Apr 18 2010

Iceland’s CO2 Footprint Is Enormous

Published by at 8:14 am under All General Discussions,Global Warming

This week the world is witnessing how trivial humankind is compared to the raw forces of nature, and apparently this lesson will be going on for months to come.

More countries were forced to close their air space yesterday as the ash cloud continued to expand across the continent.

More than 17,000 flights to and from European airspace were cancelled, including all flights from Britain’s major airports.

The Met office reported that volcanic ash had begun to fall across Britain, coating surfaces with a fine layer of dust and raising fears for people with breathing difficulties.

Meanwhile experts warned of shortages of some foods with produce destined for British shops rotting in airport warehouses in other parts of the world.

But scientists fear there could be more eruptions from the 5,466-foot volcano, Mount Eyjafjallajökull.

Sigrun Hreinsdottir, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland, said: “From what we’ve seen, it could erupt, pause for a few weeks, and then possibly erupt again. It could go on for months.”

What will be happening next is bigger than air travel being cut off. We will see another round of cooling, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, as clouds thicken and less sunlight is able to get through and warm the planet. The fact one volcano can cause so much havoc for humankind’s fragile modern society is a reminder of how insignificant we truly are.

This has happened many times in Earth’s past to varying degrees. This WUWT article notes how massive eruptions in the Indonesia region probably brought about the Dark Ages and the Little Ice Age. I recently watched a show on the Permian-Triassic extinction event which wiped out nearly all life on earth. The theory  proposed was that this extinction was a cascade of events which began with the massive volcanic eruptions that formed the Siberian Traps. This began a process that went on for tens of millions of years and killed off nearly all life on our planet (don’t worry, this one volcano is nowhere near the same scale of the rift that opened in the Earth’s crust in Siberia).

The  Earth is dynamic on a humbling scale. For all we know our solar system has transitioned into a region of higher gravitation forces as we rotate around the center of our galaxy. These additional gravitational tidal forces could be pushing and pulling at our planet, increasing its core heat and turbulence. This in turn results in volcanic activity and earth quakes. Gravity is the force that drives Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io, so this mechanism is well known.

We have globally witnessed a lot of volcanic activity this year, from Russia to Iceland. And in recent years we have experienced a lot of earth quakes, the most famous of which killed 230,000 people in Indonesia from a tsunami.

I have no clue if the number and force of these events have increased measurably over the last 10 or 100 years, but we do seem to be witnessing to a lot of history making natural disasters.

The point is our current warming could simply have been the return to ‘normal’ temperatures from the Little Ice Age and the last big volcanic event(s). And the future cooling we will be experiencing could just be another round in the ancient ebb and flow of earth’s natural pulses. And it is a given that no amount of measuring carbon foot prints will change a damn thing one way or another.

14 responses so far

14 Responses to “Iceland’s CO2 Footprint Is Enormous”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AJ Strata. AJ Strata said: new: Iceland's CO2 Footprint Is Enormous http://strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/13239 [...]

  2. WWS says:

    We tend to think of things like this volcanic eruption as a “change” because we, as humans, find it impossible to think on a geological timescale. We rate things in terms of our own lives, but that timespan is infinitesimal when considering the processes the fuel the Earth. That’s all that’s happening now – part of a very regular, predictable geologic process. The mid Atlantic ridge opened up roughly 100 million years ago (I am grossly averaging here) and intense volcanic activity has been happening regularly along that ridge ever since then.

    This volcano is just another round of the ridge opening up a bit, which it has been doing for 100 million years. This isn’t even close to the worst eruption in Iceland’s human history – a 1783 eruption killed 20% of Iceland’s population and caused tens of thousands of peasant farmers across Great Britain and Europe to starve to death when their crops failed.

    These things happen almost like clockwork on the Earth’s time scale – they just seem unusual and unexpected on human time scales. The reason this one is such a shock is that Europe likes to think of themselves as so civilized that these natural disasters won’t happen to them anymore – this is only supposed to happen in wild, jungly places inhabited by wild people.

    On the topic of geologic time scales, don’t forget that at some point the Yellowstone caldera will blow out again, wiping out most life in North America. How long till this happens? A few decades, a few centuries, a few thousand years – on the Earth’s time scale, that’s just statistical noise. It just pays to remember that nothing about life is guaranteed, and it all could end tomorrow in any one of a thousand ways we have never even thought about.

  3. You realize, of course, that they will have absolutely no shame in claiming that we have to push Cap & Trade (and gut ourselves in the process) because of this eruption, in order to offset it.

