Catastrophic Levels In Sea Level Rise A Distinct Possibily in Just 50 Years

A new study predicts:

“We are looking at a three-metre rise in 50 years,” Banchon said. “This is the first evidence that we have for rapid change in sea level during that time.” Only collapsing ice sheets could account for such an abrupt increase, he added.

But more recent studies have sounded alarms about the potential impact of crumbling ice sheets in western Antarctica and Greenland, which together contain enough frozen water to boost average global sea levels by at least 13 metres (42 feet).

A rapid three-meter rise would devastate dozens of major cities around the globe, including Shanghai, Calcutta, New Orleans, Miami and Dhaka. “Scientists have tended to assume that sea level reached a maximum during the last interglacial” — some 120,000 years ago — “very slowly, over several millennia,” Blanchon told AFP by phone.

“What we are saying is ‘no, they didn’t’.”

Catastrophic Sea Level Rise a ‘Distinct’ Possibility

They now think that the ocean level rise happened very, very rapidly. If so, this has stupendous impact upon a vast majority of the world’s population — many which lives on the coastlines.

Drowing CitiesThe New York Times published over the weekend, “Is This The End?“, a fatalistic op-ed about what lies ahead, showing a drowned Statue of Liberty.

I’d found this story over on Climate Progress, a site which I take the time to read daily as it covers much of the important news in regards to climate action and development.

However, I really disagree with the “optimism” Romm expressed because it implies far too much as far as “what can be done” on a meaningful time-scale. My thoughts on this are:

Stopping rising sea levels by “cutting pollution” sounds nice — but it is not actually humanly possible on a realistic timescale, which is what we really needing to discuss.

Let’s use a human lifetime of say, 70 years for our basis of “realistic timescale”.

The oceans will continue to rise through thermal expansion and ongoing ice melt for a long, long time to come (hundreds if not thousands of years to come). Science is quite sure of this prediction, because of multiple factors — inertia, feedback mechanisms, continued CO₂ loading, ice loss, ocean saturation, albedo effects, measured (and increasing) methane release and the known lag times of climate response to all of these things.

Therefore, cutting pollution, although an excellent and very overdue idea, which admittedly should still be done irregardless, will simply not work on a realistic timescale. Not even in two human lifetimes would this resolve the issue.

Defense and retreat then, are the ONLY realistic options on meaningful timescales. This should be perfectly clear now to all scientists (and city planners).

Cutting pollution will ONLY prevent worse effects far into the future. It’s simply too late now to expect this to help the current generation much.

The “fatalism” is actually far more accurate then the optimism. We indeed “must do both”, but we’re simply not going to stop what has taken a long time to initiate easily.

We’ve far more people / industry and pollutive contributions now then when we began to load the atmosphere with pollutants. We already know how incredibly difficult it already is to gain any kind of consensus or participation among nations or even people (especially leaders). The optimism I oft see expressed that we’re suddenly going to resolve this “in time” is simply incredibly naive — that is clearly not going to happen.

Many other commentators have posted essentially the same thing. If we are right, then the assessments that I’ve have been making on this blog for years now will prove to be on target.  The important thing to remember here however is new data is coming in all the time and it continues to present a worse and worse future probability. I’ve yet to read a single article that “improves” our situation or buys us more time.

Yet this does not stop the idiotic climate denialists who categorically insist that we simply ignore the problem (or stupidly blame it on our Sky God).  An example of this non-participation / denialism is possibly best expressed by Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma:

The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous. – Senator Inhofe

The Senator needs to extract his head from his well-Oiled ass and smell the sulfur:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcWpkWBX04E

Senator Inhofe is now Minority leader of the Senate Armed Forces Committee with more power and responsibility. He’ll be at direct odds with the entire US military which is deeply concerned about climate change. He probably represent the best reason why inaction for America is the chosen path ahead (so far).

