"Our new climate model predicts that we are closer to the moist-greenhouse scenario than we had thought," says Kasting. In this scenario, the stratosphere becomes wet and fully saturated as the Earth's surface warms. This results in the dissociation of water molecules and the release of hydrogen into space. Depending on the levels of atmospheric saturation, the oceans would be completely lost over timescales as long as several billion years.
James Hansen: If released all at once, the known tar sands resource is equivalent to 150 parts per million. As is the case with other fossil fuel sources, the amount in the air declines to about 20 percent after 1,000 years. Of course, only a small fraction of the resource is economically recoverable at the moment. But if you decide you are going to continue your addiction and build a big pipeline to Texas, the economically extractable oil will steadily grow over time. Moreover the known resources would grow because there is plenty more to be discovered.
Every seller will tell you his pile of pollution is small compared to the total pile on Earth, and that is correct. What makes tar sands particularly odious is that the energy you get out in the end, per unit carbon dioxide, is poor. It's equivalent to burning coal in your automobile. We simply cannot be that stupid if we want to preserve a planet for our children and grandchildren.
The geologic record shows that the earth has one last line of defense against large releases of greenhouse gases, but that natural defense would be catastrophic to modern human civilization.
Sea level was over 125 meters (about 400 feet) higher, 54 million years ago after massive natural releases of greenhouse gases heated the earth's climate.
The oceans rapidly acidified and warmed. Marine deposits of limestone (calcium carbonate) in shells, organic and inorganic calcium carbonate dissolved in a few thousand years to neutralize the spike in acidity. However, the neutralization process released CO2 back to the ocean, so atmospheric CO2 stayed high for tens of thousands of years because the oceans quickly stopped taking up CO2 from the atmosphere. Sea levels rose rapidly to heights 100 meters to 125 meters, about 400 feet, above present levels. Large areas of coastline were inundated.
The earth apparently didn't get warm enough to become a wet greenhouse. Rock weathering rates accelerated under the hot, high CO2 atmosphere. Marine deposits from the Paleocene - Eocene boundary show spikes of extreme sedimentation coincident with the spikes in CO2 and temperature. Extreme seasonal precipitation, perhaps in superstorms and supermoonsoons, caused extreme weathering and erosion. Detailed examination of the sedimentary records at multiple sites show strong, probably seasonal, variability between very hot and dry periods and very wet periods. Soils were rapidly eroded from the land and deposited as marine sediments. The extreme rock weathering and marine sedimentation of organic matter removed the atmospheric CO2 over tens of thousands of years and returned the normal balance of salts and alkalinity in the oceans.
Farmers are now coping with both more droughts and more extreme precipitation events. This year the Mississippi River at St. Louis has gone from record low water to flood in just a few months. The geologic record from the Paleocene-Eocene boundary shows that the extreme weather can be expected to grow even more extreme as greenhouse gas levels rise. If we continue to add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere extreme weather will devastate our farmland and our ability to feed ourselves. Sea level rise is inevitable in a warming world, but it lags changes in weather and climate. The last time the weather was this warm sea levels were about 6 meters (about 20 feet) higher. If we continue to emit greenhouse gases, rising seas will inundate coastal cities across the planet, displacing billions of people and inflicting trillions of dollars in property losses.
Vast areas, including cities now inhabited by billions of people, were underwater 54 million years ago. This image shows today's continental margins with sea level 125 meters higher.
Americans have reduced gasoline consumption over the past 5 years. We are beginning to break the addiction to fossil fuels. At the same time, domestic crude oil production has jumped way up. We don't need to tear up Canada's forests and poison a huge watershed to get a stable source of oil for domestic security. We don't need risk toxic dilbit spills in our lakes, rivers and major aquifers. We don't need Keystone XL. Tar sands exploitation will bring profits to the owners of Texas refineries who ship gasoline and diesel fuel overseas. Refiners are already selling record amounts of U.S. refined products abroad. Americans are being asked to take all of the risks of the pipeline but get none of the benefits.
Oklahoma Meteorologist Theodore Roberts • a year agoIf Keystone XL is built it will kill farm more ranching jobs in Texas than the jobs it will directly create in the oil business. Texas has already started the shift towards more extreme weather that models have predicted and the geologic record displays. Extreme drought predicted by climate models is already devastating small towns in Texas.
The earth is getting warmer, no doubt. Cutting carbon emissions will have negligible effects on the warmth and drought in Texas and neighboring states.
Houston Meteorologist reply to Oklahoma Meteorologist • a year ago −
You've got a funny definition of negligible: 30,457 fires. 6,240 sq miles burned, 3,017 homes destroyed, and 117 people died. What makes that even more negligible was the $7.62 billion in ag losses, $3.32 billion in cattle losses, and $2.2 billion in ag losses. That is, indeed, all quite negligible.
Look, my relatives manage cattle in texas. It was an ugly year last year. Grass so dry it just crumbled into dust. Tanks were bone dry. Any clue what it costs to truck in water and hay?? Tens of thousands of dollars. You think folks just keep that kinda cash lying around for a rainy day. No. They don't.
The weather is staring you in the face, and the denialism I read in your comment is the exact same attitude that is blocking meaningful action. I mean, how many people need to die and how many fortunes need to be lost before we wake up??
“I wouldn’t want to own a house in Plainview, TX.” That was just one of many reactions to the news that Cargill will shutter its Plainview, TX, beef plant on Feb. 1.The geologic record of the Paleocene-Eocene boundary shows that extreme weather and rapid erosion prevented the earth from becoming an uninhabitable wet greenhouse planet. Deeper in the geologic past, events that were even more extreme (e.g. the late Permian extinction) occurred in response to sudden large increases in greenhouse gases. Conditions on earth have become very extreme in the past when the habitability limit was approached. Given the large uncertainties in the amount of naturally stored carbon and methane in permafrost and the oceans, we need to slash CO2 and methane emissions to avoid devastating, unpredictable, extreme events that would happen again by approaching the habitability limit.
According to Cargill, the decision was made based primarily on tight cattle numbers brought about by years of drought in Texas and other Southern Plains states. “The decision to idle our Plainview beef processing plant was a difficult and painful one to make and was made only after we conducted an exhaustive analysis of the regional cattle supply and processing capacity situation in North America,” says John Keating, Cargill Beef president.
“Increased feed costs resulting from the prolonged drought, combined with herd liquidation by cattle ranchers, are severely and adversely contributing to the challenging business conditions we face as an industry,” he says. “Our preference would have been not to idle a plant.”
SolveClimate News: Can you explain why you have said it's "game over" on the climate front if the Keystone XL pipeline is built?Just say no to Keystone XL, Mr. President.
James Hansen: President George W. Bush said that the U.S. was addicted to oil. So what will the U.S. response to this situation be? Will it entail phasing out fossil fuels and moving to clean energy or borrowing the dirtiest needle from a fellow addict? That is the question facing President Obama.
If he chooses the dirty needle it is game over because it will confirm that Obama was just greenwashing, like the other well-oiled coal-fired politicians with no real intention of solving the addiction. Canada is going to sell its dope, if it can find a buyer. So if the United States is buying the dirtiest stuff, it also surely will be going after oil in the deepest ocean, the Arctic, and shale deposits; and harvesting coal via mountaintop removal and long-wall mining. Obama will have decided he is a hopeless addict.