Climate change

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Environmental degradation and depletion of ecosystems are serious issues of our time

Mythmakers, climate and reality orientation
Scientific skepticism is healthy. Researchers should always challenge themselves to improve their understanding. But climate deniers are not there. With weak roots in scientific facts they throw out allegations, speculations and unfounded criticism of evidence supporting anthropogenic global warming.

Make 2015 a climate year – on our way to Paris
We cannot continue the irresponsible habits we have now. Our house is on fire, and our leaders – the politicians – respond by squabbling about who shall pay for using the fire extinguisher . The more we delay, the more we pay

Over to renewables
Who benefits from a continuation of the oil age? Who is willing to risk our children’s and grandchildren’s future for short-term profit? Who opposes a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy? Is anthropogenic global warming and war two sides on the same coin?

Make 2014 the climate year!
Ban Ki-Moon invites the world to a climate  in 2014. The UN needs popular support for this quest. Let’s be realistic and demand the “impossible”. One thing is for sure – we cannot continue the irresponsible habits we have now. We have to get out of the fossil fuel age for several reasons…more.

Two or three degrees more – does it really matter?
For the first time in human history, in 2013, the air that surrounds us on average contained 400 ppm (parts per million) CO2, and 475 ppm greenhouse gases. If we add the increased amount of water vapor due to global warming, we approach 500 ppm….more

Dismantle the oil age
For more than a hundred years, industrial and modern development has been dependent on fossil fuels. The oil age was given extra momentum after the oil crisis in 1972, and has given a country like Norway an economy people could not dream of 50 years ago. Unfortunately there are also many hidden costs and dangerous side effects. Continued use could threaten the existence of mankind….more

Winter is cold. Global warming canceled?
Global warming is a long-term trend of increasing global average temperature. We still have weather, which causes fluctuations around a . Those who live in areas with distinct seasons are well aware of this. A new season brings a much faster change than global warming does. The principle is the same. In the spring, a cold front may cool the weather a week or two. But most people realize, however, that summer is coming. The cooling period is just a skip down for a while before we get back to a rising temperature after the trend line….more

Climate change in facts and figures
90 million barrels of oil every day. In addition roughly the same amount in coal and gas.  We humans burn between 85 and 95 million barrels of oil every day. One barrel of oil equals 159 litres, roughly a full bathtub. This corresponds to 14 310 000 000 litres of oil every day…more

What if Norwegian oil economy is a bubble?
Two hundred and fifty thousand Norwegian jobs depend on oil . These jobs are expensive; require high skills and pressure salary levels in general. For small countries like Norway this many oil jobs might be a recipe for financial disaster. Norway might be heading for Dutch  disease  and “kuwaitisation” ....more

In doubt?
In doubt about global warming and human-induced climate change?
Please ask yourself some questions...more

It’s just natural variation – isn’t it?
What happens now, is no climate variation, it is a real climate change.  The solar forcing – the insolation – has not increased the last forty years. There is no special warming Milankovich effect like we had in the Holocen optimum some 5000-8000 years ago; there are no big non-eruptive volcanoes pumping greenhouse gases into the air. There is no other explanation for the present global warming than human activity…more

It’s the volcanoes – or is it?
One of the myths that the fossil fuel industry tries to maintain is that volcanic activity contributes to the greenhouse effect. The facts are that there is very little carbon present in magma….more

The “Climate change deceit” conspiracy theory and global warming
During the last forty years the Arab- American carbon barons; Western multibillionaires, Middle East petro tyrants and extreme islamists have lived high on oil profits. They invest massively in propaganda to delay political action and mislead the public….more

Cocksure statements on climate change?
Now and then you might hear that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) only gives cocksure statements and therefore is unscientific….more

Out of fossil fuels now!
For the last two hundred years fossil fuels have been the basis for industrialization and development of our modern civilization. Fossil energy has been absolutely necessary to get us where we are today. However, our civilization must grow up...more.

