11 June, 2008 by dan
Additional detail via Additional detail via ScienceNews regarding the statement yesterday by 13 National Academies of Science on the call for additional research into Geoengineering:
The new statement also argues that research could point the way towards developing a stable climate via such things as reforestation and “geoengineering technologies.” Such measures “would complement our greenhouse gas reduction strategies,” it said.
The document didn’t spell out what those geoengineering measures might be, so I asked for clarification from Michael Clegg, Foreign Secretary of the NAS, here in Washington.
“These are essentially engineering approaches to soaking up carbon dioxide,” he explains. “One suggestion that has been made in the past, for example, is the so-called fertilization of the oceans with iron. But none of this has been looked at very carefully from a scientific perspective,” he notes. “So what the statement commits is to organize a conference to look more carefully at some of these possibilities to see whether they’re plausible – whether any of them offer solutions.”
Such a conference could occur within the next 18 months, Clegg says, although he adds that no actual dates have been discussed.
10 June, 2008 by dan
In a joint statement, 13 National Scientific Academies (including those from the G8 as well as China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa) have called for "prompt action to deal with the causes of climate change" via both mitigation and adaptation. The document also calls for research on:
"... approaches which may contribute towards maintaining a stable climate (including so-called geoengineering technologies and reforestation), which would complement our greenhouse gas reduction strategies. The G8+5 academies intend to organise a conference to discuss these technologies." Andy Revkin at the times covers it here.
2 June, 2008 by dan
The International Emissions Trading Association has released a whitepaper with recommendations on carbon offset policy in relation to a forthcoming US federal cap-and-trade program. The paper describes how an offset program should be designed to maximize the benefits that offsets can provide to any climate regulatory framework.
The white paper is The International Emissions Trading Association has released a whitepaper with recommendations on carbon offset policy in relation to a forthcoming US federal cap-and-trade program. The paper describes how an offset program should be designed to maximize the benefits that offsets can provide to any climate regulatory framework.
The white paper is available here.
Kevin Whilden from Climos was one of the co-authors along with Aimee Barnes from Ecosecurities and David Hunter from IETA.
2 June, 2008 by dan
Given the recent activity at both the IMO LC and at the recent CBD
meeting, Climos has issued a statement summarizing our position.
Also, Climate Wire covered this story this morning. We note the following quote from Daniel Shepard which provides some color:
“There is no expert or scientific knowledge out there to even
base a decision on one way or another, so they sent it to this London
Protocol office, to sort of ask them, ‘Do you think we should ban it?’”
said Daniel Shepard, a spokesman for the United Nations, in a telephone
We await the guidance from the IMO LC Scientific Group to be released shortly.
31 May, 2008 by kevin
The Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008 is a landmark piece of Federal legislation to address the growing problem of climate change. It is comprehensive and innovative, however it misses the mark on one small detail. You can read our comments below.
The Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008 is a landmark piece of Federal legislation to address the growing problem of climate change. It is comprehensive and innovative, however it misses the mark on one small detail. You can read our comments below.Climos Comments on the L-W Bill.
1 May, 2008 by kevin
Climate Wire has published a news article (subscription required) on developing nation's concerns over the impacts to ocean from climate change, as well as the impacts from potential 'fixes' such as ocean fertilization. These statements are part of negotiations happening as part of the Marine Biodiversity Working Group of the UN General Assembly (link to daily summaries).
The stated reasons for concern over OIF are because of potential "severely negative consequences on marine ecosystems". Interestingly IUCN argued that OIF and any other related activities should undergo strict environmental impact assessments.
Last March, Climos engaged Tetratech to develop the first EIA for ocean iron fertilization.
17 April, 2008 by dan
Oceans absorbing less CO2 may have 1,500 year impact
Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:06pm BST
By Sylvia Westall
VIENNA (Reuters) - Global oceans are soaking up less carbon dioxide,
a development that could speed up the greenhouse effect and have an
impact for the next 1,500 years, scientists said on Wednesday.
Research from a five-year project funded by the European Union
showed the North Atlantic, which along with the Antarctic is of the
world’s two vital ocean carbon sinks, is absorbing only half the amount
of CO2 that it did in the mid-1990s.
Using recent detailed data, scientists said the amount absorbed is
also fluctuating each year, making it hard to predict how and whether
the trend will continue and if oceans will be able to perform their
vital balancing act in the future.
Oceans soak up around a quarter of annual CO2 emissions, but should
they fail to do so in the future the gas would stay in the atmosphere
and could accelerate the greenhouse effect, a prospect project director
Christoph Heinze called “alarming”.
Oceans are like a “slow-mixing machine”. Carbon absorbed in the
North Atlantic takes around 1,500 years to circulate around the world’s
seas. This means changes to their fragile balance could be felt long
into the future, Heinze said at a geoscience conference in Vienna.
Scientists are still debating the reasons why oceans are absorbing
less carbon dioxide. While some point to CO2 saturation, others say it
could be caused by a change in surface water circulation, triggered by
changes in weather cycles.
Heinze described a “bottleneck effect” because of the large amount of manmade carbon dioxide oceans already store.
“The more CO2 the oceans store, the more difficult it will be for
them to take up the additional load from the atmosphere and carbon
absorption will stagnate even further,” Heinze said.
Some forms of sea life have suffered from the large amounts of CO2 absorbed, because of changes in acidity levels.
“The seafloor is becoming an increasingly hostile environment,” said
Marion Gehlen, from the Laboratory of Climate and Environment Science
“This corrosive water means mollusc organisms have a hard time
making their shells and eventually they might not be able to do it at
For the scientists there is only one thing humans can do to resolve the problem — reduce emissions by at least 75 percent.
“We must act now. The good news is that while the negative effects
can last a long time, the good things we do will also have an effect
for the next 1,500 years,” Heinze said.
“It’s cheap and it’s possible to do this but people must have the will to do it.”
(Editing by Mary Gabriel)
PDF of press release here.
“CARBOOCEAN: How much man-made CO2 can the ocean absorb?”
10 April, 2008 by dan
The UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission recently
formed an ad-hoc Consultative Group on Ocean Fertilization in part for
the purpose of addressing several scientific questions posed by the
International Maritime Organization (IMO) London Convention Scientific
Group. Participating were Ken Caldeira, Scott Doney, Ulf Riebesell,
Andrew Watson, Phil Boyd, Chris Sabine, Scott Barrett and others. They
have released a statement in advance of the IMO LC SG working session
in Guayaquil, Ecuador in May.
Addressed in the statement were three principle questions:
- What constitutes “large scale” in the ocean?
- Is there justification of the need for experiments at scales of order 200km by 200km?
- What is the assessment of the impacts on oceans of experiments at such scales?
A few quotes:
“There is no well-established meaning to “large scale” that would
allow it to usefully distinguish between activities that would and
activities that would not damage the ocean environment”
“The effects on the fertilized patch of stirring and mixing with
water that has not received the fertilization treatment becomes less
important near the center of the patch as patch size increases. This
would provide incentive to develop experiments at scales of order 200
km by 200 km, this scale being larger than that of typical ocean
eddies. For the same reason, it may be easier to assess the influence
of surface manipulations on the sinking fluxes of particles when the
experiments are at this scale.”
“It is impossible to assess the impacts of experiments through
information on spatial scale alone. A host of factors, including rates,
amounts, concentration, duration and composition of chemical addition,
location, time of year, and so on, could all jointly be determinative
of ocean impacts.”
The complete statement is available here.
27 March, 2008 by dan
Tetra Tech, together with Climos, will develop a Conceptual Model and a Master Environmental Report as part of this process. The Conceptual Model will review the scientific background, experimental history, and recent research results for this technique, in addition to providing a detailed review and exploration of environmental questions and concerns. The Master Environmental Report will provide an environmental management framework to evaluate the characteristics and sensitivities of the affected marine environment.
Tetra Tech, together with Climos, will develop a Conceptual Model and a Master Environmental Report as part of this process. The Conceptual Model will review the scientific background, experimental history, and recent research results for this technique, in addition to providing a detailed review and exploration of environmental questions and concerns. The Master Environmental Report will provide an environmental management framework to evaluate the characteristics and sensitivities of the affected marine environment. The press release is here.
