Environment featured

Antonio Turiel: “Deep Challenges: Oceans, Scarcity and Culture”

April 6, 2023

(Conversation recorded on March 22nd, 2022)

Show Summary

On this episode, physicist Antonio Turiel joins me for a wide-ranging discussion from oceans and climate to energy and culture. Oceans are one of the most important factors regulating the Earth’s climate, and yet they receive relatively little attention from the climate community. There are numerous critical risk factors to unpack regarding just the oceans alone – and still so much that we don’t know. This conversation also delves into the complexity of an economic system requiring continuous growth itself embedded in an Earth system that is already hitting its limits. What are the boundaries of our energy systems and what options do we have – and not have – for the future? Is the root of the critical issue we’re facing – not a technical problem – but a cultural problem?

About Antonio Turiel

Antonio Turiel Martínez is a scientist and activist with a degree in Physics and Mathematics and a PhD in Theoretical Physics from the Autonomous University of Madrid. He works as a senior scientist at the Institute of Marine Sciences of the CSIC specializing in remote sensing, turbulence, sea surface salinity, water cycle, sea surface temperature, sea surface currents, and chlorophyll concentration. He has written more than 80 scientific articles, but he is better known as an online activist and editor of The Oil Crash blog, where he addresses sensitive issues about the depletion of conventional fossil fuel resources, such as the peak of oil and its possible

To watch this video episode on Youtubehttps://youtu.be/n1fIkS4y798

Show Notes and Links to learn more:

PDF Transcript

00:09 – Antonio Turiel info + works + The Oil Crash

01:39Youtube Video

04:36 – TGS Podcasts on Peak Fish (Daniel Pauly) and Hydrogen Sulfide (Peter Ward) and Cetacean Activism (DJ White)

05:02Ocean acidification

05:18Ocean mixing and absorption of CO2

06:48pH sensitivity of marine organisms

08:0180% of the heat from climate change has been absorbed by the oceans

08:18Heat capacity

09:33Conditions for sudden release of ocean heat

11:52How ocean drives climate

11:55El Niño/La Niña

13:44Coral reefs 75% gone by 2050 or nearly gone by 2100

13:53Marine animals dependence on coral

14:05Sea surface temperatures effects on coral

16:01Trophic food chains

16:40Decline of biodiversity in the Mediterranean 

18:50Winds are becoming more intense in the open ocean and less intense in the inland continents

20:24Hypoxic zones

21:14Gill Oxygen Limitation Theory

21:59Blue Icebergs

23:08 General patterns of more organisms moving away from the equator

23:26Rate of gender in fishes changing based on temperature

24:10 Tree monocultures in Spain

24:29Atlantic Meridional Ocean Current (AMOC)

24:40AMOC slowing

27:24How much has the AMOC slowed and how much will it slow

28:04Thermohaline Current and effects of icebergs melting

30:34The Day After Tomorrow

31:02Climate if the AMOC stopped

31:30Increase of hurricanes with a warmer ocean/stopped AMOC

32:19Effect of a multi-year nuclear winter on oceans

33:45Without human influence on climate, we would be heading towards an ice age

34:50Particulate matter usually only lasts in the atmosphere for a few years and then settles

36:45Fossil fuel depletion

38:01Global decline rate of current wells is 7%

38:40Germany rebooting coal

39:29IPCC models

40:49 Recent heatwaves and droughts in Europe

42:40Plastic accumulation in the oceans and endocrine disruptors

43:49Organic chemical pollution in the ocean

44:47Exploiting natural resources in the sea (mining)

45:142nd Law of Thermodynamics – Entropy

52:40The maximum amount of energy we could safely harvest from the sun is about 4x what we currently consume

54:40Resource scarcity of renewables

55:12Water intensity of mining

56:07 Albert Bartlett

57:22 All of the renewable systems are highly fossil dependent

58:50The biggest wind power companies have barely any losses

1:00:4020% of our electricity production is from renewables

1:01:15There has been a plateau or decrease in electricity consumption for the last decade

1:04:29The sale of gas driven car forbidden in the EU by 2035

1:05:2330% of global food produced is wasted

1:09:46Rationing in Europe

1:16:43France reducing energy by 10% by 2025 and 40% by 2050

1:17:12Strikes in France

1:18:30Nationalization of energy companies

1:27:01India’s injection of resources into Sri Lanka to keep them afloat

1:27:35Breakdown in Pakistan

1:29:18John Michael Greer


Teaser photo credit: Coral reefs form complex marine ecosystems with tremendous biodiversity.. By Betty x1138 – Originally uploaded to Flickr as Fishes, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5863500

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens is the Director of The Institute for the Study of Energy & Our Future (ISEOF) an organization focused on educating and preparing society for the coming cultural transition. Allied with leading ecologists, energy experts, politicians and systems thinkers ISEOF assembles road-maps and off-ramps for how human societies can adapt to lower throughput lifestyles. Nate holds a Masters Degree in Finance with Honors from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. He teaches an Honors course, Reality 101, at the University of Minnesota.

Tags: building resilient energy systems, limits to growth, ocean health