Advancing PostApocology Studies in Climate Chaos, Resource Depletion,
Plague/Virus, Species Collapse, Biology Breach, Recovery, and more.
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The Climate Chaos Scenario
Among the most unpredictable -- yet predictable -- of the apocalypses.

Predictable, according to mountains of evidence from the most dispassionate scientists in the world, who can hardly believe what they're seeing. Unpredictable, because the interconnecting systems are beyond our ability to accurately model.

Many feedback systems are at play: in the human systems, we have China building one coal-fed power plant every week, and an increasing desire within India (one+ billion), Indonesia (one+ billion), and Africa (one+ billion), and more for an increasingly energy-intensive lifestyle -- not unlike the US experience. This demand is most cheaply met by treating the atmosphere as an open sewer; rapid change is quite costly to the huge financial systems currently in power.

In the natural systems, other feedback systems look equally bleak. The former permafrost now melting in Siberia is releasing gigantic amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. The increasing openness of the Arctic waters means less reflection, and more absorption, of solar heat. The same is true of land, as the glaciers retreat. New evidence indicates that many plants, as the temperature rises, begin to release CO2 instead of absorbing it. The interconnected, mutually exacerbating systems make this apocalypse exceedingly difficult to halt, and merely "very difficult" to slow down.

We are projecting, over the next ten years, using mostly pessimistic predictions, the following scenario:

  • Ocean levels and, more importantly, storm surges will rise two feet and seven feet, respectively
  • Significant economic disruption on industries and economies based in coastal areas will affect worldwide economies (as ports are affected by the rising tides)
  • The multitude of direct impacts on coastal residents (home values, insurance costs, transportation costs, etc.) will create new kinds of economic refugees -- some "telecommuting" remotely, others having to just up and leave
  • Coastal infrastructure (sewer systems, bridges, roads, shipping systems, and more) will be pressured, requiring significant financial outlay and consequent pass-on to consumer prices and taxes
  • Insurance and reinsurance industries recalibrate, creating great economic turmoil, and greater final costs to both businesses and consumers
  • New opportunities will be created by the disruptions, and there will be sufficient global capital to provide both seed capital and development capital for energy, infrastructure, and societal realignment
  • Energy will continue to be expensive, but availability will not drop off precipitously for the 10 year period in question
  • Large swathes of farmland, especially in the Midwest, China, and Russia, not to mention Africa and South America, will be affected by drought, heat, and/or decreases in aquifir replenishment through lower snow- and -rainfall, causing significant economic disruption and much higher food prices, resulting in famine in many areas of the developing world
  • Al-Qaeda and the "war on terrorism" in general are recognized as functionally meaningless, compared to the real crisis
  • The internet, and communications technologies, will continue to grow and prosper, as telecommuting and entertainment help us to forget (or watch incessently) the predictable and unpredictable chaos going on around the world.
Recent Climate Chaos News
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Fri, Mar 6, 2009: from London Independent:
Revenge of the rainforest
It covers an area 25 times bigger than Britain, is home to a bewildering concentration of flora and fauna and is often described as the "lungs of the world" for its ability to absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide through its immense photosynthetic network of trees and leaves. The Amazon rainforest is one of the biggest and most important living stores of carbon on the planet through its ability to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into solid carbon, kept locked in the trunks of rainforest trees for centuries. But this massive natural "sink" for carbon cannot be relied on to continue absorbing carbon dioxide in perpetuity, a study shows. Researchers have found that, for a period in 2005, the Amazon rainforest actually slipped into reverse gear and started to emit more carbon than it absorbed. Four years ago, a sudden and intense drought in the Amazonian dry season created the sort of conditions that give climate scientists nightmares. Instead of being a net absorber of about two billion tons of carbon dioxide, the forest became a net producer of the greenhouse gas, to the tune of about three billion tons. The additional quantity of carbon dioxide left in the atmosphere after the drought - some five billion tons - exceeded the annual man-made emissions of Europe and Japan combined. What happened in the dry season of 2005 was a stark reminder of how quickly the factors affecting global warming can change.
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Thu, Mar 5, 2009: from Reuters:
Arctic summer ice could vanish by 2013: expert
The Arctic is warming up so quickly that the region's sea ice cover in summer could vanish as early as 2013, decades earlier than some had predicted, a leading polar expert said on Thursday. Warwick Vincent, director of the Center for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec, said recent data on the ice cover "appear to be tracking the most pessimistic of the models", which call for an ice free summer in 2013. The year "2013 is starting to look as though it is a lot more reasonable as a prediction. But each year we've been wrong -- each year we're finding that it's a little bit faster than expected," he told Reuters. The Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world and the sea ice cover shrank to a record low in 2007 before growing slightly in 2008. In 2004 a major international panel forecast the cover could vanish by 2100. Last December, some experts said the summer ice could go in the next 10 or 20 years.
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Wed, Mar 4, 2009: from The Denver Post:
The cold truth about ozone
Ozone pollution -- considered a summer problem -- is being detected across the West this winter, raising questions about the program to monitor and cut the pollutant. First detected in February 2005 near the oil and gas fields of Pinedale, Wyo., elevated winter ozone is now being found in New Mexico and Utah, according to state data, and could eventually be found in Colorado. "Now that we know to look for it, I think we'll find high levels of winter ozone across the West and the world," said Russell Schnell, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist. Schnell's Earth Systems Research Laboratory in Boulder is probing how ozone -- corrosive gas linked to respiratory problems -- is created in winter. "It is a sign of the rapidly industrializing West," said Vickie Patton, air programs manager for the Environmental Defense Fund. "We are seeing a hallmark Western resource-- healthy, clean air -- vanish."
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Wed, Mar 4, 2009: from New Energy Finance, via EurekAlert:
Clean energy investment not on track to avoid climate change
The world economic crisis has hit investment in clean energy and means its growth is no longer on track for the world to avert the worst impact of climate change, according to leading clean energy and carbon market analysts, New Energy Finance.... Investment in clean energy -- renewables, energy efficiency and carbon capture and storage -- increased from $34bn in 2004 to around $150bn in each of 2007 and 2008. New Energy Finance's latest Global Futures report demonstrates that investment needs to reach $500bn per annum by 2020 if CO2 emissions from the world's energy system are to peak before 2020.
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Tue, Mar 3, 2009: from National Geographic News:
Glacier(less) National Park in 2020
It's an oft-repeated statistic that the glaciers at Montana's Glacier National Park will disappear by the year 2030. But Daniel Fagre, a U.S. Geological Survey ecologist who works at Glacier, says the park's namesakes will be gone about ten years ahead of schedule, endangering the region's plants and animals.... The 2020 estimate is based on aerial surveys and photography Fagre and his team have been conducting at Glacier since the early 1980s.
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Tue, Mar 3, 2009: from BusinessGreen:
Research warns two degree rise will halve rainforest 'carbon sink'
The impact of global warming on tropical rainforests will be so severe that even increases in temperature that are widely regarded as "safe" could raise tree mortality rates to such a level that almost 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. That is the sobering warning contained in new research from a team of Australian scientists, which suggests that even a two degree increase in average global temperatures will see the "carbon sink" effect currently provided by the world's rainforests cut in half.... The researchers calculated that for each degree Celsius global temperatures rise, the rainforests will shrink at such a rate that 24.5 billion tons of carbon is released to the atmosphere. In comparison, man-made emissions of greenhouse gases in 2007 reached a peak of 10 billion tons CO2 equivalent.
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Tue, Mar 3, 2009: from London Daily Star:
10,000 Could Die in Summer Heatwave
The Government is said to be "very concerned" that as many as 10,000 lives will be lost as temperatures soar to 40C across the country. Sun stroke, dehydration, air pollution and wildfires all contribute to a rise in deaths during sizzling summers. The highest temperature measured in the UK was 38.5C, recorded in Kent on August 10, 2003. And it could become a regular occurrence in the near future.
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Sun, Mar 1, 2009: from Telegraph.co.uk:
UK Government 'to recommend siestas' to combat heatwaves
People in areas hit by extreme heat will be advised to stay indoors during hottest time of the day -- between 11am - 3pm -- swap suits for casual loose-fitting clothes, avoid hot food, drink lots of water and use fans. The alert was prepared by the Department of Health, in consultation with other agencies including the Met Office. Met Office scientists have predicted that climate change means heat waves will become more frequent over the next two decades, becoming regular after 2030.
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Sat, Feb 28, 2009: from New York Times:
Why 2007 I.P.C.C. Report Lacked 'Burning Embers' Diagram
Several authors of the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the projected effects of global warming now say they regret not pushing harder to include an updated diagram of climate risks in the report. The diagram, known as "burning embers," is an updated version of one that was a central feature of the panel's preceding climate report in 2001. The main opposition to including the diagram in 2007, they say, came from officials representing the United States, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia. That frustration led them to seek publication of the climate-risk diagram in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In emails and phone interviews over the past week, several of researchers said the diagram was omitted in favor of written descriptions of levels of risk from increments of warming. Some scientists thought that the diagram's smears of color, reflecting gradients of risk, were too subjective. But Stephen H. Schneider, a climatologist at Stanford University who has been involved in writing the I.P.C.C. reports since 1988, said the real opposition came from a bloc of countries that thought the colorful diagram was too incendiary.... "Unfortunately governments of 5 fossil fuel dependent and producing nations opposed it.... No matter how much New Zealand, small islands states, Canada, Germany, Belgium and the UK said this was an essential diagram, China, the U.S., Russia and the Saudis said it was too much of a "judgment".
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Sat, Feb 28, 2009: from Mongabay:
Of China's 45 percent CO2 rise (2002-2005), a third was Western demand
Thirteen-and-a-half percent of China's 45 percent rise in greenhouse gas emissions between 2002 and 2005 can be attributed to export production for Western countries, reports a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters. In other words, outsourcing of manufacturing by American and European firms accounted for larger share of carbon dioxide emission growth than rising domestic consumption in China (which made of 7 percent of the figure). The results, which indicate that Western companies are effectively outsourcing emissions along with manufacturing, have implications for future climate treaties, says one of the authors.
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Sat, Feb 28, 2009: from Purdue University, via EurekAlert:
Prehistoric global cooling caused by CO2, research finds
Ice in Antarctica suddenly appeared-- in geologic terms-- about 35 million years ago. For the previous 100 million years the continent had been essentially ice-free. The question for science has been, why? What triggered glaciers to form at the South Pole? ... Additional computer modeling of the cooling suggests that the cooling was caused by a reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Even after the continent of Antarctica had drifted to near its present location, its climate was subtropical. Then, 35.5 million years ago, ice formed on Antarctica in about 100,000 years, which is an "overnight" shift in geological terms.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Fri, Feb 27, 2009: from New York Times:
Way back in 1994: Emissions Must Be Cut to Avert Shift in Climate, Panel Says
Sept. 20, 1994: EVEN if worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide were capped at present levels, atmospheric concentrations of the heat-trapping gas would continue to increase for at least two centuries, rising well beyond the point at which the earth's climate would be disrupted, an international panel of scientists has reported.... "If you want to stabilize eventually, you've got to consider what you do now; that's a message that comes clearly through from the figures in our report," said Sir John Houghton, a British atmospheric physicist who is co-chairman of the intergovernmental panel's scientific working group, which issued the new report in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Dr. Houghton said he was speaking for himself, not the group.
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Fri, Feb 27, 2009: from New York Times:
Worst Drought in Half Century Shrivels the Wheat Belt of China
a long rainless stretch has underscored the urgency of water problems in a region that grows three-fifths of China’s crops and houses more than two-fifths of its people — but gets only one-fifth as much rain as the rest of the country.... Normally, the new land he was offered lies under more than 20 feet of water, part of the Luhun Reservoir in Henan Province. But this winter, Luhun has lost most of its water. And what was once lake bottom has become just another field of winter wheat, stunted for want of rain. Water supplies have been drying up in Northern China for decades, the result of pervasive overuse and waste. Aquifers have been so depleted that in some farming regions, wells probe a half-mile down before striking water.
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Thu, Feb 26, 2009: from Nature:
International Polar Year: In from the Cold
...It might seem that, as so often in the past, science reigns supreme at the planet's poles. But as climate change opens up vast parts of the Arctic to commerce, nations are starting to exert their influence in the region more purposefully, and long-simmering political tensions might soon boil over.... Warming in the Arctic, and the retreat of summertime sea ice, is opening up the region to interests such as mineral exploitation, shipping, fishing and tourism. Some researchers fear that the commercial potential could shift international interactions from mainly scientific collaboration to hard-nosed politics. Environmental groups such as Greenpeace have proposed a 50-year moratorium on all exploitation in the Arctic, but this is unlikely to gain much support. The shift towards economic and geopolitical competition poses a new threat for vulnerable Arctic environments, which should prompt scientists to speak out...
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Thu, Feb 26, 2009: from New York Times:
In Climate Debate, Exaggeration Is a Pitfall
Social scientists who study the interface of climate science and public policy say that campaigners and officials who seek to curb emissions of heat-trapping gases face an uphill battle in changing people's minds about the issue. Even with the success of "An Inconvenient Truth," the Oscar-winning 2006 documentary featuring Mr. Gore, and widely publicized images of melting Arctic ice, surveys show that most Americans are either confused about climate change, mildly concerned about it or completely disengaged from the issue. A variety of surveys show that roughly 20 percent of Americans are in Mr. Gore's camp and another 20 percent in Mr. Will's, rejecting the idea that humans could dangerously alter global climate. That division is unlikely to change any time soon, said David Ropeik, a consultant on risk communication who teaches at Harvard University.
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Thu, Feb 26, 2009: from New Scientist:
How to survive the coming century
ALLIGATORS basking off the English coast; a vast Brazilian desert; the mythical lost cities of Saigon, New Orleans, Venice and Mumbai; and 90 per cent of humanity vanished. Welcome to the world warmed by 4 degrees C. Clearly this is a vision of the future that no one wants, but it might happen. Fearing that the best efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions may fail, or that planetary climate feedback mechanisms will accelerate warming, some scientists and economists are considering not only what this world of the future might be like, but how it could sustain a growing human population. They argue that surviving in the kinds of numbers that exist today, or even more, will be possible, but only if we use our uniquely human ingenuity to cooperate as a species to radically reorganise our world. The good news is that the survival of humankind itself is not at stake: the species could continue if only a couple of hundred individuals remained. But maintaining the current global population of nearly 7 billion, or more, is going to require serious planning.
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Thu, Feb 26, 2009: from Los Angeles Times:
NASA satellite crashes
A NASA satellite designed to measure greenhouse gas emissions and pinpoint global warming dangers crashed Tuesday after a protective covering failed to separate from the craft shortly after launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The loss of the $278-million satellite came as a severe blow to NASA's climate monitoring efforts, as well as the builder of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va. "Our whole team, at a very personal level, is disappointed," Orbital Science's John Brunschwyler said at an early-morning briefing just hours after the satellite plunged into the ocean near Antarctica.
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Thu, Feb 26, 2009: from The Daily Climate:
Saving the oceans: 'Mission Possible'
...[oceanographer and coral reef geologist Jeonie] Kleypas is one of the world's experts on the effects of climate change on the world's coral reefs, testifying to Congress and presenting papers around the world. She believes that societies must immediately and drastically reduce worldwide carbon emissions, but is also training her research to see if there are ways "to bolster coral reef health so they can weather the climate crisis."....Like many scientists, she struggles to find ways to impart the importance of biodiversity to humans in ways both poetic and prosaic. Losing a third of the coral species on a reef, she says, "is like losing a third of the colors from a Van Gogh painting." Reaching for a different demographic, she adds, "The loss of biodiversity is like having a football team with only tight ends."
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Wed, Feb 25, 2009: from New Scientist:
Hacking the planet: The only climate solution left...
Previously, the idea of tweaking the climate in this way was anathema to most scientists. Apart from the technical challenges and environmental risks, many argued that endorsing the concept might scupper international negotiations for a post-Kyoto protocol to reduce global emissions. But it's becoming clear that moves to cut global carbon emissions are too little and too late for us avoid the worst effects of climate change. "There is a worrying sense that negotiations won't lead anywhere or lead to enough," says Lenton. "We can't change the world that fast," says Peter Liss, who is scientific adviser to the UK parliamentary committee investigating geoengineering. Extraordinary measures may now be the only way of saving vulnerable ecosystems such as Arctic sea ice.... What's more, geoengineering could turn out to be relatively cheap. Early estimates suggest some schemes could cost a few billion dollars, small change compared to the cost of slashing emissions - estimated by former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern to be at least 1 per of global GDP per year. In his testimony to the UK politicians last year, John Latham of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, argued that all of the above reasons make it "irresponsible" not to examine geoengineering.
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Wed, Feb 25, 2009: from International Council for Science:
Polar research reveals new evidence of global environmental change
The wide-ranging IPY findings result from more than 160 endorsed science projects assembled from researchers in more than 60 countries. Launched in March 2007, the [International Polar Year] covers a two-year period to March 2009 to allow for observations during the alternate seasons in both polar regions.... [R]esearch vessels ... have confirmed above-global-average warming in the Southern Ocean. A freshening of the bottom water near Antarctica is consistent with increased ice melt from Antarctica and could affect ocean circulation. Global warming is thus affecting Antarctica in ways not previously identified. [International Polar Year] research has also identified large pools of carbon stored as methane in permafrost. Thawing permafrost threatens to destabilize the stored methane -- a greenhouse gas -- and send it into the atmosphere. Indeed, IPY researchers along the Siberian coast observed substantial emissions of methane from ocean sediments.
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Tue, Feb 24, 2009: from Science Alert (Australia):
Warm oceans slow coral growth
It's official: the biggest and most robust corals on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) have slowed their growth by more than 14 per cent since the "tipping point" year of 1990. Evidence is strong that the decline has been caused by a synergistic combination of rising sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification.... "It is cause for extreme concern that such changes are already evident, with the relatively modest climate changes observed to date, in the world's best protected and managed coral reef ecosystem," according to AIMS scientist and co-author Dr Janice Lough.... "The data suggest that this severe and sudden decline in calcification is unprecedented in at least 400 years," said AIMS scientist and principal author Dr Glenn De'ath.
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Tue, Feb 24, 2009: from Washington Post:
MIT Group Increases Global Warming Projections
Report: High odds of warming over 5 degrees C (9 degrees F) if no action New research from MIT scientists shows that in the absence of stringent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, 21st century climate change may be far more significant than some previous climate assessments had indicated. The new findings, released this month by MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, showed significantly increased odds that by the end of the century warming would be on the high end of the scale for a so-called "no policy scenario" as compared with similar studies completed just six years ago. The main culprits: the cycling of heat and carbon dioxide in the climate system are now better understood and projections of future greenhouse gas emissions have increased. The results also showed that even if nations were to act quickly to reduce emissions, it is more likely that warming would be greater than previous studies had shown. However, the increase in projected temperatures under the "policy scenario" was not as large as for the no policy scenario.
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Mon, Feb 23, 2009: from Washington Post:
Climate Fears Are Driving 'Ecomigration' Across Globe
Adam Fier recently sold his home, got rid of his car and pulled his twin 6-year-old girls out of elementary school in Montgomery County. He and his wife packed the family's belongings and moved to New Zealand -- a place they had never visited or seen before, and where they have no family or professional connections. Among the top reasons: global warming. Halfway around the world, the president of Kiribati, a Pacific nation of low-lying islands, said last week that his country is exploring ways to move all its 100,000 citizens to a new homeland because of fears that a steadily rising ocean will make the islands uninhabitable.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Mon, Feb 23, 2009: from American Chemical Society:
Off-Balance Ocean
Marine scientists who have measured the pH of the ocean's surface waters for decades see that it has been dropping. They say that the pH is currently about 8.1, down from about 8.2 in the 18th century. If CO2 emissions continue at current rates, they expect the pH to fall by approximately 0.3 more units in the next 50-100 years. And as the ocean becomes more acidic, scientists anticipate myriad changes to the ocean's chemistry.... For example, almost all reaction rates are pH dependent, so acidification may change processes in the ocean ranging from enzyme activity to the adsorption of metals onto particle surfaces in seawater... Many sea organisms without shells, such as anemones and jellyfish, may be especially susceptible to even the smallest changes in ocean pH because their internal pH tends to vary with that of the surrounding seawater. These organisms cannot actively regulate their internal pH as mammals do.
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Sun, Feb 22, 2009: from London Daily Telegraph:
Scientists capture dramatic footage of Arctic glaciers melting in hours
Glaciologist Jason Box has been testing a Moulin, a shaft that allows water to travel from the glacier's surface to its bottom, in a glacier on the Greenland ice cap to find out how fast it is melting. Dr Box said: "The Moulin is the epicentre of our concern because all the water is running down at this one point. "It's just bottomless, no light escapes." Balanced on the edge of an ice sheet the team used a flow meter to measure the water speed.... The team found that in just one day 42 million litres fresh water drained down this one Moulin. Dr Box thinks there are hundreds, possibly thousands more Moulins across the Greenland ice cap. Greenland is losing enough water each year to cover Germany a metre deep. Dr Box, from Ohio State University, thinks the way to combat melting glaciers is to cover them with blankets that will reflect the sun's rays.
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Sun, Feb 22, 2009: from Associated Press:
Mass migrations and war: Dire climate scenario
If we don't deal with climate change decisively, "what we're talking about then is extended world war," the eminent economist said. His audience Saturday, small and elite, had been stranded here by bad weather and were talking climate. They couldn't do much about the one, but the other was squarely in their hands. And so, Lord Nicholas Stern was telling them, was the potential for mass migrations setting off mass conflict.... Stern said: "People would move on a massive scale. Hundreds of millions, probably billions of people would have to move if you talk about 4-, 5-, 6-degree increases" - 7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. And that would mean extended global conflict, "because there's no way the world can handle that kind of population move in the time period in which it would take place."
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Sat, Feb 21, 2009: from Cleveland Plain Dealer:
January was seventh-warmest on Earth, climate scientists say
This may not play well in Northeast Ohio, but federal climate officials this week reported that planet Earth just had its seventh-warmest January in more than 125 years of records. That's right, even though Cleveland just finished 6.5 degrees colder than normal (remember that 13-below-zero day?), most of the rest of the world got hotter last month -- including Australia, where records were broken with one 114-degree day. The most recent report from the National Climatic Data Center in North Carolina asserts that the combined global land and ocean surface temperature for January was 54.55 degrees Fahrenheit -- or 0.95 degrees above the 20th-century average temperature.
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Sat, Feb 21, 2009: from Science:
Arctic Coastal Erosion Doubles in 50 Years
As if record-breaking losses of sea ice and thawing permafrost weren't enough, climate change is also sweeping parts of the Arctic out to sea. New research in Geophysical Research Letters reports that the rate of erosion along a stretch of Alaska's northeastern coastline has doubled over the past 52 years. Such deterioration of arctic coastlines is likely to have significant impacts on local ecosystems, communities living in the Arctic, and oil and gas development. Arctic shorelines are especially susceptible to erosion because their sediments are often held together by nothing more than ice. Scientists have been concerned about these fragile coasts, because they will be pounded harder by waves as the sea ice disappears and storms intensify. Warmer water and rising sea levels make matters even worse. Ground zero might well be the coastline along the Beaufort Sea in northeastern Alaska, where the sediments are particularly ice-rich and the shore unprotected.
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Sat, Feb 21, 2009: from Los Angeles Times:
Bubbles of warming, beneath the ice
As permafrost thaws in the Arctic, huge pockets of methane -- a potent greenhouse gas -- could be released into the atmosphere. Experts are only beginning to understand how disastrous that could be.... International experts are alarmed. "Methane release due to thawing permafrost in the Arctic is a global warming wild card," warned a report by the United Nations Environment Programme last year. Large amounts entering the atmosphere, it concluded, could lead to "abrupt changes in the climate that would likely be irreversible." Methane (CH4) has at least 20 times the heat-trapping effect of an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide (CO2). As warmer air thaws Arctic soils, as much as 50 billion metric tons of methane could be released from beneath Siberian lakes alone, according to Walter’s research. That would amount to 10 times the amount currently in the atmosphere.
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Fri, Feb 20, 2009: from London Guardian:
Melt-pools 'accelerating Arctic ice loss'
New research has revealed that melt-water pooling on the Arctic sea ice is causing it to melt at a faster rate than computer models had previously predicted. Scientists have been struggling to understand why the northern sea ice has been retreating at a faster rate than estimated by the most recent assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in 2007. The IPCC's computer models had simulated an average loss of 2.5 percent in sea ice extent per decade from 1953 to 2006. But in reality the Arctic sea ice had declined at a rate of about 7.8 percent per decade. Arctic sea ice has retreated so much that in September 2007 it covered an all-time low area of 4.14m km sq, surpassing by 23 percent the previous all-time record set in September 2005. And during the summer of 2008, the north-west and north-east passages - the sea routes running along the Arctic coastlines of northern America and northern Russia, normally perilously clogged with thick ice – were ice-free for the first time since records began in 1972. Part of the reasons for the discrepancy has to do with melt ponds, which are pools of melted ice and snow that form on the sea ice when it is warmed in spring and summer. As they are darker than ice and snow, they absorb solar radiation rather than reflect it, which accelerates the melting process.
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Thu, Feb 19, 2009: from Science Daily (US):
Permafrost Is Thawing In Northern Sweden
"At one of our sites, permafrost has completely disappeared from the greater part of the mire during the last decade," she says. In areas where permafrost is thawing the ground becomes unstable and can collapse. This can be a local and regional problem in areas with cities and infrastructure. Moreover, the thaw can cause increased emissions of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane from the ground. Roughly 25 percent of all land surface in the northern hemisphere are underlain by permafrost. The thawing of permafrost that occurs today is likely to continue, in Margareta Johansson's view. She regards it as probable that there will be no permafrost in lowland areas around Abisko in 50 years.
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Thu, Feb 19, 2009: from New Scientist:
Arctic's personal greenhouse turns up the heat
The warming of the Arctic has been explained before as being due to a positive feedback loop: as the ice cap melts and disappears, more of the dark ocean is exposed: the Arctic's reflectivity, or albedo, decreases. This means less energy is reflected back out into space and the region warms still further. But that infamous arctic albedo feedback is only a small part of the problem.... [L]ess ice means more exposed sea, and a larger surface from which water can evaporate. Since water vapour is a strong greenhouse gas, the evaporation effectively creates an Arctic energy trap.... All this means the shrinking ice cap is playing a triple role in warming the Arctic. The ice is reflecting less energy, the open water is storing more energy, and is also supplying greenhouse gas to the atmosphere in the form of water vapour. Those three factors combine to produce a strong regional greenhouse over the Arctic.
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Thu, Feb 19, 2009: from Agence France-Presse:
Unchecked economic growth imperils Amazon: study
Unbridled economic development fuelled by globalisation is devastating large swathes of the Amazonian basin, the United Nations warned in a major study released Wednesday. A population explosion concentrated in poorly planned cities, deforestation driven by foreign markets for timber, cash crops and beef, and unprecedented levels of pollution have all taken a heavy toll on the planet's largest forest basin, the United Nations Environment Programme said. The report, which pooled research by more than 150 experts from the eight countries that straddle Amazonia, acknowledged that these governments have individually taken steps to address environmental degradation. But coordinated action is urgently needed to stem and possible reverse the damage, it said.
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Thu, Feb 19, 2009: from Associated Press:
Pope tells Nancy Pelosi life must be protected
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI received Nancy Pelosi, one of the most prominent abortion rights politicians in America, and told her Wednesday that Catholic politicians have a duty to protect life "at all stages of its development." The U.S. House speaker, a Catholic, was the first top Democrat to meet with Benedict since the election of Barack Obama, who won a majority of the U.S. Catholic vote despite differences with the Vatican on abortion. On his fourth day in office last month, Obama ended a ban on funds for international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option ďż˝ a sharp policy change from former President George W. Bush's Republican administration. The Vatican's attempts to keep the Pelosi visit low-profile displayed its obvious unease with the new U.S. administration. Benedict and Bush had found common ground in opposing abortion, an issue that drew them together despite their differences over the war in Iraq.
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Wed, Feb 18, 2009: from NOAA, via Mongabay:
CO2 levels rise to a new record
Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations climbed 2.28 parts-per-million (ppm) in 2008 to the highest level in at least 650,000 years -- and possibly 20 million years -- reports NOAA. The average annual growth rate of CO2 concentrations this decade is now 2.1 ppm a year or 40 percent higher than that of the 1990s. CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are increasing at four times the rate of the previous decade.... Some scientists, including James Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, warn that CO2 levels must be kept below 350 ppm to avoid serious impacts from climate change. CO2 concentrations are presently around 386 ppm.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
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Wed, Feb 18, 2009: from World Bank, via AFP:
Andean glaciers 'could disappear': World Bank
LIMA (AFP) -- Andean glaciers and the region's permanently snow-covered peaks could disappear in 20 years if no measures are taken to tackle climate change, the World Bank warned Tuesday. A World Bank-published report said rising temperatures due to global warming could also have a dramatic impact on water management in the Andean region, with serious knock-on effects for agriculture and energy generation.
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Tue, Feb 17, 2009: from New Scientist:
North Atlantic is world's 'climate superpower'
IF EVER there was a superpower of the oceans, the North Atlantic, with its ability to control global weather systems, is it. The bad news is that this region also happens to be especially sensitive to the effects of climate change, so what is happening there could affect the world. The planet's climate goes through periodic convulsions that affect every region simultaneously. The most recent were in the early 1940s and mid-1970s. The latter coincided with the start of more frequent El Nino events in the Pacific and a strong global warming trend.... But the findings will leave most climate scientists more worried. Today's climate is changing most dramatically in the far North Atlantic, with record warming and ice loss in recent years. If the climate's "tipping point" resides in these waters, then nature's synchronised chaos could unleash unexpectedly sudden and severe consequences.
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Mon, Feb 16, 2009: from Mongabay:
Mass media 'screwing up' global warming reporting, says renowned climatologist
"Business managers of media organizations," [Stephen Schneider] said, "you are screwing up your responsibility by firing science and environment reporters who are frankly the only ones competent to do this." Schneider points to CNN, which in December fired all of its science and technology reporters. "Why didn't they fire their economics team or their sports team?" asks Schneider. "Why don't they send their general assignment reporters out to cover the Superbowl?" ... Schneider's frustration doesn't stop at the media. He believes scientists are not living up to their responsibility to actively participate in scientific discussions with the mainstream media.
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Mon, Feb 16, 2009: from Telegraph.co.uk:
Tropical forests are drying out because of global warming
Damp regions that had previously been considered immune to the type of blazes that blighted Australia this month could turn to tinderboxes as temperatures rise, it is claimed. Rainforests currently play a critical role in regulating climate by absorbing carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. But if they were to catch alight they would become carbon producers, accelerating climate change.... "It is increasingly clear that as you produce a warmer world, lots of forest areas that had been acting a carbon sinks could be converted to carbon sources."
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Sun, Feb 15, 2009: from New Scientist:
Burp of Arctic laughing gas is no joke
It seems the Arctic['s melting permafrost] is belching out nitrous oxide -- commonly known as laughing gas. Unfortunately, the punchline is that it is a powerful greenhouse gas. Previously, emissions of N2O were thought to enter the atmosphere mainly from tropical forests and intensively managed farmland, with only a negligible amount from northerly environments.... Although this means N2O remains a small contributor to the greenhouse effect, compared with methane and carbon dioxide, the gas persists unaltered in the atmosphere for over 110 years, compared with around 10 years for methane -- which is also periodically released by the tundra.
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Sun, Feb 15, 2009: from Telegraph.co.uk:
'Crazy ideas' to fight global warming revealed by scientists
The science known as "geo-engineering" is considered dangerous by some for interfering with the world's delicate ecosystems, however advocates claim that it could "save the world" from catastrophic global warming.... However Robin Webster of Friends of the Earth said it was dangerous to rely on untested science. "We cannot afford to close our eyes to new ideas but the fear is politicians see geo-engineering as the magic bullet that will get us out of trouble and take attention away from making difficult choices to cut carbon emissions now. We need to look at tried and tested technologies like renewables that work and can start reducing the threat climate change now."
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Sun, Feb 15, 2009: from BBC (UK):
Global warming 'underestimated'
The severity of global warming over the next century will be much worse than previously believed, a leading climate scientist has warned. Professor Chris Field, an author of a 2007 landmark report on climate change, said future temperatures "will be beyond anything" predicted. Prof Field said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report had underestimated the rate of change. He said warming is likely to cause more environmental damage than forecast.... "We are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we've considered seriously in climate policy," he said.
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Fri, Feb 13, 2009: from Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
State not ready for 'climate refugees'
"Climate refugees." It's a term we should get used to, researchers warned on Thursday, predicting a flood of new residents driven north by heat waves, fires and other calamitous effects of global warming. With one speaker raising the specter of a new migration on the scale of the Great Depression, state and county officials admitted they have barely started getting ready. The warnings came at a conference of planners, scientists and government officials drilling into the results of a study released this week examining what Washington faces -- for our food supply, our forests, our drinking-water supplies and public health, among other fronts -- as the globe warms in coming decades. "We're going to have an influx of climate refugees," said Richard Hoskins, an epidemiologist with the Washington Health Department. "This is going to have a tremendous impact on our public health (system). Local public health has a very full plate as it is."
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Thu, Feb 12, 2009: from Christian Science Monitor:
On 'Darwin Day,' many Americans beg to differ
...In the US, though, Darwin remains a controversial figure. Two centuries after the famed naturalist's birth, more than 40 percent of Americans believe human beings were created by God in their present form, according to recent polls from Gallup and the Pew Research Center – a view impossible to reconcile with evolution propelled by natural selection. Such creationist beliefs lack scientific merit, educators say, and in classrooms evolution reigns supreme. Opponents have tried an array of challenges over the decades, and the latest tactic recently scored its first major victory. It's a tack that is changing the way the cultural battle over evolution is fought. In June of last year, Louisiana became the first state to pass what has become known as an "academic freedom" law. In the past, fights over evolution took place at the local school board level, but academic freedom proponents specifically target state legislatures. Such laws back away from outright calls for alternative theories to evolution, electing instead to legislate support for teachers who discuss the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of issues such as evolution in the name of protecting the freedom of speech of instructors and students alike.
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Wed, Feb 11, 2009: from London Daily Telegraph:
Scottish ski industry could disappear due to global warming, warns Met Office
The country's five resorts are currently enjoying exceptional conditions after heavy snowfall in the Highlands, but climate change may mean they have less than 50 years of ski-ing left. Alex Hill, chief government advisor with the Met Office, said the amount of snow in the Scottish mountains had been decreasing for the last 40 years and there was no reason for the decline to stop. He added: "Put it this way, I will not be investing in the ski-ing industry. Will there be a ski industry in Scotland in 50 years' time? Very unlikely."
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Tue, Feb 10, 2009: from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Cedarburg native wants to make it to both poles, Everest in one year
Arctic explorer Eric Larsen, a Cedarburg native, intends to be the first person ever to reach the South and North poles and the summit of Mount Everest within one year. The three-legged expedition to what Larsen calls "the top, bottom and roof of the world" is scheduled to begin in November in Antarctica. Travel across the Arctic to the North Pole would come second, beginning in February 2010. The push to Everest's summit - the world's highest at 29,029 feet above sea level - might start in September 2010.... Larsen plans to reach the three destinations in quick succession to draw public attention to the impact of global warming on each of these remote places. The name of the proposed expedition: Save the Poles.