 

Natural disasters – Acts of God or human culpability?
Act of God – force majeure An old legal term It is kind of interesting looking at legal history. The reasoning about culpability (guilt) goes back to Roman law, about 600 BC and then further developed during a thousand years. Early … Continue reading

 

Key figures on the global warming and climate change issue:

  • 2°C

In the Copenhagen accord 167 countries agreed that to avoid reaching dangerous tipping points, global warming should not exceed 2 centigrades. Unfortunately, the two degree target is no guarantee against a runaway greenhouse effect. Some people think this goal is probably impossible to keep, and that it is a . The two-degree limit is more based on political negotiations than on science. The scientific majority prefers a less than one-degree rise in global average temperature to feel safer. Risking a one degree rise might be similar to playing russian roulette with one bullet in the magazine. A two degree rise might be equal to load it with two bullets. Another degree means a third bullet load. You point your russian roulette gun at your grandchildren. The likely outcome is “” in our childrens lifetime. The worst case scenario is the .

  • 565 Gigatons

Scientists have calculated that there is a reasonable hope to stay below  2°C by mid century if we limit our carbon emissions to a total of 565 more gigatons, or corresponding to less than 450 ppmv of greenhouse gases(GHG)  in the atmosphere. (This is probably wildly optimistic. The atmospheric CO2 content is now  over 390 ppmv, while the total concentration of atmospheric GHG is already over 470 ppmv).

  • 2795 Gigatons

The amount of carbon contained in the proven oil, coal and gas reserves of fossil fuel companies – the fossil fuel we currently plan to burn –  is 2795 gigatons. This is five times more than our “allowance”.     (Source: )

  • 5% increase in atmospheric humidity per 1°C increase in global average temperature

Warmer oceans and air means increasing humidity in the air. Firstly, is the main GHG. More humidity is an enhancing . Secondly, more water vapor in the air means heavier rainfalls and floodings (), (, 2012).    |    |  (Guardian, Feb 2013)  |  

  • 30% increase in radiative forcing since 1990

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Annual Greenhouse Gas Index,  shows that from 1990 to 2011, radiative forcing by long-lived greenhouse gases increased by 30%, with CO2 accounting for about 80% of this increase (UN/, 2012) | ()  |  (, World Bank 2012)  |   |     |   (NOAA, Jan 2013)  |     |    |  |  (March 2013)  |   (March 2013)

  • 473 ppm GHG

Total radiative forcing of all long-lived greenhouse gases was the CO2 equivalent of 473 parts per million in 2011 (, 2012).

Total GHG radiative forcing since 1990

This leads to a clear long-term warming trend: : Average of , , and  monthly global surface temperature anomalies 1970-2011    |      |    |     |    |     |     |    |    |     |     |   (The Age (Aus) Jan 2013) |(ENS Jan 2013) (GP Jan 2013)  |     |   (Guardian 2013)  |   (Guardian, Jan 2013) |  (Guardian, Feb 2013)  |     |    |    |   |    |    |    |    |  

  • 90 million barrels of oil per day

Every day we burn a staggering 90 million barrels of oil and a corresponding amount of coal and gas. The  production of  CO2 as an inevitable result is over  35 billion tonnes of  added to our common atmosphere. This CO2 does not just vanish. Some of it is absorbed by vegetation and seas. Some of it remains in the atmosphere for decades or centuries.

This means that if we relate more to hard realities and less on illusions, most of the remaining oil will eventually be without value because:

  1. if we burn all the oil and coal, our climate- and ecosystems will pass catastrophic tipping points.
  2. the demand for expensive oil will go down when increasingly efficient energy sources like solar, wind, tidal and geothermic replace polluting fossil fuels.
  3. the political costs of continued channeling of rivers of petro-dollars to brutal, fundamentalist and corrupt regimes in the Middle East, the only place left with cheap, conventional oil, are far too high; for their own populations as well as for the rest of the world.

