WaPost OpEd: “For the Love of Earth, Stop Traveling”

An opinion piece in the Washington Post lays out the simple answers: air travel consumes far too much energy, creates far too much environmental damage, per person. Good points.

The simple solution is for more of us to voluntarily travel, a lot less. The government would help, a lot, if they would impose a very steep aviation carbon tax, with all revenues going to reducing other personal taxes and/or funding far more energy-efficient transportation modes, to replace the energy-efficiency of aviation.

Check out this archived opinion piece, as well as the telling reader comments.

Click on the image below for a scrollable view; the PDF file may be downloaded.

Global Action Week Against Aviation Growth & Airport Expansion Projects

From an email sent out by GAAM…

Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM) is helping to mobilize for a ‘Global Action Week: Stay Grounded. Aviation Growth Cancelled Due to Climate Change’. The initiative is spearheaded by Vienna-based ‘System Change, Not Climate Change!’. The event is taking place end of September/beginning of October to coincide with the annual assembly of the UN aviation organization (ICAO) in Montreal. Groups and individuals from all continents are invited to join in to say NO! to more aviation growth and airport expansion projects.

As of this writing, major actions are planned in Vienna, London, Mexico City, Notre-Dame-des-Landes (near Nantes, France), and Istanbul. Mexican activists fighting a destructive aerotropolis project near Mexico City have already come up with a very impressive program (see archived copy ‘GAW-Mexico’ in Spanish, English and French).

Any input – big or small – will help to make a difference. Activities may vary from:

  • public awareness raising campaigns (e.g. by producing articles, statements, petitions; photos/videos; writing letters to concerned authorities/companies, etc.);
  • meetings to discuss the issues;
  • photo exhibitions;
  • artistic performances (street theatre, concerts);
  • family-friendly peaceful walks;
  • tree-planting events; and,
  • flash mobs to protest rallies.

Concerned groups and citizens are encouraged to sign on and share the global petition, called ‘No aviation growth! No false climate solutions!’.

Undoubtedly, aviation is a massively polluting industry and one of the fastest growing sources of carbon emissions. Yet, climate change is still conspicuously absent from any discussion around aviation growth. Aviation was excluded from the Paris Agreement signed by the world’s nations at the UN conference (COP21) last December. Therefore, we believe it is high time to step up public pressure at the global level:

  1. to stop unnecessary and destructive airport expansion schemes;
  2. to ensure that aviation is included in all climate change agreements, targets and regulations; and
  3. to achieve actual reductions in aviation emissions instead of false solutions (such as the fake remedies of ‘offsetting’ projects and biofuels).

Well aware of the criticisms, the aviation industry is going all-out to make sure that discussions at the forthcoming ICAO assembly will focus on how aviation supports ‘sustainable development’. The Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), for example, has published a glossy, image-cultivating report, entitled ‘Aviation: Benefits beyond borders’ (July 2016) that provides good insight into the industry’s green-washing attempts and among other things makes preposterous claims on how aviation will help to achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals (see attachment: aviation-SDGs). An archived copy of the full ATAG report can be viewed/downloaded here.

The Global Action Week will be a good opportunity for concerned people to preempt the industry’s nonsensical arguments. Solid evidence will be presented, showing the real and substantial harm done by aviation expansion:

  • …harm to local communities around the world,
  • …harm to the environment,
  • …and harm to our climate.

Please let GAAM know your ideas and plans for the Global Action Week! And, please regularly check here for updates on the campaign.

The text above was derived from an announcement by Anita Pleumarom, GAAM co-ordinating team.

Greenland Ice Facing an Early Melt Season (and new records)

An interesting article by the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), detailing this year’s extraordinarily warm arctic winter and accelerating Greenland melt rates.

20160412.. Unusually Early Greenland Melt (Danish Meteorological Institute, PolarPortal.dk)

(click on image to view article at polarportal.dk)

Given that the mainstream media (and the airlines and other industries that buy services from the media) continue to downplay and ignore these developments, here is a simple list of what this plausibly means re our planetary future:

  1. melting Greenland ice is creating a lens of cold fresh water, accumulating in the northern Atlantic; this is shunting the warm-water Gulf Stream, which backs up against the cold lens and is forced to dive under the cold fresh water.
  2. the result, in climate terms, is a developing configuration with an area of very warm water adjacent to an area of very cold water; this configuration tends to intensify weather patterns, creating a high frequency of weather events with stronger winds and larger rainfalls/flooding (sort of like turning up the heat under a tea kettle; water that had been warm but quiescent now starts to circulate and bubble).
  3. other climate change results include an intensified north-south flow of weather patterns that causes rapid temperature fluctuations from unseasonably warm to killing frosts; on a local level, this will potentially destroy trees and other perennial plants, while also reducing our ability to produce needed annual food crops.
  4. the ice melt from both Arctic and Antarctic regions will increase the volume of water in our oceans, which in turn will cause tens of meters of sea level rise; major cities (and airports) will be flooded, including: London, New York, Miami, Shanghai, Bangkok, Rome, Buenos Aires, and many more. Hundreds of millions of people will be displaced; extraordinary acreages of the most productive farmland will be lost.

