Category Archives: Climate change

Apocalyptic Scenario 7.b

Surrounding the Arctic Ocean, the continental shelf harbors thousands of gigatons of of methane in the form of methane hydrate, fire-ice. This substance, methane gas surrounded by water ice, forms when microbes eat organic sediment and release methane (like in the bowels of a bovine) which gets trapped by high water pressure and low temperature.

Were just five of these gigatons of methane to be released into the atmosphere the concentration would double methane’s current contribution of 25% of global warming.

Fifty gigatons would wreak an environmental catastrophe. Five hundred, released in a continuous stream around the Arctic would induce another PETM (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum).

Deep beneath the East Siberian Sea stretching across the straight into the Beaufort Sea and around to the Barents Sea the earth is shifting. Tectonic forces have been pulling apart the crust, magma is seeping upward, and now the once frozen methane hydrates are thawing. Swelling. Bubbling to the surface.

Vents along the Siberian coast crack open and haphazard lightening strikes have ignited the plumes of methane. Volcanoes of flame burn hundreds of meters into the sky. What doesn’t burn, drifts high into the atmosphere where it traps the reflective solar energy. The Arctic has become a tepid bath. Greenland’s ice cap and its hundreds of glaciers steam and melt. Measurements along the Eastern Seaboard measure an inch a month sea level rise.

Life is about to experience Sauna Earth.

Bring your beer and spruce brushes because we’re gonna get sweaty.


Built in obsolescence

DNA and the mechanisms of aging have been selectively engineered to maximize population growth and the saturation of an ecosystem by any and all species.

We are born, grow, procreate, raise offspring and die.

DNA depends on this cycle. If there were no natural selection of dominant (maximum ecosystem exploitation) species, then at some point, such a non-optimized species would most likely experience a calamitous shock, unable to adapt, move or cope, the result would be extinction.

Natural selection expects you to die. In fact, extending our age well past the viable range of procreation and raising offspring is counter-productive — as far as DNA is concerned. Old, you’re just a waste of resources.

We were designed (not really, but the end result might be thought of in this way) to die by age 50. By twenty-five, you would have produced offspring and would now be in the throes of raising them. By fifty, your done. In most cultures, by fifty, you’re already a grandparent having already passed on any wisdom to your children and potentially your grandchildren.

It’s like Logan’s Run but Carousel happens at 50. Your little red jewel glows until 49.364 and then — wink — out it goes. DNA is pretty much Logan’s run, but without the big bang at the end marking your “Ascension.”

Oh, sure, some will argue that elders impart existential experience and advocacy for the species. But this is just bollocks. The fact remains that throughout human existence this fifty-year maximum (on average) was pretty much the standard. Only in the last few hundred years have we breached this lifespan threshold.

And sure, there have been long-lived sages of old who wrote stuff down on tablets, scrolls, papyrus and whatnot. Information that has been tumbling along, building like a snowball to provide us the incredible advances we enjoy today.

But DNA does care about that stuff. It’s Eat-Pray-Love, but for all organisms.

Eat. Grow. Fuck. Die. That’s DNA for ya.

 

 


China to invade Russia

There was a recent map published which showed population as area rather than area as area. What struck me was the juxtaposition of China and Russia.

Russia has 16.3 million square kilometers of land. China 9.3 million.
Russia as 144 million people. China has 1,415 million people.
Russia shares a border with China that is 4,200 kilometers long.

When China needs to expand guess which direction they’re heading?

We wonder about Russia’s vast military build up, maybe we shouldn’t wonder at all. Russia’s might to fight the US or NATO or the EU? Naw, they have a much bigger problem south of the border.

RussiaVsChina

With global warming turning the Siberian wasteland into potentially viable farmland. That and access to the Arctic Ocean might entice a Chinese takeover of Eastern Russia. All them resources just begging to be turned into high tariff products bound for the US and elsewhere.


MTBF: Life

* Fermi Paradox topic alert

MTBF is a manufacturing term meaning Mean Time Between Failure. On average, what is the amount of time a product operates without failure.