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Mon, Feb 9, 2009: from Times Online (UK):
Polar ice caps melting faster
THE ice caps are melting so fast that the world's oceans are rising more than twice as fast as they were in the 1970s, scientists have found. They have used satellites to track how the oceans are responding as billions of gallons of water reach them from melting ice sheets and glaciers. The effect is compounded by thermal expansion, in which water expands as it warms, according to the study by Anny Cazenave of the National Centre for Space Studies in France. These findings come at the same time as a warning from an American academic whose research suggests Labour's policies to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050 are doomed.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
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Sun, Feb 8, 2009: from Guardian (UK):
Carbon price falls to new low
The price of carbon has hit new lows as power generators and industrial companies continue to cash in credits under the emissions trading scheme (ETS) to bolster their balance sheets.... Analysts at Barclays Capital warned the price could fall further to €9 while Utilyx, the carbon information provider, said: "There seems to be no bottom to carbon prices at the moment." Market experts blame the decline on profit taking and a collapse in manufacturing, which has reached its lowest levels since 1981 in Britain. Power generators and industrial firms are selling their credits to raise cash during the credit crunch but also because they are confident they will not need as many pollution permits at a time of falling demand for their products.
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Sat, Feb 7, 2009: from Associated Press:
Octuplet birth doctor under investigation
LOS ANGELES -- The spotlight on the mother of octuplets is turning to the fertility doctor who helped her give birth not once but 14 times by implanting Nadya Suleman with fertilized embryos. The Medical Board of California investigating the doctor -- whom it did not name -- to see if there was a "violation of the standard of care," board spokeswoman Candis Cohen said Friday. She did not elaborate. Suleman, 33, of Whittier, already had six children when she gave birth Jan. 26 to octuplets. The births to an unemployed, divorced single mother prompted angry questions about how she plans to provide for her children. But the backlash seems to have extended as well to Suleman's doctor...."All I wanted was children. I wanted to be a mom. That's all I ever wanted in my life," Suleman said in the portion of the interview that aired Friday. "I love my children."
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Fri, Feb 6, 2009: from New Scientist:
Antarctic bulge could flood Washington DC
Rather than spreading out evenly across all the oceans, water from melted Antarctic ice sheets will gather around North America and the Indian Ocean. That's bad news for the US East Coast, which could bear the brunt of one of these oceanic bulges.... Once the ice melts, the release of pressure could also cause the Antarctic continent to rise by 100 metres. And as the weight of the ice pressing down on the continental shelf is released, the rock will spring back, displacing seawater that will also spread across the oceans.... The upshot is that the North American continent and the Indian Ocean will experience the greatest changes in sea level -- adding 1 or 2 metres to the current estimates. Washington DC sits squarely in this area, meaning it could face a 6.3-metre sea level rise in total. California will also be in the target zone.
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Wed, Feb 4, 2009: from AGU, via EurekAlert:
Global warming may delay recovery of stratospheric ozone
Increasing greenhouse gases could delay, or even postpone indefinitely the recovery of stratospheric ozone in some regions of the Earth, a new study suggests. This change might take a toll on public health.... [They] report that climate change could provoke variations in the circulation of air in the lower stratosphere in tropical and southern mid-latitudes -- a band of the Earth including Australia and Brazil. The circulation changes would cause ozone levels in these areas never to return to levels that were present before decline began, even after ozone-depleting substances have been wiped out from the atmosphere.
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Wed, Feb 4, 2009: from London Guardian:
Biofuels more harmful to humans than petrol and diesel, warn scientists
Some biofuels cause more health problems than petrol and diesel, according to scientists who have calculated the health costs associated with different types of fuel. The study shows that corn-based bioethanol, which is produced extensively in the US, has a higher combined environmental and health burden than conventional fuels. However, there are high hopes for the next generation of biofuels, which can be made from organic waste or plants grown on marginal land that is not used to grow foods. They have less than half the combined health and environmental costs of standard gasoline and a third of current biofuels.... Using computer models developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the researchers found the total environmental and health costs of gasoline are about 71 cents (50p) per gallon, while an equivalent amount of corn-ethanol fuel has associated costs of 72 cents to $1.45, depending on how it is produced. The next generation of so-called cellulosic bioethanol fuels costs 19 cents to 32 cents, depending on the technology and type of raw materials used. These are experimental fuels made from woody crops that typically do not compete with conventional agriculture. The results are published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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Mon, Feb 2, 2009: from Popular Science:
The Big Thaw
Nowhere is global warming having as obvious an impact as in the Arctic, and people living in Alaska, northern Canada, northern Scandinavia and Siberia have front-row seats. Some experts say that temperatures in these regions have risen by 3 to 5 degrees F over the past 30 years. And the temperature in the Arctic has warmed at twice the global average rate in the past century, according to the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. Permafrost is ground that maintains a temperature below freezing for at least two years. In some areas, that frozen layer is thawing, causing roads to collapse, runways to crack, and homes to sink, split apart, or even fall into the sea. But inside that icy ground is a threat more dangerous than crumbling infrastructure: massive amounts of greenhouse gases that, if released into the atmosphere, have the potential to quickly intensify climate change.
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Mon, Feb 2, 2009: from Reuters:
Rising sea salinates India's Ganges: expert
KOLKATA, India (Reuters) - Rising sea levels are causing salt water to flow into India's biggest river, threatening its ecosystem and turning vast farmlands barren in the country's east, a climate change expert warned Monday. A study by an east Indian university in the city of Kolkata revealed surprising growth of mangroves on the Ganges river, said Pranabes Sanyal, the eastern India representative of the National Coastal Zone Management Authority (NCZMA). "This phenomenon is called extension of salt wedge and it will salinate the groundwater of Kolkata and turn agricultural lands barren in adjoining rural belts," said Sanyal, an expert in global warming. Sea levels in some parts of the Bay of Bengal were rising at 3.14 mm annually against a global average of 2 mm, threatening the low-lying areas of eastern India. Climate experts warned last year that as temperatures rise, the Indian subcontinent -- home to about one-sixth of humanity -- will be badly hit with more frequent and more severe natural disasters such as floods and storms and more disease and hunger.
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Mon, Feb 2, 2009: from Wired News:
Melting Arctic Prompts Calls for 'National Park' on Ice
With arctic sea ice melting like ice cubes in soda, scientists want to protect a region they say will someday be the sole remaining frozen bastion of a disappearing world. Spanning the northern Canadian archipelago and western Greenland, it would be the first area formally protected in response to climate change, and a last-ditch effort to save polar bears and other animals. "All the indications are of huge change, and a huge response is needed if you want to have polar bears beyond 2050," said Peter Ewins, the World Wildlife Fund's Director of Species Conservation. National Parks have proven to be one of the most important ways to protect and preserve natural areas and wildlife. First established in the United States in 1872, national parks have since been adopted internationally. But protecting an area outside of a single country's borders could prove to be difficult.
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Mon, Feb 2, 2009: from New Scientist:
Drought warning as the tropics expand
California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, warned on Thursday that his state "is headed toward one of the worst water crises in its history". Now new research suggests that the three-year drought in the Golden State may be a consequence of the expanding tropics, which are gradually growing as human emissions of greenhouse gases warm the planet....the simplest and most easily tracked characteristic of the tropics lies high above, at the boundary between the troposphere, where weather systems form, and the stratosphere above it. Over the tropics, the tropopause, as this boundary is known, tends to lie several kilometres higher up in the atmosphere. The change in altitude is relatively easy to measure. "It is much more difficult to detect significant changes in the lower levels of the atmosphere and surface rainfall pattern," says Jian Lu of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado.
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Sun, Feb 1, 2009: from San Francisco Chronicle:
Unilever blocking deforestation for palm oil
The word came last spring at a climate change conference here. Unilever, the world's largest buyer of palm oil, would publicly call for a moratorium on deforestation by Indonesian growers of the coveted oil used in food, soaps, detergents, cosmetics and biofuel. The expansion of oil palm plantations is slowly destroying Kalimantan, the Indonesian side of Borneo and the habitat of the endangered Bornean orangutan, environmental activists say. During the past two decades, an estimated two million acres have been felled annually in Borneo, which Indonesia shares with Malaysia and Brunei, according to the environmental group, Friends of the Earth. But with Jakarta planning to more than double the acreage of oil palm trees by 2011, activists are scrambling to form new alliances with the palm oil industry to stave off more destruction. They say the potential deforestation in Borneo - which has one of the world's largest standing rain forests - amounts to a "climate bomb" in global warming from increased carbon levels released into the atmosphere by fallen trees.
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Sun, Feb 1, 2009: from London Independent:
Parched: Australia faces collapse as climate change kicks in
Leaves are falling off trees in the height of summer, railway tracks are buckling, and people are retiring to their beds with deep-frozen hot-water bottles, as much of Australia swelters in its worst-ever heatwave. On Friday, Melbourne thermometers topped 43C (109.4F) on a third successive day for the first time on record, while even normally mild Tasmania suffered its second-hottest day in a row, as temperatures reached 42.2C. Two days before, Adelaide hit a staggering 45.6C. After a weekend respite, more records are expected to be broken this week. Ministers are blaming the heat-- which follows a record drought-- on global warming. Experts worry that Australia, which emits more carbon dioxide per head than any nation on earth, may also be the first to implode under the impact of climate change.
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Fri, Jan 30, 2009: from Michigan State University, via EurekAlert:
What we don't know still hurts us, environmental researchers warn
A worldwide 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment enlisted hundreds of scientists to develop a view of ecosystems through the lens of services those ecosystems provide humanity, said Thomas Dietz, director of the MSU Environmental Science and Policy Program and professor in sociology and crop and soil sciences. The MEA found about 60 percent of ecosystem services supporting life -- including fresh water, fisheries, clean air, pests and climate -- are being degraded or used unsustainably. The MEA projected continued deterioration at current rates.... But drawing conclusions is still limited by what researchers call discipline-bound approaches that don't fully describe the range of the Earth's dynamic and complex biophysical and social systems. "In only a few cases are the abilities of ecosystems to provide human well-being holding steady, and in almost every case we're seeing declines in ecosystems underpinning human well-being," said Dietz, who was involved in the original MEA.... "The conclusion that things are getting worse in general comes out of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment," he said. "Our job was to say 'OK, what science do we need to do?'"
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Fri, Jan 30, 2009: from Guardian (UK):
Carbon trading may be the new sub-prime, says energy boss
"We like certainty about a carbon price," he said. "[But] the carbon price has to become simple and not become a new type of sub-prime tool which will be diverted from what is its initial purpose: to encourage real investment in real low-carbon technology." Green campaigners have long been critical of the way the emissions trading scheme was set up, but it is unusual for a leading industry figure to cast doubt on it, as power companies lobbied hard for a market mechanism to deal with global warming. "We are at the tipping point where we ... should wonder if we have in place the right balance between government policy, regulator responsibility and the market mechanism which will deliver the carbon price," said de Rivaz.
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Fri, Jan 30, 2009: from Alaska Dispatch:
Northern life endures a midwinter's thaw
[The] thermometer at KJNP radio station in North Pole registered a low of minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit on Jan. 3 ... On Jan. 16, the same thermometer read plus 55 degrees. In Anchorage, temperatures varied from minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit at Campbell Creek Science Center Jan. 7 to plus 52 degrees at Merrill Field Jan. 16.... In areas where the warm wind was a real snow-eater, leaving the ground bare, red-backed voles lost their network of tunnels under the snow where they live, eat, and sometimes even breed in midwinter when times are good. "It can be 10-to-15 degrees warmer under the snowpack," said Ian van Tets, a biology professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. "For a little furry animal those 10-to-15 degrees can make a big difference. "I think this is going to be a bad winter for voles and lemmings," he said. "There's probably going to be a lot of die-off."
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Thu, Jan 29, 2009: from Christian Science Monitor:
Earth's big problem: Too many people.
Are there too many people on Earth? That question is rarely raised today, in part because it conjures up the possibility of governments intruding into the most private and profound decision a couple can make. In a worst-case scenario, authorities could impose discriminatory policies that would limit births based on such criteria as race, ethnic origin, cultural background, religion, or gender. But with huge, vexing questions such as food security, poverty, energy supplies, environmental degradation, and climate change facing humanity, some are asking whether aggressive measures to control population growth should be on the public agenda..."You've got to get a president who's got the guts to say, 'Patriotic Americans stop at two [children],'" says Paul Ehrlich, a professor of population studies at Stanford University. "That if you care about your children and grandchildren, we should have a smaller population in the future, not larger."
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Thu, Jan 29, 2009: from New York Times:
Detroit Calls Emissions Proposals Too Strict
DETROIT A -- automakers said Monday that they were working toward President Obama's goal of reducing fuel consumption, but rapid imposition of stricter emissions standards could force them to drastically cut production of larger, more profitable vehicles, adding to their financial duress.... The California regulations, if enacted today, "would basically kill the industry, said David E. Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research, an independent research organization in Ann Arbor, Mich. "It would have a devastating effect on everybody, and not just the domestics."
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Wed, Jan 28, 2009: from Telegraph.co.uk:
Recycling 'could be adding to global warming'
"It might be that the global warming impact of putting material through an incinerator five miles down the road is actually less than recycling it 3,000 miles away," he said. "We've got to urgently get a grip on how this material is flowing through the system; whether we're actually adding to or reducing the overall impact in terms of global warming potential in this process."... councils in England and Wales were dumping more than 200,000 tons of recyclable waste every year -- up to 10 per cent of all the glass, paper, plastic and other materials separated out by householders. Thousands of tons of recyclables are shipped to China because of insufficient capacity and demand in Britain.
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Tue, Jan 27, 2009: from NPR:
Global Warming Is Irreversible, Study Says
"People have imagined that if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide that the climate would go back to normal in 100 years or 200 years. What we're showing here is that's not right. It's essentially an irreversible change that will last for more than a thousand years," Solomon says. This is because the oceans are currently soaking up a lot of the planet's excess heat -- and a lot of the carbon dioxide put into the air. The carbon dioxide and heat will eventually start coming out of the ocean. And that will take place for many hundreds of years.... The answer, he says, is sooner rather than later. Scientists have been trying to advise politicians about finding an acceptable level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The new study suggests that it's even more important to aim low. If we overshoot, the damage can't be easily undone. Oppenheimer feels more urgency than ever to deal with climate change, but he says that in the end, setting acceptable limits for carbon dioxide is a judgment call.
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Tue, Jan 27, 2009: from Associated Press:
Octuplets born in California doing 'very well'
The octuplets born to a mother in Southern California are doing "very, very well" and breathing on their own, one of their doctors said Tuesday. Dr. Mandhir Gupta, a neonatologist at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center, told ABC's "Good Morning America" the eight babies were in stable condition. Two of the newborns -- the second live octuplets born in U.S. history -- were initially put on ventilators, but their breathing tubes have been removed. "Only three babies need some sort of oxygen through the nose right now but they are breathing on their own," Gupta said. "The babies are doing actually very, very well." The mother, who was not identified, gave birth Monday to the six boys and two girls weighing between 1 pound, 8 ounces, and 3 pounds, 4 ounces. The eighth baby was a surprise to the parents and doctors who had been expecting only seven children.
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Mon, Jan 26, 2009: from Agence France-Presse:
Study predicts ocean 'dead zones'
Global warming may create "dead zones" in the ocean that would be devoid of fish and seafood and endure for up to two millennia, according to a study published on Sunday. Its authors say deep cuts in the world's carbon emissions are needed to brake a trend capable of wrecking the marine ecosystem and depriving future generations of the harvest of the seas. In a study published online by the journal Nature Geoscience, scientists in Denmark built a computer model to simulate climate change over the next 100,000 years. At the heart of their model are two well-used scenarios which use atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, as an indicator of temperature rise. Under the worst scenario, CO2 concentrations would rise to 1,168 parts per million (ppm) by 2100, or about triple today's level. Under the more optimistic model, CO2 would reach 549 ppm by 2100, or roughly 50 percent more than today.
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Mon, Jan 26, 2009: from Telegraph.co.uk:
Ocean 'fertilisation' team ordered to halt global warming experiment
An expedition including British scientists that hoped to "fertilise" the ocean to combat global warming was last night ordered to stop because of concerns that the experiment could breach international law. ... Environmentalists had claimed that the experiment -- aimed at creating a 186-square-mile bloom of plankton between Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope so big that it will be visible from outer space -- could have a devastating impact on the oceans and may even speed up global warming.
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Sun, Jan 25, 2009: from University of Copenhagen, via EurekAlert:
Dramatic expansion of dead zones in the oceans
Dead zones are low-oxygen areas in the ocean where higher life forms such as fish, crabs and clams are not able to live. In shallow coastal regions, these zones can be caused by runoff of excess fertilizers from farming. A team of Danish researchers have now shown that unchecked global warming would lead to a dramatic expansion of low-oxygen areas zones in the global ocean by a factor of 10 or more. Whereas some coastal dead zones could be recovered by control of fertilizer usage, expanded low-oxygen areas caused by global warming will remain for thousands of years to come, adversely affecting fisheries and ocean ecosystems far into the future.
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Sun, Jan 25, 2009: from London Guardian:
Living on thin ice
...Based on occasional submarine journeys and more recently satellite data, charts of the total area of Arctic sea ice have shown a gradual decline over the past 40 years. Then, in 2007, the line on the chart appeared to drop off a cliff, plunging below 5,000,000 sq km a full three decades ahead of forecasts. The dramatic events of two summers ago, when a Russian submarine rushed to plant a flag under the pole and Canadian and European governments tersely laid rival claims to sovereignty, led many scientists to warn that the Arctic sea ice could disappear entirely during the summer months much sooner than had been feared. Most experts agree on the impact this will have on 5m Arctic inhabitants and the rest of the world - from the loss of the unique habitat that exists under the ice to rising global sea levels and possible changes to the ocean circulation and the weather patterns of the whole planet. Yet forecasts for when this will happen range from just four years to the end of the century. The reason is that very little is understood about the depth and density of the sea ice, and therefore the total volume of water frozen at the top of the world. This is what Hadow's Catlin Arctic Survey - appropriately sponsored by an insurance company - hopes to put right by providing the much-needed data about how much ice is left, and so help work out how much time we have to prepare for what is probably the most immediate, truly global threat of climate change.
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Sun, Jan 25, 2009: from Associated Press:
China dams reveal flaws in climate-change weapon
XIAOXI, China-- The hydroelectric dam, a low wall of concrete slicing across an old farming valley, is supposed to help a power company in distant Germany contribute to saving the climate -- while putting lucrative "carbon credits" into the pockets of Chinese developers. But in the end the new Xiaoxi dam may do nothing to lower global-warming emissions as advertised. And many of the 7,500 people displaced by the project still seethe over losing their homes and farmland. "Nobody asked if we wanted to move," said a 38-year-old man whose family lost a small brick house. "The government just posted a notice that said, 'Your home will be demolished.'" The dam will shortchange German consumers, Chinese villagers and the climate itself, if critics are right. And Xiaoxi is not alone.
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Fri, Jan 23, 2009: from Mongabay:
97 percent of climatologists say global warming is occurring and caused by humans
The survey, conducted among researchers listed in the American Geological Institute's Directory of Geoscience Departments, "found that climatologists who are active in research showed the strongest consensus on the causes of global warming, with 97 percent agreeing humans play a role". The biggest doubters were petroleum geologists (47 percent) and meteorologists (64 percent). A recent poll suggests that 58 percent of Americans believe that human activity contributes to climate change.... "So I guess the take-home message is, the more you know about the field of climate science, the more you're likely to believe in global warming and humankind's contribution to it."
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Fri, Jan 23, 2009: from BBC (UK):
Climate shift 'killing US trees'
Old growth trees in western parts of the US are probably being killed as a result of regional changes to the climate, a study has suggested. Analysis of undisturbed forests showed that the trees' mortality rate had doubled since 1955, researchers said. They warned that the loss of old growth trees could have implications for the areas' ecology and for the amount of carbon that the forests could store.... "Because mortality increased in small trees, the overall increase in mortality rates cannot be attributed to ageing of large trees," they added.... "We may only be talking about an annual tree mortality rate changing from 1 percent a year to 2 percent, but over time a lot of small numbers add up," said co-author Professor Mark Harmon from Oregon State University. He feared that the die-back was the first sign of a "feedback loop" developing.... Another member of the team, Dr Nate Stephenson, said increasing tree deaths could indicate a forest that was vulnerable to sudden, widespread die-back.
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Fri, Jan 23, 2009: from Toronto Globe and Mail:
Seasons come and go ... and they're doing so nearly two days earlier than they used to
In the depths of winter, it may provide some comfort to think that summer will be here earlier than usual. But so will next winter. In fact, the arrivals of all seasons have been sped up by nearly two days, according to new research, part of a worldwide trend that scientists say is tied to climate change. Not only are temperatures rising, but the hottest and coldest days of the year are falling ever earlier in the calendar, a trend that accelerates from the late 1970s onward. The research, conducted by scientists from the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard University, is published in the latest edition of the scientific journal Nature.
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Thu, Jan 22, 2009: from UC Irvine, via EurekAlert:
Termite insecticide a potent greenhouse gas
An insecticide used to fumigate termite-infested buildings is a strong greenhouse gas that lives in the atmosphere nearly 10 times longer than previously thought, UC Irvine research has found. Sulfuryl fluoride, UCI chemists discovered, stays in the atmosphere at least 30-40 years and perhaps as long as 100 years. Prior studies estimated its atmospheric lifetime at as low as five years, grossly underestimating the global warming potential.... Kilogram for kilogram, sulfuryl fluoride is about 4,000 times more efficient than carbon dioxide at trapping heat, though much less of it exists in the atmosphere.... Sulfuryl fluoride blocks a wavelength of heat that otherwise could easily escape the Earth, the scientists said. Carbon dioxide blocks a different wavelength, trapping heat near the surface. "The only place where the planet is able to emit heat that escapes the atmosphere is in the region that sulfuryl fluoride blocks," said Blake, chemistry professor. "If we put something with this blocking effect in that area, then we're in trouble -- and we are putting something in there."
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Wed, Jan 21, 2009: from Guardian (UK):
Scientists solve enigma of Antarctic 'cooling'
Scientists have solved the enigma of the Antarctic apparently getting cooler, while the rest of the world heats up. New research shows that while some parts of the frozen continent have been getting slightly colder over the last few decades, the average temperature across the continent has been rising for at least the last 50 years. In the remote and inaccessible West Antarctic region the new research, based on ground measurements and satellite data, show that the region has warmed rapidly, by 0.17C each decade since 1957. "We had no idea what was happening there," said Professor Eric Steig, at the University of Washington, Seattle, and who led the research published in Nature. This outweighs the cooling seen in East Antarctica, so that, overall, the continent has warmed by 0.12C each decade over the same period. This matches the warming of the southern hemisphere as a whole and removes the apparent contradiction.
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Wed, Jan 21, 2009: from CNN:
Surveyed scientists agree global warming is real
Human-induced global warming is real, according to a recent U.S. survey based on the opinions of 3,146 scientists... Two questions were key: Have mean global temperatures risen compared to pre-1800s levels, and has human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures? About 90 percent of the scientists agreed with the first question and 82 percent the second. The strongest consensus on the causes of global warming came from climatologists who are active in climate research, with 97 percent agreeing humans play a role. Petroleum geologists and meteorologists were among the biggest doubters, with only 47 percent and 64 percent, respectively, believing in human involvement...."The debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes," said [one of the study's authors].
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Sun, Jan 18, 2009: from Canwest News Service:
Climate warming 'highly unusual' says new study
A major U.S. government report on Arctic climate, prepared with information from eight Canadian scientists, has concluded that the recent rapid warming of polar temperatures and shrinking of multi-year Arctic sea ice are "highly unusual compared to events from previous thousands of years." The findings, released Friday, counter suggestions from skeptics that such recent events as the opening of the Northwest Passage and collapse of ice shelves in the Canadian Arctic are predictable phenomena that can be explained as part of a natural climate cycle rather than being driven by elevated carbon emissions from human activity. A summary of the report -- described as "the first comprehensive analysis of the real data we have on past climate conditions in the Arctic," by U.S. Geological Survey director Mark Myers -- warns that "sustained warming of at least a few degrees" is probably enough "to cause the nearly complete, eventual disappearance of the Greenland ice sheet, which would raise sea level by several metres."
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Sat, Jan 17, 2009: from Wilmington News Journal:
Report warns of impact on coast from warming
More storm-related flooding, shoreline erosion, habitat loss and saltwater intrusion into potential drinking water supplies are expected in Delaware and other Mid-Atlantic states as the climate warms, according to a report issued Friday by the Environmental Protection Agency. Delaware officials said they plan to use the federal report as a stepping-off point to plan for adaptation as the sea level continues to rise. Most troubling for Dave Carter, program manager for Delaware Coastal Programs, is that sea-level rise, combined with a settling of land, already is causing problems in some low-lying areas along Delaware Bay. "These are the early signals," he said. Comparing the state's new elevation data with Federal Emergency Management Flood Plan Maps for some areas in Delaware shows places where potential evacuation routes -- especially along Delaware Bay -- will be flooded "long before residents realize their lives are in danger," he said.
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Thu, Jan 15, 2009: from London Daily Telegraph:
Green I.T.: how many Google searches does it take to boil a kettle?
...a newspaper reported that just two Google searches generates the same amount of CO2 as boiling a kettle. That would mean the search giant might as well be flying 10 jumbo jets from London to New York every day, because approximately 242 million queries are processed over 24 hours. The story was quickly seized upon by the technology community, and set the internet alight. Amidst all the subsequent hot air, Alex Wissner-Gross, the Harvard academic upon whose forthcoming research the story was supposedly based, claimed that he didn’t recognise the figures put next to his name. Google, meanwhile, hit back, too, and said that the correct figure wasn’t 7g of CO2 per search – it was 0.2g.
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Tue, Jan 13, 2009: from Agence France-Presse:
The earth's magnetic field impacts climate: Danish study
COPENHAGEN -- The earth's climate has been significantly affected by the planet's magnetic field, according to a Danish study published Monday that could challenge the notion that human emissions are responsible for global warming. "Our results show a strong correlation between the strength of the earth's magnetic field and the amount of precipitation in the tropics," one of the two Danish geophysicists behind the study, Mads Faurschou Knudsen of the geology department at Aarhus University in western Denmark, told the Videnskab journal.... The results of the study, which has also been published in US scientific journal Geology, lend support to a controversial theory published a decade ago by Danish astrophysicist Henrik Svensmark, who claimed the climate was highly influenced by galactic cosmic ray (GCR) particles penetrating the earth's atmosphere.
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Mon, Jan 12, 2009: from Ayn Rand Center:
Pain of Recession Foretells Agony of Green Economy
Washington, D.C.--For the first time in 25 years, global demand for oil is expected to decline two years in a row. The decline is an effect of the global economic recession, which has dramatically reduced production and trade worldwide. “This recession, with all its grim news of job loss and economic hardship, should be seen as a cautionary tale against coercive energy and climate policies,” said Keith Lockitch, fellow of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. “Energy is the motive power that fuels production and trade. When economic activity slows, so does energy demand. But it goes the other way too. Imposing restrictions on the use of energy--as would occur under a system of carbon regulation--would choke off the economy’s fuel and shut down productive activity. The economic pain we’re all feeling in this recession is nothing compared to the pain we would feel if we adopt green policies that cut off fossil fuel consumption
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Mon, Jan 12, 2009: from Bloomberg News:
Greenland's Rapid Glacier Retreat May Stall, Scientists Say
The rapid shrinking of glaciers in Greenland during recent years may stall, diminishing the Arctic island's potential contribution to rising sea levels blamed on global warming, a U.K.-led research team found. The study in the journal Nature Geoscience indicates the faster-than-normal ice loss observed in many of Greenland's glaciers in the early 2000s won't be sustained, said Andreas Vieli, a glaciologist at Durham University in northern England... While the researchers studied one glacier, they said their findings apply to glaciers in similar terrain that are grounded at their snout in a trough reaching below sea-level.
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Mon, Jan 12, 2009: from Telegraph.co.uk:
Climate change fears spiral as warmer seas 'absorbing less carbon dioxide'
Warmer waters -- themselves said to be the result of the changing climate -- are believed to have caused the decline. Samples taken from the Sea of Japan last year were compared with analysis of water collected in the past. The findings suggest that it is absorbing only half as much carbon dioxide as during the 1990s. It could mean that governments would have to increase targets for cutting carbon emissions more sharply than previously thought. Scientists believe that a slight change in the temperature of the water appears to have reduced a process known as "ventilation" which helps reabsorb about a quarter of the carbon dioxide produced around the world.
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Mon, Jan 12, 2009: from DOE via EurekAlert:
Dirty snow causes early runoff in Cascades, Rockies
Soot from pollution causes winter snowpacks to warm, shrink and warm some more. This continuous cycle sends snowmelt streaming down mountains as much as a month early, a new study finds. How pollution affects a mountain range's natural water reservoirs is important for water resource managers in the western United States and Canada who plan for hydroelectricity generation, fisheries and farming. Scientists at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory conducted the first-ever study of soot on snow in the western states at a scale that predicted impacts along mountain ranges. They found that soot warms up the snow and the air above it by up to 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit, causing snow to melt.
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Sun, Jan 11, 2009: from Canadian Press:
Scientists track climate change through whale teeth
WINNIPEG -- Researchers are hoping the huge tusks of the walrus and choppers of the beluga whale will help track the increasing impact of global warming on Canadian Arctic mammals and the Inuit communities that depend on the creatures for food. Scientists with Fisheries and Oceans Canada in Winnipeg are preparing to study the teeth of mammals killed during Inuit hunts to look for any signs that greenhouse gases are taking a toll. Although scientists have studied the teeth — which have annular rings similar to those of a tree trunk — for many years, this is the first time they are being used to unlock the impact climate change is having in the North. Experts expect to find a growing number of contaminants like mercury and PCBs in the teeth, as well as evidence of a thinning diet — all attributable to the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
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Sat, Jan 10, 2009: from New Scientist:
'Climate fix' ship sets sail with plan to dump iron
The ambitious geoengineering expedition has caused a stir among some campaigning groups, but has the scientific backing of the UK, German, and Indian governments, as well as the International Maritime Organisation. Within weeks, the ship's crew hope to dump 20 tonnes of ferrous sulphate into the Southern Ocean. Plankton need iron to grow, and the aim of the expedition is to trigger a plankton bloom and boost the amount of carbon that is sucked out of the air and locked up at the bottom of the ocean.... "Twenty tonnes of iron particles in the vast ocean is very much drop in the bucket and is unlikely to have a lasting effect," says Ken Caldeira of Stanford University. "The rational concern is that experiments will lead down some slippery slope -- that small experiments could be scaled up without any regulation."
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Sat, Jan 10, 2009: from National Assessment of Adult Literacy:
State and County Literacy Estimates
In response to a demand for estimates of the percentage of adults with low literacy in individual states and counties, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has produced estimates of the percentage of adults lacking Basic Prose Literacy Skills (BPLS) for all states and counties in the United States in 2003 and 1992. These estimates were developed using statistical models that related estimated percentages of adults lacking BPLS in counties sampled for the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) and the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) to county characteristics, such as levels of educational attainment and race/ethnicity distributions. Based on the results of these models, NCES derived BPLS literacy estimates for all states and counties in the United States and produced user-friendly tables to compare literacy estimates across states or counties and across years.
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Wed, Jan 7, 2009: from ProPublica:
Agencies Move to Restrict FOIA Access in Last-Minute Regs
As one of the most secretive presidential administrations in history gets ready to close up shop, it's closing a few more things -- records. Over the past few months, some federal agencies have issued rules that would eliminate public disclosure of information -- or, in some cases, make it more difficult for requesters to get information. While the federal Freedom of Information Act regulates what government information may be withheld from the public, internal rules determine how that law is carried out at the agency level. Those rules also may restrict access to information. On Dec. 9, the Department of Energy [2] proposed a rule that would eliminate the agency's "public interest balancing test" in determining whether to release information to the public.
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Mon, Jan 5, 2009: from Agence France-Presse:
1 in 5 mulling leaving HK
HONG KONG - ONE in five Hong Kong residents is considering leaving the city because of its dire air quality, a survey released on Monday has found, raising fears over the financial hub's competitiveness. The findings equate to 1.4 million residents thinking about moving away, including 500,000 who are 'seriously considering or already planning to move', according to the survey by the think tank Civic Exchange. The groups most seriously thinking about fleeing the city include top earners and highly educated workers, raising fears over the southern Chinese city's ability to attract and retain top talent, the report's authors found.
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Sat, Jan 3, 2009: from Science Daily (US):
Hot Southern Summer Threatens Coral With Massive Bleaching Event
A widespread and severe coral bleaching episode is predicted to cause immense damage to some of the world's most important marine environments over the next few months. A report from the US Government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts severe bleaching for parts of the Coral Sea, which lies adjacent to Australia's Great Barrier Reef, and the Coral Triangle, a 5.4 million square kilometre expanse of ocean in the Indo-Pacific which is considered the centre of the world's marine life. "This forecast bleaching episode will be caused by increased water temperatures and is the kind of event we can expect on a regular basis if average global temperatures rise above 2 degrees," said Richard Leck, Climate Change Strategy Leader for WWF's Coral Triangle Program.... The bleaching, predicted to occur between now and February, could have a devastating impact on coral reef ecosystems, killing coral and destroying food chains. There would be severe impacts for communities in Australia and the region, who depend on the oceans for their livelihoods.
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Fri, Jan 2, 2009: from London Independent:
Climate scientists: it's time for 'Plan B'
An emergency "Plan B" using the latest technology is needed to save the world from dangerous climate change, according to a poll of leading scientists carried out by The Independent. The collective international failure to curb the growing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has meant that an alternative to merely curbing emissions may become necessary. The plan would involve highly controversial proposals to lower global temperatures artificially through daringly ambitious schemes that either reduce sunlight levels by man-made means or take CO2 out of the air. This "geoengineering" approach – including schemes such as fertilising the oceans with iron to stimulate algal blooms – would have been dismissed as a distraction a few years ago but is now being seen by the majority of scientists we surveyed as a viable emergency backup plan that could save the planet from the worst effects of climate change, at least until deep cuts are made in CO2 emissions. What has worried many of the experts, who include recognised authorities from the world's leading universities and research institutes, as well as a Nobel Laureate, is the failure to curb global greenhouse gas emissions through international agreements, namely the Kyoto Treaty, and recent studies indicating that the Earth's natural carbon "sinks" are becoming less efficient at absorbing man-made CO2 from the atmosphere.
