Saline the ocean blue

By Phil Plait | September 26, 2011 12:42 pm

In June, NASA launched the Earth-observing satellite Aquarius, designed to observe and measure the salinity content of the ocean surface. This turns out to be important because salty water flows differently than pure water, and how the currents interact drives a lot of the way heat is transferred across the Earth’s oceans. And that drives a lot of climate behavior, including climate change.

Scientists just released the first global map of ocean surface salinity, showing surprising (to me) variations across the planet:

Neat! [Click to verucafy.]

In the map, blue/purple is lower salinity, and red/orange is higher concentrations. The average value is about 35 grams of salt per kilo of water (about 0.6 ounces of salt to one pint of water), but it varies a lot. And it’s not just latitude dependent, which would’ve been my first guess. The Pacific equatorial waters are low in salt, but the levels in the Atlantic are higher. North Pacific is low, north Atlantic higher. The western Indian ocean is high, the eastern part low.

Apparently these measurements are tough to make. Aquarius has an instrument which measures the emission of the ocean surface in the infrared. Salty water doesn’t emit IR as efficiently, so the salinity can be measured exploiting this. However, waves on the surface mess this up, so the spacecraft has a way to measure how strong the waves are (using what’s called a radar scatterometer, which is totally cool name for an instrument) so they can account for that as well.

Observations like this are crucial for us to understand just how our fiendishly complex planet works. Especially now, when our climate is changing, and those changes are evident even year by year.

Image credit: NASA/GSFC/JPL-Caltech


Related posts:

The lumpy, 3D Earth
Arctic ice at the second lowest extent since 1979
Icy swirls around a patient volcano
Attack of the (cy)clones

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, NASA, Pretty pictures, Science

Comments (45)

  1. CR

    ‘Verucafy’… that’s clever! I wonder how many people will get it. (Does it refer to the book/movie character, or the musical group? Wow, I need to get a life…)

  2. @CR (#1), verucafy made me giggle too! I guess I need a life too!

  3. Ken

    RE: “Especially now, when our climate is changing, and those changes are evident even year by year.”

    QUESTION: Has there ever been a time in history when Earth’s climate was NOT changing?

    The whole “denier” vs. “believer” so-called “debate” about global warming — with pretty much everybody in agreement that the Earth is warming (the question is really “why?” not “if?” — but “believers” consistently misrepresent that not-so-subtle detail) sidesteps the real issue: How will we adapt?

    Make no mistake, whether its due to natural causes or human activity is pretty much irrelevant to anything we as a species actually DO in response as so many countries are polluting at phenominal rates (e.g. China, which will not curtail its activity) we can be absolutely certain CO2 emissions, etc. will continue.

    That leaves only one PRACTICAL option: find & develop mechanisms for adapation…and there’s precious little of that being discussed from the “believers.” Ditto for a lot of advantageous outcomes from warming, and there are many.

    One can superimopose the Christian evangelical movements of the mid 1970s on current Global Warming apocalyptic views today: “believer”/”denier” jargon is exactly being recycled, the fatalistic views of Soviet/USA nuclear war align with the purely apocalyptic views of Global Warming “believers” (by the 1970s people had pretty much given up on bomb shelters, for example, & taken to the view of total annhilation), etc. etc. The parallels are exact as is the jargon. That is curious, to a point.

  4. Keith Bowden

    “Saline the Ocean Blue”? Ouch! :)

  5. Brett

    Just a quick reminder, folks: please, don’t feed the trolls.

  6. RobT

    @1 – I thought the same thing when I saw that, though I never read the book and have only seen snippets of the original film. However, when I first read it my brain tried to make sense of it and I saw veracruzy.

    stupid brain – “Ok brain, you don’t like me and I don’t like you but let’s get through this thing and then I can continue killing you with beer.”

  7. BT

    Seems to have a rough correlation with ocean depth charts to my eye. Not perfect, but definitely noticeable.

  8. QuietDesperation

    The scale is from 30 to 40. Is that really such a big range? Will the values be checked by direct measurement?

  9. Chris P

    Of course we’ve known that different parts of the ocean have different salinity for a long time. The ‘Plimsoll line’ on the sides of ships indicates how much of a load a ship can carry, and in different conditions; the ship will sit lower in the water if the salinity is low and vice versa.
    The letters on the Load line marks have the following meanings:
    TF – Tropical Fresh Water
    F – Fresh Water
    T – Tropical Seawater
    S – Summer Temperate Seawater
    W – Winter Temperate Seawater
    WNA – Winter North Atlantic

  10. Chris P

    @QuietDesperation

    go make two glasses of salt water, one at 30g/kg and one at 40g/kg, taste them and tell me if there’s a difference. (not being snarky, enquiring minds want to know!)

