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Poznan, Poland, UN Climate Summit -and- Southern Ocean Acidification Ahead of Schedule 40 to 70 years

By December 11, 2008March 25th, 2014Oceans, The Unexpected

Senator John Kerry said that president-elect Obama would lead world in the negotiations of a successor agreement to Kyoto in the coming year.

The BBC News had this to say about Kerry’s comments: The senator said that none of the numbers on the table – the EU’s 20% by 2020, the US return to 1990 levels, the Chinese pledge of a 40% reduction in "carbon intensity" (the amount of carbon produced per unit of GDP) – was enough to stave off dangerous climate change.

Maybe there is hope.  Since the threshold passing at the turn of the century, impacts from climate change have accelerated wildly.  No matter how many times the super computer climate models are updated, climate continues to run away from them.

James Hansen’s suggestion that 350 ppm is the appropriate "safe" level of CO2 in our atmosphere, 22% lower than the accepted level of 450, is even this level safe?

The 30-year climate lag says that our climate today is responding to greenhouse gas levels from the 1970s.  Our planet’s population has more than doubled since then and our per capita CO2 emissions have increase five times. This doesn’t necessarily mean that climate change impacts will be five times greater in 30 years, but what does it mean?

It’s pretty much an accepted fact that CO2 concentrations of 450 to 550 ppm will see the irreversible melting of at least the Greenland Ice Cap.  Based on the best computer models available (those supercomputer models that can’t keep up with climate changes) we will reach this "point of no return" by the middle of the century.  At this point we will come to realize sea level rise scenarios of feet per decade.

Southern Ocean Acidification Ahead of Schedule 40 to 70 years (continued from above)

But before then, the Great Southern ocean will have gone sour.  By the year 2030, recent discoveries have shown that primary productivity will see significant extinction because ocean acidity.  This too is happening far ahead of previous model projections – 40 to 70 years ahead.  What happens when the most productive ecosystem on the planet becomes impaired? Primary productivity in the oceans, and the great southern ocean has the most primary productivity in the World, is responsible for half of the natural CO2 sequestration and half of the oxygen generation on our planet. What happens when those systems become impaired?

John Kerry is right, we need to be even more aggressive in our greenhouse gas emissions We need to heed James Hansen’s advice and shoot for 350 ppm, not 450 ppm.

Ocean Acidification: Note: the headlines from the "alarmist media" say 30 years ahead of schedule. If one takes the time to understand what this research says, and if one understands the greenhouse gas emissions curves and model projections, the time "ahead of schedule" that this event will happen is 40 to 70 years.  This is a prime example of the researcher using their conservative voice, as is usual in the industry of science. They do this basically to keep their jobs.  Highly conservative scientists are employed scientists.  In the case of climate however, highly conservative scientists do a disservice to the planet and all of us non-scientists who don’t understand the first thing about ocean chemistry.

McNeil and Matear, Southern Ocean acidification: A tipping point at 450-ppm atmospheric CO2, PNAS October 2008.