Global Warming: No Stopping it Now
Natasha read Scientific American today and gives an explanation of some of the reasons that today's news that global warming is here and there is nothing we can do to stop some of the consequences now including inevitable rising sea level. What are scientists seeing that brings them to this conclusion? They are realizing that the seas have been acting as a huge heat sink. Even totally stopping the use of hydro-carbons today will not reverse the consequences of the heat absorbed by the oceans.
Water, of course, makes life on Earth possible, but not just because it's favorable to living biochemistry. It takes quite a bit of energy to heat water because of its high internal cohesion, and once heated, it cools relatively slowly as it releases heat to its surroundings. Without massive amounts of water, our climate under this thinnish atmosphere would more closely resemble the moon's: alternately baking or freezing depending what side faced the sun. Not very hospitable conditions.
Now, all the heat we've stored in the sea will have to come back out, even if we stop heating it up. Nothing whatever can be done to stop this, though mitigation is possible if we started immediately and stopped adding to the problem.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the torrential rains in Southern California and found that NOAA determined that the rains are due to the El Niño, a weather pattern that is due to the warming of the oceans. Of course, El Niños have been a pattern we've come to recognize, but usually the El Niños oscillate with La Niñas (cooling oceans). But the last La Niña didn't show up and some scientists believe that one of the consequences of global warming is to have permanent El Niños. The weather is beginning to demonstrate that global warming has arrived.
So now what do we do?