  11. Scott B

    “Especially now, when our climate is changing, and those changes are evident even year by year. ”

    Not really. Some years are hot, some cold, some wet, some dry and over the longer term they average out to minor changes.

    More on point to the main article, that is interesting info. I’m not sure what sea surface salinity really tells us though. I’ll have to remember this and see if they release any updates of the changes over time.

    Comparing it to the average surface currents around the same time period (you can create your own map here: http://www.oscar.noaa.gov/) there might be a slight correlation showing more stable water to have a higher salinity. Since salinity is higher at the surface than below, this make some sense since moving water would mix more. It’s not a strong correlation though.

  12. Brad H

    This doesn’t really surprise me. I used to work at a research institute that provided data on ocean and air conditions along one stretch of coast line; tidal data, water and air temperature, speed, direction, etc.

    In a couple particular bays we also measured dissolved oxygen content and salinity. This was used to let the local water authority control the flow through a dam of a river that emptied into that bay. Without careful control you could end up with too high of a salinity or too low of an oxygen level and start killing off wildlife. It fluctuated quite a bit even day to day.

  13. Russell

    How did we get to have so much water? Wasn’t the planet red hot at one time, all covered in oozing lava?

  14. Graviton

    My understanding is that ocean salinity is more dependent on net water flux than insolation. The Atlantic is more saline than the Pacific, for example, because more water leaves the Atlantic via evaporation than enters it through precipitation or rivers. This is opposite for the Pacific.

    In “The Global Water Cycle,” Schlesinger explains, “despite the enormous riverflow of the Amazon, which carries about 20% of the annual freshwater delivered to the sea, continental runoff to the Atlantic ocean is less than the loss of water through evaporation. Thus, the Atlantic Ocean has a net water deficit, which accounts for its greater salinity.”

  15. Wzrd1

    Now, to get those same readings during an El Nino year. I’d be willing to bet an increased salinity in the equatorial Pacific near Central America…

  16. AH-HA! I knew it! This is why on my trips to the Jersey shore I could always smell the salt-air miles before we even got to the beach, but in Japan or California, the air didn’t even smell that salty when you were at the beach.

  17. Chris P

    @ Russell
    “How did we get to have so much water? Wasn’t the planet red hot at one time, all covered in oozing lava?”

    Good question, the current thinking is that it all came from comets hitting the earth after the crust had cooled. I’m sure Phil knows more about the topic than me though.

  18. Wzrd1

    @Russel, #13: There is no reason that water could not be present while the surface of the Earth was still molten. It would be either trapped in the molten rock, in a vapor form or in the atmosphere in a vapor form. When the surface cooled sufficiently, the water would condense and rain on the surface. Water won’t dissociate until it is at or over 2000 degrees C.

  19. Ganzy

    Is it possible that the reason the North Atlantics is highly saline in the ‘centre’, is because of the less saline-dense and possibly faster moving ‘walls’ of the North Atlantic gyre are coraling the denser core?

    I just overlaid the Aquarius results with a map of ocean currents
    here.
    Its a bit wonky because the projections were different, but you get the idea. Looking at other maps of the huge islands of rubbish that get coraled in by the gyres, I wonder if they have anything to do with salinity concentrations at all? What about the average depths of both the pacific and the Atlantic… Could that play a part in the higher salt content of the North Atlantic?

    Chris #8 That is interesting about the plimsol line markings on the ships, I never knew that. I wonder how much fuel a large container ship would save if it could cross the North Atlantic through a low saline density water corridor. Maybe the decreased friction would be negligeble but a saving nontheless?

  20. vince charles

    8. QuietDesperation Said:
    September 26th, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    “Will the values be checked by direct measurement?”
    .

    It’s called “in situ” measurement, and it’s been done in various forms, for generations, by independent bodies (including civil, military, and private ones):

    http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/en3/
    http://www.jcommops.org/soopip/soopip_overview.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conductivity,_temperature,_depth

    However, satellite measurements are highly valued, since a single satellite instrument then covers the oceans with a single, consistent calibration and a frequent revisit rate. So, the weather ships, sea platforms, and buoys act as immediate calibration for the satellite, which then acts as long-term, long-distance calibration for the different ships, platforms, and buoys. In a military context, the first half would be called “sensor fusion”, while the second half would be called “battlefield persistence”.

