Saturday, September 16, 2023

Another Bonkers Idea To Moderate Climate Change: Iron Saturation of the Oceans

  That climate change is reaching  alarming levels is now obvious to all but the most purblind or brainwashed. This summer's epochal heat events, combined with 1,000-year storms and floods were exclamation points on the human imprints via enhanced CO2 infusion.  Much of this points to humanity hurtling toward the dreaded runaway greenhouse effects, e.g.

In other words, we are already embedded in desperate climate times,

by Thomas Neuburger | August 7, 2023 - 6:02am | permalink

Which recalls the saying "desperate times call for desperate measures."  Among these now, are proposals for geoengineering our planet to make adaptation at least feasible.  The latest submission, right out of Bonkersville, is to saturate the oceans with iron dust.  According to assorted techno-brainiacs, geoengineering the oceans by adding iron — in effect, fertilizing them — may offer the best, most effective and most affordable way not just to slow the march of global warming but to reverse its course by directly drawing carbon out of the atmosphere. The techno-magi insist the U.S. government needs to start testing it now, "before the climate system spins off into an even more disastrous state."

This geoengineering feat would in many ways replicate a natural process that has been underway for probably billions of years.  How so?  Iron-rich dust for eons and eons has blown off the land and into the seas, fertilizing algae and plankton. The more they grow, the more they convert carbon dioxide in the air to organic carbon, some of which eventually sinks to the watery depths.  Related studies suggest that this natural process of increasing iron-rich dust in the oceans takes so much carbon out of the atmosphere that at some point along the way it may have helped bring on the ice ages.   The graphic shown below shows the parallels between dust concentration, CO2 concentration and temperature variation:

Historic effect of iron dust seeding of oceans in limiting CO2

But energy-dependent humans have interrupted that natural cycle by their intense burning of carbon-laden fossil fuels.  Once the CO2 concentrations exceeded 280 ppm the ice ages halted. Not because of change in Earth's orbit, but because the degree of planetary heat trapping via the greenhouse effect was large enough to prevent it. Thus, though expanding deserts have sent more dust into the ocean, agricultural practices, i.e. to preserve topsoil,  have had the opposite effect: keeping dust out of the ocean and contributing to more warming overall.

Basically, in the past, the more iron dust there was in the ocean, the less carbon in the atmosphere and the cooler the average temperature on Earth. So why not have a dust redux and saturate the oceans with iron again?  There have already been a number of direct scientific experiments into this kind of geoengineering. From 1993 to 2009, about a dozen experiments used ships to deposit iron into ocean patches up to about 10 miles in diameter. The results showed that this approach could alter the exchange of carbon between the air and the sea, increasing the amount of carbon pulled from the atmosphere. They also showed the tremendous impact this approach could have at very low cost.

 One study found that each iron atom can catalyze reactions that convert up to 8,000 molecules of carbon dioxide to plankton or algae. Nonetheless, this kind of geoengineering has spawned two valid worries. First, activists fear such artificial interventions now will give fossil fuel industries a pass - and an excuse not to adopt cleaner technologies. Second, one can't ignore the inadvertent effects, including toxic algae blooms and impacts on commercially important fish species. In 2012 an entrepreneur added 100 tons of iron to the ocean and created a substantial short-term plankton bloom. Such blooms are already periodically raising ecological havoc in ocean waters off Florida - killing ocean life and emanating an awful, pervasive odor that has crippled tourism in areas.

Many scientists and policymakers worry about what could happen if commercial entities scaled up without government oversight. By 2013 a de facto ban on this research was in place. But that ban may not last longer. Given the catastrophic impacts of climate change around the world, as I've shown approaching a runaway tipping point, the undesirable consequences of ocean iron fertilization may be the lesser evil. 

Also, the oceans are themselves warming rapidly, equal to thousands of Hiroshima-scale A-bombs detonated each second. A recent study, published in Nature Climate Change, estimated that even under a low-emission scenario, more than half of marine species are at high or critical risk of extinction by 2100. Coral reefs are at risk from acidification and warming of the ocean surface.  This has all given the would -be geoengineers more energy to push their solutions and recall that iron seeding of the oceans isn't the first.