24 March, 2008 by dan
James Hansen and Pushker A. Kharecha announce a James Hansen and Pushker A. Kharecha announce a new paper modeling the effect of the world reaching Peak Oil production on atmospheric CO2 levels assuming that coal emissions are phased out by midcentury. The conclusion is that 450 ppm is not an unreasonable ceiling by 2100 if rising prices on allowances and offsets can be sustained and efficiencies can be implemented allowing us to stretch existing reserves.
Unconstrained CO2 emission from fossil fuel burning has been the dominant cause of observed anthropogenic global warming. The amounts of ‘proven’ and potential fossil fuel reserves are uncertain and debated. Regardless of the true values, society has flexibility in the degree to which it chooses to exploit these reserves, especially unconventional fossil fuels and those located in extreme or pristine environments. If conventional oil production peaks within the next few decades, it may have a large effect on future atmospheric CO2 and climate change, depending upon subsequent energy choices. Assuming that proven oil and gas reserves do not greatly exceed estimates of the Energy Information Administration, and recent trends are toward lower estimates, we show that it is feasible to keep atmospheric CO2 from exceeding about 450 ppm by 2100, provided that emissions from coal, unconventional fossil fuels, and land use are constrained. Coal-fired power plants without sequestration must be phased out before midcentury to achieve this CO2 limit. It is also important to ‘stretch’ conventional oil reserves via energy conservation and efficiency, thus averting strong pressures to extract liquid fuels from coal or unconventional fossil fuels while clean technologies are being developed for the era ‘beyond fossil fuels’. We argue that a rising price on carbon emissions is needed to discourage conversion of the vast fossil resources into usable reserves, and to keep CO2 beneath the 450 ppm ceiling.
21 March, 2008 by dan
Climos was mentioned in this week’s Time Magazine cover story “10 Ideas that are Changing the World” under a section (#6) on
Geoengineering. While we generally refrain from using the term
Geoengineering– since it’s a general catch-all for approaches that
treat the symptoms (i.e. warming, as in Solar Radiation Management or
SRM) as well as those that address the cause (greenhouse gasses, as in
forms of biological sequestration such as OIF and some other chemical
and mechanical approaches)– we applaud the generally thoughtful though
simplistic tone of the piece which, in short, was “lets research some
of these approaches and better understand what our options are.”
We should add that in drawing a distinction between SRM techniques
and OIF and other carbon mitigation approaches we intend no slight.
Both have their conceptual place and many of the same arguments and
cautions apply to both.
Not everyone appreciated the article of course. It quickly drew negative comments from Bill Becker (Presidential Climate Action Partnership) at Joe Romm’s Climate Progress blog as well as none other than the Sierra Club’s Carl Pope at HuffPo.
We think both pose the same “false dilemma“,
i.e. that to research, and potentially eventually to implement, these
options implies that they will be used in place of emissions
reductions. Clearly they should not be–and we have never heard any
credible voice suggest that they should.
Thankfully there is finally a large and growing worldwide motivation
to address emissions–even here in the US the momentum towards such
legislation is unmistakeable. (Climos plays an active role in such
efforts. For instance, you will find us at every California CARB AB 32
Scoping Plan meeting — the next one is April 4th in Sacramento– as well
as involved in efforts at the national and international level. )
More specifically, there seems to be a clear and unsubstantiated
assumption that adding tools to mitigate carbon will somehow lessen the
motivation to address the underlying cause (emissions). Last year the UN organized the planting of 1 billion trees.
This is large scale biological mitigation. We did not see any
complaints that this would lessen the pressure on emitters–nor should
there be. Lets hope the UN and others, perhaps incentivized by market
mechanisms (planting trees costs money too), plant many more. Lest we
forget: This problem is large and worsening quickly. We need more options, not fewer–let’s understand what they are.
Becker in particular uses selective quotation to support his
argument. Citing cautious comments by Dan Schrag from an Eli Kintish Science magazine interview of Schrag, Anderson, Chisholm and Victor after the recent geoengineering forum at Harvard University, Becker
conveniently ignores other comments from Anderson and Victor and even
Schrag himself that we need to understand these options.