  21. flip

    Well, I was going to ask how a satellite can measure salinity, but then read further and of course, Phil explains.

    Just one of the many reasons why I get amazed at the things we can do. I would never have realised we could measure such a thing from space!

  22. VinceRN

    Important data, but this seems like a really expensive way to get it. I suspect they could have made thousands of little ocean going robots to take these measurements for less than this costs. Or more realistically but thousands of sensors on thousands of ships that ply the world oceans, and chartered ships to go into those parts of the ocean less frequented by shipping. This probably could have been done for a tenth the cost of launching a satellite, or less.

    Also, given the time it takes to build and launch a satellite, they could have probably had the data available a couple years ago.

    This is a good example of the kind of thing NASA could cut in favor of doing science that can only be done from space, like the JWST. As I’ve said before, NOAA is the agency for this kind of thing.

  23. Levi in NY

    I think it’s cool how you can see streams of low salinity coming from the mouths of large rivers like the Mississippi, the Congo, the Nile, and holy crap look at the one coming from the Amazon!

  24. Giovanni

    You can clearly see the contribution of the amazon river to the low salinity on an area near it :)

  25. Wzrd1

    @VinceRN, #23: OK, let’s analyze the consideration you provided. EACH “robot” MUST establish satellite communications on a regular basis OR have a massive FLEET of relay ships.
    OK, satellite on a regular basis requires either a submarine OR a nuclear energy unit (something of special alarm, for a short term, disposable unit).
    STILL think it’s CHEAPER to NOT build that satellite?
    Didn’t think so either.

    @Ganzzy, # 20, thought the very same thing. Saw the markings many, many, many times, noted them and considered it, at the time, irrelevant to my life or more importantly, at the time, mission.
    One of those odd things one wonders about and occasionally gets information on. :)
    Your map is good basic information, but the REALITY is a LITTLE more complex. As in a day’s worth of supercomputer time, counting writing code for a skilled writer. But, for the layman, EXCELLENT information!

  26. Nigel Depledge

    Ken (3) said:

    The whole “denier” vs. “believer” so-called “debate” about global warming — with pretty much everybody in agreement that the Earth is warming (the question is really “why?” not “if?” — but “believers” consistently misrepresent that not-so-subtle detail)

    Not really. We have a pretty good idea why. It’s the deniers trying to pretend that we don’t need to do anything about it who are clouding the issue (and some of the deniers are actually saying that GW is not happening – or at least, they still were a mere 2 – 3 years ago).

    sidesteps the real issue: How will we adapt?

    No. The real issue is how will we stop the unprecedented rate of increase. We know many ways in which we can do this but the political will does not exist to do many of them.

    Make no mistake, whether its due to natural causes or human activity is pretty much irrelevant to anything we as a species actually DO in response as so many countries are polluting at phenominal rates (e.g. China, which will not curtail its activity) we can be absolutely certain CO2 emissions, etc. will continue.

    Actually, you cannot know that China will do nothing to curb its emissions. Perhaps if the USA (which is about the second-highest per-capita emitter of CO2 in the world) were to take a lead, many of the nations that are pretending the problem does not exist will actually take notice. Globally, the USA has more influence than the entire EU.

    That leaves only one PRACTICAL option: find & develop mechanisms for adapation…and there’s precious little of that being discussed from the “believers.”

    Wrong. There are plenty of things being discussed. What no-one has yet worked out is how to deal with the massive changes in global population distribution and food production that will arise from the “business as usual” scenario.

    Ditto for a lot of advantageous outcomes from warming, and there are many.

    Such as what? And how many of these supposed benefits will offset such disadvantages as worldwide famine and cities such as London getting submerged every high tide?

  27. Nigel Depledge

    The BA said:

    The average value is about 35 grams of salt per kilo of water

    Strictly speaking, it is almost certainly 35 g salt / kg of brine.

    Interestingly, this works out to a salt concentration of roughly 0.6 molar (and to be frank, I had expected it to be about twice this).

    This is about twice the salt concentration in human blood, so anyone who tried to tell you that the oceans flow in their veins (or some other such poesy) is wrong.

  28. Nigel Depledge

    Scott B (11) said:

    “Especially now, when our climate is changing, and those changes are evident even year by year. ”

    Not really. Some years are hot, some cold, some wet, some dry and over the longer term they average out to minor changes.