Some years back, Ezra Klein - writing in a NY Times piece - 


Opinion | Should We Dim the Sun? Will We Even Have a ...

ruminated on the prospect of "dimming the Sun" to spare humans the worst effects of global warming.  Klein wrote:

"The central theme of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Elizabeth Kolbert’s new book, “Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future.” is there is no going back. We will not return to a prelapsarian period where humans let nature alone. Indeed, as Kolbert shows, there is no natural nature left — we live in the world (and in particular, a climate) we altered, and are altering. The awful knowledge that our interventions have gone awry again and again must be paired with the awful reality that we have no choice save to try to manage the mess we have made.
 I wanted to focus on one that obsesses me: solar geoengineering. To even contemplate it feels like the height of hubris. Are we really going to dim the sun?

 We discuss the prospect of intentionally sending sulfurous particles into the atmosphere to dim the sun, whether “carbon capture” technology could scale up to the levels needed to make a dent in emissions levels."

Let's first  be clear there is no actual "dimming" of the Sun.  That would require altering our star's radiative opacity which is clearly beyond humanity's technological achievement level and may well be beyond any advanced civilization's as well.   We can express the basic equation of radiative transfer in the form:
= -kn In + jn.

Where the transfer is attenuated by the first term on the right side with the opacity ( kn )  defined in terms of the number density  n of absorbing particles and the absorption cross section  sn:
kn = n sn

The reduction in solar radiation intensity  In  in situ is not what Klein is proposing.  Rather he is proposing an increase in the opacity of Earth's atmosphere by injecting billions of tons of sulphur dioxide into the upper atmosphere to increase cloud cover. In this case the radiative transfer equation that applies is:
 -dI/dt (1/k r ) = I – J
Where k is a mass scattering coefficient, r  is the molecular density (e.g. in cloud cover) and J is the vector source function for a specific intensity I.  Hence, if ample SO2 can be injected into the upper atmosphere then r  can be increased enough to diminish radiation intensity associated with heat  - in other words,  infrared radiation.  
While the idea looks neat on paper it would actually invite catastrophe and make conditions much worse.
Even if the mechanical- engineering  problems could be solved (including increased to the scale needed), it would still be a god-awful idea. For one thing, SO2 in the presence of the catalyst NO2 forms sulphuric acid, H2 SO4, and this can then generate acid rain. Do we really want ten septillion tons of acid rain descending on what remaining agriculture growth areas, farms remain in a greenhouse world? Not to mention raining on humans, with concentrations of pH in the range of 2-3? Ever had H2SO4 spill onto your skin in a chemistry lab?

Beyond that, SO2 at the given altitude needed for effect can further erode the ozone layer. In excess of a certain threshold, this erosion of protective ozone leads to much higher influx of ultraviolet radiation - more skin cancers, more blindness, etc.  In effect, Klein and Kolbert's "godlike" dimming solution merely creates more problems while attempting to solve the excess heat one from global warming.   
What appears to have escaped them is there is no real technological fix for our current predicament.  Short of hoping advanced aliens can turn the Sun into a cooler K-class star, the best and most realistic solution is conservation. Oh, and not letting the global population hit 10 billion!
See Also:

Friday, September 15, 2023

Can A Former Hopkins Immunologist (& Intertel Member) Also Be A Climate Expert & Climate Change Denier? Not Really!


Tipping point transitions governed by a potential V(x,c) 

                          Gunther Weller - A real climate scientist - and expert!

In the March issue of the Intertel journal Integra ,  Part 2 of my article on climate change:  Can We Finally Agree There is No Leftist Hoax or Green Conspiracy) appeared. Therein I showed clearly how critical climate tipping points can occur - based on the extensive research of climate scientist Gunther Weller.  By March, even before Part 2 had appeared, Intertel member Carolyn Simon took a first shot at my arguments, i.e. to the effect too many in the high I.Q. societies (Mensa, Intertel) fancied themselves expert climate critics because of I.Q.s in the upper 1-2%.   But this was really because they were hostage to the Dunning -Kruger Effect As psychologist David Dunning (the discoverer of the Effect) once explained to Errol Morris, writing in an essay series, e.g.

 “If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent … [T]he skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.”  

