Climate Control

NOTE: This page is under construction and will be completed, edited, and updated ASAP. To get an idea of how we can control the climate please read my thesis linked Here (pdf 4.63MB) and a pilot project proposal linked Here (pdf 583KB).

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: early draft

On this page:

Introduction to Climate Control
How the Climate 'works':
External factors we cannot control
Internal factors we do 'control'

Introduction to Climate control

In order to control the climate one must understand how it works, what factors we can control, and how we can manipulate those factors under our control so that they interact with the factors we cannot control in a way that will produce a stable, viable climate suitable for supporting life into the forseeable future.

It is easy to define a suitable climate: Basically we must return the climate to its pre-industrial condition because that was the climate within which contemporary species and ecosystems evolved and as such is the most suitable climate within which we can maximise the resilience, viability, productivity, and sustainability of our ecosystems. Any rapid deviation from the pre-industrial climate places species and their associated ecosystems at risk of degradation and extinction. Climate change related degradation and extinctions are occurring at an accelerating rate, for example, coral reefs are dead and dying, massive droughts, fires and floods are occurring with increasing frequency and severity, the polar ice caps, glaciers, greenland and 'perma' frost are rapidly melting and the oceans are becoming increasingly acidic. Climate change is now killing thousands, perhaps millions of people each year, and is causing untold and increasing suffering for millions of more people.

Healthy ecosystems or environments are essential for Human survival, however there seems to be a general ignorance of that fact. For example the Murray Darling Irrigators are currently saying that too much emphasis was placed on the environment in the planning for the use of the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) and its waters. The irrigators seem to think that a healthy environment is optional and that perhaps it can be given less weight in decision making than social and economic considerations.

However there can be no society or economy without a suitable environment, in fact society and economies exist within the environment and are absolutley limited by the characteristics of their environment. It naturally follows that any degradation of the environment will reduce the potential development of any society or economy within it. The environment can do without societies and economies but societies and economies must have the environment. For example many farmers in the northern MDB benefit from using the fertile soils of the 'Brigalow belt' Brigalow is an acacia that fixes nitrogen, and whose nitrogen rich residue forms stable, fertile humus which is protected by the shade of the tree and accumulates while the trees are present. However, farmers noted the fertility of the Brigalow soils and cleared most of it to establish farms. The farmers mistakenly thought that 'Brigalow grows on good soils' where in fact it is the Brigalow that created the fertile soils in the first place and their removal leads to an immediate and continuing loss of chemical, physical, and biological soil fertility. The removal of the Brigalow also changes the regional climate to a hotter drier state where the loss of soil carbon and fertility is accelerated, and primary productivity drops while the need for expensive inputs increases, profitability steadily decreases and eventually farming becomes unviable and the land becomes virtually useless.

We currently have the resources and enough remnant ecosystems to rescue the viability of our earth and the future existence of our descendants, those who say 'it is too late' are simply making excuses to do nothing, they are possibly traitors to the Human race and their own children. However, if we continue to simply react to problems and continually just 'pick up the pieces' instead of trying to avoid them in the first place, we will eventually waste all of our resources and the Human race will become extinct, then it will be too late.

The time to act is now, get informed, do what you feel you can to help, for most people all that is needed is for them to be aware of the issues and to discredit anyone who is spreading misinformation or lies, and vote for politicians who understand the issues and have the guts and integrity to act. At the moment it seems that the only political party in Australia to have the will and intelligence to overcome climate change is the Greens, they are not perfect but they are light years ahead of the other political parties. Otherwise, vote for a suitable Independant Candidate. The New England electorate where I live is represented at the State level by the independant Richard Torbay and at the Federal level by the independant Tony Windsor, both of which have great integrity and intellegence and are very effective in their use of power, however we need more like them in Government so that effective policies can be developed and enforced.

How the climate 'works':

External factors we cannot control

The climate emerges from an interaction between incoming solar radiation (insolation) the atmosphere, the earths surface and the cold void of space, other factors such as cosmic rays from exploding stars can affect atmospheric chemistry and cloud formation, Meteorites and volcanic events can also perturb the climate however we have no control over cosmic events or volcanoes, but if our climate is operating within a suitable, optimum range, most disturbances from cosmic rays or other unpredictable events will not change conditions very much. On the other hand, if our climate is on the edge of its viable (for life) range and becomes perturbed by a cosmic or geologic event, it may well be pushed beyond its viable range and become unsuitable for life. So we must stabilise our climate at a suitable state - basically we must return it to pre-industrial state and deal with truly unpredictable events if and when they occur.

