Category Archives: Global Warming

The great eggsperiment

I’ve mentioned before that a part of our plan here is to have chickens which are, of course, an essential ingredient in almost any permaculture design. Not only do they provide eggs and meat (not for me!), but also manure, warmth for plants in an attached greenhouse, feathers, and they help weed/till the garden as they eat insects and food wastes. In short, chickens rock. I cannot wait to get our coop built and the chickens moved in. For now I’ll content myself with eggs which are raised by someone else in their backyard. What’s great about home raised eggs is that I can request that they not be washed. You may not know this but eggs have a protective layer which keeps them perfectly edible for up to three weeks without being refrigerated. Neat, eh? This is especially important for me because I do not have, or plan to get, a refrigerator. Let me explain.

One of the primary principles of permaculture is earth care which means, in part, reducing our carbon footprint. For those of us in the U.S. this means a drastic reduction of about 90% (I’ll discuss that figure in another entry to be posted soon) if we are to have an equal share with the rest of our fellow humans. In addition to earth care there is of course the added reality of peak oil/coal/energy (peak everything really but that’s also another post for another day!).

What this means for me in my day-to-day life is that I have made a choice to not have the typical electrical appliances that most people in the U.S. take for granted as necessary for life. This brings me back to the refrigerator. Because I don’t a refrigerator I have to adapt, I have to think differently about how I use and store food. I have to make sure that the eggs I get have not been washed so that I can keep them at everyday temperatures. I no longer drink soy milk which I only really used as a creamer for coffee. Also, no cheese which I don’t miss much since I rarely ate it. It means that I have to be careful when I cook so that I’m not cooking too much. If I do have left overs I can usually keep them in a small cooler with a bit of very cold well water and eat them the next day with no ill effects.

I’ve been living without a refrigerator for nearly two months and I’m still very healthy. It has required a few modifications to my diet but nothing drastic. It’s just one step towards a smaller carbon footprint and a way of life that will likely be a fact for most of us in a future with fewer fossil fuel resources.

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Our planet needs a global recession

Just popping in to offer up a thought about the current thinking regarding climate change and the economy in relation to current political discourse and media. It is generally accepted thinking that economic recession is bad. It is also now generally accepted that climate change is a serious global problem which needs to be addressed in a very serious manner by governments and citizens.

Let me point out the hard truth which will never be uttered by any candidate for U.S. president, not even Barack Obama who seems to have a great deal of support of liberals and progressives in the U.S. No current Democratic or Republican candidate is even close. If we are going to solve the climate crisis we must reduce our carbon emissions immediately and let me be clear by what I mean by reduce and immediately. I mean that we need a reduction of 50% by yesterday and 90% by tomorrow. We need a global economic recession because we need an immediate end to economic growth. We need an end to a global economy that is based on ever increasing consumption and which promotes consumerism as a way of life. It is not what most people want to hear and it is not what a candidate will say if they want to get elected. But it is the truth.

Our level of public and political discussion regarding climate change and natural resources reflects our thinking on the issues and it is purely delusional. The time for making gradual but serious changes to our way of life was 1990. In 2008 we have runaway climate change and a planet of 7 billion people which has reached peak energy production.

Buckle up for a very rough ride.

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Enchanted Planet Images

My new site for my growing set of image galleries: Enchanted Planet Images. I think with this new year I’m going to weed through my growing collection of accounts and weed a few out. Given my desire to limit and reduce my carbon footprint, it would seem that I really should eliminate accounts on servers that I do not need, this being one of them. I think I’ve been averaging less than 10 hits a day for this blog for many months. I’ve not been very consistent about posting so I’m not surprised. For the amount that I write the blog I’ve set up at Enchanted Planet Images should probably be adequate. So, if you are one my very few subscribers/readers you may want to change your bookmark.

Happy New Year and let’s all hope for a recession. The planet could sure use one. In fact, economic slowdown should be the prime goal of a society concerned about conserving resource usage and slowing climate change.

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Summer Ends

Collected Sun

Northern Sea Oats in my garden.

It seems that fall may finally be arriving with a bit of cool weather. As I write this 95% of our trees are still very green. It’s October 10th and we’re just beginning to see fall color. The past few weeks have seen most days into the low 90s or upper 80s. Scary.