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Fri, Jan 2, 2009: from Chicago Tribune:
Canada's forests, once huge help on greenhouse gases, now contribute to climate change
As relentlessly bad as the news about global warming seems to be, with ice at the poles melting faster than scientists had predicted and world temperatures rising higher than expected, there was at least a reservoir of hope stored here in Canada's vast forests. The country's 1.2 million square miles of trees have been dubbed the "lungs of the planet" by ecologists because they account for more than 7 percent of Earth's total forest lands. They could always be depended upon to suck in vast quantities of carbon dioxide, naturally cleansing the world of much of the harmful heat-trapping gas. But not anymore. In an alarming yet little-noticed series of recent studies, scientists have concluded that Canada's precious forests, stressed from damage caused by global warming, insect infestations and persistent fires, have crossed an ominous line and are now pumping out more climate-changing carbon dioxide than they are sequestering. Worse yet, the experts predict that Canada's forests will remain net carbon sources, as opposed to carbon storage "sinks," until at least 2022, and possibly much longer.
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Thu, Jan 1, 2009: from New Scientist:
More polar bears going hungry
The number of undernourished bears has tripled in a 20-year period.... In 1985 and 1986 the proportion of bears fasting was 9.6 and 10.5 per cent respectively. By 2005 and 2006 this had risen to 21.4 and 29.3 per cent... "If the ice continues to contract, which seems inevitable, polar bears will become even more nutritionally disadvantaged. The study proves polar bears are in serious trouble," says Rick Steiner, a marine conservationist at the University of Alaska in Anchorage.
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Wed, Dec 31, 2008: from SciDev.net:
Climate change linked to decline in Asian monsoon
Evidence that human-induced climate change may be affecting the Asian monsoon cycle has been published by a Chinese-US team.... Records show that, before 1960, warmer years were associated with stronger monsoons, and the temperature decreased when the monsoon weakened. But the study found a reversed association after this date. "The rising temperature now leads to less precipitation, which is not a natural pattern," said Larry Edwards, geologist at the University of Minnesota and co-author of the paper, which was published in Science (November).
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Wed, Dec 31, 2008: from Reuters:
Researchers say 2009 to be one of warmest years on record
LONDON (Reuters) - Next year is set to be one of the top-five warmest on record, climate scientists said on Tuesday. The average global temperature for 2009 is expected to be more than 0.4 degrees celsius above the long-term average, despite the continued cooling of huge areas of the Pacific Ocean, a phenomenon known as La Nina. That would make it the warmest year since 2005, according to researchers at the Met Office, who say there is also a growing probability of record temperatures after next year. Currently the warmest year on record is 1998, which saw average temperatures of 14.52 degrees celsius - well above the 1961-1990 long-term average of 14 degrees celsius. Warm weather that year was strongly influenced by El Nino, an abnormal warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern tropical Pacific.
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Wed, Dec 31, 2008: from Politiken.dk:
Danish Arctic research dates Ice Age: "so sudden that it is as if a button was pressed"
The extensive scientific study shows that it was precisely 11,711 years ago -- and not the indeterminate figure of 'some' 11,000 years ago -- that the ice withdrew, allowing humans and animals free reign. ... "Our new, extremely detailed data from the examination of the ice cores shows that in the transition from the ice age to our current warm, interglacial period the climate shift is so sudden that it is as if a button was pressed", explains ice core researcher Jorgen Peder Steffensen, Centre for Ice and Climate at NBI at the University of Copenhagen.
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Mon, Dec 29, 2008: from Agence France-Presse:
Natural disasters killed over 220,000
BERLIN -- Natural disasters killed over 220,000 people in 2008, making it one of the most devastating years on record and underlining the need for a global climate deal, the world's number two reinsurer said Monday. Although the number of natural disasters was lower than in 2007, the catastrophes that occurred proved to be more destructive in terms of the number of victims and the financial cost of the damage caused, Germany-based Munich Re said in its annual assessment. "This continues the long-term trend we have been observing. Climate change has already started and is very probably contributing to increasingly frequent weather extremes and ensuing natural catastrophes," Munich Re board member Torsten Jeworrek said.
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Mon, Dec 29, 2008: from Toronto Globe and Mail:
What if you can't see the forest for the wind farm?
The only certain thing about the battle shaping up on the edge of Algonquin Park is that the green side will win. The question, however, is which green side will be the victor? In a conflict suited to the times, the Ontario government is running into resistance from self-professed environmentalists over its plan to expand the use of wind turbines, which are the darling of other self-professed environmentalists. The government, which wants to shut down all the province's polluting coal plants by 2014, seems determined to ignore the cries that plunking up to 60 giant wind turbines in the middle of nearly pristine forest is not the highest evolution of green philosophy.
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Mon, Dec 29, 2008: from via ScienceDaily:
Climate Change Could Dramatically Affect Water Supplies
It's no simple matter to figure out how regional changes in precipitation, expected to result from global climate change, may affect water supplies. Now, a new analysis led by MIT researchers has found that the changes in groundwater may actually be much greater than the precipitation changes themselves. For example, in places where annual rainfall may increase by 20 percent as a result of climate change, the groundwater might increase as much as 40 percent. Conversely, the analysis showed in some cases just a 20 percent decrease in rainfall could lead to a 70 percent decrease in the recharging of local aquifers — a potentially devastating blow in semi-arid and arid regions.
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Mon, Dec 29, 2008: from NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory via ScienceDaily:
NASA Study Links Severe Storm Increases, Global Warming
The frequency of extremely high clouds in Earth's tropics -- the type associated with severe storms and rainfall -- is increasing as a result of global warming, according to a study by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. [The] team found a strong correlation between the frequency of these clouds and seasonal variations in the average sea surface temperature of the tropical oceans. For every degree Centigrade (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) increase in average ocean surface temperature, the team observed a 45-percent increase in the frequency of the very high clouds. At the present rate of global warming of 0.13 degrees Celsius (0.23 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade, the team inferred the frequency of these storms can be expected to increase by six percent per decade.
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Sun, Dec 28, 2008: from Purdue University via ScienceDaily:
Warmer Temperatures Could Lead To A Boom In Corn Pests
Climate change could provide the warmer weather pests prefer, leading to an increase in populations that feed on corn and other crops, according to a new study. Warmer growing season temperatures and milder winters could allow some of these insects to expand their territory and produce an extra generation of offspring each year, said Noah Diffenbaugh, the Purdue University associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences who led the study.
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Sun, Dec 28, 2008: from Queen:
Ecosystem Changes In Temperate Lakes Linked To Climate Warming
Unparalleled warming over the last few decades has triggered widespread ecosystem changes in many temperate North American and Western European lakes, say researchers at Queen's University and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. The team reports that striking changes are now occurring in many temperate lakes similar to those previously observed in the rapidly warming Arctic, although typically many decades later. The Arctic has long been considered a "bellwether" of what will eventually happen with warmer conditions farther south.
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Sat, Dec 27, 2008: from Toronto Globe and Mail:
It's 'attack of the slime' as jellyfish jeopardize the Earth's oceans
It has been dubbed the "rise of slime." Massive swarms of jellyfish are blooming from the tropics to the Arctic, from Peru to Namibia to the Black Sea to Japan, closing beaches and wiping out fish, either by devouring their eggs and larvae, or out-competing them for food. To draw attention to the spread of "jellytoriums," the National Science Foundation in the U.S. has produced a report documenting that the most severe damage is to fish: In the Sea of Japan, for example, schools of Nomurai jellyfish - 500 million strong and each more than two metres in diameter - are clogging fishing nets, killing fish and accounting for at least $20-million in losses. The Black Sea has suffered $350-million in losses. A region of the Bering Sea is so full of jellies that it was nicknamed "Slime Bank."
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Fri, Dec 26, 2008: from Scientific American:
Court orders EPA to stick with Bush clean air rules--for now
A federal court this week did an about-face, ruling (pdf) that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must enforce admittedly faulty regulations restricting power plant emissions until they're replaced by new improved ones. "We are convinced that, notwithstanding the relative flaws of [the Clean Air Interstate Rule, CAIR], allowing CAIR to remain in effect until it is replaced by a rule consistent with our opinion would at least temporarily preserve the environmental values [translation: clean air] covered by CAIR," the federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., wrote in its decision (pdf) yesterday.
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Fri, Dec 26, 2008: from Boston Globe:
Going with climate's flow
Environmental advocates, wildlife officials, and land trusts charged with protecting the natural world are beginning to take a new approach to climate change: rather than focus only on stopping it, they are also thinking about how to adapt to what's coming.... "The old model is - let's protect a certain species or natural community; let's protect this habitat for box turtle or for maple forest," said Andy Finton, director of conservation science at The Nature Conservancy. "We've got to be more flexible in our thinking, because we can't necessarily nail down all the species . . . In a way, we're protecting the stage, while the actors may change over time."
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Wed, Dec 24, 2008: from Fox News:
No Matter What Happens, Someone Will Blame Global Warming
Global warming was blamed for everything from beasts gone wild to anorexic whales to the complete breakdown of human society this year -- showing that no matter what it is and where it happens, scientists, explorers, politicians and those who track the Loch Ness Monster are comfortable scapegoating the weather. FOXNews.com takes a look back at 10 things that global warming allegedly caused -- or will no doubt soon be responsible for -- as reported in the news around the world in 2008.
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Sun, Dec 21, 2008: from London Daily Telegraph:
Neanderthals could have died out because their bodies overheated
Analysis of DNA obtained from Neanderthal remains has revealed key differences from modern humans that suggest their bodies produced excess heat. While in the cold climate of an ice age this would have provided the species with an advantage, as the earth warmed they would have been less able to cope. Ultimately this would have caused their extinction around 24,000 years ago.
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Sat, Dec 20, 2008: from BBC:
Swiss glaciers 'in full retreat'
Swiss glaciers are melting away at an accelerating rate and many will vanish this century if climate projections are correct, two new studies suggest. One assessment found that some 10 cubic km of ice have been lost from 1,500 glaciers over the past nine years. The other study, based on a sample of 30 representative glaciers, indicates the group's members are now losing a metre of thickness every year. Both pieces of work come out of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. "The trend is negative, but what we see is that the trend is also steepening," said Matthias Huss from the Zurich university's Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology.
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Sat, Dec 20, 2008: from The Economist:
Fiddling with words as the world melts
...At this pace, it seems hard to believe that a global deal on emissions targets (reconciling new emitters with older ones) can be reached next December at a meeting in Copenhagen, seen as a make-or-break time for UN efforts to cool the world. In the background of the Poznan meeting, there was mild optimism (and a reluctance by others to put fresh cards on the table) ahead of an expected change of stance by an Obama administration in America; resentment (among the poor and green) over the refusal of Japan and Canada to promise deeper cuts; and strong demands from China for the transfer of technology from the rich to others. In the final hours of the conference, the governments of small, sinking island nations were delighted to learn that they, and not some global body, would control a fund to help them adapt to a warming world. Their mood changed when it became known that no extra money had been set aside for this purpose.
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Fri, Dec 19, 2008: from Christian Science Monitor:
World's oceans turning acidic faster than expected
Parts of the world's oceans appear to be acidifying far faster than scientists have expected. The culprit: rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere pumped into the air from cars, power plants, and industries. The Southern Ocean represents one of the most high-profile examples. There, scientists estimate that the ocean could reach a biologically important tipping point in wintertime by 2030, at least 20 years earlier than scientists projected only three years ago. Among the vulnerable: a tiny form of sea snail that serves as food for a wide range of fish. Similar trends are appearing in more temperate waters, say researchers. The studies suggest the CO2-emission targets being considered for a new global warming treaty are likely to be inadequate to prevent significant, long-lasting changes in some ocean basins.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Thu, Dec 18, 2008: from UCLA, via EurekAlert:
No quick or easy technological fix for climate change, researchers say
Global warming, some have argued, can be reversed with a large-scale "geoengineering" fix, such as having a giant blimp spray liquefied sulfur dioxide in the stratosphere or building tens of millions of chemical filter systems in the atmosphere to filter out carbon dioxide. But Richard Turco, a professor in the UCLA Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and a member and founding director of UCLA's Institute of the Environment, sees no evidence that such technological alterations of the climate system would be as quick or easy as their proponents claim and says many of them wouldn't work at all.... "The size distribution of the particles is critical," Turco said. "If the particles are too large, that will actually create a warming effect, a greenhouse warming. Small particles are not useful because they don't reflect much radiation; you need something in between, and we have shown that is hard to achieve reliably."
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Thu, Dec 18, 2008: from Science Daily (US):
Scientists Find Increased Methane Levels In Arctic Ocean
A team led by International Arctic Research Center scientist Igor Semiletov has found data to suggest that the carbon pool beneath the Arctic Ocean is leaking.... Geophysical measurements showed methane bubbles coming out of chimneys on the seafloor. "The concentrations of the methane were the highest ever measured in the summertime in the Arctic Ocean," Semiletov said. "We have found methane bubble clouds above the gas-charged sediment and above the chimneys going through the sediment."... The new data indicates the underwater permafrost is thawing and therefore releasing methane.... Methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, is thought to be an important factor in global climate change.
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Thu, Dec 18, 2008: from The Epoch Times:
Desalination Plants Increase - As do Concerns
...Is this a valid source of drinking water? What are the ramifications of desalination? The desalination process removes salt and other minerals from water to make it drinkable. This is achieved by filtering using reverse osmosis. It sounds a good idea, just to take the salt out of the sea water and the result is water for us to drink; so why the fuss? And is it destructive to the oceans? “Yes,” says Wal Grahame, “It is destructive. A desalination plant here will have a footprint bigger than the MCG [Melbourne Cricket Ground] and four stories high. To produce 50 gigs of water they will have to emit 1 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.”... Around 11,000 litres of sea water per second are pumped into the desalination works resulting in between 25 to 60 tonnes of waste. This is sludge from the pretreatment process which uses chemicals to remove solid bits and to destroy any biological life such as, fish, plankton and biota. The chemicals used in the pre treatment process are chlorine, caustic soda, hydrochloric acid, and ferric chloride. Some of these chemicals get discharged back into the sea. Using the reverse osmosis process, the water is then pushed through a series of membranes which filters out everything except the water.
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Thu, Dec 18, 2008: from Times Online (UK):
Seas will rise faster than predicted, say scientists
Sea levels will rise much faster than previously forecast because of the rate that glaciers and ice sheets are melting, a study has found. Research commissioned by the US Climate Change Science Program concludes that the rises will substantially exceed forecasts that do not take into account the latest data and observations. The adjusted outlook, announced at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, suggests that recent predictions of a rise of between 7in and 2ft over the next century are conservative.
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Thu, Dec 18, 2008: from BBC:
Changes 'amplify Arctic warming'
...Theory predicts that as ice is lost in the Arctic, more of the ocean's surface will be exposed to solar radiation and will warm up. When the autumn comes and the Sun goes down on the Arctic, that warmth should be released back into the atmosphere, delaying the fall in air temperatures. Ultimately, this feedback process should result in Arctic temperatures rising faster than the global mean. Dr [Julienne] Stroeve and colleagues have now analysed Arctic autumn (September, October, November) air temperatures for the period 2004-2008 and compared them to the long term average (1979 to 2008). The results, they believe, are evidence of the predicted amplification effect. "You see this large warming over the Arctic ocean of around 3C in these last four years compared to the long-term mean," explained Dr Stroeve.
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Wed, Dec 17, 2008: from Queen:
Study links ecosystem changes in temperate lakes to climate warming
The scientists studied changes over the last few decades in the species composition of small, microscopic algae preserved in sediments from more than 200 lake systems in the northern hemisphere. These algae dominate the plankton that float at or near the surface of lakes, and serve as food for other larger organisms. Striking ecosystem changes were recorded from a large suite of lakes from Arctic, alpine and temperate ecozones in North America and western Europe. Aquatic ecosystem changes across the circumpolar Arctic were found to occur in the late-19th and early 20th centuries. These were similar to shifts in algal communities, indicating decreased ice cover and related changes, over the last few decades in the temperate lakes.... "The widespread occurrence of these trends is particularly troubling as they suggest that climatically-induced ecological thresholds have already been crossed, even with temperature increases that are below projected future warming scenarios for these regions," adds Dr. Paterson.... "We are entering unchartered territory, the effects of which can cascade throughout the entire ecosystem," concludes Dr. Smol.
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Wed, Dec 17, 2008: from Oregon State University, via EurekAlert:
Some climate impacts happening faster than anticipated
A report released today at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union provides new insights on the potential for abrupt climate change and the effects it could have on the United States, identifying key concerns that include faster-than-expected loss of sea ice, rising sea levels and a possibly permanent state of drought in the American Southwest.... While concluding that some projections of the impact of climate change have actually been too conservative -- as in the case of glacier and ice sheets that are moving and decaying faster than predicted -- others may not pose as immediate a threat as some scenarios had projected, such as the rapid releases of methane or dramatic shifts in the ocean current patterns that help keep Europe warm.... The "overarching" recommendation of the report is the need for committed and sustained monitoring of these climatic forces that could trigger abrupt climate change, the researchers concluded.
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Tue, Dec 16, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
Emissions: Where do you draw the line?
Supporters of this system say that a cap-and-trade, market-based solution is the only realistic way a reduction in global emissions will ever be achieved. Carrots are always better than sticks, they say. But in such a world, it will be rare for a distinction to be made between why emissions were created in the first place. There will be a market-determined price to pay for emitting a tonne of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but no one will be asking why you emitted it as long as you pay the going rate. But is it beyond our collective wit to also judge our energy use against a set of criteria that gives extra weighting to our essential and most worthy needs?... But who is going to draw that line between essential and non-essential use? What, for example, would you place into the "essential" trolley? Two thousand miles' worth of petro-fuelled driving a year? Enough energy to heat your living room to 18C during winter?
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Tue, Dec 16, 2008: from Telegraph.co.uk:
Last decade is the warmest on record, scientists say
Global warming has pushed the world's temperature up by more than 1.26F (0.7C), said the Met Office, as they unveiled figures that show the dramatic effect human influence has had on the Earth's climate. They predict that this year will be the tenth warmest worldwide since records began in 1850, with a global mean temperature of 58F (14.3C). This would have been "exceptionally unusual" just a few years ago, but is now "quite normal," say climate scientists. Dr Peter Stott from the Met Office said: "Human influence, particularly emission of greenhouse gases, has greatly increased the chance of having such warm years."
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Tue, Dec 16, 2008: from AP News:
More than 2 trillion tons of ice melted in Arctic since '03
More than 2 trillion tons of land ice in Greenland, Antarctica and Alaska have melted since 2003, according to new NASA satellite data that show the latest signs of what scientists say is global warming. More than half of the loss of landlocked ice in the past five years has occurred in Greenland, based on measurements of ice weight by NASA's GRACE satellite, said NASA geophysicist Scott Luthcke. The water melting from Greenland in the past five years would fill up about 11 Chesapeake Bays, he said, and the Greenland melt seems to be accelerating.... A second study suggests even larger amounts of frozen methane are trapped in lakebeds and sea bottoms around Siberia and they are starting to bubble to the surface in some spots in alarming amounts, said Igor Semiletov, a professor at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. In late summer, Semiletov found methane bubbling up from parts of the East Siberian Sea and Laptev Sea at levels that were 10 times higher than they were in the mid-1990s, he said based on a study this summer.
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Mon, Dec 15, 2008: from Ohio State University, via EurekAlert:
Greenland's glaciers losing ice faster this year than last year, which was record-setting itself
Researchers watching the loss of ice flowing out from the giant island of Greenland say that the amount of ice lost this summer is nearly three times what was lost one year ago.... [T]he loss of ice since the year 2000 is 355.4 square miles (920.5 square kilometers), or more than 10 times the size of Manhattan. "We now know that the climate doesn't have to warm any more for Greenland to continue losing ice," Box said. "It has probably passed the point where it could maintain the mass of ice that we remember. "But that doesn't mean that Greenland's ice will all disappear. It's likely that it will probably adjust to a new 'equilibrium' but before it reaches the equilibrium, it will shed a lot more ice.
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Sun, Dec 14, 2008: from Indo-Asian News Service:
Get ready for worse climate change impacts: expert
Poznan (Poland), Dec 14 (IANS) An extra billion people will face water shortage, cereal production in developing countries will drop and coastal regions will face more damage from floods and storms because of delay in combating climate change, says a leading expert. The world should be prepared to face far worse effects of global warming than it is facing now, Martin Parry, a professor at the Imperial College in London, said in the backdrop of little substantial progress at the Dec 1-12 climate summit here.
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Fri, Dec 12, 2008: from Toronto Globe and Mail:
Scientists predict seasonal ice-free Arctic by 2015
QUEBEC -- Ice in the Canadian Arctic is melting at such an alarming pace due to climate change that the North will be seasonally ice free in six years, according to a study released yesterday from a groundbreaking scientific expedition. The dawning of a seasonal ice-free Canadian Arctic is upon us, said David Barber, one of the leading scientists on the 15-month expedition, adding the consequences for Inuit communities, the wildlife and the entire northern ecosystem are unpredictable. And it is happening much faster than anyone anticipated, he said, noting that only two years ago a seasonal ice-free Arctic was predicted by 2030. "I now believe that the Arctic will be out of multiyear ice in the summertime as early as 2015; it is coming very quickly," Dr. Barber said. "The whole system is in a very rapid rate of change. ... The Arctic is telling us that climate change is coming quicker and stronger."
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Thu, Dec 11, 2008: from Mongabay:
Climate change will transform the chemical makeup of the ocean
"The ocean's calcium cycle is closely linked to atmospheric carbon dioxide and the processes that control seawater's acidity," co-author of the paper, Ken Caldeira, adds. Already, increasing acidification of the ocean is decimating certain populations of coral. In past research Caldeira has pointed out that an increasingly acidic ocean will doom the world's fishing industry and degrade 98 percent of the world's coral reefs in less than fifty years.... "as CO2 increases and weather patterns shift, the chemical composition of our rivers will change, and this will affect the oceans. This will change the amount of calcium and other elements in ocean salts." "What we learned from this work is that the ocean system is much more sensitive to climate change than we have previously appreciated," Griffith adds.
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Wed, Dec 10, 2008: from London Independent:
Climate change: A battle for the planet
Summing up what many scientists, environmentalists and politicians now think about the threat of climate change is simple: the world is drinking in the last chance saloon. Time is still available to tackle the warming of the atmosphere, which every government (including that of George Bush) today accepts is real, and being caused by human actions. But the window of opportunity is rapidly closing, and the last chance for the world to act in concert to bring the process under control is clearly visible: it is the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen scheduled for December 2009.
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Wed, Dec 10, 2008: from Philadelphia Inquirer:
Politics choke clean-air efforts
...in June 2005, a panel of scientists appointed by the Environmental Protection Agency determined that the air was still too dirty.... The panel recommended tougher rules to limit long-term exposure, a move that EPA's own scientists said could prevent thousands of premature deaths annually. EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson rejected their advice. His decision took the panel by surprise, but before long, it would fit into a familiar pattern. Over the next three years, leading environmental scientists would denounce Johnson for substituting politics for science on key pollution issues - from not regulating greenhouse gases blamed for global warming to delaying the assessment of toxic chemicals. But it was in a succession of decisions on air quality that Johnson's uneven application of science had perhaps the most severe impacts on human health.
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Wed, Dec 10, 2008: from Straight.com:
Gwynne Dyer: Four harsh truths about climate change
About 70 interviews, a dozen countries, and 18 months later, I have reached four conclusions that I didn’t even suspect when I began the process. The first is simply this: the scientists are really scared. Their observations over the past two or three years suggest that everything is happening a lot faster than climate models predicted. This creates a dilemma, because for the past decade they have been struggling against a well-funded campaign that cast doubt on climate change. Now, finally, people and even governments are listening. Even in the United States, the world headquarters of climate-change denial, 85 percent of the population now sees climate change as a major issue, and both major presidential candidates promised 80-percent cuts in American emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. The scientists are understandably reluctant at this point to announce publicly that their predictions were wrong, that it's really much worse, and that the targets will have to be revised. Most of them are waiting for overwhelming proof that climate change really is moving faster, even though they are already privately convinced that it is.
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Tue, Dec 9, 2008: from London Guardian:
Too late? Why scientists say we should expect the worst
... The cream of the UK climate science community sat in stunned silence as [climate scientist Kevin] Anderson pointed out that carbon emissions since 2000 have risen much faster than anyone thought possible, driven mainly by the coal-fuelled economic boom in the developing world. So much extra pollution is being pumped out, he said, that most of the climate targets debated by politicians and campaigners are fanciful at best, and "dangerously misguided" at worst. In the jargon used to count the steady accumulation of carbon dioxide in the Earth's thin layer of atmosphere, he said it was "improbable" that levels could now be restricted to 650 parts per million (ppm)....At 650ppm, the same fuzzy science says the world would face a catastrophic 4C average rise.
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Tue, Dec 9, 2008: from Reuters:
U.N. says climate change may uproot 6 million annually
POZNAN, Poland (Reuters) - The impact of climate change could uproot around six million people each year, half of them because of weather disasters like floods and storms, a top U.N. official said on Monday. The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) was making plans based on conservative estimates that global warming would force between 200 million and 250 million people from their homes by mid-century, said L. Craig Johnstone, the U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees. "That means a displacement of something like six million people a year -- that's a staggering number," he told Reuters on the sidelines of the December 1-12 U.N. climate talks in Poland.
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Sun, Dec 7, 2008: from London Guardian:
The hidden cost of our growing taste for meat
As the west's appetite for meat increases, so too does the demand for soya - used as animal feed by farmers. But the planting of huge tracts of land is causing deforestation and destroying eco-systems in developing countries... A report by campaign group Friends of the Earth is to be published on Tuesday to focus the attention of UK consumers and the government on the scale of this destruction. It will detail for the first time the cutting, burning and spraying that occurs as a consequence. The report, What's Feeding our Food?, will start a campaign urging the government to take action, ending subsidies and other policies that encourage intensive farming and making sure public money spent on food is not propping up damaging practices.
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Fri, Dec 5, 2008: from Der Spiegel:
Point of No Return for the Arctic Climate?
...A new study completed by a team of US, Norwegian and German researchers may now provide some clues. Published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters in November, the study posits that a dramatic change in atmospheric circulation patterns has taken place since the beginning of the decade, with centers of high pressure in winter shifting toward the north-east....Behind the complex language and impenetrable calculations upon which the study is based, however, is a frightening possibility: climate change in the Arctic could already have reached the point of no return. ... "In the case of Arctic Sea ice, we have already reached the point of no return," says the prominent American climate researcher James Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA.
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Fri, Dec 5, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
2008 will be coolest year of the decade
The relatively chilly temperatures compared with recent years are not evidence that global warming is slowing however, say climate scientists at the Met Office. "Absolutely not," said Dr Peter Stott, the manager of understanding and attributing climate change at the Met Office's Hadley Centre. "If we are going to understand climate change we need to look at long-term trends." Prof Myles Allen at Oxford University who runs the climateprediction.net website, said he feared climate sceptics would overinterpret the figure. "You can bet your life there will be a lot of fuss about what a cold year it is. Actually no, it's not been that cold a year, but the human memory is not very long, we are used to warm years," he said, "Even in the 80s [this year] would have felt like a warm year." And 2008 would have been a scorcher in Charles Dickens's time -- without human-induced warming there would have been a one in a hundred chance of getting a year this hot. "For Dickens this would have been an extremely warm year," he said. On the flip side, in the current climate there is a roughly one in 10 chance of having a year this cool.
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Tue, Dec 2, 2008: from New Scientist:
Heat we emit could warm the Earth
Even if we turn to clean energy to reduce carbon emissions, the planet might carry on warming anyway due to the heat released into the environment by our ever-increasing consumption of energy.... The energy we generate and consume ultimately ends up being dissipated into the environment as heat. This input is relatively small today but might become significant in the next century, Cowern and Ahn suggest. Their calculations show that if global energy use increases at about 1 per cent per year -- slower than in the recent past -- then by 2100, the heat dissipated could become significant enough to cancel out the benefits of cuts in emissions.
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Mon, Dec 1, 2008: from Binghamton University, via EurekAlert:
Foretelling a major meltdown
By discovering the meaning of a rare mineral that can be used to track ancient climates, Binghamton University geologist Tim Lowenstein is helping climatologists and others better understand what we're probably in for over the next century or two as global warming begins to crank up the heat -- and, ultimately, to change life as we know it.... What Lowenstein and his colleague Robert Demicco at Binghamton University have discovered is that nahcolite, a rare, yellowish-green or brown carbonate mineral, only forms on earth under environmental conditions marked by very high atmospheric CO2 levels.... "If we assume that you and I are both in our 50s, the change in atmospheric CO2 in our lifetime is greater than the rate of any change in at least the last half million years," said Lowenstein, who is particularly concerned about unexpected changes...
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Mon, Dec 1, 2008: from BBC:
UN climate summit seeks clarity
The talks, in the city of Poznan, mark the halfway point in a two-year process agreed at last year's UN conference. The meeting will not produce a new deal but is likely to clarify what countries are looking for on issues such as emission cuts and forest protection. The US will be represented by officials of the outgoing Bush administration. The two-year process which began at last December's talks in Bali is designed to conclude in a year's time with an agreement that can enter force in 2012 when the current emission cuts under the Kyoto Protocol expire.
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Sun, Nov 30, 2008: from CNN:
New rifts form on Antarctic ice shelf
Scientists have identified new rifts on an Antarctic ice shelf that could lead to it breaking away from the Antarctic Peninsula, the European Space Agency said. The Wilkins Ice Shelf, a large sheet of floating ice south of South America, is connected to two Antarctic islands by a strip of ice. That ice "bridge" has lost about 2,000 square kilometers (about 772 square miles) this year, the ESA said. A satellite image captured November 26 shows new rifts on the ice shelf that make it dangerously close to breaking away from the strip of ice -- and the islands to which it's connected, the ESA said. Scientists first spotted rifts in the ice shelf in late February, and they noticed further deterioration the following week.
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Sun, Nov 30, 2008: from The Sacramento Bee:
Sierra Nevada climate changes feed monster, forest-devouring fires
... Wildfire has marched across the West for centuries. But no longer are major conflagrations fueled simply by heavy brush and timber. Now climate change is stoking the flames higher and hotter, too. That view, common among firefighters, is reflected in new studies that tie changing patterns of heat and moisture in the western United States to an unprecedented rash of costly and destructive wildfires. Among other things, researchers have found the frequency of wildfire increased fourfold – and the terrain burned expanded sixfold – as summers grew longer and hotter over the past two decades.
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Sun, Nov 30, 2008: from Agence France-Presse:
Climate change gathers steam, say scientists
PARIS (AFP)-- Earth's climate appears to be changing more quickly and deeply than a benchmark UN report for policymakers predicted, top scientists said ahead of international climate talks starting Monday in Poland. Evidence published since the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change's (IPCC) February 2007 report suggests that future global warming may be driven not just by things over which humans have a degree of control, such as burning fossil fuels or destroying forest, a half-dozen climate experts told AFP. Even without additional drivers, the IPCC has warned that current rates of greenhouse gas emissions, if unchecked, would unleash devastating droughts, floods and huge increases in human misery by century's end. But the new studies, they say, indicate that human activity may be triggering powerful natural forces that would be nearly impossible to reverse and that could push temperatures up even further. At the top of the list for virtually all of the scientists canvassed was the rapid melting of the Arctic ice cap.
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Sat, Nov 29, 2008: from Reuters:
Surging shoppers kill New York Wal-Mart worker
NEW YORK (Reuters) -- A man working for discount retailer Wal-Mart was killed on Friday in a stampede by frenzied shoppers who broke down doors and surged into a Long Island, New York store, a police spokesman said. The 34-year-old man was at the entrance of the Valley Stream Wal-Mart store just after it opened at 5 a.m. and was knocked to the ground, the police report said.... Wal-Mart said it was saddened by the death of the man, who was working for a temporary employment agency serving the retailer, and by the injuries suffered by shoppers.
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Fri, Nov 28, 2008: from Reuters:
Forests under threat from climate change: study
OSLO -- Forests are extremely vulnerable to climate change that is set to bring more wildfires and floods and quick action is needed to aid millions of poor people who depend on forests, a study said on Thursday. The report, by the Jakarta-based Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), urged delegates at a U.N. climate meeting in Poznan, Poland, from December 1-12 to work out new ways to safeguard forests in developing nations. It said climate change could have impacts ranging from a drying out of cloud forests in mountainous regions of Central America -- making wildfires more frequent -- to swamping mangroves in Asia as seas rise.
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Fri, Nov 28, 2008: from Washington Post (US):
Costs of Food Waste Pile Up
... Food waste has been a chronic problem for restaurants and grocery stores -- with millions of tons lost along the way as crops are hauled hundreds of miles, stored for weeks in refrigerators and prepared on hectic restaurant assembly lines. But the historically high price of commodities is making it an even bigger drag on the bottom line.... Roughly 30 percent of food in the United States goes to waste, costing some $48 billion annually, according to a Stockholm International Water Institute study. A 2004 University of Arizona study estimated that 40 to 50 percent of food in the United States is wasted.
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Fri, Nov 28, 2008: from Nature:
Carbon is forever
After our fossil fuel blow-out, how long will the CO2 hangover last? And what about the global fever that comes along with it? These sound like simple questions, but the answers are complex — and not well understood or appreciated outside a small group of climate scientists... University of Chicago oceanographer David Archer, who led the study with Caldeira and others, is credited with doing more than anyone to show how long CO2 from fossil fuels will last in the atmosphere. As he puts it in his new book "The Long Thaw," "The lifetime of fossil fuel CO2 in the atmosphere is a few centuries, plus 25 percent that lasts essentially forever. The next time you fill your tank, reflect upon this."
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Wed, Nov 26, 2008: from Reuters:
Greenhouse gases hit record levels last year
GENEVA (Reuters) - Gases blamed for global warming reached record levels in the atmosphere last year, the United Nations weather agency said on Tuesday. Concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O) touched new highs after more steady rises in 2007, and methane had its largest annual increase in a decade, the World Meteorological Organization said. "The major greenhouse gases -- CO2, methane and N2O -- have all reached new highs in 2007. Two of them, CO2 and N20, are increasing steadily and there is no sign of leveling off of those two gases," WMO expert Geir Braathen told a news briefing.
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Tue, Nov 25, 2008: from New York Times:
Economic Slump May Limit Moves on Clean Energy
Just as the world seemed poised to combat global warming more aggressively, the economic slump and plunging prices of coal and oil are upending plans to wean businesses and consumers from fossil fuel. From Italy to China, the threat to jobs, profits and government tax revenues posed by the financial crisis has cast doubt on commitments to cap emissions or phase out polluting factories. Automakers, especially Detroit's Big Three, face collapsing sales, threatening their plans to invest heavily in more fuel-efficient cars. And with gas prices now around $2 a gallon in the United States, struggling consumers may be less inclined than they once were to trade in their gas-guzzling models in any case.
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Tue, Nov 25, 2008: from Canwest News:
WARMING TO GLOBAL WARMING
...a group of global-warming experts, made up mainly of university economists and anthropologists, is pushing the notion that global warming might not be an unmitigated disaster, especially for certain northerly regions, such as Canada, Russia and Scandinavia. Leading the charge is Robert Mendelsohn, an economics professor at Yale University, who says the benefits of global warming for Canada - from a longer growing season to the opening up of shipping through the Northwest Passage - will outweigh the negative effects. "You're lucky because you're a northern-latitude country, Mendelsohn says. "If you add it all up, it's a good thing for Canada."
