This is a preliminary message - the note at the bottom is my comment on the state of things!
Alan Page 14/05/12
Urgent Message to Governments from the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, AMEG
Governments must get a grip on a situation which IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has ignored. A strategy of mitigation and adaptation is doomed to fail. It will be impossible to adapt to the worst consequences of global warming, as IPCC suggests. The Arctic must be cooled, ASAP, to prevent the sea ice disappearing with disastrous global consequences. Rapid warming in the Arctic, as sea ice retreats, has already disrupted the jet stream. The resulting escalation in weather extremes is causing a food crisis which must be addressed before the existing conflicts in Asia and Africa spread more widely. Dangerous global warming and ocean acidification must be prevented by reducing the level of CO2 in the atmosphere, especially by improved agricultural practice, thereby addressing the food crisis at the same time.
This is an unprecedented opportunity for international collaboration for common purpose.
1. The Arctic is rapidly heading for meltdown.As snow and sea ice retreat, exposing land and sea with lower albedo (i.e. less reflectiveness), more solar energy is absorbed, thus leading to further melting and retreat in a vicious cycle. This cycle has been self-sustaining for many years – we are well past the tipping point. There is no sign of any natural process to break the cycle.
2. As the extent of snow and sea ice has been plummeting, even while global warming has stalled, Arctic albedo loss has rapidly overtaken CO2 as the main driver of climate change in the Northern Hemisphere, as witness the escalation of weather extremes. The Arctic has warmed well above global average, resulting in a reduction of the temperature gradient between tropics and pole, this in turn reducing the strength of the polar jet stream, with increased meandering and a tendency to get stuck in blocking patterns. This explains the recent escalation of weather extremes in the form of long periods of weather of one kind such as the months of high rain the UK has experienced this past winter 2013-14, and the protracted extreme cold in the US over the same period, crop failures and an upward trend in the world food price index.
3. While land and subsea permafrost thaws ever faster, methane could become the dominant climate forcing agent. Emissions threaten to break through the gigaton-per-year level within twenty years. AMEG has been continuing its research into the situation. A recent paper, co-authored by Peter Wadhams, a founder member of AMEG, has used the Stern Review economic model to show that the economic cost of a 50 megaton release of methane from the Arctic Ocean seabed will cost $60 trillion. Research in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf has suggested that such a vast release of methane was possible, and continued exponential increase of methane could, within 20 years, reach a level where methane dominated over CO2 in global warming. Some researchers warn of a 50 gigaton burst being possible “at any time”.
4. Therefore, urgent and strenuous efforts are needed ASAP to cool the Arctic, halt snow and sea ice decline, and suppress methane.
5. Techniques exist for cooling on the necessary scale. Both the brightening of low-level clouds and the production of a reflective haze in the stratosphere are techniques based on natural phenomena which have been studied extensively. Various methane suppression techniques have been proposed. However, all these techniques require technology development and testing before deployment.
6. Existing cooling effects must be maintained, especially the cooling effect of SO2. SO2 from burning fossil fuels has negated between 2/3 and 3/4 CO2 global warming over the past 20-30 years; its global cooling effect must be allowed to continue until an alternative means of cooling can be deployed. This should be achieved while improving air quality in centres of population.
7. Ocean acidification threatens to devastate the marine food chain. Atmospheric CO2 must be reduced to a safe level within twenty years or less.
8. Therefore, CO2 must be removed from the atmosphere faster than it is put in. The rate of removal should be increased until it is around double the rate of emissions and the CO2 level has fallen sufficiently to avoid dangerous ocean acidification. Funds could be raised by having a levy on carbon taken out of the ground, specifically to fund the return of carbon to the ground.
9. CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere utilising the photosynthesis of plants and certain algae to produce biomass. The carbon of this biomass must then be kept from returning to the atmosphere, e.g. by pyrolytic conversion to biochar. This process of capture and sequestration has to be massively scaled in order for the CO2 removal rate to exceed CO2 emission rate.
