Published on the Doomstead Diner on January 31, 2016
WHAT IS DRIVING CLIMATE CHANGE?
OR IS IT BOTH?
Discuss this article at the Geological & Cosmological Events Table inside the Diner
A few weeks ago I got taken to task by a long time Diner (JD) for my position on the underlying cause for Climate Change, which resurfaced again with the launch of our new series on Diner YouTube, Weather Gone Wild ™. The dispute is over what the primary driver for Climate Change is, whether it comes from Anthropogenic Causation driven primarily by the burning of fossil fuels and CO2 emissions, or whether there are Geotectonic Forces at work that are driving the climate change?
That Climate Change is not in fact underway is only denied by the most recalcitrant of Denialists, although there are still a significant number of them. However, currently most Amerikans do accept that climate change is underway.
- There has been an increase in the proportion of Americans who believe global warming is not happening (23%, up 7 percentage points since April 2013).
- But about two in three Americans (63%) believe global warming is happening, a number that has been consistent since spring 2013.
- The proportion of Americans who say they “don’t know” whether or not global warming is happening has dropped 6 points – from 20% to 14% – since spring of 2013.
- About half of Americans (51%) say they are “somewhat” (38%) or “very worried” (15%) about global warming.
- Fewer than half of Americans (38%) believe they personally will be harmed a “moderate amount” or a “great deal” by global warming.
- By contrast, majorities believe that global warming will harm future generations of people (65%) and plant and animal species (65%).
- About four in 10 say they feel “helpless” (43%), “disgusted” (42%), or “sad” (40%) when thinking about global warming.
- By contrast, four in ten (42%), say they feel “hopeful” about the subject.
Just about everyone everywhere thse days is experiencing some kind of "Wacky Weather", Floods, Droughts, Snowstorms etc that don't fit the profile of what "normal" was 20 years ago. They don't necessarily accept that their lifestyles are the cause of this though, and even if they do they are generally unwilling or unable to stop burning fossil fuels. If you spent the last 20 years paying on your mortgage on a McMansion 20 miles from where you work (assuming you still have a job), HTF do you stop burning fossil fuels? No other practical way to heat the McMansion, there are not enough trees on your 1/4 acre plot of land to do that, for more than a year anyhow. No other practical way to get to work, since there is generally no Public Transportation from the typical subdivision into the typical work centers. At best, you still need the car to do the Last Mile to the local Light Rail station, but this assumes that your job at the other end is ALSO within a mile of another Light Rail station. Often not the case since many jobs are in Biz Parks that are themselves set up far from the central metro area a light rail system might serve.
Also close to impossible is to stop buying the products of industrialization, from the clothes you wear to the food you eat. To provide these items to a population of 7.2B people with the current infrastructure requires burning tons of fossil fuels, not to mention their use as fertilizers and in fibers like Nylon, Polyester and Rayon. Just about no piece of woven clothing nowadays does not have these fibers in the mix. "All Wool" or "All Cotton' is pretty hard to come by, and quite pricy if you can find it. So it's quite difficult to step off the fossil fuel economy no matter what you think is the primary driver for Climate Change.
Once you grasp this fact of life, precisely what is the Primary Driver here is not really that important, because in either case we can expect that Climate Change will continue unabated, and in fact probably accelerate moving forward here. The issue JD brought up is that by presenting another possible driver for climate change, this will make it less possible to encourage people to "change their ways", burn less fossil fuels and stop pitching so much CO2 up into the atmosphere. That may or may not be true, but it's not a reason to stop investigating the problem and trying to ferret out what is really occurring here.
By pitching out the Geotectonic Ocean Heat Transfer theory, I am calling into question "received wisdom" from the Climate Science community, which is firmly entrenched in the idea that Climate Change is entirely anthropogenic in nature. WTF am I to offer up alternate hypothesis here? I'm no James Hansen of course. I'm just a curious guy with a decent science education looking at the problem from my own perspective. Anyone is free to debate my conclusions here on the Diner, but as of yet nobody has taken up the challenge. Not Jim Hansen, not Guy McPherson, nobody.