He’s taken every opportunity to spout off about how climate change is one of the “biggest hoaxes ever played” on the American people (and even published a book about it); how NASA scientist James Hansen is not a real scientist and is not to be believed (but that his own cherry-picked but poorly credentialed scientists are); and how anthropogenic global warming is impossible anyway since, well, “God is still up there” and it’s “outrageous” and arrogant to believe human beings are “able to change what He is doing in the climate.” Check, check, and, uh, check.

Senator Inhofe: Listen Up

It’s not hard to envision where at some point in the near future, a global emergency response will be desperately enacted, virtually nationalizing everything with the mobilization of all available resources (think the scenes in Deep Impact for example) to belatedly try to stave off large-scale disaster and loss of human life.  Yet such a response will be pathetically ineffective and far, far too late.  We’re saddled by alleged “doubt” and inaction — which is creating ridiculous amounts of inaccuracy, tension, political pandering and absolutely guaranteeing a “too late” response.

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12 thoughts on “Catastrophic Levels In Sea Level Rise A Distinct Possibily in Just 50 Years

  • November 26, 2012 at 5:05 pm
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    New Scientist Special Report: 7 Reasons Climate Change Is ‘Even Worse Than We Thought’

    1. The thick sea ice in the Arctic Ocean was not expected to melt until the end of the century. If current trends continue, summer ice could be gone in a decade or two. Read more (or see “Death Spiral Watch: Experts Warn ‘Near Ice-Free Arctic In Summer’ In A Decade If Volume Trends Continue“).
    2. We knew global warming was going to make the weather more extreme. But it’s becoming even more extreme than anyone predicted. Read more (or see “NOAA Bombshell: Warming-Driven Arctic Ice Loss Is Boosting Chance of Extreme U.S. Weather“).
    3. Global warming was expected to boost food production. Instead, food prices are soaring as the effects of extreme weather kick inRead more (or see “Oxfam Warns Climate Change And Extreme Weather Will Cause Food Prices To Soar” and links therein).
    4. Greenland’s rapid loss of ice mean we’re in for a rise of at least 1 metre by 2100, and possibly much more. Read more (or see “Greenland Ice Sheet Melt Nearing Critical ‘Tipping Point’” and links therein).
    5. The planet currently absorbs half our CO2emissions. All the signs are it won’t for much longer. Read more (or see “Carbon Feedback From Thawing Permafrost Will Likely Add 0.4°F – 1.5°F To Total Global Warming By 2100” and “Drying Peatlands and Intensifying Wildfires Boost Carbon Release Ninefold“).
    6. If we stopped emitting CO2 tomorrow, we might be able to avoid climate disaster. In fact we are still increasing emissionsRead more (or see “The IEA And Others Warn Of Some 11°F Warming by 2100 on current emissions path”)
    7. If the worst climate predictions are realised, vast swathes of the globe could become too hot for humans to survive. Read more (or see “An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts“)
  • November 27, 2012 at 4:17 am
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    Another: Where Even The Earth Is Melting

    Read it carefully, it’s basically saying the tipping point IS reached, melt / methane is considerably higher then expected and has the potential to change the global climate significantly. — [Admin]

    “I think it’s fair to say that until recently climate scientists underrated the rate at which permafrost melt could release methane. I think we’ve been shown to be over-conservative. It’s happening faster than we had thought … This is not good news.”

    The evidence that major change is already happening is trickling in not just from the NASA measurements, but from ground-based tests.

    “There is compelling evidence, not just that permafrost will thaw, but that it is already rapidly thawing,” said Ben Abbott, a researcher at the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

  • November 27, 2012 at 3:49 pm
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    From the Arctic Methane Emergency Group:

    AMEG PRESS RELEASE: 2012-11-21

    Abrupt climate change is upon us. Farmers are angry. Food prices will go through the roof. The government’s climate change policy is in tatters. The government should have acted years ago. Now it may be too late.