The richest there is
The, most of them oil companies, are all bigger economies than 180 countries. Arab-American oil company () is assumed to be the world’s , twice as wealthy as Exxon-Mobile and Apple. The  combined wealth of and its partners (the gigantic oil companies from the oil cartel called ““) is one of the biggest economies of the world, if not the biggest.   (Forbes)  |   (Forbes 2012).  |   (CNN money2012)

Our daily oil
The current daily oil production is approximately 90 million barrels. The price per barrel is around USD 90-120. Source: International Energy Agency; .    |      |      |    |    |  

Big oil, also called, exert an enormous political power worldwide.

Obviously these companies can and will do anything to keep the fossil fuel paradigm going as long as possible, and they have plenty of clout to obstruct the inevitable change for quite some time.

   |     (Nov 2012)  |    |      |    |      |      |   (Jan 2013)  |     |     (Scientific American 2013)  |   (Nature 2013)  |     |    |    |    |     |     |    |   |   |    |  

Most countries currently depend on oil, gas and coal as energy sources. More than 80% of the world’s energy is obtained from fossil fuels. The reasons are high energy density, abundance and until now relatively low costs.  The problems can be divided in four categories:

1. Environmental pollution
Coal and oil contain many different chemicals and particles that may be , such as carbon particles, NOx, VOCs; and harm the environment, such as sulphur. . Oil spills may have serious 

2. Non-renewable, limited resources
 Fossil fuels are finite. Sooner or later the resources will run out. We use the cheap and easily available sources first. We get “hooked” and addicted. When the source ), more expensive and less readily available sources will be exploited – and the products sold to a much higher retail price. The profits for persons controlling old and cheap oil-wells will be staggering.

3. Vulnerable logistics and volatile prices, uneven geographical distribution
 The big reserves of cheap, conventional crude oil are concentrated in the Middle East, controlled by regimes or persons with  agendas of their own. Extreme islam = petro-islam= “beduin”-islam = wahhabists and salafists. The most fanatic are , and like some extremist christians and jews they are looking forward to and promote the apocalypse. The one reason wahhabists and salafists are counted in millions rather than thousands is oil. Petro-islam to a large extent controls and instructs US and their propaganda machinery. They instruct Rupert Murdochs media empire and Fox news. They increasingly buy western banks. Fossil fuel societies are vulnerable to delivery failure and wild price fluctuations. Fossil fuel societies depend on the good will of corpocratic groups like  Big oil and petro-tyrants.

4. CO2 emissions and climate change
 Climate scientists worldwide have documented the evidence of global warming in surface air, land and sea temperatures, the rise of sea level, reductions in glacier ice and snow coverage,  increase in ocean heat content and ocean acidification:   |    |  | |   |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |     |    |    and many more. There is a massive s: Global warming is happening now, and it is mainly manmade. | |  (Dec 2012)  |    |     |     |   (Dec 2012)  | (NASA) |    |    |    |  

Run-away greenhouse effect
The global are estimated to be and increasing. With business as usual, global emissions are estimated to be over 50 billion tonnes 15 years from now. Some of this is absorbed by soil and vegetation. Some is absorbed by the oceans, causing serious . Some of it remains in the atmosphere for decades or centuries, leading to in the air. If the oceans continue to warm, the risk is that they reach saturation level and stop absorbing CO2, eventually start emitting CO2 back to the atmosphere. If this situation occurs, it might trigger an escalating, run-away greenhouse effect, an event associated with the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum () that took place 55 million years ago. At that time 20000 years was needed for an increase of 6°C.  According to the IPCC business as usual scenario, we shall only need 100 years this time.

It is the big, natural feedback mechanisms that are decisive for the scope of climate change. A warmer polar sea and melting permafrost entail the , a very strong greenhouse gas, and triggers the .

