OCEANOGRAPHY:CLIMATE CHANGE (Updated 11/25/2015)
AN INVITATION TO THINK, SPEAK, and WRITE
SEE: OCEANOGRAPHY: CLIMATE CHANGE, NAMAZU-Blog by Vic Socotra on Thursday March 22, 2012
Namazu, the giant Japanese mythological catfish whose wiggling causes tsunamis and who Vic Socotra used to introduce us to the many causes and potential combinations of causes that can trigger climate change made quite a splash around the American Admiralty Books' water cooler. Meteorology has long been an examination subject on professional merchant mariner examinations. Few professionals are more weather concerned than professional mariners. Measurable climate change is already causing adjustments in U.S. Coast Guard planning and budgeting as the Coast Guard attempts to respond to the increasing need for a year round significant presence above the Arctic Circle. The Chinese, who have no Arctic coast are sending survey ships into the High Arctic because they have an interest in a shorter route for their exports to Europe. The long sought after Northwest Passage is becoming a summer reality. Climate change may not be exclusively a maritime subject, but maritime professionals are a bit like the canary in the coal mine being among the first to notice and be affected. Professional mariners are also well equipped, given the amount of technical training in meteorology spread throughout our professional culture, to discuss the subject. But climate change doesn't stop with maritime concerns. With the world's population largely concentrated in large urban centers and their core cities; changes in agricultural production could mean starvation for some.
What Vic Socotra used the giant mythological catfish Namazu to explain was that climate change, even rapid climate change, could possibly be induced by our own green house gas emissions; but it can, and has been, induced by quite natural causes and inevitably will be again. Sun spots, orbit wobble, axis rotation irregularities, volcanic activity, solo and in combination, have in the past induced very rapid and very large climate change. This fact shouldn't stop mankind's attempts to reduce his greenhouse gas emissions, but points out the clear and present danger of focusing only on that; as if the cleaning up of our pollution somehow assures us against sudden and dramatic damaging climate change; it doesn't.Climate change could be thrust upon us overnight even in the cleanest and greenest of all possible worlds. Many web sites debate or argue for one view or another on the current climate change situation which appears to be a warming trend with green house gases from human agricultural, and industrial, and transportation activities as the favored most probable cause. But Namazu reminds us that even if we escape this particular bullet, one never knows when he will wiggle again with catastrophic results.
We have decided to depart just a little from our exclusive maritime orientation to allow something of a dialogue between our visitors, marine professionals and "civilians" alike, on climate change. But we don't wish to revisit the on going debate over "global warming", "green house gases", "carbon emission credits" etc.. We'll call this forum the "NAMAZU SCHOOL". In the NAMAZU SCHOOL we start the discussion by mutual acceptance that climate change can occur due to both man made conditions and natural causes, and it can occur due to any combination of natural and man made causes, or by any single cause of either variety. Most importantly, since we know that a single, simple natural cause such as excessive volcanic activity can induce rapid climate change, and has induced it in the past; we assume that rapid climate change can occur in a very short time frame,and eventually will happen again. We call the dead certainty that mankind will once again, at some point, face widespread and massive climate change THE NAMAZU CERTAINTY.
To our collective, very practical, mariner minds the "NAMAZU CERTAINTY" compels the question; "what should governments, and others be doing to prepare for and and be able to mitigate against the negative effects of the NAMAZU CERTAINTY"? A major climate change on a global scale means major changes in agriculture. Those initial changes in agricultural patterns spell initial crop failures and starvation for some. This begs the question; how can agriculture be insulated from climate change? The Kraft exhibit at Disney World suggests that great quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables can be raised indoors in hydroponic "food factories", lessening urban dependence on far flung lines of supply for these food sources. Who should be responsible for encouraging this production national, regional, or municipal governments , or some combination of these? How could such production in the face of stiff traditional agricultural production competition be encouraged? How do we get such urban food safety nets on line without damaging the economics of traditional agriculture or relieving urban factory producers from the price constraints of the traditional competition. Should governments build, operate and hold in reserve such "food factories" for the eventual NAMAZU CERTAINTY emergency? How about urban or at least indoor protein production? NASA space colony studies seem to focus on aquaculture and small meat producing species like doves and rabbits, these all lend themselves to indoor production methods. Should national agricultural authorities encourage more green house type production even in areas of mild climate as a hedge against lost production when the NAMAZU CERTAINTY strikes? Frankly, when we initially put our collective minds to it, grain and other complex carbohydrate production was the stumbling block, we are unaware of production techniques for these dietary staples outside of extensive agriculture. Often in climate change, a bust for one region may be a boon for another. Perhaps the answer to a climate shift that devastates some grain producing areas is a more flexible global grain transportation net work.
Let's not forget the more maritime consequences in this discussion. Sea levels are definitely rising at least in the short term. Port and shore line protection have to be discussed and planned for. The "hard' (breakwaters, and cement revetments) verses "soft" (barrier island and marsh construction) debates have to be considered , and again who is responsible for what? What can a state or municipal government do on its own even if the federal government fiddles while NAMAZU wiggles? We invite our visitors to think on these subjects and others in the context of the "NAMAZU CERTAINTY" and to give us your comments. On just this subject at least, we won't delete your thoughts if they are non maritime. The NAMAZU SCHOOL is a forum for a complete discussion of what we should be doing now to prepare for the sure and certain coming climate event that we use the term "NAMAZU CERTAINTY" to symbolize. Give us your thoughts starting in the comment section of this post. We will publish new posts as we develop new collective thoughts. Members of the NAMAZU SCHOOL of climate thought, believe that we should be preparing now for climate change. Lets leave the debate over whether or not it is already in progress and who or what is responsible to the politicians. Lets try to find the new mandate to give the political office holders on what to really do about it besides "reduce green house gases", we'll just call that a good idea for one of the possible NAMAZU CERTAINTY possible causes that is in sight. The NAMAZU School of thought suggests that even a reduction in green houses gases, generally acknowledged to be a good idea, could , in conjunction with an event like extraordinary volcanic activity,result in a sudden cooling. Its time for practical planning for sudden climate change of any sort. That is the NAMAZU CERTAINTY and the NAMAZU solution. Lets get started right here on the details. Let us have your thoughts in the comment section or use the comment section to propose a guest posting.
Click below for a video on the current climate change debate