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  • #378
    AvatarRezwan
    Member

    The following speculation has not been evaluated by a professional earth scientist.

    Finally saw “An Inconvenient Truth” the other day. (See also climatecrisis.net) The movie mentions that one of the biggest dangers of global warming is that it will melt ice in greenland, which will cause a big influx of cold, wet, fresh water to spill into the north atlantic, diluting the saltiness. This will effectively shut off the north atlantic salt-conveyer current. And this, in turn, could trigger the next ice age. Nothing about this on the website, but here is a national geographic article.

    Now, this is pure speculation here, crude back of the envelope stuff. We’re not going to be able to slow global warming any time soon – even if we eliminate all our emissions, the planet seems to be in gear for heating, and most projections of slow-down still show a long lag time. But say focus fusion works, and we get a commercial reactor up and running in ten years, deploy it throughout the world in conjunction with desalinization plants and a program to bring soil salt levels throughout the world back to healthy plant-nurturing levels (e.g., reverse the hypersalinization of years of irrigated agriculture). And also – we extract/collect the salt.

    Then, in the event that the N. Atlantic current shuts down – we have all this salt to dump in with the freshwater to try and jumpstart it or keep it balanced. We send tankerloads of salt out to the strategic location in the north atlantic and toss it overboard. A gazillion tons (I haven’t done the math, of course. Perhaps 2 gazillion).

    Because apparently, the earth slips into an ice age on a regular basis, the ice ages are very LONG, and these warming spells that we are in are only 10-20,000 years or so. We’re due for an ice age anyway. And Ice ages tend to reduce life on the planet, I think (I don’t know, but I’ve been told). So, it would be nice to figure a way to hold off an ice age indefinitely. That would be a huge positive environmental impact that humans could have.

    It would be nice if humanity could leverage the global warming crisis to learn how to regulate global temperature and keep it at a nice, net-life sustaining temperature for millions of years, rather than the paltry 20,000 we get between ice ages.

    Am I off the deep end here?

    Back to the practicalities: It’s all about timing. If that freshwater falls into the ocean and shuts off the current, well, they say that it takes 2 years without snow melting to form a glacier, and only 10 to launch an ice age. So, from the time Greenland spills into the sea, we have 2-10 years.

    #1851
    AvatarGlenn Millam
    Member

    The water desalinization effect you mention has been speculated as the cause of the Little Ice Age, that occurred between 1550-1850. In the previous, warmer era, water from Greenland and the northern ice cap supposedly stopped the flow of the North Atlantic Current, which makes Europe nice and warm. There is a lot of good literature on the effect on mankind of the Little Ice Age. Not all scientific investigators of this period believe this was the cause, or the main cause. Some point to increased volcanic activity, while others suspect decreased solar output. Those who disagree with the concept of Global Warming point to this last effect, saying that we are not affecting our environment as much as we think we are, we are just in a cyclical phase starting from the end of the Little Ice Age.

    What I find interesting is that, if Global Warming triggers the stoppage of the NAC, thus cooling the Earth, then the Earth sounds like its pretty good at regulating itself. While little creatures such as we may be pretty frightened with all this, it does show that the Earth can put up with quite a bit.

    #1854
    AvatarRezwan
    Member

    Glenn Millam wrote: What I find interesting is that, if Global Warming triggers the stoppage of the NAC, thus cooling the Earth, then the Earth sounds like its pretty good at regulating itself. While little creatures such as we may be pretty frightened with all this, it does show that the Earth can put up with quite a bit.

    The only problem is that ice ages are an alleged disaster. Earth-cooling overkill. I don’t have any specifics on this, but this website argues that anthropogenic climate change

    …has saved us from what would have been the most serious and far-reaching challenge facing humankind in the twenty-first century, namely dealing with a climate rapidly deteriorating into an ice age. After all, no matter what scary scenarios the global warming enthusiasts can dream up, they all pale in comparison to the actual conditions that ice ages have served up in the past

    #1855
    AvatarGlenn Millam
    Member

    Hehe I’m not saying I am pro-Global Warming. If I was, I wouldn’t be interested in Focus Fusion. I would be interested in New Uses For Clean Coal. (I am from Kentucky.)

