Can California Get Cows to Burp Less Methane?

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  last year  •  51 comments

Can California Get Cows to Burp Less Methane?
The beef and dairy industry in California generates 50 percent of the state's output of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The state is now requiring the beef and dairy industry to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. NBC Left Field went on a road trip (and a dive) to find out how scientists are testing and growing a red algae seaweed that can reduce methane from cow burps.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


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Perrie Halpern R.A.
1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.    last year

Who would have thought that half of methane gases come from cow burps. Nothing we can do about that other than not eat cows. 

1.1  dave-2693993  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1    last year
Who would have thought that half of methane gases come from cow burps. Nothing we can do about that other than not eat cows. 

Yep, sure as the world. There are some other, maybe not so obvious sources too.

I will ask a question I have asked before with regard to CO2. What does it mean? I have posted, maybe dozens of graphs from well known and accepted Universities, NASA, etc, which bring a lot of mainstream thought into question. Never get an answer. What does it mean?

1.1.1  Gordy327  replied to  dave-2693993 @1.1    last year

Are you asking about CO2?

1.1.2  dave-2693993  replied to  Gordy327 @1.1.1    last year

I have asked about CO2 in the past, because that happened to be the topic. The question can apply to any of the greenhouse gases.

I know there is much less methane present in the atmosphere, but for any unit of measurement, it has a much greater greenhouse effect than CO2. It also, lingers much longer.

1.1.3  Gordy327  replied to  dave-2693993 @1.1.2    last year

So what do you want to know about CO2? What are you asking about exactly? 

1.1.4  dave-2693993  replied to  Gordy327 @1.1.3    last year

The question is, what is the real world effect of these greenhouse gasses, which clearly are at unprecedented levels now?

Unfortunately, I have to leave right now and won't return for about 12 hours for further discussion. If you don't mind posting something now that I can get back to later, when I return, that would be great. Or if you prefer to wait until later, that would also, be great.

Thank you.

1.1.5  Gordy327  replied to  dave-2693993 @1.1.4    last year

The real effect is the Greenhouse effect and subsequent climate changes. It is something that is observed and measured.

1.1.6  dave-2693993  replied to  Gordy327 @1.1.5    last year

Alright, thank you for that Gordy.

I just got home a couple hours earlier than expected. Now I have some things to address and drink some beer(s), then return with some more thought.

1.1.7  Gordy327  replied to  dave-2693993 @1.1.6    last year

You're welcome . But don't let me stop you from getting your beer on. I totally understand. Lol

1.1.8  dave-2693993  replied to  Gordy327 @1.1.7    last year

LOL, thanks for that Gordy.

I will start with the NASA graph. It is one of my favorite graphs I have ever seen.

Maybe I should give perspective. I am a man of graph interpretation. As an engineer, I have 4 ANDRA automotive professional national championships, 1 APBA national championship and 2 flying kilo 6 litre inject boat world records. Engineering. Not the owner/guy at the wheel, etc.

I learned how to gather empirical data and make graphs. Then do cause and effect to observe how the graphs change all of which help with cause and effect predictions.

So I feel pretty good about my ability to look into graphs of interest and dig into them a little bit. Sometimes macro level, sometimes micro level, blah, blah, blah...

So, when I first saw this NASA graph all kind of "I'm at Disney World bells and whistles" started going off in my head.

At face value it may not seem like much. But I am a big fan of history, ancient history, pre-history and what came before.

On top of all of that I am extremely fascinated by human development from the Younger Dryas coming forward. This includes such events as the "proto agricultural" (my phrase) delevopment prior the 8,200 yr BP, Medieval Warming, Little Ice Age, etc...

Without knowing anything about such events as those mentioned above, this grapf and story is lacking impact. But that is my starting point and will follow up later with a reference graph from Ice Core samples. Maybe later tonight after Julia and I say Good Morning and Good Night to each other, or maybe tomorrow. When you see the graphs together, the mind explodes with questions.

It reminds me of something a geology Professor from Central Washington University once said in a lecture. Something to the effect of thinking being very stove pipe. He tries to look above it all and connect the dots. I try to do as such.

So with that behind us, lets look at the NASA graph and story. Part 1.

Sea Level Rise, After the Ice Melted and Today

By Vivien Gornitz — January 2007

Climate warming is expected to result in rising sea level. Should this occur, coastal cities, ports, and wetlands would be threatened with more frequent flooding, increased beach erosion, and saltwater encroachment into coastal streams and aquifers. Global sea level has fluctuated widely in the recent geologic past. It stood 4-6 meters above the present during the last interglacial period, 125,000 years ago, but was 120 m lower at the peak of the last ice age, around 20,000 years ago. A study of past sea level fluctuations provides a longer-term geologic context, which can help us better anticipate future trends


Generalized curve of sea level rise since the last ice age. Abbreviations: MWP = meltwater pulse. MWP-1A0, c. 19,000 years ago, MWP-1A, 14,600 to 13,500 years ago, MWP-1B, 11,500-11,000 years ago, MWP-1C, ~8,200-7,600 years ago.