The connection to aviation comes in these ways:

  • First, the evident root cause of this climate change is the collective (and excessive) consumption of fossil fuels by all of humanity.
  • Some forms of fossil fuel consumption are more necessary, while some are more discretionary. While heating homes and providing electricity are relatively ‘necessary’ across the globe, flying for business or pleasure is a very discretionary activity.
  • The per capita rate of fossil fuel consumption is not even close to level; while some populations consume almost no fossil fuels, other populations are ‘off the charts’ due to daily commutes, air travel, suburban sprawl, etc.
  • Aviation is extraordinarily dependent on fossil fuels, in that we are nowhere close to developing alternative energy sources that can efficiently power scheduled passenger or cargo flights.
  • there is no other common human activity that consumes fossil fuels – and generates CO2 and other pollutants – at a faster rate than does aviation. The per capita pollution rate is particularly intense for business jet (bizjet) operations. Instead of tax laws that incentivize acquisition and use of bizjets, we need tax laws that strongly disincentivize.
  • The conversion of farmlands from growing food to growing aviation biofuels is absurd, unjust, and ultimately undermines security across vast regions of the world.
  • The combustion of fossil fuels at higher altitudes is believed to create significant air pollutants, including soot that precipitates onto areas of polar ice, thus further accelerating ice melt and sea level rise.

See also:

What Happens if Arctic Ice Seasonally Disappears?

No Winter For the Arctic in 2016 — NASA Marks Hottest January Ever Recorded is a recent Post at RobertScribbler.com. As usual, the blogger does a considerable amount of research and presents some fascinating graphics. One graphic in this Post was particularly compelling:

20160221cpy.. chart showing 2016 2m temps north of 80N, plotted over 1980-2010 distribution

(This chart shows temperature distributions by date, based on NOAA data for the years 1980 through 2010. Note the gray bands related to temperature probabilities: a wide light gray band shows all values, a narrower medium gray band shows a 15-85% probability range, a narrower darker gray band shows a 30-70% probability range, and the thick black line shows the median value for 1980 through 2010. Data for the year 2016 is superimposed in red; notice how it plots far warmer than the median. The thin red box at the top, across the May-October portion of the curve, and the orange vertical lines were added by aiREFORM.)

The compelling part of this graphic is in the center: that thin, flat line at the top, during the summer months. It shows that, for a few months of the year, Arctic temperatures steady out right at the freezing point, 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The thin/flat line also begs the question: why? And, a few follow-up questions, such as: will it always be this way, or will it eventually change, and how will those changes impact our environment across the planet?

The answers seem obvious, and troubling. On a hot day, if we get a beverage with ice, the temperature of that liquid hovers at freezing, so long as there remains at least a little ice in the water. When the ice is gone, though, the temperature of our refreshing liquid rapidly mimics the air temperature. So, the flat area at the top of this chart, generally for the 3-month period from June through August, shows almost zero temperature variation – just a steady 32 degrees Fahrenheit. It appears that the melting of Arctic ice provides a moderating effect, steadying air temperatures right at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take away that ice and what will happen? There will no longer be a moderating effect. In fact, we reasonably should see a pair of short transition periods, in the Spring and Fall, when patterns of solar energy and air temperatures cause weeks of transition between ice and water. But, between these transition periods, when the ice is fully melted, the energy buffering related to daily water phase changes from liquid to solid and back to liquid is gone, so there can no longer be a moderating effect. And, additionally, it seems likely that the time-window during which Arctic temperatures can substantially exceed freezing will lengthen, spanning not just 3-months but eventually to even 7-months, from April through October.

How will this impact our environment? Logically, it means the entire hemisphere becomes at play in the weather system during the ice-free months. The stabilizing effect that has always existed, throughout the entire history of humankind, will be gone. Weather systems, needed to distribute energy excesses in equatorial regions, will now play out with greater intensity, higher frequency, and over the full distance from equator to pole. Longer seasons for hurricanes and tornadoes; stronger weather changes that can destroy crops and even kill perennials (forests, orchards, berries, grapes).

Big Oil and others, including the Av-Gov Complex, would like us all to believe otherwise: just keep on consuming, indeed consume even more per person; fly even more, and buy even more products shipped by air. And, they are getting lots of help from the captured agencies and bought-up elected officials in today’s corrupt system. But, then again, all of the Av-Gov Complex players do personally benefit when aviation impacts are maximized along with revenues and profits….


