half million years according to largest ice core study. Seas are rising at twice the rate as before according to a New Jersey mud core study. Greenland glaciers are in obvious retreat, melting ice that is on land. Volcanoes are more active along Antarctic fault and yet another killer earthquake, this time in China. The planet continues to change at an increased pace. I suppose Brownie can expect big business in his future.

From the LA Times:
An ice core about two miles long — the oldest frozen sample ever drilled from the underbelly of Antarctica — shows that at no time in the last 650,000 years have levels of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane been as high as they are today.

The research, published in today's issue of the journal Science, describes the content of the greenhouse gases within the core and shows that carbon dioxide levels today are 27% higher than they have been in the last 650,000 years and levels of methane, an even more powerful greenhouse gas, are 130% higher, said Thomas Stocker, a climate researcher at the University of Bern and senior member of the European team that wrote two papers based on the core.
The human brain evolved rapidly during the crisis of the Great Ice Ages. Once we got a big enough brain to figure out several important processes, how to handle fire, turn mud into durable pots using fire, weaving, taming animals so we wouldn't need to hunt for them any more and of course, the entire agricultural revolution, we were able to kiss the problems of living in a fluctuating climate goodbye. Indeed, our species spread all over the planet thanks to the bigger brain's vast powers.

Of course, the drawback is that we now dominate the ecosystem and this means it is out of balance and we are the cause of this and our actions are now tipping it into hyperdrive changes. The changes will come faster than our ability to adapt to them, indeed, this race of our turning everything into a savanah is tied in with desertfication which is impossible for us to live in except in very restrictive numbers, like nearly no one.

From Live Science:
Earth's oceans are rising twice as fast today compared to 150 years ago, according to a new study.

The rise is nearly 2 millimeter per year. At that rate, sea level will be 1 inch higher in 13 years compared to today.

The increased pace is evidence for human-induced climate change, say researchers at Rutgers University, where the study was done. The results are detailed in the Nov. 25 issue of the journal Science.

Professor of geological sciences Kenneth Miller and colleagues examined sediment taken from drill sites along the New Jersey coast to establish a steady millimeter-per-year rise from 5,000 years ago until about 200 years ago. Sea-level measurements since 1850 from tidal gauges and more recently from satellite images reveal the current annual rise of two millimeters per year.
This rate is accelerating. Some studies peg the potential rise to over 3' within this century. Since the American plan is to find and consume as much fossil fuel as humanly possible as fast as possible, the chances of this future happening is around 100% unless we go bankrupt which is a serious possiblity at this point.

From the same source, another good story (this site is, in general, pretty good)--From Live Science:
A new study reveals one of the largest glaciers in Greenland is shrinking and speeding to the sea faster than scientists expected. If it continues, Greenland itself could become much smaller during this century and global seas could rise as much as 3 feet.

"The rates of change that we're observing are much higher than expected," said Ian M. Howat of the University of California, Santa Cruz. "If these rates of response continue, it is not unlikely that Greenland could shrink by several tens of percent this century."

Howat cautions, however, that it's not known how quickly this coastal response of the Greenland ice sheet melting will affect the vast inland ice.

"The ice sheet becomes less sensitive to climate as it retreats," Howat told LiveScience. "It sort of flies off the handle at first and then re-adjusts, so it is extremely unlikely that all of the ice sheet will disappear."
According to the satellite photos, the greatest glacial retreat was this year especially since August. The sun spat out at us some serious fireworks back then as this blog chronicled. Ultimately, the sun herself is the arbeiter about global warming. If the sun's variabilty sets itself on "cool" again like it has repeatedly this last 2.5 million years, then we will have a ferocious ice age no matter what we do with gases.

On the other hand, with increased gases that bring greenhouse effects, shots like last summer and fall's blasts will stay within the ecosystem for a lot longer than they normally would, building up the over all temperatures.

Then there is the volcano factor. From Live Science:
A rare volcanic eruption is rapidly expanding the size of an island in the South Atlantic, scientists announced today.

New satellite images show that Montagu Island, a volcano in the South Sandwich Islands, has grown by 50 acres (0.2 square kilometers) in the last month as lava pours into the sea.