The other problem of course with flying in the face of conventional wisdom is that you get labelled as a "Tin Foiler". Particularly if you start to speculate on causation, which is pretty much entirely unprovable. I figure though that Copernicus was probably considered "Tin Foil" in his time, and Giordano Bruno was DEFINITELY considered Tin Foil, in fact he got Burned at the Stake for hs beliefs.
So, I soldier on here, hopefully not to get Burned at the Stake (even just metaphorically) because I present an alternative hypothesis for the primary driver for Climate Change.
At this point though, I do want to REINFORCE that although I believe there are Geotectonic forces at work here, the burning of fossil fuels and ejecting gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere also has a significant effect, and if we expect to keep this from completely spinning out of control, it is imperative to put a LID on carbon emissions. This is not so easy to do of course, considering our entire industrial culture is based on burning as much as we can, as fast as we can.
In both the cases of Geotectonic Causation and Anthropogenic Causation, we are faced with Wicked Problems. In the case of Geotectonics, there is no technology available whatsoever to keep Earthquakes from going off or Volcanoes from blowing, despite what some HAARP conspiracy theorists might argue. In the case of Anthropogenic Causation, there is simply no way to get 1 Billion cars off the road and 1000s of coal fired electric plants offline globally on a voluntary basis. Too much of the infrastructure we have already built to support 7.2 Billion people depend on the transportation and the electric power to run the lights, sewage treatment plants, water pumping stations etc. there is no single Planetary Goobermint that can dictate this by fiat, and even if there was it would probably be deposed if they tried.
On the Upside here as far as Anthropogenic causation is concerned, we WILL stop burning copious quantities of fossil fuels, but not because of a voluntary choice to do so. We'll stop because it is no longer economically feasible to continue to run the system on ever increasing levels of debt. We already see the slowdown occurring here as places like Europe drop precipitously in oil consumption
and considering the implosion of the Chinese markets over the last week, they won't be far behind here either. Already their Steel and Concrete plants are shutting down and their credit fueled Bubble is going the way of the dinosaur. So we can look forward to a day when fossil fuel burning is a fraction of what it is today, and probably in the not too distant future also.
There is however a lag time, and even with a rapid shutdown of the fossil fuel industry and reduced burning of FFs, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere and AGT will continue to rise for the next 40 years, just on this effect alone. If it is true that there is a Geotectonic component to the rise in AGT, then that is baked in the cake for so long as there continue to be elevated frequency and amplitude of global earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
So under jst about any plausible scenario for the next 50 years, we will see elevating AGT, unless there is some Negative Feedback Loop that we are as yet unaware of that slows, stops or reverses it. In terms of doing something about this, beyond cutting back as much as possible on burning fossil fuels there really is not much else that can be done. I certainly am not in favor of Geoengineering solutions, given the track record of Homo Sap in terms of applying technological solutions, you're bound to get Blowback that's even worse than the original problem. Creating ever more complex solutions tends to require still more complex solutions later in a never ending upward spiral, all requiring more and more energy to implement. Energy is precisely what we don't have to continue such a process any longer.
What we should be doing is two-fold:
1- Attemp to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels in a controlled descent from a high per capita energy consumption society. An immediate cessation of burning fossil fuels would kill off more people faster and be worse for the environment than a controlled descent. The wars which would result and the disease that would spread will be more catastrophic sooner than the oceans can rise to inundate all the coastal cities.
2- Begin preparing for life in a world with a higher AGT regime. Other mammals have survived during global thermal maxima periods much warmer than 2C above current baseline. I see no reason in principle Homo Sap cannot survive this also, although clearly not in the numbers currently walking the Earth.
For those of you who wish to take me to task for this article, please first review the accompanying vid which should answer many questions and I won't have to repeat myself. There is a comprehensive slide show presentation and explanation of the Geotectonic problems we are faced with acompanying the explanation, which I render in Academuc Style worthy of a lecture at Cambridge or Harvard. OK, maybe not. lol. In any event, it should answer many of the questions that have been put to me over the years since publishing the original Geotectonic Ocean Heat Transfer article.