Sunday, October 9, 2016

Yellowtail in Mexico, and Climate Questions / Answers

Yesterday I enjoyed catching seven yellowtail (kept four) on the Tribute which had excellent deckhands and fine captains.  The captains were helpful, experienced, spoke to anglers as individuals, and found huge schools of fish.  On the overnight trip back to San Diego, I had discussions about climate change which will be presented as questions and answers below.

Q - Isn't the climate science uncertain?

A- No.  According to Olympic Climate Action, "Nov. 2012 through December 2013 [out of] 2258 peer-reviewed climate articles by 9136 authors [,] 1 author rejected man-made global warming."

Q - Hasn't the number of polar bears increased in recent years?

A - John Ingham of London's The Sunday Express (March 3, 2015) cited the WWF's claim that "of the 19 separate populations of polar bears across the Arctic, three are in decline and just one is known to be increasing while for nine there is insufficient data to make any assessment."

Q -- Isn't it true the oceans, and not humans, cause most CO2 emissions?

A- According to Cheryl Katz in a March 30, 2015, article for, "For decades, the earth’s oceans have soaked up more than nine-tenths of the atmosphere’s excess heat trapped by greenhouse gas emissions. [ . . .] But as those gases build in the air, an energy overload is rising below the waves. A raft of recent research finds that the ocean has been heating faster and deeper than scientists had previously thought. And there are new signs that the oceans might be starting to release some of that pent-up thermal energy, which could contribute to significant global temperature increases in the coming years."  [In other words, human activity is putting the CO2 burden in the oceans.]

Q - Isn't it true what's happening in China makes U. S. action irrelevant?

A - According to Damian Carrington's July 25, 2016, article in The Guardian, "The latest official government statistics from China support the idea that its coal use peaked in 2014. Coal production fell 9.7% in the first half of 2016 compared to 2015, which itself saw a 5.8% decline on 2014, and coal burning fell 3.7% in 2015. China’s total emissions have been near flat in recent years. [ . . . ] [T]he nation’s falling coal use is now a permanent trend. One is the falling rate of economic growth from 9-10% to about 6% and the transformation of the Chinese economy away from heavy industry and towards more hi-tech and service sectors, which are much less dependent on energy. [ . . . . ] As coal declines, clean electricity in China is increasing rapidly with solar power up 28% in the first half of 2016, nuclear up 25% and wind and hydropower both up 13%. "

In addition, China supported a limit of a 1.5 C warming target at COP21.

Q - Why are you concerned about methane?

A- Read this October 4, 2016, Siberian Times article which quotes Professor Igor Semiletov, of Tomsk Polytechnic University: "We have reason to believe that such emissions may change the climate. This is due to the fact that the reserves of methane under the submarine permafrost exceed the methane content in the atmosphere [ . . . ] many thousands of times. If 3-4% from underwater will go into the atmosphere within 10 years, the methane concentration therein (in the atmosphere) will increase by tens to hundreds of times, and this can lead to rapid climate warming. This is due to the fact that the greenhouse effect of one molecule of methane is 20-30 times greater than one molecule of CO2."

The good news is that even though methane has a much stronger effect than CO2, the life of methane in the atmosphere is shorter.  Duncan Clark's January 16, 2012 article in The Guardian noted "Between 65% and 80% of CO2 released into the air dissolves into the ocean over a period of 20–200 years" while "Methane, by contrast, is mostly removed from the atmosphere by chemical reaction, persisting for about 12 years."

Q - What can anyone do about climate change?

A- Join others working on it.  If you're on the Olympic Peninsula, join Olympic Climate Action. In Portland, Oregon, or Vancouver, Washington, join 350PDX. In Corvallis, Oregon, join 350Corvallis. In Eugene join 350Eugene. In San Diego join SanDiego350. This isn't just about donations of money. Your time as a volunteer will help.  As Bill McKibben noted in his August 15, 2016, New Republic article, "We're under attack from climate change—and our only hope is to mobilize like we did in WWII." Mckibben's Twitter site provides updates.

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