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Gaia and soot

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  • Mike Doran
    From New Scientist... Global warming s sooty smokescreen revealed Smoke is clouding our view of global warming, protecting the planet from perhaps
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 15, 2003
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      From New Scientist...

      Global warming's sooty smokescreen revealed

      Smoke is clouding our view of global warming, protecting the planet
      from
      perhaps three-quarters of the greenhouse effect. That might sound
      like
      good news, but experts say that as the cover diminishes in coming
      decades, we are in for a dramatic escalation of warming that could be
      two
      or even three times as great as official best guesses.

      This was the dramatic conclusion reached last week at a workshop in
      Dahlem, Berlin, where top atmospheric scientists got together,
      including
      Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen and Swedish meteorologist Bert Bolin,
      former
      chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
      (IPCC).

      IPCC scientists have suspected for a decade that aerosols of smoke
      and
      other particles from burning rainforest, crop waste and fossil fuels
      are
      blocking sunlight and counteracting the warming effect of carbon
      dioxide
      emissions. Until now, they reckoned that aerosols reduced greenhouse
      warming by perhaps a quarter, cutting increases by 0.2 °C. So the 0.6
      °C
      of warming over the past century would have been 0.8 °C without
      aerosols.

      Two views of future warming

      But the Berlin workshop concluded that the real figure is even
      higher -
      aerosols may have reduced global warming by as much as three-
      quarters,
      cutting increases by 1.8 °C. If so, the good news is that aerosols
      have
      prevented the world getting almost two degrees warmer than it is now.
      But
      the bad news is that the climate system is much more sensitive to
      greenhouse gases than previously guessed.

      As those gases are expected to continue accumulating in the
      atmosphere
      while aerosols stabilise or fall, that means "dramatic consequences
      for
      estimates of future climate change", the scientists agreed in a draft
      report from the workshop.

      Parasol effect

      Past calculations of the cooling effect of aerosols have been
      inferred
      from "missing" global warming predicted by climate models. But direct
      measurements reported in Science (vol 300, p 1103) in May by Theodore
      Anderson of the University of Washington in Seattle show a much
      greater
      parasol effect. Anderson says climate sensitivity could be larger
      than
      climate models suggest.

      The Berlin meeting also heard evidence that past warm eras had higher
      temperatures than they ought to, if estimates of the atmospheric
      composition at the time and greenhouse models are correct. Again this
      suggests greater sensitivity.

      "It looks like the warming today may be only about a quarter of what
      we
      would have got without aerosols," Crutzen told New Scientist. "You
      could
      say the cooling has done us a big favour. But the health effects of
      many
      aerosols in smog are so great that even in the poor world, they are
      already cutting emissions." For good reasons, aerosol levels look set
      to
      fall.

      Moreover, most aerosol emissions only stay in the atmosphere for a
      few
      days. Most greenhouses gases remain for a century or longer. So as
      time
      goes on, aerosols will protect us less and less from global
      warming. "They are giving us a false sense of security right now,"
      said
      Crutzen.

      'Sooner, not later'

      One tentative estimate put warming two or even three times higher
      than
      current middle-range forecasts of 3 to 4 °C based on a doubling of
      greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which is likely by late this
      century.

      That suggests global warming well above the IPCC maximum forecast of
      5.8 °
      C. Back-of-the-envelope calculations now suggest a "worst case"
      warming
      of 7 to 10 °C.

      Will Steffen of the Swedish Academy of Sciences says the message for
      policy makers is clear: "We need to get on top of the greenhouse gas
      emissions problem sooner rather than later."

      ++++++++++

      Comments:

      Once these scientists admit particles are a forcing (and forget about
      the
      admission they have already made about clouds as a forcing), you have
      to
      go back to the depths of time to pre cellular life, when nucleotides
      were
      a particle in clouds and that life hadn't even evolved proteins.

      In a capacitive coupling, does the dielectric contant of water differ
      from that of air and what does that mean to the electrical forces
      acted
      upon on cirrus clouds between ionosphere and oceans? This is a real
      interesting question that should have been asked in the discussion by
      the
      former IPCC members who have the above linked new study on
      particles "cooling" things "temporarily" as CO2 stays in the air,
      which
      leads to CO2's forcing as a GHG to be underestimated. In this
      context,
      the REAL question, not a warming and cooling one, is whether the
      particle
      based modulations of a living earth can overcome the growing
      inability of
      the biosphere to modulate conductivities because the air is so full
      of CO2 that gas exchange based increases in conductivity choatically
      caused by winds across the ocean cannot be overcome by local,
      biological activity based increases in conductivity. It's more a
      signal noise issue--but on the modulation side of the equation. (Now
      that is bio math for those who think that the Einstein approach to
      the natural world is the only dice that God plays with).

      But I have another math question. What is the probability that with
      eight quarters thrown into the air all of them land heads? What does
      this have to do with the implausability that life formed by chance?
      Is a biological probability more like flipping the eight coins, and
      then re flipping the tails until they are all heads, or is it
      something like removing the tails and replacing them with the coins
      that went heads. Can a coin be weighted? Now, to the relevance. What
      does the new science of DNA, which by Crick and Watson, is such a
      young science that the inventers are still alive, have to do with
      cirrus clouds and a living earth?

      Shrub said we won't have to address the issue of climate change for
      12 years. He is saying that there is all there is to know, so let's
      war for oil and create this supply side policy on energy. It's
      absolute ignorance and policy based on ignorance. Pre cellular Gaia
      includes forcings that have to do with ionosphere to ocean electrical
      movements (brand new science), insulative methane hydrate fields (new
      science), cirrus heat trapping (new science), particle movements--
      electrical and ambiant and albedos (new science), ecological systems
      (new science), evolutionary microbiology (new science). And Bush says
      there is nothing else to debate . . .
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