THE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO CLIMATE CHANGE GOES TO ICELAND
PART-1: AN INTERVIEW WITH THE ICELANDER CLIMATE SCIENTIST
- The reason we’re in this mess is that we are burning fossil fuels. We are taking stored carbon from deep under the ground and sending it up into the atmosphere, wrapping the earth into warmer blankets, which means that the average temperature of the earth is increasing.
- And when you increase the average temperature of the earth of course you have more extreme weathers, for example. And also acidify the oceans – that’s a horrible thing because we know next to nothing of how that will actually change.
- In about 200 years we have changed the chemistry of the ocean more than in the earth’s past, more than what nature has for the past 50 million years or so. Humanity has changed the chemistry of the oceans in the last 200 years more than planet earth in the last 50 million years.
- Each day we put out about 100 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. This is like every single day there are 3 volcanoes going off non-stop – equal to what humanity is pouring into the atmosphere. It is the way we live. We change everything.
- Question: But every day we hear that China and India produce so much more CO2 so why should we do anything until they get their act together? Answer: Historically we are the biggest contributors. Half of the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere comes from the 10% richest part of the population of the earth. A person for example in India is responsible for about 2 tons per person per year but that figure in the US is 20 tons. So we are doing it, not the poor people.
- A lot of the emissions come from construction because we use a lot of cement. It also has to do with the food that we consume. Red meat! Red meat is a big source of CO2 emissions. Also, we keep cutting down trees which are kind of like natural vacuum cleaners for CO2. Planting trees are definitely helpful. Also eating less beef. Minimize food wastage. We waste an awful lot of the food we buy. One third of it ends up in trash landfills. When we throw our trash into landfills, it breaks down and creates Methane emissions and also CO2. Methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. Another source of emissions is clothes. We use an awful lot of clothes. It takes a great deal of energy and water and everything to produce clothes. Also, consumerism is to blame for our CO2 emissions. Manufacturing is a big contributor as well especially when it comes to electronics. Large mining operations need to mine all the metals in your electronic devices. And when we transport things around the world in aircraft and ships. And cars! Maybe we need to slow down a little bit. Consume a little bit less. We don’t need to fill out houses with crap that we don’t really need. How many vases do you have at home that are unused? And how do you commute to work? Do you drive, take public transport, or do you ride a bicycle or walk? These choices make a difference.
RESPONSE TO PART-1
- The climate action methodology proposed is that of controlling the lifestyle and consumption of humans – „to slow down“ – that is, to reduce emissions by reducing fossil fuel consumption. Although it sounds logical and although it is consistent with the environmental movement that led up to the climate argument against fossil fuels, it is noted that the climate action proposed here is inconsistent with the climate action proposal in mainstream climate science. The climate action demanded by climate science is not to reduce fossil fuel emissions by reducing energy consumption but to replace the fossil fueled energy infrastructure of the world with renewable energy. No reference is made to lowering consumption and the use of energy. Mainstream climate science wants an end to fossil fuels not just a lower consumption of fossil fuels. In this respect the presentation here is inconsistent with the most important aspect of the climate change movement that must be understood as a movement against fossil fuels [LINK] .
- The extreme horror of ocean acidification described here is an impossibility. We don’t produce enough fossil fuel emissions to do the job. The causal connection between the use of fossil fuels and OA is made, as in all other OA presentations, with the unsubstantiated claim that the source of the carbon dioxide causing the acidification is our use of fossil fuels because we are “pumping more and more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere“.
- In a related post [LINK] it is shown that in the 60-year period 1955-2015, inorganic CO2 concentration in the ocean went up at an average rate of 0.002 MM/L (millimoles per liter) per year. Correlation analysis is presented to test whether changes in oceanic CO2 concentration is responsive to emissions at an annual time scale. The analysis failed to show such a causal relationship between emissions and changes in oceanic CO2 concentration.
- In that same study [LINK] , in terms of ppm by weight, the CO2 concentration of the ocean had increased from 88ppm to 110ppm for a gain of 22ppm at a rate of 0.367ppm per year. During this period fossil fuel emissions increased from 7.5 gigatonnes/year of CO2 (GTY) to 36.1GTY with cumulative emissions since 1851 rising from 258 GT to 1,505 GT with a total amount contributed in this period of 1,247 GT. If all of these emissions had gone into the ocean it would have caused an increase of 0.91 ppm of CO2 in the ocean. Therefore, the observed rise of 22pm cannot be explained in terms of fossil fuel emissions.