Massive ice sheets covered parts of North America, northern Europe, and several other regions during the last ice age. This huge volume of ice lowered global sea level by around 120 meters as compared to today. After the ice sheets began to melt and retreat, sea level rose rapidly, with several periods of even faster spurts. The first such spurt may have started about 19,000 years ago, at which time ocean levels rose 10-15 m in less than 500 years. However, this event is not seen in all past sea level records and new evidence suggests that ice melting may have begun much earlier. A more clearly-defined accelerated phase of sea level rise occurred between 14,600 to 13,500 years before present (termed "meltwater pulse 1A" or "MWP-1A" by Fairbanks in 1989), when sea level increased by some 16 to 24 m (see Figure 1). Although the meltwater was previously believed to have come chiefly from Antarctica, a recent reconstruction by Tarasov and Peltier of ice sheet retreat using a glacial model calibrated by a variety of data points instead to a largely North American source. Furthermore, diatom fossils in sediments from fjords in East Antarctica show that ice melting there began perhaps 3000 years later, thus ruling out Antarctica as a likely source.

The rate of sea level rise slowed between 14,000 and 12,000 years ago during the Younger Dryas cold period and was succeeded by another surge, "meltwater pulse 1B", 11,500-11,000 years ago, when sea level may have jumped by 28 m according to Fairbanks, although subsequent studies indicate it may have been much less. Meltwater from glacial Lake Agassiz (southwest of Hudson Bay) draining catastrophically into the North Atlantic via Lake Superior and the St. Laurence seaway was once thought to have initiated ocean circulation changes leading to the Younger Dryas cold period. Regional removal of ice sheets, however, occurred nearly 1000 years later, and hence draining of Lake Agassiz could not likely have caused the Younger Dryas cold reversal. This cold spell may have instead been triggered by increased outflow into the Arctic Ocean, the Fram Strait east of Greenland, and ultimately the eastern North Atlantic, between 12,900 and 12,800 years before present, as suggested by the glacial model of Tarasov and Peltier. On the other hand, Leventer et al. indicate that the timing of deglaciation in eastern Antarctica roughly coincides with the onset of meltwater pulse 1B.

A fourth interval of rapid sea level rise 8200-7600 years ago was first identified by a hiatus in coral growth in the Caribbean about 7600 years ago. Although less firmly established than the other such intervals, it is supported by stratigraphic data from elsewhere including Chesapeake Bay; the Mississippi River delta; the Yellow River in China; coastal Lancashire, England; and Limfjord, northwestern Denmark. This spurt has been linked to a cold event 8200 year ago , which apparently resulted from the catastrophic drainage of glacial Lakes Agassiz and Ojibway around 8400 yrs ago, releasing a volume of about 105 cubic kilometers within a few years or even less. But it only produced about 1 meter of global sea level rise, assuming an even spread of this volume spread across the world's oceans. Yet even this minor increase in sea level left an imprint in the stratigraphic record

By the mid-Holocene period, 6000-5000 years ago, glacial melting had essentially ceased, while ongoing adjustments of Earth's lithosphere due to removal of the ice sheets gradually decreased over time. Thus, sea level continued to drop in formerly glaciated regions and rise in areas peripheral to the former ice sheets. At many low-latitude ocean islands and coastal sites distant from the effects of glaciation, sea level stood several meters higher than present during the mid-Holocene and has been falling ever since. This phenomenon is due to lithospheric responses to changes in ice and water loading. Water is "siphoned" away from the central equatorial ocean basins into depressed areas peripheral to long-gone ice sheets. Loading by meltwater that has been added to the oceans also depresses far-field continental shelves, tilting the shoreline upward and thus lowering local sea level. Over the past few thousand years, the rate of sea level rise remained fairly low, probably not exceeding a few tenths of a millimeter per year.

Twentieth century sea level trends, however, are substantially higher that those of the last few thousand years. The current phase of accelerated sea level rise appears to have begun in the mid/late 19th century to early 20th century, based on coastal sediments from a number of localities. Twentieth century global sea level, as determined from tide gauges in coastal harbors, has been increasing by 1.7-1.8 mm/yr, apparently related to the recent climatic warming trend. Most of this rise comes from warming of the world's oceans and melting of mountain glaciers, which have receded dramatically in many places especially during the last few decades. Since 1993, an even higher sea level trend of about 2.8 mm/yr has been measured from the TOPEX/POSEIDON satellite altimeter. Analysis of longer tide-gauge records (1870-2004) also suggests a possible late 20th century acceleration in global sea level.

Recent observations of Greenland and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet raise concerns for the future. Satellites detect a thinning of parts of the Greenland Ice Sheet at lower elevations, and glaciers are disgorging ice into the ocean more rapidly, adding 0.23 to 0.57 mm/yr to the sea within the last decade. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is also showing some signs of thinning. Either ice sheet, if melted completely, contains enough ice to raise sea level by 5-7 m. A global temperature rise of 2-5°C might destabilize Greenland irreversibly. Such a temperature rise lies within the range of several future climate projections for the 21st century. However, any significant meltdown would take many centuries. Furthermore, even with possible future accelerated discharge from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, it highly unlikely that annual rates of sea level rise would exceed those of the major post-glacial meltwater pulses. 