    -

  4. ajh1492 says:

    AJ,
    That was a very interesting article that WUWT referenced on the Los Alamos National Labs website, Were the Dark Ages Triggered by Volcano-Related Climate Changes in the 6th Century? by Ken Wohletz.

    Makes all the Human-generated activity seem like a fart in a windstorm :)

    Otherwise, just a couple comments:

    (1) For all we know our solar system has transitioned into a region of higher gravitation forces as we rotate around the center of our galaxy.

    NET: your statement violates basic Newtonian physics

    We’ll deal in a strictly Newtonian reference frame, but Newton says that the force is directly proportional to the product of the two masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the point masses. So unless it’s some exotic dark matter cloud the solar system is passing through or a mini/micro black hole nearby, it’s going to be the classic tidal forces (Solar and Lunar gravitational forces) that will impact how the Earth’s crust flexes.

    (2) These additional gravitational tidal forces could be pushing and pulling at our planet, increasing its core heat and turbulence.

    NET: Solar & Lunar Gravity plus Mantle Convection inside the Earth are the main drivers.

    I discussed gravitational forces in the prior item, but as far as convection currents within the Earth’s Mantle. That’s the other primary force driving volcanic activity, earthquakes and plate tectonics. The heat from the Earth’s core is simply trying to radiate into space, volcano is just one method (i.e. via a weak point in the Earth’s Crust)

  5. daniel ortega says:

    Let’s be a bit practical.
    This shutdown of aviation will soon collapse the economy of Europe.
    If you can’t export then you can’t earn money and then you can’t pay your staff.
    They will be unable to buy anything. Unless our useless authorities realize that the way to resume commercial flight is to fly at 5000 feet,
    then all of Europes businesses will go bankrupt.

    That will affect you, too.
    There is no time to build a fleet of ships to take over commerce as if it was 1870.

    One wonders if a horizontally firing vent could be opened into the volcano with an appropriate H-bomb.
    Or if new flight rules can be pressed into service.

    We, as a species need to fix this in the next two weeks.

  6. Jinny says:

    Paul said it before I could. Our green exploiter/politicians will now tell us we must clean the air and the earth or we will DIIIIIEEEE!

    I never believed that mankind could do anything to our world as claimed by the “AGW scientists” that would destroy it. The forces of nature while unpredictable for timing the exact moment something will occur, volcanoes can be expected by examining the past. The world has experienced volcanoes before and the atmosphere cleaned itself and it will again. It does seem that we are in a more active stage for earthquakes and volcanoes.

    As a species, we will adapt, find solutions and live our lives. I don’t think we need to set a deadline of two weeks to fix it.

    A neat animation of the ash.
    http://www.dmi.dk/dmi/island_vulcano4000.gif

  7. hekktor says:

    I just had a Facebook exchange with a German friend. He reports to me that there are two volcanoes on the island. This is the smaller and there are fears the larger may get triggered.

    Anyone know more about this?

  8. [...] you think globalwarming is the cause of this, as they think everything is because of global warming, but this is getting so old, Al Gore and his ilk are becoming like the chicken littles who cried [...]

  9. Fai Mao says:

    An otherwise good blog post about this has one fact backwards:

    http://scienceblogs.com/eruptions/2010/04/eyjafjallajokull_eruption_cont.php

    This guy says that human activity puts 150 times more carbon dioxide into the air per yer than this volcanic eruption. I think it is the other way around.

  10. kathie says:

    Who will have the audacity to bring up global warming on April 26th with a straight face?

  11. WWS says:

    re Daniel Ortega – putting an H-bomb into a volcano? LOL! You should send that in to Henry Waxman, he would love it!!

  12. Jinny says:

    Kathie, Probably AlGore. It’s “Climate Change” now, one phrase encompasses it all. Can’t let a crisis go to waste.

  13. Good Captain says:

    I have always believed that if those beholden to the global warming superstition were truly serious about the problem, they would have at least proposed serious and meaningful solutions to the alleged problem. Instead of hoping to make huge cuts on the fringe of the so-called problem such as reducing automobile and aircraft emissions and the like, they would attempt to “make a dent”into the natural sources of CO2 emissions.

    Volcanic eruptions, while infrequent and often unpredictable, are one such major source of CO2 emissions. As unlikely as it may seem today, some attempt at diverting and thereby reducing volcanic emissions of CO2 if ultimately modestly successful would dwarf man-made the hoped for cuts proposed in Kyoto and the Copenhagen proposals.