    Erm, yes, but maybe you should consider all the metrics. Consider that all of the 5 record lows in arctic sea-ice area have happened in the last 10 years.

  29. Nigel Depledge

    Tim Martin (16) said:

    AH-HA! I knew it! This is why on my trips to the Jersey shore I could always smell the salt-air miles before we even got to the beach, but in Japan or California, the air didn’t even smell that salty when you were at the beach.

    Actually, you cannot smell salt. It is not volatile. (Just try melting some table salt* and you’ll see).

    What you smell at the seaside (the distinctive “salt air” smell) is halogen-containing organic compounds that are made by seaweeds, and these compounds are volatile. The differences in smell from one piece of coast to another indicates dfferent populations of seaweeds.

    * Erm …. but make sure you put it in something that has a very very high melting point before doing this. I think even steel will go soft before NaCl will melt. Glass certainly does.

  30. Ken

    @Nigel 28:

    It’s the deniers trying to pretend that we don’t need to do anything about it who are clouding the issue…

    ACTUALLY, its those that note we cannot afford to do anything about CO2 emissions to any significant degree without bankrupting the economy. This current president is supposedly ever-so-supportive of “going green” … then gets into a scandal for funneling money to a solar company, Solyndra, that goes bankrupt…AND…implements anti-business policies that lead to the US exporting green jobs overseas:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/02/business/global/us-solar-company-bankruptcies-a-boon-for-china.html?_r=2&scp=4&sq=Export&st=nyt

    RE: Actually, you cannot know that China will do nothing to curb its emissions.
    REALITY: China has done nothing, is showing no sign of doing anything, and has gone on record as a policy position that it won’t do anything until the first-world countries do something first…and with the “greenest” president the USA is likely to ever get nothing is being done…hence, China will likely do nothing that impacts its economic growth.

    “Yesterday I was a dog, today I’m a dog, tomorrow I’ll probably still be a dog.” Snoopy the Dog.

    RE: There are plenty of things being discussed. What no-one has yet worked out is how to deal with the massive changes in global population distribution and food production that will arise from the “business as usual” scenario.
    REALITY: Talk & no action means the status quo/business as usual scenario/reality will persist. It is persisting and there is absolutely nothing anywhere to suggest anything meaningful is going to lead to any substantive changes in pollution, CO2, etc emissions, which will continue and increase. Actually, global population growth trends never persist in increase as grim forecasts suggest, they always stablize & often decline naturally, for a variety of reasons. A review of the data shows this, time & again; there are also many studies explaining why.

  31. QuietDesperation

    Actually, you cannot know that China will do nothing to curb its emissions.

    People in positions of power do not think like you or I. That’s how they got into power. While predicting the individual may be fraught with peril, the trends of the aggregate are much more easily forseen, especially if you are a misanthropic cynic like me. Nothing is more predictable than mass human stupidity.

    Yes, I am Hari Seldon. Me gusta. :-)

    Perhaps if the USA (which is about the second-highest per-capita emitter of CO2 in the world) were to take a lead, many of the nations that are pretending the problem does not exist will actually take notice.

    Yeah, sure. We’ll take that leap of faith.

  32. @3. Ken :

    QUESTION: Has there ever been a time in history when Earth’s climate was NOT changing?

    There have been periods of greater or lesser stability of climate, yes.

    The recent few thousands of years when Human civilisation developed is one such period and the much hotter dinosaur era is another. The very hostiel snowbvall earth periods is another time where conditions on Earth remained frozen ( ;-) ) for quiote an (unpleasant) while. It also depends on how you define “not changing” and for how long you want a period of stability to qualify for.

    But in any case your statement there is irrelevant. Just because climate change occurs naturally in the past doesn’t mean we’re not responsible for causing Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating (HIRGO) this time.

    The whole “denier” vs. “believer” so-called “debate” about global warming — with pretty much everybody in agreement that the Earth is warming (the question is really “why?” not “if?” — but “believers” consistently misrepresent that not-so-subtle detail) ..

    If only that were true. :roll:

    A lot of Climate Contrarians (yeah I dislike the use of “Denier” too) sadly *do*, have and *continue* claiming the earth is actually cooling. Ian Plimer. Nick Minchin and Henrik Svensmark to name just three – never mind the hordes of Joe & Jane Publics online.

