Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Photizo, Nov 29, 2009.

  1. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    That is what I mean too, but "sudden" when speaking of climate change can be any thing between 50 and 1000 years and "runaway change" means a three sigma difference from common historical records of one sigma statistical variation.

    I am not predicting mankind's extinction by 2030 as Guy McPherson* is, but have said I think it possible that my grand child, nearly 17 years old, and starting to think about where he would like to go to college after one more year of high school MAY not ever be in my position, taking pleasure in the fact he has already been to Cornell, where his parents met and I started my undergraduate work some 30+ years earlier.

    I'll convert that to years for you: He is unlikely to have any child before 37 years old if he too goes to grad school. That child likewise will not have his grand child until 20+ 35= 55 years from now. That grand child, if very bright, might be starting to think about where to go to college when 15. So I saying that the serious shit could start to hit the fan in 70 years from now, and that is certainly "sudden" on human times scales and unfortunately very plausible as the increases of temperature and humidity are accelerating via more than a dozen major mutually amplifying GW interactions now.

    * Google: "Nature Bats Last" for many articles of his and link to his site where many agree and mainly discuss how we should spend our remaing 2.5 decades. I have 3 or so posts there as Billy T in which I basically tell that switching all cars to sugar cane alcohol in a decade is possible, and at least would delay the inevitable end they ALL expect. I point out that doing so is a good idea anyway as sugar cane alcohol is cheaper per mile driven than gasoline, without any subsidy, (No "depletions allowance," or other tax breaks that Big Oil gets) and gives slightly more power to your motor, is possibly the only economically feasible way to remove some carbon (in CO2) from the air and keep it safely in large storage tanks at filling stations and in at least 100 million car fuel tanks; cleaner burning so lower tune-up and repair bills plus the spark plugs last longer, etc. - I have no evidence I have made any converts there. - Big Oil has them steadfast fatalist and they don't even seem angry as I am about big oil is ripping us off financially and spreading lies that switching ALL cars to alcohol cannot be done and even if it could, that would kill all the rain forests etc.
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  3. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I suspected you were thinking along those lines, which is why I called your use of the term "positive feedback" misleading, above.

    According to the number guys whose work I've tracked, water vapor on earth requires more energy to evaporate out of the oceans and maintain as vapor in the atmosphere than it supplies in additional greenhouse trapping at Terra's orbital distance and current solar flux. The feedback from the water alone is negative, not positive, they say.

    And that seems likely, if only because no comet impact into the ocean has set off the runaway in the last billion years.
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  5. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    That is non-sense as water vapor 234 times stronger GHG than CO2 is, but that does not directly address the energy required to evaporate it, so I will:

    SUMMARY: Either my analysis below, which I think is the worst possible or extreme case, or “the guys you have tracked” are very wrong. In any case, the all the energy required for evaporation comes 100% back in an average of only nine days via condensation of the water vapor; and my calculation below show the ~75W/M^2 “radiative forcing” of water vapor (234% greater than that of O2) supplies all the evaporation energy need to saturate even initially zero humidity air all the way from sea level to top of atmosphere in only 38.8 minutes of the effectively 75W/m^2 stronger sunlight.

    (1) “Mass of water vapor to mass of dry air, usually expressed as g kg-1 (parts per thousand by mass) ranges from nearly 0 in cold continental air masses up to about 20 g kg-1 in the tropics”
    I. e. The maximum fraction by weight of water vapor is 20/1000 in moist tropical air is 2%.
    (2) “ On average, a column of air one square centimeter in cross-section, measured from sea level to the top of the atmosphere, has a mass of about 1.03kg.” (1,030grams, Or 1,030 /18 = 57.22 moles)
    From: .
    Thus, by (1) & (2), over a meter square there are at most 20,000 grams of water that have been evaporated into completely dry air to make it into very moist tropical air.
    (3) The molar heat of vaporization for water is 40.7 kJ/mol. = 40700Watt Seconds / 34 grams of H2O. 34 was an error I think I have now corrected, but it is late for me, (going to bed now) so I'll check again in the morning. A mole of H2O is only 18 gram (I doubled the O's 16 not the two Hs)
    (4) “For the clear sky case the contribution due to water vapor to the total long wave radiative forcing is 75 W/m², while for carbon dioxide it is 32 W/m².” I have been assuming the worst case (completely dry air converted to most moist that exist in the tropics) so that is the “clear air” case. Quote from:
    The Importance and Nature of the Water Vapor Budget in Nature and Models by Lindzen, 1996 (A conference: Climate Sensitivity to Radiative Perturbations, I think or perhaps his chapter in a book)
    As, a mole of H20 evaporated requires 40,700 watt seconds, then 57.22 moles evaporated requires 232,885.4 watt seconds, but the IR blocking of the just typical humidity is same as an extra 75 W on each square meter. I'll guess the maximally most air would block IR escape as with same effect as solar input of 100W /m^2
    Thus in 2,328.9 seconds, we get the energy needed to maximally saturate initially completely full column of dry air. In an hour there are 3600 seconds. Thus in 2328.9 / 3600 = hours or 0.647 hours or 38.8 minutes of sunlight we pay back fully the thermal debt.
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  7. billvon Valued Senior Member

    That's fine. We're still not seeing that - and the study you reference proves that.
    Your earlier claim was that your grandchildren would not be able to have grandchildren due to climate change. If you are now saying that they might not be able to go to Cornell then that's pretty likely, but doesn't bear much on climate change. (I will make a similar prediction - my great great grandkids will not be able to buy a Nissan Armada.)
  8. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I will breathe easier for my children if we conquer the need for this abomination called fossil fuel, unless we can make it 100% recycleable.

    Check out this real time tracking of world trends. Pay particular attention to the CO2 emissions from man made sources. Note: 15 BILLION TONS !

    I give it 50-100 years when we will know if we shall remain a civilized society or revert back to primitive tribal practices, this time with nuclear weapons.
  9. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    And of course Billy T is ignoring the temperature caveates contained in the paper...
  10. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Tell at least one that make it impossible for the current area in Pacific with local thermal runaway conditions to expand into adajacent areas.

    Let me give analogy, fully recognizing that analogies don't prove anything, but can aid understanding:

    A small sadistic boy gets a magnifying glass. In his back yard there is and area half in shade and half in full sunlight, which has dry leaves ever where. The dry leave in full sunlight are of course warmer than those in the shade, but well below thermal runaway conditions. The boy begins to "fry ants" sitting on leaves in the sunlit areas with his magnifying glass, hardly noticing that the leaf under the ant is getting hotter and changing color, but no hard is done. - He does not set the back yard on fire as he see another ant a few feet away and goes there to fry it.

    The leaf that was "getting hotter and changing color" was, like the hot spot in the Pacific already with local runaway conditions*, absorbing more solar energy than it was transferring to the surrounding leaves, but never erupted into flames as the higher than normal energy absorption ceased. The difference between it and the pacific hot spot is that the sun is not going away to fry some other planet.

    * "local thermal runaway conditions" is not my statement or claim, but comes from many experts, including those five at NASA's Ames center studying it to better understand how Venus, a planet in a state with liquid water, and stable for millions of years, switched to its other stable state - thick IR opaque clouds preventing radiative cooling of the surface until the surface temperature climbed above the melting point of lead.
  11. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Grumpy's wiki link in post 736 is mostly old. For example tell that Hansen is predicting Thermal runaway will happen, and that carbon sequestering is feasible too, but the most ambitious and advanced project has been cancelled project after millions were spent:
    Norway, has made a "green" adjustment that will reduce GHG release by offshore oil rigs. They will cease locally generating their electric power, but bring Norway's mainly hydro-power from shore by cable.
  12. billvon Valued Senior Member

    There are no local thermal runaway conditions. Again, that phrase does not mean what you think it means; it does not mean that there is a slight increase in local temperature.

    Yes. And if he removed the magnifying glass and it returned to thermal equilibrium it would not be in thermal runaway.
  13. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    I didn't say anything about impossibility or possibility. Those are your words, not mine, and so I won't be addressing them.

    The point I made was that there were two temperature caveats in that paper.

    The first was that a sea surface temperature of 27°C is required for these effects to occur.

    The second temperature caveat was that the sea surface temperature seldom rises above 30.5°C.

    There are several questions that arise naturally out of these observations.

    The first one is: Why is the warm pool special?

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    There are plenty of other areas where this could occur considering only temperature, but the signal was only detected above the warm pool in the pacific ocean. In fact, as I recall, 27°C is the temp required for forming a hurricane.

    What is the mechanism currrently limiting the maximum sea surface temperature?

    Even with a significant rise in the global average temp:

    How far North and South can the water above 27°C spread?

    What effects will the current temperature limiting mechanism have?

    How far north and south does the water above 27°C have to spread before it becomes the nightmare you seem to think it must?
  14. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    I read that the warmth and violent storms there had shunted much warmth to the stratosphere triggering an ssw(sudden stratospheric warming) event which quickly migrated toward the north pole, disrupting the polar vortex, spilling warmth both out into space, and down over the polar area.
    The displaced arctic cold came here
    on that, I read that the cold event here in north america disrupted the formation of noctilucent clouds over the south pole.

