“Sustainable” isn’t sustainable. It isn’t even achievable, according to several researchers presenting at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Global carbon emissions have accelerated so dramatically over the last eight years, we are “now outside the entire envelope of possibilities” reviewed by the IPCC. Sure enough, sea levels are rising and rising faster than predicted. Meanwhile, biofuels, the great green hope of so many, have only made things worse, leading to a increase in slash & burn farming in the tropics. Indeed, we could find ourselves “effectively burning rain forests in our gas tanks,” noted one scientist.
TrackerNews has been full of stories over the last few months painting the same grim picture:
- The Sea of Japan absorbs only half has much CO2 as it used to. Scientists suspect warmer water temperatures have changed the pattern of vertical currents known as “ventilation.” The water on top has essentially become saturated with CO2. If it turns out this is happening in other oceans, the ramifications are immense. Oceans absorb about a quarter of human-generated CO2
- All this CO2 is making the oceans more acidic, which is destroying coral reefs, along with anything else unfortunate enough to rely on a calcium carbonate shell. That, in turn, is making it more difficult for stressed fisheries to recover, leading to higher food prices and hunger. The circle may be even more vicious. Researchers have just discovered that fish play a key role in marine carbon sequestration. Fish excrete vast quantities of calcium carbonate as a result of drinking seawater. Scientists speculate that climate-warmed seas would speed up fish metabolism leading to increased excretions. But fewer fish means a net decrease and less calcium carbonate in the water to neutralize acidity.
- Canadian forests are now carbon emitters. A combination of drought, logging, beetles, milder winters (warm enough to allow beetles to survive) and fire have turned 1.2 million square miles-worth of carbon sink solution into part of the problem.
Clearly, if we are going to make any headway with this disaster, we are going to have to come up with goals considerably bolder than “carbon neutral.” Optimistically, we are thisclose to an irreversible tipping point. According to yet another depressing study, global warming could trigger massive marine “dead zones” persisting for thousands of years.
BIOCHAR, a.k.a. AGRICHAR, a.k.a., TERRA PRETA: OLD TECH TO THE RESCUE
Filed under: agriculture, charcoal, climate change, energy, InSTEDD, soil health, TrackerNews | Tagged: agrichar, biochar, carbon dioxide, climate change, CO2, global warming, greenhouse gases, James Lovelock, Johannes Lehmann, nitrous oxide, Terra Preta, Tim Flannery | 12 Comments »