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Observations (well actually mostly just things I've heard):
- Many deserts used to be covered in vegetation
- All fossil fuels at one point were part of living plants or animals
- Deserts need more water.
- More rain requires more evaporation.
- A larger ocean surface area and
a warmer ocean temperature will result in more evaporation.
I postulate that we have deserts now because there isn't enough carbon in the atmosphere for the plants that need to live there. Once we finish unearthing all that carbon that had been lost over the years, there will be more rain as well as more carbon dioxide available so the deserts will have a chance to bloom again. Of course if that happens, it could cause major disruption to our civilization due to rising ocean and frequent hurricanes (to name a couple side effects), as well as disrupting the ecosystem for many plants and animal that would need to migrate, adapt, or go extinct. However for the long term fate of life on this planet, unsequestering that carbon may be the best thing. Without human mining, carbon is continuously sequestered in the form of fossil fuels. Eventually the total carbon in the biosphere could decrease to the point where comparatively few carbon based life forms could survive on the planet. Eventually it could even become a dead planet. Maybe life finds a way, maybe not. From a naturalist point of view, death of the planet is probably inevitable anyway, but I don't see any harm in putting it off.
Affect of increased CO2 on plant growth
// growth under elevated CO2 decreases stomatal conductance of water by an average of 22% (Ainsworth & Rogers 2007). // [scad mientist, Sep 12 2013]
[FlyingToaster, Sep 12 2013]
For those interested in rcarty's story. [xaviergisz, Sep 13 2013]
Loss of grazing herds may be the cause of desertification.
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Sep 14 2013]
Today's NY Times Guest Editorial RE: Overpopulation (NOT)
[theircompetitor, Sep 14 2013]
||//I postulate that we have deserts now because
there isn't enough carbon in the atmosphere for the
plants that need to live there.//
||An excellent postulate but, alas, utterly wrong. No
plant is in want of CO2 (nor was it before we
increased CO2 levels by some 25% or so). They need
water in order to use this CO2, mainly because
opening their stomata to get CO2 in also lets water
||Not that I know enough to argue, but if opening stomata is required to get CO2, and that results in water loss, it seems to me that if there was a higher CO2 concentration, the stomata would not have to open as wide or as frequently to get CO2, so there would be more water availableto react with the CO2. Of course it would then have to increase CO2 intake slightly, but it seems it could come to equilibrium at a point where it was using more CO2 and loosing less water.
||Well, yes and no, apart from the yes.
||Many desert plants use various tricks to get their
CO2, such as taking it in during the night (when
water loss is much less), and storing it in a
backwater of metabolism until the day brings the
sunlight necessary for photosynthesis. Such
plants can reduce their water usage to very little
above that needed for metabolism.
||That's not to say that global warming might not
increase rainfall in some areas, but the extra CO2
won't directly benefit desert vegetation.
Bottom line: higher CO2 levels will probably not
significantly help to plantify the deserts. The
recent 25% rise in CO2 levels have been
accompanied, generally, by increased rather than
||Okay I found an article. It sounds like it supports what I said about stomata. They don't make a clear conclusoin, but it sounds like they are saying that plants will grow faster but may be slightly less nutritious. You may be correct that plants are not currently "in want" of CO2, but according to that article, increased CO2 could allow them to grow more and use less water.
||Yes, the trend of desertification during CO2 increase does seem to run counter to this theory. It could indicate this theory is wrong, or it could indicate that some other effects are in play.
||//increased CO2 could allow them to grow more and
use less water.// For non-desert plants, certainly.
But for desert plants, I doubt it.
||// But for desert plants, I doubt it. // yes that seems fairly likely.
||One thought I had was that if radical environmentalists proposed a plan like this to burn all the hydrocarbons quickly for the purpose of improving the overall health of the biosphere at the cost of hurting human civilization, maybe the more short-sighted elements of the population might object and push to slow down the use of fossil fuels. Not likely since the really short term profits are too large.