    As for Ice Ages, one could call them a calamity, but a geologist would say they were necessary for the rich soils of Europe, Asia, and North America. The key in deciding whether a phenomena is positive or negative is to define what nature is, what role the phenomena plays in nature, and define our place in nature along side the phenomena. I think the problem in many scientific circles is the assumption that the world we have today is the way it should be and it should not change. I look over what we have so far discovered about nature, and I see continual yet gradual chaos with occasional events of massive chaos. Change is the nature of Nature. I believe that we humans need to tune our adaptiveness to the point that we no longer have to create huge impacts to live well, and let nature take its course, within defined limits. (Focus fusion is a key to this goal.)

    I have noticed that many scientists, as humans, tend to make the mistake of tying a few new discoveries together and creating entirely new world-views from the implications of their new revelations. Sometimes this is valid; sometimes not. The argument over the Big Bang Theory is based on such observations and links. But Big Bang Theorists speak as if the whole picture has been revealed, and the small pieces yet unresolved are of no real value or will be found over time, so we don’t need to bother with it. I don’t find such arguments very scientific. All aspects need to be looked at of a world-view before it can be accepted at the same level as the facts that are used to derive the world-view. Until a complete set of facts can be assembled, the world-view is not yet valid.

    Take the asteroid problem you bring up. There is a body of scientists who are very upset about this issue. Here are the facts they speak: Asteroids have, and can, cause catastrophic damage to the Earth, and we need to develop the capacity to detect and deflect asteroids capable of causing catastrophe on Earth. These are true facts, and I accept them. Now, despite what many panicked scientists who have researched this subject say, the odds that the Earth is going to get hit by a massive killer asteroid capable of wiping out civilization in the next 100 years is slim to none. So, while we do need to develop the technology, we also need to build up to it, not bankrupt economies to relieve the night terrors of a few scientists. All the close calls are close according to astronomical distances. “Scientists believe such-and-such asteroid will come within a million miles of Earth!” They don’t mention that the Earth is only 8,000 miles wide, and has a thick atmosphere that deflects most objects. The Apollo spacecraft had to be careful during reentry so as not to skip out into space. What are the real odds that a large object has of hitting our small planet at the right angle to do the damage they are so afraid of?

    Now, with Global Warming, there is enough evidence for us to take immediate action, but what action? On the website for An Inconvenient Truth, there are a lot of things we can do, many of which don’t seem that hard. The problem is human inertia. Half the world believes adolescents shouldn’t dance together or God/Allah/Buddha will smite us; the other half won’t recycle their plastics because they might have to drive it to the recycling center, and you KNOW how much time that takes. Getting people to change their culture before they are up against the wall is nearly impossible, and is only possible via education, and time. And time we do not have.

    So, what we have to do instead is work for what I call a One Person solution. It goes back to the concept that one person can make a difference, and others of a like mind following that concept can create a wave of change. The hard work ends up going on to that small group, but that small group also is unhindered by the bureaucracy necessary to get everyone to do tons of small changes. The small group gets to define the change, and set it in motion. The change then becomes seemingly self-evident, and the rest of the world follows it.

    I’m hoping the one person in this case is Eric Lerner, and those he works with and we who visit this site are the kernel of the small group. With Focus Fusion as the catalyst for solving Global Warming, we will have an energy source that will let us stop producing greenhouse gasses, live through the effects we cannot avoid, and repair some damage that would otherwise go unrepaired. It may bring about technologies, so far unthought of, that may cure the problem before it gets out of hand. Since Focus Fusion can touch on so many things, it is extremely important to do the research, but the one thing we don’t need to be panicked. Panic is never the solution.

    #1867
    AvatarRezwan
    Member

    As for Ice Ages, one could call them a calamity, but a geologist would say they were necessary for the rich soils of Europe, Asia, and North America. The key in deciding whether a phenomena is positive or negative is to define what nature is, what role the phenomena plays in nature, and define our place in nature along side the phenomena.

