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Author Topic: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof  (Read 38215 times)

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The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« on: July 18, 2013, 04:30:24 PM »
As many will know, Guy McPherson is basically predicting near future extinction for the human race. Rather than dismiss him out of hand (much of what he says makes good sense) I feel it is important to examine his statements and test them - especially as many people take him very seriously.

http://guymcpherson.com/2013/01/climate-change-summary-and-update/
http://guymcpherson.com/2013/05/on-the-acceptance-of-near-term-extinction/

In a previous thread I have voiced the view that the human species is far more resilient than he gives it credit for - having survived for tens of thousands of years without modern technology, in a variety of climates including some very large regional changes (eg Younger Dryas).

I disagree with some of his sources:
- Paul Beckwith, cited for a near future warming prediction and loss of sea ice this year (and last year), as far as I can see this is no more than a personal opinion voiced by Paul Beckwith, not scientifically published material
- Malcolm Light, with a similarly cited description of some methane veil high in the atmosphere beyond detection that was going to incinerate us all in a spreading firestorm (I believe AMEG distanced itself from this prediction, and AMEG is hardly standing in the mainstream)
- His view of oxygen levels dropping in the atmosphere to levels too low for humans to breathe appears to be based on a common misunderstanding of a paper predicting longer term drops in oxygen levels in the sea (as opposed to the atmosphere)

Accordingly I would make the motion that he fails to demonstrate we need to worry much about not having an atmosphere with enough oxygen in, and does not make a convincing case for a major global average temperature rise within the next few decades.

I do want to say - this isn't a witch hunt - he has a lot of sensible material online, and it is only his most extreme views that seem easy to refute. It doesn't take much watering down before, unfortunately, they seem to be closer to reality than most.

Superman1

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2013, 10:33:44 PM »
Any research report, paper, or presentation on climate change is a mixture of 'wheat' and 'chaff', with the chaff coming from either poor but honest research or personal agenda.  The job of the objective reader is to try to separate wheat from chaff, and integrate all the wheat into a coherent whole.  Unfortunately, this is a substantial amount of work on the part of any reader, especially trying to 'reverse-engineer' what is personal agenda based on what is presented, and most people will allow the experts to do their thinking for them. 

Evaluating McPherson is no different.  His main thrust is identifying the myriad positive feedback mechanisms; his contribution, and most controversial aspects, relate to his interpretation of what is happening with these positive feedback mechanisms.  He believes they have become self-sustaining, and are now out of our control.  Since they are cross-linked to temperature and thereby synergistic, they are effectively in a runaway mode.

I agree with most of the positive feedback mechanisms he identifies, especially those for which he provides a reference(s), but I am not convinced they have gone beyond the self-reinforcing mode at this point.  As I pointed out in another post, I don't have the data on resources that drive these positive feedback mechanisms, not do I have access to models that include all the major feedback mechanisms (none have been presented in the open literature; they may or may not exist in the classified literature).  So, my interpretation is that halting or reversing the trajectories of these positive feedback mechanisms is critical and a major challenge, but it is not clear that it is impossible at this point in time.

However, in practice this may be moot.  In order to slow or halt or reverse these feedback mechanisms, we would have to institute the most stringent reductions on fossil fuel use starting today, along with other complementary measures.  There is no evidence of the will to institute such measures, either from governments or from the electorates, so it may be only a matter of a decade or two before these self-reinforcing feedback mechanisms do convert to self-sustaining.  His timing may be off by a couple of generations, but unless we adopt the kinds of emissions reductions recommended by Anderson and doubled in the recent Nature paper, we will end up at the same place.

wili

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2013, 11:10:03 PM »
ccg, those are exactly the points that I would have picked out as the weakest ones in his presentations. I hope he drops them soon. But that he has a few bits of chaff, as sup puts it, does not mean the rest is not useful.

Sup, I wonder if you could present again here M's list of feedbacks, perhaps with some of the critical appraisal of the kind ccg just applied to his general presentation. Are there some you find to be more robust as feedbacks than others.

I do think that dor did have a point that the alterations of ocean currents won't necessarily trigger a positive, reinforcing feedback (though, again, dismissing the whole list because one item was not well supported seemed a bit...abrupt).

I do hope we can have vigorous discussions about these crucial topics without resorting to personal attacks or essentially troll-like behaviors.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JimD

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2013, 06:24:52 AM »
I read his blog for a short period a couple of years ago.  I stopped as a result of a post he put up detailing very near term catastrophic conditions that were going to occur.  Being somewhat familiar with what he was writing about and his references I went back and read all the references to find where he got his information.  He had at multiple plain errors in interpretation and several misquotes.  His entire post was just garbage.  I wrote several posts trying to correct his mistakes and providing exact quotes from his references  to correct false impressions.  It was like beating my head upon a wall.  He never responded and the other posters there just accepted what he said without applying any critical thought what-so-ever.

It sounds like he is writing the same kind of posts still. Is there really any good information to be had there?
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2013, 07:48:06 AM »
I agree with most of the positive feedback mechanisms he identifies, especially those for which he provides a reference(s), but I am not convinced they have gone beyond the self-reinforcing mode at this point.  As I pointed out in another post, I don't have the data on resources that drive these positive feedback mechanisms, not do I have access to models that include all the major feedback mechanisms (none have been presented in the open literature; they may or may not exist in the classified literature).  So, my interpretation is that halting or reversing the trajectories of these positive feedback mechanisms is critical and a major challenge, but it is not clear that it is impossible at this point in time.

I personally think that we are committed to seeing the positive feedbacks enter a territory where they self reinforce, even though we mostly aren't seeing this in action yet. If the stabilisation temperature for a total cessation of carbon dioxide release from tonight is thought to be approximately 2C above base (I don't recall if that includes sulphate aerosol loss, so I'll assume it does to be less contentious) that is still enough to expect a large release from permafrost (thought to be well advanced by 1.5C, assuming that was above global average). Loss of Arctic sea ice is good for 0.3-0.7 Wm^2 of averaged forcing depending how much of the year it becomes ice free for.

I can well see that the Amazon rainforest (and other forest areas) could die back or burn within the scope of that additional warming - and that carbon feedbacks alone could potentially get us to +4-5C (I'm just pulling this out of a hat, it depends very much how much carbon you think the natural world will contribute and how sensitive the system is, and I don't know this, and I don't think anyone knows this), depending greatly upon factors such as how much and how fast we get methane from shallow water clathrates.