“Victor: I agree completely, and
let me just add that, in addition to all those factors, this has to be
viewed as part of a rational overall strategy for thinking about the
problem. Because if the climate proves to be a lot more sensitive–the
data on the sea ice I found terrifying, and the evidence keeps coming
in–then we will need a quick-response option that you might deploy for
a while. It would be truly outrageous if we didn’t think about that
option and probably even do some more work on it, and test some
elements of it, so we’re ready.”
“Anderson: I think that’s right. In my mind,
after transitioning from putting geoengineering in the category of an
unacceptable approach, just a very few years ago, I think
geoengineering will bring a focus to this debate that no other
discussion can engender. And I think it’s a focus of our scientific
knowledge–what we do and do not know. It’s a focus on the very intimate
link between the energy issue and the climate issue. It brings focus on
the political structure, and in particular [on] which political leaders
bring the blueprint to the table that would actually lead to the
negotiation of international treaties and so on.
When you look at all of them together, that’s when you realize
that the rates of all these changes are out of control. Regaining
control of the system–the global system, the energy structure, the
political system–this is the challenge. And I think that’s why
geoengineering carries with it the requirement to look at these things
Even Eli’s title for the interview (visible in the browser title
bar) characterizes the consensus of the interview differently: “CLIMATE
CHANGE: Scientists Say Continued Warming Warrants Closer Look at
The Becker and Pope articles both also assume there is a substantial
risk of catastrophic unintended consequences from these various
approaches, while the truth is that a thoughtful evaluation reveals
little evidence to support this– the most widely considered techniques
(aerosols and OIF) simulate natural events that have happened
relatively frequently in geologic time, and will surely happen again.
As Anderson remarks in the Science Magazine interview:
“There’s a really clear mathematical formulation
[that] tells you how that system responds to those perturbations. …
Nature provides us with very large perturbations that we need to study
very carefully, including the glacial ice system, including the ocean
Furthermore, the credible scientific voices considering many of
these techniques are only recommending that we contemplate or continue
a process of small to moderate scale demonstrations, nothing more.
These demonstrations should be done by the world’s top scientists, and
the results subjected to peer-review. Environmental leaders should be
an integral part of this process.
Several comments on the article were made at the Geoengineering groups forum here and here.
There was also a thoughtful article from David Schnare this week at Scripps News, though not directly related to the Time piece.
7 March, 2008 by dan
Recent interview on environmentalresearchweb regarding new Winckler, et al paper
Recent interview on environmentalresearchweb regarding new Winckler, et al paper http://environmentalresearchweb.org/cws/article/research/33219;
jsessionid=69D426A709D16458584DA96B1113BA3A Mar 5, 2008
Dusting up climate records
To date, records of past dust levels in the equatorial Pacific region have been inconsistent, with some showing a rise in dust levels during interglacial periods and others a dust minimum at those times. Now, measurements generated by researchers at Cornell and Columbia universities in the US for three sites in the Pacific Ocean show dust levels consistently 2.5 times higher during glacial periods than for interglacial times, matching the trend for records from Antarctica.
"Our study provides, for the first time, a quantitative basis for evaluating the role of dust in past climate change and in changes in biogeochemical cycles," Gisela Winckler of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, US, told environmentalresearchweb. "Our results from a region of heightened climate sensitivity provide a benchmark for the development and testing of new dust models, while also providing vital input for models of climate variability and ocean biogeochemistry."
According to Winckler, observations like the team’s are crucial not only in constraining but also in advancing modern climate models. "On top of that, our records may have implications with respect to large-scale iron fertilization of the ocean," she added.
Wind-borne dust can be a major source of iron while artificial iron fertilization has been suggested as a method of boosting carbon sequestration in the oceans. The idea is that adding iron boosts growth of phytoplankton, which absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and then die, taking the carbon with them as they sink to the ocean depths. But it’s a controversial proposal – it’s not clear how effectively the process would work in practice, and many people are worried about unforeseen effects.