    … sidesteps the real issue: How will we adapt?

    Or will we adapt?

    How many people will suffer and die before we do?

    How do we adapt to losing cities, ice-sheets, homes, lives?

    Who will adapt? What happens to those who can’t or won’t?

    What will fail to foresee and thus have to deal with unexpectedly -especially if we silence the climatologist experts by death threats, mockery and refusal to fund properly or listen to them!?

    Make no mistake, whether its due to natural causes or human activity is pretty much irrelevant to anything we as a species actually DO in response as so many countries are polluting at phenominal rates (e.g. China, which will not curtail its activity) we can be absolutely certain CO2 emissions, etc. will continue.

    So, IOW, we just give up and don’t even try to do anything to reduce our Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

    Imagine you are driving a car that’s heading for a high speed impact. You can’t actually stop the collision but you have some effect on how fast you are travelling when you hit. Do you choose to apply the brakes and still hit the wall but at 30 kph where you may escape with minor injuries or do you do nothing and resign yourself to hitting the wall at a probably fatal 100 kph?

    That leaves only one PRACTICAL option: find & develop mechanisms for adapation…and there’s precious little of that being discussed from the “believers.”

    Failure of imagination on your part does not constitute a valid argument.

    Only one practical option? Really? I would argue there are a number of options, incl. geoengineering – terraforming our own planet, resorting to nuclear fission as a stopgap, even finding a way to move our planet’s orbit outwards a bit.

    Ditto for a lot of advantageous outcomes from warming, and there are many.

    It’s certainly highly unlikely there’ll be as many advantages as disadvantages.

    What advantages precisely do you claim we’ll see – and if the climate keeps changing how long before they stop being so advantageous?

    One can superimopose the Christian evangelical movements of the mid 1970s on current Global Warming apocalyptic views today: “believer”/”denier” jargon is exactly being recycled, the fatalistic views of Soviet/USA nuclear war align with the purely apocalyptic views of Global Warming “believers” (by the 1970s people had pretty much given up on bomb shelters, for example, & taken to the view of total annhilation), etc. etc. The parallels are exact as is the jargon. That is curious, to a point.

    Maybe.

    But it won’t make the very real problem go away.

    Politics isn’t science. Science depends on scientific evidence not real or imagined political or rhetorical parallels.

  33. @32. QuietDesperation : Salutes Hari Seldon reference. :-)

  34. @3. Ken :

    QUESTION: Has there ever been a time in history when Earth’s climate was NOT changing?

    Please read also :

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-change-little-ice-age-medieval-warm-period.htm

    & watch this clip :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5hs4KVeiAU&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PL4957F2ACA87CF1B1

    .. with pretty much everybody in agreement that the Earth is warming

    See :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVh7z-0oo6o&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33&index=3

    Sen. Inhofe and Fox news are hardly “everybody” – for good and ill. 2010 was just last year – co-incidentally (or not) the equal hottest on record according to NASA.

    (Click on my name in this comment for the source – GISS. The latest CDCOTW clip is linked to my name on earlier comments – 2011 Arctic ice minimum )

    @5. Brett : “Just a quick reminder, folks: please, don’t feed the trolls.”

    Meh, we can’t have them starving and be cruel now can we? Done properly, without losing civility and calm, it can be both fun and informative for others – or so I hope.

  35. Continued #3Ken :

    How will we adapt?

    This clip :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4yA_kRejp0

    provides a few positive ideas on how we can adapt. (Slow, odd start – but worth sticking with.)

    One major way we will *have* to adapt is weaning ourselves off fossil fuels.

    For Peak Oil reasons if not for HIRGO ones.

    Make no mistake, whether its due to natural causes or human activity is pretty much irrelevant to anything we as a species actually DO in response as so many countries are polluting at phenominal rates (e.g. China, which will not curtail its activity) we can be absolutely certain CO2 emissions, etc. will continue.

    Really? Now okay carbon dioxide emissions are unlikely to entirely stop – but they sure can be reduced to a lotless than the present levels.

    Also visit this page :

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-limits-will-make-little-difference.htm

    & please take a brief look this poster embedded via this comment :

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/australias-contribution-matters-why-we-cant-ignore-our-climate-responsibilities.html#55278

    If not us then who?

    If everyone waits for somebody else to act first – then no one will do anything.

    The USA and Australia and the rich Western world generally has done most to cause this HIRGO problem thatis hurting everyone on this planet – why then shouldn’t we do the most, first, to try and fix it?