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Mon, Nov 24, 2008: from University of Chicago, via EurekAlert:
Ocean growing more acidic faster than once thought
University of Chicago scientists have documented that the ocean is growing more acidic faster than previously thought. In addition, they have found that the increasing acidity correlates with increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a paper published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Nov. 24.... "The acidity increased more than 10 times faster than had been predicted by climate change models and other studies," Wootton said. "This increase will have a severe impact on marine food webs and suggests that ocean acidification may be a more urgent issue than previously thought, at least in some areas of the ocean." The ocean plays a significant role in global carbon cycles. When atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolves in water it forms carbonic acid, increasing the acidity of the ocean. During the day, carbon dioxide levels in the ocean fall because photosynthesis takes it out of the water, but at night, levels increase again. The study documented this daily pattern, as well as a steady increase in acidity over time.
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Sun, Nov 23, 2008: from Williamson Daily News:
Coal CEO calls environmentalists crazy
Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy, the fourth largest coal company in the country, blasted politics and the press, comparing Charleston Gazette Editor James. A. Haught to Osama Bin Laden Thursday evening when he addressed the Tug Valley Mining Institute in Williamson.... "They can say what they want about climate change," he said. "But the only thing melting in this country that matters is our financial system and our economy."... Many people would give support to groups who work to disprove global warming if it was not so politically incorrect, Blankenship said.
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Sun, Nov 23, 2008: from Inter Press Service:
CLIMATE CHANGE-LATIN AMERICA: Frightening Numbers
A World Bank study presented Friday, the first day of a Nov. 21-23 congress of legislators from the Americas meeting in Mexico City to discuss the challenges of the global financial and climate crises, says natural disasters related to climate change, like storms, drought and flooding, cost 0.6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the affected countries, on average, in Latin America and the Caribbean. If the frequency of natural disasters increases from one every four years to one every three years, per capita GDP could shrink by two percent per decade in the region, according to the report presented by Laura Tuck, director of the World Bank's department of Sustainable Development for Latin America and the Caribbean. The economy of the Caribbean region alone could experience six billion dollars in losses by 2050 in tourism, coastal protection, and the pharmaceutical and fishing industries.
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Thu, Nov 20, 2008: from Bloomberg News:
October Temperatures Are Second-Warmest Since 1880
Global temperatures last month were the second-warmest since recordkeeping began while Arctic sea ice fell to its third-lowest level, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. The combined land and ocean surface temperature for October was 58.23 degrees Fahrenheit, 1.13 degrees above the 20th century average, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The warmest October since 1880 occurred in 2003.... Arctic sea ice extended 3.24 million square miles last month, almost 10 percent below the 1979-2000 average. Sea ice has been declining by an average of 5.4 percent a decade over the past 30 years.
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Wed, Nov 19, 2008: from Washington Post:
EPA Moves to Ease Air Rules for Parks
The Environmental Protection Agency is finalizing new air-quality rules that would make it easier to build coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other major polluters near national parks and wilderness areas, even though half of the EPA's 10 regional administrators formally dissented from the decision and four others criticized the move in writing. Documents obtained by The Washington Post show that the administration's push to weaken Clean Air Act protections for "Class 1 areas" nationwide has sparked fierce resistance from senior agency officials. All but two of the regional administrators objecting to the proposed rule are political appointees.
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Tue, Nov 18, 2008: from Ohio State University, via EurekAlert:
Missing radioactivity in ice cores bodes ill for part of Asia
When Ohio State glaciologists failed to find the expected radioactive signals in the latest core they drilled from a Himalayan ice field, they knew it meant trouble for their research. But those missing markers of radiation, remnants from atomic bomb tests a half-century ago, foretell much greater threat to the half-billion or more people living downstream of that vast mountain range. It may mean that future water supplies could fall far short of what's needed to keep that population alive.... "that... means that no new ice has accumulated on the surface of the glacier since 1944," nearly a decade before the atomic tests.
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Tue, Nov 18, 2008: from NASA, via EurekAlert:
Water vapor confirmed as major player in climate change
Andrew Dessler and colleagues from Texas A&M University in College Station confirmed that the heat-amplifying effect of water vapor is potent enough to double the climate warming caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. With new observations, the scientists confirmed experimentally what existing climate models had anticipated theoretically.... "This new data set shows that as surface temperature increases, so does atmospheric humidity," Dessler said. "Dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere makes the atmosphere more humid. And since water vapor is itself a greenhouse gas, the increase in humidity amplifies the warming from carbon dioxide."
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Sun, Nov 16, 2008: from New York Times:
At Exxon, Making the Case for Oil
While other oil companies try to paint themselves greener, Exxon's executives believe their venerable model has been battle-tested. The company's mantra is unwavering: brutal honesty about the need for oil and gas to power economies for decades to come. "Over the years, there have been many predictions that our industry was in its twilight years, only to be proven wrong," says Mr. Tillerson. "As Mark Twain said, the news of our demise has been greatly exaggerated."
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Sat, Nov 15, 2008: from North Bay Nugget:
David Suzuki keeps his optimism
David Suzuki, scientist and environmentalist icon, is ever the realist. The reality is that we're in deep trouble and we've been sleepwalking into the future," he says. But in spite of the almost daily revelations about global warming, pollution and climate change, Suzuki is also an optimist. With children and grandchildren I can't give up and say it's too late. It's very, very late, but you have to have hope."
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Fri, Nov 14, 2008: from Greater Good Magazine:
Are Human Beings Hard-Wired to Ignore the Threat of Catastrophic Climate Change?
...a growing number of social scientists are offering their expertise in behavioral decision making, risk analysis, and evolutionary influences on human behavior to explain our limited responses to global warming. Among the most significant factors they point to: The way we're psychologically wired and socially conditioned to respond to crises makes us ill-suited to react to the abstract and seemingly remote threat posed by global warming. Their insights are also leading to some intriguing recommendations about how to get people to take action-including the potentially dangerous prospect of playing on people's fears.
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Fri, Nov 14, 2008: from Chicago Tribune:
U.S. undercuts clean-air rule
Looking to bolster the fight against childhood lead poisoning, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last month approved a tough new rule aimed at clearing the nation's air of the toxic metal. A key part of the initiative is a new network of monitors that will track lead emissions from factories. But the Bush administration quietly weakened that provision at the last minute by exempting dozens of polluters from scrutiny, federal documents show.
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Thu, Nov 13, 2008: from Mongabay:
Limiting global warming to 2-degree rise will require $180/t carbon price says energy think tank
In a report released Wednesday the International Energy Agency warned that a business-as-usual approach to energy use would result in a 6-degree rise in temperatures putting hundreds of millions at risk from reduced water supplies and diminished agricultural production. But the energy think tank said that limiting temperature rise to 2-3-degree-rise by the end of the century would be "possible, but very hard."... "Current trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable -- environmentally, economically and socially -- they can and must be altered," said Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA).
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Thu, Nov 13, 2008: from San Francisco Chronicle:
Lawmaker says action on warming will take time
Congress will not act until 2010 on a bill to limit the heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming despite President-elect Barack Obama's declaration that he will move quickly to address climate change, the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee predicted Wednesday. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said that while every effort should be made to cap greenhouse gases, the economic crisis, the transition to a new administration and the complexity of setting up a nationwide market for carbon pollution permits preclude acting in 2009.
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Thu, Nov 13, 2008: from Kansas City Star:
Climate change brings Kansans dire prediction
Over the next century, eastern Kansas will get warmer and drier. Western Kansas will get warmer and a lot drier. The first in-depth analysis of climate change in Kansas, released Tuesday, offers a bundle of future worries as well as a bleak outlook for agriculture in the state.
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Thu, Nov 13, 2008: from Reuters:
Giant Asian smog cloud masks global warming impact-UN
A three-kilometre thick cloud of brown soot and other pollutants hanging over Asia is darkening cities, killing thousands and damaging crops but may be holding off the worst effects of global warming, the UN said on Thursday. The vast plume of contamination from factories, fires, cars and deforestation contains some particles that reflect sunlight away from the earth, cutting its ability to heat the earth... The amount of sunlight reaching earth through the murk has fallen by up to a quarter in the worst-affected areas and if the brown cloud disperses, global temperatures could rise by up to 2 degrees Celsius.
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Wed, Nov 12, 2008: from Euractiv.com:
Existing climate actions 'not good enough', EU warned
Global warming is driving major environmental changes more quickly than expected, with the Earth's average temperature racing towards dangerous levels and the transition to a low-carbon economy stalling, leading climate experts say. The world is in even "more dire straits" than the worst predictions set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Johan Rockstrom, executive director of the Stockholm Environment Institute, told a climate change conference in Brussels yesterday...
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Tue, Nov 11, 2008: from Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:
Alaska permafrost study reveals larger global warming problem
Alaskans should watch where they step. University of Alaska professor Chien-Lu Ping and a team of researchers have dug more than 100 holes around the state, taking permafrost samples for a paper published in the October issue of the journal Nature Geoscience. In the paper, Ping concluded frozen Arctic soil contains nearly twice as much organic material and greenhouse gases as previously thought. He based his conclusions on the information collected in Alaska and more than 10 years of research.
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Tue, Nov 11, 2008: from The Daily Climate:
The ocean's acid test
...according to a new report issued today by Oceana ... today’s ocean chemistry is already hostile for many creatures fundamental to the marine food web. The world’s oceans – for so long a neat and invisible sink for humanity’s carbon dioxide emissions – are about to extract a price for all that waste. The effects are not local: Entire ecosystems threaten to literally crumble away as critters relying on calcium carbonate for a home – from corals to mollusks to the sea snail – have a harder time manufacturing their shells. Corals shelter millions of species worldwide, while sea snails account for upwards of 45 percent of the diet of pink salmon.
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Tue, Nov 11, 2008: from Census of Marine Life, via EurekAlert:
Marine invasive species advance 50km per decade, World Conference on Marine Biodiversity told
A rapid, climate change-induced northern migration of invasive marine is one of many research results announced Tues. Nov. 11 during opening day presentations at the First World Conference on Marine Biodiversity, Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, in Valencia. Investigators report that invasive species of marine macroalgae spread at 50 km per decade, a distance far greater than that covered by invasive terrestrial plants. The difference may be due to the rapid dispersion of macroalgae propagules in the ocean, according to Nova Mieszkovska, from the Marine Biological Association of the U.K. ... "The impacts of the pressure of climate change are particularly dramatic, according to results presented at the Conference, in the abrupt deterioration of the Arctic and coral reefs" Duarte asserts.
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Mon, Nov 10, 2008: from Mondaq (AK):
Infrastructure Stakeholders May Soon Find Themselves Liable For The Effects Of Climate Change
Climate change may be to blame for buckling roads and flooding, but failure to adapt to a changing climate could soon have its own set of consequences. A variety of legal actions charging different types of actors for alleged actions or omissions have occurred (or are now underway) -- all related in some way to greenhouse gas emissions. Our law, therefore, is evolving as our knowledge of climate change and its effects evolve. Very little attention has been paid to potential legal liability for failing to adapt infrastructure to climate change-related risk. Amendments to laws, building codes and standards that would take into account the potential impact of climate change on infrastructure assets are still some time away.
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Mon, Nov 10, 2008: from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Symptoms of global warming overrun Greenland
Although millions of people across the world still aren't convinced global warming is as big a problem as scientists claim, symptoms of the planet's warming pop up everywhere in Greenland. The island's summer fishing season is longer. Crops are being grown in areas never thought possible for cultivation. Tourism is booming.... [But] a lack of sea ice has made winter passage between settlements more difficult, if not impossible. That's a huge problem because there are no roads between villages.... Full-sized halibut that used to be available at depths of about 1,000 feet now swim at depths of about 2,600 feet.
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Sun, Nov 9, 2008: from Yale University, via EurekAlert:
Revised theory suggests carbon dioxide levels already in danger zone
If climate disasters are to be averted, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) must be reduced below the levels that already exist today, according to a study published in Open Atmospheric Science Journal by a group of 10 scientists from the United States, the United Kingdom and France. The authors, who include two Yale scientists, assert that to maintain a planet similar to that on which civilization developed, an optimum CO2 level would be less than 350 ppm -- a dramatic change from most previous studies, which suggested a danger level for CO2 is likely to be 450 ppm or higher. Atmospheric CO2 is currently 385 parts per million (ppm) and is increasing by about 2 ppm each year from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas) and from the burning of forests.
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Sat, Nov 8, 2008: from Associated Press:
Obama climate policy caught in Democratic tussle
A fight within the Democratic Party over control of the House Energy and Commerce Committee could influence the outcome of President-elect Obama's efforts to limit the heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming. Obama has said he wants to act quickly on climate change. But crucial bipartisan support could be tested if liberal California Rep. Henry Waxman succeeds at unseating Chairman John Dingell of Michigan, the panel's top Democrat for 28 years and a key ally of automakers and electric utilities.
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Fri, Nov 7, 2008: from Agence France-Presse:
The rate of warming is 'unprecedented'
Washington - Research on Arctic and North Atlantic ecosystems shows the recent warming trend counts as the most dramatic climate change since the onset of human civilisation 5000 years ago, according to studies published on Thursday. Researchers from Cornell University studied the increased introduction of fresh water from glacial melt, oceanic circulation, and the change in geographic range migration of oceanic plant and animal species. The team, led by oceanographer Charles Greene, described "major ecosystem reorganisation" -- or "regime shift" -- in the North Atlantic, a consequence of global warming on the largest scale in five millennia... "The rate of warming we are seeing (now) is unprecedented in human history," said Greene...
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Fri, Nov 7, 2008: from McClatchy Newspapers:
Bush officials moving fast to cut environmental protections
In the next few weeks, the Bush administration is expected to relax environmental-protection rules on power plants near national parks, uranium mining near the Grand Canyon and more mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia. The administration is widely expected to try to get some of the rules into final form by the week before Thanksgiving because, in some cases, there's a 60-day delay before new regulations take effect. And once the rules are in place, undoing them generally would be a more time-consuming job for the next Congress and administration.
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Thu, Nov 6, 2008: from TIME Magazine:
Taking On King Coal
The future of coal will dictate the future of the climate. Plants in the U.S. that burn this low-cost, high-carbon fuel account for about 40 percent of the country's greenhouse-gas emissions, not to mention other air pollutants. Right now there are about 600 coal power plants in the U.S., and an additional 110 are in various stages of development. Without ways to capture the carbon burned in coal and sequester it underground, new plants all but guarantee billions of tons of future carbon emissions and essentially negate efforts to reduce global warming.
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Thu, Nov 6, 2008: from Harvard University, via EurekAlert:
Global warming predicted to hasten carbon release from peat bogs
Billions of tons of carbon sequestered in the world's peat bogs could be released into the atmosphere in the coming decades as a result of global warming, according to a new analysis of the interplay between peat bogs, water tables, and climate change. Such an atmospheric release of even a small percentage of the carbon locked away in the world's peat bogs would dwarf emissions of manmade carbon.... "Previous modeling has assumed that decomposition in peat bogs is like that in a conventional soil," Moorcroft says. "Ours is the first simulation to take a realistic look at the interaction between the dynamics of the water table, peat temperatures, and peat accumulation."
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Tue, Nov 4, 2008: from Telegraph.co.uk:
Ozone hole over Antarctica covered area size of North America
The hole was the fifth biggest since satellite monitoring began in 1979.... Ozone loss was at its worst in 2006 when the hole covered more than 11.4m square miles at its peak but by last year the ozone hole had returned to average size and depth and was 30 per cent smaller than the record size.
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Tue, Nov 4, 2008: from Mongabay:
True cost of China's coal: $250 billion in pollution, environmental damage, and social ills
Every year China is spends $250 billion in hidden costs due to its reliance on coal, according to a report compiled over three years by top Chinese economists. These hidden costs are in the form of both environmental degradation and social ills.... According to the report, air pollution from coal has become so bad in China that chronic respiratory disease has become a leading cause of death. In addition to air, coal has also impacted China's water availability. For every ton of coal produced two-and-a-half tons of water become polluted; already 71 percent of the coal mines in China are facing water shortages. When rain falls it is often unusable. Acid rain, due largely to coal production, is now recorded in thirty percent of China. China's land is not left unaffected. Mercury from the coal has seeped into China's soil and landslides due to mining are not uncommon. Mining accidents leading to injury or death are common in China where little has been invested in miner safety; according to the BBC, 3,700 miners died in accidents in 2007 alone.
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Sun, Nov 2, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
Drought land 'will be abandoned'
Parts of the world may have to be abandoned because severe water shortages will leave them uninhabitable, the United Nations environment chief has warned. Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, said water shortages caused by over-use of rivers and aquifers were already leading to serious problems, even in rich nations. With climate change expected to reduce rainfall in some places and cause droughts in others, some regions could become 'economic deserts', unviable for people or agriculture, he said.
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Sat, Nov 1, 2008: from Jakarta Post:
Mass relocation planned as seas rise
The government is preparing to relocate people living on islands considered vulnerable to rising sea levels over the next three decades. Sea levels are expected to surge drastically between 2030 and 2040 because of global warming. Experts and the government fear that about 2,000 islands across the country will sink.
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Sat, Nov 1, 2008: from Time Magazine:
What the Public Doesn't Get About Climate Change
In a paper that came out Oct. 23 in Science, John Sterman -- a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Sloan School of Management -- wrote about asking 212 MIT grad students to give a rough idea of how much governments need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by to eventually stop the increase in the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere. These students had training in science, technology, mathematics and economics at one of the best schools in the world -- they are probably a lot smarter than you or me. Yet 84 percent of Sterman's subjects got the question wrong, greatly underestimating the degree to which greenhouse gas emissions need to fall. When the MIT kids can't figure out climate change, what are the odds that the broader public will?
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Fri, Oct 31, 2008: from BBC:
Polar warming 'caused by humans'
In 2007, the UN's climate change body presented strong scientific evidence the rise in average global temperature is mostly due to human activities. This contradicted ideas that it was not a result of natural processes such as an increase in the Sun's intensity. At the time, there was not sufficient evidence to say this for sure about the Arctic and Antarctic. Now that gap in research has been plugged, according to scientists who carried out a detailed analysis of temperature variations at both poles. Their study indicates that humans have indeed contributed to warming in both regions.
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Thu, Oct 30, 2008: from NASA via ScienceDaily:
Climate Change Seeps Into The Sea
Good news has turned out to be bad. The ocean has helped slow global warming by absorbing much of the excess heat and heat-trapping carbon dioxide that has been going into the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution. All that extra carbon dioxide, however, has been a bitter pill for the ocean to swallow. It's changing the chemistry of seawater, making it more acidic and otherwise inhospitable, threatening many important marine organisms.
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Thu, Oct 30, 2008: from Massachusetts Institute of Technology via ScienceDaily:
Methane Gas Levels Begin To Increase Again
The amount of methane in Earth's atmosphere shot up in 2007, bringing to an end a period of about a decade in which atmospheric levels of the potent greenhouse gas were essentially stable, according to a team led by MIT researchers. Methane levels in the atmosphere have more than doubled since pre-industrial times, accounting for around one-fifth of the human contribution to greenhouse gas-driven global warming....pound for pound, methane is 25 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide...
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Thu, Oct 30, 2008: from Scientific American:
Geoengineering: How to Cool Earth--At a Price
Three recent developments have brought [geoengineering] back into the mainstream. First, despite years of talk and international treaties, CO2 emissions are rising faster than the worst-case scenario envisioned as recently as 2007 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "The trend is upward and toward an ever increasing reliance on coal," says Ken Caldeira, a climate modeler at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif. Second, ice is melting faster than ever at the poles, suggesting that climate might be closer to the brink -- or to a tipping point, in the current vernacular -- than anyone had thought. And third, Paul J. Crutzen wrote an essay. The 2006 paper in the journal Climatic Change by the eminent Dutch atmospheric chemist, in which with heavy heart he, too, urged serious consideration of geoengineering, "let the cat out of the bag," Keith says. Crutzen had won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on the destruction of atmospheric ozone in 1995; if he was taking geoengineering seriously, it seemed, everyone needed to.
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Wed, Oct 29, 2008: from BBC:
Earth on course for eco 'crunch'
The planet is headed for an ecological "credit crunch", according to a report issued by conservation groups. The document contends that our demands on natural resources overreach what the Earth can sustain by almost a third. The Living Planet Report is the work of WWF, the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network. It says that more than three quarters of the world's population lives in countries where consumption levels are outstripping environmental renewal.
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Tue, Oct 28, 2008: from University of Georgia, via EurekAlert:
Study helps clarify role of soil microbes in global warming feedback
Current models of global climate change predict warmer temperatures will increase the rate that bacteria and other microbes decompose soil organic matter, a scenario that pumps even more heat-trapping carbon into the atmosphere. But a new study led by a University of Georgia researcher shows that while the rate of decomposition increases for a brief period in response to warmer temperatures, elevated levels of decomposition don't persist. "There is about two and a half times more carbon in the soil than there is in the atmosphere, and the concern right now is that a lot of that carbon is going to end up in the atmosphere," said lead author Mark Bradford, assistant professor in the UGA Odum School of Ecology. "What our finding suggests is that a positive feedback between warming and a loss of soil carbon to the atmosphere is likely to occur but will be less than currently predicted."
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Tue, Oct 28, 2008: from Telegraph.co.uk:
Climate change keeps swans in Siberia
Hundreds of swans due to spend winter in the UK are staying put in Siberia because climate change has made the region warm enough to remain, bird experts have said. Bewick's swans are usually expected in wetlands around England in late October but flocks have been arriving later every year. This year it is feared the endangered birds, which are the smallest species of swan to be found in the UK, will fail to turn up at all since it is now warm enough to stay in Siberia. At Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre, where 300 swans should be arriving any minute now, bird lovers are still waiting.
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Mon, Oct 27, 2008: from London Guardian:
Climate change 'making seas more salty'
Global warming is making the sea more salty, according to new research that demonstrates the massive shifts in natural systems triggered by climate change. Experts at the UK Met Office and Reading University say warmer temperatures over the Atlantic Ocean have significantly increased evaporation and reduced rainfall across a giant stretch of water from Africa to the Carribean in recent years. The change concentrates salt in the water left behind, and is predicted to make southern Europe and the Mediterranean much drier in future.
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Mon, Oct 27, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
Australia's Stern review warns of runaway global warming
Carbon pollution levels are rising so fast that the world has no realistic chance of hitting ambitious climate targets set by Britain and the G8, an influential report to the Australian government has warned.... Since 2000, the Garnaut report says, global carbon emissions from fossil fuel use have grown by 3 percent each year, as economies of developing countries including China have boomed. This compares to annual growth rates of 2 percent through the 1970s and 1980s, and just 1 percent in the 1990s.... The worst case considered by the IPCC was that world carbon dioxide emissions would rise by 2.5 percent each year -- a scenario often criticised as too pessimistic. Most government projections and discussions are based on the milder IPCC "median" scenario, which sets an annual growth rate of just 2 percent.
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Mon, Oct 27, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
Climate deal may be too late to save coral reefs, scientists warn
A new global deal on climate change will come too late to save most of the world's coral reefs, according to a US study that suggests major ecological damage to the oceans is now inevitable. Emissions of carbon dioxide are making seawater so acidic that reefs including the Great Barrier Reef off Australia could begin to break up within a few decades, research by the Carnegie Institution at Stanford University in California suggests. Even ambitious targets to stabilise greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, as championed by Britain and Europe to stave off dangerous climate change, still place more than 90 percent of coral reefs in jeopardy.
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Sun, Oct 26, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
Britain threatens plan for climate spy in space
A major programme to monitor climate change from space could be in jeopardy after it emerged that the British government is poised to slash funding for the project.... [Kopernicus satellite programme] has the specific purpose of providing accurate data for policymakers around the world. The first of the five satellites, packed with scientific instruments, Sentinel 1, is due to be sent into orbit in 2011. 'It's essential that we recognise that the Earth is changing and that we put an Earth-management plan in place. Kopernikus is that global view of a changing environment,' said Monks.
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Sat, Oct 25, 2008: from San Diego Union-Tribune:
Drought, beetles killing forests
Bugs and diseases are killing trees at an alarming rate across the West, from the spruce forests of Alaska to the oak woodlands near the San Diego-Tijuana border. Several scientists said the growing threat appears linked to global warming. That means tree mortality is likely to rise in places as the continent warms, potentially altering landscapes in ways that increase erosion, fan wildfires and diminish the biodiversity of Western forests.
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Sat, Oct 25, 2008: from Washington Post (US):
Bush Administration Rushes Regulatory Changes Before Time Is Up
The Bush administration is hurrying to push through regulatory changes in politically sensitive areas such as endangered-species protection, dismaying opponents on the left, just as conservatives were irritated by rules rushed out at the end of the Clinton administration. Proposals now in final stages of review at various federal agencies affect mining, endangered-species protection, health-care policy and other areas. In some cases, the administration has set unusually short deadlines for the public to comment -- so short that one agency summoned employees across the country to Washington this week to help agency leaders vet 200,000 comments in the space of four days.
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Sat, Oct 25, 2008: from Vancouver Sun:
Greener lifestyle also means eating less meat
Like the UN, the IPCC says that transportation -- all those SUVs, 4x4s and RVs we hear so much about -- account for 13 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, while burgers, ribs and chicken strips account for 18 per cent. Closer to home, Simon Donner, a University of B.C. specialist in the effects of climate change and land use, said plainly in an interview: "In terms of personal bang for your environmental buck, just eat less meat."
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Fri, Oct 24, 2008: from Telegraph.co.uk:
Salt levels in the ocean reflect human-induced climate change
Global warming is changing levels of salt in the ocean leading to different weather patterns on land, meteorologists have found.... In the subtropical zone salt has increased to a level outside natural variability over the last 20 years, suggesting less rainfall and increased evaporation caused by human-induced climate change. However in the North Atlantic, where there are more changeable weather patterns, an increase in salt levels was put down to natural variation.
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Fri, Oct 24, 2008: from UCSD, via EurekAlert:
Potent greenhouse gas more prevalent in atmosphere than previously assumed
A powerful greenhouse gas is at least four times more prevalent in the atmosphere than previously estimated, according to a team of researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Using new analytical techniques, a team led by Scripps geochemistry professor Ray Weiss made the first atmospheric measurements of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), which is thousands of times more effective at warming the atmosphere than an equal mass of carbon dioxide.... Nitrogen trifluoride is one of several gases used during the manufacture of liquid crystal flat-panel displays, thin-film photovoltaic cells and microcircuits. Many industries have used the gas in recent years as an alternative to perfluorocarbons, which are also potent greenhouse gases, because it was believed that no more than 2 percent of the NF3 used in these processes escaped into the atmosphere.
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Thu, Oct 23, 2008: from Hampton Roads Daily Press:
Most believe climate change is real
...The Miller Center survey, conducted this September, found 75 percent of Virginians believe "there is solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past four decades." That's a pretty high number. Further, 39 percent said they believe human activity is causing the warming, while 33 percent said it was a combination of human activity and natural patterns. Twenty percent said only natural patterns were to blame.
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Thu, Oct 23, 2008: from Reuters:
China report warns of greenhouse gas leap
BEIJING: China's greenhouse gas pollution could double or more in two decades says a new Chinese state think-tank study that casts stark light on the industrial giant's role in stoking global warming. Beijing has not released recent official data on greenhouse gas from the nation's fast-growing use of coal, oil and gas. Researchers abroad estimate China's carbon dioxide emissions now easily outstrip that of the United States, long the biggest emitter.
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Tue, Oct 21, 2008: from Telegraph.co.uk:
Cow burps are making a growing contribution to global warming
Dr Andy Thorpe, an economist at the University of Portsmouth, found a herd of 200 cows can produce annual emissions of methane roughly equivalent in energy terms to driving a family car more than 100,000 miles (180,000km).... He added that while carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have increased by 31 per cent during the past 250 years, methane has increased by 149 per cent during the same period.
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Tue, Oct 21, 2008: from Science News:
Clean coal for cars has a dirty side
If the United States tried to achieve independence from foreign oil by making gasoline from vast reserves of domestic coal, the country would probably end up increasing its carbon emissions, a new study concludes. Researchers found that in realistic scenarios, the mass production of fuel from coal or natural gas would lead to the emission of more climate-changing greenhouse gases than the current oil-based economy. But even in the most optimistic scenarios, which assumed that breakthroughs in technology could be achieved, coal and gas would not help reduce emissions from transportation, the researchers report in the Oct. 15 Environmental Science & Technology.
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Mon, Oct 20, 2008: from The Independent (UK):
Don't kill the planet in the name of saving the economy
We are living through two great meltdowns -- the credit crunch, and the climate crunch. The heating of the planet is now happening so fast it's hard to pluck a single event to fix on, but here's one. By the summer of 2013, the Arctic will be free of ice. How big an event it this? The Wall Street Crash hadn't happened for 80 years. The Arctic Crash hasn't happened for three million years: that's the last time there was watery emptiness at the top of the world. The Arctic is often described as the canary in the coal mine. As one Arctic researcher put it to me this week: the canary is dead. It's time to clear the mine, and run.
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Sun, Oct 19, 2008: from Sacramento Bee:
Yosemite glacier on thin ice
...As signals of climate change begin to come into focus in the Sierra Nevada, its melting glaciers spell trouble in bold font. Not only are they in-your-face barometers of global warming, they also reflect what scientists are beginning to uncover: that the Sierra snowpack -- the source of 65 percent of California's water -- is dwindling, too. More of the Sierra's precipitation is falling as rain instead of snow, studies show, and the snow that blankets the range in winter is running off earlier in the spring. And snow in the Sierra touches everything. Take it away and droughts deepen, ski areas go bust and fire seasons rage longer.
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Sun, Oct 19, 2008: from Los Angeles Times:
Migrating Alaskan pollock are creating the potential for a new dispute with Russia
America's biggest catch lands here and at nearby ports every year: more than 2 billion pounds of Alaskan pollock to feed a global appetite for fish sticks, fast-food sandwiches and imitation crabmeat.... Yet the careful management that helped make Alaskan pollock a billion-dollar industry could unravel as the planet warms. Pollock and other fish in the Bering Sea are moving to higher latitudes as winter ice retreats and water temperatures rise. Alaskan pollock are becoming Russian pollock, swimming across an international boundary in search of food and setting off what could become a geopolitical dispute.
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Sun, Oct 19, 2008: from New York Times:
Candidates Agree on Need to Address Global Warming
Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama part company on many issues, but they agree that the Bush administration's policies on global warming were far too weak. Both candidates say that human-caused climate change is real and urgent, and that they would sharply diverge from President Bush's course by proposing legislation requiring sharp cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by midcentury.
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Sat, Oct 18, 2008: from Christian Science Monitor:
Climate change's most deadly threat: drought
...Brian Fagan believes climate is not merely a backdrop to the ongoing drama of human civilization, but an important stage upon which world events turn... In his new book, The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations, Fagan ... makes an original contribution ... by summoning attention to what he calls "the silent elephant in the room": drought. As polar icecaps melt and glaciers disappear, thus causing seas to rise, low-lying coastal areas may indeed be inundated, creating millions of environmental refugees. But it is the inland agricultural breadbasket regions that feed the world that stand to suffer the greatest upheaval if reliable precipitation patterns vanish.
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Sat, Oct 18, 2008: from SciDev.net:
Himalayan pollution 'could impact monsoon cycle'
Researchers have shown that pollution from China, India, Nepal and Pakistan can reach altitudes of over 5,000 metres in the Himalayas, contributing to the warming of the atmosphere and potentially affecting the South-East Asian monsoon cycle. They also found that new aerosol particles -- ultrafine particles suspended in the atmosphere -- can form at these heights.... "This study is remarkable as it can explain the phenomenon of the melting of glaciers that we have started to observe in the Himalayas," says Ngamindra Dahal, a hydrometeorologist at the National Trust for Nature Conservation, Nepal.
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Fri, Oct 17, 2008: from NOAA, via Mongabay:
NOAA offers 'dramatic evidence' of Arctic warming
Fall air temperatures 9 degrees F (5 degrees C) above normal, the second lowest-ever extent of summer sea ice, and the melting of surface ice in Greenland are signs of continued warming in the Arctic, according to the Arctic Report Card, an annual review of Arctic conditions by U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its partners. "Changes in the Arctic show a domino effect from multiple causes more clearly than in other regions," said James Overland, an oceanographer at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle and a lead author of the report. "It's a sensitive system and often reflects changes in relatively fast and dramatic ways."
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Fri, Oct 17, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
US climate change activists go on trial
Eleven climate change activists are due in court today on criminal charges after they blockaded a planned $1.8bn coal-fired power plant, providing an American echo of the Kingsnorth Six trial. The activists were arrested last month in rural Wise County, Virginia, at the gates of a power plant being built by Dominion, the No 2 utility in the US. The 11 chained themselves to steel barrels that held aloft a banner, lit by solar panels, challenging the utility to provide cleaner energy for a region ravaged by abusive coal mining.
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Fri, Oct 17, 2008: from Concord Monitor:
No frost yet isn't good
Global climatic change has its short-term upside. It's not instant gloom and doom. And, sure, a 70-degree October day has weather explanations. By itself its not indicative of climate change. Unfortunately, the climate is changing. The frosts and the winter are later. We'd expect a frost around Labor Day. Now it's more than a month later, and still not close. October is more like September. November is more like October. People used to bet on the day of ice out on the big lakes, like Winnipesaukee and Champlain. Now they may not be totally frozen over at all. Two winters ago I kayaked on a still unfrozen Mountain View Lake at the foot of Mount Sunapee around Jan. 1.
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Thu, Oct 16, 2008: from Mansfield News Journal:
Ohio average temperatures up 2 degrees
Climate change has sent the region's average temperature up 2° since 2000, according to a new report. Things are heating up across Ohio, the report from the Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center in Columbus showed, leading environmentalists to call for more efforts to combat global warming.
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Wed, Oct 15, 2008: from George Monbiot, The Guardian:
This stock collapse is petty when compared to the nature crunch
This is nothing. Well, nothing by comparison to what's coming. The financial crisis for which we must now pay so heavily prefigures the real collapse, when humanity bumps against its ecological limits.... As we goggle at the fluttering financial figures, a different set of numbers passes us by. On Friday, Pavan Sukhdev, the Deutsche Bank economist leading a European study on ecosystems, reported that we are losing natural capital worth between $2 trillion and $5 trillion every year as a result of deforestation alone.... The two crises have the same cause. In both cases, those who exploit the resource have demanded impossible rates of return and invoked debts that can never be repaid. In both cases we denied the likely consequences.
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Tue, Oct 14, 2008: from Discovery News:
Ozone Pollution to Worsen Under Climate Change
Surface-level ozone, a poisonous gas that claims tens of thousands of lives annually, could get much worse thanks to the effects of climate change, according to new research... "It's the third most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide and methane," David Fowler of the National Environmental Research Council in the United Kingdom said. "But it's not the biggest one, and it's not the biggest threat to human health -- particulates in the atmosphere are worse. So it's a sort of Cinderella gas that has been mostly ignored."
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Tue, Oct 14, 2008: from CBC News (Canada):
Methane hydrates: Energy's most dangerous game
All the energy America needs for the next 100 years lies under the sea off the coast of South Carolina. One problem: Digging it out could cause a global climate disaster. Welcome to the final frontier in fossil fuels, the wild card in climate change theories and the dark horse in the scramble to secure access to clean energy. Meet methane hydrates, the world's most promising and perilous energy resource.... In other words, the extraction process, if done improperly, could cause sudden disruptions on the ocean floor, reducing ocean pressure rates and releasing methane gas from hydrates. A mass release of methane into the sea and atmosphere could have catastrophic consequences on the pace of climate change. More than 50 million years ago, undersea landslides resulted in the release of methane gas from methane hydrate, which contributed to global warming that lasted tens of thousands of years.