    A million years of ice age seems like a really inefficient way to build rich soils. (Not even sure how that works). But speaking of working with nature and the way to make soils rich, have you heard of Allan Savory and the Holistic Resource Management (“HRM”) folks: http://www.holisticmanagement.org/

    Among other things, these folks introduced me to the concept of the herd effect on soils. Here is a simplified version: herbivores are out there grazing. Chewing away at the grass. They all hang out in a tightly clustered group because of predators. So they’re eating, and dropping dung as well. But that’s gross, they don’t want to eat where they drop, so, en masse, they move on. And they don’t come back to that place until the dung is good and decomposed. This is great for the plants, because they get fertilizer and they don’t get bothered until they’ve had a chance to grow back. Now, the herbivores return, and eat again. The herbivores act like a nice, uniform lawn-mower and fertilizer with built in regeneration waiting period. Allegedly, the plains of America had thundering herds of over a million buffalo doing this sort of thing.

    Now, add mankind. We kill the predators, and leave the herbivores to graze without fear. So the animals disperse, no longer in their huddle. And they eat a plant, walk away. the plant starts to regrow – nice green fresh stuff. The creature comes back and eats it again – because they’d rather eat the newest growth than the older, tougher growth. So, eventually, the landscape gets irregular. Patches of overgrazing and tufts of overgrown undergrazed vegetation. There’s a lot of runoff, water not being absorbed in the ground, wind erosion, etc.

    The HRM folks say this is why human and modern range management is a major cause of desertification. Overgrazing is not so much about HOW MANY animals are grazing, but HOW they are grazing.

    Some books they sell: http://holisticmanagement.org/store//page1.html – Hey, there’s one called “Gardener’s of Eden” – must check that one out!

    #1875
    AvatarGlenn Millam
    Member

    The holistic management site is great! It gives me a lot of hope in that area.

    A good read that will give some insight about Ice Ages (and a lot of other things) is Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Everything. He’s a Big Banger, but don’t hold it against him.

    #2092
    AvatarFrenetic
    Member

    Rezwan wrote:

    It would be nice if humanity could leverage the global warming crisis to learn how to regulate global temperature and keep it at a nice, net-life sustaining temperature for millions of years, rather than the paltry 20,000 we get between ice ages.

    Am I off the deep end here?

    I am inclined to say yes, simply because we are talking about a very large system with an enormous amount of momentum and we are unable to make weather forecasts that are good for more than about a week.

    Rezwan wrote: Back to the practicalities: It’s all about timing. If that freshwater falls into the ocean and shuts off the current, well, they say that it takes 2 years without snow melting to form a glacier, and only 10 to launch an ice age. So, from the time Greenland spills into the sea, we have 2-10 years.

    I am not convinced that this ever happened. A careful examination of pilots’ “rutters”, et cetera seems in order here and I haven’t heard anything about these guys having done any such thing. When did the weather fend off the Spanish Armada for the English? Why did the Spaniards, then among the greatest of sailors, have so much trouble sailing around England? Yep, the Gulf Stream.

    #2097
    AvatarRezwan
    Member

    Frenetic wrote:

    It would be nice if humanity could leverage the global warming crisis to learn how to regulate global temperature and keep it at a nice, net-life sustaining temperature for millions of years, rather than the paltry 20,000 we get between ice ages.

    Am I off the deep end here?

    I am inclined to say yes, simply because we are talking about a very large system with an enormous amount of momentum and we are unable to make weather forecasts that are good for more than about a week.

    Yes, this is fantasy speculation. But when people speculate about anthropogenic environmental impacts, they tend to specluate in the direction of catastrophe. I’m just speculating in the other direction. It’s more of a psychological thing. Although I think there is potential here. After all, plants are big climate regulators. Photosynthesis is what turned the planet from toxic ball of chaos to…well, without algae and then grass this would be a much different world.

    All life-forms have an impact, there must be ways for them to tune into it, and leverage it towards bringing about an environment in their favor. Again, I refer back to the holistic management folks, the gardeners of eden folks. We’re just out of touch with our micro and macro-climate regulation feedback systems. Some links: Animal impact and environment;
    A slideshow on water cycle;
    Great book on human role.

