Since the beginning of the only one solution movement the original institutor crew has ramified to a research team and this team which tries to spread the ideology creating more research teams.
For obvious reasons we can’t reveal here the research’s so far conclusions, but we did find it very important to raise a few general directions of study with a few specific ideas, mainly for brain storming inception, inspiration, motivation and of course because all of them are relevant practical implementation options.
In the hardest moments, when it seems huge and intangible, please remember for whom you are doing it and why. We know it is a very complicated mission and how easy it is to think about failure. Please try to think what it means to succeed. A sufferless world is the biggest motivation possible.
The planet's climate is significantly dominated by positive feedbacks. Those mechanisms have the potential of turning the earth into a very different planet over a short period of time. It has happened repeatedly in the past and is just as likely to happen in the future, especially in the near future- given the unprecedented scale of the environmental changes caused by man.
There's not a doubt at the current age that the earth is getting warmer. Most scientists agree this is largely due to the increase in CO2 levels in the atmosphere, the greenhouse gas that draws most of the attention.
Greenhouse gases are substances that are found in the atmosphere where they tend to absorb radiation that enter the earth from the sun and keep the heat near the earth’s surface instead of allowing it to scatter out into space.
Scientists keep close track of every rise in the CO2 atmospheric concentrations, and with each new measure express their severe concerns about the climate’s future.
Until not long ago the tendency was to regard the earth's climate as something that will change gradually and smoothly, as CO2 and global temperatures continue their rise. But recently there is a growing consensus among climate scientists that positive feedback mechanisms are likely to abruptly amplify the rate of warming as the earth's climate reaches a “tipping point”.
The earth contains hundreds of billions of Giga tons of carbon. Only a fraction of this carbon is found in the atmosphere (as CO2) - most of it is held up across the world in what is called carbon stores.
Carbon can be stored in many forms - as mineral compounds in the ground, dissolved in water, as hydrates (like Methane Hydrates), and as organic compounds in live and dead matter (some as fossils– oil, gas and coal deposits that after hundreds of millions of years are now releasing their carbon back to the atmosphere as humans got a hold of them).
Naturally there is a constant flow of carbon from one store to the other. This rotation is called the carbon cycle. Processes that release carbon to the atmosphere are called carbon sources. The mechanisms that take carbon out of the atmosphere and store it are called carbon sinks.
Forests (grabbing CO2 through photosynthesis) and oceans (dissolving CO2) are such sinks that store carbon coming from the atmosphere. Those sinks are very significant in determining the climate. During the past 200 years, carbon stores have absorbed more than half of all man-made emissions of CO2, acting as a buffer. The rise in global average temperature is caused by the rest of the emissions that were not absorbed by the carbon stores.
CO2 atmospheric levels have increased from a pre-industrial concentration of 280 parts per million (ppm) to 383 ppm today, and they continue to increase with about 6-7 Gigaton more carbon being released annually. Around 3 Gigatons are stored by those sinks. There is a limit to how much more they can withhold. When the temperature rises above a certain degree the sinks will cross a critical tipping point and shift to become carbon sources, according to many scientists’ predictions.
Both geological records and model calculations suggest the amplification of the greenhouse effect, after what was once a carbon sink turned into a massive producer of atmospheric carbon, and the warmer it gets, the more abruptly it happens.
Today, soil and vegetation act as sinks. The photosynthesis process takes carbon away from the atmosphere and into the biomass (plants absorb CO2 and incorporate carbon atoms into carbohydrates like sugar). Much of that carbon remains locked up in the plants' biomass for several hundreds of years some is discharged back into the atmosphere as CO2 by the plants’ breathing process. On the whole about 60 Giga ton of carbon, fluctuate back and forth from biomass to the atmosphere annually - as for today generally more is being taken in, than being released.
Over all, terrestrial vegetation contains today about 610 Gt of carbon, with tropical forests account for roughly 40% of this carbon store.
Some of the carbon within the vegetation ends up in the soil (as the vegetation rots and piles up). Overall the amount of organic carbon stored in soils worldwide is 1580 Gigatons. Rainforests again stand out storing third or more of all the carbon in soils.
Scientists consider the idea of forests (especially rainforests) turning to CO2 sources as one of the more dramatic feedback scenario. Vegetation biomass accumulates carbon over centuries building the potential to be a major and abrupt source of CO2.
Many researches agree the entire Amazon is on its way to be a carbon source rather than sink, and show that some regions already are. Researches mainly focus on the rainforests since these are the most significant carbon stores – making them the most sensitive areas prone to sharp shifts.
Temperature rise reduces the growth of rainforests. Photosynthesis rates (which provide the raw materials necessary for growth) decline after a certain increase in temperature. At the same time CO2 discharging respiration rates increase with the warming. This can completely alter the carbon balance of global vegetation. The feedback loop is the following – initial rise in temperature impedes growth (reducing CO2 intake) and increases respiration (amplifying discharge), which boosts the greenhouse gas levels and causes further warming.
