Climate Change & A World Without Clouds
Updated: Apr 21, 2019
A new study released apparently has the answer to what triggers the acceleration of disastrous climate change events: Clouds. Feedback loops of climate change essentially go like this: Humans produce greenhouse gases and Earth gets hotter, icebergs melt and dark sea water absorbs more heat, which makes the Earth even hotter. Another feedback cycle is that thawing tundra, heat stressed forests, and warming oceans release CO2 and methane, which in turn heat the earth and so the cycle continues. What is the most important factor historically that has protected the Earth and slowed these cycles? Clouds.
As Quanta Magazine states, “Clouds currently cover about two-thirds of the planet at any moment. But computer simulations of clouds have begun to suggest that as the Earth warms, clouds become scarcer. With fewer white surfaces reflecting sunlight back to space, the Earth gets even warmer, leading to more cloud loss. This feedback loop causes warming to spiral out of control.
For decades, rough calculations have suggested that cloud loss could significantly impact climate, but this concern remained speculative until the last few years, when observations and simulations of clouds improved to the point where researchers could amass convincing evidence.
Now, new findings reported today in the journal Nature Geoscience make the case that the effects of cloud loss are dramatic enough to explain ancient warming episodes like the PETM ( a brief, cataclysmic hot spell 56 million years ago)— and to precipitate future disaster.”
Seeing as how only a 2-degree warming could cause “considerable loss of life and suffering,” it’s scary to imagine what might happen if, “a century or more from now, stratocumulus clouds were to suddenly disappear altogether, initiating something like an 8-degree jump on top of the warming that will already have occurred”.
They continue to state, “If fossil fuel emissions can be reduced to 2 billion tons annually through the expansion of solar, wind, nuclear and geothermal energy, changes in the agricultural sector, and the use of carbon-capture technology, anthropogenic global warming will slow to a halt. What does Schneider think the future will bring? Sitting in his office with his laptop screen open to a mesmerizing simulation of roiling clouds, he said, “I am pretty — fairly — optimistic, simply because I think solar power has gotten so much cheaper. It’s not that far away from the cost curve for producing electricity from solar power crossing the fossil fuel cost curve. And once it crosses, there will be an exponential transformation of entire industries.”
It’s not about if, but when, when it comes to solar being the core of what essentially saves our Earth. If governments, policies, and personal use all supported solar, our emissions contributions would be cut dramatically, our overall costs would go down, sustainable jobs and an economy would be created that can thrive securely in the long-term, and our health would improve. Climate change does not affect only one or two things- it is a process full of feedback loops that affect our economy, social issues (health, equality), and the environment. We have the power as consumers to demand cleaner energy, to support cleaner energy, and be a part of the butterfly effect that brings mass change to protect our Earth and future generations.
Source: https://www.quantamagazine.org/cloud-loss-could-add-8-degrees-to-global-warming-20190225/ Written by: Thomas Enzendorfer, CEO of American Home Energy, former President of oligent and Board Member of Fronius. American Home Energy is the first ever white-label pure-play solar EPC company helping people succeed in the climate industry.