||<SOAPBOX> Personally I have very little faith in the ability of scientists to correctly predict something like global warming. I agree that greatly increasing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere doesn't seem like a really good idea since major changes in the composition of the air could potentially hurt the climate, our health, etc. In addition, I think it's a bad idea to use up a limited resource like fossil fuels too fast, not to mention the mess we make as we search for more and fast ways to pull them from the ground. Unfortunately it seems like the scientific community is too political/religious on this issue that global warming must be true. It seems like theres an implicit agreement that this is the stick they're going to use to get everyone to stop burning through the oil reserves. Anyone who questions global warming must be some uneducated idiot who only cares about short term profits. It's like the scientific community thinks that everyone else is too stupid to handle the whole truth. But if there's some feedback mechanism in the biosphere that will prevent CO2 from actually causing global warming (like the current pause we are seeing), that just embarrasses the scientific community and then no one believes them at all. Also you end up with "solutions" to the carbon problem like sequestering CO2 or using natural gas instead of coal. If you take hydrocarbons from the ground, take oxygen from the atmosphere, produce CO2 and H2O, put the CO2 back in the ground, and pour the water in the ocean, the most noticeable effect is removing O2 from the biosphere. Personally that sounds even less sustainable that having too much CO2. I guess we can always use nuclear of solar power to split water when we run out of O2 to breath. Ignore that leftover hydrogen. We shouldnt be proposing taxes on CO2 production. We should be taxing fossil fuel extraction, probably based on energy content, maybe adjusted somewhat for the amount of environmental damage done during extraction. People are saying that natural gas is cleaner than coal because it releases less CO2 per watt. I say its nice that the exhaust isnt quite so stinky, but what if we look carefully to the total damage done from coal mining (which isnt pretty) vs. hydraulic fracking, which seems like it could leave a lot of damage that wont be good for future generations? Natural gas might come out ahead, and based on how fast we are doing it, it must be cheaper as well (unless the government is subsidizing that: its hard to keep track of what theyre up to), but at the most it is a stopgap measure in the energy supply and in no way is it any kind of solution. </SOAPBOX>
||I guess thats why Im an engineer not a scientist. Its usually pretty easy to tell if Im right to not: does it work?
||// It seems like theres an implicit agreement that
this is the stick they're going to use to get
everyone to stop burning through the oil
||If we burn through even half of the remaining oil
reserves (including shale oil) we'll experience
catastrophic local changes making whole cities
uninhabitable, forcing broad agricultural adaption,
and driving many species extinct by pushing them
out of their niches.
||In the end there will be more arable land (with the
use of fertilizer) but with yields increasing at
amazing rates we don't need that as badly as
people think. Another positive effect is increased
habitability (for humans) of areas further from the
equator. Another bad one is desertification
caused by such things as land becoming too hot
for its local flora .
||Krakatoa is STILL affecting the climate. The
absurdity and futility of ozymandian climate
predictions when we are 100 years from horse and
buggy (and the predicted horse manure crisis of
the 30s) on the one end, and probably fifty from
having a serious go at ending material scarcity,
while literally, any minute a volcanic eruption
could cool the planet by more than decades of
global warming, should it even be concurring,
continues to amaze.
||The only thing that is worth worrying about is the
reduction of human misery. Everything else is
masturbation by the overfed and overindulged
||The most worthy thing to worry about is not the planet
or the future of humanity, but our damn hell ass souls. I
don't like the complacency that a diety is going to sort it
out, or prayers or reciting incantations from a book are
going to eternalize life. I'd like my eyes to open again
one day after they supposedly close for good. This is a
serious issue, waaaay more serious than some wet rock
flying around in nothing at all. Sure, if science discovers
that we are revived again on the same planet every
million years or so, then fine, let's keep this rock shiny
and new, but if it's lights out after a few decades of 9-5,
who cares, let's guide this thing into the damn Sun.
||for that we need a lot of energy -- maybe a Dyson
sphere -- to power the super computer that will
house your (and everyone elses) soul. God will not
do it, but we will, eventually.
||I hope it won't be too late to get a piece of that action.
Right now my only hope is that the quantuum nature of
dreams sort of signify there's something dreamlike we
||I used to be very committed to antipovery and
environmentalism but now I'm almost 30 and pressure is
me to look out for my own self interest only. But like
I don't really have a strong will to live either. So what is
rational self interest to someone without the motivation
to stay alive? It flies in the face of economic theory! It's
bullshit. I can't care about money. In 2005 a store clerk
stole a winning lottery ticket from me worth a million
dollars. I had four numbers on a six number ticket - little
did I know it was worth 5 percent of twenty million --
NOT the 5 dollars I received. I'll never see that money.
