Sunday, March 13, 2005

All Peak Oil, All the Time part 3


More than likely, a good many readers have encountered reports like the below. I do have a point, but context is everything...
Mass extinction comes every 62 million years, UC physicists discover

David Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor

Thursday, March 10, 2005

With surprising and mysterious regularity, life on Earth has flourished and vanished in cycles of mass extinction every 62 million years, say two UC Berkeley scientists who discovered the pattern after a painstaking computer study of fossil records going back for more than 500 million years.

Their findings are certain to generate a renewed burst of speculation among scientists who study the history and evolution of life. Each period of abundant life and each mass extinction has itself covered at least a few million years -- and the trend of biodiversity has been rising steadily ever since the last mass extinction, when dinosaurs and millions of other life forms went extinct about 65 million years ago. [...]
Which puts us about three million years over due:
Bad news - we are way past our 'extinct by' date

Super volcanoes will chill the world someday

By Robert Roy Britt
Updated: 4:55 p.m. ET March 8, 2005

The eruption of a super volcano "sooner or later" will chill the planet and threaten human civilization, British scientists warned Tuesday.

And now the bad news: There's not much anyone can do about it.

Several volcanoes around the world are capable of gigantic eruptions unlike anything witnessed in recorded history, based on geologic evidence of past events, the scientists said. Such eruptions would dwarf those of Mount St. Helens, Krakatoa, Pinatubo and anything else going back dozens of millennia.

"Super eruptions are up to hundreds of times larger than these," said Stephen Self of Britain's Open University.

"An area the size of North America can be devastated, and pronounced deterioration of global climate would be expected for a few years following the eruption," Self said. "They could result in the devastation of world agriculture, severe disruption of food supplies, and mass starvation. These effects could be sufficiently severe to threaten the fabric of civilization. [...]
Experts weigh supervolcano risks

By Paul Rincon
BBC News science reporter

Geologists have called for a taskforce to be set up to consider emergency management in the event of a massive volcanic eruption, or super-eruption.

The recommendation comes in a report timed to coincide with a BBC TV drama that depicts a fictional super-eruption at Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, US. [...]

Extract from "Journey of Human Evolution" [1998] 34, 623-651

[...] The last glacial period was preceded by 1000 years of the coldest temperatures of the Late Pleistocene, apparently caused by the eruption of the Mount Toba volcano. The six year long volcanic winter and 1000-year-long instant Ice Age that followed Mount Toba's eruption may have decimated Modern Man's entire population. [...]

Major Impact Soon?

British MP says, ”We’re living in a bowling alley.”

[...] Lembit is the leading voice in the UK on asteroids and the little matter of one of them smacking into us, probably sooner rather than later. And one of those bits of rock doesn’t have to be particularly large in order to cause immense devastation and loss of life. Or rather, let me put it this way. If on Christmas day last year I had told you that a giant wave would sweep across south East Asia, hit land and cause the loss of 220,000 lives (so far), you would not have believed me. There’s no argument – you wouldn’t have believed me. The next day it happened. [...]

SM: So there’s still a problem about being taken seriously?

LO: I think there is because there are contradictions in how the government approaches risk. They’re willing to impose all kinds of incredibly strict regulations on farming to try and eliminate miniscule health dangers but they stand by doing very little about a potentially Armageddon type impact which in actuarial terms stands to kill far more people than CJD, BSE, food poisoning and phosphates put together. Therefore it’s not joined up thinking about risk management, which is causing the problem. [...]

I’m absolutely sure there is going to be a significant impact at some point in the next few years. There just is.

SM: One frustrating thing is that NASA scientists are constantly being criticised for crying wolf.

LO: That’s true but I must be honest and say that it’s in our interests to have these claims that objects are coming close because it raises the ante. Sometimes these objects are leaving the Earth’s environment before we even spot them. There was one 300 metre object that actually travelled between the moon and the Earth. Now had that hit us that would have incinerated Asia or Europe. And that’s the problem. We’re living in a ten pin bowling alley where these things are the balls and we’re one of the pins.

So I don’t mind a little bit of sensationalism because frankly, no measure of media sensationalism would really prepare people for the calamity of an impact. J. Tate isn’t so keen on that, he thinks the sensationalism isn’t so good but, from a political point of view, it helps because it keeps the subject in front of the public. The politics of fear sent men to the moon. It’s a sad thing. I’d love there to be a positive dynamic here but frankly if it’s fear we have too use, so be it. [...]

Bright Streaking Light Seen in Western Sky

Sun Mar 13, 3:11 AM ET

By WILLIAM McCALL, Associated Press Writer

PORTLAND, Ore. - Dozens of residents in the Pacific Northwest reported seeing a bright streak of light as it flashed across the sky, startling witnesses from southern Oregon to the Seattle area, according to officials. [...]

Exploding Stars: Threat to Earth Lower But Still Real

Researchers have suggested that one or more mass extinctions during the past few hundred million years might have been triggered by supernovae, and that it might happen again.

Galactic dust storm enters Solar System

New Scientist

The Sun's shifting magnetic field is set to focus a decade-long storm of galactic dust grains towards the inner Solar System, including Earth.