    #2098
    AvatarRezwan
    Member

    Rezwan wrote: Back to the practicalities: It’s all about timing. If that freshwater falls into the ocean and shuts off the current, well, they say that it takes 2 years without snow melting to form a glacier, and only 10 to launch an ice age. So, from the time Greenland spills into the sea, we have 2-10 years.

    I am not convinced that this ever happened. A careful examination of pilots’ “rutters”, et cetera seems in order here and I haven’t heard anything about these guys having done any such thing. When did the weather fend off the Spanish Armada for the English? Why did the Spaniards, then among the greatest of sailors, have so much trouble sailing around England? Yep, the Gulf Stream.

    The armada? What is a pilot’s rutter? Which guys?

    But yes, I just lumped two things together here. One is the thing about if you have weather conditions which result in the lack of snow melting, it only takes 2 years of the snow on a mountain not melting to start a glacier. Then the thing can grow, and in 10 years without melting, you’ve got an ice age.

    The thing about greenland is just that a sudden influx of cold freshwater into the saltwater current could switch it off. With the current in chaos, it stops heating Europe, and hey presto, 2-10 years you’ve got another iceage there.

    Again, that’s a theory out there. I don’t know, but I’ve been told πŸ™‚

    #2102
    AvatarFrenetic
    Member

    Rezwan wrote:

    Yes, this is fantasy speculation. But when people speculate about anthropogenic environmental impacts, they tend to specluate in the direction of catastrophe. I’m just speculating in the other direction. It’s more of a psychological thing. Although I think there is potential here. After all, plants are big climate regulators. Photosynthesis is what turned the planet from toxic ball of chaos to…well, without algae and then grass this would be a much different world.

    All life-forms have an impact, there must be ways for them to tune into it, and leverage it towards bringing about an environment in their favor. Again, I refer back to the holistic management folks, the gardeners of eden folks. We’re just out of touch with our micro and macro-climate regulation feedback systems. Some links: Animal impact and environment;
    A slideshow on water cycle;
    Great book on human role.

    This assumes that we can get a handle on population growth. Thus far, the only way we have managed to do that is to industrialize our societies and that consumes copious quantities of energy. What we are faced with now is industrializing the two largest populations on Earth. There is about to be a huge spike in energy consumption that must be dealt with and there is no single solution to the problem. Conservation IS the single most important measure, but conservation alone will NOT do the job.

    #2103
    AvatarFrenetic
    Member

    Rezwan wrote:

    The armada? What is a pilot’s rutter? Which guys?[/quote

    This one:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_armada

    Spain’s abortive attempt to invade England in 1588. During that time ship’s pilots kept careful records of currents, winds, landmarks, et cetera for each and every voyage. These records were called “rutters”. A surprisingly large number of them have survived and should be consulted by “those guys”, that is to say the theorists, if we are going to talk about a recent shift in the Gulf Stream.

    But yes, I just lumped two things together here. One is the thing about if you have weather conditions which result in the lack of snow melting, it only takes 2 years of the snow on a mountain not melting to start a glacier. Then the thing can grow, and in 10 years without melting, you’ve got an ice age.

    The thing about greenland is just that a sudden influx of cold freshwater into the saltwater current could switch it off. With the current in chaos, it stops heating Europe, and hey presto, 2-10 years you’ve got another iceage there.

    Again, that’s a theory out there. I don’t know, but I’ve been told πŸ™‚

    Which, again, does not jibe very well with known history. Greenland got its name somewhere around 985. It was ice free for a long time prior to the “little ice age”.

    #2577
    AvatarJimmyT
    Participant

    The simplist/easiest way to change the global climate is by altering the ocean currents. A “small” dam across the Bering straight could be built. Open the gates when the tide comes in. Close them when it goes out. Or visy-versy.
    Of course this is going to absolutely ruin somebodys century. It will cause “local” cooling either in northwestern Canada/United States. Or cooling in northern europe. Depending on which way you constrain the flow.
    This could help rejump start the conveyer belt though.

    #3352
    Avatarjamini
    Member

    Hi
    It’s more of a psychological thing. Although I think there is potential here. After all, plants are big climate regulators. Photosynthesis is what turned the planet from toxic ball of chaos to…well, without algae and then grass this would be a much different world.

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