Like much of the midwest and southeast we’ve had a summer of severe drought so I’m doubtful that we’ll have as much color as we’ve had in other years.

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Melting ice cap triggering earthquakes in Greenland

As a follow up to yesterday’s post regarding an ice-free Arctic, there is this regarding the land-bound ice of Greenland melting so fast that it is now starting to cause earthquakes.

The Guardian reports that the Melting ice cap triggering earthquakes:

The Greenland ice cap is melting so quickly that it is triggering earthquakes as pieces of ice several cubic kilometres in size break off.

Scientists monitoring events this summer say the acceleration could be catastrophic in terms of sea-level rise and make predictions this February by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change far too low.

He had flown over the Ilulissat glacier and “seen gigantic holes in it through which swirling masses of melt water were falling. I first looked at this glacier in the 1960s and there were no holes. These so-called moulins, 10 to 15 metres across, have opened up all over the place. There are hundreds of them.”

This melt water was pouring through to the bottom of the glacier creating a lake 500 metres deep which was causing the glacier “to float on land. These melt-water rivers are lubricating the glacier, like applying oil to a surface and causing it to slide into the sea. It is causing a massive acceleration which could be catastrophic.”

The glacier is now moving at 15km a year into the sea although in surges it moves even faster. He measured one surge at 5km in 90 minutes – an extraordinary event.

Veli Kallio, a Finnish scientist, said the quakes were triggered because ice had broken away after being fused to the rock for hundreds of years. The quakes were not vast – on a magnitude of 1 to 3 – but had never happened before in north-west Greenland and showed potential for the entire ice sheet to collapse.

Dr Corell said: “These earthquakes are not dangerous in themselves but the fact that they are happening shows that events are happening far faster than we ever anticipated.”

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An ice-free Arctic in just 23 years?

Big fucking surprise. Or not. Look… how many times do we have to see these words over and over? “Sooner than expected”, “much worse than previously thought”. I’ve said it before, this is happening at a pace far faster than even the worst predictions. We have got to start thinking of climate change as RIGHT FUCKING NOW. This is NOW. This is not 100 years from now. This is not great grand children or the next generation. FUCK. Stop eating meat. Stop driving. Stop consuming. FUCKING STOP.

I hate humanity and truthfully, I think I’m starting to take pleasure in seeing people suffer from weather related catastrophes. If only that suffering were more focused on the U.S. and other primary contributors of atmospheric carbon. It’s harsh I know but FUCK. How stupid, shortsighted and selfish can we be?

seaice1979-2007sep05.jpg
Comparison of sea ice area on September 5, 1979 and September 5, 2007.

Sea ice area in early September has declined 42% in the 28 years since 1979.
Image credit: University of Illinois Polar Research Group.

Jeff Masters over at Wunderground discusses the issue:

None of our computer climate models predicted that such a huge loss in Arctic ice would occur so soon. Up until this year, the prevailing view among climate scientists was that an ice-free Arctic ocean would occur in the 2070-2100 time frame. The official word on climate change, the February 2007 report from the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warned that without drastic changes in greenhouse gas emissions, Arctic sea ice will “almost entirely” disappear by the end of the century. This projection is now being radically revised. Earlier this year, I blogged about a new study that predicted abrupt losses of Arctic sea ice were possible as early as 2015, and that we could see an ice-free Arctic Ocean as early as 2040. Well, the Arctic Ocean has suffered one of the abrupt losses this study warned about–eight years earlier than this most radical study suggested. It is highly probable that a complete loss of summer Arctic sea ice will occur far earlier than any scientist or computer model predicted. In an interview published yesterday in The Guardian Dr. Mark Serreze, and Arctic ice expert with the National Snow and Ice Data Center, said: “If you asked me a couple of years ago when the Arctic could lose all of its ice, then I would have said 2100, or 2070 maybe. But now I think that 2030 is a reasonable estimate. It seems that the Arctic is going to be a very different place within our lifetimes, and certainly within our children’s lifetimes.” While natural fluctuations in wind and ocean circulation are partly to blame for this loss of sea ice, human-caused global warming is primarily to blame. In the words of Dr. Serreze: “The rules are starting to change and what’s changing the rules is the input of greenhouse gases. This year puts the exclamation mark on a series of record lows that tell us something is happening.”