"Red hot lava has formed a molten river 90 meters wide [99 yards] that is moving fast, possibly several meters per second and extending the shoreline on the north side of the island," said John Smellie of British Antarctic Survey (BAS). "This event is special because Montagu Island is mostly ice covered and it's very rare that we get to make direct observations of eruptions under ice sheets."
The entire crust is heaving and shaking because the Antarctic continent is slowly freeing itself from its icy tomb and the weight there is shifting which is causing it to move again. Volcanoes around the planet are feeling this which is why they are all coughing and shivering. The chances of one in the Indonesian chain blowing out is very high. This is a big climate changer for not only are many gases ejected, so is a lot of dust which usually causes temperatures to plunge world wide if the eruption is big enough and dirty enough. Changing rain to snow has a huge effect.

Last night on TV, I saw a story about people living right off the Gulf complaining about how insurance doesn't cover water damage and they want it and will sue for it. Like Californians or others living in geological or meteorlogical danger zones, they want full coverage while paying little insurance. Namely, they want me, in my strong, weather proof New England home to subsidize their mild climate/dangerous geology zones while they don't have to do the same.

No way. Build so the properties can't be destroyed so easily and then come to me and talk about shared risk. In tornado/hurricane zones, dome buildings out of strong ferrous/cement structures and no buildings within one mile of ocean front water...Hahahaha. Yeah. Right. No way. So, if people insist on living in inappropriate building for their climate and geology, well, they will have to pay for it themselves. Just like the solar energy solution, the government should have great, very cheap loans for properly designed homes in various situations. One can choose whatever expression of building out of a set of restrictions, namely, one has to obey certain sane building rules first. Of course, everyone wants to live in an European house build for the much mildler, forgiving European climate. Even so, Europe is discovering they are suffering from climate related instability, too, even tornadoes, though only catagory ones, are popping up.

From CNN:

At least 12 people were killed and 397 wounded, 20 seriously, when a 5.5-magnitude quake struck eastern China, according to Chinese officials and reports from state-run media.

The quake struck Saturday at about 8:49 a.m. (00:49 a.m. Friday GMT) cording to China's Xinhua news agency and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Its epicenter was on the Hubei-Jiangxi provincial border, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) southwest of the city of Jiujiang in Jiangxi province -- home to 361,000 people, according to the USGS -- and 88 kilometers (55 miles) southeast of Huangshi in Hubei province, which has a population of roughly 569,000 people.
Another earthquake, nearly all the deaths due to building failures thanks to weak materials. In Pakistan, a much worse quake killed over 80,000 people (the survivors are nearly forgotten by all except people like bin Laden who is very active out there, wonder why!) because of poor construction especially in the big apartment buildings.

In Japan there recently was a scandal over this matter. From Japan Today:
Japan's infrastructure ministry questioned an architect on Thursday over his falsifying quake-resistance data in connection with at least 21 buildings that could collapse in the event of a strong earthquake.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport separately conducted on-site inspections of a government-designated agency that checked the building plans the architect, Hidetsugu Aneha, submitted.

During questioning, Aneha told the ministry three of his major clients ordered him to reduce the quantities of reinforcing steel. The half-hour interrogation was part of revoking Aneha's first-class architect's license.
This is quite common. No one can see the rebars once you pour the cement. One can detect them but building inspectors usually rely on eyes only. Cheating on rebar is dangerous and shows up when failures occur and this is unfortunately all too often.

My house's foundation has a lot of rebar in it. I put it in personally, tied it together carefully, layered it well. I pounded in the cement in the forms so it would settle properly. All this time and attention pays off over the years. It costs money and time. Most people want safety on the cheap so the usual practice is to pretend all is well and make the exterior look sturdy.

I know because when I beg people to let me do something right, they immediately start to complain. "I can't see it!' is the common cry. Well, don't come wailing to me when the cheaper alternative turns deadly.

Even more: building sanely saves energy. A dome home in the Midwest and South is sane. Comfortable. Easy to heat or cool. In the Northeast and far North due to snows, it is impractical so we have to have deep eaves, something I nearly never see on any new buildings at all, steep roofs and deep eaves! My house has them. The average eave here is around 2"! Mine are over 2 FEET. This keeps snow off the foundation and where the wood joins the cement basement. This protects the sides of the house as well as the roofline. Oh, all the calls I get about leaks due to ice creep on houses with no eaves! The damage is considerable and they have to fix and fix and fix it.

It is far cheaper to build it correctly. Not that anyone does this.

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