Nonetheless Ms. Simon felt amped up enough to challenge my contentions in a letter e.g.

Believing firmly that citing Bjorn Lomborg was the 'slam dunk' response to quash my citation of a genuine climatologist (Dr. Weller). This resulted in my forceful response in the March issue, to wit:

"Contrary to Ms. Simon's claims for Lomborg's climate science bona fides, his Ph.D. is in political science, not climate science.  Hence, he is emphatically no expert in climatology, more like a sophisticated quack. A Wikipedia article on his background also notes:

"After the publication of The Skeptical Environmentalist, Lomborg was formally accused of scientific dishonesty by a group of environmental scientists, who brought a total of three complaints against him to the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD),"

Adding for good measure:

"Lomborg’s hollow climate games were also exposed as long ago as July 19, 2016 in FORBES (‘Bjorn Lomborg's Climate Analysis Is A Hot Mess’) "  

The sole response to this takedown appeared to be just a small (one paragraph) book review in the following issue.  Not very impressive, nor a compelling case.  After this minor burp I was wondering how long it might be before a full-throated attack (even if misplaced) emerged to my articles.  It took less than 6 months to produce Alana Sullivan’s in the June issue – and my gosh! – we learned she was actually something of a former expert when she proclaimed:

 “Having worked in the research labs in the department of Immunology of Johns Hopkins University I will not be bullshitted” or “snow jobbed”! 

Basically, asserting I was trying to "snow" her under with a barrage of high falutin' climate and thermal physics terms - which could only be "bullshit" if her (former) immunologist brain couldn't grasp most of it.  Indeed, the current cover art artist for the Integra actually claimed my words in Part 2 were like:

"Words smothering truth like snow smothering my car."

But how could she KNOW that if she too is hostage to the Dunning -Kruger Effect?  As I wrote in my reply (yet to be published after 3 months):

Pardon me, Alana, but no one was attempting a ”snow job”, “a bullshit job”, verbal tsunami or anything of the kind.  I was merely trying to fill in what I presumed to be science gaps (for the more scientifically educated Ilians like you profess to be) but who may have had large gaps in their college thermal physics background.  Oh, and for whom adequate words would not be a barrier or snow job but an avenue to understanding. 

Can I ask: Have you taken a level 3 (junior) or higher thermal physics course – say at any university?  How about a semester of thermodynamics in a calculus -based  General Physics course ?  Do you even know the difference between heat and temperature, or what temperature is? Do you know the meaning of thermal equilibrium? Do you know what entropy is and how it enters climate physics?

 If not, then I daresay you do not know what the hell you are talking – or complaining – about.  In which case you can’t say I am "smothering truth like snow smothering your car"  because you  haven't the foggiest notion of what any truth pertaining to climate is.  Nor do you have any remote clue how thermal physics applies to the climate conditions Prof. Gunther Weller associated with tipping points.

Indeed, you lack the sufficient physics background to criticize -  or even recognize - that some ‘x’ quantum of information is excessive or irrelevant.  If you don't know a Btu from an erg, or a tipping point from the troposphere,  how could you?  

Further, given the Dunning -Kruger bias represents a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude, then clearly Ms. Sullivan would not even be aware it was she spouting bullshit. 

As I went on to point out:

"My claim made here is that you are incompetent in thermal physics and by extension climate physics. (Also evident by your failure to criticize the climate fraud Bjorn Lomborg). You may have been perfectly competent as a former Hopkins immunologist, but that ain’t physics and thermal physics is what’s needed to grasp the extent and ramifications of global warming.   And since “more words, citations, etc.” will not make a difference to you – because clearly you lack the skills and background to know what a right answer is here,-   then there is no point continuing this climate debate with you. 

You have your mind made up, convinced you know as much or more about climate physics as you do immunology.- but even here suspicious defects emerge in the latter, given your takes on Dr. Fauci and masking. I would even guess that you dispute the running totals of COVID-deaths the Hopkins website reported during the pandemic. I may be assuming too much, but would not be at all surprised.

