Friday, August 02, 2013

Man-made algae blooms: the earth is puking us out ... by gimleteye

From rapidly melting ice in Greenland to climate change induced forest fires in the American west, mankind has set in motion a feedback loop that points in the direction of puking us out.

I thought about this, too, watching how icebergs behave once they have formed off Greenland. Far from being static, melting like an ice cube in a glass, icebergs balance by center of gravity in the ocean. As pieces fall off, they become more unstable. The changes in the waterline of an iceberg are visible reminders that balance is tenuous.

Today, the massive changes we provoked through the combustion of fossil fuels in the climate have propelled an awesome amount of heat energy into the atmosphere. The result is extreme drought and extreme flood. South Florida is experiencing significant rainfall this year, and the result of that is to tip ecosystems like Biscayne Bay and the St. Lucie River -- already weakened by decades of pollution -- into a state of imbalance and shock, marked by vomit-like algae blooms that can sicken everything in path, including humans.

Stephenson French Photo of Algae Bloom in St. Lucie River.
Although the absence of details gives elbow room to the radical GOP right and climate change deniers like US Senator Marco Rubio, there is no question that the climate is out of balance.

What happens to some icebergs, viewed from the air above, is instructive. As pieces from the iceberg fall off, the iceberg re-balances. But if too much falls off, some icebergs spin in the water, fully rotating and throwing off more chunks as they do. The result, from above, looks exactly like vomit on the blue surface of the ocean.

The icebergs puke themselves out.

So what would corrective action look like, to ensure that the earth's climate does not also become so imbalanced that we are puked out?

Well, we would start by observing local phenomenon like algae blooms, trace back to the cause, and fix what's wrong. For decades, we have known what's causing the massive outbreaks in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee, throwing pollution out the west coast of Florida. Big Sugar Billionaires and their domination of Florida politics. It's politics that are destroying Florida's waters. Officials like Gov. Rick Scott are uniquely unqualified to take the steps necessary to lead.

So far as the fixing global warming is concerned, there is nothing we can do today to restore the balance that has been lost as the result of cumulative impacts of global warming gases. We can only hope to slow the spinning, so that humanity doesn't end up like the unstable iceberg off Greenland: puked out.

So far as fixes are concerned, the biggest unexamined problem is the requirement of industrialized societies for on-demand electricity. We can put all the hybrid cars on the roads, through carbon taxes and other incentives, all the solar panels and wind turbines in the world, but the massive losses of energy through the electricity grid require immediate attention at national and international levels.

If you are going to solve a problem, go upstream to its source. We don't do that very well, and that's why we may have severely underestimated where we are in the climate change "game". Instead of the early innings, we could be in the late innings.

Voters should think about that, next time they want "change" at the polls.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And just what, pray tell, do you propose we do to avoid what appears to be a cyclical pattern of nature?