No lie. Every working
day since that moment has been an absurdity.
||Anyway, the point you were making was you have lost
motivation to stay alive. Prior to that the point I was
making was our eternal lives have to be made more
certain. The two points arn't unrelated, but to say you
have lost motivation to live, doesn't necessarily mean
you want to be dead for the remainder of all eternity.
You're probably just tired of the meaninglessness,
masses, machines, morons, etc of modern life.
||About the ticket, yes your thought about the value was
why it was so easily stolen from me. I thought only a
small amount aswell. It was Ontario 649 lottery.
||I added more to what I wrote before I read your new
annotation. Yes, you have made these points before
over the years, and it is hard not to agree. Although it
may be better for you mental health and enjoyment of
your life to be less critical and adopt new values and
attitudes. This might mean becoming someone that
you loathe, but the forces you are ideologically adverse
to are global in scale, are massively immovable, and you
only crush yourself by even criticizing them. I'm not
saying to put an application to become a manager, but
maybe I am also, the change of position might bring a
new perspective. But you will know as do I that it will
only be healthy because you have become the disease
instead of being plagued by it. You will be the parasitic
leeches that feed on others, growing healthier each day,
while those you feed on will either die by their own
hand, or become leeches as you had done.
||I've been following that situation closely in the news.
Although I understand that using chemical weapons is a
war crime, it should be the UN to act and not the US.
First the UN condemns the action then says military
action by US would be illegal. Something not right
there. My opinion on the matter is to let as many rebels
die as possible, and the USA to save their bombs, they
might need them one day. But at the same time its clear
the US wants Assad out, even though al quaeda will be
making the vaccuum. Let the UN deal with war
crimes exclusively. As for Russia I've always considered
them in some ways a semi-secret ally of Isreal (two
jewish agents gave russia the nuclear technology stolen
from america and later executed - that's not the whole
wonder what the real motives of alliance with Syria and
Iran are. Likely to create global balance of power, but
also cheap and regular oil for russias domestic economy.
In some ways it seems the Syria crisis is going to be
reolved without shots fired by the US.
||//In 2005 a store clerk stole a winning lottery ticket from
me worth a million dollars. I had four numbers on a six
number ticket - little did I know it was worth 5 percent of
twenty million -- NOT the 5 dollars I received.//
||From my understanding of the lottery, a ticket with 4 out
of 6 numbers you would have got a *share* of 9% (according
to the website) of the 'pool fund' (the pool fund is the
money left over after the minor prizes have been paid).
The chances of getting 4 numbers is 1 in 1,000. If they sold
10 million tickets at $2 a piece, then you would have
shared your prize with 10,000 others tickets. I would have
guessed your ticket to be worth less than $200. Clerk
*could* have ripped you off a few hundred, but not a
||[bigsleep] -- We are living in the most exciting and
interesting time to be alive, ever, both personally,
and as a species. We are on the verge of
profound discoveries in almost every branch of
science, and perhaps no more than a generation or
two from beating death itself, likely to discover
off-planet life within a similar about of time, have
the beginnings of private spaceflight, useful
artificial intelligence and robotics.
||So, hand this off to the next generation? Are you
kidding? I'm a grandfather with two grandkids
(admittedly a young grandfather) -- but I am still
working seven days a week, it is too much fun.
||Obama's mistake was becoming President. Like
the astronomer that is disappointed by the
discovery that it's a night job, he is now also
learning that the Earth is flat. He should have
stayed in the Senate, where having debates with
yourself out-loud is expected, and does no
||You guys are sort of losing the meaning of the story in
technicalities. To be honest I never found out how much
the ticket was worth, but perhaps in light of this new
information in future retellings I'll say half a million. Come
on, it's my justifiable apathy story.
||Sorry but 30 is too early to have your existential mid-life crisis. I'd kill to be 30 again.
||American foreign policy should be effectively directed in a way that results in Mr. Putin winning a peace prize by default.
||And [tc], frankly, we're running out of stuff to burn. 50 years from ending material scarcity? Seriously?
||There are a great many planets out there. Unfortunately, they are a long way from here, and the ones that are close just miss being able to sustain life in umpteen million different ways. Ending up as one of them doesn't seem to be a favorable outcome. That alone should teach us that this planet is fragile.