 I ended the retort by writing:

 "I recommend – on the off chance you believe you may need some background in climate matters -  i.e. to  contribute more serious follow up responses -  to get hold of the superb small monograph:

This is Climate Science: A Visual Guide To The Facts

 By David Nelles And Christian Serrer

If not, and you’re convinced you know all you need to, then no harm, no foul. Stay within the Dunning-Kruger orbit. You do have excellent skills in producing the Integra cover art!

By the way, I m writing this on what has been reported as the hottest day ever recorded for the planet:"

The planet saw its hottest day on record this week. It’s a record that will be broken again and again 

 But for Alana and other Intertel members of her ilk (like Carolyn Simon) none of threat may matter, as they will always regard themselves as "climate experts"  based on simply being part of a high I.Q. society.  Never mind that whatever a former Hopkins immunologist like Alana did in the past has no bearing on whether that person now can even distinguish a tipping point from the troposphere.

See Also:

by Tom Engelhardt | September 12, 2023 - 5:09am | permalink


 The Intelligent Irrationalists: Why So Many High IQ Folks Deny Sound Science 


Five Major Climate Tipping Point Manifestations & What They Mean 

Other Voices Weigh In On The GOP Effort To Impeach Biden

by Amanda Marcotte | September 15, 2023 - 6:47am | permalink

— from Salon

Impeaching President Joe Biden on phony charges built on falsified evidence is generally understood, by both the Beltway press and even by Republican leadership, to be bad news for the GOP's political future. And yet, it also seems true that House Republicans, under the, uh, "leadership" of Speaker Kevin McCarthy, are barreling towards impeachment, even as Republican members in competitive districts beg him not to go there. McCarthy has gone as far as to circumvent his own party members who would stop him, by directly ordering an impeachment inquiry without a congressional vote, violating his own previous stance and Justice Department directives.

The supposed accusations against Biden aren't really relevant, as everyone involved knows it's made-up nonsense. (Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., admitted as much to the New York Times in March.) It's pure political theater, unmoored from facts. But usually one expects political theater to benefit its producers politically. And yet, like a sentient moth flying knowingly into the flame, McCarthy is forging ahead anyway.

by Alex Henderson | September 15, 2023 - 7:42am | permalink

— from Alternet

After toying with possible impeachment for months, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) has formally announced that he is pursuing an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden.

Democrats have been quick to slam McCarthy, stressing that House Republican probes of Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, have yet to offer proof that the president did anything illegal or corrupt in Ukraine. But Democrats aren't the only ones speaking out.

A minority of House Republicans, according to the Daily Beast's Sam Brodey, fear that an impeachment inquiry will seriously hurt the GOP in the months ahead.

In a report published on September 14, Brodey notes that Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colorado) is being especially outspoken.

Kevin McCarthy Secures Trump’s Payback — But at What Cost?

by Heather Digby Parton | September 14, 2023 - 6:51am | permalink

— from Salon

On August 28th, Donald Trump had had enough of his House Republicans dilly-dallying around. So he took to his social media platform, Truth Social, and issued an order:

The Republicans in Congress, though well meaning, keep talking about an Impeachment 'Inquiry' on Crooked Joe Biden.Look, the guy got bribed, he paid people off, and he wouldn't give One Billion Dollars to Ukraine unless they 'got rid of the Prosecutor.' Biden is a Stone Cold Crook-You don't need a long INQUIRY to prove it, it's already proven. These lowlifes Impeached me TWICE (I WON!), and Indicted me FOUR TIMES - For NOTHING!Either IMPEACH the BUM, or fade into OBLIVION. THEY DID IT TO US!

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy heard him loud and clear.

On Tuesday, McCarthy announced that he was unilaterally ordering an impeachment inquiry into the president for his term as vice president nearly a decade ago. No one was surprised that McCarthy went back on his stated principle that an impeachment inquiry can only be launched with a full vote of the House or the still binding determination by Trump's Department of Justice which came to the same conclusion. He doesn't have the votes to launch a legitimate inquiry so this was the only thing he could do to stave off a temper tantrum from Trump and the Freedom Caucus. He was, as he has been since the day he took the speaker's gavel, just trying to get through the day.

by Joan McCarter | September 14, 2023 - 6:26am | permalink

— from Daily Kos

Speaker Kevin McCarthy has been “leading” the House on borrowed time. The Freedom Caucus and allied members have made it clear that he serves at their pleasure. This week, chaos agent and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz tried to shorten McCarthy’s leash, threatening to force a vote on ousting him.