Addiction and subsidies to the richest
The last 50 years the world’s richest people have developed a globalised economic system for channeling money to the petro-barons. Even though we know we behave like drug addicts – we continue a behaviour that is extremely costly and harmful to ourselves and others – we desperately cling to all kinds of over-simplifications, rationalizations, fabrications and myths to keep going on a destructive, unsustainable path. We are even forced to pay for our own destruction. Instead of massive subsidies to transform our societies to a sustainable one as quickly as possible, we pay more taxpayers’ money in the form of subsidies than ever. Fossil fuel industries now are given more than USD 520 billion a year in addition to their current astronomical profits: 

“Despite the growth in lowcarbon sources of energy, fossil fuels remain dominant in the global energy mix, supported by subsidies that amounted to $523 billion in 2011, up almost 30% on 2010 and six times more than subsidies to renewables. The cost of fossil-fuel subsidies has been driven up by higher oil prices; they remain most prevalent in the Middle East and North Africa, where momentum towards their reform appears to have been lost”
.


According to the Worldwatch institute the taxpayers’ support to the fossil fuel industry might be much higher:

“A recent projection places the total value of conventional global fossil fuel subsidies between $775 billion and more than $1 trillion in 2012, depending on which supports are included in the calculation.1 In contrast, total subsidies for renewable energy stood at $66 billion in 2010, although that was a 10 percent increase from the previous year”.

Energy efficiency can keep the door to 2 °C open for just a bit longer
“… the climate goal of limiting warming to 2 °C is becoming more difficult and more costly with each year that passes… almost four-fifths of the CO2 emissions allowable by 2035 are already locked-in by existing power plants, factories, buildings, etc. If action to reduce CO2 emissions is not taken before 2017, all the allowable CO2 emissions would be locked-in by energy infrastructure existing at that time. Rapid deployment of energy-efficient technologies –would postpone this complete lock-in to 2022, buying time to secure a much-needed global agreement to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.
No more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050 if the world is to achieve the 2 °C goal, unless carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is widely deployed . |     |       |      |   |    |  

Stored solar energy – the fossil fuels

Coal, oil and gas – the fossil fuels – are stored solar energy from a distant past.  400 million years ago, the sun was weaker, but there was much more CO2 in the air. Over hundreds of millions of years since then carbon has been absorbed by plants, trees, algae and animals, eventually ending up on the bottom of swamps, lakes or ocean floors –  with time transforming into coal and oil. We are now all involved in the largest experiment ever: recreating the Jurassic climate on a global scale, by returning the naturally stored carbon back into the atmosphere – this time with a warmer sun.

What happens now, is no climate variation, it is a real climate change.  The solar forcing – the insolation – has not increased the last forty years. There is no special warming Milankovich effect like we had in the some 6000 years ago; there are no big non-eruptive volcanoes pumping greenhouse gases into the air. There is no other explanation for the present global warming than human activity. We can already observe how the Earth’s climate and with it the world’s ecosystems are changing at an accelerating pace.

Weather variations
The changes will most likely happen in steps and leaps and be uneven geographically, as they have been previously. Strong La Ninas in the Pacific will give cooler periods, El Ninos warmer periods. The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) will keep on having varying impact on the weather in the North East Atlantic area. A thicker “” will reduce global warming for some time, less air pollution will enhance it. More atmospheric water vapor might entail  seasonally slightly cooler weather in some regions, with more cloud formation and increasing precipitation. An increasingly open Arctic Ocean provides stronger pressures, disrupts the , the  (), , the and the boundaries. The solar insolation will also vary in cycles. But these variations are changes in weather. Climate change is change in average weather over 30 years or more. 

A permanently damaged climate
As long as the increase is due to greenhouse gases only, the change will be fairly slow and predictable. When the big, natural feedback mechanisms are activated, the changes might take place rapidly. The long-term trend is clear – the average global temperature is currently rising on average by 0,2°C per decade.  The changes are irreversible from a human perspective. The world as we knew it, is gone. We can only make more or less educated guesses at how the new world will look like, limit damages and adapt to it as best we can.

