Does Not Equal is a webcomic by Sarah Ennals – check out the pre-Futurismic archives, and the strips that have been published here previously.
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The self-adjustment of the science consensus tends to make it reliable – credible research is promoted and those not backed out by evidence fall. So if the scientific consensus thinks global warming is a problem, I’m inclined to believe them. However, sometimes real science offers some positives, like today. Researchers at UAHuntsville’s Earth System Science Center found that the amount of heat-trapping Cirrus clouds in the atmosphere decreases rather than increases as global temperatures go up. High altitude clouds like Cirrus ones tend to trap heating escaping from the atmosphere, amplifying any existing warming (low altitude clouds tend to have the opposite effect by reflecting sunlight back into space).
It was expected that as temperatures rose, more evaporation would lead to more clouds. Studies of smaller warming and cooling cycles in the tropics showed that actually higher temperatures created less Cirrus clouds, encouraging a cooling period in reaction to the added heat. This negative feedback system is an exciting discovery and could cut the amount of temperature rises in global warming models by as much as 75%. It’s not a get out of jail card and it would still be prudent to work on a worst-case scenario basis but this kind of mechanism could give us the time needed to adapt to a lower carbon economy.
[via ScienceDaily, image by acewill]
Following on from the recent fires across California, another catastrophe less widely reported is the flooding in Mexico. Tabasco is a southern state the size of Belgium and following storms and heavy rain, 80% of the land is underwater, with close to 100% of crops lost, around half of the two million population evacuated and production of crude in the oil-rich region at a standstill. The governor of the state has compared the situation for the 350,000 in the state capital Villahermosa to New Orleans post-Katrina and the rebuilding time is likely to be as long.
Like any natural disaster it would be hard to pinpoint this extreme weather directly on global warming but there has definitely been a large number of big-scale environmental catastrophes over the last few years. Whatever the cause, the damage to Mexico’s already-ailing oil industry will be a severe disruption and push us ever closer to the scary prospect of $100 barrels of oil.
[via Daily Kos, image by _…:::Celoide:::…_]