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Daniel Grossman
Posted over 1 year ago
Happening Now: Live Q&A with TED Books Author Daniel Grossman on "Deep Water" and the Science of Rising Sea Levels
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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Daniel Grossman
Posted over 1 year ago
Happening Now: Live Q&A with TED Books Author Daniel Grossman on "Deep Water" and the Science of Rising Sea Levels
Ken: It is true that we must be careful not to attribute everything bad that we don't understand to climate change. On the other hand there are many bad things that can't be foreseen right now. For instance, I reported on a penguin researcher in Antarctica who is studying how reduced sea ice on the Antarctic Peninsula is causing greater precipitation, which is making it harder for Adelie penguins to raise chicks (as they need snow-free beaches to nest).
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Daniel Grossman
Posted over 1 year ago
Happening Now: Live Q&A with TED Books Author Daniel Grossman on "Deep Water" and the Science of Rising Sea Levels
Ken coud we right. I don't think we know. There are some who suggest we try massive engineering projects to cool the plant. Thinks like giant reflectors in space. Or that we put particulate matter in the atmosphere to cool the planet down artificially. This might work, but there are bonafide concerns that we'd be tampering with a system we didn't understand, and would make matters worse. There are also concerns that the existence of such solutions would be used as an excuse for not engaging in sensible prevention (creating less carbon dioxide).
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Daniel Grossman
Posted over 1 year ago
Happening Now: Live Q&A with TED Books Author Daniel Grossman on "Deep Water" and the Science of Rising Sea Levels
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."
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Daniel Grossman
Posted over 1 year ago
Happening Now: Live Q&A with TED Books Author Daniel Grossman on "Deep Water" and the Science of Rising Sea Levels
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.
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Daniel Grossman
Posted over 1 year ago
Happening Now: Live Q&A with TED Books Author Daniel Grossman on "Deep Water" and the Science of Rising Sea Levels
Many of these problems can be viewed from various perspectives. From the perspective of the 4.5 billion year life of the planet, a human life or even a civilization means little. From the perspective of the much longer life of the universe, what happens on Earth means nothing. On the other hand, what we see today around us are ecosystems that have developed and been optimized to current conditions over thousands and millions of years. (some of these "conditions" are a range of conditions, not the exact current climate). We inhabit a world that has been built by human hands over hundreds and thousands of years. Those things are in danger. That's not to say humans won't exist in the future or that life will not exist. But we are endangering things that we may thing are worthy or even sacred.
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Daniel Grossman
Posted over 1 year ago
Happening Now: Live Q&A with TED Books Author Daniel Grossman on "Deep Water" and the Science of Rising Sea Levels
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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Daniel Grossman
Posted over 1 year ago
Happening Now: Live Q&A with TED Books Author Daniel Grossman on "Deep Water" and the Science of Rising Sea Levels
Ken: What I've come to realize is that just about any significant change is bad. Not because those conditions are bad per se, but because we've optimized our build world for the conditions that exist today. The same could be said for ecosystems. It's not that life could not exist in changed circumstances. But the ecosystems that exist might not be able to.