This section will broadly explain how the climate works and I will focus on some important issues that seem to be largely ignored by most people, however I highly reccomend that the reader buy or borrow the book 'The Weather and Climate of Australia and New Zealand 2nd edition' by Sturman & Tapper (2009) or a later version of the same as a minimum in order to gain a thorough understanding. The book is well written and would also be very useful for those who reside in the northern hemisphere. Other books such as Brutsaert' s 'Hydrology' will provide an even deeper understanding.

The following figure From Sturman & Tapper (2009:410) shows how the suns energy output has increased since the Earth's formation.

Graph of proportional solar output since formation of Earth

Figure 1: Graph of the suns relative energy output since Earth's formation projected to 300 million years in future. Source: Sturman & Tapper (2009:410).

Figure 1 illustrates how the suns energy flux has increased over time. Solar energy input to the top of the atmosphere was about 1,000 watts per square metre (Wm-2) when the Earth formed, since then the suns input to the top of the atmosphere has increased by approximately 70 Wm-2 per billion years to its current value of about 1,367 Wm-2. When averaged over the Earth's atmospheric surface (a sphere with half in shadow) solar input is effectively quartered, therefore average solar input to the top of the atmosphere has increased from ~ 250 Wm-2 to ~ 342 Wm-2 since the Earths formation.

The signifigance of the suns increasing energy output must not be overlooked when comparing current climate change with pre-historic climate change events because even though the planets climate has recovered from pre-historic global warming events when the sun was cooler, it is quite possible that the climate will not recover from current global warming if it is allowed to go too far simply because the sun is now hotter than it was during past events.

Another factor that has changed since pre-historic times is that human activities have degraded the planets primary productivity and ecosystem resilience on both land and in the oceans. Natural systems (ecosystems) tend to evolve to maximise their primary productivity and resilience to natural disturbances over time, in the past these resilient and diverse ecosystems have helped to moderate the climate pertubations and their impact on the viability of life on Earth. However, anthropogenic activities have so severely weakened and even destroyed so much of the biosphere's resilience and diversity that the biosphere may already have lost its ability to heal itself. In any case; increasing human population and the increasing inappropriate resource use per unit of population is exponentially increasing the damage we are doing to the biosphere and if it continues the biosphere will inevitably be unable to support 'higher' life forms such as humans. If we continue 'business as usual' we will cause the genocide of the human race, whether the mass extinctiion occurs in 50 or 500 years we will still be guilty of suicidal genocide unless we act to address and rectify the problems.

Solar input to the Earth is moderated by the earths spin on its axis and the earths offset elliptical orbit. The earths axis 'wobbles' over time relative to its orbital plane from a minimum of ~21.80 to ~ 24.40 over a time of about 48,000 years (called 'the obliquity of the ecliptic'). The earths axis also 'precesses' ie changes the relative orientation of its tilt over time which causes solar input cycles with periodicities of about 19,000 and 24,000 years. The shape of its orbit also oscillates from a near circular orbit to a highly elliptical orbit over a period of ~100,000 years. Collectively the three mechanisms: the ecentricity of Earths orbit, the obliquity of the ecliptic, and the precession of the equinox are called 'the Milankovitch Mechanisms'. Note the Milankovitch Mechanisms do not cause a difference in the total average annual solar energy flux to the Earth, but they do cause changes in the distribution and timing of solar energy input to the Earth and there is convincing evidence that the mechanisms do initiate large changes to climate feedback mechanisms and thus to the climate.

We cannot control the Milankovitch Mechanisms, however humans and our contemporary ecosystems have survived through many of these cycles and their associated ice ages and warm periods and it is very likely that our species will survive several more - but only if we effectively deal with our current environmental problems.

If we are to keep our climate in a viable state we must offset the effect of the warming sun by mechanisms that we do control, primarily we must reduce the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, re-hydrate the lands surface, replace deep rooted vegetation and repair damaged ecosystems.

Internal factors we do 'control'

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

References

Sturman, A. and Tapper, N. 2006. 'The Weather and Climate of Australia and New Zealand' (2nd edition)
Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978-0-558466-0

 

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