In our analysis of the paucity of life in the universe, this concept — as applied to life — is less frequently addressed. But it’s critical to understanding why humanity is “probably” alone in the universe.

If you were an abiogenesis researcher trying to create life in the lab and one day you astound yourself and world by creating replicating, mutating life in a petri dish. You run out of the lab, shouting to your peers and head to the bar to celebrate. Meanwhile, Billy-the-janitor, runs across your ugly-smear of creation you left on the counter and tosses it in the trash headed to the incinerator. Poof. MTBF of your abiogenetically created life? About 24 hours.

As we investigate the probabilities of life in the universe, we must not only imagine the conditions that we believe are required for life to spawn spontaneously in the strange seas or tide pools of exotic planets, but we must include the MTBF of that life. If a comet smacks such a life-foundational planet every few months, wiping out Darwin’s crucible — over and over — that must be a part of our calculations.

If life gets started but the periods of prosperity are so short lived, despite the initial conditions that engendered such life, it doesn’t matter that such a place is ‘perfect’ to harbor life. A short MTBF will exclude it from our tally.

And it’s not just microbial life that we’re considering. MTBF of a society killing asteroid: 50 million years? MTBF of a super volcanoes: every 100,000 years? And my favorite the MTBF of a technologically advanced society, reliant on electricity coursing through wires, due to coronal mass ejection (CME): About 200 years.

There are dozens of other types of life erasers, each with its MTBF. Pockets of life must not only navigate such continuous disasters, but it must grow large enough so that as these calamities occur, the likelihood that any one catastrophe kills the entire genome of the planet (or the species) is reduced.

We look for the exo-conditions that we think are favorable to life. But we must remember to include the windows of opportunity life has, interstitially inserted between extinction events. What is humanity’s real MTBF?


Butterflies and SUVs

Feedback.

Chain reaction.

The Cascade Effect.

In all likelihood, humanity has triggered calamitous climate change. Calamitous for us and millions of species that enjoyed the Holocene as much as we did.

The concept that chemical, physical, environmental changes, seemingly small and isolated that may provide self-propagating feedback resulting in runaway change in systems attached to or surrounding the original event — has been known for decades if not centuries. Remove a single log from a beaver’s dam and watch the water boil through the gap, weakening the dam, flooding the downstream dams which in turn overrun their capacity causing them to weaken and the cascade begins and doesn’t end until all the dams are busted and the entire valley is flooded.

The flooding of our valley, our atmosphere, with greenhouse gasses has no doubt started and the feedback loop is swinging into full volume.

Drive your SUV, and like the butterfly’s wings across the ocean, you start the trend, you trip the wire, you trigger the unstoppable. And once begun, the storm will rage until exhausted. In the case of global warming and catastrophic climate change — that storm will rage for centuries.

The chain reaction of increased CO2 causing massive heat, releasing methane from clathrates in the worlds cold oceans, which add even more heat trapping that then melts the Greenland ice cap which floods the North Atlantic with fresh water choking the Atlantic Meridonial Overturning Circulation killing the Gulf Stream freezing Europe, which then triggers an exodus to the south, overwhelming the Middle East and North Africa, and so on and so forth.

These feedback loops are everywhere and entangled beyond comprehension. Increased rain fall in some places leeches nutrients and degrades CH4 uptake, reducing a forest’s ability to fix greenhouse gases. The death of coral reefs around the world caused by heat bleaching sterilizing the area starving the fish in the area forcing local fishermen out to hunt other species depleting those, which then triggers yet more feedback regarding ecosystem disruption. And yada yada yada.

Soon though, today perhaps (or maybe it was yesterday), the camel’s back will snap. When it does we won’t immediately know it. There may be a year or three before scientists collect the data and point their finger back into history and say that right there, August seventh, 2018 was the day the threshold was tipped and we reached the point of no return.

