Climate Change Making Things Greener

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Mr. Anderson, Jun 6, 2003.

  1. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    #1
    http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/science/06/05/earth.green/index.html

    So this is quite interesting - all this talk about global warming and doom, when in fact things are actually not getting all that worse.

    Its not to say taking a conservationist route wouldn't be a good idea, but basically things are so dynamic that we really have very little idea what's actually going on. So in the short term we might be ok, but if things continue, who knows?

    D
     
  2. Ugg
    macrumors 68000

    Ugg

    #2
    I think that is just it, it may only be a short term effect with the long term effects being much more dramatic. I'm very interested in the topic and there is a lot of seemingly contradictory information. All that can be said for certain is that humans are changing the climate of this planet. What the end results are is anybody's guess.
     
  3. macrumors 6502a

    zarathustra

    #3
    While I believe humans definitely contribute to the change in weather, but we also don't quite understand the weather shifts that have occured way before we could do "harm". there is a constant adjustment of the weather patterns and climates - that's why we keep finding fossils in areas that today are inhabitable, or find fossils in areas where we know that their kind could not handle the weather that is there today.

    The planet is a living organism and can adjust - I just hope we don't push it too far so that it can't recover.

    *crossing fingers and hoping for H-cell cars and domestic "green" power generators*
     
  4. macrumors P6

    wdlove

    #4
    We still have so much to understand about our planet. I've seen interesting research on about the history of the Earth's climate on PBS. I think it is very important to understand the past of Earth's climate. Would like to see more use of alternative energy. Man is very adaptable. I think that the future looks bright!
     
  5. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    #5
    I've seen plenty of these shows and also studied a bit of geology in school - its amazing the range of climates that have been on the planet in its 4.5 billion years. Not only has the planet been mostly covered in ice many times, but there's even evidence of very warm arctic climates with almost no ice even in the winter - and that's when the sea level was 120 feet higher than it was today.

    Great stuff, but one really scary fact is that climate has been shown to change in dramatically fast periods of time (a decade or so) which is blindingly fast when dealing with geologic time scales. To have the earth change that fast would have disastrous effects on all life on the planet.

    D
     
  6. macrumors regular

    #6
    I concur with you regarding fast climate change. I spent three summers on the Summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet working on the GISP2 project-most likely the main topic of those PBS specials you watched. The most important discovery (in my opinion) from that project was that climate can indeed change VERY quickly. During the end of the last Ice Age 14000 years ago, there was a period where the climate changed from temperate to ice age climate in as little as 4-6 years. The second most important discovery was that the last ice age began just AFTER the climate reached its warmest temperature in over 100,000 years. In the next decade or so, our climate will reach that warm threshold again due to global warming. No one can say what will happen then. The forces driving climate is different now than it was then, but it still worries me. Check out: http://www.gisp2.sr.unh.edu/
     
  7. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    #7
    Ha! That's excellent - when were you there? I was on the Greenland Icesheet on a Nasa expedition south of GISP back in 1992. We were coming out of Sondestrom on the West Coast of Greenland.

    We weren't doing ice cores, more looking at seasonal changes, snow accumulation, melting, etc. Although one guy with us was doing some radar work for doing ground truth on the melt layer. I really loved it, out in the middle of no where in tents for a month on the icesheet.

    You guys up at GISP had a much better set up :D

    I'm going to have to dig up some pics now - you have any?

    D
     
  8. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    #8
    Greenland Pics

    Lets hope we don't ever see this in our lifetime too far south of the arctic :D

    It is amazing how fast things can change.

    This is a pic of our camp on evening - and there was nothing else within sight of us, even on an absolutely clear day - just sky and snow, with the ice hills rolling away, making judgements on distances almost impossible.

    D
     

    Attached Files:

  9. macrumors member

    #9
    There seems to be conclusive proof that the climate is getting warmer, which is not good.

    The thing is that we should err on the side of caution. Lets say the evidence is 50/50 if we are destroying the earth or not. Can we afford to take the risk?
     
  10. macrumors regular

    #10
    Ha! That's excellent - when were you there? I was on the Greenland Icesheet on a Nasa expedition south of GISP back in 1992. We were coming out of Sondestrom on the West Coast of Greenland.

    I was there in '88-just five of us touring all across the ice Sheet actually looking t=for the site for the 'Big Dig' so to speak. I was also at Summit in '90 and '91.

    We weren't doing ice cores, more looking at seasonal changes, snow accumulation, melting, etc. Although one guy with us was doing some radar work for doing ground truth on the melt layer. I really loved it, out in the middle of no where in tents for a month on the icesheet.

