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350 Parts Per Million


biffvernon

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Posted
  • Location: Lincolnshire coast
  • Location: Lincolnshire coast

    Another great idea (if several billion people cotton on).

    A Letter From Bill McKibben

    Dear friends,

    350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth.

    We’re planning an international campaign to unite the world around the number 350, and we need your help. We need to make sure that the solutions the world proposes to climate change are to scale with the level of crisis that this number represents. Everyone on earth, from the smallest village to the cushiest corner office, needs to know what 350 means. The movement to spread that number needs to be beautiful, creative, and unstoppable.

    What we need most right now are your ideas for how to take the number 350 and drive it home: in art, in music, in political demonstrations, in any other way you can imagine. We will connect actions all around the world and make them add up to more than the sum of their parts–but we don’t have all the ideas and all the inspiration. We need yours.

    We could also use your help spreading 350. Can you contact anyone you think might be interested and willing to help–in every country on earth–and send them our way?

    Many thanks,

    Bill McKibben and the 350.org crew.

    The website, http://www.350.org/ appears still to be in its, er, developmental phase.

    Background reading:

    Jim Hansen et al. April 2008 (3.6mb pdf)

    and

    Gavin Schmidt and discussion at RealClimate

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    Posted
  • Location: Chevening Kent
  • Location: Chevening Kent

    Why do people dismiss the role of our ocean sinks in this? If they continual to fail at the rate they have then 350 may not be achievable even with decent sized cuts in CO2 emissions. This point seems to be total ignored, I see it as just turning the tap down into a sink which still has its plug in and expecting the level to go down, it won't!

    I am not against CO2 cuts but am against it being banded about as some sort of panacea when it is clearly not or at least there is little evidence to back the theory?

    Chasing 350 without a full understanding of what else is going on is akin to chasing the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

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    Posted
  • Location: Lincolnshire coast
  • Location: Lincolnshire coast

    CO2 levels have been very high in the past, perhaps because of volcanos as we don't know them these days, and there have been mass extinctions. This time it's our fault and we want to avoid a mass extinction.

    Hansen has not given in to complete dispair, suggesting we might just get away with it if we build no more coal fired power stations, phase out the existing ones, and turn agriculture into a carbon sequestration industry. We have to start now, not in ten years time.

    The good news is that there's not such a great deal of conventional oil left so business as usual is not on the agenda anyway, but we must not try to exploit the unconventional oils - tar sands and oil shales and coal to liquids.

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    The good news is that there's not such a great deal of conventional oil left so business as usual is not on the agenda anyway, but we must not try to exploit the unconventional oils - tar sands and oil shales and coal to liquids.

    Fear not, these oils will never be widely used as they as they are so expensive. Vast amounts of money and effort have to spent for very little reward. Coal to liquids is another energy "source" that is extremely expensive and uneconomical and thus will never be used on a large scale.

    You are right though, it is pretty good news that conventional oil is running low - it will limit the CO2 we can produce. I have no doubt that if there was an infinite amount of oil left we'd use it all as fast as we could. Jim Hansen, co-authored with others, had a paper out recently that said that the IPCC scenarios are far too pessimistic with regards to climate change as they have highly urnealistic expecations of the amount of fossil fuels left. The IPCC live in a fantasy land where there is almost unlimited fossil fuels, when in reality they are far more scarce and are running much lower than most people realise. I think we may well not reach 350ppm, whether we like it or not, due to this. There are feedback mechanisms though that could send us well beyond that no matter what happens.

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    Posted
  • Location: Brighouse, West Yorkshire
  • Location: Brighouse, West Yorkshire

    Unfortunately I can only see one viable alternative to coal fired power stations if we have to phase them all out by 2035 and a lot of people aren't going to like it.

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    Unfortunately I can only see one viable alternative to coal fired power stations if we have to phase them all out by 2035 and a lot of people aren't going to like it.

    What people have to realise is that in the future we will turn to the cheapest source of energy possible. When oil begans its decline it's going to cause serious economic hardship. In hard economic times, being "green" is the least of peoples' worries. They will want the cheapest source of energy available - this will still be fossil fuels. Nuclear energy, which I think you are alluding to, is still very expensive. When people are struggling to get by and struggling to feed their families, fitting solar panels to their house will be the last thing on their mind. Even if the oil price continues to go through the roof, it will still be cheaper than renewable energy, or indeed nuclear.

