Thursday, March 12, 2015

Earth Masters an excerpt of Clive Hamilton’s Book re. More than 5 Pinatubos/yr worth of anthropogenic sulfur aerosols as un-intended climate geoengineering




My comments below the excerpt.


From the paperback cover:



CLIVE
HAMILTON
‘A dazzling multilayered exploration of the strange
and terrifying world of geoengineering’  --Naomi Klein



EARTH MASTERS

The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering


Clive Hamilton Books
http://clivehamilton.com/books/earthmasters-playing-god-with-the-climate/


From Chapter 3 Regulating Sunlight 
“He (Mike McCracken) also suggests that the warming that will follow the clean-up of urban air pollution in populated regions of China and India be offset by injecting sulphate aerosols over an appropriately sized area of ocean in the tropics. So instead of the sulphate aerosol ‘umbrella’ hanging low over cities it would float high above the oceans, with the sulphur injected perhaps from mountain tops or from elevated hoses anchored on Pacific Islands.“


We find ourselves in an exquisite dilemma. Sulphate pollution from burning coal and oil has a cooling effect on the planet yet the thick brown haze covering much of Asia and other conurbations is estimated by the World Health Organization to kill 1.3 million people each year. The sulphates in this lower-atmosphere pollution have been so effective at offsetting global warming that without it, on top of the measured O.8°C warming since pre-industrial times, the Earth would be an extra 1.1°C warmer.“ As the governments of China, India and other industrializing countries follow the example of Western nations and introduce air pollution laws to improve public health, the latent warming will become manifest.


The lifetime of sulphate aerosols in the lower atmosphere is one or two weeks while the molecule it is meant to counter, carbon dioxide, stays up there for many centuries.  So if we were to stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow, and eliminate carbon dioxide emissions, the planet would immediately become warmer, and remain so for some decades. It would be the equivalent of the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leaping from 390 ppm to 490 ppm within a few weeks.


It is a frightening fact.  If world leaders were persuade to agree to a programme of rapid reductions in carbon emissions, we might need somehow to maintain levels of sulphur pollution in order to avoid a warming so rapid that many ecosystems could not survive.  The only answer seems to be to maintain this level of pollution for many decades until enough carbon dioxide can be shifted out of the atmosphere by natural or artificial means.”


My comments OE.


1- I strongly disagree (I do not agree) with Clive Hamilton’s view that the only answer may be business as usual (BAU) or as he puts it…  “The only answer seems to be to maintain this level of pollution for many decades until enough carbon dioxide can be shifted out of the atmosphere by natural or artificial means”.


The reason I disagree with Clive Hamilton’s statement in bullet number 1 is that he does not take into consideration the levels of ‘climate cooling’ that may be achieved with concurrent reductions of other ‘short lived climate forcers’ of opposite sign such as black carbon, methane, etc. And the reduction in the occurrence of cirrus clouds, this reduction resulting from lower levels of atmospheric aerosols and the use of lower sulphur jet fuel and contrail avoidance flight paths, etc


2- I do think that his statement that “Sulphate pollution from burning coal and oil has a cooling effect on the planet yet the thick brown haze covering much of Asia and other conurbations is estimated by the World Health Organization to kill 1.3 million people each year” is a solid and verifiable fact, if anything perhaps the number of deaths is under estimated.


3-The following statement is factual, but it is confusing… The sulphates in this lower-atmosphere pollution have been so effective at offsetting global warming that without it, on top of the measured O.8°C warming since pre-industrial times, the Earth would be an extra 1.1°C warmer.“ 


It sounds as if he is saying that without the sulphate pollution the earth would be “an extra 1.1°C warmer“  when he means to say that, without sulphate pollution the earth would be 0.3 °C warmer, totaling 1.1 °C (since the industrial revolution ). See his reference #60. (And my reference for clarity [1])


Never the less I think that is a most important fact that he brings up and I hope it is discussed more within the geoengineering debate.  Especially in light of reports of accelerated ocean acidification, [20] and taking into consideration the role that international shipping may be playing in this acceleration with its 12 Tg/yr of acidifying sulfur and CO2 emissions.  The accelerated and record Arctic ice loss, [21] taking in consideration the role of black carbon and other radiation trapping factors. [9] The multiple global reports on persistent and record breaking droughts; [22] [23] [24] and other environmental such as biodiversity, ocean acidification and health factors.  All of which, in my view, speak to a failure of BAU as an answer to the warming induced by CO2.


And while some advocates for the implementation of SRM geoengineering may see this failure as a reason to ‘ramp up’ sulfur emissions via SRM, I see it differently.  I think that the understanding of SRM geoengineering or albedo modification should be raised via research as called by the latest report from the National Academy of Sciences, not to implement a ramp up but to devise a way to avoid an un-intended lock-in to SRM geoengineering. 


For my part thanks to Clive Hamilton’s book I will now consider more clearly that…


Climate change denialism and opposition to research into the effects of current anthropogenic sulphate emissions, are a forceful and active vote for ongoing un-intended climate geoengineering via BAU with environmental, social, legal, economical, ethical, political and lock-in repercussions that may will certainly lead in the future to the need for SRM Geoengineering for millennia.


One last fact for the reader to consider:


At the moment yearly Sulfur Dioxide emissions from anthropogenic sources into the atmosphere are an equivalent of more than 5 Pinatubo eruptions, that is to say over 100 Tg/yr. [2] [3]


Thanks to David Appell writing for Yale Climate Connections for the correction, it is 100 Terragrams/yr (105 Gg/yr) not 100 Gigagrams/yr.



References


EM chapter 3 [60] Earth's Energy Imbalance and Implications
James Hansen, Makiko Sato, Pushker Kharecha
NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY 10025, USA
Columbia University Earth Institute, New York, NY 10027, USA


[1] According to an ongoing temperature analysis conducted by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8° Celsius (1.4° Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade.
Global Temperatures – see graphic 1885-1894 to 2005-2014
By Michael Carlowicz
NASA Earth Observatory


[2] Anthropogenic sulfur dioxide emissions: 1850–2005


[3] The last decade of global anthropogenic sulfur dioxide: 2000–2011 emissions


3/12/15 Updated
References added from upcoming post
Image and C. H. book website


[9] Possible influence of anthropogenic aerosols on cirrus clouds and anthropogenic forcing
J. E. Penner – Feb 3, 2009
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 9, 879-896, 2009
www.atmos-chem-phys.net/9/879/2009/
doi:10.5194/acp-9-879-2009
http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/9/879/2009/acp-9-879-2009.html



[20] Ocean Acidification
Summary for Policymakers
Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World
The International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP)


[21] Arctic sea ice winter maximum may be record low
Yereth Rosen - Alaska Dispatch News - March 9, 2015


[22] U.S. Drought Monitor


[23] Little relief in Central America's food crisis
By Claire Luke - 19 February 2015


[24] Taps Start to Run Dry in Brazil’s Largest City
By SIMON ROMEROFEB. 16, 2015




Other readings


Climate forcing growth rates: doubling down on our Faustian bargain
Environmental Research Letters Volume 8 Number 1
James Hansen et al 2013 Environ. Res. Lett. 8 011006 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/011006


Top Lessons to be Learned from Warming ‘Hiatus’
David Appell  —  Yale Climate Connections --- March 5, 2015




Updated for clarity on 3/16/2015

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A #Geoengineering #Climate Issues blog - Geoingeniería by Oscar and Jocelyn Escobar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.Licencia Creative Commons
A #Geoengineering #Climate Issues blog por Oscar y Jocelyn Escobar se distribuye bajo una Licencia Creative Commons Atribución-NoComercial 4.0 Internacional.