"Many people don’t realize we are committed right now to a significant amount of global warming and sea level rise because of the greenhouse gases we have already put into the atmosphere," says lead author Gerald Meehl. "Even if we stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations, the climate will continue to warm, and there will be proportionately even more sea level rise. The longer we wait, the more climate change we are committed to in the future."
The half-degree temperature rise is similar to that observed at the end of the 20th century, but the projected sea level rise is more than twice the 3-inch (5-centimeter) rise that occurred during the latter half of the previous century. These numbers do not take into account fresh water from melting ice sheets and glaciers, which could at least double the sea level rise caused by thermal expansion alone. (read the rest of this article here)
Are we doomed? Is there any way to stop global warming that is both (a) effective and (b) very likely to happen?
Another possible fix would be to put some sort of sunlight attenuator (perhaps some sort of fresnel lens) at the L2 point between the earth and the sun. That's a huge feat of engineering to be sure, but not as huge as changing the earth's orbit.
On the other hand, if you are willing to take a few thousand years to move the orbit you could fit out a gravitational tug--take control of an asteroid and maneuver it, using it to (very slightly) perturb the earth's orbit. That's probably smaller scale engineering than the solar attenuator I was talking about. On the other hand, coming up with enough propellant mass and energy to continue jockeying the tug for millenia is non-trivial. We will have to supply at least the amount of energy it would take to raise the earth to the "higher" orbit directly (imagine the insane amount of rocket fuel it would take--probably more fuel than the earth weighs! Fusion badly needed here) since nothing is for free in astrodynamics.
Changing the earth's orbit would be a psychotic undertaking. We can't keep a satellite in orbit for more than a few decades before it's orbit begins to decay and it crashes to earth. We'll likely throw ourselves out into space. Sure, it'll probably take a few million years, and we'll be living elsewhere, but still.
Yeah, that would have to be like, oh, Plan Zed.
If we limit CO2 output, we may prevent greater damage. I don't see that happening unless there is a radical change among the ruling class, global value systems, and perhaps human nature. I don't see that happening. We have a small window now in which we may slow down global warming if we use all of the technology and restraint available to us. Are we doomed? Probably.
I'm not as concerned about sea-level rise (people can move and there will probably be armed conflict) as I am about collapsing ecosystems and vulnerable, unsustainable farming techniques leading to massive famine (and probably armed conflict). Hopefully we don't resort to nuclear conflict. Civilization and technological progress may be as self-limiting as your classic population boom. Humans have rebuilt after civilizations collapse, but what is different this time around is how many of us and how much of our resources are caught up in a failing system.
I hope enough of us can survive to continue the human race but if they do, they will probably not live in any manner resembling a modern life-style. Much of what we have achieved in the last few centuries will probably not be retained by our survivors.
Albert Einstein was quoted as follows:-
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
It'll be like a big street hockey game.
If we limit CO2 output, we may prevent greater damage.
I guess you didn't read this part: "Even if we stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations, the climate will continue to warm, and there will be proportionately even more sea level rise."
We are past the point now where merely limiting CO2 output will stop global warming.
I'm not as concerned about sea-level rise (people can move and there will probably be armed conflict) as I am about collapsing ecosystems
I'm actually MORE concerned about our dying oceans than I am about global warming. Global warming could simply mean human populations moving further away from the equator. If our oceans die, can the planet survive?
Douglas Adams makes the point that the issue is not about the survival of the planet. The planet has survived meteor strikes, the big freeze, volcanoes, earthquakes and more. The planet is fine - it's our habitat that is threatened.
Yes, the planet will survive. Even some of the life on it will survive.
That might be for the best.
Sigh. Yes I did read that part. Please read my post more closely. The word "greater" implies that I have accepted there will be damage due to global warming, but that CO2 restrictions may prevent a worse case scenario from occurring. I never said a thing about "stopping" global warming. In my wildest dreams I can only imagine us being capable of mitigating the worst effects.
Ironically, what was one of our greatest fears could be something that helps the ecosystem although probably not humanity: nuclear winter. It would have to be calculated carefully and every nuclear nation would have to be on board with it or they might use the nukes going off as an excuse to use theirs in a military fashion. Which would mess up the effort.
Like the global warming, the nuclear winter would not be good for us but would knock the temperature down for a few years. The death of hundreds of millions would help cut down on carbon emissions. Frankly given the way we're behaving, I think it's as viable as any other solution - not very.
I saw a special on jellyfish - they thrive in the warmer de-oxygenated parts of the oceans. So we're already seeing a significant increase in their populations. There are no projections yet on what it might be like ten or twenty or more years in the future.
There are some recipes for jellyfish. It might be good to push for more jellyfish consumption. Especially since most fishermen finding them in their nets would just cut them into pieces to kill them and dump them back into the ocean which causes them to automatically release fertilized eggs increasing future populations. Lovely feedback loop.
We are so in touch with how our planet works - not.
There's the jellyfish and then there's the lionfish.
Somehow, the lionfish, a predator from the tropical parts of the Pacific, got into the Atlantic and it is decimating the underwater ecology of the tropical Atlantic. As the oceans warm up, the lionfish will be able to move North.
Read more about this disaster here.