I'm far from certain that we will trigger a full methane catastrophe as it seems to me this is a very unusual event indeed - and even at that point - one would need to transmit a lot of heat into the truly deep ocean (a very slow process and presumably far beyond our lifetimes) to do so. Even in this very hypothetical scenario I am not convinced human extinction is inevitable (if complex organisms survived the last time this happened?), but Guy Mcpherson seems adamant that humanity couldn't even survive a world 4C warmer.

My personal opinion is that release from shallow water clathrates and permafrost greenhouse gases is likely a normal part of the transition between states of ice cover (and accounts for the fact that methane tracks temperature, not just carbon dioxide) in the paleoclimatic record. To that extent, we should be seeing a relatively "normal" transition for the earth system in this respect - I appreciate the rate of change and size of forcing is very large compared to most paleoclimatic norms - but once a positive feedback sets in as with ice albedo I don't see why it wouldn't always proceed relatively fast during that stage.

Just because it is a normal response for the earth system does not mean it is remotely normal in terms of human experience (and historically far milder shocks have given us serious problems).

It also doesn't seem safe to presume upon changes occurring at the rate suggested - while I think the earth system may well throw up some really nasty surprises - nobody can state such things as absolute fact (I'm not convinced anybody, even at the furthest edges of research)

As Wili put it:

ccg, those are exactly the points that I would have picked out as the weakest ones in his presentations. I hope he drops them soon. But that he has a few bits of chaff, as sup puts it, does not mean the rest is not useful.

I find his weaker points and ultimate conclusions somewhat unhelpful - they diminish the credibility of the rest of what he says*. The ultimate conclusion people who accept everything he says come to seems to be defeatism and inaction - a self fulfilling prophecy if there ever was one.

*as does citing sources that are nothing more than opinions in themselves, amongst more solid references, implying that all the sources cited carry the same weight

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2013, 08:11:20 AM »
I read his blog for a short period a couple of years ago.  I stopped as a result of a post he put up detailing very near term catastrophic conditions that were going to occur.  Being somewhat familiar with what he was writing about and his references I went back and read all the references to find where he got his information.  He had at multiple plain errors in interpretation and several misquotes.  His entire post was just garbage.  I wrote several posts trying to correct his mistakes and providing exact quotes from his references  to correct false impressions.  It was like beating my head upon a wall.  He never responded and the other posters there just accepted what he said without applying any critical thought what-so-ever.

I find the dogmatic way some people accept what he writes a little disturbing. I can't say I've read him regularly or a lot (so I'm only really stating impressions, rather than firmly held views) but I did once get into a brief debate where someone quoted him as saying that temperatures over 50C were empirically fatal to humans and that would be a point at which life wouldn't be possible (I supplied links to articles about heat waves with temperatures in excess of that to demonstrate it wasn't that simple and pointed out that it's quite hard to raise atmospheric temperatures arbitrarily as warmer or more humid air wants to rise - but Guy Mcpherson seems accepted as a far greater authority than I am - the fact he has academic credentials may play a role there). It seems to me a lot of people take him as the last word on the matter.

It sounds like he is writing the same kind of posts still. Is there really any good information to be had there?

That's an interesting question, and part of why I think it's worth exploring the matter (as he appears influential in a certain portion of the population that grasps that climate change is a serious issue).

I personally can't say I've ever got any new information from him, nor would I rely upon his blog - but in theory I think it could have some value in specific circumstances. For anyone capable of critical thought and fact checking his assertions, perhaps he's a possible crash course in the more catastrophically oriented opinions on climate change (as opposed to the nice gentle IPCC stuff at the other end of the spectrum). I say that on the basis that I'm not aware of that many people out there trying to pull everything together (or exploring the worse case end of all this) and with the suspicion that most of us here have gradually accumulated what we know piecemeal.

If one wants more details (as opposed to a cursory introduction to provoke thought), there are far more nuanced and accurate blogs out there of course (and numerous other sources of information - papers, reports, media etc).

Whether or not there is overall good there, I think isn't so clear - but the influential nature and reach of his blog makes it relevant either way. Personally, I feel obliged to try to counter the idea that near future extinction is inevitable - that line of thinking is a) seriously flawed b) only likely to result in apathy and nothing good.

One of these days I intend to write a long blog article of my own attempting to thoroughly refute the inevitability of near future extinction, so I can just use a link to it instead of arguing the toss... one of these days...

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2013, 02:22:59 PM »
The problem is, every year we have more evidence that we are even worse off than we thought before. So, while he may not yet have a rock-solid case for inevitable near-term extinction, by the time you put together your blog, the actual situation may have caught up with him.

And I don't think we should assume that we know how people are going to react. I have been pretty close to his level of doom for some time, but in the mean time I have:

reduced my personal 'footprint' to a fraction of my average fellow American
worked successfully on campaigns to stop the building of new coal plants
been an activist at pretty much every level-- organizing neighborhood groups, serving on advisory committees for the city, serving on similar committees at my work, taken part in many state, national and global initiatives and actions...

(and of course obsessively followed and occasionally contributed to forums and blogs such as this  :D )

I think pie-eyed optimism and willful ignorance are far greater dangers to action than is the  ennui one inevitably feels occasionally when trying to understand just how deep of a sh!t hole we have dug for ourselves.

Again, thanks for the conversation and for the exhortation to keep the mudslinging to a minimum (or to aim said mud at appropriate targets).
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2013, 06:48:25 PM »
The problem is, every year we have more evidence that we are even worse off than we thought before. So, while he may not yet have a rock-solid case for inevitable near-term extinction, by the time you put together your blog, the actual situation may have caught up with him.

I agree that most of the news emerging appears to be on the "worse" side of the uncertainty spectrum.

However, I think you have an awful long way to go to create a demonstrable guaranteed extinction scenario (in climate change terms at least, a big enough space rock could do the trick). It's a lot easier to prove certain extinction as you only need to demonstrate that one parameter essential for human survival will exceed tolerable bounds - to disprove it you must be able to refute all such parameters.

I think the challenge therefore is simple - for anyone arguing inevitable extinction - construct a scenario using either paleoclimatic data or recent research and established facts (or reasonable speculation) that demonstrates at least one parameter essential for human survival will categorically be exceeded over the whole surface of the planet. I am not at all sure this is possible, even adding in things commonly thought (wrongly in my view) to be capable of destroying our species (eg nuclear holocaust, biological plagues, nuclear plant meltdowns).

It should be noted that in our couple of hundred thousand years (or however much you count) of recent evolutionary history we have weathered the transition between ice ages and supervolcanic eruptions without going under. Those are very large and dramatic events and our numbers were much lower and more constrained geographically at the time (I'm discounting our technological abilities as those could easily be lost). Civilisations have risen and fallen countless times, but our species has proved robust thus far. We can, even without high technology, widen our range far beyond what it would be if we were without clothing, fire and agriculture.