  36. Final part of my links-added response to Ken #3 :

    …there’s precious little of that being discussed from the “believers.” Ditto for a lot of advantageous outcomes from warming, and there are many.

    Please read :

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-positives-negatives-intermediate.htm

    & please view the entertaining and highly watchable :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uE6at2IEUOU&feature=related

    which convincingly disposes of that idea.

    Plus see :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g093lhtpEFo&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33&index=28

    which deals with the popular but mistaken idea that because “Co2 is plant food” more of it thus has to be a good thing.

    Note that manure is “plant food” too – and, in the right places and right amounts, manure is helpful, good stuff. But you don’t want too much manure everywhere especially in the wrong places. ;-)

    Remember too that almost every medicine is a poison if it is taken at the wrong dosage.

    Also not all plants are ones you want to grow – weeds for instance often out-compete the plants you want. (Spent a lot of today outside weeding, incidentally.)

    Plus there’s the fact that Cassava, a staple crop in many parts of the world, becomes more toxic with increased carbon dioxide levels.

    *****

    PS. Click myname here for NASA’s new video up on the sea ice and climate situation – plus a mention of a new satellite to be launched next month studying that.

  37. Adam

    I thought a scatterometer was something you used to measure poop.

  38. Nigel Depledge

    Ken (32) said:

    @Nigel 28:

    It’s the deniers trying to pretend that we don’t need to do anything about it who are clouding the issue…

    ACTUALLY, its those that note we cannot afford to do anything about CO2 emissions to any significant degree without bankrupting the economy.

    OK, I think this is a fine distinction to draw, and there are still people claiming that we do not need to do anything about AGW because, after all, “climate change is natural and happens all the time anyway”.

    But I agree that a subset of the deniers do indeed claim that ceasing to burn so much carbon is economically unviable. As if the alternative were any better!

    First off, they are wrong – there is plenty money to be made in switching to low-carbon energy generation. Especially if all subsidies to the fossil fuel industries are stopped.

    Second, even if they are right, it is still not a reason not to act. Failure to do anything about carbon emissions will be disastrous for our modern way of life (exactly how much so is open to debate, but all experts agree that it is a Bad Thing).

    What point were you trying to make here?

  39. Nigel Depledge

    Ken (32) said:

    RE: Actually, you cannot know that China will do nothing to curb its emissions.
    REALITY: China has done nothing, is showing no sign of doing anything, and has gone on record as a policy position that it won’t do anything until the first-world countries do something first…and with the “greenest” president the USA is likely to ever get nothing is being done…hence, China will likely do nothing that impacts its economic growth.

    [My bolding]

    Yes. So?

    None of this suggests that – if the USA actually looks like it takes AGW seriously instead of merely playing at it – China won’t follow its lead. Once all the “first world” nations are actively working to significantly reduce carbon emissions, then the developing world might sit up and take notice. Until then, why should they? After all, the situation that exists now is in large part because of all the carbon that the “first-world” nations emitted as they were developing to their present level of technology.

    I’m not saying that China absolutely will work to curb emissions, but you have no case to claim that they absolutely will not.

    “Yesterday I was a dog, today I’m a dog, tomorrow I’ll probably still be a dog.” Snoopy the Dog.

    So what?

    RE: There are plenty of things being discussed. What no-one has yet worked out is how to deal with the massive changes in global population distribution and food production that will arise from the “business as usual” scenario.
    REALITY: Talk & no action means the status quo/business as usual scenario/reality will persist.

    Fortunately, there are plenty of projects in the prototyping stages that have the potential to generate low-carbon or carbon-neutral electricity.

    I do not believe that the “business as usual scenario” is in any way inevitable, and I was specifically addressing your comment that the only thing to do is adapt to (as opposed to halt) AGW, and your complaint that no-one was discussing options.

    Now you seem to have moved the goalposts.

    It is persisting and there is absolutely nothing anywhere to suggest anything meaningful is going to lead to any substantive changes in pollution, CO2, etc emissions, which will continue and increase.

    I disagree. I think you will see – in perhaps 10 or 15 years’ time – many nations generating up to 30 or 40% of their electricity from low-carbon or carbon-neutral technologies. And newer technologies still will still be in development.

    Actually, global population growth trends never persist in increase as grim forecasts suggest, they always stablize & often decline naturally, for a variety of reasons. A review of the data shows this, time & again; there are also many studies explaining why.