||One interpretation of its high unlikelihood is that earths
are scarce planets. People from earths, of which we
each are possibilities, occur throughout solarsystems
inside the gravitational masses of galaxies. Earths have
not yet been verified as a reproducable phenomena, but
in all probability earth and earthlike planets, exist in
multitude, although people of earths are characterized
by extreme existential alienation from the extreme
separation of earths in space and time. This is
illustrated by the religious beliefs of the people on the
one known earth, that are far departed from the reality
that possible lifeforms reoccur in the vastness of
probabilities that space offers. The people of the one
known earth can only speculate of contact with other
earths, and some doubt that other earth like planets are
likely and that this is the only planet like earth ever to
occur or occur again. This is usually connected with a
story from a book from the one who created everything,
and the lord and saviour Jesus Christ. He saves everyone
from dying forever, and he doesn't care what you did
wrong, he already died for that. Alternately, people of
earths will find that they will reoccur throught the
infinite vastness of space, as earths, and indeed new
spaces reoccur. People of earths rarely remember
previous occurances, however it is fun to debate with
people of earths over uncertainties related to the
possibilty of the seemingly well precidented.
||//the lord and saviour Jesus Christ. He saves everyone from dying forever, and he doesn't care what you did wrong, he already died for that.
||I've always thought that a little unscientific. For example, it would have been better to quantify the effect beforehand. I mean, would merely have going down with a nasty cough for a couple of days mean that everyone below murderer gets saved forever?
||50 may be a stretch, Ray, kind of depends on a
confluence of two trends, the one towards the
computational singularity and the one towards
grey goo or other programmable matter variants. I
could easily be 100 years off. But it's coming.
||As to the planet, as I always say, the planet owes
us a big one for the first dino killer we're going to
move out of the way, so think of it as us living on
a home equity line. The house is worth
something, to be sure, but one's gotta eat.
||We are fragile. The planet is a rock in space, and
any sentimental value we attach is due to to a
faulty extension of the same programming that
makes a dog mark its territory.
||Now clearly, if pollution, strip mining, etc
increases human misery then there's a reason to
restrict it, and obviously some level of regulation
makes sense. But while one can easily point to
rise of lung disease in Shanghai, one has to put
that in context to the hundreds of millions of
people that are now living above, and not below,
the poverty line. Back to my original comment,
worrying about coastlines in a 100 years is an
indulgence only those that are already living above
it can afford.
||It makes all the capitalistic sense in the word to
work on energy alternatives -- the riches, after all,
would be unbound. Ditto for battery
technologies. Electric cars make sense because of
how much cheaper it would be to drive. Home
solar and gas generating turbines make sense
because they make the electric net more resilient.
The smart house makes sense because it saves you
||It makes absolutely zero sense to self-restrict
energy use on a national level beyond the
strategic (i.e. making sure some left in a pinch)
||// yes and no, apart from the yes. //
||Warming, schwarming, yes yes. But something more interesting:
||/Without human mining, carbon is continuously sequestered in the form of fossil fuels/
||The conclusion is that in ancient days there wasmore carbon in the atmosphere than there is now. At one point the atmosphere contained all the CO2 there now, all the CO2 that got taken up into iextant biomass, and all the CO2 that got sequestered as combustible reduced carbon (fossil fuels) AND carbonate minerals. Carbonate minerals alone represent crazy large amounts of carbon.
||So either there used to be a boatload more carbon dioxide in the air, or available CO2 is being replenished / maintained by extraterrestrial or intraterrestrial sources.
||" Okay I found an article. It sounds like it supports what I said "
||Can we agree that there have been conditions on this planet in the past, an possible in the future that would be very undesirable? Looking to unpredictable factors to save us from predictable factors like greenhouse action or suggesting that the scientific concensus about the reality and causes of global warming is a conspiracy to conserve resources is fantastically wishful thinking (but you already knew that didn't you.)
||Trolling is a result, not always harmful and not always intentional but this post is seeded by a deep lack of fundamental understanding of how plants work, how the atmosphere works, an seems thinly veiled trollery.
||yes, we can agree on that not all conditions that occurred in
the past are good in the future. Having said that, we cannot
agree that warming, on anything like the scale that is
happening, is a net negative, nor can we agree that any of
the proposed solutions are realistic.
||I don't genuinely expect everyone to agree on any policy; thank heavens we don't operate on pure concensus. I do expect those expressing an increasingly abandoned viewpoint to do better than "we disagree" in terms of their case. And I'm sorry but "I don't know anything about it and I don't trust the people who do" isn't a strong case either.