And I don't think we should assume that we know how people are going to react. I have been pretty close to his level of doom for some time, but in the mean time I have:

I shouldn't over generalise perhaps - but a lot of people do shrug their shoulders and give up, and I think the inevitable extinction message plays into supporting that attitude. Many people have a sense of powerlessness with respect to climate change even without a belief in inevitable near term extinction. By far the most common excuse for inaction I have heard generally is a belief that action is hopeless and the problems insoluble.

I would argue I represent an outlier too, in that I hold the view of a potential near future threat to civilisation - and still do quite a lot that addresses issues up to that level of threat (ie that also have benefits at lower levels of threat. It is obviously absurd to "plan" for extinction (and I don't understand why anyone who genuinely holds that belief would "walk away from empire" or bother to try to convince people of it, versus just going out and having fun?).

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2013, 08:48:58 PM »
Just a few observations after reading the thread.


50c won't kill people. It's a much lower figure coupled with 100% humidity. There is literature available & I believe the topic was explored ~a year ago at the ASIB site.
I can't imagine a world where humans don't survive. We, rats and cockroaches breed rapidly enough and have such a wide range that our survival seems (at least to me) to be assured.
I can't imagine a world in which civilization as we've come to know it will survive. The focus on short term gain that assures our survival as a species also assures our failure as a cooperative culture.
The tipping point arguments don't matter since there is no conceivable way that we will stop spewing CO2 into the atmosphere. If somehow the powers that be decreed such a policy, how would they enforce it without burning more FF?
The future is bleak & while I applaud those who endeavour to minimise their own culpability, I see it more as a feel good strategy than one that will change anything, even in the short term.
On a conspiratorial note it's worth pondering what happened to S&S's research on methane plumes in the ESAS. We went from huge releases that would change everything to total silence in an astonishingly short period. The Canadian government has been caught actively suppressing climate change information & while Obama has publicly called for transparency there still seem to be research projects that lose funding.
Building sea walls around NY falls into the feel good category as surely as NC's decision to legislate sea level rise. It keeps people distracted from the inevitable, but won't make any difference to the outcome.
I make no claims of having a deeper insight into this than anyone else. I've been following the changes that have been occurring for less than 4 years and nothing in my background relates.
Terry

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2013, 09:05:05 PM »
On a conspiratorial note it's worth pondering what happened to S&S's research on methane plumes in the ESAS. We went from huge releases that would change everything to total silence in an astonishingly short period. The Canadian government has been caught actively suppressing climate change information & while Obama has publicly called for transparency there still seem to be research projects that lose funding.


I approached it from a conspiracy theory point of view here:

http://civilisationcontinuitygroup.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/the-mysterious-meeting-at-the-white-house/

I'd back pedal very slightly on some of my statements there, just because without Snowden grade evidence, it's speculation (however well it seems to fit what's happening).

If enough suggestive material could be collected together, this might merit a topic of it's own (must resist temptation to divert this one away from McPherson/extinction so early on).

sidd

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2013, 04:35:39 AM »
why hypothesize when we can measure ?

Major feedbacks already operant:
1)ice albedo
2)tundra peat fossil carbon release (as methane and CO2)

submarine clathrate gun doesnt scare me as those two

another one that keeps me awake is so far secondary, but it is the destabilization of WAIS

sidd

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2013, 12:02:34 PM »
Why not continue this thread? I'm late in, have to read some more posts, but here's my take, FWIW;

Quote CCGM on: July 18, 2013, 04:30:24 PM
“In a previous thread I have voiced the view that the human species is far more resilient than he gives it credit for - having survived for tens of thousands of years without modern technology, in a variety of climates including some very large regional changes (eg Younger Dryas).”



These are remains named KNM-ER 1470 and 1813, discovered by K.Kimeu / R. Leakey near Lake Turkana in the seventies. I’d like to think of them as a pair, representing our ancestors in an Adam-Eve likelihood (they are probably not even related in time/space and family genes).

I introduce this pic, CCGM, to illustrate my feeling that you’re an optimist.

Why? One, because their survival is probably best described as ‘chance’. That their heir could expand in the opportunity about 0,01 MYA from maybe just a few hundred thousand individuals to seven billion now has been one of the incredible phenomena of life on this planet.

Two, I would define modern technology as the complex set of abilities and knowledge supporting all civilizations since the founding of agriculture. I argue that that technology has nothing in value to support a vision upon our resilience as a species.

Our ancestors could live through various stages of biospheric conditions for about five MYA (I refer to the bifurcation with the line headed for Pan Troglodytes, Chimpansee, in my eyes a worthy co-survivor now enduring a similar fate as we do by our technology).

You see, any action on the trajectory of technology also limits possibilities. This works much like natural evolution does, too. Better keep it broad and small. That’s what nature seems to me to illustrate. Our ancestors probably didn’t choose to do so. But at least they survived and there probably was some happiness along the way.

But through the last chain of 500 births humanity limited itself through each new invention.
Evolutional history shows an abundance of illustrations on limits and adaptational successes. In great lines, overspecialisation led to extinction (ex. Dinosaurs), versatility to survival (ex. Rodents).

There are no solutions in further advancing technology.

wili

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2013, 12:30:16 PM »
Nicely put. Here's a new McPherson video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDdhL3hLP-M&feature=youtu.be

Some of his sources are better than others, of course. But the general case that we're in a world of troubles, beyond what most want to admit, is quite clear and well supported.

Here's another view by an eminent scholar of possible imminent human extinction:

Noam Chomsky: How Climate Change Became a 'Liberal Hoax'


Particularly from about minute 4 to 6.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

ggelsrinc

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2013, 06:11:59 PM »
Nicely put. Here's a new McPherson video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDdhL3hLP-M&feature=youtu.be

Some of his sources are better than others, of course. But the general case that we're in a world of troubles, beyond what most want to admit, is quite clear and well supported.

Here's another view by an eminent scholar of possible imminent human extinction:

Noam Chomsky: How Climate Change Became a 'Liberal Hoax'

Particularly from about minute 4 to 6.


I've seen that video a few times and it contains things that are obviously wrong to someone who knows science. IIRC, it was posted on a thread about feedbacks and you provided a good list of his claims. I thought about refuting obvious mistakes, but concluded what is the use.

