The Amy H Remley Foundation  
   
     
 

Human Influence

Recent scientific study of ice cores from a rapidly retreating glaciera large body of ice with definite lateral limits, which moves in a downslope direction due to its great mass, as in Alaska. in South Chile and the Antarctic, identify the beginning of increasing levels of carbon dioxideCommon gas found in the atmosphere. Has the ability to selectively absorb radiation in the longwave band. This absorption causes the greenhouse effect. The concentration of this gas has been steadily increasing in the atmosphere over the last three centuries due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and land-use change. Some scientists believe higher concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will result in an enhancement of the greenhouse effect and global warming. The chemical formula for carbon dioxide is CO2. in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuelsCarbon based remains of organic matter that has been geologically transformed into coal, oil and natural gas. Combustion of these substances releases large amounts of energy. Currently, humans are using fossil fuels to supply much of their energy needs. with the Industrial Revolution dating from 1780. Increased emissions of carbon dioxide result in speding up the rate at which carbon concentrationsThe amount of a component in a given area or volume. accumulate in the atmosphere.

Industry took off in the mid-1700s, and people started emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases. The fossil fuelsCarbon based remains of organic matter that has been geologically transformed into coal, oil and natural gas. Combustion of these substances releases large amounts of energy. Currently, humans are using fossil fuels to supply much of their energy needs. we burn to run our factories, power plants, cars, trucks, and aeroplanes adds to the natural supply of greenhouse gases. The gases remain in the atmosphere and are building up beyond the Earth's natural capacity to remove the gases into the land mass, seas and forests.

The result is that the atmosphere near the earth has heated up by about one degree Fahrenheit over the past century — and has heated up more intensely over the past two decades.

Although one degree doesn't sound like a lot, consider this: the difference in global average temperatures between modern times and the last ice age 10,000 years ago — when much of Canada and the northern U.S. were covered with thick ice sheets — was only about 9 degrees Centigrade. One degree is very significant — especially since the unnatural warming will continue as long as we keep putting extra greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The science is clear

Scientists are no longer debating the basic facts of climate change. In January 2001, over 700 scientists from more than 100 countries met in Shanghai, China, to discuss world climate change. They reviewed the data and agreed that the average global surface temperature had risen by 0.6 degrees centigrade over the twentieth century, and the sea level had risen between 0.1 and 0.2 meters. They predicted temperatures will rise between 1.0 and 3.5 degrees centigrade over the coming century, causing more frequent floods and droughtsA long period without precipitation, rising oceans and expansion of temperate climates northward. The group concluded that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities, burning coal, natural gas and oil.

In December 2004, Science magazine published an analysis of 928 peer-reviewed science papers on climate change from science journals between 1993 and 2003. The analysis found that not a single scientific article disputed the evidence that the climate is warming because of human activities.

The Science study showed the consensus among respected individual scientists. Here's what highly respected science organizations said:

  • In a joint statement with 10 other National Academies of Science, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences said:

    "The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action. It is vital that all nations identify cost-effective steps that they can take now, to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global greenhouse gas emissions." — Joint Statement of Science Academies: Global Response to Climate Change, 2005

  • The American Geophysical Union, a respected organization comprising over 41,000 Earth and space scientists, wrote in its position on climate change that "natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global near-surface temperatures observed during the second half of the 20th century."

The finding of the January, 2007, report of a panel of 2,500 scientists drawn from 130 nations, after six years of research, asserted with 90% certainty that acceleration of global warming of recent years was caused by man. Moreover, if nothing were to be done to arrest the rate of emission of greenhouse gases, average temperatures would rise by six degrees Celsius by the year 2100. Sea levels would be expected to rise by between 7 to 23 feet in the same period. Should greenhouse gas emissions be brought under control, however, then the temperature rise could conceivably be contained to a 1.5 deg. C rise.

Stabilizing levels of carbon dioxides — the primary contributor to climate change - and restoring equilibrium to the atmosphere and enabling their production to be naturally absorbed, would require reducing their annual production levels by 70 percent to 80 percent, said Richard Somerville of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego.

Greg Marland of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory has pointed out that that United States internal transportation accounts for 7.3 percent of world global warming emissions.