1.1.9  dave-2693993  replied to  Gordy327 @1.1.7    last year

So I found a site that should be considered fairly unbiased and if anything would be considered biased towards conventional thoughts of climate change, which is happening regardless of ones viewpoint.

There are other sites that present the exact same graph, but are considered outside of mainstream, that I have purposefully avoided. Yet they provide more detail of the peaks and valleys. If you are interested, I will post later as the extra detail helps open up more questions.

This is the source and the associated article is just fantastic and filled with gold. Golden information. I think I will post it too after the graph and maybe some thoughts.


When mapping this temperature graph against the prior graph springs just start popping out of the head. I wish this showed the prior major interglacial as it it blows our out of the water. Gives some good perspective.

Nonetheless, nothing turned the rise of sea level around. Nothing, not even the Younger Dryas, which was a full on Ice Age (glacial period). Kind of slowed the curve down a little bit, but neither turned around, nor stopped it.

Same with the 8,200 year BP event. Interestingly enough, there is evidence of agriculture just prior to that. Not to mention some wonderful examples of precision art in the form of jewelry.

The little Ice Age? Bahhh. Only a small bump in the road. BTW, we are just barely above the average temperatures of that time and nowhere near the temps of of the rest of our interglacial.

That graph came from NOAA. It is not some hair brain nonsense.

My mind says there is a lot more to causes and effects on our climate than greenhouse gases. A lot of questions exist.

At this point let me post the NOAA article. Fantastic read.

The day before yesterday: when abrupt climate change came to the Chesapeake Bay

March 7, 2014

A version of this article was originally published in Chesapeake Quarterly , the magazine of Maryland SeaGrant.

IN OCTOBER 2003, A LITTLE-KNOWN THINK TANK in the Department of Defense quietly released a report warning that climate change could happen suddenly—so suddenly it could pose a major threat to our country's national security.

The title of the Pentagon report was a mouthful: An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its Implications for United States National Security . Those implications included rising seas, flooded coastal cities, at least one drowned country, droughts, food shortages, failed states, and fortress states. The report was never designed as a scientific prediction. It was a speculative effort by defense strategists to dramatize all the security threats the country would face if the climate suddenly shifted.

Why was the Pentagon suddenly worried about abrupt climate change? Because there was new evidence it had happened before.

On June 2, 2003, a French vessel designed for deep-ocean research entered the Chesapeake Bay, an estuary noted for its shallow waters. On board were a dozen American scientists, most of them geologists or geophysicists who were hoping to punch coring tubes down into the bottom of the Bay and bring up sediments buried there before the estuary formed.

The American scientists had questions about past climate changes and the sediments might hold answers–or at least clues. “We were trying to learn more about the long-term history of the Chesapeake Bay,” says Debra Willard of the U.S Geological Service. Sediments, if you know how to read them, have a story to tell: they catch and hold the remnants of whatever washed into the Bay once upon a time, or blew into the Bay, or lived and died in these waters. One question the scientists were asking: How has climate change shaped the evolution of this estuary?

To answer their questions, the American scientists had chartered the R/V Marion Dufresne for 48 hours of round-the-clock coring work. The ship was big, 395 feet long, and it offered five-course French cuisine complete with waiters, wine, cheese plates, and pastries. It also carried the gear and staff that could take very deep core samples. Managed by the Institute Polaire Paul Emile Victor (IPEV), the ship had two key missions: carrying supplies to French research stations near Antarctica and mounting expeditions around the world to uncover evidence of climate change.

“It was the only ship that had the capability to get long continuous cores,” says Willard. A research geologist with expertise in buried pollen, she coordinated the expedition for the cadre of American scientists, most of them from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Naval Research Laboratory. The R/V Marion Dufresne came equipped with science laboratories, high-end computer workstations, and huge cranes, but its secret weapon was the Calypso corer, one of the longest, heaviest coring samplers in the world.

With all that gear, the Americans planned to capture the deepest sediment samples ever taken in the history of Chesapeake Bay science, evidence that could hold clues about earlier climate change in the Chesapeake.

Ten years ago the specter of abrupt climate change seemed to invade the American mindset rather abruptly. Perhaps it was a reflection of post-9/11 fears about how fast the future could turn grim, but a lot of serious people were suddenly talking about it.

The Pentagon report on “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario” was commissioned by Andrew Marshall, long-time director of a think tank called the Office of Net Assessment. Press reports usually called Marshall the “Yoda” of the Pentagon, and Foreign Policy magazine in 2012 called him one of the world’s top global thinkers. Now 92 years old, Marshall is still on the job, and a big part of his job is still the same: thinking about the unthinkable and reporting his thoughts directly to his boss, the Secretary of Defense. In 2003, one of his thoughts was that the country should now take seriously the possibility of abrupt climate change.