"Accurate reconstruction of dust flux variability in the past may serve as a natural experiment to evaluate the efficacy of fertilization of the ocean through artificial iron addition in the High Nutrient-Low Chlorophyll region of the equatorial Pacific," said Winckler. "While we caution that the idea of iron fertilization is complex and controversial, we believe that assessing the past response to natural variability of iron could enable scientists to develop more quantitative predictions about the possible efficacy of artificial iron addition in the future."
Winckler and colleagues used levels of common thorium (232Th) as a proxy for dust in cores taken from three sites in the Pacific. The sites spanned roughly 6000 miles of the Equator, stretching from a spot near Papua New Guinea to a location off Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands.
"We find remarkable consistency among the three study sites spanning more than a quarter of Earth’s circumference, as well as between tropical regions and the Antarctic, indicating a synchronous response to climate change by interhemispheric dust sources," said Winckler.
The researchers believe that dryer and windier conditions during glacial periods led to increased dust transport.
"Dust is a tremendously interesting component of the climate system, and probably the one we know the least about," said Winckner. "Over the last two decades, scientists have extracted a beautiful record of the variability of dust fluxes to polar regions, mostly from Antarctic ice cores, showing that the world during ice ages was much more dusty than the warm/interglacial world. However, we know much less about low and mid latitudes, where it matters because this is where people live and where probably the engine of the Earth's climate system lies."
The researchers, who reported their work in Sciencexpress, say that the next step is to obtain similar records from critical regions with the goal of providing a "global dust map", both in the present and in the past. Winckner also plans "to continue the path of getting 'observationists' and 'modelers' together – like in our present work".
Abstract of the SciExpress piece:
Covariant Glacial-Interglacial Dust Fluxes in the Equatorial Pacific and Antarctica
Gisela Winckler, Robert F. Anderson, Martin Q. Fleisher, David McGee, Natalie Mahowald
Dust plays a critical role in Earth’s climate system and serves as a natural source of iron and other micronutrients to remote regions of the ocean. We have generated records of dust deposition over the past 500,000 years at three sites spanning the breadth of the equatorial
Pacific Ocean. Equatorial Pacific dust fluxes are highly correlated with global ice volume and with dust fluxes to Antarctica, suggesting that dust generation in interhemispheric source regions exhibited a common response to climate change over late-Pleistocene glacial cycles. Our results provide quantitative constraints on the variability of aeolian iron supply to the equatorial Pacific Ocean and, more generally, on the potential contribution of dust to past climate change and to related changes in biogeochemical cycles.
5 March, 2008 by kevin
Two respected scientific organizations have issued a joint position on ocean fertilization.
These organizations are the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research
(SCOR), and the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of
Marine Environmental Protection. The position statement highlights the
outstanding scientific questions that need to be considered by any
future ocean fertilization activities.
Also discussed is the relationship of ocean fertilization research
activities to the emerging global carbon market, including a brief
reference to the Climos Code of Conduct:
“We commend efforts by some commercial ventures to create codes of conduct and obtain outside reviews.”
Link to the full position statement
5 March, 2008 by dan
Climos announced the close of a $3.5M Series A financing today with Braemar Energy Ventures and investor/entrepreneur Elon Musk. The press release
4 March, 2008 by kevin
The 2008 AGU Ocean Sciences meeting is being held from March 2-7 in Orlando, Florida. Dr. Margaret Leinen will present on ocean fertilization.
The abstract for her talk is below:
CONDUCTING OCEAN FERTILIZATION IN A RESPONSIBLE WAY
The ocean science community, NGOs, government and the private sector
are considering issues related to the potential of ocean fertilization
to sequester CO2. Most issues are scientific and concern the efficacy
or the side effects of ocean fertilization. Uncertainty about how
commercial ocean fertilization would be conducted has led to additional
concern over the types and standards of measurement, independent
verification, measurement of side effects, the availability of data
from commercial fertilization projects, deployment in sensitive marine
areas, and other issues. Ocean fertilization is likely to take place on
the high seas beyond national jurisdictions. There is as yet no clear
international regulatory frameworks that apply directly to this
activity. This implies that a voluntary code of conduct might be
helpful in identifying the standards of responsible behavior. Other
fields, like nanotechnology, have dealt with issues of ethics and
responsibility in commercialization of scientific ideas. Drawing on
such examples, we propose elements that could be included in a code of
conduct for responsible ocean fertilization experiments and activities
related to commercialization
4 March, 2008 by kevin
On February 26-27, Climos presented at the Carbon Forum America conference in San Francisco. This was the largest carbon market conference ever
held in North America, with over 1,500 participants. On February 26th,
Climos CEO Dan Whaley presented at a panel on high-tech innovation to
combat climate change. On February 27th, Climos presented a Side
Session on the science of ocean fertilization, with talks by Dr.