Now Axios poses the question of “How Democrats could save Kevin McCarthy.” The better question for Democrats is, “Why would you bother?” The assumption—always—is that Democrats will step up to try to make things work, to help clean up messes, and to prop McCarthy up in this fight. That they’ll help save his bacon.

So why would Democrats help him and vote against Gaetz’s motion to oust McCarthy? Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee gives one justification: “If we vacated the chair, I don’t see a better speaker. So I don’t foresee that happening.” That’s a given. There isn’t a better speaker option.

by Thom Hartmann | September 14, 2023 - 6:17am | permalink

— from The Hartmann Report

House Republicans have revived the infamous Swiftboat lie strategy that helped defeat John Kerry in 2004. In essence, it involves relentlessly lying about a candidate and smearing his or her name and reputation in the hopes it’ll shave a few points off their popularity with independent voters.

While virtually 100 percent of the men who served with Kerry in Vietnam spoke glowingly of his service, a group who did not serve with him made up lies and exaggerations. And the Swiftboat effort was well funded: Clarence Thomas’ sugar daddy Harlan Crow threw big bucks into it in 2004.

Kerry and those who served with him tried to get the truth out, but, as Mark Twain is often credited as saying, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”

While Democrats prefer to win elections based on facts and policy positions, Republicans — not having anything to offer average Americans — instead default to slander and lies. Like with Obama’s birth certificate. Or Hillary’s email and Benghazi.

by Maya Boddie | September 13, 2023 - 7:57am | permalink

— from Alternet

Ex-President Donald Trump's administration made a move that gives President Joe Biden the upper hand, according to Politico, amid House Republicans' impeachment inquiry against him, which House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) officially opened Tuesday.

Per Politico, the United States Department of Justice legal counsel issued an opinion in January 2020 that "formally declared that impeachment inquiries by the House are invalid unless the chamber takes formal votes to authorize them."

United States Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel Steve Engel said, "[W]e conclude that the House must expressly authorize a committee to conduct an impeachment investigation and to use compulsory process in that investigation before the committee may compel the production of documents or testimony. The House had not authorized such an investigation in connection with the impeachment-related subpoenas issued before October 31, 2019, and the subpoenas therefore had no compulsory effect."

The Washington Post reports that also on Tuesday, the Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI) official over House GOP members' investigation into Biden's son, Hunter Biden, "disputed whistleblower claims that the prosecutor in charge of the probe was stymied by the" United State's Department of Justice.
The dispute was found in a transcript obtained by The Post "of an interview with lawmakers that took place last week."

The Post reports:

The interview transcript obtained by The Post pushed back on some of those claims, specifically that Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss told investigators he did not have authority to bring certain criminal chargesagainst the president's son. But Thomas Sobocinski, who manages the FBI team involved in the investigation, agreed with the IRS whistleblowers that Weiss had moved slowly in making a charging decision.

Politico's full report is available at this link. The Washington Post's report is here (subscription required).


By Kimberley A. Strassel

Kevin McCarthy dares hard-right Republicans to try to oust him as speaker

How the ‘MAGA doom loop’ is already threatening Trump’s 2024 chances


House Speaker Kevin McCarthy strode to a lectern in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, called for an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, brandished the word “corruption” the way a dominatrix does a whip, and then slipped away, having once again done what he felt was necessary, no matter how senseless, to hold on to his lofty position….

The impeachment inquiry is chum for approaching sharks, meant to distract and divert them, at least partly. It’s a desperate attempt by an unscrupulous man to keep their teeth from sinking too deep into his torso. 

Good luck with that, Mr. Speaker. (Already, it’s not working.) And congratulations on the consistency of your inconsistency, the reliability of your willingness to tailor all your talk and all your decisions to what’s necessary to keep this job of yours, a miserable one by any rational standards.

En route to it, you had to pretend that Trump wasn’t telling lies about the 2020 election before you had to denounce his behavior on Jan. 6, 2021, before you had to reverse yourself once again and beg his forgiveness. You have eaten so much crow that you’re still coughing up the feathers.