    You guys up at GISP had a much better set up

    Some people slept in the huts which were semi circular metal framed heated buildings. I opted for a tent for the privacy and to keep my body conditioned to being cold. If you remain in a cold environment, your body gets used to it. When the tyemp broke 32deg in July, we were sunbathing with our shirts off.

    I'm going to have to dig up some pics now - you have any?

    I have a bunch, but not here. I'd have to dig them up.
     
  11. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    #11
    I have a ton - but not all are scanned in. Here are a few I had handy, I'll have to go through my stuff at home and see if there are any more interesting ones.

    Another close up of camp
    [​IMG]

    My Tent
    [​IMG]

    The camp during a blizzard
    [​IMG]

    A pic of me in front of our 'facilities' - made that myself, dug the hole by making a small pit, dumping in a gallon of fuel and letting the flames burn a nice big pit. It got burried by the next season, although one of the guys who returned went back to the old camp and dug it up :D
    [​IMG]

    D
     
  12. macrumors 6502a

    elfin buddy

    #12
    not too worrisome just yet...

    The climate has changed drastically since the dawn of the earth. In the beginning, there were really high carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, which gave plant life a big boost. As I'm sure most of you already know, plants produce energy for themselves through photosynthesis, i.e. taking in CO2 from the environment and replacing it with oxygen. Every now and then, some plants (or the animals that ate the plants, etc.) would become trapped under layers of earth, and the carbon they took from the atmosphere (which normally would be replenished through animals breathing oxygen and expelling CO2) became trapped in the earth. Each time this happened, there was less carbon being used in the carbon cycle (well, not technically, but it was buried so that it couldn't really participate in it).

    As billions of years passed, enough carbon became trapped in the earth so that the atmospheric levels of CO2 declined significantly (we have fossil fuels thanks to this trapped carbon, hence the name). Without CO2, plants cannot live. With less CO2 (as opposed to the greater amount of CO2 available to them earlier on), plants had to adapt to use less CO2 for energy production (or use less energy, whatever). Thus, the tropical rainforests that the earth used to be covered in due to the abundance of CO2 were gradually replaced by grasslands (grass is a new species that has only come about recently due to the lack of CO2) and other such biomes (as CO2 is a greenhouse gas, this also explains why the earth had a much warmer climate back in the days of dinosaurs).

    CO2 is not a bad thing as many people would have you believe. The only problem with it is that we are putting too much of it back into the atmosphere over such a small period of time. This causes rapid climate change, which doesn't give life enough time to adapt to it.

    As a side note, I stumbled across something interesting a few months ago. Apparently, CO2 levels in the earth's atmosphere are now so low that if it weren't for human intervention (by putting so much CO2 back into the air), plant life wouldn't be able to utilize photosynthesis in about 500 million years. Without plants, almost all life on earth would die.

    In conclusion, I think that global warming would be a bad thing in the short-term, but I believe that it would eventually turn earth back into the warm and tropical place that it was many millions of years ago. Either way, we win =)
     
  13. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    #13
    Re: not too worrisome just yet...

    You wouldn't happen to have a link to that would you? That's really quite amazing - but I agree with all you say that the change in the atmosphere has been changing since the very beginning of the planet itself. And for a significant part of its early history Oxygen was all that abundant.

    D
     
  14. macrumors regular

    #14
    Yes that is the problem. Earth and overall Life on it as a whole will go on quite happily during climate change. It has done so for billions of years. The problem lies in how will the human population deal with it. Not many people would like it if the climate of S Carolina became that of Massachusetts. or if most of Florida became just more islands of the Bahamas. How would like hurricanes to increase in ferocity and frequency by a factor of 5 or 10? Ever try to grow wheat in a peat bog? You better try because the bread basket of the world (US mid west) will move into Canada. etc etc.
     
  15. macrumors 6502a

    elfin buddy

    #15
    Re: Re: not too worrisome just yet...

    I don't have a link at thios moment, as I didn't hear about it on the net. I'll do my best to find one for you, but no promises!
     
  16. macrumors 604

    MacBandit

    #16

    That's really cool. The best part is, being a geology major, not only have I heard about the finding you have stated I have also heard the theories about it that are getting more and more widely accepted.

