...now with even more A...

>> Sunday, July 20, 2008

Alright, I got a few more questions from Jeri, so let's give these a shot, eh?

Hmm... how come you've never posted a picture of yourself, even blurry from a distance?


It's a thing. It's not a rational thing. It's not a thing that subjects itself to explanation. It's sort of like the way some people don't like chocolate or are frightened of sharks. Okay, maybe that second one is a bad example. I don't like having my picture taken, so it follows that there are very few photographs, even blurry ones from a distance, in existence for me to post; and even if there were tons of them, like there is with Bigfoot--pictures of me looking over my shoulder as I saunter off behind a log or photos of me looking suspiciously like a cluster of odd shadows between the leaves and branches of two out of focus bushes (it's Bigfoot, I tells ya'!)--even if there were tons of such pictures, I'd probably not post them.

That having been said, I am considering it and haven't ruled out the possibility of allowing one photograph to replace the "AOL Wee Me in perilous and absurd situations" motif that has generated my Blogspot icons.

Why Pink Floyd? Isn't that a few years before your time?


That's something that I'll be coming back to when I get back to the "Oh By The Way" series. Yes, I'm still doing that. No, I haven't dropped it. The next album in the series, though, is The Dark Side Of The Moon, and the past entries have involved about two-to-three hours of listening and writing--no, really, they have, even if the product hasn't been especially brilliant or coherent. And Dark Side is a big album for the band and for me; in fact, it's the first of a run: Dark Side, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall. And the next album after that would be The Final Cut, which was kind of a big one for me even if it's turned into a kind of footnote in the band's catalogue over the last twenty-five years.

Speaking of Dark Side: it was released in 1973, and was the record that made the Floyd a mainstream band. I was released in 1972, a year earlier. And my parents had impeccable musical taste, both of them--and there's a partial answer to your question right there: I literally grew up with the Floyd. My Mom bought The Wall when it came out, my Dad taped copies of Dark Side and Animals. A Momentary Lapse Of Reason came out when I was in high school. (The Final Cut probably played a role in my staying alive through the same period, but I imagine I'll come back to that, too, at a more appropriate time.)

And here's a help Jeri solve her plot problem question: I need some sort of event that will cause immediate global warming in the course of one summer/fall - to the point that it will not freeze come winter in the arctic and it will happen so fast it will surprise the world. What sort of event can you think of, outside of deus ex machina?


The UCFers with scientific training may have a better answer than I can come up with. As an interested layman, all I can suggest is that there are essentially two mechanisms that come to mind.

The first would be a massive and unanticipated increase in the solar output cycle; while this might reek of deus ex, there's enough we don't understand about the lives of stars that it's sort of in the realm of possibility. Someone out there might even be able to suggest a mechanism.

The second mechanism of accelerated global warming would be an event that pumped more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The only thing is, it seems like any likely event would potentially cause a leavening effect as well. E.g. a geologic event would presumably also release particulates that would have a cooling effect. In fact, it's much easier to think of things that might cause a yearlong winter, like 1816's.

As you're probably aware, global warming is immensely complicated. Feedback loops such as what goes on with oceanic evaporation plausibly cause warming and cooling (the ocean is a CO2 dump, water vapor acts as a greenhouse gas but water vapor also increases albedo), and people bang their heads together over where tipping points might be. You might have to settle for a deus ex after all.

See, that's one reason I gravitate towards fantasy and horror. The simplest mechanism for abrupt global warming I can think of is that it's Cthugha's fault. Dude is made of fire, y'know? Of course it would get hot if his evil worshipers opened a rift in time and space that allowed him to enter our world and, like, burn stuff.

Yeah, I guess that probably doesn't help you very much.

10 comments:

Nathan Sunday, July 20, 2008 at 9:42:00 PM EDT  

I forget which one moves global warming in the more dangerous direction (or which one helps solve the problem), but I think I read somewhere about the effects of a massive die-off of sea algae...or a sudden cancerous overgrowth.

Eric Sunday, July 20, 2008 at 11:18:00 PM EDT  

If I'm not mistaken, algae fixes carbon (they bind it up during photosynthesis and some species fix carbon in their cell walls as well in the form of calcium carbonate).

So a massive die-off would reduce carbon absorption by the environment. A die-off of varieties that fix carbon in their shells would also release carbon (which could bind with O2), but I think most of that dissolves into seawater and eventually sinks to the ocean floor.