We have major problems on Earth, but the message that we are all going to die and there is nothing you can do about it doesn't sing. We aren't going to combat the nonsense posted all over the internet that claims there is no climate change/global warming that way and I believe the Denialistas have much more resources than we do. Our efforts are charity and their efforts are funded, IMHO.

Science isn't an easy job, no matter where someone works. It demands focus on such a particular thing that's it's easy to lose focus on many other important things. Some of that lab work is so grueling, that I equate it to hell on earth, but it needs to be done and it isn't fun. I can remember feeling a moment of joy sweeping the floors of a lab, because I didn't have to constantly think about what I was doing.

I don't consider people like Guy McPherson as my enemy, nor do I consider the whackos on WUWT to be my enemies. They are people and entitled to have their own opinions. If I disagree with what is said, I tend to focus on what I don't agree with and not the messenger. I find more value in examining disagreements than thousands of many agreements.

wili, I think that list of feedbacks you posted would be very appropriate to this thread, but I don't want to copy and post it.   

R. Daneel Olivaw

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2013, 07:14:18 PM »
#7 states: "I think the challenge therefore is simple - for anyone arguing inevitable extinction - construct a scenario using either paleoclimatic data or recent research and established facts (or reasonable speculation) that demonstrates at least one parameter essential for human survival will categorically be exceeded over the whole surface of the planet. "

One scenario that may meet those requirements is that the oceans "go bad", leading to a global increase in hydrogen sulfide, which is both toxic and damaging to the ozone layer: the thermohaline ocean currents are disrupted, leading to anoxia, leading to colonization by h2s-spewing bacteria, leading to global h2s poisoning and damage to the ozone layer that leads to increased UV levels.  Peter Ward has written extensively about this hydrogen sulfide scenario, especially in his book "Under A Green Sky". He argues that this mechanism has been associated with at least some, if not all, of the big mass extinctions that have occurred in the past.

ggelsrinc

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #15 on: November 26, 2013, 07:57:48 PM »
There are easy points of the Guy McPherson video to dispute. His point about early mammals is false and any encyclopedia proves it. It sends out such a red flag that it makes a logically thinking person suspicious and then they start examining his other claims. From what I've seen, Guy McPherson only looks at one side of a balance sheet, as if all feedbacks are positive. It's sloppy science.

Guy McPherson isn't wrong for sounding an alarm to a problem, but let's say his viewpoint is totally true. Let's say we convince everyone who doesn't believe in global warming to assist us, while telling the whole world it will die regardless of what we do! Why would anyone care if they believed that and why would they even try to stop the future disaster, knowing it's hopeless?   

wili

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #16 on: November 26, 2013, 10:31:36 PM »
RDO, thanks for bringing up the important book by Ward. I don't expect that situation to develop right away, but it can't be ignored. One thing that might, oddly, mitigate against the H2S levels building up too high is that they depend on a rich level of life in the oceans going into the anoxic event. Since we have gone a long way toward fishing the ocean clean of much of its former life, perhaps there will be correspondingly less live matter to feed into the bacteria that produce the H2S??

In other words, perhaps in this case one catastrophe (collapse of life in the oceans) may help mitigate somewhat another one eruption of H2S from the oceans).
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

ggelsrinc

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #17 on: November 26, 2013, 10:53:45 PM »
Here is the rub and it's simply we don't know.

I don't doubt sulfur or H2S played a major part in past extinctions, but the sulfur has to come from somewhere. Life itself contains sulfur, so was there an external source, like coal burning during the Siberian Traps or was that H2S a product of extinction itself. It may be possible to gather information for isotope ratios of pyrites properly dated to the age, but that's only a guess.

One thing I don't have to guess about is we are screwing up our oceans and they are the health of our planet. Many of the ways we are doing so are known and we need to stop it. Around my area, agricultural runoff is a major problem. The health of our estuaries are also threatened by piles of chicken manure. I've been to places in my state that had piles of chicken manure about 20 feet high and near enough to our shores. I looked at the process (besides smelling it) and wondered, why would humans be so stupid to dry manure that way. What is wrong with requiring a roof above such drying facilities to prevent excess runoff of nitrogen and zoning in areas creating less damage?

wili

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #18 on: November 26, 2013, 10:58:30 PM »
By the way, Daneel, welcome to the fray! Please don't hesitate to contribute (especially when you can bring up such useful and interesting books!). Do you know about the associated blog (neven's Arctic Sea Ice Blog: http://neven1.typepad.com/. Though I usually fail at it myself, do try to stay on topic and avoid feeding trolls. Best wishes on a productive time here.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #19 on: November 27, 2013, 12:07:20 AM »
Nicely put. Here's a new McPherson video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDdhL3hLP-M&feature=youtu.be

Some of his sources are better than others, of course. But the general case that we're in a world of troubles, beyond what most want to admit, is quite clear and well supported.
I've watched video and he's misrepresenting much of the material. Then he draws wrong conclusions.

For example he cites different organizations about projections of temperature in future, but he doesn't say that these projections are based on high emissions scenarios and high climate sensitivity. It is quite possible that we will stop burning fossil fuels and atmospheric concentration of GHGs will stabilize.

Also (as ggelsrinc already pointed out) he doesn't mention negative feedbacks.

And he thinks that big number of feedbacks translates into big effects. That's not necessarily true. There may be dozens of feedbacks, but many of them can be very small and do not add much to warming.

His conclusions about near term extinction are plain wrong. It could be that we'll get major disruptions in near term future, but extinction is way beyond anything that evidence would support.

ritter

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #20 on: November 27, 2013, 12:30:34 AM »
he doesn't say that these projections are based on high emissions scenarios and high climate sensitivity. It is quite possible that we will stop burning fossil fuels and atmospheric concentration of GHGs will stabilize.

Snort. Except we've unleashed permafrost melt that will ensure we continue to warm for several centuries even if we cease emissions right now. And there is no chance we will cease. We aren't even slowing down!  :o

domen_

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2013, 01:13:32 AM »
We won't cease in near term, but we probably will cease later this century. Other sources of energy will become available and cheaper. I'm quite sure that business as usual will not be sustained much more than a decade or two at most.

Btw, is there any more information about extinctions due to warming and bacteria producing H2S? It looks very interesting, but all I can find is Peter Ward's articles. Is he the only author who studies this thing?

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2013, 01:33:36 AM »
he doesn't say that these projections are based on high emissions scenarios and high climate sensitivity. It is quite possible that we will stop burning fossil fuels and atmospheric concentration of GHGs will stabilize.