    The thorey as I remember it is as the global temperature rises, "say 2-3 degrees on a global scale is all that is needed," the ploar ice caps melt. This in turn dumps billions and billions of gallons of fresh water in the ocean. After a while this decreases the salt level so much and so quickly that it totally disrupts the transoceanic currents. Without the transoceanic currents there is no movement of warm water to cold and back so the whole globe becomes really stagnant. This plunges the earth into a dramatic cooling period that can take as little as 4 years to drop the avearage temperature on a global scale as much as 6 or 7 degrees thus plummeting the earth into an ice age.

    Well we know everything in nature is cyclic, we just don't know how long most cycles are especially the smaller ones that don't leave any noticeable trace on the earth. Since man for the most part has only been recording accurately weather patterns for about 150years we have no clue about what's going on. What most people don't realize is that the smallest shortest weather cycles the earth goes through are a thousand years or greater. Most people just can't comprehend that and so when they see that the climate is totatly different one year to the next they panic.

    Something else that I have picked up from geology and it goes hand in hand on what was said about there being insufficient CO2 is that globally the earth goes through active and dormant cycles of geologic activity. We are currently at the very end of a dormant period. This would explain the low levels of CO2.

    This also goes right into another study I was reading about. Once again it was a study being done to determine why ice ages come and go. Well what they found were vast layers of trapped CO2 in the soil in the higher older mountain ranges in the world. These layers seem to coincide with the ice ages by immediately preceeding them. The reason for the high CO2 levels? Well they seem to not only come from higher geologic activity but predominantly from the explosion of a super volcano. Evidence of these super vocanos can be found all over the world including in the Mediteranean and closer to my home Yellow Stone Park. That's right Yellow Stone Park itself is a super volcano that could go at any time in the next few thousand years. From the seismographic readings Yellow Stone sits on a magma chamger that is nearly as big as the park itself.
     
  17. macrumors 6502a

    elfin buddy

    #17
    Oh well...

    Sorry, I can't find any article about what I mentioned. If it helps, I think I was watching Discovery (the Canadian channel) when I first heard about it. If I ever find anything related to it, I will be sure to post it here :)
     
  18. macrumors 6502

    #18
    The global wamrning is controlled by the sun, and because of much sun activity in the last years temperature has raised.
     
  19. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    #19
    While the sun has an effect on the temperature of the planet, it doesn't control all aspects of the climate. Earth and its biosphere/geologic activities have a more profound effect.

    The sun runs in cycles over the short term and has been increasing over the long term - in this case billions of years. The changes in climate we're seeing are not solar related and they change far too rapidly for that to be the case.

    That's why there has been a cycle of ice ages and times of no ice - all due to climate not solar.

    D
     
  20. macrumors P6

    wdlove

    #20
    Thank you Mr. Anderson for sharing your pictures. I think they are super. The more I learn about you, the more I am in awe! ;)
     
  21. macrumors 68040

    MacAztec

    #21
    Ice Caps Melting? Hah!

    The Ice Caps are not melting. I have read quite a few articles (I remember one in Sci. American) that had done a research, showing that the ice is melting. But guess what, its melting just as fast as it is freezing!
     
  22. macrumors 604

    MacBandit

    #22
    Re: Ice Caps Melting? Hah!

    Are you then saying that it's decreasing in overall square mileage but increasing in thickness? Because they are decreasing in square mileage there's no arguing that.
     
  23. macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

    #23
    Two words: albino effect.

    One more: Mars.

    Two more yet: greenhouse gases.

    One last one: Venus.
     
  24. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    #24
    Re: Ice Caps Melting? Hah!

    That's not entirely true. At this point you can't look at how much is melting and how much is accumulating.

    In the southern hemisphere there has been a lot of melting and breaking up of the icesheets. But the stuff that's breaking up is already floating on the ocean, so when it melts there will be no displacement of sea level. However, on some of those ice sheets the concern is that they act as dams for all the glaciers on the continent. If those get flowing with the increase in the average temperatures we're seeing, that will have an impact. It happened before in the planets history, there's nothing to say it won't happen again. And Antarctica is a desert in terms of acculumation - there isn't much replacing the ice and snow that does melt.

    The Arctic is a bit different. Its much more wet. Where I was in Greenland sees more than a meter of snow accumulation a year.

    And most of the glaciers around the world are retreating - all indications of change. The problem is that we can only theorize what's going to happen in the end, we're not sure exactly what we'll end up seeing.

    D
     
  25. macrumors 68040

    MacAztec

    #25
    Also

    I am pretty sure that this is true too...

    I think this Global Warming thing is just a stage in the Earth's Rotation/Tilt. I believe in 300 years, there wont be a Global Warming problem because it was just a natural thing, sorta like the Ice Ages i guess.
     

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