Margaret Leinen and two independent scientists specializing in ocean
fertilization, Dr. Kenneth Coale of Moss Landing Marine Labs, and Dr.
Francisco Chavez of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
Dr. Kenneth Coale is
the Director of the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, the graduate
program and research facilities serving seven California State
University Campuses. He is a global marine biogeochemist with expertise
in trace metals, carbon and nutrient cycling and radionuclides in the
marine and lacustrine systems. Dr. Coale was the Chief Scientist or Principal Investigator on all the US led Ocean Iron Fertilization expeditions.
extensively with John Martin, the California oceanographer who
originally proposed the iron hypothesis which led to the iron
fertilization experiments and who was the Director of Moss Landing
before Ken. John Martin passed away in 1993, several months before the first cruise was performed that proved his hypothesis.
Dr. Francisco Chavez
is a biological oceanographer with interests in how climate change and
variability regulate ocean ecosystems on local and basic scales. He was
born and raised in Peru where he attended Markham College in Lima. He was one of the first members of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) twenty years ago, and is a senior scientist there. At
MBARI he pioneered time series research and the development of new
instruments and systems to make this type of research sustainable.
Chavez has authored or co-authored over 100 peer reviewed papers with
10 in Nature and Science, and is past member of the NSF Geosciences
Advisory Committee. He has been heavily involved in the development of
the US Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) and been on the
Governing Boards of the Central and Northern California Coastal Ocean
Observing System (CeNCOOS), the Pacific Coastal Ocean Observing System
(PaCOOS) and the Center for Integrated Marine Technologies (CIMT).
Chavez is a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of the
Sciences; honored for distinguished research on the impact of climate
variability on oceanic ecosystems and global carbon cycling. He was
recently honored as Doctor Honoris Causa by the Universidad Pedro Ruiz Gallo in Peru
in recognition of his distinguished scientific career and for
contributing to elevate academic and cultural levels of university
communities in particular and society in general.
1 February, 2008 by dan
NEON Expands its Board of Directors The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) has announced seven additions to its Board of Directors. The NEON, Inc., board conducted an at-large election to fill two open seats, adding Margaret Leinen and David Douglas to the board; five of the new members—Jim Ehleringer, Nancy B. Grimm, Margaret Palmer, Debra Peters, and David S. White—were chosen by voting representatives of NEON founding and institutional member organizations. The representatives nominated 10 candidates from among their ranks to stand for election to five open board seats. This election brings the Board of Directors to its full complement of 15 members. Subsequent elections will be held annually in the fall to fill seats vacated by members whose terms have ended.
The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is a continental-scale research platform for discovering and understanding the impacts of climate change, land-use change, and invasive species on ecology. NEON will gather long-term data on ecological responses of the biosphere to changes in land use and climate, and on feedbacks with the geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. NEON is a national observatory, not a collection of regional observatories. It will consist of distributed sensor networks and experiments, linked by advanced cyberinfrastructure to record and archive ecological data for at least 30 years. Using standardized protocols and an open data policy, NEON will gather essential data for developing the scientific understanding and theory required to manage the nation’s ecological challenges.
Why NEON? The National Research Council has identified seven environmental Grand Challenges for the United States: biodiversity, biogeochemical cycles, climate change, hydroecology, infectious disease, invasive species, and land use. NEON addresses these challenges by gathering data focused on two overarching questions:
NEON is a critical step toward forecasting how ecosystems and organisms interact with changes in climate and land use, and the impact of these changes on people and their enterprises. NEON data will be readily available to researchers, teachers and students, and all citizens with an interest in ecological science and environmental processes.