    I don’t think global population is the most important factor by any means. I think the key factors are electricity generation and transport. If these can be converted to low-carbon and carbon-neutral technologies over the next 25 – 50 years, we’ll be in with a real chance of minimising the impact of AGW.

    For example, as a bridging technology, cars that can do 60 – 80 miles per Imperial gallon (around 20 – 30 km per L) are widely available across much of Europe.

  40. Nigel Depledge

    @ MTU (34) –
    Yes, well said.

  41. Ken

    MTU @34 Notes: Politics isn’t science. Science depends on scientific evidence not real or imagined political or rhetorical parallels.

    SO TRUE. The problem with global warming is that science has not convinced enough of the severity or need to act. Evidence is the fact that nothing is happening of any real substance, in the US or anywhere. Say what one will of what “could” be done, the reality is that nothing substantial is being done & there is no indication that any such thing will occur in the near-term.

    Further, the debate about “if” there’s global warming, or “if” it is and humans are driving it or not is severe…prompting polarizing jargon (e.g. “denier” & “believer” etc.). All of which is prima facie evidence of the scientists & politicians failure to be convincing to those unconvinced (never mind those that have made up their minds the other way). The debate is a major impediement…and fundament elements of HOW that debate persists is serving to impede any real progress.

    There’s LOTS of talk…but precious little persuasion, which is a failure to communicate….which actually serves to promote impotent action(s).

    Until the message is adjusted, the same ineffectual results will be achieved.

  42. Nigel Depledge

    Ken (43) said:

    The problem with global warming is that science has not convinced enough of the severity or need to act.

    Wrong. The IPCC has been stating as clear as day that we need to reduce CO2 emissions since about 1997.

    Guess how many governments have listened?

    Evidence is the fact that nothing is happening of any real substance, in the US or anywhere. Say what one will of what “could” be done, the reality is that nothing substantial is being done & there is no indication that any such thing will occur in the near-term.

    While it is true that little of substance is being done in the USA, this is not true of Europe.

    And the federal inaction in the USA is not proof that there is a lack of evidence regarding AGW; if anything, it is instead proof that the USA’s system of government bows too deeply to the interests of mighty corporations.

    Further, the debate about “if” there’s global warming, or “if” it is and humans are driving it or not is severe…prompting polarizing jargon (e.g. “denier” & “believer” etc.). All of which is prima facie evidence of the scientists & politicians failure to be convincing to those unconvinced (never mind those that have made up their minds the other way).

    97 – 98 % of the world’s climatologists agree that AGW is real and that something must be done soon or human civilisation will face a series of crises.

    The 2 – 3 % of climatologists who don’t agree have been found by independent review to be conducting less-than-stellar-quality science.

    If you look at a political milieu such as that which exists in the USA, the lobbying power of corporate interests vastly outweighs that of private citizens. Therefore, you have plenty of politicians who are claiming stuff about AGW being in doubt, that they might not personally believe in, but which protects the interests of their campaign donors and corporate constituents.

    The debate is a major impediement

    Yes, it is, because the scientific debate was settled over a decade ago. The facts are what they are. AGW, as far as anyone can tell, is real and it is a Bad Thing.

    What remains is two camps of deniers – those who serve corporate interests such as those of fossil-fuel producers; and those who act out of the wish not to feel guilty about or change their way of living. The obfuscation and outright denial published by the deniers has rendered the public impotent with confusion. And this suits the deniers just fine.

    …and fundament elements of HOW that debate persists is serving to impede any real progress.

    There’s LOTS of talk…but precious little persuasion, which is a failure to communicate….which actually serves to promote impotent action(s).

    Not so. There is plenty of persuasive evidence, but people have to be prepared to listen to it and pay attention to it.

    The problem is not with the science, or any lack of evidence – it is a fundamental inability or unwillingness on the part of the USAian voter to apply critical thinking and fact-checking to what they are being told. If the voting public were willing to go to a bit more trouble to find out if what their politicians say is true, then the politicians would not get away with repeatedly lying to the public.

    But, in the scenario where the public either accepts what the politicians say or doesn’t care, then anyone with the money and motive to assemble a strong lobby has more political power than that subset of voters who do take an interest in the political process.

  43. Ashok M

    How interesting! You can see a large blue patch around Bay of Bengal – where mighty Brahmaputra river flows into the river – and there’s probably more fresh water coming in from the Himalayas.

    /Really interesting compilation. Science Rocks!

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