He had this thought because he knew that many scientists were finding new evidence it could happen. In 1997, Richard B. Alley, a Penn State geologist, had found evidence in Greenland ice cores that a sudden and mysterious cooling hit the Northern Hemisphere thousands of years ago during an era of global warming.  In 2002, the National Research Council had released a study warning that climate change could occur quickly, within decades, especially if something happened to slow down or shut down the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, a branch of the ocean conveyor belt that, among other missions, carries heat from the tropics up into the North Atlantic. After Marshall read the scientific study, he commissioned his own study and hired Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall, two self-described futurists, to work out a geopolitical scenario.

Hollywood producers were also skimming those science reports, skipping any inconvenient details about the speed of climate change. In 2004 they created their own vivid version of abrupt climate change by releasing a 125-million-dollar movie, The Day After Tomorrow. For geologists, abrupt change usually took several decades, for filmmakers it only took several days. Unleashing the power of digital special effects, they showed New York City succumbing to a new ice age in the space of three weeks, a climate change so abrupt and so devastating it sent the U.S. government decamping to Mexico.

What was the scientific evidence for “abrupt climate change” in the past? The Pentagon modeled its nightmare scenario on a specific episode that struck the planet some 8,200 years ago. The earth was well into our current interglacial era, an age of warming oceans and melting ice sheets, when a major cooldown suddenly arrived. It’s called the 8.2 kiloyear event–or the "8.2 ka" event in scientific shorthand. Evidence for the event came from those ice cores in Greenland: these early estimates suggested that temperatures dropped between 7 and 14 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 20 years. And that drop altered ocean currents, atmospheric circulation, and weather patterns around most of the planet. In geological time scales, that's abrupt.


The first evidence for the 8.2 kiloyear cooling was found in ice cores in Greenland, but on board the Marion DuFresne Tom Cronin and Debra Willard suspected there might also be evidence of the event buried in sediments below Chesapeake Bay.

As the French ship dropped anchors for its first coring site, Cronin found a spot along the high walkways that hang above the stern deck so he could watch the work crew below prepare the sampling gear. Tall and fit with graying hair and strong opinions, Cronin is a research geologist who joined the USGS in 1978 and has been publishing prolifically ever since on ancient episodes of climate change, sea level rise and estuary formation, and ocean circulation. Gathered to watch with him along the walkways were most of the American scientists.  Each "core drop" from this kind of ship represented a rare opportunity for gathering deeper sediments and deeper insights into the evolution of the estuary.

The heavy lifting on this ship was handled not by the American or the French scientists, but by a crew of 20 Malagasians recruited from the island of Madagascar, a former French colony. Working the deck in hard hats, they hooked together several pipes into one extended tube, craned it up to the coring platform, and dangled it over the side like a long ice pick. There they could top load the ice pick with weight, up to 10 tons of weight if needed. On deep ocean drops, all that weight has driven long tubes 230 feet beneath the ocean floor.

Their hopes took a hit at the first coring site. The coring drove into the bottom and smacked against a barrier of hard sand. When the Malagasian crew winched it back up and laid it on deck, the American geologists found a badly bent core pipe, holding only a short stub of sand. That hurt. Willard and Cronin hoped an ice pick in that spot would jab all the way down into sediments buried during the last ice age.

Deep cores, however, are hard to come by in Chesapeake Bay. To drive very far into bottom sediments, a coring tube needs a lot of deep water. And that’s the problem: a shallow-water estuary calls for shorter coring tubes and shorter drops. On this trip, three more core pipes would come up holding short stubs with 2.7 feet, 2.9 feet, and 8.1 feet of sediment.

“Coring the Bay is very much like fishing,” said Peter Vogt, a marine geophysicist with the Naval Research Laboratory who helped pick out coring spots. The Marion Dufresne kept fishing, casting 10 coring pipes in all into Chesapeake waters, and the crew eventually landed some big catches: a 42-foot core along the eastern side of the lower Bay, then a 52-footer nearby, a 55-footer off the Patuxent River, two 60 footers off the mouth of the Potomac, and along Kent Island, they raised an 80-foot sediment core, the longest sediment core ever landed in Chesapeake Bay.

For Cronin, the third core drop was the charm. In the blue twilight of an overcast evening the ship dropped anchor along the eastern side of the lower Bay, and at 10:05 p.m., the core pipe splashed down into dark waters. This would not prove the longest core drop at 52.5 feet, but it hauled up strong evidence that the 8.2 kiloyear cooling once came to the Chesapeake.

With this core, Cronin and his co-authors would insert a new chapter into the oft-told story about the origins of Chesapeake Bay. According to the accepted account, the Bay was coming to life as the last glacier era was dying out. When the great ice sheets began melting some 19,000 years ago, sea levels began rising, creeping across the continental shelf, steadily drowning the lower river valley of the ancient Susquehanna River. Roughly 10,000 years ago, the ocean reached the area we now call Norfolk, and pushing north, the seawater began turning the lower river into a brackish water estuary.  By 3,000 years ago, the estuary reached 190 miles north to Havre de Grace, Maryland.