Snort. Except we've unleashed permafrost melt that will ensure we continue to warm for several centuries even if we cease emissions right now. And there is no chance we will cease. We aren't even slowing down!  :o

How did we have forests in tundra areas in the past without unleashing permafrost and we have atmospheric and fossil samples to prove it was done? When there is no evidence of massive methane releases during the Eemian or HTM, why would someone believe it should happen now? Why wouldn't they think the methane has vented by now and only small amounts compared to the past could be produced? Have you ever heard of Rebound Island?

The problem with pointing out anything about global warming is the science gets thrown to the wayside by radicals on both extreme. There is plenty of good science showing our world has a big problem, but claiming immediate extinction is nonsense and not science. Could it happen in the sense that anything is possible, of course, it could. I can think of many things that are possible to destroy our world with more probable. That doesn't mean BAU is a smart thing to do, it simply means doomed is the wrong message.

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2013, 05:57:40 PM »
domen_: Ward cites other's work on the H2S mechanism, e.g., Kump and Arthur at Penn State. I'm no expert on the subject myself, but I imagine there must be others who've looked at this as well. Anyway, in addition to his excellent books, there's a good TED talk by Ward, and also this interview: http://bigthink.com/videos/big-think-interview-with-peter-ward

Another interesting read, I think, is Climate Wars by Gwynne Dyer, which focuses more on the geopolitical fallout we're likely to see in the coming decades...among many other things, he too talks about Ward's H2S scenario as a possible end-point.

Wili: thanks for the welcome!

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2013, 06:19:53 PM »
These are remains named KNM-ER 1470 and 1813, discovered by K.Kimeu / R. Leakey near Lake Turkana in the seventies. I’d like to think of them as a pair, representing our ancestors in an Adam-Eve likelihood (they are probably not even related in time/space and family genes).

I introduce this pic, CCGM, to illustrate my feeling that you’re an optimist.

Oddly enough most people call me a pessimist (and worse) for predicting the deaths of billions of people (a majority of people indeed) well within my lifetime.

Why? One, because their survival is probably best described as ‘chance’. That their heir could expand in the opportunity about 0,01 MYA from maybe just a few hundred thousand individuals
to seven billion now has been one of the incredible phenomena of life on this planet.

The rapid expansion from a small start to massive numbers is perfectly typical of any organism moving into an ecosystem without any natural checks to stop it. By overcoming those checks we've done what bacteria and viruses do rather successfully - multiply - until we hit the constraints. It's worth noting that remains such as the above are doing rather better to both survive the passage of time and beat the statistics to be discovered by us - than the odds of the original members of the species in question surviving.

Two, I would define modern technology as the complex set of abilities and knowledge supporting all civilizations since the founding of agriculture. I argue that that technology has nothing in value to support a vision upon our resilience as a species.

...

There are no solutions in further advancing technology.

I think that depends what vision of the future you want to subscribe to. Sure - we could regress to the trees (if we hadn't cut most of them down and destroyed most of the rest by changing the environment for them too) - but what future is there in that? What is the point to merely live and nothing more?

I don't see the point in survival or existence if one is not attempting to undertake some sort of a journey - some idea of progress, of advancing forwards. In the modern age we have taken some very serious wrong turns in this journey - but need that invalidate the basic concept behind it?

In the end existence is essentially meaningless so far as we know - and yet - we can choose to find meaning, to explore the universe (I include through mathematics and long range sensors here) and discover what it is and where we are. It's just as easy to answer "why not?" as "why?".

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #25 on: November 27, 2013, 08:48:34 PM »
Daneel,  Massive inputs of Co2 have in the past resulted in extinction events, usually associated with large volcanic events. The resultant heating of the oceans leads to stratification and a reduction in oxygen content of the oceans. If the Co2 input is fast enough it can also lead to acidification events, if the Co2 input is slow enough terrestrial weathering of carbonates and silicate minerals maintains the oceans pH balance. Cold water can hold more oxygen than hot water and deep ocean circulation and ventilation is driven by sinking cold water so heating decreases oceanic oxygen content. So large fast inputs of Co2 can drive both hypoxia/anoxia and acidification. Anoxia leads to hydrogen sulfide production but teasing apart what of the stressors (heat, acidification, anoxia or hydrogen sulfide ) is actually responsible for any one species extinction is very difficult. You might want to read Andy Knoll to get a better description of trigger and kill mechanisms. I would defer to Andy on the probabilities involved, he discounts near term extinction.

    http://www.astrobio.net/interview/342/extinctions-interview-with-andrew-knoll-part-ii

Things to watch are bottom water formation and ventilation which according to Purky and Johnson 2013 is decreasing in the Antarctic. A slowdown in north Atlantic bottom water formation would be another bad sign. In the very long term sea level rise will compromise the Ismus of Panama should sea level exceed 85 ft. How that would change MOC probably would be rapid and negative but I haven't ever seen anyone speculate on how sea level rise may compromise the ocean conveyer.

      http://wanderinggaia.com/2010/12/10/the-isthmus-that-changed-the-world/

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #26 on: November 27, 2013, 08:54:28 PM »
ccg, these are issues I struggle with, too.

I can't quite give up on the idea of progress, yet I also can't shake the feeling that the very idea of progress implies a kind of historical linearity or teleology that is part of the ideology that has gotten us into this mess in the first place.

It strikes me that an essentially circular (we may seem to be 'going somewhere,' but we will ultimate cycle back to essentially where we were before) view of history would be less likely to produce insane ideologies (such as the assumption of eternal growth in neo-classical economics) than the linear/progress view. 

But I may well be missing something obvious here.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #27 on: November 27, 2013, 09:51:01 PM »
Economic growth doesn't destroy the environment and can actually be used to fix it. There is no technological requirement that making energy requires burning fossil fuels, but there is simply a transition period to stop doing so. That limited economic growth philosophy comes from old money in Europe, so go figure and it's I got mine and a F U mentality. I can imagine how it will play out, but I really doubt 7 billion plus human beings will be so willing to destroy themselves and not make changes. Bunkers never saved Hitler.

Enough of this dumbsh!t philosophy that the world is better without human beings, because it isn't! It's much better for the Earth to have intelligent creatures fixing the things they messed up and not wasting time on the blame game.

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #28 on: November 28, 2013, 12:28:33 AM »
But I may well be missing something obvious here.

Well - intelligence is certainly missing (not in you, in the species as a collective whole).

Also a sensible definition of "progress" - clearly what we are doing today cannot be considered progress - to rape and destroy the future (and soon present) so we can consume as much as possible and some of us can enjoy our 2 tonne cars and plastic disposable toys and so on...