See also:
  • ‘How Far Can We Get Without Flying?’ – a Yes! Magazine article by Peter Kalmus, a JPL climate scientist, who doesn’t just quit flying, he also writes to help others who want to reduce their carbon footprint. Click here to view a scrollable PDF copy.

RobertScribbler: a Good Source for Analysis of the Arctic Ice Melt

The media tends to stay away from the details that confirm changes in climate, intensification of weather patterns, and other ‘inconvenient problems’ related to our excessive consumption of fossil fuels. One blog which has been compiling and sharing lots of fascinating information lately is RobertScribbler.com. He has some fairly technical content but does a good job dumbing it down, and he offers lots of leads back to sources, that will empower those of us who love to do research. Check it out…

(click on image to view original post at the blog website)

(click on image to view original post at the blog website)

Seven Months above 400ppm

We’re already back above 400 parts per million of CO2 in our atmosphere.

Last year, we hit this mark in early April. This year, we are two months earlier. Given the clear trends since Keeling first started measuring atmosphere CO2 in the late 1950’s, we can expect to briefly pass below 400ppm next Fall, then pass above 400ppm late in 2015, never to fall below again.

The text below was posted a year ago, and it still applies…

Geologists are confident that, going back to at least 800,000 years ago, the CO2 in our Earth atmosphere has never exceeded 300ppm … or at least not until AFTER mankind started creating CO2 by burning coal, oil and natural gas. When measurements were started in Mauno Loa, in 1958, the annual peak for CO2 was 315ppm. As shown by the graph below, for the past week, the daily average has remained above 400ppm.

20150130scp.. KeelingCurve holding at 400+
So, the pressing question is:

…when (and how) will we get control
of our addiction to fossil fuels?

See also:
  • The Scripps Institution of Oceanography updates this online graph everyday.

New Antarctic Study Looks at CO2 Changes During Post Ice-Age Deglaciation

Researchers from Scripps, Oregon State, and other schools recently published a study in the journal Nature, showing the results of an analysis of 3,405 meters of Antarctic ice core samples. The study was done at a base constructed on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide, where annual snowfall would reliably accumulate and be subjected to minimal horizontal flowing.

At the coldest time of the last ice age, sea levels are believed to have been 120 meters below today’s levels, and atmospheric CO2 measured around 180 parts per million (ppm). Since then, the level of atmospheric CO2 has tracked upward along with average air temperature and sea level.

This new study was able to track the last ice age from its peak to complete deglaciation; it showed an increase in atmospheric CO2 of about 80 parts per million, taking place over 10,000 years. But the researchers were able to study fine time increments, and they found that there were three events within this deglaciation period, where CO2 levels surged 10-15 ppm during a smaller timeframe of 100-200 years.

“The rate of change during these events is still significantly less than present-day changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. The Keeling Curve record of atmospheric carbon dioxide, launched by the late Scripps geochemist Charles David Keeling, recorded levels of 315 ppm when it began in 1958. In 2014, monthly average concentrations reached 401 ppm, an increase of more than 85 parts per million in less than 60 years.”

– an excerpt from the study, published in late October 2014 in the journal Nature

The dominant expectation had been that studies would most likely reveal a fairly steady rate of CO2 increase. Thus, in the 10,000 years following the last ice age peak, an increase of 80 ppm would mean roughly 0.8 ppm per century. Instead, the study revealed an even slower average rate of increase in atmospheric CO2, with surges possibly related to other earth processes. “Either the cause of these pulses is at least part terrestrial, or there is some mechanism in the ocean system we don’t yet know about,” said Oregon State paleoclimatologist Edward Brook, a co-author on the Nature study.

The results point out the extraordinarily rapid pace we are seeing today in the increase in our atmospheric CO2 level. Notably, the fastest observed rates were 0.8 ppm per century; today, our average annual CO2 increase is 1.4 ppm per year, thus 180-times the highest rate of increase for atmospheric CO2 level as actually observed in nature. The rate of fossil fuel consumption in today’s automobile-centric communities is historically amazing; in the U.S., each person consumes 21 barrels of oil per year … and that is only our oil consumption (and does not look at our trend to export huge quantities of coal and gas to other nations). The vast majority of this consumed fuel becomes water vapor, CO2, and other pollutants. If our current rapid increase in atmospheric CO2 is connected to human consumption of fossil fuels — and nobody has yet provided credible evidence of any other non-human source — then we will soon feel great pressure to severely cut back on the use of oil, coal, and natural gas.

And, Aviation (as well as all other transportation uses of energy) will be impacted enormously.


See also:

One Year of Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions

NASA climate scientists used a supercomputer to model carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere, and present a full year compressed down into a 3-minute time-lapse video. You see plumes of CO2 rise from the largest emitters – the U.S., Europe and China. And then, you see the plumes flow and collide and mix in our weather systems. Copied from an EcoWatch article.