Both studies and recent records indicate reduced carbon intake with even small temperature increase.
The forests soil is also expected to turn to a carbon source with the temperature rises. Warming accelerates the decay of organic matter by rising bacterial and fungal activities that perform respiration thus release additional CO2.
The oceans are the largest active carbon sink on earth containing about 38,000 Gigatons of carbon and currently absorbing more than a third of the CO2 produced by humans.
CO2 from the atmosphere dissolves in the ocean water. The colder and more turbulent the water are the better it is absorbed. This carbon intake mostly takes place around the poles (the North Atlantic Ocean alone accounts for about 60% of this mechanism). It’s mostly driven by everlasting ocean currents.
A warmer water surface dissolves less CO2 then a cold surface. As warming occurs faster at the poles regions this effect will be especially distinct there (where the most of carbon absorption happens). Polar regions already show the vastest degree of warming relative to the rest of the ocean. Also - the chemical ability of the oceans to absorb CO2 goes down as its concentration rises. CO2 dissolves less in acid water, and since the CO2 itself makes the water more acid, after a certain amount of CO2 is dissolved in the water (naturally it takes place at the surface), the acidity rises and the absorption rate is decreased.
Both the water temperature and its solubility (concentrations of CO2) are mainly controlled by the ocean currents.
The currents keep the ocean surface (that absorbs CO2) from acidifying. By dragging down the CO2 that just got absorbed in the ocean surface to deeper parts of the ocean the current “makes room” for more CO2 to dissolve at the surface. Ocean currents also regulate the water temperature.
A global warming is expected to slow down or even suppress the ocean currents (the most famous of all is the Gulf Stream).
Another sink mechanism in the ocean is based upon phytoplankton (microscopic aquatic plants) and is similar to the one of terrestrial vegetation. Through photosynthesis phytoplankton absorb CO2 to be locked in organic compounds. Like plants- phytoplankton also breathe out CO2. They are responsible of the fluctuation of 40-50 Gt of carbon a year. Phytoplankton activity is found within the first 50-100 meters of the surface and varies widely according to season and location. Phytoplanktons are sensitive to changes in conditions and require a narrow range of nutrients. They depend on ocean currents (therefore are found mainly in the areas where the warm currents meet the cold currents such as the North East Atlantic and north east pacific or along the Southern Ocean).
Warmer acidic sea surface makes it much more difficult for phytoplankton to survive and absorb carbon. The balance between intake of carbon by phytoplankton and release by respiration are profoundly affected by temperature, with respiration rates going up fast, becoming more dominant then photosynthesis. Phytoplankton then turn from a carbon sink to a carbon source. In fact, it seems that vast areas of the North East Atlantic have already become a carbon source.
The reduction of ocean currents prevents the upward mixing of nutrients (as nitrogen and phosphorus) that are vital for the phytoplankton. Nutrient depletion and acidification can cause (as it did in the past) a mass extinction of phytoplankton as billions upon billions of organisms no longer conduct photosynthesis– this halt an important biological mechanism that drive out vast quantities of carbon away from the atmosphere.
CO2 was once the main component of the earth's early atmosphere. Gradually it got dissolved into the oceans and was trapped in solid compounds in the surface minerals that locked this carbon up until today. Sedimentary rocks (such as limestone) are the largest carbon store in the world, holding more then 40,000,000 giga ton carbon. The carbon is locked in carbonates which under normal natural conditions are very stable, only a tiny fraction of the carbon is released back into the carbon cycle so this huge store gets little attention. Those carbonates such as calcium carbonate CaCO3 or Magnesium carbonate MgCO3 actually break down when they come into contact with acids or heat– releasing CO2 gas.
We assume that all this feels a little intangible. Maybe looking at another planet in the solar system can help…
Venus is similar to earth in size, mass and chemical composition (sometimes called earth’s sister planet). Its orbit is also similar, with Venus orbiting only 20 percent closer to the sun than the earth. They both started out several billion years ago, approximately 4.5.
Despite the similarity, Venus’ surface temperatures are over 400°C (752°F) nowadays.
It is hotter than Mercury's surface, even though Venus is nearly twice as distant from the Sun.
The 20 percent difference in distance from the sun, might explain a temperature difference of a few tens of degrees, but not a 380 degrees gap.
The total amount of carbon in planet Venus (0.000468%) is much like the earth's (0.000446%) however the atmosphere of Venus is 96.5% CO2 by volume while the earth's atmosphere is composed merely of 0.03% (CO2).
Venus is constantly under what's known as a runaway greenhouse effect, a series of positive feedbacks that follow one another. Somewhere along its geological past, Venus climate went through a number of critical thresholds and positive feedback mechanisms and got to its current state.
Before the snowball greenhouse effect hit Venus, it looked much like earth…