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Humans May Have Passed the 'Point of No Return' in Climate Crisis, Says Study—But That Doesn't Mean All Hope Is Lost

Where is Skeptic Tank when we need him?

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Point of No Return = Suffering

According to an article in the National Geographic magazine back in the ~ 1980’s, human populations surpassed the natural capacity of the Earth to provide back about the mid 1970’s. Which ironically was more or less when Exxon discovered that the burning of fossil fuels was causing anthropological climate change. And now here we are.

“Silence like a cancer grows”

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There’s a general problem whenever “the worst consequences of climate change” are brought up: definitions for phrases such as “point of no return” are always sadly wanting. Good writers provide key definitions without being asked, so that people know what’s being written about. Good readers demand tractable definitions of terms, for crying out loud!

There’s a point beyond which the Arctic icecap is irretrievably committed to clearing out – turning to water year round. Beyond which the Sierra-Cascade continental forest ecosystem is irretrievably committed to incineration, the Gulf gets more or less continuous hurricanes in season, and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet empties into the sea. All of these points are almost certainly past us, yet we still hear (just as we did 10 & 20 years ago) that we only have 10 years to avert “the worst consequences of climate change.”

Possibly the very worst, from a human point of view, would be weeks of wet-bulb temperatures exceeding what the human body can withstand – making much of Earth uninhabitable for humans. We’ll see that one somewhere soon, and it’ll be the first sighting of the curtains closing. It’s curtains, most probably.

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A while back the nitrogen runoff from the natural Amish Farming into the Chesapeake Bay was notorious for increased pollution of the bay. In fact the mid-atlantic states are suing the EPA for not enforcing Chesapeake Bay Agreement of 2014. So that nitrogen rich soil is fine if it stays in the ground and is not flushed into a hugh watershed. It is the largest estuary in the oosa. And I think the third largest in the world.

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I remember the feeling of liberation and the release of guilt when I discovered and accepted this truth. I wish it had come at the end of my life but it is a gift I will probably never understand the value of.
We (homo sapiens) will find a cure for global warming , as it used to be called, and as expected, we will create global cooling.

There is obviously multiple forks of homo sapiens co-habitating.
So many funny and smart and all brilliant comments on this thread have nailed it.
(edit: When will we learn)
I hope I heart-ed them all.
Now, to get rid of money…
(smile)

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Thanks. i logged in to write that ecological agriculture is existing technology - agroecology, permaculture, regenerative organic, the beneficial grazing systems you mention, other biodynamic systems, etc. - that can sequester many billions of tons of carbon in soils and biomass.

This report at Common Dreams does not mention if the authors of the original article note the role of agriculture in releasing carbon, or its potential role in resequestering a significant chunk of the carbon released since industrialization began.

Either way, Common Dreams did not include such information as counterpoint to the techno-fetishism of the original study’s prescription, as reported here.

EDIT:
And on second read, i appreciate your reference to the “actually residential” farmer or other land steward, the person doing the work on the ground, who would receive payment for ecological work - not paying an absentee or corporate “owner” holding deed to the legacy of colonization.

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Have not read the original report but my reading is different than yours. What i see them saying is that, running the numbers as best they know how, if humanity today ended all fossil-fuel use, that within 150 years the Earth will be at a minimum, best-case scenario, 3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, which will be catastrophic in many ways. In this context my take is that by “point of no return” they mean that emissions already in the bank lock in a minimum 3C rise in temperature - unless we develop sufficient carbon sequestration, to which end they aparently promote a primarily technological approach to developing carbon sequestration, rather than highlighting natural sequestration options that are immediately available, alongside slashing emissions immediately.

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We’ve been over this so many times, and yet the carbon sequestration idea keeps coming up, like someone’s novel inspiration. You can’t efficiently collect carbon out of the air after scattering it-- it’s possible, but not without expending more energy (much more) than you got from burning the fossil fuel in the first place. This simple principle is called the second law of thermodynamics. So far as I know, nobody’s ever figured out a way around it.

But for the sake of argument, say some miracle worker reclaims the CO2 somehow. Now what? Where the heck do you put it? Now that you’ve burned the carbon, it’s three times larger, so you can’t even pump it back underground. Over and over again we dismiss carbon sequestration, because it’s impossible.

Natural carbon sequestration lasts for millions of years, way underground. We broke that, irreparably, a long time ago. Lamentably, we keep breaking it with continued irreparable extraction.

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That’s why soil and biomass are our best bets.

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GLOBAL WARMING is just one more – and one very essential reason -
why Elites/Fascists need to take control over our populations –

We all sense the urgency in the loss of Nature and the Planet –
but they sense the urgency in being held accountable – responsible.

We are now about to feel the consequences of their exploitation of Nature AFTER
1970 – and we will be feeling the effects multiply in number of events and severity of events.

