Planting trees will not slow global warming

GR: There’s lots of loose talk going around about “geoengineering” our way out of the climate-change disaster. I say it’s loose talk because there’s been no serious testing of efficacy and long-term consequences. Actually, scientists have analyzed most of the ideas such as blasting sunlight-blocking particles into the atmosphere, converting CO2 to useful materials, and so forth and found that such techniques fall short of what’s needed. The article below describes another debunking, this time the idea that we could clear the air by planting CO2-absorbing forests.

Climatologists have determined that we have already released enough carbon, methane, and other greenhouse gases to cause disastrous climate changes. And so far, the way we might save a fair portion of our civilization is to stop burning coal, oil, gas, and even wood now.

26 May, 2017 – “Humans cannot simply plant their way out of trouble: trees cannot absorb the ever-increasing quantities of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“If the world’s nations really do intend to contain global warming to within 2°C, there is no alternative to drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study.

“The tree could be regarded as low-technology carbon removal machinery and, in theory, carefully managed plantations could soak up the carbon released from fossil fuel combustion. But the sheer scale of such plantations would have devastating environmental costs, scientists say.

“If we continue burning coal and oil the way we do today and regret our inaction later, the amounts of greenhouse gas we would need to take out of the atmosphere in order to stabilise the climate would be too huge to manage,” says Lena Boysen from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who led the study, published in Earth’s Future journal.

Trees are not the answer

“If the forests were planted on productive land, then humans would lose the soils urgently needed to nourish a population of 9bn. If the trees were planted on less productive terrain, the necessary costs in water and nitrogen-based fertiliser would be devastating. Either way, natural ecosystems would be irreparably damaged.

“And then the trees grown to absorb carbon would have to be stored deep underground, to prevent the carbon returning to the atmosphere to accelerate global warming rather than limit it.

“Even if we were able to use productive plants such as poplar trees or switchgrass, and store 50% of the carbon contained in their biomass, in the business-as-usual scenario of continued, unconstrained fossil fuel use, the sheer size of the plantations for staying at or below 2°C of warming would cause devastating environmental consequences,” Boysen says.

“The world’s great forests are part of the climate machinery, and more than 195 nations agreed in Paris in 2015 to take steps to contain climate change, both by managing the way they used land and by switching from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy.

“So carbon storage in the form of woodland is one component of a complex problem. Boysen and colleagues report that they looked at a number of scenarios to see whether, even in theory, massive investment in tree planting could remove sufficient quantities of carbon from the atmosphere.

“In the climate drama currently unfolding on that big stage we call Earth, CO2 removal is not the hero who finally saves the day after everything else has failed”

“One scenario required 6.9 billion hectares of plantation, fed by 570 million tons of nitrogen each year, and even the smallest theoretical plantation would have extended over a billion hectares and consumed 96 million tons of nitrogen fertiliser every year. One billion hectares is 10 million square kilometres: an area bigger than the whole of Canada.” –Tim Radford (Continue: Planting trees will not slow global warming – Climate News Network.)

McAuliffe: Virginia will regulate carbon emissions; ‘the threat of climate change is real’

GR: Some U. S. cities and states are finding ways around the denials and bribery of the fossil-fuel industry. They are joining the majority of American citizens who believe that we must treat human-caused global warming is a serious threat. Of course, this is not happening in Republican controlled states such as Tennessee.

Nathan Frost, talks about Dominion’s solar array at the Philip Morris facility in Chesterfield. The company is developing hundreds of megawatts of solar power in Virginia (Photo: Robert Zullo).

“Gov. Terry McAuliffe today directed the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to begin assembling regulations to reduce carbon emissions from Virginia power plants, a move that was celebrated by environmentalists and renewable energy businesses who see the state as a laggard when it comes to solar and wind capacity and energy-efficiency programs.

“Virginia Republicans, however, condemned the Democratic governor’s carbon directive as overreach that would raise electric prices and hamper economic growth.

“The threat of climate change is real, and we have a shared responsibility to confront it. Once approved, this regulation will reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from the commonwealth’s power plants and give rise to the next generation of energy jobs,” the governor said in a statement. “As the federal government abdicates its role on this important issue, it is critical for states to fill the void. Beginning today, Virginia will lead the way to cut carbon and lean in on the clean-energy future.”

“Though it does not lay out the 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 that environmental groups wanted, McAuliffe’s executive directive instructs the DEQ to develop a proposed regulation for the State Air Pollution Control Board to abate, control or limit carbon dioxide from power plants that will “allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon dioxide allowances through a multi-state trading program.” The proposed regulation is due to be presented to the board by Dec. 31, just before McAuliffe leaves office.

“Last summer, McAuliffe convened by executive order a working group consisting of cabinet officials and leaders of the state Department of Environmental Quality and Department Mines, Minerals and Energy to develop recommendations on cutting carbon from power plants. The market-based carbon trading aspect was a key component of the group’s report, which was sent to the governor last week.” –Robert Zullo (More: McAuliffe: Virginia will regulate carbon emissions; ‘the threat of climate change is real’ | News | richmond.com.)

Intelligence community to Trump: When it comes to global warming, you’re wrong

GR: Trump would prefer a few ignorant cheering supporters to a thoughtful response to dangers in the world. Of course, the U. S. oil-money Congress has its own reasons for denying climate change. “. . . the intelligence report also says that biodiversity losses from pollution, overexploitation and other causes is “disrupting ecosystems that support life, including humans.”

Remember, prepare, practice and be ready now. Courtesy U.S. Army graphic (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

“Each year the intelligence community puts together a “Worldwide Threat Assessment” report, and it inevitably scares the hell out of Congress and the public by detailing all the dangers facing the U.S. (Hint: there are a lot of them.)