    When push comes to shove, people will turn to fossil fuels. They are simply the cheapest, best option on the table. It's easy enough in these times of plentifulness and prosperity to have the luxury of dabbling with highly expensive and inefficient nonsense like renewable energy. People's priorities will very quickly change however when things turn difficult. People these days have no comprehension of things being difficult - they have been spoilt by a century and more long binge on fossil fuels. When these fossil fuels start to wither away people's attitudes will change dramatically.

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    Posted
  • Location: 4 miles north of Durham City
  • Location: 4 miles north of Durham City
    What people have to realise is that in the future we will turn to the cheapest source of energy possible. When oil begans its decline it's going to cause serious economic hardship. In hard economic times, being "green" is the least of peoples' worries. They will want the cheapest source of energy available - this will still be fossil fuels. Nuclear energy, which I think you are alluding to, is still very expensive. When people are struggling to get by and struggling to feed their families, fitting solar panels to their house will be the last thing on their mind. Even if the oil price continues to go through the roof, it will still be cheaper than renewable energy, or indeed nuclear.

    When push comes to shove, people will turn to fossil fuels. They are simply the cheapest, best option on the table. It's easy enough in these times of plentifulness and prosperity to have the luxury of dabbling with highly expensive and inefficient nonsense like renewable energy. People's priorities will very quickly change however when things turn difficult. People these days have no comprehension of things being difficult - they have been spoilt by a century and more long binge on fossil fuels. When these fossil fuels start to wither away people's attitudes will change dramatically.

    Its NOT nonesense.

    Its perfectly feasible; the only thing that makes it an issue is how wasteful our global economic systems are and how greedy people are.

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    Posted
  • Location: Evesham, Worcs, Albion
  • Location: Evesham, Worcs, Albion

    Curbing carbon emissions won't stop anthropogenic climate change. It won't even stop anthropogenic global warming. Because it's not all about CO2 .......

    I was hoping that the message would start getting across this year, but then again I suppose most people still 'know' the dinosaurs were all killed by a meteorite. Once accepted, 'lies to children' can be very difficult to dispel.

    Although, it has to be said that most people only produce such huge amounts of CO2 because they're so extremely wealthy and enjoy burning money :)

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    Fear not, these oils will never be widely used as they as they are so expensive. Vast amounts of money and effort have to spent for very little reward. Coal to liquids is another energy "source" that is extremely expensive and uneconomical and thus will never be used on a large scale.

    You are right though, it is pretty good news that conventional oil is running low - it will limit the CO2 we can produce. I have no doubt that if there was an infinite amount of oil left we'd use it all as fast as we could. Jim Hansen, co-authored with others, had a paper out recently that said that the IPCC scenarios are far too pessimistic with regards to climate change as they have highly urnealistic expecations of the amount of fossil fuels left. The IPCC live in a fantasy land where there is almost unlimited fossil fuels, when in reality they are far more scarce and are running much lower than most people realise. I think we may well not reach 350ppm, whether we like it or not, due to this. There are feedback mechanisms though that could send us well beyond that no matter what happens.

    In Canada we produce huge amounts of oil from the tarsands. Check out Ft. Macmurray, Alberta. And there are immense reserves of this oil plus they are discovering new conventional gas and oil deposits.

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    Posted
  • Location: Brighouse, West Yorkshire
  • Location: Brighouse, West Yorkshire
    Its NOT nonesense.

    Its perfectly feasible; the only thing that makes it an issue is how wasteful our global economic systems are and how greedy people are.

    It always makes me smile when people say things like 'The problem is the way the global economic system works' and 'people are too greedy' as if those two issues in themselves are going to be easier to solve than that fact most of our power comes from coal and gas fired power stations.

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    Posted
  • Location: Worthing West Sussex
  • Location: Worthing West Sussex

    I do not like the arbitrary number 350- it has too many factors. I would prefer a prime number, 349 is close or even 353, and there are plenty of primes in the mid - 300s. - why 350?