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Mon, Oct 13, 2008: from Toledo Blade:
Climate change called certain and most predictions are bad
Agriculture could become more difficult, with crop yields harder to maintain because of drier soils and more insects -- and too much rain at the wrong times.... The frequency of thunderstorms could be doubled, yet soil is expected to be drier and more prone to drought because of the increased rate of evaporation.... Expect more sneezing from pollen and ragweed, plus a variety of other health issues from more mushroom spores, mold, and poison ivy, he said. Portions of North America are now being affected by dust clouds emanating as far away as Africa's expanding deserts.
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Mon, Oct 13, 2008: from Telegraph.co.uk:
Climate change targets could end farming as we know it -- NFU
New targets to cut the UK's greenhouse emissions by at least 80 per cent will cripple agriculture in the UK, according to farmers.... The [National Farmers Union] said it would be "nigh on impossible" for farming to make the cuts without a massive reduction in livestock farming -- which produces methane, and cultivating the land -- which produces nitrous oxide.... "We simply do not know how to produce the current volume of food produced using 80 per cent less greenhouse gases," he added.
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Sun, Oct 12, 2008: from Boston Globe:
Driving Mr. Lynx
...A growing number of ecologists worry that conservation-as-usual won't be able to keep up with the predicted pace of climate change. To some of them, assisted migration is a more proactive tool for preserving nature's richness, and possibly the only hope for saving certain species. Others wonder whether it would amount to just the sort of meddling that infested the American South with kudzu and choked Northern wetlands with purple loosestrife. Scientific models are no match for the actual complexities of ecosystems, they argue, and humans have proven inartful at playing God. It is a debate that underlines a broader shift in ecology, as some say the field needs to move into a more activist role - away from simply protecting nature and toward reshaping it.
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Sat, Oct 11, 2008: from London Guardian:
ABC deems Gore climate change advert too 'controversial' for TV
The ABC network has refused to air an advert produced by Al Gore's environmental group, ruling that its charge of US government favouritism to the oil industry is too "controversial" for television. The TV commercial, part of the WE campaign run by Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection, was submitted for airing after this week's presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain - both of whom have vowed to limit greenhouse gas emissions if elected. But ABC concluded that the advert violated its internal policy against "controversial" content during network-sponsored programmes, network spokeswoman Julie Hoover told the Guardian.
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Fri, Oct 10, 2008: from U.S. News and World Report:
Global Warming Triggers an International Race for the Arctic
A new epoch is beginning at the top of the Earth, where the historic melting of the vast Arctic ice cap is opening a forbidding, beautiful, and neglected swath of the planet. Already, there is talk that potentially huge oil and natural gas deposits lie under the Arctic waters, rendered more accessible by the shrinking of ice cover. Valuable minerals, too. Sea lanes over the top of the world will dramatically cut shipping times and costs. Fisheries and tourism will shift northward. In short, the frozen, fragile north will never be the same.
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Thu, Oct 9, 2008: from University of Alaska Fairbanks via ScienceDaily:
Arctic Soil May Contain Nearly Twice Greenhouse-Gas Producing Material Than Previously Estimated
Frozen arctic soil contains nearly twice the greenhouse-gas-producing organic material as was previously estimated, according to recently published research by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists. School of Natural Resources & Agricultural Sciences professor Chien-Lu Ping published his latest findings in Nature Geoscience... Ping predicted that a two- to three-degree rise in air temperatures could cause the arctic tundra to switch from a carbon sink -- an area that absorbs more carbon dioxide than it produces -- to a carbon source -- an area that produces more carbon dioxide than it absorbs.
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Thu, Oct 9, 2008: from LIve Mint:
India’s cremated leave ashes, carbon footprint
Kanpur: Even the dead are adding big time to the carbon footprint. And the preference of Indian Hindus for conventional cremation in a country of 1.1 billion is only exacerbating the global problem. If you want to burn a body completely, it will 400-500kg of wood, says Kalu Chaudhary, a body-burner at the Harishchandra ghat in Varanasi. If you do the math, that means about 50-60 million trees, covering 1,500-2,000 sq. km of forest land, are cut every year to burn the dead in India...
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Thu, Oct 9, 2008: from Reuters:
Climate change could force millions from homes
Environmental damage such as desertification or flooding caused by climate change could force millions of peoples from their homes in the next few decades, experts said on Wednesday. "All indicators show we are dealing with a major emerging global problem," said Janos Bogardi, director of the U.N. University`s Institute on the Environment and Human Security in Bonn, Germany. "Experts estimate that by 2050 some 200 million people will be displaced by environmental problems, a number of people roughly equal to two-thirds of the United States today," the University said in a statement.
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Thu, Oct 9, 2008: from New Statesman:
The disaster we have yet to face
[I]t is even more important to ask ourselves what the economic crisis reveals about our ability to control all our tsunamis, financial and otherwise. Foremost is the worst imaginable tsunami: an uncontrollable disruption of climate leading to panic and instability of the kind we are currently experiencing. For the stakes of such a climate crisis are high. The current financial tsunami will, at worst, provoke a major recession, whereas a climatic tsunami will, at worst, destroy humanity. Am I exaggerating? No. First, the data: the cost of the ecological impact of CO2 emissions from countries in the Northern Hemisphere from these "toxic products" -- to employ a phrase that has been used to describe financial derivatives -- has been put at $3 trillion, perhaps more than the losses that will arise from the financial crisis. This ecological impact will only grow, and with it the effect on temperatures, on oceans, on glaciers, on storms.
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Wed, Oct 8, 2008: from PhysOrg.com:
Arctic soil reveals climate change clues
Frozen arctic soil contains nearly twice the greenhouse-gas-producing organic material as was previously estimated, according to recently published research by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists.... Wielding jackhammers, Ping and a team of scientists dug down more than one meter into the permafrost to take soil samples from more than 100 sites throughout Alaska. Previous research had sampled to about 40 centimeters deep. After analyzing the samples, the research team discovered a previously undocumented layer of organic matter on top of and in the upper part of permafrost, ranging from 60 to 120 centimeters deep. This deep layer of organic matter first accumulates on the tundra surface and is buried during the churning freeze and thaw cycles that characterize the turbulent arctic landscape.
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Tue, Oct 7, 2008: from USGS:
Most Alaskan Glaciers Retreating, Thinning, and Stagnating, Says Major USGS Report
Most glaciers in every mountain range and island group in Alaska are experiencing significant retreat, thinning or stagnation, especially glaciers at lower elevations, according to a new book published by the U.S. Geological Survey. In places, these changes began as early as the middle of the 18th century. Although more than 99 percent of Alaska's large glaciers are retreating, a handful, surprisingly, are advancing.
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Mon, Oct 6, 2008: from Associated Press:
Fresh global warming fears as glaciers melt at alarming rate
The latest report from the Icelandic government's Committee on Climate Change has warned that the country's glaciers will have all but disappeared by the next century, contributing to the threat of sea level rises, a British broadcaster has reported. Europe's largest glacier, Iceland's Vatnajokull, is melting because of rising temperatures and reduced snow fall, Sky News said... And for some, like farmer Olafur Eggertsson, the warmer temperatures in Iceland have lengthened his growing season, meaning higher profits for his produce. He has even been able to grow Iceland's first crop of wheat, Sky reported.
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Mon, Oct 6, 2008: from Brisbane Courier-Mail:
Australians 'bored' by climate change
AUSTRALIANS are becoming bored with the issue of climate change and many still doubt whether the phenomenon is actually happening, according to a new survey. Only 46 per cent of Australians said they would take action on climate change if they were in charge of making decisions for Australia, a dip from 55 per cent last year, according to the Ipos-Eureka Social Research Institute's third annual climate change survey.
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Mon, Oct 6, 2008: from Portland Oregonian:
Look out, Oregon, for a global warming land rush
What if the American Southwest dries up, browns out, and those people now misting their patios in Arizona head to the still-green Pacific Northwest? What if Californians hit the road north in numbers far surpassing the 20,000 who now move to Oregon each year? What if the polar ice melts, oceans rise and millions living along coastal areas -- or ravaged by Katrina-like storms -- have to move?...By 2060, a Metro economist said, the seven-county Portland area could grow to 3.85 million people -- nearly double the number here now.
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Mon, Oct 6, 2008: from CTV News:
Wind turbines cause health problems, residents say
Windmills may be an environmentally friendly alternative energy source but they also cause debilitating health problems, say people who live near them. Wind turbines are popping up in rural communities around the world, including Canada, in the hope that they will reduce reliance on coal and other sources for power. Currently, there are about 1,500 turbines across Canada and there are plans to build another 1,000 to 1,500 in the next year. But some residents who live near wind farms complain the turbines cause a number of adverse health effects, such as crippling headaches, nose bleeds and a constant ringing in the ears.
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Sun, Oct 5, 2008: from European Space Agency via ScienceDaily:
Arctic Sea Ice Annual Freeze-up Underway
After reaching the second-lowest extent ever recorded last month, sea ice in the Arctic has begun to refreeze in the face of autumn temperatures, closing both the Northern Sea Route and the direct route through the Northwest Passage. This year marked the first time since satellite measurements began in the 1970s that the Northern Sea Route, also known as the Northeast Passage, and the Northwest Passage were both open at the same time for a few weeks.
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Sun, Oct 5, 2008: from London Observer:
Seas turn to acid as they soak up CO2
The Bay of Naples is renowned for its breathtaking beauty and glittering clear waters... But beneath the waves, scientists have uncovered an alarming secret. They have found streams of gas bubbling up from the seabed around the island of Ischia. 'The waters are like a Jacuzzi - there is so much carbon dioxide fizzing up from the seabed,' said Dr Jason Hall-Spencer, of Plymouth University. 'Millions of litres of gas bubble up every day.' The gas streams have turned Ischia's waters into acid, and this has had a major impact on sea life and aquatic plants. Now marine biologists fear that the world's seas could follow suit.
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Sun, Oct 5, 2008: from San Francisco Chronicle:
Warming Andes stymies Peruvian potato farmers
For the first half of his life, potato farmer Gregorio Huanuco used the same formula that had dictated the survival of his ancestors for generations.... by 1990, Huanuco began noting strange climatic patterns in this village of 500 residents at 11,000 feet in the Andean Cordillera Blanca. They included battering hailstorms, months without rain and warmer winters. By 2005, the quirky weather became more consistent and included a fungus that blanketed his potato crops.
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Fri, Oct 3, 2008: from Washington Post (US):
On the Sunny Beaches of Brazil, A Perplexing Inrush of Penguins
...Like some maritime dust-bowl migration, more than 1,000 ... penguins have floated ashore in Brazil, nearly as far north as the equator. By the time their webbed feet touch sand, many are gaunt and exhausted, often having lost three-quarters of their body weight. Even more have died....By Sept. 21, the Niteroi Zoo had received 556 penguins, compared with just seven penguins in all of 2007. Hundreds more dead and feeble penguins, some covered in oil, hit land in the resort town of Florianopolis, and as far north as Salvador and Recife.
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Thu, Oct 2, 2008: from CSIRO (Australia):
Emissions rising faster this decade than last
The latest figures on the global carbon budget to be released in Washington and Paris today indicate a four-fold increase in growth rate of human-generated carbon dioxide emissions since 2000. "This is a concerning trend in light of global efforts to curb emissions," says Global Carbon Project (GCP) Executive-Director, Dr Pep Canadell, a carbon specialist based at CSIRO in Canberra.... Dr Canadell said atmospheric carbon dioxide growth has been outstripping the growth of natural carbon dioxide sinks such as forests and oceans.
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Wed, Oct 1, 2008: from Agence France-Presse:
Palin: Cause of global warming 'doesn't matter'
WASHINGTON: Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin said on Tuesday that global warming is "real," but stressed that it "kind of doesn't matter" whether or not humans are to blame for climate change.
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Wed, Oct 1, 2008: from London Guardian:
Met Office warns of need for drastic cuts in greenhouse gases from 2010
The world will have to take drastic action within two years to reduce greenhouse gas pollution if it is to avoid the worst effects of climate change, a new study warns... The study shows that cutting global emissions by 3 percent a year from 2010 offers the only possible hope of avoiding a global temperature rise of more than 2C - widely recognised as the threshold beyond which the worst impacts of sea level rise and drought become a significant risk.
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Tue, Sep 30, 2008: from London Daily Guardian:
Meat must be rationed to four portions a week, says report on climate change
People will have to be rationed to four modest portions of meat and one litre of milk a week if the world is to avoid run-away climate change, a major new report warns. The report, by the Food Climate Research Network, based at the University of Surrey, also says total food consumption should be reduced, especially "low nutritional value" treats such as alcohol, sweets and chocolates.
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Sun, Sep 28, 2008: from National Geographic News:
Sun's Power Hits New Low, May Endanger Earth?
Even the sun appears headed for a recession. The Ulysses space probe has detected fewer sunspots, decreased solar winds, and a weakening magnetic field -- the lowest solar activity observed in 50 years, NASA scientists said yesterday.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
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Sun, Sep 28, 2008: from NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center via ScienceDaily:
Arctic Saw Fastest August Sea Ice Retreat On Record, NASA Data Show
Following a record-breaking season of arctic sea ice decline in 2007, NASA scientists have kept a close watch on the 2008 melt season. Although the melt season did not break the record for ice loss, NASA data are showing that for a four-week period in August 2008, sea ice melted faster during that period than ever before.
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Sat, Sep 27, 2008: from Scientific American:
Climate change may be sparking new and bigger "dead zones"
... Scientists are discovering that climate change -- and not just fertilizer from farm use -- may be spurring the emergence of barren underwater landscapes in coastal waters. Expanding dead zones not only spell trouble for biodiversity, but they also threaten the commercial fisheries of many nations... Agricultural runoff sparks many of these die-offs; increased use of nitrogen fertilizers has doubled the number of lifeless pockets every decade since the 1960s, resulting in 405 dead zones now dotting coastlines globally. But lesser-known wastelands are also emerging -- without nutrient input from farms.
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Sat, Sep 27, 2008: from Associated Press:
Global warming pollution increases 3 percent
WASHINGTON - The world pumped up its pollution of the chief man-made global warming gas last year, setting a course that could push beyond leading scientists' projected worst-case scenario, international researchers said Thursday. The new numbers, called "scary" by some, were a surprise because scientists thought an economic downturn would slow energy use. Instead, carbon dioxide output jumped 3 percent from 2006 to 2007.
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Fri, Sep 26, 2008: from Telegraph.co.uk:
More methane plumes found in Arctic
Hundreds more methane plumes have been discovered in the Arctic raising fresh fears that the greenhouse gas is contributing to global warming.... The findings follow the revelation earlier this week that Russian scientists have discovered vast quantities of methane being released by the melting permafrost from the seabed off Siberia. Scientists believe that sudden releases of methane have, in the past, been responsible for increasing global temperature, dramatic climate change and the extinction of species. The latest discoveries came from researchers on the British ship the James Clark Ross. They said they had observed around 250 methane plumes in a 30 sq mile area.
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Wed, Sep 24, 2008: from Associated Press:
Colorful study probes climate change, fall foliage
UNDERHILL, Vt. - Could climate change dull the blazing palette of New England's fall foliage? The answer could have serious implications for one of the region's signature attractions, which draws thousands of "leaf peepers" every autumn. Biologists at the University of Vermont's Proctor Maple Research Center will do some leaf peeping of their own to find out — studying how temperature affects the development of autumn colors and whether the warming climate could mute them, prolong the foliage viewing season or delay it.
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Tue, Sep 23, 2008: from Washington Post:
Palin, McCain Disagree on Causes of Global Warming
No one, including Gov. Sarah Palin, questions that Alaska's climate is changing more rapidly than any other state's. But her skepticism about the causes and what needs to be done to address the consequences stands in sharp contrast to the views of her running mate, Sen. John McCain, and place her to the right of the Bush administration and several other Republican governors....Newsmax magazine published an interview late last month in which the governor said: "A changing climate will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made."
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Tue, Sep 23, 2008: from London Independent:
Exclusive: The methane time bomb
The first evidence that millions of tons of a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere from beneath the Arctic seabed has been discovered by scientists. The Independent has been passed details of preliminary findings suggesting that massive deposits of sub-sea methane are bubbling to the surface as the Arctic region becomes warmer and its ice retreats... its release could accelerate global warming in a giant positive feedback where more atmospheric methane causes higher temperatures, leading to further permafrost melting and the release of yet more methane.
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also the Recovery Scenario!
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Mon, Sep 22, 2008: from Abu Dhabi National:
War zone's melting glacier a "colossal" risk
ISLAMABAD // India and Pakistan's 24-year battle for the Siachen Glacier along the disputed border above Kashmir costs more than US$2 billion (Dh7.4bn) annually, is accelerating glacial melting and is putting millions of South Asians at risk of catastrophic floods, drought and food shortages, glacial experts and environmentalists warn.
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also the Recovery Scenario!
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Fri, Sep 19, 2008: from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:
IMPACTS: On the Threshold of Abrupt Climate Changes
"There are lots of names for abrupt climate change: nasty surprises, the jokers in the deck, the tipping point," Collins says. "When the national lab participants first met to decide on the most significant potential sources of abrupt climate change in future, the first thing we had to do was define what we meant: a large-scale change that happens more quickly than that brought on by forcing mechanisms -- on a scale of years to decades, not centuries -- and that persists for a very long time." ... Only half joking, Collins refers to these [four types of forcing mechanisms] as "the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."
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also the Recovery Scenario!
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Fri, Sep 19, 2008: from National Geographic:
Arctic Ice in "Death Spiral"; Is Near Record Low
The Arctic Ocean's sea ice has shrunk to its second smallest area on record, close to 2007's record-shattering low, scientists report. The ice is in a "death spiral" and may disappear in the summers within a couple of decades, according to Mark Serreze, an Arctic climate expert at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.
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also the Recovery Scenario!
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Wed, Sep 17, 2008: from London Guardian:
Sarah Palin: The ice queen
...Alaskans, who annually receive oil-royalty dividends - $1,654 each last year - think of themselves as fiercely independent, but in fact are completely dependent on oil. As in many resource-rich economies, this has tended to encouraged corruption and bad governance, and a culture of impunity among lawmakers. After a four-year FBI investigation, several Alaskan businessmen and politicians - including the state's US senator, Ted Stevens - have been convicted of making and taking bribes to keep a tax on oil profits at an artificially low 20 percent. Palin herself is facing one abuse-of-power investigation for allegedly using her position to settle family scores by exacting retribution against her former brother-in-law, a state trooper, and firing officials who would not toe the line.
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also the Recovery Scenario!
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Tue, Sep 16, 2008: from PNAS, via Mongabay:
Earth already committed to 2.4-degree C rise from climate change
As of 2005 the Earth was already committed to rise of global mean temperatures by 2.4°C (4.3°F), concludes a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The conclusion is significant because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that a rise in global temperature by 1 to 3°C will lead to catastrophic consequences, including "widespread loss of biodiversity, widespread deglaciation of the Greenland Ice Sheet, and a major reduction of area and volume of Hindu-Kush-Himalaya-Tibetan glaciers, which provide the head-waters for most major river systems of Asia." These glaciers, predicted to shrink considerably in the next few decades, provide food and water to over two billion people.
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Tue, Sep 16, 2008: from Science Daily (US):
Arctic Sea Ice At Lowest Recorded Level Ever
Final figures on minimum ice coverage for 2008 are expected in a matter of days, but they are already flirting with last year's record low of 1.59 million square miles, or 4.13 million square kilometres. "If you take reduced ice thickness into account, there is probably less ice overall in the Arctic this year than in any other year since monitoring began," said Martin Sommerkorn, WWF International Arctic Programme's Senior Climate Change Advisor.
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also the Recovery Scenario!
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Mon, Sep 15, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
Roll back time to safeguard climate, expert warns
Scientists may have to turn back time and clean the atmosphere of all man-made carbon dioxide to prevent the worst impacts of global warming, one of Europe's most senior climate scientists has warned. Professor John Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, told the Guardian that only a return to pre-industrial levels of CO2 would be enough to guarantee a safe future for the planet. He said that current political targets to slow the growth in emissions and stabilise carbon levels were insufficient, and that ways may have to be found to actively remove CO2 from the air.
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Mon, Sep 15, 2008: from Russia Infocenter:
Permafrost Bogs of Siberia Thaw Too Fast
Joint Russian and French scientific ecological expedition detected very fast thawing of permafrost in frost mound bogs of Western Siberia. The international project on studying frost mound bogs Kar-Wet-Sib united eight Russian researchers -- ecologists, microbiologists and biogeochemists -- and four French scientists from Midi-Pyrenees National Observatory. Researchers said that they were nearly shocked with the rate of bog permafrost thawing. Their estimations show that during last three years melting rate added 20 percent to its normal values.
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Sat, Sep 13, 2008: from New Scientist:
Antarctic sea ice increases despite warming
The amount of sea ice around Antarctica has grown in recent Septembers in what could be an unusual side-effect of global warming, experts say... "The Antarctic wintertime ice extent increased...at a rate of 0.6 percent per decade" from 1979 to 2006, says Donald Cavalieri, a senior research scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
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Sat, Sep 13, 2008: from McClatchy Newspapers:
Nitrogen emerges as the latest climate-change threat
Scientists are raising alarms about yet another threat to Earth's climate and human well-being. This time it's nitrogen, a common element essential to all life... it's becoming clear that human activities, such as driving cars and raising crops, also are boosting nitrogen to dangerous levels — polluting air and water and damaging human health... Its compounds create smog, cause cancer and respiratory disease, and befoul rivers, lakes and coastal waters. They create "dead zones" in the ocean, corrode roads and bridges, weaken the ozone shield and add another greenhouse gas to the already overburdened atmosphere.
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Sat, Sep 13, 2008: from Associated Press:
Group: Global warming could cost Ohio its buckeyes
It's not the best-researched global-warming theory, but it could be the most horrifying to certain fans of college football: Environmentalists said Friday that climate change might push the growing range of Ohio's iconic buckeye tree out of the state, leaving it for archrival Michigan.
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Fri, Sep 12, 2008: from Washington Post:
Beating Back the Ocean
...People around the world are wrestling with how to preserve the beaches they have settled on. In Redington Shores, Fla., engineers constructed a barrier to break the waves farther out. Several Mediterranean towns have replaced their beaches' sand with more-resilient gravel.
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Thu, Sep 11, 2008: from The Economist:
Adapt or die
Two things have changed attitudes. One is evidence that global warming is happening faster than expected. Manish Bapna of the World Resources Institute, a think-tank in Washington, DC, believes "it is already too late to avert dangerous consequences, so we must learn to adapt." Second, evidence is growing that climate change hits two specific groups of people disproportionately and unfairly. They are the poorest of the poor and those living in island states: 1 billion people in 100 countries. Tony Nyong, a climate-change scientist in Nairobi, argues that people in poor countries used to see global warming as a Western matter: the rich had caused it and would with luck solve it. But the first impact of global warming has been on the very things the poorest depend on most: dry-land agriculture; tropical forests; subsistence fishing.
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Thu, Sep 11, 2008: from Mother Jones:
Sarah Palin: A Big Boon for Big Oil
...in Alaska, as it turns out, the future means more of the past: More fossil fuels extracted under the frozen tundra and ocean; more industrial development of pristine wilderness and more destruction of Native lands; and perhaps even another Cold War with Russia over who will control the Arctic's crucial energy supplies. Poised to help propel Alaska into this future is its governor and now the Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin.
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Thu, Sep 4, 2008: from Mother Jones:
Climate of Meddling
From Exxon-lobbyist memos to White House-deleted notes on the health impact of global warming, seven key dates in the Bush administration's eight-year scuffle with a green planet.
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Thu, Sep 4, 2008: from Associated Press:
Environmentalists can't corral Palin
..."John McCain was all about global warming and the integrity of the science. The selection of Sarah Palin is a complete reversal from that position," said Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., who traveled to the South Pole with McCain in 2006 to visit with scientists studying climate change. "She is disturbingly part of the pattern of the Bush administration in their approach to science generally and the science of the environment in particular." The McCain campaign Wednesday characterized Palin as a leader on climate change, noting she set up a sub-cabinet office to map out state response strategies and sought $1.1 million in federal funds to help communities threatened by coastal erosion and other effects.
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Wed, Sep 3, 2008: from World Wildlife Fund via ScienceDaily:
Baltic States Failing To Protect Most Damaged Sea
Nine Baltic sea states all scored failing grades in an annual WWF evaluation of their performance in protecting and restoring the world’s most damaged sea... The best grade (an F for just 46 per cent) was received by Germany, followed by Denmark (41 per cent) and the worst were Poland (25 per cent) and Russia (26 per cent).
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Wed, Sep 3, 2008: from Associated Press:
19-square-mile ice sheet breaks loose in Canada
"A chunk of ice shelf nearly the size of Manhattan has broken away from Ellesmere Island in Canada's northern Arctic, another dramatic indication of how warmer temperatures are changing the polar frontier, scientists said Wednesday."
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Tue, Sep 2, 2008: from Public Campaign Action Fund:
Oil, Coal Industries Already Have Spent $427 Million On Politics, Policy, and Marketing in 2008
Today Public Campaign Action Fund, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving America’s campaign finance laws, released a new analysis finding that the oil and coal industries spent $427.2 million so far this year of the year to shift public opinion and to capture the eyes, ears, and support of Congress on critical energy issues.... "With spending like this, it’s clear that these polluting industries see much at stake in Congress," continued Nyhart.
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Tue, Sep 2, 2008: from American Institute of Biological Sciences via ScienceDaily:
Thawing Permafrost Likely To Boost Global Warming, New Assessment Concludes
"A new assessment more than doubles previous estimates of the amount of carbon stored in permafrost ... The thawing of permafrost in northern latitudes, which greatly increases microbial decomposition of carbon compounds in soil, will dominate other effects of warming in the region and could become a major force promoting the release of carbon dioxide and thus further warming ..."
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Tue, Sep 2, 2008: from BBC:
Climate 'hockey stick' is revived
"A new study by climate scientists behind the controversial 1998 "hockey stick" graph suggests their earlier analysis was broadly correct. Michael Mann's team analysed data for the last 2,000 years, and concluded that Northern Hemisphere temperatures now are "anomalously warm".
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Tue, Sep 2, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
Global warming: Sea level rises may accelerate due to melting ice sheet
The vast Greenland ice sheet could begin to melt more rapidly than expected towards the end of the century, accelerating the rise in sea levels as a result of global warming, scientists warned yesterday. Water running off the ice sheet could triple the current rate of sea level rise to around 9mm a year, leading to a global rise of almost 1 metre per century, the researchers found.... There are signs that the Greenland ice sheet, which covers 1.7 million square kilometres of land, has already begun to melt faster than expected. The reason is thought to be surface water on the ice sheet trickling down through fissures to the underlying bedrock, making the ice sheet less stable, and the loss of buttressing ice shelves along the coastline.
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Mon, Sep 1, 2008: from Edinburgh Scotsman:
Temperature rises 'will be double the safe limit' for global warming
"IT IS "improbable" global warming will be kept below 4C -- double the rise considered safe to avoid climate catastrophe -- according to an influential new report. Internationally, it has long been agreed governments should be aiming to keep a global temperature rise below 2C, to avoid climate change spiralling out of control. However, a bleak new study by scientists at the Tyndall Centre, a leading organisation for climate change research at the University of Manchester, now suggests we should be adjusting our expectations towards far higher rises."
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Sun, Aug 31, 2008: from London Independent:
For the first time in human history, the North Pole can be circumnavigated
"Open water now stretches all the way round the Arctic, making it possible for the first time in human history to circumnavigate the North Pole, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. New satellite images, taken only two days ago, show that melting ice last week opened up both the fabled North-west and North-east passages, in the most important geographical landmark to date to signal the unexpectedly rapid progress of global warming."
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Sat, Aug 30, 2008: from AFP:
Massive evacuation as millions hit by India floods
More than 300,000 people trapped in India's worst floods in 50 years have been rescued but nearly double that number remain stranded without food or water, officials said Saturday. About 60 people have died and three million have been affected since the Kosi river breached its banks earlier this month on the border with Nepal and changed course, swamping hundreds of villages in eastern Bihar state.... "We have been stuck here for the past 10 days with no rescue team reaching here. Our food and water stocks have run out. Our mobiles (phones) are working, but they too will fail any moment," Laxmi Singh was quoted as saying. Survivors at relief shelters said they were not getting anything to eat. "We have absolutely nothing with us here. We left everything behind," one woman at a crowded relief camp told NDTV news network.
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Sat, Aug 30, 2008: from McClatchy Newspapers:
Palin questioned whether global warming is melting Arctic ice
"Sen. John McCain's choice of a running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, favors drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, questioned the science behind predictions of sea ice loss linked to global warming and opposed a state initiative that would have banned metal mines from discharging pollution into salmon streams."
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Thu, Aug 28, 2008: from ScienceAlert (Australia and New Zealand):
Climate code red -- the case for emergency action
"Very few, if any, people in government get the whole story, so there’s a gaping hole between what the science is telling us and the policy response," says Spratt. "Politicians think you can negotiate with the laws of physics and chemistry, but you do so at the planet's peril. If business-as-usual pollution continues there will be catastrophic consequences." 'Code Red' refers to the system employed in hospitals to alert staff that a patient needs advanced life support; it activates an emergency response. The planet, the authors contend, needs that level of life support now.
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Thu, Aug 28, 2008: from eFlux Media:
Unstoppable Thawing in the Arctic Sea
The disturbing truth is that the ice level is headed down a declining path and the Arctic region is doomed to see the day when, during the summer, it will be only water. And if this had already been foreseen by scientists, who claimed that by the year 2080, the Arctic sea would be ice-free, the more recent predictions are a lot bleaker: some say by 2050, some by 2030 and some reckon it will occur within as little as 5 years.... Any way one might look at it, the picture looks really grim and leaves almost no room to hope for improvement or change. No ice on the Arctic sea could mean a torturous rite of passage for the Earth as we know it now. And it will not overcome it unscarred.
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Wed, Aug 27, 2008: from PLoS ONE, via Power-Boat World:
World's Marine Parks 'May Not Save Corals'
They warn that many existing 'no take areas' (NTAs) in the Indian Ocean and around the world, while effective in protecting local fish, may not be much help in enabling reefs to recover from major coral bleaching events caused by ocean warming. The research, published in the journal PLoS ONE, is the largest study of its kind ever carried out, covering 66 sites in seven countries in the Indian Ocean and spanning over a decade.
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Mon, Aug 25, 2008: from AFP:
Global warming time bomb trapped in Arctic soil: study
Climate change could release unexpectedly huge stores of carbon dioxide from Arctic soils, which would in turn fuel a vicious circle of global warming, a new study warned Sunday. The study, published in the British journal Nature Geoscience, found that the stock of organic carbon "is considerably higher than previously thought" -- 60 percent more than the previously estimated. This is roughly equivalent to one sixth of the entire carbon content in the atmosphere. And that is just for North America.
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Mon, Aug 25, 2008: from New York Times:
Carbon Emissions Across the United States
"Electric power production and transportation are the two largest sources of carbon emissions in the United States. But there are big differences in emissions between companies, and from state to state, that may make it harder to reach any agreement on cuts." State-by-state graphic.
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Mon, Aug 25, 2008: from University of Arizona, via ScienceDaily:
Drier, Warmer Springs In US Southwest Stem From Human-caused Changes In Winds
Since the 1970s the winter storm track in the western U.S. has been shifting north, particularly in the late winter. As a result, fewer winter storms bring rain and snow to Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, western Colorado and western New Mexico. "We used to have this season from October to April where we had a chance for a storm," said Stephanie A. McAfee. "Now it's from October to March".... McAfee's co-author Joellen L. Russell said, "We're used to thinking about climate change as happening sometime in the future to someone else, but this is right here and affects us now. The future is here."
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Sun, Aug 24, 2008: from London Observer:
Beauty spots to be devoured by sea
"Some of Britain's most famous coastal landmarks will be radically changed or even lost because it is no longer possible to hold back rising seas and coastal erosion, according to the National Trust. The castle of St Michael's Mount off the coast of Cornwall, the white cliffs of Birling Gap in East Sussex, Studland beach in Dorset and the dunes of Formby, near Liverpool, are among the places which could alter dramatically. In one of the most extreme cases to be identified by the trust, the entire 18th-century fishing village of Porthdinllaen on the north-west coast of Wales could be left to crumble into the sea."
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Sat, Aug 23, 2008: from London Daily Telegraph:
Madonna's carbon footprint under scrutiny
"Madonna may have headlined last year’s Live Earth concert promoting climate change, but her carbon footprint for her world tour has come under scrutiny. The emissions generated by the singer’s 45 date tour is the equivalent to that created by 160 Britons in an entire year.
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Fri, Aug 22, 2008: from BBC:
World heading towards cooler 2008
"Data from the UK Met Office shows that temperatures in the first half of the year have been more than 0.1 Celsius cooler than any year since 2000. The principal reason is La Nina, part of the natural cycle that also includes El Nino, which cools the globe."
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Thu, Aug 21, 2008: from Penn State via ScienceDaily:
Future Impact Of Global Warming Is Worse When Grazing Animals Are Considered, Scientists Suggest
"The impact of global warming in the Arctic may differ from the predictions of computer models of the region, according to a pair of Penn State biologists. The team -- which includes Eric Post, a Penn State associate professor of biology, and Christian Pederson, a Penn State graduate student -- has shown that grazing animals will play a key role in reducing the anticipated expansion of shrub growth in the region, thus limiting their predicted and beneficial carbon-absorbing effect."
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Thu, Aug 21, 2008: from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign:
Climate change could be impetus for wars, other conflicts, expert says
In a survey of recent research published earlier this summer in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Scheffran concluded that "the impact of climate change on human and global security could extend far beyond the limited scope the world has seen thus far." Scheffran’s review included a critical analysis of four trends identified in a report by the German Advisory Council on Global Change as among those most possibly destabilizing populations and governments: degradation of freshwater resources, food insecurity, natural disasters and environmental migration.
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Wed, Aug 20, 2008: from Ohio State University, via EurekAlert:
Satellite Images Show Continued Breakup Of Two Of Greenland's Largest Glaciers, Predict Disintegration In Near Future
Researchers monitoring daily satellite images here of Greenland's glaciers have discovered break-ups at two of the largest glaciers in the last month. They expect that part of the Northern hemisphere's longest floating glacier will continue to disintegrate within the next year.... What worries Jason Box [and other colleagues] even more about the latest images is what appears to be a massive crack further back from the margin of the Petermann Glacier. That crack may signal an imminent and much larger breakup. "If the Petermann glacier breaks up back to the upstream rift, the loss would be as much as 60 square miles (160 square kilometers)," Box said, representing a loss of one-third of the massive ice field.
