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Planetary habitable zone limits
The earth is perilously close to becoming an uninhabitable wet greenhouse planet where water escapes to space from a wet stratosphere. A ten fold increase in CO2 from pre-industrial levels would bring the earth to the wet greenhouse limit according to results of an improved model of planetary habitable zones developed by Penn State University planetary scientists.
"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.
The model does not include cloud physics, which is very complicated and not well understood, so there is a margin of error. Despite being so close to the habitable zone limit, life on earth has survived large natural spikes in greenhouse gases. Keystone XL would be game over for a stable climate because it would commit us to a path of exploitation of the dirtiest carbon sources, but life on earth would likely go on.
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.

Paleocene-Eocene Sea Level & Deep Sea Temp.
An enormous magma plume rose up from the deep mantle under the north Atlantic ocean basin fifty six million years ago. Note that sea level began to rise before the temperature spike at 55 million years ago. This is an indication of a swelling mantle below the north Atlantic before the massive eruption. Apparently, vast flows of basalt destabilized the methane ices and organic carbon on the sea floor. Massive plumes of methane erupted from the ocean into the atmosphere. Huge quantities of carbon dioxide were then released from peat oxidation when (glacier free) Antarctica warmed rapidly. These huge spikes of greenhouse gases raised global temperatures 5°C to 8°C.

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.

PETM global sea level 125 meters higher than present.

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.

U.S. Finished Petroleum Products Export
Sadly, drought and fire have devastated Texas ranches. Texas is in the bullseye of climate change and desertification. Jobs and hopes are withering in small Texas cattle towns as the temperatures rise and the plains turn to desert.
Oklahoma Meteorologist  Theodore Roberts • a year ago
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??

If 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.
“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.

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.”

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.

SolveClimate News: Can you explain why you have said it's "game over" on the climate front if the Keystone XL pipeline is built?

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.

Just say no to Keystone XL, Mr. President.

#NOKXL Blogathon: April 12 - April 22, 2013

One Million+ Comments Submitted!

After a extraordinary ten day collaborative effort with our coalition partners, we exceeded our goal of one million comments opposing the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline!

Today is the final day to submit public comments to the United States Department of State in opposition to the  Pipeline.

Please help us reach and even exceed this goal!  

The deadline for submission of public comments is Today, April 22, 2013.

You Can Make a Difference

On March 1, 2013, the United States State Department released a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Presidential Permit application for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.  The SEIS evaluates the potential environmental impacts. The purpose of this campaign is to obtain one million public comments in opposition to building this environmentally-destructive pipeline.  We hope that this blogathon will make submission of public comments easier. 

This effort is being coordinated with Bill McKibben of and in coalition with the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oil Change International, and Bold Nebraska.  

A victim of the recent tar sands oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, this bird says it all.  
Photograph being used with permission from Fast For The Earth.

Today is also the last day of a ten day blogathon at Daily Kos, featuring prominent lawmakers, environmental activists, and Daily Kos diarists.  Each has posted  a diary in opposition to the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline. Some guests included a brief "sample comment" for readers to copy and submit at the State Department website.  The diaries and "sample comments" can be used as your comments! Readers who have specialized knowledge and skills relating to the pipeline, tar sands, climate change, or the petroleum industry may, of course, choose to create their own comments with additional details.  

Comments written by you are reviewed by our government with no media filter.  Three of our coalition partners will keep track of the number of comments submitted to the U.S. Department of State. 

Please submit your comments through one of the below links:

  • "A Million Comments Against Keystone XL" - will deliver your comments directly to the State Department and has a system set up so that you can customize your comment.
  • "Tell President Obama: Reject Keystone XL!" - Sierra Club has a sample public comment that allows you to personalize your message.
  • "Tell the State Department: #NoKXL" - Oil Change International has a very helpful template to formulate your comments.
Let your voice be heard.  Our Daily Kos community organizers are Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, boatsie, rb137, JekyllnHyde, Onomastic, citisven, peregrine kate, DWG, and John Crapper, with Meteor Blades as the group's adviser.

Diary Schedule - All Times Pacific

More helpful details are in this diary - DK Blogathon Hosts Eco Coalition in #NOKXL Public Comment Campaign by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse.  Use hashtag #NOKXL to tweet all diaries posted during this blogathon. 

