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Aja Bogdanoff

Online Community Manager, TED

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Happening Now: Live Q&A with TED Books Author Daniel Grossman on "Deep Water" and the Science of Rising Sea Levels

*** Live Q&A with Author Daniel Grossman: Tuesday, August 21st, 1pm-2pm EDT (New York Time) ***

We're starting a regular TED Book discussion group here on TED Conversations. Would you like to join us?

For the next two weeks, we'll be using this space to discuss Daniel Grossman's new book on the science of rising sea levels, "Deep Water". The TED Books are designed to be read in a single sitting, so it should be a quick read, and it will give us a good shared starting point for a broader discussion on climate change and what the future holds for our planet.

These are short eBooks, available for Kindles, Nooks, and iPads/iPods/iPhones. I believe you can also read Kindle books on your Mac or PC now, and if you have an iOS device, there's a new TED Books app.

Download options: http://www.ted.com/pages/tedbooks_library
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008R8U1LU/

At the end of our two-week discussion, author Daniel Grossman will be joining in for a Live Q&A session to share his thoughts and answer any questions we might have.

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Closing Statement from Aja Bogdanoff

Many thanks to Daniel Grossman and all our participants! This was an interesting and educational journey. To learn more about Dan's work, you can visit his website here: http://dangrossmanmedia.com

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  • Aug 21 2012: Aja:

    The climate system is like a humungous flywheel or a giant oil tanker so we can only do so much to change course once we've put it on a course. There are also concerns that there might be different states that the climate system could move to from which it could remain and it would be hard to return to the old one. For instance, once the sea ice in the Arctic becomes absent during the summer, it might be hard to get back to the state where it returns in the summer, because of the positive feedback of the heat absorbed by the water (which is darker than ice).
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      Aug 21 2012: I see... Do you think the planet will ever return to "ice age" conditions?
      • Aug 21 2012: Some scientists I've spoken to say that it does not appear that we can return to ice age conditions in light of climate change. The climate scientist Will Rudiman says has postulated that had not humans started cutting trees down on a massive scale and planted methane producing ice paddies we'd be heading into an ice age right now.
      • Aug 21 2012: Ruddiman thinks that the current warm period has lasted longer than it should have. We should already be cooling off now. But the planet is getting warmer not cooler. The planet is now nearly as warm as it's been at any time in the last 2 million years, as we have oscillated from warm to cool over and over. Another two or three degrees, we'll rise up out of that envelope of oscillation into the conditions of the pliocene, before there were big ice sheets in the northern hemisphere.
      • Aug 21 2012: Whether and how fast we could backtrack is not clear. Even if we stopped producing extra carbon dioxide now, there is still this flywheel effect that would keep the planet warming. The amount of carbon dioxide now in the atmosphere is about the same as there was in the mid-pliocene, 3 million years ago. The carbon dioxide does not immediately leave the atmosphere even once we were to stop adding more. So, the future looks somewhat dim. But there's no question that there is "bad" and "worse."
      • Aug 21 2012: With respect to CO2 output from the US, I'd make to some cautious comments. First, since it just happened and was not part of a policy to make it happen, we can't reply on the drop continuing. I bet part of the drop has to do with the current recession we're in. We hope that our economy will recover somehow and we wouldn't want that to come with renewed growth and CO2 emissions. Some of the reduction probably came from increased use of natural gas. The new technique of hydrofracturing to extract national gas (fracking) has brought down the price of natural gas, which produces less carbon dioxide per unit of energy. That's good in principle. But in practice fracking also releases a fair amount of natural gas into the atmosphere. Natural gas also causes the greenhouse effect, much more powerfully than carbon dioxide. So if even a small fraction of the natural gas escapes into the air before it's collected, the benefits of using natural gas are wiped out.

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