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Wed, Aug 20, 2008: from The Missoulian (Montana):
Glacier Park: Disappearing namesake may make pristine wilderness symbol of climate change
"The national parks in general, and Glacier Park in particular, have become the poster child for climate change, and that means they really are stepping up as leaders in both research and education." ... Which explains Kloeck's daily talks, seven times a day, up there on Logan Pass. "It's called 'Goodbye to Glaciers,'" said Sherry Forbes, the park's chief of interpretation and education. "And it's part of a much broader effort."
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Tue, Aug 19, 2008: from Radio Australia:
Australian expert says sea levels to rise four metres
"An Australian climate change expert says the world's sea levels could rise by up to four meters this century. The head of the climate change unit at the Australian National University and science adviser to the federal Government, Professor Will Steffen, says he believes the scientific community is underestimating the speed at which the climate is changing. Rising sea levels from global warming are predicted to make some Pacific islands unlivable within the next decade, with Tuvalu expected to be underwater by 2050."
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Tue, Aug 19, 2008: from Washington Post:
Anti-Regulation Aide to Cheney Is Up for Energy Post
"A senior aide to Vice President Cheney is the leading contender to become a top official at the Energy Department, according to several current and former administration officials, a promotion that would put one of the administration's most ardent opponents of environmental regulation in charge of forming department policies on climate change."
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Sat, Aug 16, 2008: from Globe and Mail (Canada):
As the ice melts, control ebbs in the Arctic
The Northwest Passage may be ice-free this summer, for only the second time in recorded history. The Canadian Arctic is being fundamentally transformed. As the ice diminishes, new actors and interests will arrive. Who is coming? What will they do? What does it mean for Canada? Many people expect international shippers to take advantage of the shorter distances between Europe and Asia to carry goods through an increasingly ice-free Passage. Most shipping experts, however, think that will happen only in the medium term. Before the larger companies commit themselves to Arctic voyages, they will need longer, and much more certain, times of open water. The increased use of the Arctic for other economic activities is much more likely. In particular, the huge oil and gas resources in and around the Northwest Passage may be best brought to market by ship rather than by pipeline.... Our Coast Guard's icebreaking fleet is small and aging; our search-and-rescue capability is based in the south; our navy has a very limited ability to go north; we require industry to provide for their own rescue capability; and we maintain almost no oil-spill response equipment in the North. In short, we are not prepared for any shipping, let alone for large tanker traffic.
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Fri, Aug 15, 2008: from UC Irvine, via ScienceDaily:
Climate Change Caused Widespread Tree Death In California Mountain Range, Study Confirms
Warmer temperatures and longer dry spells have killed thousands of trees and shrubs in a Southern California mountain range, pushing the plants' habitat an average of 213 feet up the mountain over the past 30 years, a UC Irvine study has determined. White fir and Jeffrey pine trees died at the lower altitudes of their growth range in the Santa Rosa Mountains, from 6,400 feet to as high as 7,200 feet in elevation, while California lilacs died between 4,000-4,800 feet. Almost all of the studied plants crept up the mountain a similar distance, countering the belief that slower-growing trees would move slower than faster-growing grasses and wildflowers.
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Wed, Aug 13, 2008: from Scientific American:
Population Bomb Author's Fix For Next Extinction: Educate Women
"It's an uncomfortable thought: Human activity causing the extinction of thousands of species, and the only way to slow or prevent that phenomenon is to have smaller families ... according to Stanford University scientists Paul Ehrlich and Robert Pringle... Ehrlich and Pringle call for educating women, which has slowed or stopped population growth in the developed countries of Europe. "Education and employment -- for women especially -- along with access to contraception and safe abortions are the most important components," they write."
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Tue, Aug 12, 2008: from Thaindian (Thailand):
Wild elephant seals to track changes in temperature of Antarctic seas
A team of scientists has glued electronic sensors to the heads of 58 wild elephant seals to track changes in the temperature of the Antarctic seas. Mounting evidence that the Southern Ocean is warming more rapidly than expected has fuelled interest in temperature dynamics and sea-ice formation rates near the South Pole. But thick sea ice cover makes it virtually impossible to collect data by conventional methods such as buoyant floats and research ships. Now [a research team] from Paris got round the problem by gluing electronic sensors to the heads of 58 wild elephant seals.
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Tue, Aug 12, 2008: from National Center for Atmospheric Research, via EurekAlert:
Antarctic Climate: Short-Term Spikes, Long-Term Warming Linked to Tropical Pacific
Dramatic year-to-year temperature swings and a century-long warming trend across West Antarctica are linked to conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean, according to a new analysis of ice cores conducted by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of Washington (UW). The findings show the connection of the world's coldest continent to global warming, as well as to periodic events such as El Niño.
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Tue, Aug 12, 2008: from RepublicanAmerican via Bloomberg News:
World Bank, promising to go green, lends to massive coal-fired power plant
"Once the new Tata Ultra Mega power plant in western India is fired up in 2012 and fully operational, it will become one of the world's 50 largest greenhouse-gas emitters. And the World Bank is helping make it possible. A year after World Bank President Robert Zoellick pledged to "significantly step up our assistance" in fighting climate change, the development institution is increasing its financing of fossil-fuel projects around the globe."
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Sun, Aug 10, 2008: from CanWest News Service:
Arctic meltdown could set new record
The Arctic Ocean ice cover, which appeared earlier this summer to be headed for a moderate recovery after last year's record-setting retreat, has begun disintegrating so rapidly in recent weeks that experts now say the ice loss by mid-September could exceed even 2007's history-making meltdown. The Canadian Ice Service is reporting an "unprecedented" opening of waters in the Beaufort Sea north of the Yukon-Alaska border... "We've never seen any kind of opening like this in history," CIS senior ice forecaster Luc Desjardins said of the Beaufort's exceptional loss of ice this summer. "It is not only record-setting, it's unprecedented. It doesn't resemble anything that we've observed before."... Desjardins says there's also a "very good likelihood" that the best-known route of the Northwest Passage -- from north of Baffin Island to the Beaufort Sea south of Victoria Island -- will soon become fully navigable for the third consecutive summer, a year after the fabled shipping conduit drew global attention by opening more completely than ever.
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Sun, Aug 10, 2008: from Associated Press:
7 in 10 try reduce carbon footprint
"High energy prices are double-teaming with environmental concerns to prompt broad conservation efforts, with seven in 10 Americans saying they're trying to reduce their "carbon footprint," chiefly by driving less, using less electricity and recycling."
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Sun, Aug 10, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
Wicks: All is lost on global warming without clean coal
A dramatic warning that "all is lost on global warming" unless the world finds a new clean coal technology in the next few years has been made by the UK energy minister, Malcolm Wicks. He insists in a Guardian interview that "the stakes are that high", as he seeks to justify pressing ahead with a new generation of coal-fired power stations starting at Kingsnorth in Kent, currently the site of a major protest.... He also argued India and China were due to increase coal-fired electricity "ginormously" over the next 20 years, so it was vital to develop the technology that would, in the medium term, clean their electricity.
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Sun, Aug 10, 2008: from The West Australian:
West Australia may get drier than expected
Computer models have already forecast that global warming will make dry areas even drier, while increasing severe rainfall and flooding in already wet areas such as Australia’s tropical far north. But the new research, based on satellite rainfall data over the past 21 years, suggest that this polarising trend is even more pronounced than models had foreseen. That is ominous news for southern WA, which has already seen rainfall declines of 20 per cent since the 1980s. In contrast, wet tropical areas are likely to suffer an increase in heavy rainfall, raising the prospect of flooding, according to Richard Allan, of Reading University, in Britain, who led the study.
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Sat, Aug 9, 2008: from The Australian:
Key degrees of difference
"HAS global warming stopped? The question alone is enough to provoke scorn from the mainstream scientific community and from the Government, which says the earth has never been hotter. But tell that to a new army of sceptics who have mushroomed on internet blog sites and elsewhere in recent months to challenge some of the most basic assumptions and claims of climate change science."
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Fri, Aug 8, 2008: from National Geographic:
Extreme Rains to Be Supercharged by Warming, Study Says
"Global warming could make extreme rains stronger and more frequent than previously forecast, a new study suggests. Such a scenario could make floods fiercer, damage more crops, and worsen the spread of diseases such as malaria, scientists say."
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Thu, Aug 7, 2008: from London Daily Telegraph:
Aphid, sentinel of climate change, appearing even earlier
"Aphid populations are exploding because they are surviving and breeding through the winter. And for every 1şC rise in mean temperature during January and February they are taking flight on average eight days earlier to feed on crops and gardens. .. And one of the UK's most damaging aphids - the peach-potato aphid (Myzus persicae) - has been found to be flying two weeks earlier than usual."
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Thu, Aug 7, 2008: from San Diego Union-Tribune:
Desalination plant receives go-ahead
"private company's proposal to build the nation's largest drinking water desalination plant at Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad cleared its final hurdles Wednesday before the California Coastal Commission... The $300 million plant envisioned by Poseidon Resources Inc. of Stamford, Conn., would produce 50 million gallons of drinking water each day, enough to supply 112,000 households."
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Mon, Aug 4, 2008: from Long Now Foundation, Stewart Brand:
Paul Ehrlich, "The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment"
The current two greatest threats that Ehrlich sees are climate change (10 percent chance of civilization ending, and rising) and chemical toxification of the biosphere. "Every cubic centimeter of the biosphere has been modified by human activity." The main climate threat he sees is not rising sea levels ("You can outwalk that one") but the melting of the snowpack that drives the world’s hydraulic civilizations -- California agriculture totally dependent on the Sierra snowpack, the Andes running much of Latin America, the Himalayan snows in charge of southeast Asia. With climate in flux, Ehrlich said, we may be facing a millennium of constant change. Already we see the outbreak of resource wars over water and oil.
(tip o' the hat to Arnie)

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Mon, Aug 4, 2008: from London Guardian:
Anger at police raid on green camp ahead of coal protest
"Environmental campaigners and politicians criticised the police last night after around 200 officers raided a climate camp, seizing hundreds of items that they claimed could be used to break the law. Activists at the camp, which starts today with a series of workshops on sustainable energy and social justice, said the raid aimed to disrupt legitimate protest.... officers ... found bolt cutters, superglue and climbing ropes in the raid at the end of last week."
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Sun, Aug 3, 2008: from Cell Press, via EurekAlert:
More acidic ocean could spell trouble for marine life's earliest stages
Increasingly acidic conditions in the ocean—brought on as a direct result of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere—could spell trouble for the earliest stages of marine life, according to a new report.... " If other marine species respond similarly -- and there's no evidence yet that they don't -- then we're in trouble," said Jon Havenhand of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. "The analogies are quite simple: we observed a 25 percent reduction in fertilization success at reduced pH, which is equivalent to a 25 percent reduction in the spawning stock of the species. Apply equivalent changes to other commercially or ecologically important species, such as lobsters, crabs, abalone, clams, mussels, or even fish, and the consequences would be far-reaching. It could be enough to 'tip' an ecosystem from one state to another."
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Fri, Aug 1, 2008: from Ottowa Sun:
Climate change puts seniors' health at risk
"Canada's elderly population -- expected to double in the next 25 years -- will be especially hard-hit by the dire effects of climate change, warns a sprawling study by Health Canada. The much-anticipated document, released late yesterday, says Canada will face climate change hazards ranging from more natural disasters to increases in infectious disease to spikes in respiratory illness."
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Thu, Jul 31, 2008: from New Scientist:
Five ways to trigger a natural disaster
"Few people still doubt that human emissions are causing long-term climate change, which is predicted to increase storm surges, drought and possibly hurricanes. So there's little doubt that humans influence natural disasters over the long term. But can we also trigger sudden "natural" catastrophes? The answer is yes. From mud volcanoes to disappearing lakes, human actions can have all sorts of unforeseen environmental consequences."
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Wed, Jul 30, 2008: from Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:
Melting permafrost poses threats to infrastructure, Alaska economy
"...By definition, permafrost is any ground that’s been frozen for at least two years. It can be dry soil or nearly all ice, and it can start an inch below the surface or many yards below. It can go down a few feet or a few thousand. Now, as temperatures warm across Alaska, the temperature of the frozen ground is warming, too. In some places, it’s warmed to its own tipping point of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point it stops being permafrost and starts being water and soil."
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Tue, Jul 29, 2008: from Toronto Globe and Mail:
Huge chunk snaps off storied Arctic ice shelf
"A four-square-kilometre chunk has broken off Ward Hunt Ice Shelf - the largest remaining ice shelf in the Arctic - threatening the future of the giant frozen mass that northern explorers have used for years as the starting point for their treks. Scientists say the break, the largest on record since 2005, is the latest indication that climate change is forcing the drastic reshaping of the Arctic coastline, where 9,000 square kilometres of ice have been whittled down to less than 1,000 over the past century, and are only showing signs of decreasing further."
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Tue, Jul 29, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
US environmental agency silences employees on climate change
Amid intensifying scrutiny of its failure to act on climate change, the US environmental protection agency (EPA) has ordered employees not to talk to internal auditors, Congress or the media, according to a leaked email released yesterday by green campaigners. The EPA has refused repeated requests from Congress to explain its December denial of California's request to regulate greenhouse gas emissions -- a move that overruled the agency's own career scientists. Three Democratic senators have scheduled a press conference today to discuss the controversy.
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Mon, Jul 28, 2008: from Kansas City Star:
Researchers investigate tundra's steady awakening
"TOOLIK LAKE, Alaska ... Ground here that for tens of thousands of years was frozen solid is terra firma no more. Across the tundra and coast of the Arctic Ocean, land is caving in. Soils loosed by freshly thawed earth set off a new era of rot, and of bloom -- dumping a bonanza of nutrients into a top-of-the-world environment that swirls from months of midnight sun to deep-freeze dark."
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Sun, Jul 27, 2008: from Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:
Change in the land of frozen ground, fish and hardy trees
"Alaska is changing, and not just in the booming suburbs or shrinking villages, but in the trees on the hillsides, the fish in the oceans, and the climate itself -- the very things that make Alaska what it is. The spruce and birch of the boreal forest are struggling with warm summers, and shrubs are moving into the tundra. Grizzly bear, moose, and king salmon are showing up in places they haven't been seen before, and subtropical fish are taking fishermen's bait in the Gulf of Alaska."
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Sat, Jul 26, 2008: from Orange County Register:
Sites endangered by global warming
"That dream vacation -- diving along the Great Barrier Reef, skiing in the Swiss Alps -- could remain a dream forever if you don't get a move on... It's been called climate sightseeing, a kind of farewell tour of Earth's greatest hits. The subject is full of paradoxes: The more you travel, for example, the more you're contributing to the problem that made you go to an endangered site in the first place."
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Sat, Jul 26, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
Democrats: White House must publish 'chilling' climate change document
[W]histleblowers have revealed that the White House ordered the agency to scrap its proposal. Democratic attempts to investigate the backroom dealings were stymied until this week, when senators were finally permitted a look at the plan. ... California Democrat Barbara Boxer, released a summary of the proposal to reporters. Boxer was allowed to take notes on the plan but not given a copy.... Democrats asked the EPA administrator, Stephen Johnson, to testify next week at a hearing exploring allegations of White House obstruction on climate change. But Johnson refused, citing executive privilege and forcing the cancellation of the hearing.
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Fri, Jul 25, 2008: from Good Magazine:
The Economy: America Love It Or Fix It 2008
"If we’re addicted to oil, our twelve-step program should begin with admitting that we have a problem. As the price of oil creeps ever higher, finding new energy sources is more important than ever. But the search for alternatives, combined with environmental disruptions, is putting new pressures on other essentials like food. There are some things that are going well in the world. Right now, the economy is not one of them."
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Fri, Jul 25, 2008: from University of Maryland vis ScienceDaily:
Costs Of Climate Change, State-by-state: Billions, Says New Report
"Climate change will carry a price tag of billions of dollars for a number of U.S. states, says a new series of reports from the University of Maryland's Center for Integrative Environmental Research (CIER). The researchers conclude that the costs have already begun to accrue and are likely to endure... "We don't have a crystal ball and can't predict specific bottom lines, but the trend is very clear for these eight states and the nation as a whole: climate change will cost billions in the long run and the bottom line will be red," says Matthias Ruth, who coordinated the research and directs the Center for Integrative Environmental Research at the University of Maryland."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Wed, Jul 23, 2008: from BBC:
Warming world 'drying wetlands'
"More than 700 scientists are attending a major conference to draw up an action plan to protect the world's wetlands. Rising temperatures are not only accelerating evaporation rates, but also reducing rainfall levels and the volume of meltwater from glaciers. Although only covering 6 percent of the Earth's land surface, they store up to an estimated 20 percent of terrestrial carbon."
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Wed, Jul 23, 2008: from Mail and Guardian (South Africa):
Climate change affecting Uganda
Rainfall in the March to June rainy season is becoming more erratic, followed by heavy downpours from October to December, which destroy crops and increase soil erosion. Long droughts have led to farmers producing less food, while pastoralists find traditional grazing areas are shrinking and turning arid. This has curtailed their movements and led to competition and conflict for ever-smaller resources. When rains arrive they are often torrential, causing floods and doing more harm than good. Floods destroy crops and increase the prevalence of water-borne diseases.
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Tue, Jul 22, 2008: from World Wildlife Fund via NaturalNews.com:
Half the Amazon Rainforest to be Lost by 2030
"Due to the effects of global warming and deforestation, more than half of the Amazon rainforest may be destroyed or severely damaged by the year 2030, according to a report released by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The report, "Amazon's Vicious Cycles: Drought and Fire," concludes that 55 percent of the world's largest rainforest stands to be severely damaged from agriculture, drought, fire, logging and livestock ranching in the next 22 years."
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Mon, Jul 21, 2008: from United Nations University, via EurekAlert:
Massive greenhouse gases may be released as destruction, drying of world wetlands worsens: UN
Warming world temperatures are speeding both rates of decomposition of trapped organic material and evaporation, while threatening critical sources of wetlands recharge by melting glaciers and reducing precipitation.... Says UN Under Secretary-General Konrad Osterwalder, Rector of UNU: "Too often in the past, people have unwittingly considered wetlands to be problems in need of a solution. Yet wetlands are essential to the planet's health -- and with hindsight, the problems in reality have turned out to be the draining of wetlands and other 'solutions' we humans devised."
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Sun, Jul 20, 2008: from Toronto Globe and Mail:
A tough new row to hoe
"The Green Revolution that began in 1945 transformed farming and fed millions in developing countries. But its methods over the long run are proving to be stunningly destructive... Now, almost half a century later, the Green Revolution's key innovations - chemicals and monocultures - are being blamed for a recent pest and disease epidemic that has ravaged Asian rice fields and sharply curtailed the supply of the main food staple of half of the world's population."
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Sat, Jul 19, 2008: from Bangkok Post:
World Bank says Asian cities at risk
"The World Bank has urged Asian cities to come up with climate resilient programmes to safeguard people from natural hazards triggered by climate change and rising sea levels."
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Fri, Jul 18, 2008: from Associated Press:
Warming health report: Poor, elderly to hurt most
"Global warming will affect the health and welfare of every American, but the poor, elderly, and children will suffer the most, according to a new White House science report released Thursday. The 284-page report, mostly written by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said every region of the country will be hit by worse health from heat waves and drought. It said all but a handful of states would have worse air quality and flooding. It predicts an increase in diseases spread by tainted food, bad water and bugs."
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Fri, Jul 18, 2008: from British Antarctic Survey via ScienceDaily:
Fragile Antarctic Marine Life Pounded By Icebergs: Biodiversity Suffering
"Antarctic worms, sea spiders, urchins and other marine creatures living in near-shore shallow habitats are regularly pounded by icebergs. New data suggests this environment along the Antarctic Peninsula is going to get hit more frequently. This is due to an increase in the number of icebergs scouring the seabed as a result of shrinking winter sea ice."
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Wed, Jul 16, 2008: from London Guardian:
Human consumption: Flying in the face of logic
"In 1968, six years after Rachel Carson published Silent Spring - the book regarded as marking the beginning of modern environmental consciousness - a young American entomology professor at Stanford University, California, published The Population Bomb... When Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb, there were 3.5 billion people on Earth; there are now 6.7 billion."
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Wed, Jul 16, 2008: from Associated Press:
There's an 'energy tsunami' coming
"A bipartisan group of 27 elder statesmen is sending an open letter to both presidential candidates and every member of Congress saying the country faces "a long-term energy crisis" that threatens the security and prosperity of future generations if swift action isn't taken. The group includes Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell and six other former secretaries of state or defense, former senators of both parties and a half dozen former senior White House advisers and other Cabinet officers for both Republican and Democratic presidents."
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Tue, Jul 15, 2008: from Associated Press:
EPA document ties public health problems to global warming; White House tried to bury analysis
"Government scientists detailed a rising death toll from heat waves, wildfires, disease and smog caused by global warming in an analysis the White House buried so it could avoid regulating greenhouse gases. In a 149-page document released Monday, the experts laid out for the first time the scientific case for the grave risks that global warming poses to people, and to the food, energy and water on which society depends."
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Sat, Jul 12, 2008: from National Geographic News:
Yellowstone Geysers May Stop Erupting, Study Suggests
"A long-term study of Yellowstone National Park's iconic geysers suggests that dry spells caused by climate change are slowing—and may even stop—the geysers' clockwork-regular eruptions."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Sat, Jul 12, 2008: from National Research Council:
Restoration of Climate Sensors Needed
To continue the study of long-term climate change, NASA and NOAA need to restore a number of sensors that were previously planned for future Earth-observing satellites but cancelled [by the Bush Administration], according to a new report from the National Research Council. The report provides recommendations for a recovery strategy and stresses the need for a clearer national policy toward acquiring long-term climate records.
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Fri, Jul 11, 2008: from Washington Post:
EPA Won't Act on Emissions This Year
"The Bush administration has decided not to take any new steps to regulate greenhouse gas emissions before the president leaves office, despite pressure from the Supreme Court and broad accord among senior federal officials that new regulation is appropriate now."
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Thu, Jul 10, 2008: from Associated Press:
Antarctic ice shelf 'hanging by thread': European scientists
"New evidence has emerged that a large plate of floating ice shelf attached to Antarctica is breaking up, in a troubling sign of global warming, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Thursday. Images taken by its Envisat remote-sensing satellite show that Wilkins Ice Shelf is "hanging by its last thread" to Charcot Island, one of the plate's key anchors to the Antarctic peninsula, ESA said in a press release.
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Thu, Jul 10, 2008: from New York Times:
Global Warming Talks Leave Few Concrete Goals
"The statement issued by the industrialized Group of 8 pledged to “move toward a carbon-free society” by seeking to cut worldwide emissions of heat-trapping gases in half by 2050. But the statement did not say whether that baseline would be emissions at 1990 levels, or the less ambitious baseline of current levels, already 25 percent higher. Mentions of mandatory restrictions on emissions were carefully framed. Caps or taxes were endorsed where “national circumstances” made those acceptable. The statement urged nations to set “midterm, aspirational goals for energy efficiency.”
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Wed, Jul 9, 2008: from NOAA, via EurekAlert:
Aerosol toxins from red tides may cause long-term health threat
NOAA scientists reported in the current issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives that an algal toxin commonly inhaled in sea spray, attacks and damages DNA in the lungs of laboratory rats.... The scientists, led by John Ramsdell of NOAA's Center for Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research in Charleston, S.C., determined that brevetoxins react with DNA of lung tissue and attach to the DNA-bases that code genetic information. The linkage of chemicals in the environment to DNA is a first step for many cancer causing agents and can lead to mutations in genes that normally prevent the formation of cancers.
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Wed, Jul 9, 2008: from University of Michigan, via EurekAlert:
How intense will storms get? New model helps answer question
A new mathematical model indicates that dust devils, water spouts, tornadoes, hurricanes and cyclones are all born of the same mechanism and will intensify as climate change warms the Earth's surface.... For every 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit that the Earth's surface temperature warms, the intensity of storms could increase by at least a few percent, the scientists say. For an intense storm, that could translate into a 10 percent increase in destructive power.
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Tue, Jul 8, 2008: from AP News:
Cheney wanted cuts in climate testimony
Vice President Dick Cheney's office pushed for major deletions in congressional testimony on the public health consequences of climate change, fearing the presentation by a leading health official might make it harder to avoid regulating greenhouse gases, a former EPA officials maintains. When six pages were cut from testimony on climate change and public health by the head of the Centers for Disease Control last October, the White House insisted the changes were made because of reservations raised by White House advisers about the accuracy of the science. But Jason K. Burnett, until last month the senior adviser on climate change to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson, says that Cheney's office was deeply involved in getting nearly half of the CDC's original draft testimony removed.
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Mon, Jul 7, 2008: from Terra Daily:
Australian climate report like 'disaster novel': minister
"Heatwaves, less rain and increased drought are the likely prospect for Australia, according to a new report on climate change which the agriculture minister said read like a "disaster novel". The report, by the Bureau of Meteorology and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, found that the world's driest inhabited continent is likely to suffer more extreme temperatures due to climate change."
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Mon, Jul 7, 2008: from Science, via Science Daily:
Acidifying Oceans Add Urgency To Carbon Dioxide Cuts
[H]uman emissions of carbon dioxide have begun to alter the chemistry of the ocean--often called the cradle of life on Earth. The ecological and economic consequences are difficult to predict but possibly calamitous, warn a team of chemical oceanographers in the July 4 issue of Science, and halting the changes already underway will likely require even steeper cuts in carbon emissions than those currently proposed to curb climate change.... Although the ocean's chemical response to higher carbon dioxide levels is relatively predictable, the biological response is more uncertain. The ocean's pH and carbonate chemistry has been remarkably stable for millions of years--much more stable than temperature.
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Sun, Jul 6, 2008: from Nature Geoscience, via ScienceDaily:
New Pathway For Methane Production In The Oceans Discovered
A new pathway for methane production has been uncovered in the oceans, and this has a significant potential impact for the study of greenhouse gas production on our planet. The article, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, reveals that aerobic decomposition of an organic, phosphorus-containing compound, methylphosphonate, may be responsible for the supersaturation of methane in ocean surface waters.... Interest in this research crosses many specialties. Oceanographers will be excited because it offers a solution to the long standing methane paradox. Microbiologists will be excited because it shows an aerobic production pathway of methane, which goes against everything that is currently known about methane, and Climatologists will be interested because it's a potent greenhouse gas that we don't have constraints on, and this new pathway is very exciting.
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Sun, Jun 29, 2008: from Times Online (UK):
Meltdown: how long does the Arctic have?
"Now we are wondering if that is what is happening now. If it is, then the summertime ice cap may never recover and by 2013, or sometime soon after, it could be gone." If Holland is right, then the destruction of the Arctic ice cap could become the first great global warming disaster. Why is it happening so fast? And how will it affect the rest of the world? ... Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, has been watching this process for two decades, making trips under the polar ice cap in a Royal Navy submarine equipped with radar that can measure the thickness of the ice. Over that period the average thickness has fallen by 40 percent.
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Sun, Jun 29, 2008: from Science Daily (US):
Climate Change May Challenge National Security, Classified Report Warns
The National Intelligence Council (NIC) has completed a new classified assessment that explores how climate change could threaten U.S. security in the next 20 years by causing political instability, mass movements of refugees, terrorism, or conflicts over water and other resources in specific countries. The House Intelligence Committee is scheduled to be briefed Wednesday, June 25, on the main findings.... "There is clearly great interest among policy makers in knowing whether climate change will make crises such as the conflict in Darfur more prevalent, and whether other violent scenarios might be likely to unfold," said Levy. "The science of climate impacts does not yet give us a definitive answer to this question, but at least now we're looking at it seriously."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Sat, Jun 28, 2008: from CNN:
North Pole could be ice-free this summer, scientists say
The North Pole may be briefly ice-free by September as global warming melts away Arctic sea ice, according to scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.... The brief lack of ice at the top of the globe will not bring any immediate consequences, he said. "From the viewpoint of the science, the North Pole is just another point in the globe, but it does have this symbolic meaning," Serreze said. "There's supposed to be ice at the North Pole. The fact that we may not have any by the end of this summer could be quite a symbolic change."
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Fri, Jun 27, 2008: from University of Rhode Island, via EurekAlert:
Climate change causing significant shift in composition of coastal fish communities
A detailed analysis of data from nearly 50 years of weekly fish-trawl surveys in Narragansett Bay and adjacent Rhode Island Sound has revealed a long-term shift in species composition, which scientists attribute primarily to the effects of global warming. According to Jeremy Collie, professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography, the fish community has shifted progressively from vertebrate species (fish) to invertebrates (lobsters, crabs and squid) and from benthic or demersal species – those that feed on the bottom – to pelagic species that feed higher in the water column. "This is a pretty dramatic change"... said Collie.
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Thu, Jun 26, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
Cost of tackling global climate change has doubled, warns Stern
The author of an influential British government report arguing the world needed to spend just 1 percent of its wealth tackling climate change has warned that the cost of averting disaster has now doubled. Lord Stern of Brentford made headlines in 2006 with a report that said countries needed to spend 1 percent of their GDP to stop greenhouse gases rising to dangerous levels. Failure to do this would lead to damage costing much more, the report warned - at least 5 percent and perhaps more than 20 percent of global GDP.
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Tue, Jun 24, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
Twenty years later: tipping points near on global warming
James Hansen, director of the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, marks the 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking statement to Congress by saying there's no time left to delay in defusing the global warming time bomb. "... The difference is that now we have used up all slack in the schedule for actions needed to defuse the global warming time bomb. The next president and Congress must define a course next year in which the United States exerts leadership commensurate with our responsibility for the present dangerous situation."
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Fri, Jun 20, 2008: from Global Change Biology (Blackwell):
Birds Migrate Earlier, But Some May Be Left Behind As The Climate Warms Rapidly
Many birds are arriving earlier each spring as temperatures warm along the East Coast of the United States. However, the farther those birds journey, the less likely they are to keep pace with the rapidly changing climate.... eight out of 32 bird species are passing by Cape Cod significantly earlier on their annual trek north than they were 38 years ago. The reason? Warming temperatures. Temperatures in eastern Massachusetts have risen by 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1970.
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Thu, Jun 19, 2008: from Oxford Analytica, via Globe and Mail (Canada):
Low carbon future depends on technology, reductions, efficiencies
... However, the report assumes that given the scale of the challenge, progress must be made on all viable technologies.... there is a disconnect between current energy sector investment plans worldwide and the requirements for transitioning to a low-carbon economy.... CONCLUSION: Conflicting political priorities suggest strongly that governments will be unable to act either individually or collectively with sufficient speed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to IPCC recommendations.
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Wed, Jun 18, 2008: from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory:
Ocean temperatures and sea level increases are 50 percent higher than previously estimated
New research suggests that ocean temperature and associated sea level increases between 1961 and 2003 were 50 percent larger than estimated in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.... The research corrected for small but systematic biases recently discovered in the global ocean observing system, and uses statistical techniques that "infill" information in data-sparse regions. The results increase scientists' confidence in ocean observations and further demonstrate that climate models simulate ocean temperature variability more realistically than previously thought.
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Mon, Jun 16, 2008: from New York Times:
China Pulls Ahead in the Great Carbon Race
For awhile it was neck and neck, but China has now clearly pulled ahead of the United States and become the world's dominant source of carbon dioxide emissions.... "The report, released Friday by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, found that in 2007 China's emissions were 14 percent higher than those of the United States."
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Sun, Jun 15, 2008: from European Space Agency via ScienceDaily:
Even The Antarctic Winter Cannot Protect Wilkins Ice Shelf
"Wilkins Ice Shelf has experienced further break-up with an area of about 160 km breaking off from 30 May to 31 May 2008. Envisat satellite captured the event -- the first ever-documented episode to occur in winter... New images highlight the rapidly dwindling strip of ice that is protecting thousands of kilometres of the ice shelf from further break-up."
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Sat, Jun 14, 2008: from Yemen Observer:
World Environment Day announces war on carbon emissions
"Under the slogan "Kick the Carbon Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy" the world celebrated World Environment Day (WED) - which aims to spread awareness about environmental preservation. The day's agenda is to give a human face to environmental issues. It aims to empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development; and to promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes, said the United Nations.
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Sat, Jun 14, 2008: from Inter Press Service:
EUROPE: Getting Allergic to Climate Change
"Climate change induced by global warming is provoking health hardships in Europe, especially through new, prolonged allergies, authorities say. The most important new allergy affecting Europeans is being caused by ambrosia artemisiifolia, popularly known by several names, including common ragweed, annual ragweed, bitterweed, blackweed, or, more telling, hay fever weed."
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Fri, Jun 13, 2008: from Earth Institute, via ScienceDaily:
Closing Ozone Hole Will Have Major Impact On Global Warming, And Probably Not For The Better
In the past few decades, the tropospheric winds in the Southern Hemisphere have been accelerating closer to the planet's pole as a result of increasing greenhouse gases and decreasing ozone. This wind change has had a broad range of effects on the Earth's climate. The IPCC models predict that this effect will continue, albeit at a slower pace. In contrast, predictions made by the chemistry-climate models indicate that, as a consequence of ozone recovery--a factor largely ignored by IPCC models--the tropospheric winds in the Southern Hemisphere may actually decelerate in the high latitudes and move toward the equator, potentially reversing the direction of climate change in that hemisphere.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Thu, Jun 12, 2008: from University of Alaska:
Freshwater runoff from the Greenland Ice Sheet 'faster than previously calculated'
"The Greenland Ice Sheet mass balance is changing as a response to the altered climatic state," said Mernild. "This is faster than expected. This affects freshwater runoff input to the North Atlantic Ocean, and plays an important role in determining the global sea level rise and global ocean thermohaline circulation."
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Thu, Jun 12, 2008: from Seattle Times:
Acidified ocean water rising up nearly 100 years earlier than scientists predicted
In surveys from Vancouver Island to the tip of Baja California, the scientists found the first evidence that large amounts of corrosive water are reaching the continental shelf -- the shallow sea margin where most marine creatures live. In some places, including Northern California, the acidified water was as little as four miles from shore. "What we found ... was truly astonishing," said oceanographer Richard Feely, of [NOAA's] Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle. "This means ocean acidification may be seriously impacting marine life on the continental shelf right now."
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Thu, Jun 12, 2008: from London Daily Telegraph:
Drought closes world's biggest cattle ranch in Australia
"Anna Creek station, which is bigger than Israel, encompasses 9,267 square miles of scrub, sand dunes and savannah in the Outback of South Australia. It is normally capable of supporting 16,000 cattle but the "Big Dry" -- the worst drought in a century -- has exhausted the land, forcing the herd to be whittled down to less than 2,000."
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Wed, Jun 11, 2008: from The Age (Australia):
'No return' fears on climate change
The world could be tracking towards irreversible climate change as warming takes place much quicker than previously thought, an Adelaide academic has warned. Climate change expert Barry Brook, of Adelaide University, told a Canberra conference [that] atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were headed towards 600 parts a million, and forecast global temperature increases of up to six degrees.... "We're seeing events predicted for the end of the 21st century happening already," Professor Brook said.... "We are at or exceeding the fossil-fuel-intensive scenario, which the latest IPCC report didn't cover because they thought it was too much," Dr Pittock said.