10. The profound economic, social, security and political impacts of the abrupt climate change, being witnessed as an escalation of climate extremes and crop failures, must be addressed. The underlying price of food as indicated by the food price index is already above the crisis level, leading to the food riots we have observed in several countries where income is insufficient to buy daily needs.
These are unprecedented opportunities for international collaboration in the interests of every country, every section of the community, rich and poor alike. The necessary actions of cooling the Arctic, suppressing methane and CO2 removal present enormous engineering and logistical challenges. The objectives should be achievable without any revolution or radical change in the way we live. In fact the solutions to the challenges are not only affordable but can be of great economic benefit in the long run.
There is no excuse for procrastination. We must see action now
Current situation and gross omissions from IPCC
The IPCC WG1, WG2 and WG3 assessment reports (AR5) make no mention of the downward trend in sea ice volume, and rely on models which fail to properly capture the processes of warming and melting. Furthermore they fail to mention the strong evidence that Arctic warming is already a driver of climate change in the Northern Hemisphere, compounding the effects of global warming. Arctic warming and sea ice retreat is already having a serious impact on climate change across the Northern Hemisphere, which is affecting food production, food prices and food security. The latest WG2 report claims that the Arctic sea ice will be subject to ‘very high risks with an additional warming of 2 degrees C’. In fact, the September sea ice volume is already down 75% with a trend to zero by September 2016, suggests that the Arctic is heading for complete meltdown, which would be a planetary catastrophe. The loss of Arctic ecosystems and the climate implications of ice disappearance are in fact acute risks NOW as both ice and ice-dependent species are set to disappear within a matter of years. These are catastrophic omissions. AR5 is supposed to provide the best analysis of the state of the planet and its future climate, on which governments can base policy for protection of citizens. These omissions are leading governments into a false sense of security about the future of our planet. The only clear policy deduction from AR5 concerns the reduction of CO2 emissions by keeping within a carbon budget. Reductions alone have no chance of preventing catastrophes arising from Arctic meltdown. Intervention to cool the Arctic is an absolute requirement to prevent such catastrophes. There is no realistic alternative. The concept of a carbon budget, espoused in AR5, hides the short-term consequences of various powerful feedback processes which get zero or scant attention in AR5. In particular, snow and sea ice albedo feedback seems to be totally ignored in the budget. And the mounting concentration of methane in the atmosphere is ignored. The real truth is that the carbon budget has already been spent. WG3’s limit of 450 ppm for CO2 equivalent has already been passed, even without taking into account albedo loss. Governments must also address ocean acidification, whose threat has also been ignored in AR5. There is no alternative but to start a major campaign for CO2 removal (CDR). The latest WG3 assessment report suggests CDR as a possibility for offsetting emissions, but only in so far as for keeping within their carbon budgets of 450ppm CO2e and above, which would have catastrophic consequences for humanity, even without all the other overlooked positive feedbacks described above. CDR must be adopted, being the only possibility in order to stop the existing contribution to global warming of CO2 and ocean acidification. Meanwhile there is the threat of Arctic methane emissions to burst above the gigaton level, totally ignored in AR5. And the AR5 projections of sea level rise are hopelessly optimistic if the sea ice disappears as rapidly as the trend indicates.