We may also be facing a 'SHUT DOWN" according to the decisions being made by Biden
on advice of his panel on the Virus – maybe a month, maybe longer.

NOTICE THAT FORD AND GM – were planning on ELECTRIC CARS in 30 years or
so – and maybe never –

Notices yesterday that they are on it right now – and its up to all of us to ensure that it happens.
That we have ELECTRIC CARS on our roads as quickly as possible.

Vehicles, Air Pollution & Human Health | Union of Concerned …
~www.ucsusa.org /resources/vehicles-air-pollution…

Cars and trucks are one of the leading causes of air pollution—but cleaner vehicles can help. Published Jul 18, 2014 Nearly one half of everyone living in the United States—an estimated 150 million—live in areas that don’t meet federal air quality standards.

[If You Drive a Gas-Powered Car, the End May Be in Sight |
(~https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/if-you-drive-a-gas-powered-car-end-may-be-in-sight.html)
~www.inc.com /minda-zetlin/if-you-drive-a-gas…

Mar 20, 2018 · But that battery is likely to be recycled, which definitely won’t happen to the 4,000 to 8,000 gallons of gasoline you’d burn up in a gas car if you drove it 100,000 miles.

New lithium-ion batteries can solve the only real problem with driving electric. Your smartphone will be better too.

Lithium-ion batteries are going to get better–a whole lot better–over the next few years. As they do, the only real reason for driving a gas car will gradually disappear.

As an electric vehicle driver I’ve heard just about every dumb reason there is for not wanting an electric car. One friend told me she feared driving an electric car because she has to commute in heavy traffic–but unlike gas cars, electric cars gain a lot of efficiency when you’re crawling along because of their ability to recapture power whenever you brake. I read a comment by one reader on a review of electric cars that said something about how they were fine if you wanted a car with the heart ripped out of it. I’m not sure what that means, but electric cars are more fun to drive than gas cars because they’re more responsive and get up to speed faster since they don’t need gears or transmissions. (Also, there’s no engine noise so your tunes sound awesome.) Someone even asked me once if I felt guilty about the rare earth materials used in the battery. But that battery is likely to be recycled, which definitely won’t happen to the 4,000 to 8,000 gallons of gasoline you’d burn up in a gas car if you drove it 100,000 miles.

In reality, there’s only one good reason not to drive an electric car: range anxiety. That’s the common term for the fear that you’ll get stuck somewhere because your car can’t go far enough on a charge and you couldn’t find a charging station.

Range anxiety is a legitimate fear, especially for (cheap) drivers like me who bought a model that’s a few years old–my 2015 Nissan Leaf gets between 50 and 90 miles on a charge depending on how fast I’m driving and how much climate control I’m using. The newer Teslas and the Chevy Bolt have ranges closer to 230 or 240 miles, which is enough that you shouldn’t have to worry about it on most trips.

But pretty soon, range anxiety will be completely forgotten. That’s because of coming improvements to lithium-ion batteries that should allow them to store 30 percent more power within the next few years. In time, lithium-ion battery capacity may double, which means that electric cars might someday go as far on a full charge as gas cars can on a full tank of gas.

## The secret is silicon.

What are these improvements? This Wall Street Journal article provides a great explanation of the science. The short version is that most lithium ion batteries today are made using a combination of graphite and silicon. Silicon can absorb more ions (i.e. power) but presents some significant technical challenges, so is usually only used in small quantities within lithium-ion batteries. Now, several startups, including Sila Nanotechnologies, Angstron Materials, Enovix, and Enevate, claim they have found various ways to incorporate more silicon into lithium-ion batteries, increasing their capacity by 30 to 50 percent. Even a 30 percent capacity increase on today’s Chevy Bolt battery would give it a range of more than 300 miles. That should certainly be enough to get you to the next charging station.

Again, other nations have SOLAR powered cars along with ELECTRIC CARS
Our car manufacturers will not be inventing the wheel here – there will be a lot of experience
with ELECTRIC cars and SOLAR cars already that they can draw on from other nations.
And improvements will continue - there were also ELECTRIC cars produced in California
a few decades ago – and the public loved them. They were all crushed.

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Best bets – but honest biomass folks would acknowledge they can’t get us all the way there, simply because we’ve dug up too darn much carbon. A planet like ours is not meant to have millions of years worth of sunlight-concentrated hydrocarbon brought to the surface in just a few decades. You ultimately cannot increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil (& biosphere). From an ecological perspective, it’s a silly idea. That’s just not how earth works.

We might temporarily sequester more of the surface-reservoir carbon in the biosphere, but surface-reservoirs on Earth constantly exchange carbon – as when we see California & Oregon disgorge megatons of carbon from forest, back into the air: smoke plumes so huge they drift around the globe. Therefore: biomass is no answer to the mess caused by fossil fuel extraction, which must stop.