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Tue, Jun 10, 2008: from The Monitor:
Dragonfly native to Mexico spotted for first time in Rio Grande Valley
Three types of dragonflies never seen before in the Valley made visits last week to Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park, headquarters of the World Birding Center.... Rose, who has a doctorate in dragonfly ecology, said he's not certain why the dragonflies have come this far north and west. One possibility is that they're drawn to the park's resacas, which have recently been filled with more water. "Something funny is definitely going on here," he said, although he's not sure what it is.
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Mon, Jun 9, 2008: from USDA:
Elevated Carbon Dioxide Boosts Invasive Nutsedge
Elevated levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) could promote the growth of purple and yellow nutsedge—quick-growing invasive weeds that plague farmers and gardeners in many states.... Both species displace native plants and reduce yields in a variety of important agricultural crops, including corn, cotton and rice. Purple and yellow nutsedge spread via rhizomes and underground tubers, and are extremely difficult to control.
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Sat, Jun 7, 2008: from International Herald Tribune:
$45 trillion urged in battling carbon emissions
In one of the strongest warnings so far about the world's thirst for energy, the International Energy Agency said Friday that investment totaling $45 trillion might be needed over the next half-century to prevent energy shortages and greenhouse gas emissions from undermining global economic growth."
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Sat, Jun 7, 2008: from Baltimore Sun via Associated Press:
In Congress, gas prices trump global warming
"Congress retreated Friday from the world's biggest environmental concern -- global warming -- in a fresh demonstration of what happens when nature and business collide, especially in an election year... A bill the Senate was debating would put a price on carbon emissions, targeting "greenhouse gases" that contribute to the warming that many scientists say could dramatically change the Earth."
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Fri, Jun 6, 2008: from The Independent (UK):
Paradise lost: climate change forces South Sea islanders to seek sanctuary abroad
After years of fruitless appeals for decisive action on climate change, the tiny South Pacific nation of Kiribati has concluded that it is doomed. Yesterday its President, Anote Tong, used World Environment Day to request international help to evacuate his country before it disappears. Water supplies are being contaminated by the encroaching salt water, Mr Tong said, and crops destroyed. Beachside communities have been moved inland. But Kiribati -- 33 coral atolls sprinkled across two million square miles of ocean -- has limited scope to adapt. Its highest land is barely 6 feet above sea level.
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Fri, Jun 6, 2008: from Chronicle-Herald (Canada):
What’s behind huge plankton growth?
They’re looking for answers to explain last year’s "phenomenal" growth of phytoplankton in coastal waters off Nova Scotia — particularly in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Cabot Strait and Scotian Shelf. "It was incredible," Glen Harrison, head of the Ocean Research and Monitoring Section, part of BIO’s Ecosystem Research Division, said of the annual biological spring bloom. "It stood out," he said after comparing satellite imagery and oceanographic data of previous blooms over the past 10 years. "When we really see something like that -- a big signal -- we know something has changed in the environment."
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Thu, Jun 5, 2008: from StraightGoods:
Climate change casts marine science adrift
Climate change is altering the world's oceans in so many ways scientists cannot keep pace, and as a result there is no comprehensive vision of its present and future impacts, say experts. Rising sea levels, changes in hurricane intensity and seasonality, declines in fisheries and corals are among the many effects attributed to climate change. In an attempt to put some order to their disconcerting findings, more than 450 scientists from some 60 countries gathered in the northern Spanish city of Gijón for the symposium "Effects of Climate Change on the World's Oceans...."
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Thu, Jun 5, 2008: from NSF, via ScienceDaily:
Large-scale Experiments Needed To Predict Global Change
In a special issue of the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment on "Continental-scale ecology in an increasingly connected world" (June 2008), ecologists discuss how human influences interact with natural processes to influence global connectivity. The authors conclude that networks of large-scale experiments are needed to predict long-term ecological change.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Thu, Jun 5, 2008: from NOAA, via ScienceDaily:
Tornados, Flooding May Warn Of Climate Change
Record-keeping meteorologists at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration say this year's tornado season is one of the deadliest in a decade and may be on pace to set a record for the most tornadoes. And flooding in the Midwest has been at 100-year levels this spring. "There is considerable concern that climate change due to greenhouse gases species increasing will lead to the enhancement of strong, large storms occurrences, such as hurricanes that also spawn tornadoes when they occur. Increased storm strengths also bring flooding events," he said.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Wed, Jun 4, 2008: from Times Online (UK):
Wasps on the rise in Alaska as climate warms
Wasps used to be an uncommon sight in Fairbanks until two years ago. Then huge numbers of them swarmed on the city, ten times more than normal. The number of stings grew so bad that outdoor school events were cancelled, 178 patients were treated in hospital for stings and two people died. A study now reveals that wasp stings across northern Alaska have increased sevenfold over the past few years.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Tue, Jun 3, 2008: from Chicago Tribune:
Reminder: Siberian permafrost and feedbacks
Among Zimov's findings: The release of greenhouse gases — particularly methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide—from thawing permafrost underneath Siberian lakes could accelerate global warming and represents an especially worrisome trend in the battle to slow climate change.... Melting permafrost awakens dormant microbes that devour thousands of tons of organic carbon, creating methane as a byproduct if no oxygen is present.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Tue, Jun 3, 2008: from Washington Post (US):
Climate Findings Were Distorted, Probe Finds
An investigation by the NASA inspector general found that political appointees in the space agency's public affairs office worked to control and distort public accounts of its researchers' findings about climate change for at least two years, the inspector general's office said yesterday. The probe came at the request of 14 senators after The Washington Post and other news outlets reported in 2006 that Bush administration officials had monitored and impeded communications between NASA climate scientists and reporters.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Tue, Jun 3, 2008: from American Society for Microbiology, via EurekAlert:
Climate change could impact vital functions of microbes
Global climate change will not only impact plants and animals but will also affect bacteria, fungi and other microbial populations that perform a myriad of functions important to life on earth. It is not entirely certain what those effects will be, but they could be significant and will probably not be good, say researchers today at a scientific meeting in Boston. “Microbes perform a number of critical functions for ecosystems around the world and we are only starting to understand the impact that global change is having on them,” says Kathleen Treseder of the University of California, Irvine, at the 108th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Mon, Jun 2, 2008: from Religious Intelligence Ltd:
Climate change question not proven, says bishop
The Anglican Bishop of Chester has described the question of how much carbon dioxide contributes to global warming as "in some respects still open".... "[T]he phenomena under investigation are so large: the whole of the earth's surface, the whole of the earth's atmosphere, and the sun itself. That makes precision difficult to achieve. The history of science is littered with scientific consensuses that have come to be overturned one way or another. The fact that there has been a degree -- somewhat less than one degree -- of global warming over the past century does seem to be fairly clearly established. Its correlation with CO2 emissions is less so in my view, although there may be --- and we should probably say, 'probably is' -- a link. But it is still, I think, in the realms of probability."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Sat, May 31, 2008: from Yale University, via ScienceDaily:
Apparent Problem With Global Warming Climate Models Resolved
By measuring changes in winds, rather than relying upon problematic temperature measurements, Robert J. Allen and Steven C. Sherwood of the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale estimated the atmospheric temperatures near 10 km in the Tropics rose about 0.65 degrees Celsius per decade since 1970 -- probably the fastest warming rate anywhere in Earth's atmosphere. The temperature increase is in line with predictions of global warming models. "I think this puts to rest any lingering doubts that the atmosphere really has been warming up more or less as we expect, due mainly to the greenhouse effect of increasing gases like carbon dioxide," Sherwood said.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Fri, May 30, 2008: from University of California - Riverside via ScienceDaily:
Large Methane Release Could Cause Abrupt Climate Change As Happened 635 Million Years Ago
"An abrupt release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, about 635 million years ago from ice sheets that then extended to Earth's low latitudes caused a dramatic shift in climate, triggering a series of events that resulted in global warming and effectively ended the last "snowball" ice age, a UC Riverside-led study reports."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Fri, May 30, 2008: from Nature:
You emit what you eat
"...a new study by Christopher Weber and Scott Matthews of Carnegie Mellon University in Washington, DC, suggests that a dietary shift may be more effective in reducing your emissions than eating local produce. They conducted a life-cycle analysis of all greenhouse gas emissions, not just carbon dioxide, associated with the production of food consumed in the United States, compared against those associated with long-distance distribution."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Thu, May 29, 2008: from Associated Press:
White House issues climate report 4 years late
"Under a court order and four years late, the White House Thursday produced what it called a science-based "one-stop shop" of specific threats to the United States from man-made global warming... White House associate science director Sharon Hays, in a teleconference with reporters, declined to characterize the findings as bad, but said it is an issue the administration takes seriously."
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Wed, May 28, 2008: from The New York Times via Associated Press:
Scientists warn of rising Pacific Coast acidity
"A panel of marine scientists are warning that the Pacific Coast's increasing acidity could disrupt food chains and threaten the Pacific Northwest's shellfish industry... The data indicates acidic water is appearing along the Pacific Coast decades earlier than expected. The acidified water does not pose a threat to humans, but it could dissolve the shells of clams, oysters and other shellfish."
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Wed, May 28, 2008: from Imperial College London via ScienceDaily:
Parts Of UK Could Be Too Hot For Wine-making By 2080, Research Suggests
"...Emeritus Professor Richard Selley from Imperial College London, claims that if average summer temperatures in the UK continue to rise as predicted, the Thames Valley, parts of Hampshire and the Severn valley, which currently contain many vineyards, will be too hot to support wine production within the next 75 years."
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Tue, May 27, 2008: from Toronto Star:
How we waste food
"It is one of the most perverse ironies of our age: Amid soaring prices and global shortages we are throwing out more food than ever. A new study offers the most comprehensive look yet at the depth of our collective profligacy... Try to imagine 35,000 hulking African elephants barrelling down Yonge St., and you'll come close to picturing the quantity of food we throw out each year in Toronto alone."
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Mon, May 26, 2008: from The Japan Times:
G8 meet sidesteps midterm gas cuts
"KOBE — Environment ministers from the Group of Eight countries meeting Sunday in Kobe apparently sidestepped the major issue of setting midterm greenhouse-gas reduction targets for 2020 due to a divide between developing and industrialized countries over specific targets."
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Mon, May 26, 2008: from London Guardian:
Billions wasted on UN climate programme
"Billions of pounds are being wasted in paying industries in developing countries to reduce climate change emissions, according to two analyses of the UN's carbon offsetting programme. Leading academics and watchdog groups allege that the UN's main offset fund is being routinely abused by chemical, wind, gas and hydro companies who are claiming emission reduction credits for projects that should not qualify. The result is that no genuine pollution cuts are being made..."
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Sun, May 25, 2008: from Agence France-Presse via Terra Daily:
Five Arctic powers to meet in Greenland
"Representatives of the five countries bordering the Arctic will meet in Greenland on Wednesday to discuss the impact of climate change on the icy region -- and how to divide up its as-yet untapped rich resources."
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Sun, May 25, 2008: from Houston Chronicle:
Tufts global warming study eyes cost of doing nothing
Doing nothing about global warming would cost America dearly in the rest of this century because of stronger hurricanes, higher energy and water costs, and rising seas that would swamp coastal communities, according to a new study by economists at Tufts University.
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Sun, May 25, 2008: from Washington Post (US):
Nations urge deep emission cuts by US, Japan
"KOBE, Japan -- European and developing countries urged the United States and Japan on Sunday to commit to deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 -- a step they say is needed to defuse a coming ecological disaster caused by global warming... The United States, however, has not committed to a midterm goal, demanding that top developing countries like China also commit to reductions. Japan has called for emissions by industrialized countries to begin to fall in the next one or two decades, but it too has stopped short of setting a 2020 target."
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Sat, May 24, 2008: from National Wildlife Federation via ScienceDaily:
Dramatic Impact Of Sea-Level Rise On Chesapeake Bay's Coastal Habitats
"A new report ... shows in vivid detail the dramatic effects of sea-level rise on the largest estuary in the US, which sustains more than 3,600 species of plants, fish and animals including great blue herons and sea turtles. If global warming continues unabated, projected rising sea levels will significantly reshape the region's coastal landscape, threatening waterfowl hunting and recreational saltwater fishing in Virginia and Maryland, according to the report by the National Wildlife Federation."
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Sat, May 24, 2008: from Science News:
Ocean reflux
"Seawater with the potentially shell-disrupting chemistry predicted for the open ocean after 2050 has already surfaced along North America's West Coast, scientists report. In spring 2007, the corrosive, deep water rose temporarily to the Pacific surface some 40 kilometers roughly west of the California-Oregon border, says Richard Feely of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle."
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Sat, May 24, 2008: from BBC:
Vast cracks appear in Arctic ice
"Scientists travelling with the troops found major new fractures during an assessment of the state of giant ice shelves in Canada's far north. The team found a network of cracks that stretched for more than 10 miles (16km) on Ward Hunt, the area's largest shelf... One of the expedition's scientists, Derek Mueller of Trent University, Ontario, [explained]: "It means the ice shelf is disintegrating, the pieces are pinned together like a jigsaw but could float away."
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Fri, May 23, 2008: from European Science Foundation, via EurekAlert:
Ocean acidification -- another undesired side effect of fossil fuel-burning
"Ocean acidification is more rapid than ever in the history of the earth and if you look at the pCO2 (partial pressure of carbon dioxide) levels we have reached now, you have to go back 35 million years in time to find the equivalents"... A maximum allowed change in pH, where the system is still controllable, needs to be found. This is a major challenge considering the multifaceted unknowns that still are to be clarified. This so-called "tipping point" is currently estimated to allow a drop of about 0.2 pH units, a value that could be reached in as near as 30 years. More research and further modeling needs to be undertaken to verify the predictions.
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Tue, May 20, 2008: from TIME Magazine:
What Condoms Have to Do with Climate Change
"As the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gen. Michael Hayden should have some insight on the biggest threats facing the U.S. But when Hayden recently described what he saw as the most troublesome trend over the next several decades, it wasn't terrorism or climate change. It was overpopulation in the poorest parts of the world. "By mid-century, the best estimates point to a world population of more than 9 billion," Hayden said in a speech at Kansas State University. "Most of that growth will occur in countries least able to sustain it." The sheer increase in population, Hayden argued, could fuel instability and extremism, not to mention worsening climate change and making food and fuel all the more scarce. Population is the essential multiplier for any number of human ills."
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Sun, May 18, 2008: from New York Times:
One Country's Table Scraps, Another Country's Meal
"Grocery bills are rising through the roof. Food banks are running short of donations. And food shortages are causing sporadic riots in poor countries through the world. You’d never know it if you saw what was ending up in your landfill. As it turns out, Americans waste an astounding amount of food — an estimated 27 percent of the food available for consumption, according to a government study — and it happens at the supermarket, in restaurants and cafeterias and in your very own kitchen. It works out to about a pound of food every day for every American."
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Sun, May 18, 2008: from London Times:
Zones of death are spreading in oceans due to global warming
"Marine dead zones, where fish and other sea life can suffocate from lack of oxygen, are spreading across the world’s tropical oceans, a study has warned. Researchers found that the warming of sea water through climate change is reducing its ability to carry dissolved oxygen, potentially turning swathes of the world’s oceans into marine graveyards."
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Sat, May 17, 2008: from The Earth Institute at Columbia University via ScienceDaily:
Warming Climate Is Changing Life On Global Scale, Says New Study
"A vast array of physical and biological systems across the earth are being affected by warming temperatures caused by humans, says a new analysis of information not previously assembled all in one spot. The effects on living things include earlier leafing of trees and plants over many regions; movements of species to higher latitudes and altitudes in the northern hemisphere; changes in bird migrations in Europe, North America and Australia; and shifting of the oceans' plankton and fish from cold- to warm-adapted communities."
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Fri, May 16, 2008: from Science Daily (US):
Soils Contain Huge Amounts Of Ancient Carbon: When Does This Carbon Enter The Atmosphere?
"As the planet is warming up, this carbon is being released from the soil into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, but there are in fact two types of carbon -- 'new' carbon, which has recently entered the soil through vegetation, and 'old' carbon, which has been locked up in the soil for years... The implications of knowing this are very important and it will enable us to determine for the first time what the consequences of changes in land use might be for climate change... As more CO2 is released from the soil, the temperature is going to increase further -- it could almost be a runaway reaction."
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Wed, May 14, 2008: from Christian Science Monitor:
ON TRACK TOWARD RECORD SPRING FOR TORNADOES
Extremes in temperature throughout the vast table of the American heartland are making 2008 one of the deadliest years for US tornadoes in recent history. The supercell thunderstorms that breed twisters have occurred farther north and earlier in the year than is typical, according to some experts. But many are quick to add that this increase in severe weather is not necessarily an indication of permanent climate change.
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Tue, May 13, 2008: from Rice University via ScienceDaily.com:
Hot Climate Could Shut Down Plate Tectonics
"A new study of possible links between climate and geophysics on Earth and similar planets finds that prolonged heating of the atmosphere can shut down plate tectonics and cause a planet's crust to become locked in place."
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Tue, May 13, 2008: from The Daily Mail:
Sir Paul McCartney 'furious' after his new eco-car is flown 7,000 miles from Japan
"Sir Paul McCartney was today said to be furious after his new eco-friendly car was flown 7,000 miles from Japan. The former Beatle ordered the Ł84,000 hybrid vehicle to be shipped to Britain but the delivery instead created a carbon footprint almost 100 times larger by arriving on a jet. The Lexus LS600H produces just 219g in carbon emissions per kilometre.... his efforts to help save the environment were frustrated by the fact that the air journey created 38,050kg of carbon dioxide instead of the 297kg for the three-week voyage by boat."
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Sun, May 11, 2008: from Linköping University via ScienceDaily:
Carbon Dioxide Capture And Storage: Grasping At Straws In The Climate Debate?
"Great hopes are being placed on undeveloped technology. Capturing and storing carbon dioxide is predicted to be one of the most important measures to counter the threats to our climate. But the technology still hasn’t been tested in full scale, and the complications and risks it entails may have been grossly underestimated."
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Sat, May 10, 2008: from University of Montreal, via ScienceDaily:
University Research Contributes To Global Warming, Professor Discovers
Herve Philippe, a Université de Montréal professor of biochemistry, is a committed environmentalist who found that his own research produces 44 tonnes of CO2 per year. The average American citizen produces 20 tonnes. ""I did my PhD on nucleotide sequencing in the hope of advancing our knowledge of biodiversity, but I never thought that the research itself could have a negative impact on biodiversity," he said, during a recent biology department symposium."
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Thu, May 8, 2008: from Sacramento Bee:
Law firm vows to sue if U.S. links climate to polar bear
"A Sacramento law firm known for its conservative advocacy is poised to join the political melee over the fate of the polar bear, vowing Wednesday to sue the government if global warming is cited as a threat to the species. The Pacific Legal Foundation's warning comes in response to a much-anticipated decision next week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on whether to protect Alaskan polar bears under the Endangered Species Act. The service faces a court-ordered deadline of May 15 for that ruling.... Reed Hopper, a foundation attorney, claimed polar bears are thriving and already adequately protected."
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Wed, May 7, 2008: from Times of India:
Arctic ice melt could see rise of "Grolar bear"
"Scientists have suggested that due to the adverse effects of Arctic ice melting, the hybrid of a polar bear and grizzly bear - dubbed the 'grolar bear', might rise in numbers. According to a report in The Sun , the effects of climate change means that the hybrid bears could become more common as their habitats increasingly overlap due to global warming."
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Tue, May 6, 2008: from University of Washington, via ScienceDaily:
Trouble In Paradise: Global Warming A Greater Danger To Tropical Species
Polar bears fighting for survival in the face of a rapid decline of polar ice have made the Arctic a poster child for the negative effects of climate change. But new research shows that species living in the tropics likely face the greatest peril in a warmer world.... [T]ropical species have a far greater risk of extinction with warming of just a degree or two. That is because they are used to living within a much smaller temperature range to begin with, and once temperatures get beyond that range many species might not be able to cope.... "Unfortunately, the tropics also hold the large majority of species on the planet," he said.
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Mon, May 5, 2008: from National Post via CanWest News:
Canadian schools sent brochures from climate change skeptics
"An American think tank [the Chicago-based Heartland Institute] has sent out more than 11,000 brochures and DVDs to Canadian schools urging them to teach their students that scientists are exaggerating how human activity is the driving force behind global warming."
A blog post is available on this story
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Sun, May 4, 2008: from The Baltimore Sun:
Marshes produce mercury hazard
"...As Maryland and other states look to build thousands of acres of wetlands to fight global warming, the research has significant implications. More wetlands would absorb more carbon dioxide, but they also could make mercury health hazards worse."
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Sat, May 3, 2008: from Adelaide Sunday Mail:
Temperatures tipped to pause for a decade
"RISING global temperatures may stall for the next decade, with some scientists now believing the natural response of ocean currents will temporarily offset the effects of climate change. German climate scientists say the temperature pause is the result of the slowing of the global currents that transport heat around the planet."
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Sat, May 3, 2008: from The Associated Press:
Major Arctic sea ice melt is expected this summer
"The Arctic will remain on thinning ice, and climate warming is expected to begin affecting the Antarctic also, scientists said Friday."
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Fri, May 2, 2008: from Los Angeles Times:
Oxygen-poor ocean zones are growing
"Oxygen-starved waters are expanding in the Pacific and Atlantic as ocean temperatures increase with global warming, threatening fisheries and other marine life, a study published today concludes... The low-oxygen, or hypoxic, zones may also be connected to the Pacific coast invasion of the Humboldt, or jumbo, squid. These voracious predators, which can grow 6 feet long, appear to be taking advantage of their tolerance for oxygen-poor waters to escape predators and devour local fish, another team of scientists theorizes."
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Thu, May 1, 2008: from National Science Foundation:
Global Warming Affects World's Largest Lake
Russian and American scientists have discovered that the rising temperature of the world's largest lake, located in frigid Siberia, shows that this region is responding strongly to global warming. Warming of this isolated but enormous lake is a clear signal that climate change has affected even the most remote corners of our planet," Hampton said. In their paper, the scientists detail the effects of climate change on Lake Baikal -- from warming of its vast waters to reorganization of its microscopic food web. "The conclusions shown here for this enormous body of freshwater result from careful and repeated sampling over six decades..." The data on Lake Baikal reveal "significant warming of surface waters and long-term changes in the food web of the world's largest, most ancient lake," write the researchers in their paper. "This lake was expected to be among those most resistant to climate change, due to its tremendous volume and unique water circulation."
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Wed, Apr 30, 2008: from University of Colorado at Boulder:
Researchers forecast 3-in-5 chance of record low Arctic sea ice in 2008
The forecast by researchers at CU-Boulder's Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research is based on satellite data and temperature records and indicates there is a 59 percent chance the annual minimum sea ice record will be broken this fall for the third time in five years. Arctic sea ice declined by roughly 10 percent in the past decade, culminating in a record 2007 minimum ice cover of 1.59 million square miles. That broke the 2005 record by 460,000 miles -- an area the size of Texas and California combined. "The current Arctic ice cover is thinner and younger than at any previous time in our recorded history, and this sets the stage for rapid melt and a new record low," said Research Associate Sheldon Drobot, who leads CCAR's Arctic Regional Ice Forecasting System group in CU-Boulder's aerospace engineering sciences department. Overall, 63 percent of the Arctic ice cover is younger than average, and only 2 percent is older than average, according to Drobot.
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Tue, Apr 29, 2008: from Massachusetts Institute of Technology:
Carbon Footprint Of Best Conserving Americans Is Still Double Global Average
"An MIT class has estimated the carbon emissions of Americans in a wide variety of lifestyles -- from the homeless to multimillionaires, from Buddhist monks to soccer moms -- and compared them to those of other nations. The somewhat disquieting bottom line is that in the United States, even the people with the lowest usage of energy are still producing, on average, more than double the global per-capita average. Whether you live in a cardboard box or a luxurious mansion, whether you subsist on homegrown vegetables or wolf down imported steaks, whether you're a jet-setter or a sedentary retiree, anyone who lives in the U.S. contributes more than twice as much greenhouse gas to the atmosphere as the global average..."
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Tue, Apr 29, 2008: from The Independent:
Climate change could force 1 billion from their homes by 2050
"As many as one billion people could lose their homes by 2050 because of the devastating impact of global warming ... the steady rise in temperatures across the planet could trigger mass migration on unprecedented levels. Hundreds of millions could be forced to go on the move because of water shortages and crop failures in most of Africa, as well as in central and southern Asia and South America, the conference in London will be told. There could also be an effect on levels of starvation and on food prices as agriculture struggles to cope with growing demand in increasingly arid conditions. Rising sea levels could also cause havoc, with coastal communities in southern Asia, the Far East, the south Pacific islands and the Caribbean seeing their homes submerged. North and west Africans could head towards Europe, while the southern border of the United States could come under renewed pressure from Central America."
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Sun, Apr 27, 2008: from Time:
How to Win the War on Global Warming
"The steady deterioration of the very climate of our very planet is becoming a war of the first order, and by any measure, the U.S. is losing. Indeed, if we're fighting at all—and by most accounts, we're not—we're fighting on the wrong side. The U.S. produces nearly a quarter of the world's greenhouse gases each year and has stubbornly made it clear that it doesn't intend to do a whole lot about it."
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Fri, Apr 25, 2008: from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, via Science Daily:
Significant "Red Tide" Season Predicted For 2008 Based On Computer Models And Observations
A combination of abundant beds of algal seeds and excess winter precipitation have set the stage for a harmful algal bloom similar to the historic "red tide" of 2005, according to researchers from WHOI and NC State. The 2005 bloom shut down shellfish beds from the Bay of Fundy to Martha's Vineyard for several months and caused an estimated $50 million in losses to the Massachusetts shellfish industry alone. The weather patterns over the next few weeks will determine whether this year's algal growth approaches the troubles of 2005.... The algae are notorious for producing a toxin that accumulates in clams, mussels, and other shellfish and can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in humans who consume them.
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Thu, Apr 24, 2008: from NOAA, via Science Daily:
Greenhouse Gases, Carbon Dioxide And Methane, Rise Sharply In 2007
Last year alone global levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the primary driver of global climate change, increased by 0.6 percent, or 19 billion tons. Additionally methane rose by 27 million tons after nearly a decade with little or no increase. NOAA scientists released these and other preliminary findings today as part of an annual update to the agency's greenhouse gas index, which tracks data from 60 sites around the world.... Earth's oceans, vegetation, and soils soak up half of these emissions. The rest stays in the air for centuries or longer. Twenty percent of the 2007 fossil fuel emissions of carbon dioxide are expected to remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years, according to the latest scientific assessment by the International Panel on Climate Change.
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Tue, Apr 22, 2008: from Toronto Star:
Arctic ice melting fast in summer sun
"New Arctic sea ice is now so perilously thin on average that it melts under the sunshine of clear summer skies it once could survive, American researchers conclude in a study published today. Using modern satellite imagery, the scientists from the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research linked last summer's record loss of sea ice to unusual cloudless weather in June and July that allowed the sun to relentlessly beat down on first-year ice formed over the previous winter.
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Sat, Apr 19, 2008: from Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Scientist: Stop carbon emissions or face ruin
"Droughts, more wildfires, hotter and longer summers and more violent storms will plague the desert Southwest if carbon-dioxide pollution continues, a leading climate-change scientist believes. Sea levels will rise several feet, covering the state of Florida, the country of Bangladesh and most beachfront property by the end of the century if people keep pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at the current rate, said James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies."
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Sat, Apr 19, 2008: from Associated Press:
Jet stream found to be permanently drifting north
The jet stream -- America's stormy weather maker -- is creeping northward and weakening, new research shows. That potentially means less rain in the already dry South and Southwest and more storms in the North. And it could also translate into more and stronger hurricanes since the jet stream suppresses their formation. The study's authors said they have to do more research to pinpoint specific consequences. From 1979 to 2001, the Northern Hemisphere's jet stream moved northward on average at a rate of about 1.25 miles a year, according to the paper published Friday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
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Sat, Apr 19, 2008: from National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration:
Global Land Temperature Warmest On Record In March 2008
"The average global land temperature last month was the warmest on record and ocean surface temperatures were the 13th warmest. Combining the land and the ocean temperatures, the overall global temperature ranked the second warmest for the month of March. Global temperature averages have been recorded since 1880."
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Fri, Apr 18, 2008: from Reuters:
Freshening of deep Antarctic waters worries experts
"Scientists studying the icy depths of the sea around Antarctica have detected changes in salinity that could have profound effects on the world's climate and ocean currents... Voyage leader Steve Rintoul said his team found that salty, dense water that sinks near the edge of Antarctica to the bottom of the ocean about 5 km (3 miles) down was becoming fresher and more buoyant. So-called Antarctic bottom water helps power the great ocean conveyor belt, a system of currents spanning the Southern, Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans that shifts heat around the globe....If these currents were to slow or stop, the world's climate would eventually be thrown into chaos."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Thu, Apr 17, 2008: from London Guardian:
Waves of Destruction
"Rising seas are changing Britain's coast dramatically. Norfolk is the first low-lying area to face a stark and cruel new choice - plough millions into doomed defences, or abandon whole villages to the invading waters...More than 15 million people live close to Britain's coastline. This small corner of Norfolk is the first to confront what every low-lying community in the country will face in the coming decades: the real cost of increased erosion, storms and sea-level rises exacerbated by global warming. It presents local people and the government with a stark dilemma. Is it worth spending billions on defending homes and livelihoods? Or, faced with inexorable sea-level rise, should expensive coastal defences be abandoned, leading to the evacuation of land and houses?"
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Thu, Apr 17, 2008: from Der Spiegel:
A Storehouse of Greenhouse Gases Is Opening in Siberia
"Researchers have found alarming evidence that the frozen Arctic floor has started to thaw and release long-stored methane gas. The results could be a catastrophic warming of the earth, since methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. But can the methane also be used as fuel? ... In the permafrost bottom of the 200-meter-deep sea, enormous stores of gas hydrates lie dormant in mighty frozen layers of sediment. The carbon content of the ice-and-methane mixture here is estimated at 540 billion tons.
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Wed, Apr 16, 2008: from Bloomberg:
Biofuel Rule Will Do More Harm Than Good, Oxfam Says
"U.K. fuels for cars and trucks must contain biofuels starting today, a move that may do more harm than good to the environment and drive food prices higher, charities including Oxfam and Greenpeace said....Scientists in the U.K. and U.S. have found that the cultivation of biofuels can increase the output of CO2 and other gases blamed for global warming because of changes in land use."
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Wed, Apr 16, 2008: from Reuters Africa:
World sea levels seen rising 1.5m by 2100
"Melting glaciers, disappearing ice sheets and warming water could lift sea levels by as much as 1.5 metres (4.9 feet) by the end of this century, displacing tens of millions of people, new research showed on Tuesday. Presented at a European Geosciences Union conference, the research forecasts a rise in sea levels three times higher than that predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last year. The U.N. climate panel shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore."
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Tue, Apr 15, 2008: from BBC:
China now 'top carbon polluter'
"China has already overtaken the US as the world's "biggest polluter", a report to be published next month says. The research suggests the country's greenhouse gas emissions have been underestimated, and probably passed those of the US in 2006-2007."
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Mon, Apr 14, 2008: from Reuters:
Bangladesh faces climate change refugee nightmare
"DHAKA - Abdul Majid has been forced to move 22 times in as many years, a victim of the annual floods that ravage Bangladesh. There are millions like Majid, 65, in Bangladesh and in the future there could be many millions more if scientists' predictions of rising seas and more intense droughts and storms come true...Experts say a third of Bangladesh's coastline could be flooded if the sea rises one metre in the next 50 years, creating an additional 20 million Bangladeshis displaced from their homes and farms."
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Sat, Apr 12, 2008: from The Canadian Press:
New cracks suggest largest remaining Arctic ice shelf destined to disappear
"WARD HUNT ISLAND, Nunavut -- New cracks in the largest remaining Arctic ice shelf suggest another polar landmark seems destined to break up and disappear. Scientists discovered the extensive new cracks in the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf earlier this year and a patrol of Canadian Rangers got an up-close look at them last week."
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Thu, Apr 10, 2008: from Greenpeace:
Logging in Canada's Boreal Forests
it finds that logging is destabilizing the Boreal Forest in ways that may exacerbate both global warming and its impacts. The forest products industry and government regulators adamantly deny that logging in Canada's Boreal affects the climate. But research shows that when the forest is degraded through logging and industrial development, massive amounts of greenhouse gasses are released into the atmosphere, and the forest becomes more vulnerable to global warming impacts like fires and insect outbreaks. In many cases, these impacts cause even more greenhouse gasses to be released, driving a vicious circle in which global warming degrades the Boreal Forest, and Boreal Forest degradation advances global warming. If left unchecked, this could culminate in a catastrophic release of greenhouse gasses known as "the carbon bomb".
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Wed, Apr 9, 2008: from Reuters:
Warming trends rise in large ocean areas: study
"Warming trends in a third of the world's large ocean regions are two to four times greater than previously reported averages, increasing the risk to marine life and fisheries, a U.N.-backed environmental study said. Overfishing, coastal pollution and degradation of water quality were common in all 64 large marine ecosystems studied by scientists who contributed to the U.N. Environmental Program report presented at an international conference on oceans, coasts and islands in Vietnam this week."
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Mon, Apr 7, 2008: from New York Times:
Duck and Cover: It's the New Survivalism
"...Survivalism, it seems, is not just for survivalists anymore. Faced with a confluence of diverse threats — a tanking economy, a housing crisis, looming environmental disasters, and a sharp spike in oil prices — people who do not consider themselves extremists are starting to discuss doomsday measures once associated with the social fringes. They stockpile or grow food in case of a supply breakdown, or buy precious metals in case of economic collapse. Some try to take their houses off the electricity grid, or plan safe houses far away. The point is not to drop out of society, but to be prepared in case the future turns out like something out of “An Inconvenient Truth,” if not “Mad Max.”
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Sun, Apr 6, 2008: from International Public Forum on Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples:
Indigenous peoples hardest hit by climate change describe impacts
Indigenous people point to an increase in human rights violations, displacements and conflicts due to expropriation of ancestral lands and forests for biofuel plantations (soya, sugar-cane, jatropha, oil-palm, corn, etc.), as well as for carbon sink and renewable energy projects (hydropower dams, geothermal plants), without the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous people.... [such as] a Dutch company whose operations include planting trees and selling sequestered carbon credit to people wanting to offset their emissions caused by air travel.... Forced evictions continued to 2002, leading indigenous people to move to neighboring villages, caves and mosques. Over 50 people were killed in 2004.
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Sun, Apr 6, 2008: from Nature, via NSF:
Emission Reduction Assumptions for Carbon Dioxide Overly Optimistic, Study Says
Reducing global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) over the coming century will be more challenging than society has been led to believe, according to a research commentary appearing this week in the journal Nature.... Recent changes in "carbon intensity"--CO2 emissions per unit of energy consumed--already are higher than those predicted by the IPCC because of rapid economic development, says lead author Pielke. In Asia, for instance, the demands of more energy-intensive economies are being met with conventional fossil-fuel technologies, a process expected to continue there for decades and eventually move into Africa.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Fri, Apr 4, 2008: from Science Daily (US):
Climate Change Is Not Caused By Cosmic Rays, According To New Research
New research has dealt a blow to the skeptics who argue that climate change is all due to cosmic rays rather than to man-made greenhouse gases. The new evidence shows no reliable connection between the cosmic ray intensity and cloud cover.... The new research shows that change in cloud cover over the Earth does not correlate to changes in cosmic ray intensity. Neither does it show increases and decreases during the sporadic bursts and decreases in the cosmic ray intensity which occur regularly.