Basic Physics

The basic physics of what we know as the greenhouse gas (GHG) effect are simple. Solar energyEnergy from the sun that is converted into thermal, chemical, or electrical energy. as visible light plus radiation across the electromagnetic spectrumAn ordered array of the components of an emission or wave., including ultraviolet and infrared, reaches the earth where 30% is reflectedTo return light rays from a surface in such a way that the angle at which a give ray is returned is equal to the angle at which it strikes the surface. back into space by the atmosphere itself and the Earth's surface (land sea and ice). The rest is absorbed by the planet and the atmosphere. The earth in turn radiates heat and infrared that it has absorbed back into the atmosphere.

Some atmospheric gases let visible light through and back into space, while trapping certain types of infrared radiation. These "greenhouse gases" including water vapor, carbon dioxideCommon gas found in the atmosphere. Has the ability to selectively absorb radiation in the longwave band. This absorption causes the greenhouse effect. The concentration of this gas has been steadily increasing in the atmosphere over the last three centuries due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and land-use change. Some scientists believe higher concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will result in an enhancement of the greenhouse effect and global warming. The chemical formula for carbon dioxide is CO2. (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous OxideGas found in the atmosphere that contributes to the greenhouse effect. Sources for nitrous oxide include: land-use conversion; fossil fuel combustion; biomass burning; and soil fertilization. Chemical formula for nitrous oxide is N2O. (N20), Chlorofluorocarbons, and Tropospheric ozone (O3), trap re-radiated heat acting as a blanket keeping the planet 60deg F warmer than otherwise would be the case, making it comfortable for humans to live here.

In 2005, burning of fossil fuelsCarbon based remains of organic matter that has been geologically transformed into coal, oil and natural gas. Combustion of these substances releases large amounts of energy. Currently, humans are using fossil fuels to supply much of their energy needs. released more than 26 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (seven billion tons of carbon). This was five times the annual rate of emissions in the second World War — the 1940s. For the past decade emissions have risen by two percent each year. The U.S. Department of Energy forecast global annual CO2 emissions to exceed 30 billion in 2010, and 38 billion tons by 2025 (more than 10 billion tons of carbon). The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere in 2005 was 380 ppm (parts per million). By 2025, concentrations are expected to be about 425 ppm, an increase of 70% compared to preindustrial times, and rising 2.5 ppm annually.

As the earth warms , summer heat waves become longer and hotter and more widespread. Dry areas dry out more quickly and remain dry for longer. The extra heat causes higher evaporationEvaporation can be defined as the process by which liquid water is converted into a gaseous state. Evaporation can only occur when water is available. It also requires that the humidity of the atmosphere be less than the evaporating surface (at 100 % relative humidity there is no more evaporation). The evaporation process requires large amounts of energy. For example, the evaporation of one gram of water at a temperature of 100° Celsius requires 540 calories of heat energy (600 calories at 0° Celsius). rates and more water enters the atmosphere, so that wet areas become wetter, earlier snow melts and consequent flooding. Hurricanes passing over warmer seas become more intense, as testified by the increasing number and ferocity of Hurricanes observed in the north Atlantic and Pacific oceans in recent years. A consequence of this is to increase the incidence of wildfires. U.S. Forest Services researchers suggest that the area burned by wildfires in the eleven Western states could double if summer temperatures increase by more than a degree and a half. If current trends continue this is likely to happen by mid century, by century end these burn areas could increase fivefold.

These heating cycles are influenced by volcanic events that spew vast quantities of gas, ash and other particles high into the atmosphere shielding solar energyEnergy from the sun that is converted into thermal, chemical, or electrical energy. from reaching the earth's surface.

The mountain pine beetle has been kept under control in years past as pine trees have grown in an abundance of water such that resins have been sufficiently plentiful to prevent the beetle's excessive reproduction. In drier periods, less resin is produced allowing the beetle to reproduce unrestrained and to separate the protective bark from the pine trees. Tremendous damage is being done to pine forests from Mexico to Canada in this way. Pine beetles in British Columbia, Canada, by 2014 would have killed off four fifths of the harvestable pine trees — 800 million cubic meters of prime wood.

As Senator Lisa Murkowski said in February, 2006, "recent warming has opened the doors to the voracious spruce bark beetle which has devastated more than 3 million acres in Alaska, providing dry fuel for outbreaks of enormous wild fires." (Half of the wildfires in the record-breaking 2005 season were in Alaska).