    The story could continue(end?) well if i understood what effect the antarctic noctilucent clouds had on the troposphere, and where.
  15. Grumpy Curmudgeon of Lucidity Valued Senior Member

    Billy T
    And so is Grumpy. The point I was trying(feebly)to make is that brute force warming is far from the only danger in global warming, the fuse's burning is rarely as bad as the explosion it sets off. My point is that little effects can cause much more dangerous processes to begin. Ocean currents are already shifting, temperatures on the surface and at depth are already rising and a shift of the Gulf Stream into the Arctic could bring large areas of continental shelf that have been collecting methane ices for millions of years to release megatons of methane over VERY short timeframes. And methane gas is much more of a problem than co2, it is 25 times as bad for retaining heat.

    "In 2011 DOE put the amount of “unproved resources” of shale gas at 827 trillion cubic feet; in 2012 it cut that estimate by more than 40 percent. Production from fracked wells has declined faster than DOE analysts had expected. So some critics believe the boom is a bubble that will soon burst. But DOE still projects that U.S. gas production will rise rapidly and that shale gas will make up half the total by 2035.

    And deep shales are not the last methane source. DOE and the industry are trying to figure out how to tap the largest one of all—the methane hydrates that lie frozen under vast areas of seafloor and Arctic permafrost. Worldwide, hydrates may contain more energy than all other fossil fuels combined. They’re usually snow-white and look like ice, but they’re strange stuff, and extracting the methane is tricky. Each molecule is trapped in a cage of water molecules that’s stable only at high pressure and low temperatures; change either just a bit, and the cage crumbles. The escaping methane balloons in volume by a factor of 164.

    Oil companies working on continental margins have to take care that extracting oil through an overlying hydrate layer does not disrupt it and perhaps damage the well. Climate scientists worry that global warming could destabilize hydrate layers, on land or at sea, triggering a massive methane release that would amplify the warming. A few scientists take seriously a catastrophic scenario in which the release happens rapidly, within a human lifetime, and the planet’s temperature spikes."

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    This graph is based on ice core samples. We've doubled the atmospheric concentration already by our activities. We should probably mine methane sources more quickly, burn it almost exclusively, because if the current warming triggers the release of those touchy ices, it may be game over, you're dead.


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  16. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I have lot to reply to, and Trippy's question will take some time, but I'll try to catch up with posts made.(In case you read I would be too busy to continue now, I found the chicken breasts were frozen so wok cooking will be after lunch)
    On (1):
    I agree, planet earth is not in thermal runaway condition. That is why I put the word "local" in my statement that it existed in a local area, the "Pacific Hot Spot, PHS."
    By Locally Thermal Runaway, LTR, condition, I simply mean an area were the solar absorption energy is greater than IR radiation is removing energy from that area. Such a spot on Earth does already exist.

    The temperature there is not increasing without limit as other than radiative cooling processes are at work. I think the two most important for the PHS are (1) thermal convection, mainly by ocean currents, but also by air currents, with the warmer air at altitude over the PHS flowing way from the PHS and being replaced by cooler air flowing at lower altitude towards the PHS. And (2) diffusion driven water vapor gradients. These are very small and insignificant comparted to effect (1) and if we think of that convective flow of 70% relative humidity air as "quasi-laminar" over a layer of ~20% more stagnate air, then every gram of H2O vapor condensing in the cooler 20% humidity air also transports 540 calories to it.

    Both (1) & (2) are adding thermal energy to the immediate area surroundings the PHS, which is not yet quite into LTR conditions, but with this additional energy MAY gain LTR conditions.

    On(2): Of course the Locally Thermal Runaway, LTR, condition of the leaf spot with magnifying glass focusing sunlight on it, ceases to be LTR when the boy goes else where to fry some other ant. If he did not, but continued to produce LTR conditions, first at the hot spot on the leaf, a new, even more significant rapid oxidation process (flames) would greatly amplify his thermal input and soon the surrounding leaves would be burning too. As the sun is not going away, and as (1) & (2) are adding thermal energy to not yet quite with LTR conditions in the immediate surroundings of the PHS, they will too enter into LTR conditions. Where or not they too can then convert their immediate surroundings into LTR is an open question. - Sort of the subject of this thread.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2014
  17. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Big Oil report:

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    Some decades later (by prior speaker to his grand kids):

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  18. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    OK, I don't need to use word "impossible" to ask for proof that Earth cannot do what Venus did. (I agree earth is too far from sun to do that without man's fossil fuel burning help). I.e. switch to its hot stable state. (IR opaque steam atmosphere near surface so all the surface IR is blocked and the complete cloud cover, at higher cooler altitude, reflects more sunlight.) I. e. the IR radiated in to space is less than now and of course still equal to the net solar energy absorbed, but source of this IR is from the atmosphere above the opaque cloud cover.
    Yes, Some place must be first. Your color coded graphic seems to show the India Ocean may be the next as I see no difference in its color from that of the Pacific Hot Spot, PHS, and note that the warmest section is also on the western edge of the Indian Ocean too, which support what I explain below:

