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View Diary: The U.S. is ground zero for climate change (172 comments)

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  •  Can we restate the warming mechanism? (10+ / 0-)

    Right now the earth is out of balance in global heat transfer. During the day we gain more heat energy per square meter from the sun than we lose due to heat radiation into space. This is a system out of balance. The net result is that the average temperature on the surface of the planet is increasing. It will do so until it reaches balance. At that point as much energy is radiated outward as is gained from the sun. That will occur at some higher average global temperature causing more heat radiation. This final temperature is the balance temperature and the planet approaches it asymptotically. Assuming that we were to add no more CO2 into the atmosphere, starting now, that point will be much greater than the current 1 degree C rise. As we add more CO2 that final temperature becomes greater.

    When we talk about global temperature scenarios we should be using the final balance temperatures, not some estimated temperature at some date. I think that this gives a better picture of the net impact of any policy scenario on the planet.

    I just finished reading Bill McKibben's book Eaarth. He makes a compelling case that we have already altered our planet to the point that it is a very different place than we inherited. We need to stop fooling ourselves that we may have created some future inconvenient changes in the climate. That's the point of his new spelling for our planet.

    We need to somehow incorporate the concept of net global damages  into our dialog.

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