If on the other hand we would empower the members of our species and the species as a collective whole without undermining the foundations of the world that sustains as a species - and viewed progress as being able to do more with less and took a truly long term view - ie far beyond our own generation and even beyond that of our hypothetical grandchildren - I suspect we could by any reasonable measures progress somewhere interesting (a decent minimum quality of life for the members of the species at least and perhaps even ultimately the scope to explore the nearest portion of the universe).

In this sense technology and consumption and population are not measures of true progress. True progress could only be to advance those things without increasing the negative impact on the foundations upon which we must start - food, water, shelter, etc - and even that only with a truly long term view that assures not only that the foundations would not be eroded within one generation - but also that they would not be eroded in countless generations.

The path of the technologically minded fool is to carelessly create many new problems and assume that the progression of technology will always assure a way out of them. Not only is that too short term thinking and predicates a future upon those yet to come solving the problems shoved down their throats - but the increase of complexity required as the problems escalate has likely limits that mean this is ultimately still a dead end strategy (as indeed we are seeing today).

Unfortunately the track record of humanity on having the wisdom not to do something simply because it can be done is poor. Worse, such wisdom would need to prevail in virtually all surviving members to adopt it as a key ideology driving the next civilisation - no small feat to accomplish (those who would not adopt it would need eliminated just as we would deal with criminals, and in a low tech world that likely means low tech solutions).

Nonetheless I don't see a future in sitting in a cave as a worthwhile ultimate objective - even if in practice it is quite possibly how I spend my later days personally (presuming I don't meet a violent end prematurely).

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #29 on: November 28, 2013, 07:17:25 AM »
Daneel, I was over at Skeptical Science Nov.24 and found a detailed explanation of the hydrogen sulfide issue.

http://geology.gsapubs.org/content/33/5/397.full

The paper mentions Knoll 1996 in the paleoenviornmental implications section. Knoll makes the argument that the species clades that went extinct at the end Permian event were disproportionately represented by species sensitive to the effects of acidification.
There may be multiple drivers for large extinction events but after reading the Kump piece the hydrogen sulfide does include terrestrial kill mechanisms that acidification doesn't.

A question I have is how the current hydrogen sulfide upwelling events in Namibia add up in relation to say volcanic contributions of hydrogen sulfide worldwide? If Oregon and Peru had events like Namibia how would that compare to current volcanism?

Ccg& wili sorry for the two dialogs   

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #30 on: November 28, 2013, 05:03:26 PM »
"sitting in a cave"

Caves can be quite comfortable! Last I heard, there were still a few thousand people living in some very nicely furnished caves. Temperature stays quite close to comfortable levels for humans, winter and summer. Your 'home' is not likely to get knocked down by a storm or have its roof blown off...

Many advantages.

And one tradition at least sees "just sitting" in a cave (or anywhere else) is a the most valuable end in itself that could be. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen

https://www.google.com/search?q=Bodhidharma&client=firefox-a&hs=pGQ&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=fGiXUuzsJZPkoATR-YJI&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1376&bih=727#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=qxuq-ba2xHhyLM%3A%3BZDjVY-twaP0z1M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fupload.wikimedia.org%252Fwikipedia%252Fcommons%252F4%252F40%252FBodhidharma.and.Huike-Sesshu.Toyo.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fen.wikipedia.org%252Fwiki%252FBodhidharma%3B300%3B488
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #31 on: November 28, 2013, 08:21:07 PM »
In the context of hydrogen sulfide, from what I have read, human extinction seems to be guaranteed from this phenomenon seeing as I don't really see any way to prepare for it, yeah a methane warmed earth perhaps, but not really one with atmospheric hydrogen sulfide, unless I'm missing something.
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ggelsrinc

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #32 on: November 28, 2013, 09:10:47 PM »
In the context of hydrogen sulfide, from what I have read, human extinction seems to be guaranteed from this phenomenon seeing as I don't really see any way to prepare for it, yeah a methane warmed earth perhaps, but not really one with atmospheric hydrogen sulfide, unless I'm missing something.

How is it possible to get sulfur in that equation?

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #33 on: November 28, 2013, 09:23:48 PM »
In the context of hydrogen sulfide, from what I have read, human extinction seems to be guaranteed from this phenomenon seeing as I don't really see any way to prepare for it, yeah a methane warmed earth perhaps, but not really one with atmospheric hydrogen sulfide, unless I'm missing something.

Don't agree. You have to demonstrate that the entire surface area of the planet is simultaneously toxic to human life to assure extinction. Hydrogen sulphide breaks down in the atmosphere and my understanding is that if released from the sea it would be released in distinct eruptions in localised areas.

It's a bit of a step from that to empirically demonstrate global toxicity? (even though it would be a real threat for nearby communities or settlements)

ggelsrinc

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #34 on: November 28, 2013, 10:31:22 PM »
In the context of hydrogen sulfide, from what I have read, human extinction seems to be guaranteed from this phenomenon seeing as I don't really see any way to prepare for it, yeah a methane warmed earth perhaps, but not really one with atmospheric hydrogen sulfide, unless I'm missing something.

Don't agree. You have to demonstrate that the entire surface area of the planet is simultaneously toxic to human life to assure extinction. Hydrogen sulphide breaks down in the atmosphere and my understanding is that if released from the sea it would be released in distinct eruptions in localised areas.

It's a bit of a step from that to empirically demonstrate global toxicity? (even though it would be a real threat for nearby communities or settlements)

Hydrogen sulfide won't go to the atmosphere, unless mankind is releasing it. When created in oceans, it's going to mostly stay there and form pyrites. It's simple chemistry and the way things work.

wili

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #35 on: November 28, 2013, 11:03:35 PM »
"it would be a real threat for nearby communities or settlements"

That's my impression as well. It will be the largest threat to people living within about 100 miles of the ocean. Trouble is, that includes, what, a billion people? Another reason, though to head toward interiors of continents.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #36 on: November 29, 2013, 12:35:57 AM »
"it would be a real threat for nearby communities or settlements"

That's my impression as well. It will be the largest threat to people living within about 100 miles of the ocean. Trouble is, that includes, what, a billion people? Another reason, though to head toward interiors of continents.


If memory serves - and a significant chunk of it in this case based on discussions in these very forums - it isn't even that big a threat. It would typically only be released from the ocean in areas where deep water was able to well up to the surface and you had sufficient concentrations of hydrogen sulphide in the water.

It's a bit heavier than air and would probably take a fair amount of wind to disperse it any significant distance inland - and would tend to be diluted rapidly as it travelled (although it's actually more toxic than cyanide!).

