Transition Brockville archive

Tag : CO2 (12)

Atmospheric CO2 at 405.6 ppm – level not seen in 15 million yrs / 05 February 2016

annual-mean-co2-growth-rateEver since 1990, the world has experienced atmospheric CO2 levels in a range that hasn’t been seen since the Pliocene geological epoch. A period of time 2.6 – 5.3 million years ago hosting carbon dioxide levels ranging from 350 to 405 parts per million and global average temperatures that were 2-3 degrees Celsius hotter than 1880s levels. Overall, global sea levels towered about 80 feet higher than those humankind has grown accustomed to.

If global atmospheric CO2 levels had stabilized in this range, it’s likely that we would have eventually seen climates, temperatures, and sea levels that became more and more like those experienced 2-5 million years ago. A process that would have likely taken centuries to reach a final, far warmer climate state. One in which little to no ice remained upon Greenland or West Antarctica, and one hosting a substantial retreat of coastlines.

From 1990 through 2015, that was our climate context. The new world that was steadily settling into place. One that would eventually assert itself unless atmospheric CO2 levels were somehow drawn down to below 350 parts per million. It was kind of a big deal. Unfortunately, few experts really talked about it.

But starting in 2015 and continuing on into 2016 the fossil fuel burning time machine again cranked us back toward hotter, more dangerous times. For during the past two years we began to exceed the maximum CO2 threshold of the Pliocene and we started to enter CO2 ranges that were more typical to those of the Middle Miocene climate epoch of 15 to 17 million years ago.


Breaking news: Atmospheric CO2 affects global temperatures

South Bend news-times / Garrett P Serviss / 12 September 1918

South Bend News-Times 1918Experiments show that the power of the atmosphere to trap heat is largely due to the water vapor it contains. It is also due, to some extent, to the carbon dioxide gas that is one of its minor constituents. Carbon dioxide is a remarkable heat retainer, but there is only a very small quantity of it in the air compared with the vast bulk of the atmosphere. It only amounts to about 3-100ths of 1 percent. But there is this significant fact about it, viz., that its amount is variable, to a slight degree at the present time, while there is evidence from past geological history that it was once vastly more abundant than it is now.

Now, how much carbon dioxide must the air gain in order that a perceptable effect on the temperature may be produced? Arrhenius answers that if all the carbon dioxide now in the air were removed the average temperature would fall nearly 38 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, if the present amount were doubled the temperature the temperature would rise more than 7 degrees, and if it were quadrupled the rise would amount to nearly 14 1/2 degrees.


UN panel calls Canada a climate laggard

Globe and Mail / Shawn McCarthy / 04 June 2015

ghg-emissions-oil-sandsA group led by former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan is condemning Canada as an international climate laggard that falls short even of impoverished Ethiopia in the effort to combat global warming.

The African Progress Panel, co-chaired by Mr. Annan and former U.S. treasury secretary Robert Rubin, says Canada and Australia “appear to have withdrawn entirely from constructive international engagement on climate,” and it urges both governments to adopt more aggressive policies aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and averting the worst effects of climate change.

The panel’s report, to be released on Friday, notes that Africa has contributed the least to climate change but will pay the highest price in terms of severe weather, droughts and other impacts that will deepen poverty on the continent.

The authors reject the common argument by global coal and oil companies that the production of fossil fuels must grow to meet rising demand in emerging economies.


How market forces are winning the climate change battle

CBC News / Don Pittis / 17 March 2015

guatemala-renewable-energyDespite the stereotype of a business lobby warning about the prohibitive costs of cutting back on greenhouse gases, there are increasing signs that capitalism and market forces are actually rescuing us from climate change.

Surprising new data from the International Energy Agency shows that while the global economy continued to grow in 2014, the amount of carbon dioxide produced didn’t.

According to the IEA report, this is “the first time in 40 years in which there was a halt or reduction in emissions of the greenhouse gas that was not tied to an economic downturn.”


Survivable IPCC projections depend on geo-engineering

Nick Breeze / 25 February 2015

Currently humanity is on the worst case scenario of RCP 8.5 which takes us to 2°C warming by mid century and 4°C warming by the end of the century. As Professor Schellnhuber, from Potsdam Institute for Climate Research (PIK) said, “the difference between two and four degrees is human civilisation.”

First direct observation of CO2’s increasing greenhouse effect

Science Daily / Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory / 25 February 2015

ARM stationThe influence of atmospheric CO2 on the balance between incoming energy from the Sun and outgoing heat from Earth (also called the planet’s energy balance) is well established. But this effect has not been experimentally confirmed outside the laboratory until now. The research is reported Feb. 25 in the advance online publication of the journal Nature.

The results agree with theoretical predictions of the greenhouse effect due to human activity. The research also provides further confirmation that the calculations used in today’s climate models are on track when it comes to representing the impact of CO2.


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The Transition Framework

The Transition Towns movement aims toward veering away from excessive consumption – to deal with the conjoined problems of peak oil and climate change – but also in the belief that we may create an essentially more contented society, through building strong and resilient local communities. We will get to know our neighbours better, because we shall all need one another in the time to come.

— Chris Rhodes, Resource Insights (03 June 2013)
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