Fossil fuel extraction is an error which cannot be undone, by any means whatsoever. We’re discussing how to bail while we keep punching holes in the hull, because we’re fit for the funnyfarm.

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Hi gandolf !

Actually, it doesn’t matter where you put the CO2 extraction machines - the effect is worldwide. It’s the same for a machine producing CO2 - your car, for example. Doesn’t matter where it is - the effect is worldwide - to increase CO2, including on top of Mauna Loa, where Keeling installed the first CO2 monitor in 1957/58.

This is not a new idea - direct air capture, and Klaus Lackner was one of the first to suggest it would work. Wallace Broecker at Columbia jumped on board soon after. The late Wallace Broecker was the Don of climate science gandolf, imo. He was also a practical man - and saw right off that we humans would dilly and dally until this technology was the only way out - and again, imo he was entirely right.

It will be costly of course - and what of it ?

How valuable is the future ?

Originally, a lot of top scientists were skeptical, as is their nature. But over time, Michael Mann, Richard Alley, the list is long, they have all stared to talk more and more about direct air capture.

For what it’s worth - my opinion is this has to happen, artificial direct air capture, along with natural best practice methods - some new trees, re-wilding, new farming and even human eating norms, etc…

Bottom line - if you want to live - look deep into this - you can start here:

~https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klaus_Lackner

The ideal technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere involve trees and grass and algae–photosynthetic plants.

  • Almost the whole tree is carbon and water.
  • The tree supports more mass below the ground in other organisms than its entire mass.
  • 90% of the mass of the prairie grass is underground.
  • A forest retains tons of carbon per acre.

The technologies that allow plants to grow were known across much of the world tens of thousands of years ago, and they have been amply updated to suite contemporary conditions, which of course are quite different.

There’s not sense worrying about whether it’s worth hitting the breaks before a collision. Time has come. Let’s do it.

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Actually, any time you get a plant to grow, you increase the biomass.

And there is no all the way there, really, because any gain helps.

The nuthouses haven’t much.

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Surely you understand the geologic carbon reservoirs disgorged by humans represent millions of years worth of carbon. Obviously, biomass can make up for a few years, that’s all.

Biomass and carbon extraction don’t belong in the same conversation. It’s like recommending aspirin for motorcycle accidents: I suppose it could help, only slightly!

I’ve been wanting to mention bows and flows of angel hair, and feathered canyons in the air – we really haven’t known clouds at all and that’s been the sticking point with ECS (climate sensitivity – i.e. how much trouble we’re in). Lately they’ve figured out that the ice/water phase of cloud droplets, as it changes, boosts ECS beyond previous worst-case estimates (as usual, it seems).

~https://www.carbonbrief.org/guest-post-how-declining-ice-in-clouds-makes-high-climate-sensitivity-plausible

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You’re mostly on target, looking at carbonizing the soil - but actually, 15% of the Amazon rainforest is host to Terra Preta, a soil made by the pre-Columbian indigenous cultures that combined biochar, compost, and microbial cultures to not only carbonize the soil, but builds sequesters CO2 and builds mass on its own once started. It literally grows up to a centimeter a year in depth, and is much more fertile. It’s probably one of the greatest silver bullets we’ve got in dealing with the climate crisis.

Look on youtube for “The Secret of El Dorado - Terra Preta” and, if you’re in a hurry, forward to about 37:49 in.

And until all this clearing of forests stops to farm hapless animals, then:

~https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/22/area-burned-in-indonesia-fires-greater-than-the-netherlands

~https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/09/a-continent-ablaze-why-fires-are-tearing-across-south-america

~https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/09/world-is-running-out-of-time-on-climate-experts-warn

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A very good interactive report:

~https://news.sky.com/story/amazon-climate-change-the-five-firefighters-tackling-blazes-over-an-area-the-size-of-scotland-12072086

Yeah… but Bloomberg, Gates, Bezos, Musk… can’t make 'em more billions from happy little soil microorganisms (unless they GE them, coming SOON, what could go wrong?) What made a certain anti-greenwashing movie so objectionable to lotsa delusional Resistance™ types, was how easily we’ve been co-opted into carbon capture, geoengineering, mono-culture GE agriculture, scams by the EXACT SAME oligarchs pushing “bridge fuels” “CLEAN coal” “dilute bitumen” scams along with bailing-out 96 delapidated reactors by all our big cities… it’s a frigging COOK book, & we’re the bio-mass, now

~https://jacobinmag.com/2020/11/establishment-democrats-down-ballot-election-united-states/

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You’re being too sensible. “Prevention is better than cure” only applies in non-Capitalist contexts. Under Capitalism, making money by undoing something that should have been prevented is God’s Own way to do things. After all, money is more important than life itself.

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