The new chapter in this story is the 8.2 ka cooling. Evidence of its abrupt arrival can be seen in the ups and downs of marsh growth in the evolving estuary.  As brackish waters began pushing north, marshes were accreting steadily along the borders of the new estuary, keeping pace with rising sea levels. Around 9,000 years ago, however, sea level rise accelerated, and many marshes, unable to keep up, began drowning.  It would take the abrupt onset of the 8.2 ka cooling to slow the rate of sea level rise and revive marsh growth. Marsh accretion could once again keep pace with the rising water.

That’s the story Cronin and Willard and their colleagues were able to extract from the sediments in core MD03-2656. They carbon-dated key sections of the core and probed its mud for evidence of plants and “bugs”—the nickname scientists use for tiny crustaceans and protozoa that live on or in aquatic mud. They were looking for large groupings and large gaps in population numbers, evidence that would tell them when certain plants and sediment-loving bugs flourished and when they faded. Willard focused on pollen, Cronin on bugs. Knowing the salinities and temperature ranges for their plants and bugs, they could use these groupings as indicators for changes in rainfall, salinities, temperatures, and sea level rise.

When saltwater bugs suddenly flourished, for example, and certain sedge grasses suddenly faded, they could say sea level was rising fast and marshes were disappearing. When the signs reversed—when protozoa numbers dropped and sedge grasses reappeared— “we interpret that as a slowdown in the rate of sea level rise, allowing marshes to grow,” says Cronin. And the cause for the slowdown: the big cooling, the 8.2 kiloyear event.


What could bring on such an abrupt climate change? It’s easy to see how the sudden onset of the 8.2 ka cooling could lead to the Pentagon’s nightmare scenario. It could also, perhaps, inspire yet another Hollywood film, let’s call it The Day Before Yesterday. It would open with an aerial shot gliding over a huge lake that once covered a small part of America’s Great Plains and a large swath of Canada.

Some 9,000 years ago, Lake Agassiz was sitting in a depression left behind by the retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet that once stood two miles high, mashing down parts of the U.S. and all of Canada. That depression was now brimming with meltwater from the retreating ice field. It eventually held a small ocean of fresh water, but rimming the lake on the north and east were the ramparts of the retreating Laurentide. They stood like a great white dam, holding back all that fresh water.

In a still-warming world, that dam had to burst. And sometime just before 8,200 years ago, it did, probably several times and in several places. That dam break kicks off Act II in our movie: Icy water rushes through the breaches, huge amounts of water, something like 50 Amazon Rivers, according to Cronin. It’s probably headed out through Hudson Bay and the Hudson Strait. 

Scientists call this a “catastrophic release.” When this huge flood of fresh water hit the saltwater oceans of the North Atlantic, it caused a catastrophe: it slowed the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), part of the great conveyor belt that carries warm and cold water around the globe. The Atlantic branch of the conveyor usually pumps warm, salty waters out of the tropics into northern regions where the water cools off, increases in density, and sinks. The conveyor then manages a U-turn, carrying cold water southwards in deep underwater currents. This "overturning" system not only circulates heat around the globe, it also drives atmospheric circulation that largely drives weather patterns.

What happens to this conveyor when a tsunami of meltwater arrives? “You are flowing a lot of warm water up north,” says Cronin, “and all of a sudden you throw this fresh water on top and you lower the salinity and the density.” Water that is less salty gains buoyancy and loses density. It doesn't sink as easily. In effect, it turns down one of the heat pumps for the planet.

The result: less Gulf Stream heat reached the high latitudes, atmospheric circulation altered, sea level rise slowed down, and effects were felt around much of the globe. For the movie, it’s the perfect Act III plot reversal: The warming of the planet unleashes a widespread cooling.

And there were more plot twists on the way. The glacier lakes finally drained out, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) recovered and stabilized, heat flowed again to the Northern Hemisphere, the big 8.2 ka cooling began to wane, and sea levels began to rise again. In the Chesapeake, marshes began drowning for a second time.

There was a happy ending, of sorts, and not just for marsh lovers. Sea level rise began to slow down and stabilize around 7,000 years ago, enabling marsh growth to flourish again in the Chesapeake and setting the stage for a major transition in human history. According to scientists like John Day of Louisiana State University, the rise of urban, state-governed societies began in coastal villages and cities that located alongside estuaries and the lower flood plains of major rivers. Think the Tigris-Euphrates in Iraq, the Nile in Egypt, the Yellow River in China. The rich biological productivity of newly stable coastal areas, says Day, helped unleash the social productivity behind the emergence of early civilization.

What Caused Abrupt Climate Change?