The implications
The melting of the Arctic sea ice will not raise ocean levels appreciably, since the ice is made up of frozen sea water that is floating in the ocean. Sea ice melt does contribute slightly to sea level rise, since the fresh melt water is less dense than the salty ocean water it displaces. According to Robert Grumbine’s sea level FAQ, if all the world’s sea ice melted, it would contribute to about 4 millimeters of global sea level rise. This is a tiny figure compared to the 20 feet of sea level rise locked up in the ice of the Greenland ice sheet, which is on land.

The biggest concern about Arctic sea ice loss is the warmer average temperatures it will bring to the Arctic in coming years. Instead of white, reflective ice, we will now have dark, sunlight-absorbing water at the pole, leading to a large increase in average temperature. Warmer temperatures will accelerate the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which holds enough water to raise sea level 20 feet. The official word on climate, the 2007 IPCC report, predicted only a 0.6-1.9 foot sea level rise by 2100, due to melting of the Greenland ice sheet and other factors. I believe these estimates will need to be revised sharply upwards in light of the unexpectedly high Arctic sea ice loss this summer.

One more point–global warming skeptics often criticize using computer model climate predictions as a basis for policy decisions. These models are too uncertain, they say. Well, the uncertainty goes both way–sometimes the models will underestimate climate change. We should have learned this lesson when the ozone hole opened up–another case where the models failed to predict a major climate change. The atmosphere is not the well-behaved, predictable entity the models try to approximate it as. The atmosphere is wild, chaotic, incredibly complex, and prone to sudden unexpected shifts. By pumping large amounts of greenhouse gases into the air, we have destabilized the climate and pushed the atmosphere into a new state it has never been in before. We can expect many more surprises that the models will not predict. Some of these may be pleasant surprises, but I am expecting mostly nasty surprises.

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Saddleback Buddies

Saddleback Love
Saddleback Caterpillars in my garden.

Not sure what I want to say… if I want to say anything at all. I’m sad, derpessed, disgusted and I have a hard time getting the words out… have a hard time believing that the words matter anymore. As I said in my previous post, I feel that I’ve given up hope.

Rather than throw the blog away altogether, which is still something I’m considering, an alternative might be to turn it into a photo blog of sorts. I continue to post to Flickr so perhaps I’ll start posting the best of those photos here once or twice a week. As with everything else these days, I’m not sure.

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On giving up

I’ve not been posting much recently in part because I’ve spent more time outside in the garden. But really, that’s only half of the story. I suppose the truth is that I’ve just given up. Since leaving Memphis, and to some degree before that, I’ve lost hope. I can’t help but think that it is over and there is nothing that can be done and I mean that on many different levels. The political system in the U.S. is completely fucked. Climate change is probably what I worry about most and it is on my mind constantly throughout each day. Peak oil and Iraq as well. Of course within each of these there are many layers.

I’m finding that I don’t know how to feel. I’m depressed but really that’s only part of my reaction. I feel numb. I want to hide. In fact, that is what I’m doing I suppose. I’ve come to the conclusion that all I can do is minimize my negative impact which means I don’t go out much at all. I don’t want to interact with people… we humans, at least those I know and have known in my life… we’re selfish busy-bodies. MORE, MORE, MORE, MORE. We cannot be satisfied. We refuse to acknowledge the truth of our lives. We lie to ourselves and our children and our grand children. We humans are selfish, greedy liars.

I long ago made the decision not to have children. I cannot imagine bringing one into this world. Not only for the sake of the child, but also in terms of adding to the problem. In terms of ecology and planetary recovery we need about 4 billion fewer humans, not one more. Even better, I’d guess the planet would be best served by our extinction. If I believed in god that’s what I’d pray for.

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Al Gore’s climate change hypocrisy

“Al Gore’s American Life” photographed for Time Magazine by Steve Pyke.

You know, he’s got plenty of critics and with pictures like this it is as though he wants to give them more to critique. Damn Al, I mean… Really?? Do you need three 30″ lcds? Do you? Three? NEED them? Al, let me keep this simple: you’re being a dick and you’re certainly not helping the cause. The problem of climate change requires that we humans change the way we live, particularly the way we use resources. I look at this picture, just one little part of Al’s life, and I see someone using more than his share. Period.

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