Re: Life Duty Death & Denial

John DeLaughter (
18 Sep 1995 14:34:24 GMT (Javilk) writes:

<SNIP! To minor mistake>

> That's just it, we are not given the choice. Not till we can tame the
>polar climates and prevent the global catastrophy of the ice ages. I
>seriously doubt we will be able to do that! And once it starts, we will
>try all too belatedly, to throw up as many greenhouse gasses as we can!
> A recent article in Science News (?) suggested that as the ice
>advances, it grinds up and throws so many nutrients into the seas that
>the sea blooms -- greenhouse gasses are reduced, further lowering global
>temperatures. Another article in Science News tells that the latest
>effort to see if putting iron dust into the sea to improve oxygen
>generation was quite successful.

Javilk, I think you may have mis-understood the article. As an experiment,
the experiment was very successful, which means that we learned a lot from
it. However, as the article pointed out (and many others since), the bloom
was actually much *lower* than expected. In hindsight, the reason is
obvious; it's the Law of the Minimum in action. Once we seeded the region
with iron, iron was no longer the limiting nutrient. Instead, some other
nutrient (I want to say potassium, but I may be mis-remembering) was and
the bloom could only go until the nerw limit is reached. So, if we want
to increase the CO2 uptake by the ocean (a much more immediate requirement
than O2 generation), we would have to supply more than just iron. Imagine
giving the ocean a giant "One-a-day" vitamin, if you will... 8-)

> But... there are a few volcanoes beneath the South Polar ice cap...
>(reported in the past few years in Discovery? Scientific American? and
>Science News.) And if one of them really belches... The southern polar
>ice age could begin. I do recall that they were not always
>simultaneous, north and south...

The most likely result of Erubus erupting would be a sea-level rise. When
Erebus goes, it will release an awful lot of heat, which will allow the
Antarctic ice cap to melt on the bottom, which will help it flow off of
land and into the water - poof! Instant sea-level jump. (NOT good!)
And, as monitoring of the emmissions from Pinatubo has shown, volcanic
CO2 does not exert a long range (>5 yr) influence on climate.

John DeLaughter