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    Posted
  • Location: Lincolnshire coast
  • Location: Lincolnshire coast

    From Platts blog

    350 PPM -- what does it mean for you?

    The Barrel attended a speech in New York by Bill McKibben, an environmentalist and author who has been sounding the alarm over global warming for over 20 years.

    In his presentation, McKibben cited a study by NASA scientist James Hansen, which called 350 parts per million as the safe upper limit for atmospheric carbon dioxide. That is far lower than previous estimates of 450 ppm, which is what most environmental groups had been calling for.

    But the Artic ice has been melting more rapidly than previous projections, and a huge piece of the Antartic ice shelf has fallen off far earlier than had been projected, leading scientists to rethink the acceptable level.

    The problem with the 350ppm level is this -- we are already at 383 ppm, which means the actions needed to actually cut the carbon level would be much more drastic than those need just to slow the growth.

    McKibben has moved from writer to global warming activist over the past few years, and has a new movement, www.350.org, aiming to spread the word on the tougher job he sees ahead.

    What would the impact be of a sharp cut in carbon emissions? Higher prices are likely, for one. Also, more impetus for energy conservation. Either way, demand for petroleum-based fuels -- especially the more polluting versions -- should come under some pressure in the long run.

    For now, though, it looks like the $20/b+ heating oil crack spread is here to stay.

    Posted by Dave Marino on April 11, 2008 11:57 AM

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    Posted
  • Location: Rochester, Kent
  • Location: Rochester, Kent
    I do not like the arbitrary number 350- it has too many factors. I would prefer a prime number, 349 is close or even 353, and there are plenty of primes in the mid - 300s. - why 350?

    Ever heard of Drake's equation? :)

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    Posted
  • Location: Harrogate, N Yorks
  • Location: Harrogate, N Yorks
    In Canada we produce huge amounts of oil from the tarsands. Check out Ft. Macmurray, Alberta. And there are immense reserves of this oil plus they are discovering new conventional gas and oil deposits.

    Yep, at last count over 400 YEARS of reserves, plus another 33 billion barrel discovery by Brazil. Germany has 11 TRILLION cubic metres of gas it can't get at because at the moment it's in an environmentally sensitive area, but it only takes Gazprom to cut off their gas supply (they take 40% of their gas from Russia) over some dispute and you can forget the pretty countryside!

    So yes I can see us continuing to throw CO2 into the atmosphere for a while yet, it just remains to be seen if the current solar minimum / La Nina event produces enough cooling of the oceans to suck in more CO2. The warming up to the El Nino of 1998 made the ocean barf millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere through the simple and well documented (if not consensus B) ) process of solubility of CO2 in sea water being affected by the temperature of the water. Just how much of the recent rise in CO2 is dependent on us and how much on ocean temperature is about to be tested big time with the cooling phase we are now in. If the ocean is a bigger factor than humans then CO2 should drop in the face of massive increases from the developing nations.

    So we need to wait - we should see it well before any carbon reduction scheme could realistically make a difference - as the latest announcement from the USA showed only last week. With regard to 350; a typical made up number with absolutely no scientific basis except randomness. If you get all the CO2 data from the 20th Century, not just the ones the IPCC cherry picked for their report to produce a "hockey stick", you will see values up to 500ppm 70 years ago.

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    There are no huge amounts involved with regards to oil sands, oil shale etc. Only about 2 mbpd are produced per year, and the companies involved themselves expect an output of 4-5 mbpd maximum in about 10 years. World oil supply at the moment is over 84mbpd, so we're talking about 4%-5% maximum of world supply, not even taking into account future demand. Insignificant they will be. It's not about the actual total of reserves of these areas, which are indeed huge, but the rate at which we can extract them. Only a small amount of the total reserves wil be recoverable and this will be produced at a very slow rate.

    Most of the world's oil producers are in terminal decline and growing by the day. Russia's government themselves expects their oil supply to peak and decline this year (the worlds biggest oil producer). And to make things worse the oil exporters are using more and more of their oil as their own economies grow, leaving less to export and less on the world market for importers like us, the US, China, Japan etc. It all points to a much more limited CO2 emissions and thus hugely minimising the threat global warming poses.

