Saturday, December 10, 2016

ANS -- The Earth Itself Is Now Accelerating The Demise Of The Human Species

Here's a short article about more bad news on the environment.  It references the journal Nature, which is the top science journal in the world.  

An international team of scientists dug into two dozen locations across the globe to chart gently rising and falling seas over centuries and millennia. Until the 1880s and the world's industrialization, the fastest seas rose was about 1 to 1.5 inches (3 t
Sea Level Rise,"Superstorm" Sandy

You read that right. The Earth is now going to help us kill ourselves.

In a massive new study published Wednesday in the influential journal Nature, no less than 50 authors from around the world document a so-called climate system "feedback" that, they say, could make global warming considerably worse over the coming decades.

That feedback involves the planet's soils, which are a massive repository of carbon due to the plants and roots that have grown and died in them, in many cases over vast time periods (plants pull in carbon from the air through photosynthesis and use it to fuel their growth). It has long been feared that as warming increases, the microorganisms living in these soils would respond by very naturally upping their rate of respiration, a process that in turn releases carbon dioxide or methane, leading greenhouse gases.

It's this concern that the new study validates.

Without a doubt, an imposing scientific study titled Quantifying Global Soil Carbon Losses In Response To Warming is likely to receive far fewer clicks than"What Susan Dey Looks Like Now is Absolutely Jaw-Dropping." 

But this is a big one, folks. 

Most prior models of climate change left out the impact of carbon "feedback" from the planet's soils and the microorganisms that inhabit them because the science was not sufficiently developed. As a result, the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, the universally-recognized body for addressing the catastrophic effects of global warming, has been relying on estimates that may be and probably are far too optimistic in setting its goals for greenhouse gas reductions. 

This new study, led by Yale University and conducted by researchers at thirty different institutions, is based on 49 empirical studies over twenty years examining soil carbon emissions from various points around the world, including, notably, the Arctic regions where soils have been warming rapidly. The data were then extrapolated for the globe, projecting a probable release of 55 Billion tons of carbon (converting to 200 billion tons of CO2) by Calendar Year 2050—the equivalent of adding an entire United States economy to the global warming picture, or 17% more global emissions than had been previously projected for that time frame if we continue on our current course. This type of "positive feedback"—positive meaning forward, not in a "good" way—would accelerate the planet's warming into unprecedented levels:

"By taking this global perspective, we're able to see that there is a feedback, and it's actually going to be massive," said Thomas Crowther, a researcher with the Netherlands Institute of Ecology who led the research published Wednesday.

But even these estimates may be too small. The extrapolation described above relied on a base analysis of the upper permafrost regions in the Arctic, to a depth of only about 10 cm. Assuming that warming also will impact deeper permafrost, then the release of carbon would increase by factors of magnitude, particularly in areas such as Siberia, which has massive layers of deep permafrost. Most of the previous research had been conducted in lower, warmer latitudes and reflected a smaller carbon loss. That is why this particular study—of higher latitudes—is so alarming.

The increased carbon emissions could conceivably be offset by increased vegetation—or thoughtful agricultural management—to "suck up" the CO2. However the study's lead researcher, Thomas Crowther, and other experts quoted in the article don't think that's likely in our deforesting, frantically over-developing world:

"Our analysis provides empirical support for the long-held concern that rising temperatures stimulate the loss of soil C to the atmosphere, driving a positive land C–climate feedback that could accelerate planetary warming over the twenty-first century," the paper reports.

This, in turn, may mean that even humans' best efforts to cut their emissions could fall short, simply because there's another source of emissions all around us. The very Earth itself."

Crowther himself says the election of someone like Trump who denies the reality of man-made climate change is simply catastrophic at this point in time:

Dr Crowther, speaking to The Independent, branded Donald Trump's sceptical stance on climate change as "catastrophic for humanity".

"It's fair to say we have passed the point of no return on global warming and we can't reverse the effects, but certainly we can dampen them," said the biodiversity expert.

But while Donald Trump and his entire cabinet may scoff at the idea of man-made climate change, the Earth doesn't really care what Trump thinks. The Earth knows what's happening, and is reacting to it like a living organism under acute heat stress, literally gasping for breath.

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