  IceCapMelting_610.jpg The great ocean conveyor belt is driven by density differences created by temperature and salinity. Warm, salty waters flow out of the tropics along the surface, pumping heat into the atmosphere in northern latitudes. As the surface waters cool, density increases, and these waters sink into bottom currents that move south towards Antarctica. That conveyor belt seems to have slowed several times in the past, as North Atlantic waters were suddenly flooded with fresh, low-salt, low-density meltwater that was too buoyant to sink. The water came from great inland glacial lakes like Lake Agassiz that probably released meltwater through Hudson Bay, the Saint Lawrence River, the Mississippi River, and the MacKenzie Straits. Map illustrations: Global Ocean Conveyor Belt, Smithsonian Institution; Lake Agassiz, courtesy of Michael Lewis and John Shaw, Geological Survey of Canada Atlantic, Dartmouth NS, Canada.

What would be the fate of our current version of civilization if a climate change as abrupt as the 8.2 kiloyear cooling arrived sometime soon? The question was hard to answer 10 years ago when Andrew Marshall commissioned his Pentagon scenario. In 2002 the National Research Council said there was virtually no research on the economic and ecological impacts of abrupt climate change. A year later a report published by the Royal Society of London came to the same conclusion.

The authors of the Pentagon report were, in effect, “first in the field” to consider the social and political impacts of sudden climate change. But they were offering informed speculation rather than scientific research. Their goal was to create a geopolitical scenario chock full of what-if speculations–all designed to spur new thinking about threats to American society and security.

What if, for example, the ocean conveyor belt were to slow suddenly in the near future as it did in the not-too-distant past? The climate effects, they speculated, could include temperature drops in North America, Europe, and Asia, coupled with some temperature rises in Australia, South America and South Africa.  Europe could become like Siberia. Coastal cities like The Hague could be flooded out, and countries like Bangladesh could become uninhabitable. China could have less predictable monsoon cycles, colder winters, hotter summers, and food shortages leading to famine. The U.S. could face shorter, less-productive growing seasons and suffer larger floods, especially in mountain regions, and more intense forest fires. Southern countries could suffer less. Australia, for example, could remain a major food exporter. *

The geopolitical upheavals would include food and water shortages, mass emigrations, wars for resources, and realignments among have and have-not nations. Would Australia and the U.S. become “fortress nations?” Would the U.S and Canada eventually morph into one nation to better control their borders?

The main point of all these speculations was a "shock and awe" attack on the "gradual change view," the belief that climate change would necessarily come slowly. That nations could adapt. That they would have time to increase food production. That they would find technological solutions for water shortages.

Some of their speculations seem less plausible now, but it's clear that the “abrupt change view” has been drawing more attention from the American scientific community during the last 10 years. The 2002 report by the National Research Council (NRC) was followed by a 2008 report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, and most recently the NRC weighed in again with a new study released in December 2013. The new study goes by the title, "Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises," and it calls for the U.S. government to create an early warning system that would carefully monitor key earth systems for subtle signs they may be approaching "tipping points" that could unleash sudden climate changes.

This latest NRC report claims to be the first to examine the research on human, social and economic impacts. The study was developed in collaboration with the U.S. intelligence community and it concurs with many of the non-scientific speculations in the earlier Pentagon report.  Food scarcity and famines, epidemics and pandemics, mass migrations, political instability and wars could all ensue in the aftermath of a sudden climate shift. The national security challenges would be daunting, and the NRC recommended the "excellent discussion” of those challenges found in the Defense Department report ordered up a decade earlier by a “Yoda of the Pentagon“ who wanted to spark new thinking.  


What were the lessons of the long cores that came out of the bottom of the Bay?

In 2003 the Marion Dufresne ended its Chesapeake cruise at a dock in Baltimore where  the French staff threw a wine and cheese party for the American scientists. The next day the Malagasian crew lifted dozens of core samples out of the ship’s hold and loaded them on trucks destined for the Reston laboratories of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Out of those cores is coming a revised account of the evolution of the estuary, one that includes better dating of key events, more details, and a new chapter on the arrival of the 8.2 kiloyear cooling in the Chesapeake. With their pollen studies, Willard and her colleagues outlined the shifts in forest communities that came with earlier shifts in temperatures and sea levels. They also identified five major droughts, each lasting several centuries, that struck the region over the last 8,200 years.

Findings like these also undercut the gradual change view that seemed to underlie earlier stories about the Bay’s evolution. As the Bay formed, it experienced episodes of climate variability kicked off not by humans, but by natural forces, by interlocking shifts in ocean dynamics and atmospheric circulations and solar inputs. “The rate of sea level rise in the Chesapeake was not constant as the bay was flooding," says Cronin."It was kind of staccato” with several “oscillations and hiccups."   Some of those oscillations—the Younger Dryas and the Little Ice Age—arrived gradually. The 8.2 kiloyear cooling, the big hiccup, arrived abruptly.

The evidence of climate change in the Chesapeake and in other parts of the planet are sketching a dicey picture of our current geological era. “The Holocene,” says Cronin, “the interglacial that we live in, that we perturb with CO 2 ,wasn’t nearly as stable as some people used to think.” And the odds are the future may not be so stable either.

The good news is that the latest NRC report downgraded the odds that the ocean conveyor belt would stop anytime soon. The worrisome news is that they elevated the chances of that other abrupt changes could be in the works. The Laurentide Ice Sheet may be gone, but the glaciers in Greenland and the ice sheets in Antarctica are still here, and they are huge, and they are melting.