    We may still be doomed though due to feedback mechanisms that will be set off anyway.

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    Posted
  • Location: Harrogate, N Yorks
  • Location: Harrogate, N Yorks
    There are no huge amounts involved with regards to oil sands, oil shale etc. Only about 2 mbpd are produced per year, and the companies involved themselves expect an output of 4-5 mbpd maximum in about 10 years. World oil supply at the moment is over 84mbpd, so we're talking about 4%-5% maximum of world supply, not even taking into account future demand.

    Hence my 400 year lifespan statement B) - I wasn't suggesting that Canada has the ability to solve the world's energy crisis. However I remember as a kid there was a lot of speculation about the real reasons behind the Falklands conflict and the possibility of huge oil reserves as preliminary studies had shown a potential. However such was the nature of the area there was absolutely no economic point unless the price of oil rocketed to some barmy figure like $120 a barrel!

    Oh

    :)

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    Posted
  • Location: Harrogate, N Yorks
  • Location: Harrogate, N Yorks
    Germany has 11 TRILLION cubic metres of gas it can't get at because at the moment it's in an environmentally sensitive area

    Just shows you should always proof read - should be cubic feet not cubic metres, a heck of difference! And I just read another report that quotes it as only 9 trillion :D

    Ho hum, it's a lot anyway and Germany's lack of willingness to exploit this reserve and their winding down of coal and nuclear energy generation has significantly shifted the balance of power to Russia, who have managed to stall NATO expansion by co-opting western European countries to oppose it without making any military threat. I believe this may have been the first time economic power has been so effective in influencing military strategy in Europe. It's obviously a good thing compared to the alternative and in a way serves the US and allied powers in Europe right for missing their chance to bring Russia into the fold after the cold war instead of humiliating them and leading to a resurgence of nationalism and renewed vigour with their energy reserves.

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    Posted
  • Location: Mytholmroyd, West Yorks.......
  • Weather Preferences: Hot & Sunny, Cold & Snowy
  • Location: Mytholmroyd, West Yorks.......

    If we have the level of 'cane activity in the G.O.M. that has been predicted then we may see another oil 'panic' like 2005 if the rigs/refineries along the coast are forced to close down and lets not forget the Alaskan problems of perma frost melt and sinking pipelines.......it is not all about production but refining and transporting as well.

    Will we see tankers being haggled over as they make for port or warship escorts for the tankers in the Atlantic?

    'Tis a crazy world we live in and nothing like the one some would have us believe in.......

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    Posted
  • Location: Harrogate, N Yorks
  • Location: Harrogate, N Yorks

    OK, rewind for a minute regarding 350 because I need somebody to help me out here as my Physics degree appears to be failing me (along with the rest of my brain but that's another story).

    From what I understand the function of CO2 concentration and temperature is logarithmic, which is widely stated and often cited as potential for "runaway" greenhouse effect - not that I am alledging any of you susbcribe to that theory :( . However going back over my atmospheric papers from when I was looking to be a meteorologist (before I realised there was more money in computers) the actual relationship is INVERSELY logarithmic - in other words the more CO2 you put into the atmosphere the less sensitivity the atmosphere has to it. On that basis the first 20ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere has more effect on temperature than the next 400ppm, and therefore an increase to 620ppm by 2150 - as espoused by some climate models - would have less forcing effect than the rise from 290ppm to today's current levels. If this is the case then the greenhouse effect is self regulating, which explains why levels of 2000ppm in the time of the dinosaurs didn't cook the planet. The fact that it was warmer would therefore be due to solar irradiance and different continent distribution. Certainly Pangaea must have been massively hot in its interior, several thousand km from any ocean - skewing the entire planetary average.

    I've done a bit of a calculation on that basis - taking a rise from 380ppm to 420ppm by 2030 as a base the extra 40ppm would reduce emission from the Stratosphere to space by 0.4watts/m2. Converting this to temperature using Idso (1998) - 0.1C per watt/m2 - equates to a temperature rise of 0.04C. Even a rise to 620ppm would only add another 0.16C.

    Therefore on that basis, the basis of the INVERSELY logarithmic nature of CO2 concentration to temperature the entire AGW due to CO2 debate is hogwash. That just leaves AGW on land due to UHI, land use, etc - which seems to make sense.