Anyway, Nathan's idea might be a good line of thought and further research into the impact of a sudden die-off. I'm pretty sure it's been looked at and numbers are on line. And, of course, this is MWT's backyard... or swimming pool... whichever is the better metaphor.

(Begins bowing in the direction of Georgia and chanting the necessary invocations to bring forth MWT....)

Jeri Monday, July 21, 2008 at 2:23:00 AM EDT  

I think we definitely need MWT and John's input to this question. :)

And really truly, once given a couple of good basically usable technical non deus ex ideas I'll do my own homework, I don't need spoon feeding - I just need ideas. (This is for my currently RIP-ing NaNoWriMo last year's novel which actually has SOME merit. Some.)

Thanks for the other answers. :)

Jeri Monday, July 21, 2008 at 12:18:00 PM EDT  

I think that John and MWT might have some ideas. I like the algae idea, or something like it, at least in theory - something marine-based would tie in really nicely with my Yupik sea-legend infused plot.

Immediate global warming is probably the wrong term here - instead I should probably call it something like sudden climatological catastrophe.

Eric Monday, July 21, 2008 at 1:23:00 PM EDT  

No, it's good that you specified warming, because there are lots of sudden climatological catastrophes that would lead to cooling, including unpredicted vulcanism or the impact of a sufficiently large space rock. (In fact, the "Year Without A Summer," 1816, vulcanism was the likely cause of a sudden climatological catastrophe, though it obviously didn't end CAWKI (Civilization As We Know It).

Random Michelle K Monday, July 21, 2008 at 9:40:00 PM EDT  

Actually, one theory I remember reading is that climate change could begin a feedback loop.

If the ocean temperatures rise, that may affect the life cycle of the algae that are currently the largest source of carbon fixation. Reduction in algae would lead to warmer temperatures and so on and so forth.

However, the warming wouldn't necessarly be global. IIRC, Great Britain would actually become significantly cooler as the ocean currents that currently (HA!) ameliorate the temperatures there (there's a name for that stupid current that I forget) would stop or change direction, so the climate of Great Britain would cool significantly.

If you are willing to be very patient, I can see if I still have any old bio books around.

Oh, another interesting theory is that not as much excess carbon will be taken up by the worlds forest. Some people projected that as CO2 levels rise, forest growth will be stimulated. Last I remember reading about this (years ago mind you) there were competing theories that they forests wouldn't be able to pick up the slack.

Of course you also have the difference between old growth forests and new forests, the affect of forest fires such as we keep seeing in California...

So it is possible there could be an event where we see a sudden rise in global temperatures.

I'd go with a disruption of the ocean currents and algae growth as a starting point.

Random Michelle K Monday, July 21, 2008 at 9:43:00 PM EDT  

The thing about vulcanic eruptions Eric, is that they're short term.

Also, they make really cool sunsets.

Eric Monday, July 21, 2008 at 10:51:00 PM EDT  

The thing about vulcanic eruptions Eric, is that they're short term.

True, although short-term is relative. Volcanic eruptions have caused Very Bad Years--if you need 12-24 months of disaster, an eruption could do it. If you need a permanent ecological crisis, an eruption alone would be insufficient, I think (unless there are continued, cascading consequences even after things begin to warm up again--e.g. wars caused by massive crop failures or additional ecological wreckage caused by acid rain as sulfur falls out of the atmosphere).


...there's a name for that stupid current that I forget...

You're thinking of a shutdown of thermohaline circulation causing the Gulf Stream to essentially stop.

Jeri Monday, July 21, 2008 at 11:05:00 PM EDT  

What I want is the worst thing possible to happen to the residents of rural Arctic Alaska. Worse than losing their transportation and communication infrastructure - worse than the fishing industry collapsing - worse than the scourge of alcoholism and depression.

So, I give you instant global warming. Massive climate change. The fragile subsistence lifestyle built around the arctic climate collapses - AND - the thin scrim of Western culture & transportation falls apart, too, as the airstrips and satellite dishes very literally fall to pieces and sink into the ground as the permafrost turns to liquid mud.

And then we introduce a steamy romance between the nubile young teacher and the handsome Native hunter who is holding the village together through sheer force of will.

Oh, wait a minute, wrong novel. I definitely don't write those kind. ;)

Random Michelle K Tuesday, July 22, 2008 at 8:19:00 AM EDT  

Also, don't forget all those bodies of victims of the 1918 flu buried in the permafrost.

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