    The government is in the dog house, not for what they have done but what they have left undone. They have done much towards reducing CO2 emissions. The question is, will emissions reduction, however drastic, prevent abrupt climate change? The answer is ‘No’! The proof is that abrupt climate change is upon us.

    There has been an elephant in the room, and it has been totally ignored.

    It’s all about the Arctic sea ice.

    It’s about the Arctic sea ice, whose reflection of sunshine keeps the planet cool. Remove the sea ice, and not only does the planet start to overheat, but the whole climate is suddenly changed. The global weather systems, on whose predictability farmers rely, are dependent for their stability on there being a temperature gradient between tropics and the poles. Remove the snow and ice at one pole, and the weather systems go awry and we have “global weirding”. Furthermore, the weather systems get stuck in one place, and we get weather extremes: long spells of hot/dry weather with drought, or long spells of cold/wet weather with floods.

    This global weirding has started with a vengeance. The sea ice is rapidly disappearing. The behaviour of the polar jet stream is disrupted. Extreme weather events occur more often and with greater ferocity. And the food price index climbs and climbs.

    There is an obvious relationship between strife and food – if you starve a nation they will fight to get food. This relationship has been pinned down by an organisation called the Complex Systems Institute, CSI. They show that the food riots break out when the food price index rises above a certain critical level. An example was the Arab Spring.

    The current index is above the critical level. Because of extreme weather events this year, the index is expected to rise again in 2013. The UN’s food watchdog, the FAO, forecast that the index will rise even further in 2014.

    Meanwhile the insurance industry is worried by the trend towards greater number and strength of extreme weather events, including hurricanes. Note that Sandy’s cost was greatly amplified by the diversion westward as it approached the coast off New York. Sandy had hit a jet stream blocking pattern. The loss of Arctic sea ice is leading to this kind of unusual event become more frequent. The insurers are worried, but governments should be even more worried, because extreme weather events will drive the food price index even higher.

    So what can be done?

    That is the subject of AMEG’s strategic plan, to be launched on Wednesday, 5th December, 6 pm, in San Francisco in association with the American Geosciences Union meeting there. Venue is to be announced.

    For further information contact AMEG chair, John Nissen, jn@cloudworld.co.uk, with subject line to include “AMEG launch”, phone +44 20 8742 3170 or skype john.nissen4.

  • November 27, 2012 at 4:14 pm
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    I’ve decided to work on an entirely different direction then any attempts at climate modification (which are doubtful at best) due to huge unknowns.

    I do fully agree that gaining additional understanding of changes, effects, and feedbacks is critical. We simply need to stop doing what is causing this, then the climate will (eventually) stabilize. During this time, we will need to find a way to survive.

    Geo-engineering will be “the rage” very, very soon (probably next year) with unknown effects and results, which could take many decades to even show up (good or bad) and thus should be considered dangerous for humanity and the bio-sphere. It also remains a gigantic “gamble” – would it work?

    My approach is going to focus on “personal adaption” that could hopefully be replicated on a community scale. Essentially, establishing the parameters and requirements of what it will take to live without making additional contributions to the problem. This would include adaption as climate effects become more noticeable.

    The method to live is actually already known, we once knew how to do it, but nobody is willing to live like that anymore (and it’s actually illegal).

    So something that falls between these two extremes of modern living and its incessant demands, and the hunter / gatherer existence that worked for 4000 generations is what I’m striving for, i.e., “sustainable living” utilizing local and sustainable resources.

    It will not be enough to “save the world”. Nothing will be now. It is also admittedly a gamble too, since adaption is no guarantee of anything either.

    We are now irrevocably committed to what climate change and the effects will do to humanity.