Residence time in the atmosphere is typically apparently quite short:

http://daq.state.nc.us/toxics/studies/H2S/H2S_Ambient_Air.pdf

By the time we had a planet where such outgassings could happen with any frequency (and bear in mind the processes that create the hydrogen sulphide are from quite slow growing bacteria if memory serves - so you're looking quite a ways down the road) I seriously doubt there would be anywhere near a billion people left. Theoretically some people might be at risk but on the whole I suspect much bigger threats (extreme weather, drought, heat stress, etc) would be present throughout, leaving this one as a low probability unlikely risk even centuries to millennia down the line (being struck by lightning is a risk too? A more likely risk than winning the lottery, typically...).

With regard to the continental interiors projections suggest much more extreme conditions will be present there than in the continental fringes. Better to live nearer the sea and high up - helping escape heat stress both through the moderating effects of the ocean and altitude.

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #37 on: November 29, 2013, 12:50:10 AM »
Good points. I'm not sure it will be possible (or is now) know where the safest place will be/is. My impression, also, is that it is a longer term problem.

One thing we know is that H2S was at some time a big enough threat to the survival of some ancestor that we can detect it at quite tiny concentrations and have evolved a deep aversion to its smell. That must have been a major advantage for survival at some point.

I count this as just one more threat that may wipe out the last survivors of a tattered human race some day if they are unlucky enough to be in the path of a particularly toxic cloud.

Also keep in mind that: "a mixture of H2S and air is explosive"

So if a cloud of the stuff hit an open flame, goodby town...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_sulfide
« Last Edit: November 29, 2013, 12:56:51 AM by wili »
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #38 on: November 29, 2013, 01:08:21 AM »
"it would be a real threat for nearby communities or settlements"

That's my impression as well. It will be the largest threat to people living within about 100 miles of the ocean. Trouble is, that includes, what, a billion people? Another reason, though to head toward interiors of continents.

It's a real threat in an oil refinery or someone trying to remove it from natural gas, which sometimes has more H2S than methane and isn't worth producing.

Again, the sulfur has to come from somewhere and can't be created by imagination. There are physical laws governing the universe.

domen_

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #39 on: November 29, 2013, 01:16:01 AM »
You have to demonstrate that the entire surface area of the planet is simultaneously toxic to human life to assure extinction.
It's destructive to ozone layer. Once big chunks of ozone layer are gone, then extinction is just a matter of time (or a gamble in best case).

I wonder how thick or thin was ozone layer at the time of dinosaurs. Maybe they were much better adapted to UV radiation.

ggelsrinc

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #40 on: November 29, 2013, 01:57:38 AM »
You have to demonstrate that the entire surface area of the planet is simultaneously toxic to human life to assure extinction.
It's destructive to ozone layer. Once big chunks of ozone layer are gone, then extinction is just a matter of time (or a gamble in best case).

I wonder how thick or thin was ozone layer at the time of dinosaurs. Maybe they were much better adapted to UV radiation.


What was the levels of atmospheric CO2 back then and how did anything survive those oceans?

Guy McPherson lies about mammals appearing on Earth and says they were shrew like creatures when it was 6 degree C warmer.

The first mammals (in Kemp's sense) appeared in the Late Triassic epoch (about 225 million years ago), 40 million years after the first therapsids. They expanded out of their nocturnal insectivore niche from the mid-Jurassic onwards; Castorocauda, for example, had adaptations for swimming, digging and catching fish.[19]


The oldest known fossil among the Eutheria ("true beasts") is the small shrewlike Juramaia sinensis, or "Jurassic mother from China," dated to 160 million years ago in the Late Jurassic.[22] A later eutherian, Eomaia, dated to 125 million years ago in the Early Cretaceous, possessed some features in common with the marsupials but not with the placentals, evidence that these features were present in the last common ancestor of the two groups but were later lost in the placental lineage.[23] In particular:


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mammals



That was a Hothouse Earth by all the information I've discovered, but surely someone teaching in what I consider a low rated Indiana University knows more than anyone else.

The problem is when you examine what is said, the case is so weak it makes you wonder which side of the war is this guy on.

wili

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #41 on: November 29, 2013, 02:50:26 AM »
dom wrote: "Maybe they were much better adapted to UV radiation." The sun was also quite a bit cooler then, iirc. I assume that had some effect on UV levels as well.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #42 on: November 29, 2013, 03:28:41 AM »
You have to demonstrate that the entire surface area of the planet is simultaneously toxic to human life to assure extinction.
It's destructive to ozone layer. Once big chunks of ozone layer are gone, then extinction is just a matter of time (or a gamble in best case).

I wonder how thick or thin was ozone layer at the time of dinosaurs. Maybe they were much better adapted to UV radiation.

I seem to remember reading that the ozone layer is thought to have suffered with attendant rise in UV through the end Permian extinction - though I can't say it was a high authoritative source.

I don't see that UV is automatically extinction either however - not only are some species relatively more tolerant to it - but it's possible for humans to take measures to mitigate it (ie wear some form of clothing, avoid the sunlight, etc). The impact on potential food sources - plants and animals - is a little trickier of course. Regardless, plants and animals both survived the end Permian extinction.

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #43 on: November 29, 2013, 08:56:31 AM »
Ccg, The bottom waters circulate slowly and their oxygen content is dependent on formation processes. Any large change in oxygen content would take  a long time to work it's way though the system, up to a thousand years, so anoxia and hydrogen sulfide production are processes that take a lot of time to develop. That said H2S is reduced by Hydroxyl radicals in the trophisphere and large increases in H2S would leave less OH radicals available to reduce methane.
 H2S is currently produced in anoxic conditions off the coast of Namibia. Namibia has an eastern boundary current and nutrient rich waters upwell there fueling large phytoplankton blooms which sink after they die fueling the production of H2S. There are similar conditions off the coast of Oregon which have resulted in anoxia and fish kills( 2006 was documented)  although H2S doesn't make it to the surface like Namibia. I have read that larger production volumes of H2S may be possible in the future there. The time scales for the development of more H2S is longer than acidification or global heating but the increases in atmospheric  methane will at some point have to compete with H2S for hydroxyl radicals in the trophisphere . The resultant extra heating will probably contribute to additional extinctions and reduced ozone levels but we have plenty of problems before the planet has to deal with toxic levels of H2S drifting onshore. Like in Namibia these processes will result in fish kills so the ocean will take the first hits , not humans. Not near term human extinction, just more sh.. in the fan.     

