Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Climate Change

First my personal opinion, I think whatever the consequences of increased human activity such as C02 emissions, increased population and deforestation are already baked into whats going to happen in the next 30-40 years. The consequences maybe (and its a big maybe) mitigated by actions now, but it will be 30-40 years before results will be seen. I'll be dead by then, so I have decided not worry my little head over whether mitigating strategies will work or not, but to have exit strategies for probable outcomes.

Anyway regards Climate Change (and thats the correct term not Global Warming, which a possible/probable scenario)

Whats Irrefutable Science
a) CO2 has increased from 280 parts per million in 1850 to about  385ppm  today and its all human.
The increase should really be much more, see missing sink.
b) CO2 increases temperature by long wave radiation attenuation (see Earths Radiation budget ) (for more see Stefan–Boltzmann law)
Long wave radiation gets absorbed by C02 (and other greenhouse gases including H20) and increases troposphere temperature to satisfy the radiation balance.
i.e. If we did not have feedback effects like clouds etc, the increase in temperature due to C02 could be calculated exactly (see here)

So what are the issues with the science

a) Feedback effects
e.g. Clouds. When temperature increases increased evaporation and/or increased humidity (even this sentence has so many feedbacks). That should increase clouds, which in turn can reflect (albedo) incoming solar radiation which in turn can reduce troposphere temperature. Clouds are some of the least understood phenomena in the climate system, i.e. formation, dissipation, albedo (reflection) etc.  Worked in this area for about 6 years, and published too. Worked on a huge atmospheric radiation project as well and published.
b) Missing sink in the carbon budget (maybe its here).
The total amount of human addition of C02 is known. The problem is the totals dont add up. i.e.  All the human output cant be accounted for, there is a missing sink. Terrestial sinks are well understood, and consensus has been the missing sink is in the ocean. This link has a first order numbers what carbon is where (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_cycle).  To further complicate the problem, what will happen to sinks if temperatures increase (increase the amount stored/decrease).  This is not even getting into issues like deforestation etc, draining of marshes and the feedbacks thereof

The article is an opinion piece, and does not seem like the author has the science background to evaluate the merits of the case.  It could be worse, there are authors who will write stuff that unless one has a deep knowledge of the field it is not possible to evaluate the merits of the research.

Below an article by Baumgardner that appears to infer based on science the Noah flood was real
The shallow water equations, and currents produced are correct. (The shallow water model is one all oceanography grad students get to play with in first year).
So whats the problem (two among many)
a) Tethys Sea and Pangea were 250 million years ago.  Humans have only been around 200K years at most. Right away conclusions of this paper are not appropriate (downright falsehood) for anything during the time of humans (primates and large mammal too for that matter).
b) The Tethys sea was around the equator. So authors are saying if at higher latitudes, then such currents could occur. So if we disregard the human/Noah component and take the paper for its sedimentary transport etc input, even that is very very bad science.

Some questions answered
>how do you support that the increase is all human?
Increase in C02 from 280ppm  to 385ppm is less than all the C02 emitted by humans
(i.e. Theres a sink somewhere for some of the C02 produced by humans).
First order accuracy of human C02 emissions is by coal, petroleum and natural gas combustion.
(Straight forward calculation, no hand waving)
All Fossil fuel combustion CO2 for last 100 years > 385-280 ppm * volume of atmosphere
i.e. All C02 increases in last 100 years is from humans is irrefutable.
>I've heard there is more CO2 in the ocean than the atmosphere and changes there could affect CO2 in the atmosphere.
Yes, please please see these links Missing sink and Carbon Budget
What you are referring to is a feedback, i.e. increase in ocean temperatures will reduce C02 carrying capacity and release C02 into the atmosphere.
>solid work on how much effect water vapor has in comparison to CO2
>I have heard some opinions that the water vapor is a larger effect.

Yes, C02, H20 and Methane are the most important greenhouse gases (i.e. by long wave attenuation).
See here for temperature contribution by each green house gas.
The atmosphere maximum water vapor content is determined by the temperature.
When water vapor reaches 100% humidity it precipitates, so there's a upper limit to water vapor in the atmosphere.
Its pretty clear, only control on water vapor is atmosphere temperature. 
C02 and Methane have no limits at current temperatures.
Methane is also green house gas.  Cows flatulence contains methane and there were some cows arse articles on cow flatulence being more important than CO2See here for a reply to that thinking

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Gathering (elephants): Natural?

The Gathering (of elephants) in Minneriya or Kaudulla National park are considered one of the great wild life spectacles of the world, comparable to the Great migration in Serengeti.  The gathering of over 300 elephants in Minneriya occurs during the dry season of May-Sep.

The gathering is however a result of  environmental engineering two thousand years ago.  The 87 km (54 miles) Elahara canal was built by King Vasabha (67–111 AD).   King Mahasen (277-304 AD) built Minneriya Reservoir and connected it to the Elahara Canal. Currently Elahara canal starts from Amban river near Elahara and carries water to large reservoirs in north, Minneriya, Girithale, Kaudulla (Tissavadamanaka of Mahasen) and Kantalai reservoirs.
Click for Map Link
.

Its not just the Gathering at Minneriya. Sri Lanka has been environmentally re-engineered for over 2,000 years.  The 30,000 odd reservoirs/tanks and associated wetlands have changed the dry zone into oasis of water and wetlands for both animals and humans.

Not only has the environmental engineering changed biodiversity, it has changed social structure. Building and maintenance of village tanks was done by the village community. This resulted in a more egalitarian society, specially compared to the rest of South Asia.

Reservoirs were not built just for irrigation. It was, for example, traditional to build a forest tank in the jungle above the village. That tank, however, was not used to irrigate land: on the contrary, its express purpose was to provide water to wild animals and, hence, to reduce the likelihood that they would descend into the paddy fields and destroy the crops in the search for water (Goldsmith)

Finally:
Sir Emerson Tennent in Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical vol 2 considered it to be The Greatest Canal in the Ancient World: (complete pdf: pg 433)
“Excepting the  exaggerated dimensions of Lake Moeris in Central Egypt,and the mysterious " basin of Al Aram' the bursting of whose embankment devastated the Arabian city of Mareb, no similar constructions formed by any race, either ancient or modern, exceed in colossal magnitude the stupendous tanks of Ceylon. The reservoir of Koh-rud at Ispahan, the artificial lake of Ajmeer, or the tank of Hyder, in Mysore, can no more be compared in extent or grandeur with Kala-weva, or Padivil-colom than the conduits of Hezekiah, the kanats of the Persians, or the subterranean water-courses of Peru can vie with the Ellahara canal, which probably connected the lake of Mineri and the "Sea of Prakarama" with the Amban-ganga river.

Refs:
http://mahavamsa.org/2008/05/king-mahasen-275-ad-301-ad-sri-lanka/
http://mahavamsa.org/2008/05/kings-sri-lanka-62-ad-131-ad-ceylon/
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Minneriya/@7.9406086,80.8640254,13z/data=!4m5!3m4

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

GM Mustard in India: Cautionary tale for Sri Lanka

Mustard Plants
There is nasty debate going on about the use of a Indian developed Genetically Modified (GM) mustard plant to be commercially cultivated. Mustard DMH-11, has been developed by Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants at Delhi University.  It is a cautionary tale for Sri Lanka.

The Pros
  • Purported to be 20%-30% more productive than most mustard varieties. 
  •  Is resistant to herbicide Basta (Glufosinate) made by Bayer 
Cons
  • Is resistant to herbicide Basta (Glufosinate) made by Bayer
  • Basta chemicals persist in food where herbicide is used 
  • Contains genes barnase, barstar and bar genes patented by Bayer
  • Barnase, barstar and bar are terminator genes and extremely potent cell poison.
  • GM Mustard DMH-11 patent will be held by Deepak Pantel  
The sales pitch for the GM Mustard is that it will solve India's cooking oil problem with higher mustard oil yields. In 2014-15, India imported 14.5 million tonnes of edible oils valued at $10.5 billion, more than half its edible oil requirement.

Rapeseed
Aside: Rapeseed (similar to mustard) grown in Canada is all GM modified.  For you health buffs, thats Canola (contraction of Canada and ola, meaning oil).  So not only is Canola from GM rapeseed it also contains glucosinolates responsible for metabolism disruption and erucic acid, which is damaging to cardiac muscle.   Maybe that why its called Canola and not rape-seed oil.

Back to India: How did India end importing half its edible oil. India was almost self-sufficient in edible oils by the mid-1990s, but by 2014 it was the world’s biggest importer of cooking oils. Under pressure from the World Bank, India began to reduce import tariffs on edible oils and imports then began to increase.

So this push for GM Mustard is little more than a smokescreen to divert attention from this reality, which has to date certainly benefited US agribusiness Cargill. What is more deceptive is that the genetically engineered mustard does not produce higher yields than non-GM mustard.

Patent Royalties,  sales of weedicide by Bayer to a 10.5 billion market is also the push for GM Mustard.  Deepak Pantel is not an independent scientist pushing GM Mustard but one salivating to collect patent royalties.

On a final note, Bayer and Monsanto have merged, DuPont and Dow are planning a merger and ChemChina is buying Syngenta.

References
http://navdanya.org/news/604-violation-of-indias-ipr-laws-and-competition-act-by-mncs 
http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/09/21/is-india-about-to-make-a-catastrophic-mistake-with-gm-mustard/

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Glyphosate Found in Urine of 93 percent of Americans Tested


Glyphosate, labeled a “probable human carcinogen” by the World Health Organization’s cancer agency IARC in 2015, has now been revealed to be ubiquitous in the first ever comprehensive and validated LC/MS/MS testing project to be carried out across America.

In a unique public testing project carried out by a laboratory at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), glyphosate was discovered in 93 percent of urine samples during the early phase of the testing in 2015.

The unique project, which has already provided more urine samples for testing than any other glyphosate bio-monitoring urine study ever in America, was supported by members of the public, who themselves paid for their urine and water samples to be analyzed for glyphosate residues by the UCSF lab.

Glyphosate was found in 93 percent of the 131 urine samples tested at an average level of 3.096 parts per billion (PPB). Children had the highest levels with an average of 3.586 PPB.
The regions with the highest levels were the West and the Midwest with an average of 3.053 PPB and 3.050 PPB respectively.

(n.b. US West and mid west has the most agriculture)

Glyphosate residues were not observed in any tap water samples during the early phase of the project, most likely due to phosphorus removal during water treatment.
The results from the UCSF urine testing in America showed a much higher frequency and average glyphosate level than those observed in urine samples in the European Union in 2013. The average level in Europe was around 1 PPB with a frequency of detection of 43.9 percent.

Glyphosate has never been studied by regulators or the chemical industry at levels that the human population in the U.S. is being exposed to (under 3 mg/kg body weight/day). This is a huge hole in the risk assessment process for glyphosate, as evidence suggests that low levels of the chemical may hack hormones even more than high levels—a higher dose does not necessarily mean a more toxic, hormone disruptive effect.

From Comments
Glyphosate (Roundup) was initially patented as a pipe descaler -- it binds with minerals, making them easier to remove. It binds with minerals in GMO crops (which are genetically modified to withstand it's lethal effects) as well as in humans, blocking absorption/utilization.



https://ecowatch.com/2016/05/29/urine-test-monsanto-glyphosate/

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Is the Dry Zone becoming a Wet Zone

 Many Sri Lankans may remember from school geography the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka is from North West (Puttalam) to East (Batticoloa) and South East (Hambanthota).  In this area rain is received only from the North East (NE) monsoon, i.e. mid-late October to January.  May to November is dry with hardly any rain.

Has this changed. Last year (2015) there was moderate rain even in June, in the North West (Puttalam).  This year (2016) it has been heavy rains and floods in mid May and more expected at the end of May as well. So will the Dry Zone, at very least NW have rains in the coming years during the historical dry season. At very least during El Nino year, it is still El Nino conditions this year.
I think so, Sri Lanka is going to have rain and lots of it.  Why, because
  • The Indian ocean is warming up
  • Air temperature is warming
  • Water Vapor in Atmosphere
  • Amount of Water Carrying capacity increases exponentially.
The critical physics is Water carrying capacity (saturation)  of the Atmosphere.  That is the amount of water vapor that the atmosphere can hold at any given temperature.  This amount of water vapor that atmosphere can hold increases very quickly after about 30°C.

So with the air temperature increasing, the Indian ocean warming up,  there is going to be a lot more water vapor in the atmosphere. Specially above Sri Lanka because we are an Island.  So all that increased water vapor in the atmosphere comes down in a deluge, i.e. buckets of water not raindrops.

Is it possible during the SW monsoon, there is so much water in the atmosphere now, part of it get carried over into the Dry Zone.  Just like the more intense NE monsoon rainfall getting carried over to the wet zone.

Anecdote
This property (Wilpattu House) was bought in Sep 2011.  I was told the last time that the Lunu Ela (river bordering the property) was 20 years ago.  However, there has been a flood of the Lunu Ela every year in December, except 2013.  This year, even in May.  Old timers say never during their lifetime floods, let alone heavy rains in May.

One may well argue whether Climate Change is man made or natural occurrence.  If one thinks it is because of humans, the results of whatever mitigation (e.g. less Fossil Fuel, re forestation)  will be seen many many year later.   At the moment Climate Change is here to stay for the next few decades.

What is needed is how do we work around the effects of climate change.  For instance, flooding in Colombo will be the norm.  What kind of infra structure is needed (e.g. canals) to reduce or eliminate flooding in Colombo.  Warning systems for Landslides.  What kind of crops can handle flooding and heavy rains. Thats whats needed at the moment, not discussions of reducing fossil fuels and changing to solar power (all very good).


A comment I made in 2010

If you think in general that air temperatures have increased, you will see larger increases in rain (precipitation).
The reason is that the water holding capacity of air increases exponentially with increasing temperature. i.e. Small increases in air temperature at around 38-40C will have much larger increases in water holding capacity. See link below.
Water Vapor .
Bottom Line: Expect Deluges to be the norm even in the North East.