    • November 27, 2012 at 9:55 pm
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      And yet the adjective “recoverable” is linked frequently enough with methane gas hydrate stories in the lamestream media to produce such astoundingly ignorant and unintentionally funny (as in a SNL skit) statements such as this one:

      “It would be great to capture the methane hydrates for energy before [they] decompose, that would be the best thing to do. If we do not capture it, and we let it to decompose, we first are going to lose some methane we are not using, and we are going to get some negative impacts on nature,” said Miriam Kastner, of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography of the University of California – San Diego.

      http://www.uwsp.edu/pointeronline/Pages/articles/Impending-Doom,-or-the-Future-of-Fossil-Fuels.aspx

      Gee, I always thought Scripps hired REAL scientists.

  • November 29, 2012 at 12:49 am
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    Hi, wondered if you’d come across the Open Source Ecology group? In a nutshell, they’re developing open-source hardware, lego-like in its interchangeability. DIY tractor, earth brick press, CNC torch table, backhoe, wood gasifier and lots more. There might be a number of useful solutions and techniques there that you could put to use at your place.

    • November 29, 2012 at 10:02 am
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      Yes I have, but it’s been a while since I visited, thanks. I do have a few comments on their ideas:

      The fundamental issue of civilization / population is not technology (or even its availability), nor how it’s used or developed. It’s calories.

      Adequate calories (nutrition / food abundance) “created” civilization, giving opportunity for people to become specialists (such as metal workers). Inadequate nutrition leaves virtually everyone hunting for food with no time or energy to invent anything else.

      Future civilizations may try to live off the dregs (refuse / scrap) of this era as they’re proposing, but they’ll still have to face this fundamental issue: adequate nutrition.

      No greater efficiency in production (of food and everything else) has been found then industrialized production. If that collapses, the huge inefficiencies we once experienced will return — and population will collapse (starvation). Communities / individuals then focus on “staying alive” and their first priority will be food (not building adaption technology).

      I think their proposal is interesting, but naive for this reason. Their fixated on a lower-tech technology but apparently fail to realize that this will not support our population (boils down to too few calories, efficiency, production / processing / storage and distribution of food).

      Bottom line: You must have sufficient nutrition to make mud bricks, or fabricate a home-built tractor, or become an iron-worker (or raise children to become these things). Therefore, the first issue that must be addressed in order to either sustain population or support even a smaller one is food production, providing adequate nutrition.

      Also note that they are using petroleum energy (available now) and computers to build everything they’re hoping to do. This becomes highly problematic in a future-world of energy depletion. Even if bio-fuels are eventually used to power the machinery, this too presupposes sufficient food production (and even the conversion of food to bio-fuels, which means there must be a huge over-abundance available to do that).

      You can identify the weak spots in their strategic plan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-D8FGZi0qc&feature=player_embedded

      “Transition Technology” can only be supported (build or maintained) IF there is sufficient food (in the first place). So far, I have not found anything that has fully identified this fundamental requirement or addressed how to solve it.

      To me, this means “die-off” will happen on a massive scale, it’s inevitable. Collapsing civilization means “no food”. Survivors will out of necessity have to focus on nutrition first. And unless they’re already prepared to “produce” what is needed, it really won’t matter much what sort of toys and technology they have available to them. There are also other issues such as protecting what they’re producing (they can’t feed everybody for example).

      I love their optimism. The “can do” is necessary and needed, but it must also embrace reality.

      • November 29, 2012 at 12:22 pm
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        Admin,

        I also have spent some time at the Open Source site in DIY. Some cleaver stuff they put together, but not all that different from impoverished areas during and after WWII. Things like turning a VW bug into a effective tractor.

        You are dead on concerning what it would take to keep such efforts going. It’s all in the calories needed for whatever effort is going to be promoted.

        My wife and I are somewhat taken back at exactly how much work it takes to just produce the calories needed for just two people. My wife thinks I am underestimating when I say we are only producing approx 20% of what we need and we work at it. The hobby gardeners we know are producing far less. I have yet to make a firm estimate of how large a garden and how many animals it would take to feed us. One of our very large problems, in that area, is feeding animals, not only in the winter, but through the summer too. Take away our access to bagged feed and baled forage and the animals mean nothing. We simply cannot grow enough for both them and us no matter how frugal I am on recycling garden produce, the land simply will not produce a years worth of forage for rabbits and chickens, much less larger animals. In other words, food self sufficiency is not really possible, at least where we are located. A greenhouse like yours would get closer.

        The second problem dealing with food production is water. Dry spells are going to happen no matter what the climate change brings to us. If the water supply is at 150 ft depth, how do you get it without electricity? So then expenditure in calories has to be made in producing electricity by some means and hope the technology doesn’t break down.

        If we have a pretty much of a breakdown in our mechanized and technological civilization, most of us are simply not going to be able to live through it, and those that do are going to have to get very good at scavenging.

        Pretty thoughts for the holidays.

      • November 29, 2012 at 3:24 pm
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        Yeah, I hear you on the calories. Most of our farmland is in hay, but we’re doing some aquaponics work in a passive solar greenhouse. Water table is only a few feet down, our valley is pretty well off watershed wise, but it’s a pretty slim margin as far as calorie production per energy put in. And if one of the variables shifts, water, animal feed or sunshine & weather, it’ll push us right over that break-even line. Thanks a lot for posting that self-sufficiency book title, it’s on the way. Inspired me to reread the foxfire books too. “Putting Food By” is another good one. Preservation and storage will help get us through a lean season.

        Now that I know what to look for, I’ve developed a taste for Lomatium (biscuit root). Not too bad calorie-wise, but tough to find wild edibles if you aren’t practiced at it. Took me a month or so before I got it down – there’s a few toxic plants that look a lot like them.

  • November 30, 2012 at 7:10 am
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    Murph, my hubby and I also are taken aback at the amount of hard physical labor involved in raising/foraging food for just two people.

    We are both over 60, but are digging our two gardens with shovel, spade fork, and hoe. Haven’t used fossil fuels for gardening in years. With much old hay as compost, weeds are less of an issue than when we DID use tiller.

    One rule of thumb for food intake projections is this: think of seven veggies you both like and then (try to) grow at least 52 meals of each. That gives you a different veggie every day of the week for two people. For example, we like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, potatoes, beets, parsnips, Yamiken squash, and carrots. We also grow garlic, elephant garlic, shallots and many many others, but if you pick seven veggies that are full of starch and/or sugars, you’ve got a good start. Or, if you can grow an excess of one such as potatoes, that could be two of the seven. Think also of the ease or difficulty of storage. What can be grown without then needing to can or freeze? Much to ponder.

    If you learn the wild greens for your area, you can gather much of the year, plus growing some of the Brassicas are a good idea due to their nutritional content, plus ease of growing. Collards are absolutely the most versatile when it comes to climate. I’ve had them survive weeks of over 100 degrees F., as well as the coldest winters ever. They overwinter and will send up flower/seed stalks the following year as they are biennials.

    This next year we will have some sort of shade cloth type cover ready to drag out, as last summer was unbelievably hot and dry which caused drastic drop of flowering in squash, plus produced beets with very little sweetness. The shade cloth should lower the temperature by at least a few degrees.

    Then I phased out all grains from our milk goat operation and now it is 100% grass fed, 100% organic. But it does mean that 10 months of the year someone (me) watches over them as they browse/graze for about 3 hours per day outside their paddocks. The buck goes out on his own, but the doe goats and babies must be accompanied. No guard dogs here as carnivore pets in my view are just not sustainable, whereas herbivores can be depending on the amount of land, and the diligence of their owners.

    We have contemplated for many years how to feed ourselves by just growing and/or foraging. I think it can be done, but requires a long learning curve with lots of mistakes and more learning. We’re still learning and I have a wheelbarrow full of lettuce seedlings that are growing nicely. It is surrounded by hay and covered nightly with several layers including the top one being a discarded rubber-lined drapery. If extreme cold threatens, it can be wheeled indoors.

    So much to learn, so little time…..

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