High Tide

DPF over at kiwiblog is getting skeptical about the climate change predictions of one scientist predicting 100m sea level rises in next 100 years if we keep pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. Interestingly DPF explains in his article why the predictions are radically different from the IPCC report.

Dr Huber said if greenhouse gas emissions carried on as they were, CO2 levels would be high enough to melt the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets in 100-200 years, making the sea rise about 100m.

So as highlighted Dr Huber is making a prediction that the IPCC couldn’t reach consensus on. He is including melting of ice caps

What he doesn’t tell you is that currently the science is struggling to keep pace with the warming. The IPCC reports take time to compile, they only look at research that has had a chance to be critiqued by other scientists. By the time the report is compiled they are already out of date with respect to the frontline of understanding on the science. This isn’t a bad thing. We want the IPCC reports to be as good and accurate as they can be.
When you are talking about the survival of our civilisation you can’t afford to be tardy. The precautionary principle applies. It is my understanding that the IPCC worse case scenario doesn’t quite measure up to what we are seeing at the moment – reality is worse! In the last few years we have seen accepted estimates for complete melt of the artice sea ice compress rapidly.

If we assume the best and the worse happens our civilisation is pretty much screwed. If we assume almost the best and the almost worse happens we are probably just about as screwed. In fact unless the least warming for CO2 we emit happens we are pretty much screwed. So if we don’t get our act together soon we are pretty much screwed. If the science turns out estimating high and reality comes in a bit lower that sucks. If it happens the other way around, well it is catastrophic. We can reduce the risk of an adverse event happening, we would be criminals not to.

With regards to the science, scientific method relies on experiments or observations to test theories. As more and more science is compiled on this topic our understanding increases. The estimates made today will probably be better than those made a couple of years ago.

Here are some links to realclimate.org posts about ice sheets and sea level rise so you can read up yourself.
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/09/how-much-will-sea-level-rise/
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/09/on-straw-men-and-greenland-tad-pfeffer-responds/
From these it looks as though at the last quarter of last year 100m claims were still outliers. I don’t know how much this has changed in the mean time but 2 metres means that some one is going to be finding homes for a lot of people from Bangladesh.

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3 thoughts on “High Tide

  1. Unfortunately there are no scientists (or geologist) that will predict how much the earths mantle (crust) will fall in areas where the water will pond, nor how much the rest of the mantle will rise as it floats on its liquid magna core.

    So to say the oceans will rise 100metres may well be technically correct, it does not mean that we will have any less solid ground to live on.

    The oceans might just get 100 metres deeper and the land not rise a millimeter. Or the land may rise 50 metres and the oceans floor sink 50 metres.

    It is a fact that Greenland is actually rising now that the ice is not pushing it down into the magna.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12872

    It may well be that the people in Bangladesh will be in fact better off for climate change!

    Nobody knows!!!!!!!!

  2. Hmmm,

    Interesting, the fact that enough water is melting to cause the land to start to increase its uplift is frankly quite scary. Exactly the fact that the earth is such a complex system and we have many gaps in our understanding suggests to me that we should be treading carefully where ever possible. Bring on the Green Homes Fund I say!

  3. one of the things that freaked me out recently was learning that increased carbon in the atmosphere leads to increased acidity in the oceans. Increased acidity will eventually kill off plankton since they’re covered by a thin shell of calcium.

    Can you imagine what happens to the oceans ecosystems with no plankton?

    I mean, shit…

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