“This year’s report, published Thursday and discussed at a congressional hearing, makes for particularly disquieting reading.

“While it focuses on the increasing danger that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program poses as well as cyberterrorism threats, one environmental concern stands out on the list: climate change.

“According to the new report, delivered to the Senate Intelligence Committee by Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence (DNI), warns that climate change is raising the likelihood of instability and conflict around the world.

“This is surprising given the Trump administration’s open hostility to climate science findings.

“The trend toward a warming climate is forecast to continue in 2017,” the report states, noting that 2016 was the hottest year on record worldwide. Climate scientists have firmly tied this to human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases, though the report does not make that link.

Norfolk Naval Base, the largest in the world, is experiencing flooding from sea level rise. 9 Flattops at Norfolk naval base, December 20, 2012 : From bottom to top, front to back: Aircraft carrier DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69) Aircraft carrier GEORGE H. W. BUSH (CVN 77) Aircraft carrier ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) Amphibious assault ship BATAAN (LHD 5) Aircraft carrier ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) Aircraft carrier HARRY S TRUMAN (CVN 75) Amphibious assault ship WASP (LHD 1) Amphibious assault ship KEARSARGE (LHD 3) Amphibious landing platform dock NEW YORK (LPD 21) A T-AKE dry cargo ammunition ship Amphibious assault ship IWO JIMA (LHD 7) and various cruisers, destroyers, frigates and submarines of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. By: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ernest R. Scott

“This warming is projected to fuel more intense and frequent extreme weather events that will be distributed unequally in time and geography. Countries with large populations in coastal areas are particularly vulnerable to tropical weather events and storm surges, especially in Asia and Africa,” the report states.

“The report also cites worsening air pollution in urban areas around the globe, potential water resources conflicts in places like the Middle East. Interestingly, the intelligence report also says that biodiversity losses from pollution, overexploitation and other causes is “disrupting ecosystems that support life, including humans.”

“The rate of species loss worldwide Is estimated at 100 to 1,000 times higher than the natural background extinction rate, according to peer-reviewed scientific literature,” the report states.

“The findings in this report are surprising considering the Trump administration’s hostility to mainstream climate science findings and policies aimed at cutting emissions of greenhouse gases that are warming the planet. Some agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Interior Department, have gone so far as to take down pages devoted to peer-reviewed scientific reports on climate change.

“For example, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has said he does not believe that carbon dioxide is the main driver of global warming. This view goes against thousands of peer reviewed climate studies, as well as findings from his own agency.” –Andrew Freedman (Continue reading: Intelligence community to Trump: When it comes to global warming, you’re wrong–Mashable.)

The Human Ecological Predicament: Wages of Self-Delusion | MAHB

GR: Here’s a thoughtful article about the absolute necessity to reject the global “growth at all costs” philosophy that dominates our businesses, governments, and churches. Because we have failed to choose our actions objectively, we are approaching major “tipping points” where choices will slip away. We might still avoid the crash by learning to use basic reasoning. Our children (and adults) should learn to recognize the many forms of faulty reasoning, the fallacies, that obscure truth. We must all learn the value of skepticism and we must learn to ask how (will we get Mexico to pay for the wall) and why (do we need a wall), and we must learn to insist on verifiable facts offered as proof.

The coming crash. (photographer unknown)

“Techno-industrial society is in dangerous ecological overshoot—the human ecological footprint is at least 60% larger than the planet can support sustainably (Wackernagel et al. 2002; Rees 2013; WWF 2016). The global economy is using even renewable and replenishable resources faster than ecosystems can regenerate and filling waste sinks beyond nature’s capacity to assimilate (Steffen et al. 2007; Rockström et al. 2009; Barnosky et al. 2012). (Even climate change is a waste management problem—carbon dioxide is the single greatest waste by weight of industrial economies.) Despite the accumulating evidence of impending crisis, the world community seems incapable of responding effectively. This situation is clearly unsustainable and, if present trends continue, will likely lead in this century to runaway climate change, the collapse of major biophysical systems, global strife and therefore diminished prospects for continued civilized existence (Tainter 1987; Diamond 2005; Turner 2014; Motesharrei et al. 2014).

“The proximate drivers are excess economic production/consumption and over-population—human impact on the ecosphere is a product of population multiplied by average per capita consumption—exacerbated by an increasingly global compound myth of perpetual economic growth propelled by continuous technological progress (Victor 2008; Rees 2013). While there is evidence of some ‘decoupling’ of economic production from nature, this is often an artifact of faulty accounting and trade (e.g., wealthy countries are ‘off-shoring’ their ecological impacts onto poorer countries). Overall, economic throughput (energy and material consumption and waste production) is increasing with population and GDP growth (Wiedmann et al 2013; Giljum et al. 2014). Consequently, carbon dioxide is accumulating at an accelerating rate in the atmosphere (NOAA 2017) and the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 sequentially shared the distinction of being the warmest years in the instrumental record (Hansen et al. 2017).

“There is widespread general support for the notion of ‘clean production and consumption’ but in present circumstances, this must soon translate into less production and consumption by fewer people (Rees 2014). It complicates matters that modern society remains highly dependent on abundant cheap energy still mostly supplied by carbon-based fuels. Despite rapid technological advances and falling costs, it is still not clear that renewable energy alternatives, including wind and photovoltaic electricity, can replace fossil fuels in such major uses as transportation and space/water heating in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, in the absence of effective carbon sequestration technologies, reducing fossil fuel use remains essential to avoiding catastrophic climate change. Resolving this energy-climate conundrum will require major conservation efforts, the prioritizing of essential non-substitutable uses of fossil fuels and the banning of frivolous ones.

Source: The Human Ecological Predicament: Wages of Self-Delusion | MAHB