Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Linking corn culture and pine beetles

As readers know, I have never been comfortable about the proposed link between global warming and excessive CO2 emissions. Both are measurable facts and their existence is indisputable. But as a thinker who loves rigor, I find it unnecessary to link them to explain the present climatic environment. I also sense a very real danger that the linkage will lead to a global policy misstep when global industrial economy needs very specific issues to be aggressively addressed. Of course, if we can get the right thing done for the wrong reasons, who am I to complain. I am more worried about the wrong thing for the wrong reason.

In our earlier posts, we have extensively developed the thesis that the adoption of terra preta corn culture globally will not only sequester all the excess carbon but also manufacture high quality soil in a previously unanticipated span of time. We can expect a ton of carbon per acre per year of uptake which is at least ten to a hundred times the rate of any alternative. Farmers have never had this option, and it is actually a revolution.

Even if we do nothing else particularly clever, that alone will bail our sorry asses out without anyone else lifting a finger. After all, manufacturing high quality soil will have an immediate and direct effect on farm income.

And yes girls, the climate is now apparently at its warmest since just before the Little Ice Age and since the Bronze age. That is the problem. We know for sure that this is not an unique anomalous event and does not have to be linked to anything.

In my province, the advent of a warmer climate has triggered a mass die off of the interior pine forest as the mountain pine beetle population takes off. It will all run out in about ten years and fall back to normal as new trees fill the niche. In the meantime, we are harvesting as much as possible. And if we are really clever, we will burn off what we cannot harvest to stimulate good new growth without a lot of fire wood lying around.

More importantly it is even much warmer in the high latitudes. I saw last night a report on a chap who has been measuring the temperature regime on the Greenland icecap. In a period of perhaps thirty years , he has found an increase of around five degrees Celsius. I do not want to comment on what that will actually mean and what is happening on the entirety of the icecap. It is far too easy to be on the edge were things are going quite fast, while inland at higher elevations very little is changing.

The true question to ask is, what is happening at the location of the ice cores. Likely nothing, since these areas were chosen for their accumulation ability.

Certainly we can expect the southern edges of the icecap to retreat exposing more land. I think though that that will be essentially it. It also will take hundreds of years to properly stabilize if our current temperature regime is maintained.

And I still keep wondering what triggers a major injection of cold water into the South Atlantic.

No comments: