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  1. Environment Thingie!


    #418012012-11-04 22:38:40 *El_Melon said:

    Good day to you, my fine bitches. This thread is here for a school project that I need help for. Basically, what I'm asking you to do is to name any environmental crisis and it's effects. I'm hoping that I'll get an edge over the rest of my class because I have teh interwebs helping. So if you could help, thanks a bunch.

  2. #418232012-11-05 07:35:57naidraug said:

    Well... You have come to the right place.

    Now every one of these has loads of data to back it up and is fairly well understood (unless you live somewhere causing it, then of course it is up in the air if it even exists [such is the nature of humans])

    First thing you need to understand is the causes they all hold in common, in no particular order: 1. Tragedy of the commons (wikipedia will fail you here read Hardin's actual essay) - To summarize, If people all use a thing(share but do not own), and can pass the buck on who takes care of it, or cheat and take more than their share, they will break it. 2. Humans will use a thing they do not fully understand, as if it can handle their use infinitely until shown otherwise. 3. When shown otherwise if they still benefit from doing things as before, they will do that. 4. A vast majority of humans have no idea what they are depending upon to continue to survive. 5. Maximization of short term self interest is the best way to explain the actions of nearly all humans.

    *One note you need to understand. Life is resilient as hell. You could kill off every living thing on the planet save one hydrothermal vent at the bottom of the ocean and in another 2 billion years this place will be teeming with a vibrant ecosystem. Most environmental crisis do not threaten life on this planet as a whole. They just make it hell on earth for living as a human and or a big portion of the other species on the planet. Really they are more like civilization enders than they are planet killers. (That doesn't mean I would feel right giving one to my kid)

    So now to the actual crisis

    Lets see there's climate change, that's a good one. Basically it works like this: long term weather patterns are determined by how much heat you get from the sun, how reflective the atmosphere is, how blanket like it is, and how reflective the ground/ocean/ice is. The whole thing works together quite nicely and we (as in every living thing) have evolved quite nicely to fit it as it has changed. It has always changed based on those things, they work together quite complexly making the short term or small term behavior quite chaotic, but bigger scales are easier to predict. Change the terms in the equation and you change the behavior. Ice cores of polar ice (they give temperature and atmospheric profiles) and glaciers all over the planet support this understanding quite well. You can bore into them like a tree and read the rings back many thousands of years. Well since the industrial revolution (despite what Henry Diesel wanted) we have been pulling fossilized carbon out of the ground and chucking it into the atmosphere. This is basically carbon pulled from the atmosphere by life over huge time frames, think of it like mud that settles at the bottom of a stream. The stream gets clearer as that stuff drops out, but if you go jump in and frolic about you stir it all back up and send it all back into the water. Well the effect of that in this case is to hotbox the atmosphere. As to evidence that the extra carbon in the atmosphere is ours you can check the monau loa (I forget spelling) record they provide their data for free, they have been sampling the atmosphere for some time. It plots nicely in excel and fits quite well with economically extrapolated amounts for human increase in fossil fuel use. I think you can also carbon date the atmospheric carbon and see that it is quite a bit too old. (I am less sure on this part) Anyway there is no sane person without a vested interest making the case it is not our carbon. The effect of this is basically to warm things up overall, and make them less predictable, but it doesn't mean everywhere or at all times. Think of it like throwing salt into your spaghetti pot. It doesn't mean that at all points inside that pot you will get more bubbles from coming to a boil, it may even mean some areas like the bottom corners heat slightly slower (faster roll) but overall the pot comes to boil faster. It is like that.

    Now trouble is life on the planet is used to much slower rates of change in climate. Sure they can handle glaciers retreating and habitats changing, just not super fast. Think of trees for example, right so I am a tree, I drop my seeds in this valley, when they grow up they drop theirs a little bit over from me and so on. But if all of a sudden this valley sucks for me because it has gotten dryer or wetter due to climate change, and this happens faster than I can get my seeds to where the new habitat is, I go extinct, and with me goes all of the other creatures that depended on me, and had no fall backs, or had insufficient fall backs, and with them goes the ones that depended on them... until well lets say the world gets a lot more boring... and boring in nature also means unstable. (Monocultures mean huge fluctuations see Irish Potato Famine) This generally will suck for humans a lot worse than not using fossil fuels, but most haven't cottened on to that yet. The effects on the oceans are less well understood but may be more catastrophic... So as carbon dioxide builds up in the atmosphere, a lot of that goes into the ocean (You know how leaving a glass of water in the fridge makes it taste like fridge, well not like that, but same general idea) So anyway what happens is the more in the atmosphere the more bubbles into the ocean. This screws with the pH of the ocean... Different species of plankton like different pH levels best, they are also different in how nutritious they are... So that will have some effect, ask a marine ecologist what. I've no idea... But I can tell you that mixing things up trophically at the bottom tends to have big effects, and the ocean has serious problems (read Rachel Carson's "The Sea Around Us) as it is... I just finished watching Soranowoto, in that one the ocean is dead, entirely... due to their endless war. I am not sure if you could malfunction the sea that badly, but making it an acid bath by forcing the pH too hard might be able to do it. As to what that would do to life on land,,, well that world slowly dying stuff they talk about in Soranowoto probably isn't far off.

    There is also the issue of positive feedback, once you start warming the climate too much you start unlocking methane trapped in permafrost that warms it more... this is bad because it causes more permafrost to melt which then... Melting sea ice does the same thing basically you get things warmer this causes ice to melt, which then means the surface is blue instead of white, which makes for more absorbed heat and less reflected which.. you guessed it makes things warmer... which makes for more melting sea ice... Did you know the northwest passage explorers were searching for back when that was what kings and queens paid explorers to do to get round north america (you know the one that didn't exist) exists now, like majorly. There is a (or was, it has probably all sorted out) a major landgrab (ocean grab) with it to see who would get the rights to... drill it for oil....

    I've neglected ocean rise due to melting ice... This has kind of you know obvious effects on humans coastal settlements and coastal ecosystems... they get flooded... slowly, by a lot. Like that one city with the hot thief in full metal alchemist... Ooo I think we also have a few island nations predicted to altogether disappear..

    The worst effect of climate change is that it isn't one to one, it takes some time to get going... So humans aren't exactly feeling the heat they are banking today, we will get that a few decades down the line... and the effects on species and ecosystems upon which we depend will probably take another couple decades to really get going... but once it does we will probably just blame it on some god being pissed over a city being a haven for homosexuality and mardi-gras... Oh wait. Yeah also ocean storms are predicted to be more intense and more frequent... This one is related to just having more energy being trapped in the system... There was a good paper on it five or six years back... Most of this stuff is old news in the scientific literature...

    Overpopulation is another really good topic... basically with that one it is easy to understand... take all other environmental crisis and turn the volume up by the rate of human increase... Let me know if any of this is helpful or you want more info... Also if you pick a topic come back and tell me. I have lots of information on just about anything ecosystem related, and I have a daughter so I would have to be a real asshole to be doing ecology and not considering human impacts on the environment and their long term effects so I have lots of info there too.