- How are ecosystems across the United States affected by changes in climate, land use, and invasive species over time? How do they respond and at what rates?
- How do biogeochemistry, biodiversity, hydroecology, and biotic structure and function interact with changes in climate, land use, and invasive species across the nation? How do these feedbacks vary with ecological context and scale over time?
30 January, 2008 by kevin
The American Geophysical Union recently published a revised policy statement on the Human Impacts on Climate,
which makes a causal link between climate change and human GHG
emissions. The statement also discusses the range of expected impacts,
such as, “Warming greater than 2°C above 19th century levels is
projected to be disruptive, reducing global agricultural productivity,
causing widespread loss of biodiversity, and—if sustained over
centuries—melting much of the Greenland ice sheet with ensuing rise in
sea level of several meters.”
The AGU Council adopts position statements that relate the
understanding and application of the geophysical sciences to relevant
public policy. In making such statements, the Council limits itself to
positions that are within the range of available geophysical data or
norms of legitimate scientific debate. The full statement is reproduced
after the break.
Human Impacts on Climate
Adopted by Council December 2003
Revised and Reaffirmed December 2007
The Earth’s climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming.
Many components of the climate system—including the temperatures of the
atmosphere, land and ocean, the extent of sea ice and mountain
glaciers, the sea level, the distribution of precipitation, and the
length of seasons—are now changing at rates and in patterns that are
not natural and are best explained by the increased atmospheric
abundances of greenhouse gases and aerosols generated by human activity
during the 20th century. Global average surface temperatures increased
on average by about 0.6°C over the period 1956–2006. As of 2006, eleven
of the previous twelve years were warmer than any others since 1850.
The observed rapid retreat of Arctic sea ice is expected to continue
and lead to the disappearance of summertime ice within this century.
Evidence from most oceans and all continents except Antarctica shows
warming attributable to human activities. Recent changes in many
physical and biological systems are linked with this regional climate
change. A sustained research effort, involving many AGU members and
summarized in the 2007 assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change, continues to improve our scientific understanding of
During recent millennia of relatively stable climate, civilization
became established and populations have grown rapidly. In the next 50
years, even the lower limit of impending climate change—an additional
global mean warming of 1°C above the last decade—is far beyond the
range of climate variability experienced during the past thousand years
and poses global problems in planning for and adapting to it. Warming
greater than 2°C above 19th century levels is projected to be
disruptive, reducing global agricultural productivity, causing
widespread loss of biodiversity, and—if sustained over
centuries—melting much of the Greenland ice sheet with ensuing rise in
sea level of several meters. If this 2°C warming is to be avoided, then
our net annual emissions of CO2 must be reduced by more than
50 percent within this century. With such projections, there are many
sources of scientific uncertainty, but none are known that could make
the impact of climate change inconsequential. Given the uncertainty in
climate projections, there can be surprises that may cause more
dramatic disruptions than anticipated from the most probable model
With climate change, as with ozone depletion, the human footprint on
Earth is apparent. The cause of disruptive climate change, unlike ozone
depletion, is tied to energy use and runs through modern society.
Solutions will necessarily involve all aspects of society. Mitigation
strategies and adaptation responses will call for collaborations across
science, technology, industry, and government. Members of the AGU, as
part of the scientific community, collectively have special
responsibilities: to pursue research needed to understand it; to
educate the public on the causes, risks, and hazards; and to
communicate clearly and objectively with those who can implement
policies to shape future climate.
30 January, 2008 by kevin
The National Center for Policy Analysis presents a The National Center for Policy Analysis presents a policy discussion of geoengineering alternatives, including reforestation, atmospheric sun screens, and ocean iron fertilization. The premise is that CO2 emissions are still increasing exponentially, and that this doesn't appear likely to change anytime soon despite our best intentions. Therefore we should explore alternative mechanisms, such as geoengineering, although it must be done in a way to does not reduce the incentive cut emissions.
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