About the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, AMEG
AMEG is a group of determined scientists, engineers, communicators and others, dedicated firstly to establishing what really is happening to our planet (especially in the Arctic) using best scientific evidence, secondly to finding effective and affordable means to deal with the situation, and thirdly communicating these matters to authority and the general public. AMEG aims to position itself in the centre ground – neither overstating nor understating the dangers of climate change. We are only alarmist in the sense that we are drawing attention to the more unpleasant realities of rapid Arctic warming and climate change, which have been downplayed or ignored by IPCC, unwittingly backed up by the media. We are determinedly optimistic as regards promoting an intervention strategy against all the odds, believing that mankind must have the collective intelligence to sort out the mess that mankind has got itself into. In early 2012, AMEG gave evidence to the UK’s Environment Audit Committee in their inquiry on protecting the Arctic. Much of our evidence was dismissed by government advisers, but all our evidence has been borne out by subsequent observations and events, including: the rapid rise in temperature of Arctic ocean and atmosphere; the dramatic decline of sea ice to a record minimum in September 2012 (following the exponential downward trend we had warned the committee about); the exponential increase in release of the potent greenhouse gas, methane, from the Arctic Ocean seabed; the exponential increase in melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and consequent sea level rise; and the continuing disruption of the jet stream patterns we expected from Arctic warming, with resulting climate change in the form of weather extremes (despite a continuing hiatus in global warming), causing widespread crop failures and increase in the food price index above the crisis level, thus promoting civil conflict in a number of Asian and African countries where food prices have recently escalated, including most notably Syria. Recent independent research, by scientists in AMEG and elsewhere, puts beyond reasonable doubt our assertion that the Arctic is locked in a vicious cycle of warming and melting, with the sea ice well past its tipping point. The current albedo forcing from snow and sea ice retreat is now estimated at around 0.4 to 0.5 Watts per square metre, averaged globally, amounting to 200 to 250 terawatts heating in the Arctic – more than mankind’s total energy consumption. This albedo forcing is liable to double within a few years as the snow and sea ice further retreat. AMEG believes that the vicious cycle of warming and melting can only be broken by rapid intervention to cool the Arctic. Although AMEG’s research has concentrated on the Arctic and its effect on climate change, our study of IPCC’s own evidence suggests just how serious are the long term prospects of climate change due to both CO2 and methane – far more serious than claimed by IPCC itself. The carbon budget for CO2 – the allowable amount of CO2 to avoid dangerous climate change – has already been used up, if one takes into account the effect of methane and other greenhouse gases. If one also takes into account the climate forcing through albedo loss in the Arctic, then it is clear that the world is heading for extremely dangerous global warming by mid century, even without Arctic methane. The only way to head off such a disaster is by reducing the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere well below their current levels, using a combination of aggressive reduction in both CO2 and methane emissions but also by removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.
Contact: John Nissen, Chair, Arctic Methane Emergency Group
Phone: +44 7890 657 498 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for consideration:
The information that I have found support your much more aggressive approach. The solutions and discussion sections ought to be somewhat more clear in my opinion in that not only is it appropriate to discuss biochar in item #9, but there should be much better treatment of the state of both the carbon uptake, storage and retention processes by the photosynthesizing organisms - slowing down, stable or increasing; and the state of the carbon accumulation - declining, stable or increasing as well as the assumed or projected stability of the storage vehicle. My experience in NE USA forests is that while the forest may appear to be healthy the numbers of trees per area normally steadily decline from a high point of 5,000,000 seedlings toward 10-50 large trees/acre (25-125/hectare) as the forest matures and eventually regrows. During this time there is both an addition of carbon stored at a variable rate and a steady loss of carbon as C02 and methane as the mortality converts back to the building blocks it came from. I do not find this discussion clearly presented anywhere in the literature that I have come across. So one should advocate for a careful review of the basis of the "feel good" policies of the environmental community with regard to those three areas.
On a different note, I have come across a recent release of a Tesla based generator which seems impossible. They, "fixtheworldproject.net, claim to have wide free distribution of the construction information and encourage cottage industry community unit formation (CICU) as opposed to any kind of corporate production and distribution. My interest in this has received the expected range of commentary from pessimism to guarded optimism. My position is to investigate this technology in the spirit in which it was offered and to describe my experience. If the device is factually supported it will replace all of the carbon based energy systems with seemingly fuel free energy on demand with or without grid connection. The design of the distribution channels seems to enable very wide release as fast as the interested parties can find the time and supplies to put the things together. Obviously it is not pollution free - it is a metallic device but once operational it requires no fuel and produces very little waste heat or other emissions. The history of this and apparently many other devices like it is that governments around the world have taken steps along with banks and energy industries to suppress the technologies with whatever force or resources are needed to do so.
It would seem that there needs to be some more review of the basis for these claims and if true then there must also be another facet of the effort to end pollution which involves bringing the guilty parties to a point where their obstruction can not continue??? Please help sort this out!