    One reason the PHS won the race with the Indian ocean to be the first is probably related to the mechanism that causes "El Nino" - The Pacific is larger and the warmer water on the surface is driven by the winds normally westward, absorbing more solar heat as it goes. There it stagnates near the location of the PHS. This may have made the observed higher (70%) relative humidity over the PHS (instead of the more typical average of ~20% humidity) As water vapor is several times stronger GHG than even CH4 which on 10 year basis is 104 times greater than CO2 (according to rpenner's calculations, which I believe as the widely accepted factor for 20 years is >75 & < 90 and for 100 years is 25 to 30, but the factor is rapidly increasing. Now the half life of CH4 is 12.5 +or- 0.1 years but less than a decade ago was only 9.1 as the concentration of the OH radical, which is mutually destroyed when converting CH4 into H2O & CO2, is falling rapidly too.)

    This is a really scary story - Flux or release rate of powerful GW agent, CH4, is rapidly increasing and its half life is rapidly increasing to0, with no limit in sight. I.e. the concentration of CH4 appears to be increasing approximately exponentially - See graph Grumpy suppied, copied at end this post.

    As I understand it this mass of warmer water that went west is some meters higher than in the unusually years when the westward winds die down and it then flows back east under gravitations forces - That is what we call "El Nino" and the surface water temperature off the coast of S. America rises dramatically as normally there had been up welling of cold bottom water there. That bottom water brought nutrients up for the bottom of the fish food chain. Fishing economic off the S. American coast fail soon after El Nino.
    I'll answer (or try to) your other questions in a separate post later.

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  19. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Seen any good derechos lately?
  20. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Grumpy, your National Geographic link in post 752, is very informative, especially about fracking and the associated effect that has on CH4 release. To quote from it:

    "{fracking makes} too much methane leak into the atmosphere. As U.S. CO₂ emissions fell between 2005 and 2010, methane emissions rose. By 2010, EPA says, the rise was equivalent in global warming potential to around 40 million metric tons of CO₂ annually, which means it offset 10 percent of the CO₂ decline. More than half of that methane increase, says EPA, came from the natural gas industry—the country’s biggest emitter.

    Judging by EPA’s numbers, fracking still seems like a clear win for the climate. But some scientists, notably Robert Howarth and his coworkers at Cornell University, believe EPA has underestimated methane emissions and, more important, the global warming potential of each methane molecule. They argue that methane leaking from wells, pipes, compressors, and storage tanks actually makes shale gas worse for the climate than coal.* Other researchers question Howarth’s approach. The debate persists in part because methane numbers are so uncertain. "

    Also I note, based on analysis by Nobel Prize winning soil biologist's studies a few years ago, the using Iowa corn based "gasohol" is worse for the environment than using only gasoline for your cars fuel. This is because so much nitrogen fertilizer is required to speed growth to harvest size in Iowa's short growing season. Most of the fertilizer is converted into very harmful to the environment (and human health) NOx by soil bacteria. I have lost the reference to his paper and don't even remember his name, but you could find both with search on Nobel Prize winner.

    * This is a growing POV, well discussed and documented here: and in the left side column there you will find more than a dozen more links to others basically telling NG is worse than coal.

    SUMMARY: Not only is the US government doing nothing to slow global warming, including being one of the few to not even agree to the Kyoto agreements, which nearly 100 other government have signed on to. It two main actions (1) switching power plants to NG from coal and (2) Promoting, with huge tax payer funded subsidies the production of "gasohol" are very likely making the GW problem WORSE. The US is run by the rich and powerful, I. e. US government is: "For the rich; by their lobbyists; benefiting their corporations, especially "Big Oil." My two pictures in post 754 are worth more than 2000 more words here.

    Now the chicken is thawed and for next three hours, I'll be making Chinese food in my wok and then eating some for dinner. I make the wok "heaping full" - four or more diners for wife and me.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2014
  21. billvon Valued Senior Member

    You mean other than:
    -large solar subsidies
    -large hybrid vehicle and electric vehicle subsidies
    -tougher caps on CO2 emissions
    -funding cellulosic ethanol
    -loans for emerging renewable energy technologies and companies
    -spending over $20 billion federal dollars a year on research and mitigations

    Again, this is why people like you will hurt the cause of AGW awareness. They will listen to your screed, realize "hey he lied about that, I guess it's all a bunch of lies" and they will believe the deniers instead.
  22. billvon Valued Senior Member

    So if I put black asphalt shingles on my roof, my house will be in Locally Thermal Runaway?
    Again, that term does not mean what you think it means.

    Which is, by definition, not thermal runaway.
  23. Photizo Ambassador/Envoy Valued Senior Member


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