The wealthy know this. That’s why many of them enjoin experts to locate the most stable locales, least likely to experience social collapse caused by the fallout of the systematic alteration of climate. Fire, flood, drought, famine, storms, bitter cold, broiling heat — take them all and amplify each by 100%. Or maybe by 200% or more. If you want to survive the next 20-50 years (or have your children survive) the wealthy know that you must have a bug-out plan.

Where are you going to head when you know, in your heart of hearts, collapse is coming?

I’ve been watching this site for years: https://neptune.gsfc.nasa.gov/csb/index.php?section=234

ArcticIceExtent

And of course the Scripps CO2 site: https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/

ScrippsC02Full

Such charts point to one and only one conclusion: catastrophic climate change is coming.

REF:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/aug/06/domino-effect-of-climate-events-could-push-earth-into-a-hothouse-state


Fossil fuel volcano

I’m reading Light of the Stars “Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth” — Adam Frank.

I’m about halfway through and so far Frank has supplied mostly background in his attempt, I’m assuming, to present various models — based on our solar system’s mechanics and planetary variations — to determine the probability of exo-civilizations, in the galaxy and the cosmos in general.

Humanity’s existence and technological capability is dependent on a host of serendipitous “coin-flips” all landing up heads. Two of the biggest and most impactful are plate tectonics and the availability of a billion years worth of stored solar energy in the form of fossil fuel.

Plate tectonics ensures that CO2 is recycled. (CO2 is fixed from the atmosphere as sediment and rock, calcium carbonate — limestone, taken below the crust, disassociated and then re-released by volcanoes around the planet.) Without this cycle, CO2 would stay fixed, the planet would cool (as it has done in the past) (Nitrogen and Oxygen, 78% and 21%, are not efficient greenhouse gases) and that would be it for Earth.

And we all know what fossil fuels have done for humanity; taken an energy starved species and give it unlimited access to millions of years of nearly-free solar power. Without fossil fuels, humanity would have killed off all the whales (for fuel), burned down all the forests (for fuel), and never seen the explosive population growth that produced copious ideas resulting in constant technological advancement.

WorldPopulationGrowthFossilFuels

Part of his premise (I’m guessing) is to determine the impact and potential mitigation of global warming during the Anthropocene. This unusual release of extra CO2 that is warming the planet is, as far as he’s concerned, a potential solution to the Fermi Paradox: exo-civilizations might kill themselves off by their shear size and impact on their planet.

As I read Adam Frank’s setup I thought about a strange “ready for fiction” story line:

What would happen if a volcano suddenly spawned beneath one (or more) vast crude oil fields? Imagine if a Kilauea sized volcano burst up from the sands of Saudi Arabia. The heat and fire would start the oil burning. Thirty mile-high plumes of smoke would spread out for decades. Nuclear winter would descend. This is much like what a super-volcano would do, but a smaller volcano would suffice to trigger the calamity.

This is typical, don’t you think, this reading of anything and the extrapolation of a fiction story from the material? The “what if”s. I thrive on them.


Country size: An interesting perspective

 

RelativeSizesOfCountries

Here’s a curious image.

I’m not sure I recall where I found the site on which I built that, but, what it allowed me to do is drag countries around to see their relative sizes. (Alaska is rotated to bolt to the US.)

I lined all the biggest along the equator, from largest on down. You’ll notice that those countries managed to fit along the equator just as you see — end to end — all the way around. Now, wouldn’t that be a curious world to live upon; with seas between each of nine continents, and oceans above and below and of course all of the remaining 190 odd countries stuck to the tops and bottoms of those nine (lots of Africa and South America to distribute.) But the tops and bottoms all being oceans — just two of them.

An interesting adjunct to this sequence would be to compare the populations for these countries, given their general shapes, and line them up according to that metric. Hmm, I may have to do exactly that (I’ll hunt around). (Of course there would be countries that show up here that are not shown, vis-a-vis population rank.

I’m struck by the comparatively equivalent sizes of Canada, USA, China, Brazil and Australia. Within 20-30%, they’re about the same land mass.

Just imagine if we could terraform Earth to look like this? Before we terraform Mars, maybe we should consider doing something about living on what we’re not using already…