A world with fewer clouds, projections indicate, could witness up to 8ºC of warming in addition to that caused by greenhouse gases. Earth’s climate would be similar to conditions 50 million years ago, when crocodiles swam in an ice-free Arctic and palm trees grew as far north as Alaska.
The study serves as a reminder that a warmer world might hold surprises for us, says Huber. “And those surprises are not pleasant.”
What are we to do? How are we to live? All that we do, the time we have, is so short, we can never grasp all the horror we have unleashed. Is it possible to live in the knowledge of the future, this future we have made, with love and understanding in the present?
Their simulation, which ran for 2 million core-hours on supercomputers in Switzerland and California, modeled a roughly 5-by-5-kilometer patch of stratocumulus cloud much like the clouds off the California coast. As the CO2 level ratchets up in the simulated sky and the sea surface heats up, the dynamics of the cloud evolve. The researchers found that the tipping point occurs, and stratocumulus clouds suddenly disappear, because of two dominant factors that work against their formation. First, when higher CO2 levels make Earth’s surface and sky hotter, the extra heat drives stronger turbulence inside the clouds. The turbulence mixes moist air near the top of the cloud, pushing it up and out through an important boundary layer that caps stratocumulus clouds, while drawing dry air in from above. Entrainment, as this is called, works to break up the cloud.
Secondly, as the greenhouse effect makes the upper atmosphere warmer and thus more humid, the cooling of the tops of stratocumulus clouds from above becomes less efficient. This cooling is essential, because it causes globs of cold, moist air at the top of the cloud to sink, making room for warm, moist air near Earth’s surface to rise into the cloud and become it. When cooling gets less effective, stratocumulus clouds grow thin.
Hopefully with increased resolution in the simulation we have less extreme forecasts…
Realistically there is no way humankind can move fast enough from stopping the CO2-cause warming from taking place.
The only hope would be an extinction event, wiping 30% of human population and reducing by that much our energy requirements.
Even if all Buddhists were to attain awakening that reduction in population would not take place!
I approach the phenomenon of climate change with equanimity.
Not to be too flippant about the seriousness of the matter, but for those who are concerned about clouds and the frozen precipitation that emanates from them, here is a photo from my house this morning indicating the reason I was not able to drive to work today:
Interesting study linked to in the OP. Looking back in Earth’s geological history, there have been essentially two main temperature modes: one mode with mean planetary temperatures about where we are now and another mode where average temperatures are about 10 degrees C above this. The Earth has probably spent more time in this later balmier icecap-free mode.
I wouldn’t worry about the end of all life on earth due on global warming (CO2 levels have been multiples, ten times and more, of what they are now in the past, though usually when in this warmer temperature mode).
No doubt if we keep on the trajectory will go past a tipping point and head towards warm conditions like in the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) around 50 million years ago. James Lovelock (British inventor/scientist and person who came up with the Gaia Hypothesis and going strong at almost 100 years old! ) had a series of books warning about the possibility of a sudden transition of this type. Would be extremely challenging to humanity to say the least (fairly sweltering near the equator, arable land moving a good deal northward plus oceans at least 70m higher when Antarctica melts). He’s rowed back a bit on that since (thinks the data just doesn’t imply an imminent transition like that).
Though I suspect we’ll reach a tipping point sooner or later on our current trajectory. Though that transition may possibly not be that sudden. If it takes a few thousand years (a blink of the eye in geological terms) humanity will probably have time to adapt (otherwise not so much).
I’d tend to agree with Lovelock that probably the only realistic fast way of greatly reducing CO2 emissions at the moment is widespread nuclear power (in spite of its many downsides): fusion seems permanently 20 years away and energy storage is still a real problem for renewables (they seem to need a fossil fuel-based power grid as backup).
A suggestion: as terrible as this is and seems to be leading, please retain calm and do not rush.
Because there ARE some proposed solutions, some involving generating clouds or reflection. And some of them might make the situation quickly, unpredictably worse, for human or mammalian life. Climate is BIG, complicated, can have stunningly quick escalations.
So let’s not feed or consume panic-modes, for any, or some person will heroicly speed us all to extinction. whoops.
Well I guess a good start would be (for example) to stop roaming all over the world using fossil fuels. I’m not accusing you sir, but there are so many spiritual leaders still using fossil fuel vehicles (e.g. flying back and forth between Australia and Europe to spread Buddhism or to get back to their teacher to spend the rains retreat) even though the damage they are doing is plain for all to see now. If our spiritual leaders can’t be arsed to curb their excesses and encourage their flocks by example, then what chance for the rest of us? At this point (where we don’t have a sustainable alternative yet) one might imagine that the only legitimate reason for long distance (more than a bike ride) travel would be as a refugee.
It would be great to see a set of guidelines for lay persons looking after monastics that reflected the true cost of their various actions in terms of climate. Do you think that you should be encouraging your disciples to not buy that plane/train/boat ticket? Should a Buddhist even own a car, much less go out of their way to pick you up to take you to a teaching appointment?
Oh, I couldn’t agree more. For the record, I do try not to fly too much, but I agree, we should be doing a lot less. Ajahn Munindo, if I am not mistaken, gave up flying years ago and only travels by train. My friend Ven Jason usually only walks, although lately he catches trains as well, and is flying to Sri Lanka later in the year.
Unfortunately, train travel interstate in Australia is terrible!
The Pali word that the Pope interprets as “indifference” is presumably upekkha. The real meaning of this word is equanimity, not indifference in the sense of unconcern for others. As a spiritual virtue, upekkha means equanimity in the face of the fluctuations of worldly fortune. It is evenness of mind, unshakeable freedom of mind, a state of inner equipoise that cannot be upset by gain and loss, honor and dishonor, praise and blame, pleasure and pain. Upekkha is freedom from all points of self-reference; it is indifference only to the demands of the ego-self with its craving for pleasure and position, not to the well-being of one’s fellow human beings. True equanimity is the pinnacle of the four social attitudes that the Buddhist texts call the “divine abodes”: boundless loving-kindness, compassion, altruistic joy, and equanimity. The last does not override and negate the preceding three, but perfects and consummates them. - Toward a Threshold of Understanding by Bhikkhu Bodhi