08 April 2010

Planet Earth Barely Notices Effect of Anthropogenic CO2

There was five times as much CO2 in the air during dinosaur years as now, and twenty times as much before that [AF: When most plants evolved].....oceans continuously absorb CO2 and tie it up as calcium carbonate and limestone. There is now too little CO2 in the atmosphere for good plant growth (385 parts per million). Humans are slightly correcting the problem. Greenhouse operators often add three times as much CO2 to the air to improve plant growth. _ClimateBasics

A recent study reported in Nature Geoscience reminds us once again of how miniscule is the effect of human action on the planet. In fact, even huge earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have little impact on the planet's long-term fate.
Even the monstrous 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Chile in February, and which might have changed Earth's rotation and shortened days by a fraction, hardly had an impact on the planet in the long run. In fact, scientists have a hard time spotting the effect of even bigger quakes on something such as the Earth's rotation, said Richard Gross, a geophysicist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

...Gross calculated that the Chilean quake shifted the Earth's figure axis by 3 inches (8 cm or 27 milliarcseconds), and shortened the length of an Earth day by 1.26 microseconds.

Few other catastrophic events besides quakes could even make the slightest impact on the Earth's rotation.

"People have looked at volcanoes, but they're just too localized," Gross said. "There's not enough mass-motion involved with a volcanic eruption."

...Glaciers that build up and retreat during ice age cycles can also affect Earth's shape. Earth has always resembled something of a pumpkin with a bulge around the equator, because of how the planet's rotation affects its mass.

Melting ice at the poles takes weight off those areas and allows the Earth to fill out more like a sphere, but ocean currents and the jet stream can redistribute mass either toward or away from the equator.

Don't discount the moon's gravitational tug on the Earth, either. That twice-daily tidal effect causes Earth's crust to flex by about 8 inches (20 cm) each day, and leads to much higher ocean tides.

...Current scientific instruments and sensors...have a hard time detecting earthquake effects on Earth's rotation, even without the normal background noise. More sensitive monitoring systems might someday allow scientists to watch a quake change the Earth's rotation in real-time — but Gross won't hold his breath.

"It's still such a small calculated signal that I'm afraid I have my doubts as to whether I can see it," Gross said. _LS

Only a catastrophic change in the status of Earth's sun, Sol, or an impact with a space body of significant size, could render Earth uninhabitable anytime within the next few billion years.

Aside from cyclic glaciation, Earth's climate has shown an amazing resilience and stability. And within the cyclic nature of Earth's natural climate change, Earth life has shown an incredible ability to adjust and adapt.

The ability of Earth's climate to maintain its relative stability -- and to resist so-called "tipping points" -- lies in its strong natural negative feedbacks. Until the rather corrupt and insular infant science of climatology learns to face the realities of natural negative climate feedbacks, anyone who takes orthodox climate catastrophe models seriously is doomed to be badly disillusioned.

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