    An entire hypothesis tipped upside down because of a mathmatical error akin to the famous minus sign that caused an Apollo rocket to crash. ;) Can't be that easy, can it?

    I'll not clear a space on my mantlepiece for my Nobel just yet.....

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    Posted
  • Location: Cheddar Valley, 20mtrs asl
  • Weather Preferences: Snow and lots of it or warm and sunny, no mediocre dross
  • Location: Cheddar Valley, 20mtrs asl

    Exactly Millenia. The whole theory rests on positive feedback to achieve the outlandish forecast temperature rises, trouble is there's not one jot of evidence to date which proves all feedback to be positive.

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    Posted
  • Location: Harrogate, N Yorks
  • Location: Harrogate, N Yorks
    I'll not clear a space on my mantlepiece for my Nobel just yet.....

    Assuming they have one for stating the bleedin' obvious. <_<

    The logarithmic nature of absorbtion to concentration is Beer's Law according to my notes, I can even remember the ensuing comments - ah the good times....

    I think it's the recognised amount of forcing that is the debate and the ability of some GWers to state it's logarithmic therefore even a small rise is bad doesn't help when they have their graph upside down. The Idso observations of nature forcing scale is some order of magnitude lower than the IPCC interpretation of the forcing effect of an increase in CO2, therefore managing to take something benign and make it scary.

    The statement of 350ppm as a "safe" maximum is completely ludicrous when you think that commercial greenhouses have their atmosphere at 1000ppm to promote growth. Seems to me if the actual forcing effect can be nailed and is nearer Idso than IPCC then the best thing for the planet is to keep burning fossil fuels (scrubbed for pollutants of couse to just let CO2 through), not for any temperature effect but to greatly increase plant growth and help feed the world.

    Flame jacket set to maximum :)

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    Posted
  • Location: Lincolnshire coast
  • Location: Lincolnshire coast
    From what I understand the function of CO2 concentration and temperature is logarithmic, which is widely stated and often cited as potential for "runaway" greenhouse effect .... Can't be that easy, can it?
    You're right, it's not that easy. The "runaway" greenhouse effect is more to do with positive feedback, things like less ice means less reflection means more warming mean less ice means..., rather than CO2/temp function, logarithmic or otherwise.
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    Posted
  • Location: Cheddar Valley, 20mtrs asl
  • Weather Preferences: Snow and lots of it or warm and sunny, no mediocre dross
  • Location: Cheddar Valley, 20mtrs asl
    You're right, it's not that easy. The "runaway" greenhouse effect is more to do with positive feedback, things like less ice means less reflection means more warming mean less ice means..., rather than CO2/temp function, logarithmic or otherwise.

    That's the theory but then you've got to question the bounceback in the Arctic ice this winter; from last summer's drastic record breaking minimum to rather large gain. If the positive feedback was as described, then not sure it would have played out the same way.

    The predicted positive feedback in the tropics with clouds hasn't performed to script either, the expected heat trapping clouds caused by warmer ocean temps have actually turned out to be, high reflective clouds; negative feedback.

    Don't personally understand where all these predictions for positive feedback come from, when you think about it logically, we'd have boiled away into oblivion long ago if that's how the Earth actually worked.

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    Posted
  • Location: Lincolnshire coast
  • Location: Lincolnshire coast

    Though you modestly admit that you "Don't personally understand", you claim to "think about it logically", and make the assertion "we'd have boiled away into oblivion long ago".

    Now, is it the professional Earth System scientists who have got it wrong or what?

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    Posted
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada

    I don't necessarily believe the scientific consensus blindly, but here's another aspect altogether:

    Why not advocate giving people a choice, take a chance of the economy collapsing under strict environmental regulations, or take a chance on losing the arctic ice and making polar bears work harder for lunch.

    In other words, give people a vote. It's called democracy.

    I would vote for prosperity -- the consequences of widespread poverty will be far worse than global warming, if it turns out to be (a) true and (.b.) our fault.

    And the green movement may already be responsible for the first wave of global economic downturn, as farmers turn away from growing food to growing bio-fuels.

    It is as people say a matter of urgency and choice, but what do we choose?

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