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #44 on: November 29, 2013, 09:25:28 AM »
Ccg, The bottom waters circulate slowly and their oxygen content is dependent on formation processes. Any large change in oxygen content would take  a long time to work it's way though the system, up to a thousand years, so anoxia and hydrogen sulfide production are processes that take a lot of time to develop. That said H2S is reduced by Hydroxyl radicals in the trophisphere and large increases in H2S would leave less OH radicals available to reduce methane.
 H2S is currently produced in anoxic conditions off the coast of Namibia. Namibia has an eastern boundary current and nutrient rich waters upwell there fueling large phytoplankton blooms which sink after they die fueling the production of H2S. There are similar conditions off the coast of Oregon which have resulted in anoxia and fish kills( 2006 was documented)  although H2S doesn't make it to the surface like Namibia. I have read that larger production volumes of H2S may be possible in the future there. The time scales for the development of more H2S is longer than acidification or global heating but the increases in atmospheric  methane will at some point have to compete with H2S for hydroxyl radicals in the trophisphere . The resultant extra heating will probably contribute to additional extinctions and reduced ozone levels but we have plenty of problems before the planet has to deal with toxic levels of H2S drifting onshore. Like in Namibia these processes will result in fish kills so the ocean will take the first hits , not humans. Not near term human extinction, just more sh.. in the fan.   


That's an interesting point about competition for the hydroxyl radicals - but I'm not sure if it's an especially big deal in that respect - I just went looking for proxy methane records (not sure why I haven't done that before - only looked at ice core records before) and found this paper:

http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/oceanography/faculty/mackenzie/methane.pdf

I haven't had time to look at it properly yet - but if I understand at a glance that it's saying CH4 levels have at times in the last 440 million years been at a sustained 12,000 ppb (as compared to modern days levels of ~1800-2000 ppb) - that would suggest methane was still being removed sufficiently quickly from the system at those levels to remain in equilibrium.

To me that would suggest - at least in the context of a very different environment - that there isn't a long term threat of saturating the hydroxyl breakdown mechanism (although I retain the view that it could be hypothetically be done over shorter term periods by gigatonne scale abrupt releases of methane, with associated substantial pulse of warming). It's worth noting that the timescale in question includes both the end Permian and PETM mass extinctions.

I'm guessing that concentrations of hydrogen sulphide even in the extreme cases would still be small enough and localised enough not to present any global threat. Or do you think it could be released in quantities that would meaningfully impact the available capacity to breakdown methane?

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #45 on: November 29, 2013, 07:05:52 PM »
I do not believe the coming collapse of civilization will result in the extinction of the human species. I absolutely believe that pockets will survive and ultimately thrive.

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #46 on: November 29, 2013, 08:06:41 PM »
Ccg, The  link you provided models terrestrial methane emissions and makes the assumption that because current oceanic  emission are low they always have been low relative to terrestrial swamps.
Seems like a leap to me but that point aside this quote is from the MacKenzie link you provided.
" The large changes in tropospheric CH4 concentrations between the Carboniferous and Triassic are associated with a correspondingly large fall and rise , respectively , in the oxidizing capacity of the troposphere and ozone.". See graph p104
 The Kump link I posted earlier makes the argument that H2S may overcome surface oxidation in upwelling regions under certain conditions. Since this in currently happening in Namibia I have an interest in the mechanisms involved. I am only trying to understand things a little better.
  Most all recent extinctions I can think of have been terrestrial, sea cows being the exception ,but I believe humans have put into motion processes that will extend the human caused extinction campaign into the oceans. Whether an artifact of our ignorance or avarice makes little difference.
  Just getting a grip on the carbon cycle is a challenge.the sulfur cycle and nitrogen cycle are interactive with carbon , enormously complicated and a challenge for anyone to try and understand or communicate. Projecting the full outcome of our interference is beyond anyones abilities.   

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #47 on: November 29, 2013, 09:40:09 PM »
Ccg, The  link you provided models terrestrial methane emissions and makes the assumption that because current oceanic  emission are low they always have been low relative to terrestrial swamps.

My impression is that the paper sets aside short term changes in methane - only looking strictly at long lasting concentrations. It therefore ignores short lived abrupt large scale emissions of the sort postulated to be possible from submarine clathrates. I think that much is clear from the first sentence of the abstract:

Natural variations in the tropospheric CH4 concentration, excluding short bursts from geospheric reservoirs, have been estimated for the past 400 Ma by scaling a wetland CH emission estimate

To the extent that the focus of the paper is on the methane cycle as opposed to large releases from clathrates, it doesn't seem to invalidate it - and I still find it interesting that they're postulating such a high concentration of methane at times in the past.

I'd agree with you that the outlook for the oceans looks - well - absolutely dire. Not just the outlook either, my understanding is there is already majority coral loss/degradation in many areas today and of course many species in the sea are massively depleted in relation to their natural abundance pre exploitation. Why are so few people will informed even about the current damage to the oceans - and so little interest in it? The coral reefs alone are an immensely serious loss...

I do not believe the coming collapse of civilization will result in the extinction of the human species. I absolutely believe that pockets will survive and ultimately thrive.

That much is likely a given I think - the challenge is for people in the future to break out of the repetitive loop that limits civilisations and hence human potential.

while (ideology != sufficient || progress != sustainable)
{
    BuildCivilisation();
    ExpandCivilisation();
    LoseCivilisation();
}

Whether it is possible or not, who knows - either way, no matter what one does, nothing is forever.

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Re: The Guy McPherson outlook - critique and analysis thereof
« Reply #48 on: October 23, 2014, 10:14:37 AM »
On a conspiratorial note it's worth pondering what happened to S&S's research on methane plumes in the ESAS. We went from huge releases that would change everything to total silence in an astonishingly short period. The Canadian government has been caught actively suppressing climate change information & while Obama has publicly called for transparency there still seem to be research projects that lose funding.


I approached it from a conspiracy theory point of view here:

http://civilisationcontinuitygroup.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/the-mysterious-meeting-at-the-white-house/

I fear the reason the US & NATO have been busy defining Climate Change as a «national security threat» is not as they would have you believe, that they will now start to take it seriously, bombing kids from the air only with renewable bomber fuels, but that such a status for Climate Change will make it easier to wield their immense (judicial) power over the 4th estate — the so–called «free» press — as the Greenhouse Effect is now formally a threat on par with «terrorism» (whatever that is, the definitions are pretty broad and all–encompassing). The logic would be that because this is a National Security Threat, the Pentagon and national NATO HQs in Europe must from now on control the dissemination of information concerning this threat. In a spy novel–scenario you could then easily envision «unfortunate» things like alleged «hacker attacks» destroying central climate information services, «accidents» or «technical issues» that make satellites fall out of the sky, etc.
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