Tiistai 1.3.2022 klo 19:06 - Mikko Nikinmaa
Another IPCC report has become available yesterday (February 28). They keep becoming larger, the full report now has 3685 pages. Its main findings are summarized in 35-page summary for policymakers. I am not going through the impressive amount of information, it can all be read at https://report.ipcc.ch/ar6wg2/index.html, but giving my musings about why this information is not accepted by almost a half of the people in industrialized countries. The publication of the IPCC report has been relegated to a secondary news item, because of the attack of Putin’s Russia to Ukraine, but the two have surprising links.
Russia’s main income is from oil and natural gas. Since the world is trying to diminish the use of fossil fuels, Russia’s incomes will be diminishing in future. Furthermore, since quite a few buildings have been built on permafrost, which is melting, there is a huge need for investments on new grounding of them. Together these facts mean that Putin saw his window of opportunity to restore the might of Russian empire to be now or never. I suppose he imagined that Ukraine could be easily conquered and puppet government installed there. That did not happen. He also supposed that Europe and NATO would be split. That did not happen, either. Rather, the unity of the Western World has increased, and resulted in so massive sanctions that Russian economy is reeling. This increases the economic problems that I alluded to above.
But, going to the climate deniers’ arguments. They are stating that government should decrease the price of fossil fuels and slow down the replacement of fossil fuels by carbon-free energy sources. Since already now the temperature increase is causing irreversible problems, the delay on the stop of fossil fuel use would cause increased climate-related problems. Besides, that would play in the hands of Putin regime, as it would increase the sales of natural gas and oil from Russia. In Finland, an argument is presented that one should continue the use of peat in the name of national fuel/energy security. However, peat can be equated to fossil fuels in the time range of climate change. Furthermore, the national energy production security can be obtained by wind power, because no foreign nation can stop the wind. Third, the climate deniers always say that there have always been changes in earth’s climate. This is naturally true, but the sheer speed of the change is unprecedent. In addition, predictable weather has actually enabled the development of present civilizations. Climate change is causing unpredictable heat waves, droughts, heavy rains and also cold spells in places they have seldom occurred.
Climate change already affects the lives of three billion people, and one of the most terrible things happening is the increase of sea level, which will affect a couple of billions more. One of the major points made in the IPCC report is that most of the predicted ill effects of climate change can still be avoided, but the actions against climate change need to be speeded up.
Tiistai 4.6.2019 klo 16:52 - Mikko Nikinmaa
Approximately two and a half years ago I wrote in this blog about rapid recent increase of methane level in the atmosphere. It has now become news in major newspapers and TV. As the figure indicates, after a period of constant level, the methane concentration has again started to increase in 2007. The news have been puzzled about the reason, but for me it was quite apparent already two and a half years ago.
A large part of the methane is under permafrost. It is largely from such deposis that the Russian natural gas exporters take the gas. If the permafrost has started melting, uncontrolled release of natural gas is possible. I fear that this is what is happening. Reports from Siberia have indicated that in the last few years large, unexplained holes in the ground have appeared. The most likely explanation for such holes is that the temperature has increased enough so that some of the natural gas deposits have been able to burst to the atmosphere. This is a worrying possibility, because it means that it is not enough that we limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. Further temperature rise will increase methane release markedly, and, consequently, the temperature increase will continue even if we are able to limit carbon dioxide emissions (because methane is 30 times more effective greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide). If the methane increase is due to permafrost melting, we need to decrease the temperature to levels before year 2000. Even this would be possible, there are technical means to do it. However, it would require a radical change in many people's thinking.
To combat climate change we have virtually all the means, the problem is people's attitudes. Especially the statement "We are so small proportion of world's population that it doesn't pay for us to do anything, since that will not have any effect. We can require that other nations do as much as we have already done" is the most problematic of everything. It is like a cyclist riding under a bus, which did not follow the traffic rules. Being right doesn't help the dead cyclist much. It is the same with environmental questions. If we can do something, even in the places which would be other nations' tasks, we must do it to keep the world habitable for our children and children's children.
Perjantai 18.1.2019 klo 20:26
Methane is about 20 times as effective in causing climate warming as carbon dioxide. Much of the methane is in deposits under permafrost in the Arctic areas. Recently, another source under the permanent ice in Greenland has become apparent. The estimations of atmospheric methane level indicate that the amount liberated from agricultural sources, ruminants and swine, industrial sources, and waste treatment is not enough to explain the measured level in the last years. This means that the Arctic deposits are already contributing to the level. Notably, people visiting permafrost areas have reported that small craters can be found in permafrost, suggesting that underground methane has escaped in those places. Also, the ice cover in Greenland has been melting with simultaneous liberation of methane.
The possibility of getting close to temperature increase, which generates vicious methane cycle; methane causes temperature increase which liberates methane, is demanding that climate actions restrict temperature increase to the 1.5-2 degrees agreed in the Paris Climate Accord. By doing this, it is probably possible to prevent entering the vicious circle. However, it is most likely not possible to do it cheaply, so that the "climate promises" of different political and economic circles, which say that we do climate actions as long as they do not disturb economic growth, are utter nonsense. If real climate asctions were the goal, growthnideology would be scrapped, and the high-GNP countries would dacrease their "standard of living" to half to enable funding of climate actions to be able to avoid entering the vicious methane circle.