They hold enough meltwater to unleash the greatest hiccup since the 8.2 kiloyear event suddenly cooled off a gradually warming world.

*The Pentagon report’s thought-provoking speculations were based in science, but were still just that: speculations. And some speculations are less plausible than others. According to paleoclimatologist Carrie Morrill, reviewer for this article, the temperature drops and chillier winters that occurred in parts of the Northern Hemisphere during the AMOC slowdown 8,200 years ago are unlikely to be repeated in a modern-day scenario. With global warming due to rising greenhouse gas concentrations, what’s more plausible is less warming in affected areas—but not actual cooling.


An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its Implications for United States National Security . 2003. Schwartz, P. & D. Randall. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Pasadena, CA.

Abrupt Climate Change . 2008. U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research.

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises . 2013. Committee on Understanding and Monitoring Abrupt Climate Change and Its Impacts.

The Bays Beneath the Bay . Chesapeake Quarterly issue on geology and the building of the Chesapeake Bay bridge.

1.2  Ender  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1    last year
Nothing we can do about that other than not eat cows.

For God sake woman. You sound like a heathen. Not eat steak?


1.2.1  Kavika   replied to  Ender @1.2    last year


Perrie Halpern R.A.
1.2.2  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Kavika @1.2.1    last year

He's kind of scary, Kavika. A friend of yours?

1.2.3  Kavika   replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.2.2    last year
He's kind of scary, Kavika. A friend of yours?

Yes indeed he is, as is Mongol. Mongol says that people taste a lot like chicken...


Trout Giggles
1.3  Trout Giggles  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1    last year

Not eat cows?????

That's crazy talk!

On a more serious note....will feeding red algae to cows give them the nutrition they need? Or will we have to inject more growth hormone in them?

1.3.1  tomwcraig  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.3    last year

Growth Hormone (BST) doesn't improve nutrition for cattle.  What it does do is cause cattle to produce more milk and in the process eat more food. My family participated in research trials for BST in the 1990s.  Just like people and human growth hormone, BST affected some cows and did not affect others.  The main side-effect from BST in regards to the cattle is that a portion of them were harder to get pregnant than normal.

Greg Jones
1.4  Greg Jones  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1    last year

Maybe they could add some "Beano" to the cow's diet. I know it helps me! jrSmiley_91_smiley_image.gif

Perrie Halpern R.A.
1.4.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Greg Jones @1.4    last year

LOL good one!

Paula Bartholomew
1.5  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1    last year

I though methane came from cow farts, not burps. I learn something new almost every day here.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
1.5.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @1.5    last year
I learn something new almost every day here.

That makes me :)

1.5.2  Gordy327  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @1.5    last year

A burp is just a fart going in the opposite direction. 

Paula Bartholomew
1.5.3  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Gordy327 @1.5.2    last year


1.6  Dulay  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1    last year

I've read that they can reduce the methane from cows by improving their feed, especially eliminating corn and soy for alfalfa and flax. Grass feed beef produce less methane. We never fed our dairy cows corn. 

Perrie Halpern R.A.
1.6.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Dulay @1.6    last year

I know that feeding cows corn is also the cause of the deadly form of E. Coli. If we took our steer out to eat grass for 1 week before slaughter ( I bet you're hungry now), the deadly E. Coli would be gone. 

Two good reasons to be good to our bovine. 

1.6.2  tomwcraig  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.6.1    last year

There is no safe form of E. Coli and E. Coli is not from corn.  E. Coli is found on a lot of stuff, including vegetables, which is why you have to wash them before eating.  What makes E. Coli deadly is not the live bacteria.  It is when the E. Coli bacterium dies that it becomes deadly as that is when it secretes a deadly toxin.

Trout Giggles
1.6.3  Trout Giggles  replied to  tomwcraig @1.6.2    last year

Escherichia coli ( / ˌ ɛ ʃ ə ˈ r ɪ k i ə ˈ k l / ), [1] [2] also known as E. coli ( / ˌ ˈ k l / ), [3] is a Gram-negative , facultative anaerobic , rod-shaped , coliform bacterium of the genus Escherichia that is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms (endotherms). [4] [5] Most E. coli strains are harmless, but some serotypes can cause serious food poisoning in their hosts, and are occasionally responsible for product recalls due to food contamination . [ 6] [7] The harmless strains are part of the normal microbiota of the gut , and can benefit their hosts by producing vitamin K 2 , [8] and preventing colonization of the intestine with pathogenic bacteria , having a symbiotic relationship. [9] [10] E. coli is expelled into the environment within fecal matter. The bacterium grows massively in fresh fecal matter under aerobic conditions for 3 days, but its numbers decline slowly afterwards. [11]

I knew what you typed wasn't exactly correct

2  Enoch    last year

Its high time we stopped feeding bovines beans, beer, soda pop, cabbage and such.

No more clubbing for Bessie on the weekends either.

