The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The Simplest Thing You Need To Understand About Climate Change

The amount of warming is based primarily on how much CO2 there is in the atmosphere.

This is what is known as a STOCK. Think of it like the water in a sink.

The amount of climate change gases we are putting into the atmosphere is a FLOW. Think of it as the net amount of water going into the sink.

So, when you read an article talking about how much gas is being produced, if it says that amount is going down, what that means is that warming is still increasing.

If we want to reduce the amount of warming, we have to get to a negative amount of gasses going into the pool; into the stock. The flow needs to be negative, like turning off the water and pulling the plug.

Unfortunately, and that is what I’ve been concerned by, at a certain point, stored climate change gasses start being released. Methane in the permafrost and in swamps, for example. Once the permafrost areas heat up enough, methane which has been kept out of the stock and flows starts flowing into the pool.

This is a flow we have only indirect control over and it makes it much harder to get to a negative flow or even slow the increase of the stock.

So, if we ever want the old world back we’re going to have to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere or take other radical steps like orbital mirrors which reflect sunlight so there’s less incoming heat.

Removing CO2 is HARD. It’s not an easy problem and many of the ways of doing it, like ocean seeding, may cause other problems. As with a lot of problems, the easiest way to deal with it was not to let it occur in the first place.

It’s too late to do that.

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  1. Paradan

    So is the ocean seeding your talking about the plankton bloom thing that Italian team did years ago and got everyone pissed at them? I cant remember for sure but I think they used like iron sulfate or something? Anyway it was some simple chemical, and you dump in the ocean and the little guys love it and they go bloom! Then when they die, their little carbon bones sink away into future Earths oilfields. Seems like the big question on this would be, how much carbon is produced manufacturing, and transporting the chemical vs how much gets removed.

  2. edwin

    Not doing it in the first place is number 1. Number 2 is to look at low teck solutions for energy usage reduction, like reforestation, mass transit, changes in lifestyle, some of them radical. Number 3 is to go for the wunderfaffen. Number 3 will probably work almost as well as they have with the vax only strategy with covid, or the wonder weapons sent to Ukraine.

    We are already trying number 3 with carbon capture.

    The Hail Marry solutions like solar mirrors will be massively expensive assuming we get our technology together, are very likely to have severe unintended consequences, and may actually, like carbon capture be of limited use in the best case scenarios.

    I suspect that, like covid, we are not capable of meeting and dealing with crisis of any type anymore. Like the covid isn’t real crowd, or the no-fly zone/Ukraine is winning crowd we retreat into fantasies instead of dealing with problems, and when confronted with our failures, we double down – even if it is killing us.

  3. Willy

    Exxon claims they’re developing these carbon capture machines. It’s easy, they say. Are they feeling the guilt? Worried about the children? Making the amends?

    Actually, they claim it’s a grand new business opportunity, as much as a four trillion dollar market by 2050. Chasing money is still the only moral good.

    First they create the problem, then they hide it, then they go along with it because they say it creates a brand-new business opportunity. Maybe they can even get government to help them finance it! Sounds like my old business.

    Possibly the next stop for our AGW conspiracy deniers: tell us they knew all along that those climate scientists caused climate change just so they could extract even more gubmint grant cash for developing carbon capture machines.

  4. StewartM

    Ian, you already know this stuff, but for others, I think you might find this interesting (and infuriating):

  5. different clue

    Yesterday NaCap ran an article from New Left Review called Darning The Planet, about the ruling elites’ various performative non-solutions designed to prevent the application of real solutions. Here is the link.

    Question: how to get these elites out of power and out of the way?
    Answer: Well . . . . Stalin had the answer. The one-ounce answer.
    But we the masses would have to have the power to apply the one-ounce answer to the elites, and we don’t have that power.

    Okay, so . . . now what? Lie back and think of England? That’s the functional answer the ruling elites give us.

    Pray for rescue from beyond our established elites? Well, okay maybe. The only place I can expect rescue coming from is the IndiaGov and the ChinaGov. They are not prepared to lie back and think of England. They will start geo-engineering in a big way, most especially China. Since the simplest geo-hack would appear to be surrounding the planet with a high-atmosphere shroud of reflective sulfate nano-particles, that is what the IndiaGov and the ChinaGov will start doing. And if someone objects, the IndiaGov and ChinaGov will just note that they have the A-bombs and missiles to render such objections moot.

  6. different clue

    On the other hand, climate-reality-facing towns, cities and other jurisdiction-loads of people could start doing something like what this article describes about some space-cooling public-space design and technology being tried in Seville, Spain. If it can be seen to work there, versions of it could be applied elsewhere.

  7. Carborundum

    To be clear, it’s not that one needs to have an absolute negative amount of gasses going into the pool (by definition, that’s not going to occur), it’s that we need to have an amount of gasses going into the pool that is lower than the sequestration rate (i.e., the *net* flow needs to be negative).

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