  • Friday, April 12

1:00 pm: #NOKXL Blogathon: Your voice on the Keystone XL pipeline matters by DWG.

  • Saturday, April 13

11:00 am: Keystone XL: a pipeline THROUGH the US, not to it by dturnbull, Campaigns Director of Oil Change International.
1:00 pm: #NOKXL: Dilbit in the Pipeline by Agathena.

  • Sunday, April 14

11:00 am: Keystone XL: Wildlife in the Crosshairs by Target Global Warming, Peter LaFontaine is the Energy Policy Advocate for the National Wildlife Federation.
1:00 pm: #NoKXL: The Future Is In Our Hands; Say No To The XL Pipeline Disaster by beach babe in fl.
3:00 pm: #NoKXL: Guess What's NOT in POTUS' Budget! (Rhymes with Shnipeline) by ericlewis0.

  • Monday, April 15

Note: All diaries for this day were rescheduled due to the Boston Marathon bombings.

  • Tuesday, April 16

8:00 am: KXL will carry as much carbon as all the cars on the West Coast, plus Michigan, NY, and Florida. by Bill McKibben, Founder of
12:00 pm: #NoKXL: InsideClimate News Wins Pulitzer for Coverage of Kalamazoo River Dilbit Spill in 2010 by peregrine kate.
2:00 pm: Reject Keystone XL; Our Focus Should Be on Investing in a Sustainable Energy Future by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA13), Member of the United States House of Representatives.
2:00 pm: #NoKXL: (un)Ethical Pipeline? by A Siegel.
3:00 pm: #NoKXL — The Pipeline To Oblivion: Memes From The Climate Letter Project by WarrenS.

  • Wednesday, April 17

11:00 am: My government doesn't believe in climate change by Tzeporah Berman, Canadian Environmentalist and Co-Founder of Forest Ethics.
3:00 pm: #NoKXL ?? The Keystone XL Pipeline, Deep Time, and the Nature of Humanity by gregladen.

  • Thursday, April 18

10:00 am: Keystone East: Doubling down? Or admitting KXL defeat? by Roger Fox.
2:00 pm: Watch it Now! Fantastic Live Hearing Opposing Keystone XL Pipeline from Nebraska by JekyllnHyde.
3:00 pm: #NOKXL: The Ill-Logic of Keystone XL by Kelly Rigg, Executive Director of the Global Call for Climate Action. 

  • Friday, April 19

2:00 pm: #NOKXL - A Dispatch From The Committee To End The Future by joe shikspack.
3:00 pm: Collision With Reality by James Wells.

  • Saturday, April 20

11:00 am: Nebraska Hearing: Pipeline Fighters Dominated by Jane Kleeb, Executive Director of Bold Nebraska
12:00 pm: Scientific American:"Keystone XL Oil Pipeline Exacerbates Climate Change"-Consultant's Bias EXPOSED by Lefty Coaster
1:00 pm:#NOKXL Blogathon - Keystone Principles and the Line in the Sand by John Crapper
3:00 pm:The 'Un'Silent' Spring by boatsie

  • Sunday, April 21

11:00 am: Keystone XL Pipeline: Can John Kerry’s State Department Finally Get it Right? by Ross Hammond, Friends of the Earth
12:00 pm: #NOKXL:From Alberta Tar Sans to Steele City Nebraska by Agathena.
1:00 pm: Shouldn't We Know Whether Tar Sands Causing Cancer With First Nations Before XL Pipeline Decision? by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse.
3:00 pm: #NOKXL Cut off the Tar Sands Switch to an Electric or Plug In Vehicle by Assaf.

  • Monday, April 22

11:00 am: Marty Cobenais.
12:00 pm: Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO of Green for All.
1:00 pm: Congressman Ed Markey, Democratic Candidate for 2013 United States Senate MA Special Election.
3:00 pm: FishOutofWater

Please remember to republish these diaries to your Daily Kos Groups.  You can also follow all postings by clicking this link for the Climate Change SOS Blogathon Group. Then, click 'Follow' and that will make all postings show up in 'My Stream' of your Daily Kos page.

Originally posted to Climate Change SOS on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:55 PM PDT.

Also republished by Holy $h*tters, Meatless Advocates Meetup, Climate Hawks, and DK GreenRoots.

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