Enoch, Going to Taco Smell for some refritos.  

Paula Bartholomew
2.1  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Enoch @2    last year

A cow that was at the stable where I boarded my horse had a thing for egg bagels with peanut butter.

charger 383
3  charger 383    last year

When there were great herds of buffalo freely roaming the Great Plains, did they burp and fart?  

Split Personality
3.1  Split Personality  replied to  charger 383 @3    last year

Been around a lot of heffers and a few Bison and never heard a burp from a healthy cow.

Now they can fart all day long and sometimes when they have exploding shit it surprises even them a little...

3.1.1  bccrane  replied to  Split Personality @3.1    last year

All bovines have a four chambered stomach and in the process of eating all that roughage, the cow has to regurgitate the indigestible roughage, it comes back up (the burp) as the cud, the now softened roughage is chewed again and swallowed to be further digested.  And yes they even burp without the cud.

As for explosive manure, my former BIL had a dairy farm and in the spring when he changed over to green chop, during milking if you seen a cows tail come up you had better be moving and fast, because the defecation along with a cough and it would shoot across the barn.   

Split Personality
3.1.2  Split Personality  replied to  bccrane @3.1.1    last year
up you had better be moving and fast, because the defecation along with a cough and it would shoot across the barn. 

I can verify that

100 fold, lol

Trout Giggles
3.2  Trout Giggles  replied to  charger 383 @3    last year

They ate mostly nothing but grass and according to a comment upthread, grass fed beef is less gassy

I dunno....I get pretty gassy when I eat a lot of roughage....

Paula Bartholomew
3.2.1  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Trout Giggles @3.2    last year

If it were affordable, I would only eat Kobe beef.  The cattle are fed a combination of Saki and grain and massaged to break up the marbling.

Trout Giggles
3.2.2  Trout Giggles  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @3.2.1    last year

I  bet those make really good ribeyes. I like rib eyes but sometimes the marbling is a little tough

3.2.3  Freefaller  replied to  Trout Giggles @3.2.2    last year
but sometimes the marbling is a little tough

Blasphemer, ribeyes are proof that gods exist.  Their perfection could come from no other source.

3.2.4  Tessylo  replied to  Freefaller @3.2.3    last year
'Blasphemer, ribeyes are proof that gods exist.  Their perfection could come from no other source.'

Ah!  Ribeye is my favorite cut of steak.  

3.2.5  Freefaller  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @3.2.1    last year
I would only eat Kobe beef.

A Kobe steak is a bucket list item for me

Trout Giggles
3.2.6  Trout Giggles  replied to  Freefaller @3.2.3    last year

I shall go to the nearest butcher and pay penance. I apologize

Paula Bartholomew
3.2.7  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Freefaller @3.2.5    last year

I treat myself to a Kobe steak once a year on my birthday.

3.2.8  Tessylo  replied to  Trout Giggles @3.2.6    last year


Paula Bartholomew
3.2.9  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Tessylo @3.2.8    last year


Split Personality
3.3  Split Personality  replied to  charger 383 @3    last year

I will go out on the evolutionaryopinion ladder and venture a guess that

wild cows and feral buffaloe, with an unfettered continent to wander and shit upon,

had a much  more varied diet, and were much leaner from constant searching for greener fields

and if they belched and farted methane then,  like they do in managed captivity,

it would take a lot of fortitude for a wolf or coyote to take down such a stinky monster for a meal...

The People's Fish, Still "Hand Of The Queen"
4  The People's Fish, Still "Hand Of The Queen"    last year

This is AOC fat shaming the people of Walmart again. Just wait a few years, she'll be a cow too.

Dismayed Patriot
4.1  Dismayed Patriot  replied to  The People's Fish, Still "Hand Of The Queen" @4    last year
Just wait a few years, she'll be a cow too

Is that when she'll finally be able to appeal to conservatives? When she resembles the thing some conservative farmers find more attractive than their wives?

4.1.1  Texan1211  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @4.1    last year
When she resembles the thing some conservative farmers find more attractive than their wives?

Should I expect the usual documentation of that statement, or do you actually have something this time?

4.1.2  Tessylo  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @4.1    last year

Look who's looking for documentation of a sarcastic remark.  

Some folks need to get a life!

4.1.3  Texan1211  replied to  Tessylo @4.1.2    last year
Look who's looking for documentation of a sarcastic remark.
Some folks need to get a life!

There is no need for you to comment to me through a third party.

Do it directly to me.

5  tomwcraig    last year

I want to know what will be next.  Bee farts and burps?  Almost all animals secrete methane as it is a by-product of digestion.  Digestion is the process of enzymes and stomach acids breaking down food into usable sugars and other nutrients for cells.  So, when will it stop, when all life is dead due to starvation?  Even bacteria release methane and other carbon-based gases as a by-product of digesting their food.  Heck, yeast releases carbon-based gases when making bread or alcohol.

5.1  Freefaller  replied to  tomwcraig @5    last year
So, when will it stop, when all life is dead due to starvation?

That seems like a reasonable conclusion to draw from this article


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