Saturday :: Jun 2, 2007

Greenland Ice Melt Accelerating

by paradox

It has long been feared that the pace of climate change would not take place in a gradual manner, but rather in an abrupt, totally unpredictable way happening so fast humans can’t successfully adjust to it. New NASA reports on the melting Greenland ice sheet show the melting ice is retreating with a fission-like acceleration, not an increase of 10% or 20% ever year, but a chain reaction doubling of the doubling every year.

Last night I went to the Yearly Kos fundraiser, burning four gallons of California gas on part of the most expensive transportation system the world has ever seen, the renowned drive of beauty up 280 to the metropolis of legendary San Francisco. It didn’t even occur to me to take CalTrain, a horribly creaky, swaying diesel that doubled trip time versus personal car. Will Californians and Americans change enough with their infatuation with cars to create a significant slowdown in the ice melt? I doubt it.

I was dismayed to learn last year that 30-40% of California’s electrical use is singularly used as the power source to move water into the Los Angeles basin. No matter how good our citizens get on conserving for the grid there is no way to change that huge immovable baseline of 30-40% for pumping water. Will those SoCal Los Angelinos hosers slow down their demand for water in my lifetime? No way.

Even if North America turned into this great beacon of clean conservation of energy, what about Asia? India and China grow by amazing leaps and bounds every year, right along with their diesel and coal emissions. I was recently horrified to learn that because India’s electrical grid is so dysfunctional any modern business or facility always has vast tanks of diesel on hand to back up the inevitable 50% failure rate of the India grid.

Holy Jesus, India is turning itself into a vast micro-generating electrical country, on diesel! Because the grid itself has failed it isn’t even shared. Is that going to turn around in time for the Greenland ice sheet? I don’t think so.

Nothing is ever certain about any of this, but it appears increasingly likely the race faces a cataclysmic climate cliff: we gambled, as a race, that ignoring the chemistry of the climate so we could get all the energy we wanted was perfectly all right. There’s some mitigating factors of ignorance for the first 140 years of energy use, but if enough members of the race survive through the other end of the abrupt climate change era I’m sure it will be cleanly recorded that we chose to gamble with climate chemistry. We blew the risk.

Will my daughter see downtown San Francisco barricaded with dikes in her lifetime or flooded? Will my little lot and house that I had planned to give her, so diligently cared for in biology and shelter, be flooded at 48 feet above sea level? I don’t know.

I’m not this thundering prophet of doom condemning people for chemistry mistakes, all right? I am a simple, tiny citizen who just wants to do the right thing. If enough of us to do the right thing then there’s a chance for good to happen, with no chance of change if we don’t try.

From my very casual perch of taking in the 2008 Democratic candidates only Bill Richardson has made it through the clutter with an energy plan (along with a very good Iraq plan to get everything out by the end of 2008). I’m certainly open to voting for him at this point just for that energy plan, how energy is not a primary element of Democratic politics is unconscionable.

There is a Democratic politician out there with an Oscar for his movie on climate change, though. With his leadership we could get out of the Middle East and Iraq forever, there wouldn’t be any need for those permanent Iraqi bases, for a real energy policy based on the urgent need for change on atmosphere chemistry would totally get rid of the United States demand for imported oil. Sounds like doing the right thing to me.

Thank you very much, David Perlman, and The San Francisco Chronicle.

paradox :: 7:41 AM :: Comments (16) :: Digg It!