The new paradigm: renewable energy sources and sustainable development.

a. Renewable energy does not pollute air and water

b. Renewable energy is eternal

c. Renewable energy increases local resilience and robustness, keeps capital at local leves, decentralises logistics, increases innovation and local competence, stops capital accumulation in the wrong places, facilitates and enhances democratic processes.

d. Renewable energy prevents global warming and ensures a safer and prosperous future for future generations

Petro-addicts and petroholics
Petroholics will to their last sip tell the world they are fine, and that  there is no danger ahead. Petro-addicts have no will of their own, just barely managing to arrange for their next petro-fix.

The risk of choosing the fossil fuel paradigm option (or business as usual) as long as possible is that you might be perceived as being accessory to or partly responsible for the permanent establishment of a depleted, polluted and impoverished world with enormous wealth accumulated by a few thousand multibillionaire tyrants combined with increasing poverty for the majority, or worse: in addition stealing the future from our children and grandchildren.

The risk of choosing the sustainable development paradigm is having to pay some extra money for a much better and safer future for all. We are all more or less petro-holics. The sooner we start weaning ourselves off the habit, the better. The choice is yours – and many factors indicate you have to choose now.

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We should have started transforming our society forty years ago. The longer we wait, the more expensive it will be. We have known what to do for decades.

If you want to read a free e-book on these issues, :

Maldive islands are threatened by global warming and rising sea levels

The Maldive islands are threatened by global warming and rising sea levels
(Photo: Åke Bjørke)
The Maldives and other low-lying small islands may serve as warning “canaries in the coalmine” in our global experiment with the greenhouse effect.

Links:

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  |   |    |    |      |      |    |     |     |     |   Scientific American (2012)   |   |     |     |   

     |       |  (NASA July 2012)  |  (Aug 2012)   |        |       |       |       |     (Scientific American)   |     (Environmental research) | (Boston Globe, Oct 2012)  |    |    |   (Nov 2012)  | (Dec 2012) |  (Nov 2012)  | (Nov 2012) |    | (Alternet Dec 2012) |   (Reuter, Dec 2012)   (BBC, jan 2013)  |  (Science news, Feb 2013)   (2013) | (NYT March 2013)  |    |  

NY Times, 2012  |   (Hansen)

IPCC 2007:      |     |       |     |      |      |      |      |      |     |      |  

(Discovery channel)

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   |    (The Hill, 2012)

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(Oct 2012)

(Independent, Oct 2012)

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     |       |     (Met office, UK)

Aug 2012

(TED lecture 2009)

  (Nature blog April 2012)

  (350. org)

(Science Daily, March 2012)

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(Forbes, September 2012)  |    

(BBC 2012)

 (Alternet August 2012)

See an easy-to understand video:
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   |       |     (New York Times, August 2012)  |   (Guardian, Oct 2012)

(CanberraTimes March 2012)

 (blog)

 – Clearing the PR pollution that clouds climate science

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6 Scary Extreme Energy Sources Being Tapped to Fuel the Post Peak Oil Economy

 (Alternet 2012)

(KSL.com, September 2012)

(UN) (February 2012)

(McKinsey april 2012)

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(LEAD)

(Guardian, March 2012)

 (Guardian, March 2012)

(Economic times, March 2012)

(Oil and energy investor 2012)

(Economics for equity and environment, 2012)

(Scientific American, April 2012)

Aviation Environment Federation (AEF)

4 Responses to Climate change

  1. says:

    i like this

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kirsty says:

    Earth has a 2 C tipping point…
    What will the tipping point for mainstream society to take action against climate change be?

    Thank you Aake for this great blog,
    Kirsty

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback:

  4. Hilary Enyiekere says:

    Åke, this is a wonderful piece of contribution to information and knowledge. As one of your students, this has helped a lot in sourcing new scientific information that is consolidating the aspirations that are rekindled in me to learn in the first place. Bravo. Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

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