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Catastrophic Climate Change: I Can't Hear You When You Say Climate Change is a Hoax; There's Too Much Feedback.


2019.01.01

Feedback control is certainly not controlled feedback.
- Mussadiq Abdul Rahim

In the study of dynamic systems, feedback loops are used to drive or control main processes. For example, when a furnace is used to heat a house, we use a thermostat to provide feedback. In general, we have two conditions we test for to maintain a stable condition (household indoor temperature). When the temperature falls below a specific threshold (say 19 degrees C), the thermostat signals the furnace to turn on and provide heat. When the temperature rises to a specific threshold (say 20 degrees C), the thermostat signals the furnace to turn off and stop providing more heat.

Typically, we talk about positive feedback loops (self-reinforcing) and negative feedback looks (where the current direction of change is discouraged). Our example with the furnace is a negative feedback loop in both directions. Move towards too hot, and heating is stopped. Move towards too cold, and heating is applied. If you want stability, you want negative feedback loops.

Catastrophic Climate Change (CCC) is effectively a suicide pact by the entire human race. We will not give up our profligate use of fossil carbon fuels, the burning of those fuels is driving climate change, and climate change is now killing us.

Let Me Count the Ways

Actually, I know I can't list all the ways CCC is killing us; there are simply too many. But I can provide a few examples.

It's Happening Now

Food Shortages (crops, wild game, livestock), Water Shortages, wildfires, floods, landslides, storms, diseases, resource wars, heat waves ...

Greehnouse Effect

Carbon Dioxide

Methane

Remember, the global warming potential of methane is 56 times that of CO2 based on a 20-year timeframe. We can no longer work in terms of 100 year time frames. Climate change is no longer offering us that much time. We have to change this part of the conversation NOW!. As more methane (e.g. fugitive leaks from the gas industry) enters the atmosphere, the more planetary warming it forces. As the planet warms, more methane is released into the atmosphere from various sources, like permafrost melt, clathrates, increased breaks in gas pipelines related to extreme weather and 'natural' disaster events. Those are positive feedback loops.

Permafrost Melt

February 2019 - Defusing the methane bomb—we can still make a difference (Phys.Org)

August 2018 - 'Abrupt thaw' of permafrost beneath lakes could significantly affect climate change models (Phys.Org)

February 2019 - What is permafrost and why might it be the climate change time bomb? (South China Morning Post)

Methane Clathrates

(aka 'fire-ice', hydromethane, methane hydrate and other names)

Nitrous Oxides (NOx)

Atmospheric Water Vapour

The Rest

Forest Fires

Forest fires are getting worse as the planet warms and wooded areas dry out in the summer. Forest fires create carbon dioxide, soot and heat from burning the trees and brush. The carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, so it heats the planet even more (positive feedback). The heat from the flames adds directly to climate change warming effects, causing more warming (positive feedback). The soot lands and darkens the surfaces it lands on, especially Arctic glaciers. The darker surface turns more solar energy into heat, melting the glaciers, adding to sea level rise and adding to planetary warming (positive feedback).

February 2019 - Canada's forests actually emit more carbon than they absorb — despite what you've heard on Facebook (CBC)

Albedo Effect

Waste Heat

Algae Blooms

A bit of algae (specifically microalgae) in wild waters tends to be a good thing for the marine life food chain. The problem is when there is too much algae. How much is too much? Pretty much if you can see it forming on the water surface, that's too much. Algae blooms are growing in size, duration and where they occur. Algae flourishes (to bloom levels) if they have 3 things: warm water, nutrients (notably nitrogen and phosphorus), and they prefer calm waters. Humans are supplying all three. The warming of the planet's surface is warming surface waters. Industrial farming in particular is providing large quantities of nitrogen and phosphorous via fertilizers and livestock feces, which is washed off farmland and pastures with rain and springtime snow melts. Aquaculture, breakwaters, wharves, docks, and shrinking inland water bodies are reducing wave action and currents, making for calmer (and warmer) water. Thus, algae blooms are bigger, showing up in new places and last longer than a couple of decades ago. That's bad enough. But it gets worse.

When algae dies off as colder weather arrives, or simply because it has exhausted the available nutrients, it becomes heavier than water and sinks to the water bottom. Having died, it decomposes. Because it is under water - and particularly in oxygen depleted water due to the algae itself - it produces methane when it decomposes. Methane is a greenhouse gas - 56 times as potent as carbon dioxide in terms of global warming potential. So, think of it like this: algae consumes carbon dioxide as it grows, but it releases methane when it dies - a factor of 56 multiplier in terms of climate change impact. Now, THAT's a feedback loop!

But there's more. When the algae dies, it releases the nutrients it used to grow, the nitrogen and phosphorus, to sit on the water bottom over the winter. But the following summer, as the water warms and the algae starts to grow again, that nutrient inventory is available to feed the new crop of algae - aided by the fresh nutrients in this year's run-off. That's not just a feedback loop, that's pouring fuel on a fire!

Finally, as waters warm further, the types of algae which grow tend to shift away from green phytoplankton microalgae (which is cosmetically unattractive and kills marine life in the water column by removing oxygen and reducing sunlight penetration into the water) to cyanobacteria (or 'blue-green algae') or even alesandrium fundyense, alesandrium catenella or karenia brevis ('red tides'). The latter two contain toxins (even neurotoxins) which can be harmful to humans and other animals, including fish and shellfish.

Coral-Algal Phase Shifts

Climate Change Induced Coral Bleaching and Algal Phase Shift in Reefs of the Gulf of Mannar, India (June 2013)

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