- Also, as shown in a related post, detrended correlation analysis does not show any evidence for causation of ocean acidification by fossil fuel emissions at an annual time scale [LINK] . Therefore natural sources of CO2 in the ocean itself must be considered. Known geological sources of CO2 in the ocean include plate tectonics, submarine volcanism, mantle plumes, hydrothermal vents, methane hydrates, and hydrocarbon seepage and these sources must be taken into account in the study of changes in oceanic inorganic CO2 concentration. More than 80% of volcanism on earth is submarine volcanism. It is necessary to overcome the extreme atmosphere bias of climate science to conduct a more realistic study of changes in oceanic CO2.
- In the PETM event 50 million years ago, the ocean acidified itself with geological carbon and caused a mass extinction of ocean creatures as well as a sudden rise in atmospheric CO2 [LINK] . The ocean’s role and a role for geological carbon from rifts, plate tectonics, mantle plumes, and seafloor volcanism in ocean acidification cannot be ignored.
- In the statement „Humanity has changed the chemistry of the oceans in the last 200 years more than planet earth in the last 50 million years.“ it is inferred that it took the PETM 50 million years to happen. This is false. It was multi-decadal or at most a centennial event but it happened 50 million years ago.
- The statement that „And also acidify the oceans – that’s a horrible thing because we know next to nothing of how that will actually change“ echos a common theme in climate science that those aspects of the science they preach but know least about are the greatest dangers of global warming. The odd logic that „the less we know about climate change the more you should fear climate change“ is actually pervasive in climate science [LINK] .
- The claim that „And when you increase the average temperature of the earth of course you have more extreme weathers,“ derives from a once pervasive procedure in climate research called „Event Attribution Science“ that involves confirmation bias and circular reasoning. Since the heydays of Event Attribution when heat waves, wildfires, and even locust swarms could be attributed to climate change post hoc with climate model experiments [LINK] , a significant paper has been published on the subject of „Internal Climate Variability“ discussed in a related post [LINK] . Internal variability of climate that is natural makes it impossible to make sense of event attribution science results. Therefore, the claim that extreme weather events can be attributed to AGW that has been an active part of climate science research activities for more than a decade, is no longer credible in the light of the internal variability issue. Briefly, AGW climate change is a theory about long term trends in global mean temperature and its interpretation in terms of short term climate events or localized climate is not possible because „Internal variability in the climate system confounds assessment of human-induced climate change and imposes irreducible limits on the accuracy of climate change projections, especially at regional and decadal scales“ [LINK] .
PART-2: A VISIT TO THE TOYOTA ICELAND AUTOMOBILE MANUFACTURING PLANT
- Visit to Toyota of Iceland to see how companies are trying to save the planet instead of harm it and Toyota of Iceland recently won a top environmental award. Question: What are we looking at? Answer: We are the body and paint shop of this Toyota plant. These are the booths that we use to heat the cars once they have been painted and that helps dry the paint. In the old days we used to do it with fossil fuels. Now we use geothermal water. This geothermal energy heats the cars and so no oil is burnt. So we manage to decrease our impact on the environment dramatically by doing this. And that’s not all Toyota of Iceland is doing.
- They are also trying to reverse the effects of climate change by restoring a massive amount of wetlands. “What we used to do in the past, we’ve been digging ditches to drain the wetlands for farming purposes and other purposes. People don’t recognize their worth. We have dried up so much wetlands that it is increasing the emission of greenhouse gases. Drying out the wetlands emits methane and stored CO2 that was in the wetlands. So we are trying to restore some of these native wetlands. There didn’t use to be any water here so we closed these ditches here. The water is rising again. The emitting of greenhouse gases is slowing down and stopping. And we see the birds coming back in this place where they weren’t before. These wetlands actually store CO2.
RESPONSE TO PART-2
- Although renewable energy in the context of climate action refers to wind and solar, it is true that geothermal energy is „renewable“ in the sense that there is so much of it in the middle of the planet that it has all the properties of renewable energy. However, it is geological heat from the mantle that is also the source of volcanism, mantle plumes, hydrothermal vents, and carbon seeps and as such is not an energy source that is free of CO2. However certain locations in the world, such as Iceland, El Salvador, New Zealand, Kenya, and Philippines are located in geologically active areas of the world where a lot of heat (as well as CO2 emissions) in almost infinite quantity are readily available. In the climate change context, their use requires due consideration of their CO2 emissions. Yet another consideration is that locations such as Iceland where geothermal heat is easily accessed in plentiful quantities are necessarily in geologically active areas where significant CO2 flows of nature from volcanism, mantle plumes, rifting, and plate tectonics may be a larger source of CO2 than fossil fuel emissions of humans. It is a shortcoming and an anomalous aspect of climate science that it does not consider geological carbon flows in its CO2 mathematics and that could be the reason that observed changes in atmospheric CO2 cannot be explained only in terms of fossil fuel emissions as explained in related posts on this site [LINK] [LINK] . Significant geothermal flows in Iceland results from geological activity in the ocean floor in the Iceland – Greenland region as shown in the charts below. The Arctic is a geologically very active area as described in a related post [LINK] and as displayed in the charts below, with the Greenland/Iceland mantle plume, the Mid Arctic Rift, Aleutian Island convergent plate boundary, and also a large number of active volcanoes under and around Iceland and Greenland. The failure of climate science to take note of these geothermal heat sources in the interpretation of Arctic ice melt phenomena blindly attributed to climate change is an area where this science could be improved.
- As for CO2 and CH4 emissions from wetlands that have gone dry and the action taken by Toyota to keep them wet as a way of reducing these CO2 and methane emissions, it appears that wetlands GHG emissions are understood very differently in Iceland than it is in the rest of the world where it is the wetlands that are identified as the source of GHG emissions and not their dry state. See for example „Methane emissions from wetlands: an Arctic example“, Anna Joabsson Torben Røjle Christensen, Global Change Biology: 21 March 2002″. Also „Bioelectrochemical approach for control of methane emission from wetlands, Shentan Liuab Xiaojuan Fengc Xianning https://doi.org/10.1016/BioResearch Technology, 2017.
PART-3: MASS EXTINCTIONS IN THE ANTHROPOCENE
Question: What percent of earth’s animal species will be lost to climate change in the next 20 to 50 years? Answer: What we know is that 25% of all plant and animal species on the earth are in danger of becoming extinct; and if we look through the history, we can find at least one event for the past 100 million years or so where the same or even worse has occurred. Mass extinctions, that’s what it is called. It was about 66 million years ago when an asteroid impacted us. But these days we are the asteroid. And we have to stop it (stop being asteroids). We must do everything we possibly can to stop it. … Ending music and commentary…. Looking down upon downtown Reykjavík, I met so many amazing people here today I am feeling a little bit overwhelmed. I am feeling a little bit daunted. I mean, what am I doing? I have a video camera on the end of a stick – and I am talking to myself. And I am about to go land on a glacier at ground zero for the climate crisis. And you know what? I don’t know anything. The science is so complex – the sociology of this whole expedition is so complex. I mean this issue is not just like … pollution …, it’s economics, it’s social justice, it’s how humanity relates to its precious mother earth. It’s how we relate to each other. It’s like an onion. The more you dig into the issues around climate change, around climate activism, the more complicated they get. I don’t know that I know any more now than when I started. And I’m going to bet I’ll be a little bit afraid of what I’m going to find out on those glaciers in the next couple of days.
RESPONSE TO PART 3
Here the authors appear to make the case for the Anthropocene where the planet and all its creatures are not at the mercy of human activity. Although some climate scientists including the famous Michael Mann subscribe to this notion, it is shown in a related post that this relationship between humans and the planet is not possible [LINK] and its relevance to the theory of AGW climate change and the needed climate action may be limited to providing the needed fear based motivation for costly climate action. If climate science is a science it should not contain wild speculations of this nature.
To conclude, this section of the idiot’s guide to climate change contains some good information but that information is intermingled and confused with misinformation, a misunderstanding of climate action, and extreme statements that cannot be supported by data or by logical arguments based on climate science as proposed in its current state.