Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and cement production – from 1750 to 2011 – was about 365 billion metric tonnes as carbon (GtC), with another 180 GtC from deforestation and agriculture. Of this 545 GtC, about 240 GtC (44%) had accumulated in the atmosphere, 155 GtC (28%) had been taken up in the oceans with slight consequent acidification, and 150 GtC (28%) had accumulated in terrestrial ecosystems. A critical metric is the losses from soils and forests.
Returning carbon to soils and ecosystems has major benefits in addition to offsetting anthropogenic emissions from fossil fuel combustion, land use conversion, soil cultivation, continuous grazing and cement manufacturing. Restoring soil carbon stores increases agronomic productivity and enhances global food security. Increasing the soil organic content enhances water holding capacity and creates a more drought tolerant agriculture – with less downstream flooding. There is a critical level of soil carbon that is essential to maximising the effectiveness of water and nutrient inputs. Global food security, especially for countries with fragile soils and harsh climate such as in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, cannot be achieved without improving soil quality through an increase in soil organic content. Wildlife flourishes on restored grazing land helping to halt biodiversity loss. Reversing soil carbon loss is a new green revolution where conventional agriculture is hitting a productivity barrier with exhausted soils and increasingly expensive inputs.
Increased agricultural productivity, increased downstream processing and access to markets build local economies and global wealth. Economic growth provides resources for solving problems – conserving and restoring ecosystems, better sanitation and safer water, better health and education, updating the diesel fleet and other productive assets to emit less black carbon and reduce the health and environmental impacts, developing better and cheaper ways of producing electricity, replacing cooking with wood and dung with better ways of preparing food – thus avoiding respiratory disease and again reducing black carbon emissions. A global program of agricultural soils restoration is the foundation for balancing the human ecology. Many countries have committed to increasing soil carbon by 0.4% per year. As a global objective and given the highest priority it is a solution to critical problems of biodiversity loss, development, food security and resilience to drought and flood.
The Other Science
The Pacific Decadal Variation is a system that switches from more or less cold, nutrient-rich, deep ocean upwelling every 20 to 30 years. It includes both the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the El Niña-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). In a cool (ocean surface) mode – La Niña activity is much more intense and frequent and vice versa. There was a warm (ocean surface) mode in the early 20th century, cool in the middle part and warm again at the end. This system is little understood by physicists and computer programmers – but has been known about by oceanographers and hydrologists for decades. The ocean surface warming and cooling precisely match warming and cooling in temperature records.
We have evidence on this over a 100o years. It is all quite natural. Indeed – as the PDO and ENSO are in lockstep – we have evidence of extremes over the Holocene – mega floods and mega drought – that put to shame those seen in the 20th century.
Yes, greenhouses gases cause warming – at a rate increase of 1E-9Watts/meter squared (W/m2). It is an increase in greenhouse gas forcing in the late 20th century of some 0.8W/m2. The Pacific system resulted in a cloud radiative effect of 1.8W/m2 over the tropical Pacific – based on Earth Radiation Budget Experiment data.
The short and sweet version.
A more speculative version.
The real threat of global warming
The urban doofus hipster vision involves narratives of moribund western economies governed by corrupt corporations collapsing under the weight of internal contradictions – leading to less growth, less material consumption, less CO2 emissions, less habitat destruction and a last late chance to stay within the safe limits of global ecosystems. And this is just in the ‘scholarly’ journals.
Now I’m just a humble little sanitary engineer – but it seems it is rich economies wot saves the world.
They seems quite taken with using global warming to overthrow democracy and capitalism.
Dateline 3 February 2015 – The Top UN Climate Change Official is optimistic that a new international treaty will be adopted at Paris Climate Change conference at the end of the year. However, the official, Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, warns that the fight against climate change is a process and that the necessary transformation of the world economy will not be decided at one conference or in one agreement.
“This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history”, Ms Figueres stated at a press conference in Brussels.
“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the industrial revolution. That will not happen overnight and it will not happen at a single conference on climate change, be it COP 15, 21, 40 – you choose the number. It just does not occur like that. It is a process, because of the depth of the transformation.” UNRIC
The real solution
Let’s just sock away 360 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide as 100 billion tonnes of carbon in soils and ecosystems – and say we are doing it for climate change.
A plan for a truly inspiring purpose.
Communities securing food. development and environments.
In the Dubbo context.
This is an astonishing example of trophic cascade.
And in the quite inevitable and rapid transition to 21st-century energy systems.
Modern materials science and nuclear fuel cycles brings decades old nuclear technology into the 21st century. The new designs of high temperature, fast neutron nuclear engines are cheap, safe, reduce the volume of waste by 80%, waste cannot be used for nuclear weapons and radiation from what remains decays to background levels in 300 years.
Which future is for you? Economic collapse, civil strife, war – or resilient communities in vibrant landscapes.