The effect this will have on our planet - if any - is unknown. But some researchers have speculated that sustained periods of cosmic dust bombardment might be related to ice ages and even mass extinctions.

During the last decade, the magnetic field of the Sun acted like a shield, deflecting the electrically charged galactic dust away from the Solar System. However, the Sun's regular cycle of activity peaked in 2001.

As expected, its magnetic field then flipped over, so that south became north and vice-versa. In this configuration, rather than deflecting the galactic dust, the magnetic field should actually channel the dust inwards.[...]

Ulysses spacecraft sees galactic dust on the rise

The New Ice Age

[...] If anything, it is the risk of an ice age which we have to fear. When ice ages arrive, the geological record tells us, they arrive quickly, within the space of a few years. A repeat of the last ice age would see the ice caps extending to the Thames. England would become like Greenland: capable of supporting marginal settlements on its southernmost fringes, but a wasteland within.

What is more, the geological record shows that ice ages have tended to occur at 10,000-year intervals and are preceded by few warning signs. The last ice age ended 10,000 years ago.

For anyone reading this on a sun-lounger in Bournemouth, enjoy it while you can. For readers in Skegness, it may be too late already. Even the mass of hot air generated by the climate-change lobby will not prevent the next ice age when it does arrive. [...]

Earthquakes vs. the Earth's Rotation

How major tremors alter the planet's wobble.

By Sam Schechner
Posted Monday, Dec. 27, 2004, at 5:05 PM PT

In covering the massive, tsunami-generating earthquake off the northwest coast of Sumatra this weekend, many news outlets picked up a statement from Enzo Boschi, head of Italy's National Institute of Geophysics, saying the temblor was strong enough to disturb the Earth's rotation. Can an earthquake really affect the way the planet spins on its axis?

Yep. [...]

Earth's Rotation, Revolution, and Climatology — Links

Features of the Earth's rotation about its axis that may affect long-term climate change: (1) precession of the rotational axis and (2) change in the tiltedness of the axis, also called "obliquity"

Features of the Earth's revolution around the Sun (orbital parameters) that may affect long-term climate: (1) precession of perihelion, (2) cycle of eccentricity, and (3) varying orbital inclination [...]

Sumatran quake sped up Earth's rotation

Columbia University Researcher Develops New Use For Seismic Reflection Data: Revealing Locations And Potentials For Mega Earthquakes

Hazards to northwestern North America could be greater than previously thought

[...] The occurrence rate for great earthquakes on the Cascadia megathrust is approximately every 200 to 800 years. We are currently within the timeframe where another large earthquake is expected, with the last earthquake having occurred over 300 years ago [...]

Canary Islands Volcano Could Trigger Monster Tsunami


The eruption of a volcano in the Canary Islands could trigger a "mega-tsunami" that would devastate Atlantic coastlines with waves as high as 330 feet, scientists said on Wednesday. [...]

Aon Units Release Global Climate/Catastrophe Report

March 11, 2005

Two Aon subsidiaries, Aon Re Global and Impact Forecasting, LLC, have released a report on 2004's natural catastrophes, describing "a year of freakish weather patterns, ending with the worst natural disaster in modern times: the December 26th tsunami." [...]
I am just getting started. But this is good enough as a representative sample of a few of the dangers that we face in the near future and in the now. It is like there is a giant reset button on earth, and it is about to be pressed. Any one of the above is enough to cause serious headaches and set backs. Personally, I think we may have to face a confluence of assaults, plus I am skipping a few of the dangers.

At this stage, we may need a bit more help than non-polluting, renewable energy resources. It should be obvious that we have multiple issues at work here, and our use of petrochemicals is only one part of the equation. Is it the end of the world like a Christian Fundie Armageddon? Probably not. Although, very likely it may be the end of the world as we know it.

I figure that those in power know about these things, and worse, and are keeping some of the data to themselves. Do I have smoking gun proof? Not necessarily, but I think we can get close enough for assigning probabilities well over zero. What do they plan on doing with this knowledge? Again, I think there may be enough knowledge out there to draw certain inferences...

Meanwhile the rich get richer.


Blogger Deleted said...

In practical terms -- for us -- it doesn't much matter whether an energy crisis is manufactured or the result of depletion. It's an excuse for a crackdown and more wars.

4:24 AM  
Blogger catalytic said...

Hi Harry,

Ah too true, and it is the getting there that shall be quite the adventure.

The future is always open, or so I like to think. That doesn't mean that it is not going to really hurt on the little trip we are all taking together.

Personally, I like to plunge into life knowing what the hell is going on, and why. Which means I don't take anybody's word for anything.

Far too often we as humans jump on some bandwagon because it sounds "reasonable". A hell of a lot of people thought Nazism sounded reasonable. (Many still do it seems!)

Well, we are really going to pay for it. Or at least, I assign a high probability that we will.

Updates on peak oil coming soon.

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The future is always open, or so I like to think. That doesn't mean that it is not going to really hurt on the little trip laptop batteries we are all taking together.

Personally, I like to plunge into life knowing what the hell is going on, and why. Which means I don't take anybody's word for anything.

1:17 AM  
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