Four Possible Scenarios

  1. Oceans: Ocean warming leads to less mixing between different levels, reducing CO2 uptake, and reducing absorptionThe process of absorbing or of being absorbed -- to incorporate or take up -- to take in. of CO2 from the atmosphere, adding to global warming. (If surface water, having absorbed CO2, does not exchange with lower levels, then less will be absorbed.)

    Moreover, phytoplanktonSmall photosynthetic organisms, mostly algae and bacteria, found inhabiting aquatic ecosystems. Also see plankton and zooplankton. can become separated from their nutrient base, reducing primary production and ability to consume carbon, so that more stays in the air. This in turn impacts sea life further reducing the ocean's ability to absorb carbon.

  2. Soils: Warming causes soils to release CO2 rather than take it up, limiting their function as a sink. In Britain this phenomena was sufficient to offset industrial emissions reductions achieved in a given period.

  3. Tundra, permafrost: Estimated to occupy four million square miles near the polar regions, acting like a giant freezer, the tundra or permafrost holds frozen partially decayed organic

    1. Relating to an organism.
    2. Derived from an organism.
    material, mostly as methane gas CH4 which is twenty times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxideCommon gas found in the atmosphere. Has the ability to selectively absorb radiation in the longwave band. This absorption causes the greenhouse effect. The concentration of this gas has been steadily increasing in the atmosphere over the last three centuries due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and land-use change. Some scientists believe higher concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will result in an enhancement of the greenhouse effect and global warming. The chemical formula for carbon dioxide is CO2.. Accounting for more than a third of all carbon stored in soils globally, exceeding all the carbon dioxide currently in the atmosphere, the problem is that global warming is melting the top layer of permafrost threatening to release unprecedented quantities of methane into the atmosphere. Such a release would exhibit those attributes similar to melting ice sheets where reflective ice gives way to absorbing darker soils to accelerate permafrost melt.

    Siberian sub arctic peat bogs contain an estimated seventy billion tons of methane held safe since the last glacial period ended almost 11,000 years ago. Should the bogs dry as they warm the carbon will release as carbon dioxide on oxidizing. Should the bogs stay wet the methane will leach directly into the atmosphere.

    Human source annual emissions already exceed 7 billion (7 Gt C) as indicated on the Carbon Cycle diagram, and is on track to make 10 Gt C by 2025.

  4. Tropical Rain Forests: Tropical forests store carbon, and destroying them releases that carbon. Tropical rain forests are characterized as the lungs of the planet. Deforestation releases towards the high end of 1 to 3 billion metric tons of carbon (Gt C) a year reported British scientists in a 2006 article. Drought seasons leading to massive wild fires not only in America, but Southeast Asia and Latin America also, released carbon equivalent to 41 percent of worldwide fossil fuelCarbon based remains of organic matter that has been geologically transformed into coal, oil and natural gas. Combustion of these substances releases large amounts of energy. Currently, humans are using fossil fuels to supply much of their energy needs. consumption, according to a 2003 Nature article.

    Carbon rich tropical peat deposits can be more than 60 feet deep. In Indonesia both rain forests and peat lands burned.

    Triggered by man's use of fossil fuelsCarbon based remains of organic matter that has been geologically transformed into coal, oil and natural gas. Combustion of these substances releases large amounts of energy. Currently, humans are using fossil fuels to supply much of their energy needs. and changing land uses, we face dire situations if we are unable to avert catastrophic(Systems) Dynamic systems that jump abruptly from one seemingly steady state to another without any immediate changes. A detrimental effect that something has on an environment, perhaps a natural disaster, that destroys the ecosystem and surrounding living conditions. consequences in the next decade or two. Further effects of human inluences upon global warming are discussed under Impacts on Florida.

News and Views
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Scott Maxwell, Taking Names.
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October 9, 2013
Fuel Cell Today analysis.
The Fuel Cell Industry Review 2013.
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September 25, 2013
Fuel Cell Today analysis.
The Potential for Fuel Cell Prime Power in Japan.
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August 1, 2013
Duke Energy to cancel proposed Levy County nuclear plant.
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May 22, 2013
Fuel Cell Today analysis.
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March 13, 2013
Beyond Electricity: Using Renewables Effectively.
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September 24, 2012
Sewer Systems Legal Filing.
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February 1, 2012
Fuel Cell Today update.
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January 13, 2012
Sewer Agenda.
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December 23, 2011
Scientist: Water account overdrawn.
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Novemver 14, 2011
Submission to the Citrus County Commissioner, 14 November, 2011.
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