Do We Really Have Only 12 Years to Live?

By Andy May

Why have uninformed celebrities and politicians been telling everyone, who will listen, we are all going to die in a climate catastrophe in 10 to 30 years? U.N. General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés of Ecuador warned us that:

“We are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damages to our planet” (link)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, once said:

we only have 12 years or “the world is going to end.” (link)

Figure 1. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Photo by Cheriss May of NurPhoto, taken on Feb. 5, 2019.

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#aoc

Earth’s Ice Ages

By Andy May

The phrase “Ice Age” is poorly defined and often abused, so let’s first define the climate state during most ice ages. It is called “Icehouse Earth.” The earth is in an icehouse state when either or both poles are covered in a thick, permanent icecap (Scotese 2015). Today, both poles are covered in ice year-round, so you may be surprised to learn this is very rare in Earth’s history. In fact, out of the last 550 million years, the earth has had permanent ice caps on one or both poles only nine percent of the time.

An “Ice Age” is best defined as a geologically (or millions of years long) long period of low temperatures. This usually results in the presence of continental and polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers. We are currently living in the Quaternary Ice Age, this is only the fifth significant and severe ice age in Earth’s known history, and, so far it has lasted about 2.6 million years (technically 30+ million years ago when permanent ice appeared on Antarctica). It is the most severe ice age in the Phanerozoic, the geological name for the past 550 million years. Ice Ages are rare, but humans evolved during one, so it seems normal to us.

figure 1.JPG

Figure 1. Christopher Scotese’s geological interpretation of Phanerozoic global temperatures in degrees C. The vertical line on the right side, labeled “PAW” is a projection of possible anthropogenic warming according to a pessimistic IPCC climate model. In 2016 the actual global average surface temperature of the Earth was about 14.5 degrees C. as marked on the plot, in 2019 the temperature is slightly lower at 14.35 degrees according to NASA GISS. The names of the major ice ages were added by the author. After (Scotese 2015)

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Calculating the Cost of Global Warming

By Andy May

Hopefully, the first two posts in this series, “Do humans harm the environment” and “Population Growth and the Food Supply” have convinced the reader that man-made climate change and global warming are not an existential threat to humanity or the planet. This leaves us in a discussion of the cost of global warming, which is something we can calculate. To do the calculation, we need to estimate the monetary damages caused by global warming, when they will be incurred, and the discount rate of money over that period of time. We will not attempt the calculation here, it is too complex, but we can discuss the parameters and some of the calculations done by others. Continue reading

Glaciers and Sea Level Rise

By Andy May

This is the seventh and last post in my series on the hazards of climate change. In this post we examine the effects of climate change on glaciers and sea level rise. The first six examined the effect of humans on the environment, the effect of the growing human population, climate change and the food supply, the cost of global warming, the effect of man and climate change on extinctions, climate (or weather) related deaths, and extreme weather and climate change. Continue reading

Global Warming and Extreme Weather

By Andy May

In this post, the sixth of seven, we will discuss the connection between climate change and extreme weather. In previous posts, we’ve discussed whether humans are harming the environment, whether our population is growing too fast, the cost of global warming, are species extinctions increasing, and climate related mortality.

In the IPCC WGII AR5 Technical Summary, page 52, they list the following risks of climate change, among others:

“Virtually certain that, in most places, there will be more hot and fewer cold temperature extremes as global mean temperatures increase, for events defined as extremes on both daily and seasonal time scales.”

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Do humans harm the environment?

By Andy May

This is the first of seven posts on the potential costs and hazards of human-caused global warming and the impact of humans on the environment in general. The IPCC WGII AR5 Technical Summary, defines “hazards” on page 39:

“The potential occurrence of a natural or human-induced physical event or trend or physical impact that may cause loss of life, injury, or other health impacts, as well as damage and loss to property, infrastructure, livelihoods, service provision, ecosystems, and environmental resources. In this report, the term hazard usually refers to climate-related physical events or trends or their physical impacts.”

Do humans harm the environment? If we assume humans are causing most of the current global warming, is the warming dangerous? If we are dangerous to the environment, should we limit our population in some way? If global warming is potentially dangerous, and we assume human CO2 emissions are the cause, would we be better off to adapt to the human-caused global warming and continue using fossil fuels, or do we need to stop using fossil fuels to limit emissions? We will consider these issues here and in future posts. Continue reading

Coral Reefs, Temperature and Ocean pH

By Andy May

Georgiou, et al. 2015 have reported that coral reefs in the Australian Great Barrier Reef, near Heron Island, are insensitive to ocean pH changes. Continue reading