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Fri, Apr 4, 2008: from Associated Press:
US: Fighting global warming costly
"BANGKOK, Thailand - With global markets in turmoil and the U.S. threatened by recession, negotiators at a climate change conference are asking: can nations afford to make rapid cuts in emissions to fight global warming without going into an economic tailspin? ... U.S. climate negotiator Harlan Watson said such costs need to be factored in when deciding how deep the world ought to require industrialized nations to reduce emissions. "If you push the globe into recession, it certainly isn't going to help the developing world either," he said. "Exports go down, and many of the developing countries of course are heavily dependent on exports. So there's a lot of issues which need to be fleshed out ... so people understand the real world."
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Mon, Mar 31, 2008: from Washington Post (US):
Gore Launches Ambitious Advocacy Campaign on Climate
"Former vice president Al Gore will launch a three-year, $300 million campaign Wednesday aimed at mobilizing Americans to push for aggressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, a move that ranks as one of the most ambitious and costly public advocacy campaigns in U.S. history. The Alliance for Climate Protection's "we" campaign will employ online organizing and television advertisements on shows ranging from "American Idol" to "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." It highlights the extent to which Americans' growing awareness of global warming has yet to translate into national policy changes, Gore said in an hour-long phone interview last week. He said the campaign, which Gore is helping to fund, was undertaken in large part because of his fear that U.S. lawmakers are unwilling to curb the human-generated emissions linked to climate change."
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Sun, Mar 30, 2008: from University of Missouri-Columbia:
Despite Awareness Of Global Warming Americans Concerned More About Local Environment
"...Results from a recent survey conducted by a University of Missouri professor reveal that the U.S. public, while aware of the deteriorating global environment, is concerned predominantly with local and national environmental issues. "The survey's core result is that people care about their communities and express the desire to see government action taken toward local and national issues," said David Konisky, a policy research scholar with the Institute of Public Policy. "People are hesitant to support efforts concerning global issues even though they believe that environmental quality is poorer at the global level than at the local and national level. This is surprising given the media attention that global warming has recently received and reflects the division of opinion about the severity of climate change."
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Sun, Mar 30, 2008: from Fresno Bee:
Moving to cooler ground
"The 2,000-year-old giant sequoias east of Fresno have survived warm spells lasting centuries, but in just 100 years, global warming could snuff them out -- along with many Sierra Nevada species. Why? The current episode of climate change is moving faster than any warm-up detected in the past 500,000 years, many scientists say. Many say car exhaust and other global-warming emissions from human activities may be the reason."
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Fri, Mar 28, 2008: from Los Angeles Times:
EPA chief bides time on court's decision
"EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson has shelved his agency's findings that greenhouse gases are a danger to the public, and on Thursday told Congress that he will initiate a lengthy public comment period about whether such emissions are a risk before responding to a U.S. Supreme Court order. The move means there is virtually no chance the Bush administration will act to regulate greenhouse gases in response to the high court's decision in the time left in office."
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Tue, Mar 25, 2008: from LiveScience.com:
Vast Antarctic Ice Shelf on Verge of Collapse
A vast ice shelf hanging on by a thin strip looks to be the next chunk to break off from the Antarctic Peninsula, the latest sign of global warming’s impact on Earth's southernmost continent. Scientists are shocked by the rapid change of events. Scambos alerted colleagues at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) that it looked like the entire ice shelf — about 6,180 square miles (16,000 square kilometers — about the size of Northern Ireland)— was at risk of collapsing.
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Tue, Mar 25, 2008: from The Sault Star:
Arctic ice refreezes 4 percent, not enough, scientists say
"U.S. scientists say critical Arctic sea ice has made a tenuous partial recovery this winter, following last summer's record melt. But that is an illusion - like a Hollywood movie set - says scientist Walter Meier of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Washington. The ice is very thin and vulnerable to heavy melting again this summer. Overall, Arctic sea ice has shrunk precipitously in the past decade and scientists blame global warming caused by humans. Last summer, Arctic ice shrank to an area that was 27 per cent smaller than the previous record. This winter, it recovered to a maximum of 15 million square kilometres. That's up four per cent and the most since 2003, NASA ice scientist Josefino Comiso said. It is still a bit below the long-term average level for this time of year."
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Tue, Mar 25, 2008: from Moscow Times:
Carbon Credits Get Cool Reception
"Despite evidence that the country's northernmost reaches are melting, threatening people and animals as well as its unique landscape, concern over global warming has yet to hit home for many Russians. Indeed, environmental experts say melting icecaps have prompted Russia's push to reclaim part of the Arctic with showy submarine missions that would have been all but impossible just a few years ago. And environmental issues make the front pages mainly when huge foreign-led oil and gas projects fall afoul of the Kremlin."
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Mon, Mar 24, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
Climate change is accelerating
The growth of developing economies in Africa, Asia and South America has accelerated global warming far beyond official predictions and it is developed nations that must act to halt the potentially catastrophic consequences, according to a new study from the world's leading temporary power supplier, Aggreko. The warning, which has shocked environment campaigners, comes from Aggreko's chief executive, Rupert Soames, who said: 'The threat of global warming is far greater than people have previously thought. The consensus figure on the world's power consumption going forward to 2015 is simply wrong.'
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Sat, Mar 22, 2008: from DailyKos Diary:
Early look at 2008 Arctic sea ice levels
In December a scientist on an icebreaker there described it as "styrofoam in a bath tub." The big unknown is whether atmospheric conditions (reduced cloudiness and increased air temps) will aid the melting as they did in 2007. If they do, expect a big melt beyond last year's. I hesitate to say that a complete loss is possible, but based on the present conditions we could well see the main pack split in two for the first time.
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Fri, Mar 21, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
Glaciers melting at fastest rate in past 5,000 years
Experts have been monitoring 30 glaciers around the world for nearly three decades and the most recent figures, for 2006, show the biggest ever 'net loss' of ice. Achim Steiner, head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), told The Observer that melting glaciers were now the 'loudest and clearest' warning signal of global warming. The problem could lead to failing infrastructure, mass migration and even conflict. 'We're talking about something that happens in your and my lifespan. We're not talking about something hypothetical, we're talking about something dramatic in its consequences,' he said.
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Wed, Mar 19, 2008: from Montgomery Advertiser:
Climatologist says global warming not alarming, carbon fuels not to blame
"The Earth is getting warmer, but Alabama's state climatologist says carbon fuels aren't to blame. John Christy, who heads the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama- Huntsville, told a group of civic and business leaders Tuesday that the Earth's warming is well within historical ranges. He spoke at the Energy and Environment Lecture sponsored by Auburn Montgomery and Alabama Power Co. Carbon dioxide levels have increased 38 percent in the last 100 years, Christy said, leading to an increase in the average surface temperature of about 1.26 degrees. Even if carbon dioxide doubled, temperatures would increase only about 3.6 degrees, according to Christy."
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Wed, Mar 19, 2008: from The Washington Post (US):
Perennial Arctic Ice Cover Diminishing, Officials Say
"The amount of long-lasting sea ice in the Arctic -- thick enough to survive for as much as a decade -- declined sharply in the past year, even though the region had a cold winter and the thinner one-year ice cover grew substantially, federal officials said yesterday.... The surprising drop in perennial ice makes the fast-changing region more unstable, because the thinner seasonal ice melts readily in summer."
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Wed, Mar 19, 2008: from Associated Press:
Global warming rushes timing of spring
"WASHINGTON - The capital's famous cherry trees are primed to burst out in a perfect pink peak about the end of this month. Thirty years ago, the trees usually waited to bloom till around April 5. In central California, the first of the field skipper sachem, a drab little butterfly, was fluttering about on March 12. Just 25 years ago, that creature predictably emerged there anywhere from mid-April to mid-May....Pollen is bursting. Critters are stirring. Buds are swelling. Biologists are worrying. "The alarm clock that all the plants and animals are listening to is running too fast," Stanford University biologist Terry Root said. Blame global warming.
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Mon, Mar 17, 2008: from USA Today:
Belize coral reef: gorgeous but threatened
A potent mix of coastal development, tourism, overfishing, pollution and climate change has damaged an estimated 40 percent of the Belize reef system, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts more than a third of Belize's 850,000 annual visitors. A recent string of "bleaching events" — where vibrantly hued coral turn a skeletal white — occurred when a spike in water temperatures that scientists associate with global warming expelled symbiotic algae living inside corals. Worldwide, experts calculate that nearly 50 percent of coral reefs are under imminent or long-term threat of collapse through human pressures; 20 percent have been destroyed.... But the island's dense mangroves and coastal forests, onetime shelters for jaguars, crocodiles and juvenile fish bound for the coral reef a half-mile offshore, are giving way to condos and resorts that have drawn the likes of John Grisham and the stars of the 2001, Ambergris-based reality show Temptation Island.
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Sat, Mar 15, 2008: from National Geographic News:
Melting Ice Sheets Can Cause Earthquakes, Study Finds
"As ice sheets melt, they can release pent-up energy and trigger massive earthquakes, according to new study. Global warming may already be triggering such earthquakes and may cause more in the future as ice continues to melt worldwide, the researchers say....Now a new study, the first to use sophisticated computer models to simulate how ice sheets would affect the crust in the region, bolsters this scenario. The study showed that earthquakes are "suppressed in presence of the ice and promoted during melting of the ice," said study leader Andrea Hampel of the Ruhr University Bochum in Germany.
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Fri, Mar 14, 2008: from National Geographic News:
Water in Dams, Reservoirs Preventing Sea-Level Rise
"Dams and reservoirs have stored so much water over the past several decades that they have masked surging sea levels, a new study says. But dam building has slowed, meaning sea levels could rise more quickly than researchers predicted in a 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. Sea levels have been rising for decades, due mostly to global warming caused by greenhouse gases. The oceans are on average about 6.3 inches (16 centimeters) higher now than in 1930, when they started a noticeable upward climb. Melting glaciers and ice caps, along with ocean warming—water expands as it heats up—are the main culprits behind the increase."
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Wed, Mar 12, 2008: from Associated Press:
EPA hikes rules to cut smog-clogged air
"WASHINGTON - The air in hundreds of U.S. counties is simply too dirty to breathe, the government said Wednesday, ordering a multibillion-dollar expansion of efforts to clean up smog in cities and towns nationwide. The federal action, which lowers ozone limits for the atmosphere, means that 345 counties will now be in violation of the health requirement, about four times as many as under the old rules. However, scientists said the change still isn't enough to significantly reduce heart and asthma attacks from breathing smog-clogged air, and they pressed the Environmental Protection Agency to issue even more stringent requirements.... EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, already a target of intense criticism over emissions linked to global warming and regulation of mercury from power plants, decided to take the middle ground when it comes to smog."
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Tue, Mar 11, 2008: from National Research Council (US):
Climate Change Will Have A Significant Impact On Transportation Infrastructure And Operations
"While every mode of transportation in the U.S. will be affected as the climate changes, potentially the greatest impact on transportation systems will be flooding of roads, railways, transit systems, and airport runways in coastal areas because of rising sea levels and surges brought on by more intense storms, says a new report from the National Research Council. Though the impacts of climate change will vary by region, it is certain they will be widespread and costly in human and economic terms, and will require significant changes in the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of transportation systems."
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Tue, Mar 11, 2008: from Science Daily (US):
Alarming Growth In Expected Carbon Dioxide Emissions In China, Analysis Finds
The growth in China's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is far outpacing previous estimates, making the goal of stabilizing atmospheric greenhouse gases even more difficult, according to a new analysis... The researchers' most conservative forecast predicts that by 2010, there will be an increase of 600 million metric tons of carbon emissions in China over the country's levels in 2000.... This growth from China alone would dramatically overshadow the 116 million metric tons of carbon emissions reductions pledged by all the developed countries in the Kyoto Protocol.
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Mon, Mar 10, 2008: from People's Daily (China):
Amazon's worst-ever drought in 2005 caused by global warming
"Brazil's drought in 2005, the worst-ever hitting the Amazon, was caused by global warming instead of the El Nino weather phenomenon as previously thought, the country's National Space Research Institute (INPE) announced Sunday. "The idea that a drought comes with every El Nino is simply not correct," said INPE researcher Carlos Nobre who studied the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean and Amazon rainfall. "El Nino does not affect the southwestern Amazon region."
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Mon, Mar 10, 2008: from The Atlantic:
Waterworld
"Excerpt: The Earth has always been unstable. Flooding and erosion, cyclones and tsunamis are the norm rather than the exception. But never have the planet’s most environmentally frail areas been so crowded. The slowdown in the growth rate of the world’s population has not changed the fact that the number of people living in the countries most vulnerable to natural disasters continues to increase. The Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004 was merely a curtain-raiser. Over the coming decades, Mother Nature is likely to kill or make homeless a staggering number of people. American journalists sometimes joke that, in terms of news, thousands of people displaced by floods in Bangladesh equals a handful of people killed or displaced closer to home. But that formula is now as unimaginative and out-of-date as it is cruel."
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Thu, Mar 6, 2008: from Environmental Science and Technology:
Tracking climate change in flowers
"Dandelions, forsythia, dogwoods, bluebells. When will they bloom this year? The answer is likely to be different than it was 50 years ago. To keep track of how flowers and foliage respond to a changing climate, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and a team of collaborators have launched an online database called Project BudBurst. The initiative allows citizen scientists, gardeners, and students to document when they see that first bud open, the timing of the first leaf, the first flower, and when the plant goes to seed. Maps showing these events across the U.S. are available on the website. Volunteers can choose from more than 60 suggested trees and flowers, or they can add their own favorite species."
Tip: Bumming out? Don't forget that there's
also the Recovery Scenario!
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Wed, Mar 5, 2008: from Associated Press:
OECD: World must act on climate change
"OSLO, Norway -- The world must respond to climate change and other environmental challenges now while the cost is low or else pay a stiffer price later for its indecision, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Wednesday. A new report by 30-nation organization looks at "red light issues" in the environment, including global warming, water shortages, energy, biodiversity loss, transportation, agriculture and fisheries...A window of opportunity to act is now open," the report said. "We need forward-looking policies today to avoid high costs of inaction or delayed action over the longer term."
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Sat, Mar 1, 2008: from Campus Press:
CU researchers examine trends in Arctic Sea ice
"Arctic Ocean ice is at a tipping point and what happens in the next five to six years determines whether the Arctic Ocean will be mostly ice-free in the summer," he said.... The research stresses that the old ice, which has melted and the new ice that has taken its place are fundamentally different. As ice ages, its thickness, surface topography, strength, and albedo (amount of light reflectivity) change dramatically. As older and thicker ice melts, it gives way to newer, thinner ice. These conditions make the region more susceptible to rapid change and a snowball affect ensues: the more ice that is lost, the more rapidly it continues to dissipate."
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Sat, Mar 1, 2008: from The Guardian:
Gaia guru Lovelock: enjoy life while you can
"[Climate scientist maverick James] Lovelock believes global warming is now irreversible, and that nothing can prevent large parts of the planet becoming too hot to inhabit, or sinking underwater, resulting in mass migration, famine and epidemics. Britain is going to become a lifeboat for refugees from mainland Europe, so instead of wasting our time on wind turbines we need to start planning how to survive. To Lovelock, the logic is clear. The sustainability brigade are insane to think we can save ourselves by going back to nature; our only chance of survival will come not from less technology, but more....He smiles and says: 'Enjoy life while you can. Because if you're lucky it's going to be 20 years before it hits the fan.'"
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Sat, Mar 1, 2008: from National Geographic News:
Climate Change Hitting the Sea
"When it comes to climate change, polar bears and sharks may grab the bulk of the headlines—but it's the threat to the sea's tiniest creatures that has some marine scientists most concerned. Malformed seashells show that climate change is affecting even the most basic rungs of the marine food chain—a hint of looming disaster for all ocean creatures—experts say. Climate change could drastically reduce sea urchin populations in particular, according to Gretchen Hofmann, a marine biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara."
A blog post is available on this story
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Wed, Feb 27, 2008: from Congressional Quarterly:
EPA Chief Overruled Staff on California Greenhouse Gas Rules
"Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson was urged by his staff to allow California to set greenhouse gas emission standards for vehicles, even though he ultimately decided to block the regulations, according to documents obtained by the chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Sen. Barbara Boxer , D-Calif., said she plans to grill Johnson about his decision at a hearing Wednesday on the EPA’s proposed fiscal 2009 budget.
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Wed, Feb 27, 2008: from The Guardian:
Sumatran deforestation driving climate change and species extinction, report warns
"The destruction of Sumatra's natural forests is accelerating global climate change and pushing endangered species closer to extinction, a new report warned today. A study from WWF claims that converting the forests and peat swamps of just one Sumatran province into plantations for pulpwood and palm oil is generating more annual greenhouse gas emissions than the Netherlands, and is endangering local elephant and tiger populations. The fastest rate of deforestation in Indonesia is occurring in central Sumatra's Riau province, where some 4.2m hectares (65 percent) of its tropical forests and peat swamps have been cleared for industrial plantations in the past 25 years, the study shows....The report, a joint effort between WWF, Remote Sensing Solutions and Hokkaido university in Japan, claims to be the first piece of research to analyse the connection between deforestation and forest degradation, global climate change and declining wildlife populations."
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Mon, Feb 25, 2008: from Reuters:
Methane, permafrost, and the Wild Card
"More research [is] urgently needed into the possibility of a runaway release of methane, a powerful heat-trapping gas trapped in frozen soils in Siberia, Canada, Alaska and Nordic nations, it said in a 2008 yearbook issued at 154-nation talks in Monaco.... Vast amounts of methane entering the atmosphere "would lead to abrupt changes in the climate that would likely be irreversible," UNEP said. "We must not cross that threshold."
A blog post is available on this story
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Sat, Feb 23, 2008: from Guardian (UK):
2004: Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us
"Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters.... A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.... The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism..."
A blog post is available on this story
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Fri, Feb 22, 2008: from United Press International:
Study: Global cooling a 1970s myth
"A U.S. climatologist said there was no consensus in the 1970s that the Earth was headed for a new ice age. Thomas Peterson of the National Climatic Data Center said a survey of scientific journals of the era showed that only seven supported global cooling, 44 predicted warming and 20 others were neutral, USA Today reported Thursday...The study, which will be published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, said a review of the literature suggests that greenhouse warming even then dominated scientists' thinking.
A blog post is available on this story
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Thu, Feb 21, 2008: from The Age:
Dire new warning on climate
Recent work by scientists suggests climate change is advancing more rapidly and more dangerously than previously thought, according to Canberra's top adviser on the issue. In a dire warning to the Rudd Government, Ross Garnaut has declared that existing targets for cuts in greenhouse emissions may be too modest and too late to halt environmentally damaging rises in temperature. On the eve of the release today of his interim report on climate change, Professor Garnaut told a conference in Adelaide yesterday that without intervention before 2020, it would be impossible to avoid a high risk of dangerous climate change. "The show will be over," he said.
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Tue, Feb 19, 2008: from The Australian:
Snail loss catastrophic for food chain
"GLOBAL warming is threatening the future of a tiny marine snail which, if lost, could trigger a catastrophic collapse of Antarctica's food chain, experts say. Pteropods have been dubbed the "potato chip" of the oceans because they provide food for so many different species. But the lentil-sized snails - eaten by fish and other lower life forms, which are in turn eaten by species higher up the food chain - are highly sensitive to temperature and acidity, both of which are affected by climate change. Carbon dioxide building up in the atmosphere is expected to make the oceans more acidic. This could have dire consequences for pteropods, impairing their ability to make shells."
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Fri, Feb 15, 2008: from Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Scientists fear Tipping Point for Pacific Ocean
"Where scientists previously found a sea bottom abounding with life, two years ago they discovered the rotting carcasses of crabs, starfish and sea worms, swooshing from side to side in the current. Most fish had fled -- and those that didn't or couldn't joined the deathfest on the sea floor. Extraordinarily low oxygen levels were to blame -- swept up from the deep ocean into normally productive waters just off the Pacific Northwest coast by uncharacteristically strong winds....It looks like the Pacific has reached a "tipping point," a threshold where low-oxygen levels are becoming the rule, researchers said."
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Tue, Feb 12, 2008: from Chicago Tribune:
Refinery pollution may soar
"Global-warming pollution from Midwest oil refineries is expected to soar by as much as 40 percent during the next decade, a dramatic increase that runs counter to regional and national efforts to curb heat-trapping gases. Expansion plans at the BP refinery in Whiting would boost the facility's greenhouse-gas emissions to 5.8 million tons a year, the company told the Tribune. That would be equivalent to adding 320,000 cars to the nation's highways. While greenhouse gases from the tailpipes of cars get the most attention, the refineries that keep cars and trucks running also contribute to global warming. Fuel must be burned to make gasoline from oil, generating carbon-dioxide pollution."
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Mon, Feb 11, 2008: from The Times of India:
King penguins could be wiped out by climate change
"PARIS: One of the emblems of the Antarctic, the king penguin, could be driven to extinction by climate change, a French study published on Monday warns. In a long-term investigation on the penguins' main breeding grounds, investigators found that a tiny warming of the Southern Ocean by the El Nino effect caused a massive fall in the birds' ability to survive. If predictions by UN scientists of ever-higher temperatures in coming decades prove true, the species faces a major risk of being wiped out, they say. "
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Sun, Feb 10, 2008: from Toronto Star:
The alarming redefinition of 'glacial'
"The Athabasca Glacier, remnant of ice sheets that once enveloped the Canadian Rockies and most of Canada, draws hundreds of thousands of tourists each year who catch a glimpse of what much of North America and Europe probably looked like some 10,000 years ago, the twilight of the last Ice Age...the Athabasca is melting at a faster-than-glacial pace. During the last Ice Age, the Athabasca Glacier -- a river of ice six kilometres long, one kilometre wide, and as deep as 300 metres -- was much deeper and stretched down the valley ... one sign predicts the glacier's disappearance in 100 years."
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Fri, Feb 8, 2008: from Post-Tribune:
Emission increase expected
BP projects it will release 1.5 million to 2 million tons more carbon dioxide -- a greenhouse gas -- after its Whiting expansion is complete in 2011. Carbon dioxide is not a regulated pollutant, which means there's no limit on it in BP's proposed air permit. But BP was among the first corporations to recognize global warming in 1998, and environmentalists question how the 30-40 percent increase fits with BP's corporate image of reducing greenhouse gases.
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Fri, Feb 8, 2008: from Nature:
Poor Projections
"The extent to which sea level could rise by 2100 is greatly underestimated in current models, suggests a new study, highlighting the risk faced by coastal areas and island nations. Radley Horton at Columbia University, US, and colleagues estimated that sea level could rise by 54 to 89 centimetres by the end of the century, in contrast to the latest estimate by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of 18 to 59 centimetres."
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Fri, Feb 8, 2008: from The Daily Green:
The Seed of Deadly Tornadoes
"Temperatures as much as 25 degrees higher than normal set the stage for the deadly tornadoes that descended on the American south, leading to death, injuries and destruction in Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee ... Is this another global warming harbinger?"
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Fri, Feb 8, 2008: from Salt Lake Tribune:
Carbon dioxide could saturate seas first, kill plant life that supplies oxygen
"Greenhouse emissions' warming effect on the atmosphere is bad enough, but their bigger threat is the ecological chaos they are causing as the world's oceans become more acidic, according to a marine scientist. Oceans are absorbing the glut of atmospheric carbon dioxide -- stemming from two centuries of rampant burning of fossil fuels -- at the rate of 1 million metric tons an hour. Reacting with seawater, the absorbed carbon dioxide forms carbonic acid and throws marine chemistry out of whack. Without a major effort to curb emissions, massive die-off will occur in coral reefs, the shells of crucial mollusk species will dissolve and key marine plant life, which produces half the world's atmospheric oxygen, will disappear..."
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Thu, Feb 7, 2008: from Associated Press:
Study: Ethanol may add to global warming
"The widespread use of ethanol from corn could result in nearly twice the greenhouse gas emissions as the gasoline it would replace because of expected land-use changes, researchers concluded Thursday. The study challenges the rush to biofuels as a response to global warming. The researchers said that past studies showing the benefits of ethanol in combating climate change have not taken into account almost certain changes in land use worldwide if ethanol from corn -- and in the future from other feedstocks such as switchgrass -- become a prized commodity."
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Wed, Feb 6, 2008: from Charleston City Paper:
Should we be taxed for eating animals?
"The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found in 2006 that livestock production generates 18 percent of greenhouse gases worldwide -- more than the entire transportation sector of cars, trucks, planes, and ships combined. Cows constantly belch methane from their four stomachs, and lagoons of pig effluent release the gas into the air. Much of the world's beef comes from deforested areas (70 percent of former Amazon rainforest is now used for cattle grazing), a one-two punch from the loss of carbon dioxide-absorbing trees and the addition of more animals. Meat and dairy production is predicted by the U.N. to double in the next 40 years, a growth PETA feels could be abated by a 10-cent tax on each pound of meat."
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Tue, Feb 5, 2008: from PNAS, via Yahoo News:
Tipping points on many horizons
"Tipping elements in the tropics, the boreal zone, and west Antarctica are surrounded by large uncertainty," they wrote, pointing to more potential abrupt shifts than seen in a 2007 report by the U.N. Climate Panel. A projected drying of the Amazon basin, linked both to logging and to global warming, could set off a dieback of the rainforest. "Many of these tipping points could be closer than we thought," lead author Timothy Lenton, of the University of East Anglia in England, told Reuters of the study.
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Sun, Feb 3, 2008: from DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory:
Human-caused Climate Change At Root Of Diminishing Water Flow In Western US, Scientists Find
"The Rocky Mountains have warmed by 2 degrees Fahrenheit. The snowpack in the Sierras has dwindled by 20 percent and the temperatures there have heated up by 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit. All could lead to dire consequences for the water supply in the Western United States, including California. Scientists have noted that water flow in the West has decreased for the last 20 to 30 years, but had never explained why it was happening. Until now."
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Sun, Feb 3, 2008: from Associated Press:
Rain forests fall at 'alarming' rate
"ABO EBAM, Nigeria - In the gloomy shade deep in Africa's rain forest, the noontime silence was pierced by the whine of a far-off chain saw. It was the sound of destruction, echoed from wood to wood, continent to continent, in the tropical belt that circles the globe. From Brazil to central Africa to once-lush islands in Asia's archipelagos, human encroachment is shrinking the world's rain forests. The alarm was sounded decades ago by environmentalists — and was little heeded. The picture, meanwhile, has changed: Africa is now a leader in destructiveness. The numbers have changed: U.N. specialists estimate 60 acres of tropical forest are felled worldwide every minute, up from 50 a generation back."
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Thu, Jan 31, 2008: from Associated Press:
Poor Haitians resort to eating dirt
"PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - It was lunchtime in one of Haiti's worst slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud. With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies. Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau. Food prices around the world have spiked because of higher oil prices, needed for fertilizer, irrigation and transportation. Prices for basic ingredients such as corn and wheat are also up sharply, and the increasing global demand for biofuels is pressuring food markets as well."
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Tue, Jan 29, 2008: from American Geophysical Union:
American Geophysical Union Revises Position On Climate Change
"A statement released on January 24 by the world's largest scientific society of Earth and space scientists--the American Geophysical Union, or AGU--updates the organization's position on climate change: the evidence for it, potential consequences from it, and how to respond to it. The statement, Human Impacts on Climate ... is the first revision since 2003 of the climate-change position of the AGU, which has a membership of 50,000 researchers, teachers, and students in 137 countries."
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Mon, Jan 28, 2008: from Science:
The Ocean's Deserts
"The Sahara, the Gobi, the Chihuahuan--all are great deserts. But what about the South Pacific's subtropical gyre? This "biological desert" within a swirling expanse of nutrient-starved saltwater is the largest, and least productive, ecosystem of the South Pacific. Together with the subtropical gyres in other oceans, biological deserts cover 40 percent of Earth's surface. But their relative obscurity may be about to change. Researchers are reporting that the ocean's biological deserts have been expanding, and they are growing much faster than global warming models predict."
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Mon, Jan 28, 2008: from The Independent:
Big business says addressing climate change rates very low on the agenda
"Global warming ranks far down the concerns of the world's biggest companies, despite world leaders' hopes that they will pioneer solutions to the impending climate crisis, a startling survey will reveal this week. Nearly nine in 10 of them do not rate it as a priority, says the study, which canvassed more than 500 big businesses in Britain, the US, Germany, Japan, India and China. Nearly twice as many see climate change as imposing costs on their business as those who believe it presents an opportunity to make money. And the report's publishers believe that big business will concentrate even less on climate change as the world economy deteriorates. The survey demolishes George Bush's insistence that global warming is best addressed through voluntary measures undertaken by business ..."
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Mon, Jan 28, 2008: from National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration:
2007 Was Tenth Warmest For U.S., Fifth Warmest Worldwide
"The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. in 2007 is officially the tenth warmest on record, according to data from scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The agency also determined the global surface temperature last year was the fifth warmest on record. The average U.S. temperature for 2007 was 54.2°F; 1.4°F warmer than the 20th century mean of 52.8°F."
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Wed, Jan 23, 2008: from New York Times:
U.S. Given Poor Marks on the Environment
"WASHINGTON -- A new international ranking of environmental performance puts the United States at the bottom of the Group of 8 industrialized nations and 39th among the 149 countries on the list. European nations dominate the top places in the ranking, which evaluates sanitation, greenhouse gas emissions, agricultural policies, air pollution and 20 other measures to formulate an overall score, with 100 the best possible. The top 10 countries, with scores of 87 or better, were led by Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and Finland. The others at the top were Austria, France, Latvia, Costa Rica, Colombia and New Zealand, the leader in the 2006 version of the analysis, which is conducted by researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities."
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Thu, Jan 17, 2008: from Telegraph.co.uk:
Changing climate
"Climate change is having a significant impact on the health of the seas surrounding Britain, says a new report. Rising seas, bigger waves, flooding, and more violent storms are already happening as temperatures increase. 2006 was the second-warmest year in UK coastal waters since records began in 1870 and seven of the 10 warmest years have occurred in the last decade, according to the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) report card 2007-08."
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Thu, Jan 17, 2008: from Reuters:
Greenland thaw biggest in 50 years
"OSLO: Climate change has caused the greatest thaw of Greenland's ice in half a century, perhaps heralding a wider meltdown that would quicken a rise in world sea levels, scientists said on Tuesday. "We attribute significantly increased Greenland summer warmth and ice melt since 1990 to global warming," a group of researchers wrote in the Journal of Climate, adding to recent evidence of faster Antarctic and Arctic thaws. "The Greenland ice sheet is likely to be highly susceptible to ongoing global warming," they said. Greenland contains enough ice to raise world sea levels by seven metres, although the process would take centuries if it were to start."
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Tue, Jan 15, 2008: from Associated Press:
Study: Northeast winters warming fast
"ALBANY, N.Y. - Earlier blooms. Less snow to shovel. Unseasonable warm spells. Signs that winters in the Northeast are losing their bite have been abundant in recent years and now researchers have nailed down numbers to show just how big the changes have been. A study of weather station data from across the Northeast from 1965 through 2005 found December-March temperatures increased by 2.5 degrees. Snowfall totals dropped by an average of 8.8 inches across the region over the same period, and the number of days with at least 1 inch of snow on the ground decreased by nine days on average."
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Sun, Jan 13, 2008: from Globe and Mail (Canada):
Antarctic ice sheet shrinking at faster rate
But a new study released today, based on some of the most extensive measurements to date of the continent's ice mass, presents a worrisome development: Antarctica's ice sheet is shrinking, at a rate that increased dramatically from 1996 to 2006.... "Over the time period of our survey, the ice sheet as a whole was certainly losing mass, and the mass loss increased by 75 per cent in 10 years," the study said.
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Sat, Jan 12, 2008: from AP News:
Floodwaters Begin to Recede in Nev. Town
"The cause of the canal failure in the northern Nevada desert town had not been determined, but it followed heavy rain from the storm system that piled up as much as 11 feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada range and toppled nearly 500 miles of power lines in California.... water that had been as deep as 8 feet was down to no more than a foot inside homes, but some streets still had 2 to 3 of icy water. "We're working as hard as we can," the mayor said."
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Wed, Jan 9, 2008: from PortClintonNewsHerald (Ohio):
101-year temperature record broken
"In any time in Ohio, we can get a mix of weather. In January it's not really common that we get southerly weather this far north, but it can happen. The jet stream has shifted its position to allow the warm air to flow north into Ohio," the meteorologist said. "We've had several swings in recent years where we do get warm-ups in January. ... Getting temperatures in the 50s is really not that uncommon, but getting them into the 60s is really noteworthy."
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Tue, Jan 8, 2008: from The Daily Green:
Carbon Isn't the Only Global Cycle Out of Whack
"The world is getting familiar with the carbon cycle and how pumping carbon that's been buried for millions of years into the atmosphere causes some global problems. Well, get ready to learn about nitrogen. Like carbon, the nitrogen cycle is all out of whack. In this case, the origins are similar. Instead of burning petroleum or coal, nitrogen comes from natural gas transformed into ammonia fertilizer and used to grow crops; what doesn't absorb into the soil runs off into streams, which flow into rivers, which flow to the ocean, where the nitrogen fuels "dead zones" -- areas where nitrogen (and phosphorus) fertilizes so much algae growth that it absorbs enough oxygen to make the water inhospitable to fish and other marine life. Jellyfish are about the only thing that thrives in these conditions; corals certainly do not."
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Thu, Jan 3, 2008: from Associated Press:
California sues EPA over tailpipe rules
"California sued the federal government Wednesday in its ongoing bid to set the country's first greenhouse gas limits on cars, trucks and SUVs, providing new data to show its program is superior to a federal plan. EPA Administrator Stephen L. ... Johnson said energy legislation signed by President Bush will raise fuel economy standards to an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, which he called a far more effective approach to reducing greenhouse gases than a patchwork of state regulations."
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Thu, Dec 27, 2007: from Science:
Will Beetles Inherit The Earth? Evolutionary Study Reveals Their Long-term Success
"Most modern-day groups of beetles have been around since the time of the dinosaurs and have been diversifying ever since, says new research. There are approximately 350,000 species of beetles on Earth, and probably millions more yet to be discovered, accounting for about 25 percent of all known life forms on the planet. The reason for this large number of beetle species has been debated by scientists for many years, but never resolved."
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Tue, Dec 18, 2007: from NPR:
Worries About Water as Chinese Glacier Retreats
"China's lowest glacier, the Mingyong glacier -- an enormous, dirty, craggy mass of ice wedged in a mountain valley 8,900 feet above sea level -- is melting. And as it melts, the glacier on the edge of the Tibetan plateau is retreating up the mountain faster than experts can believe."
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Sun, Dec 16, 2007: from NPR:
Scientists Seek Cause of Mysterious "Rogue" Waves
"'Rogue waves' are monsters of the open ocean -- the powerful 'walls of water' can destroy even large ships. Satellite measurements have found them to be up to 100 feet tall. So far, scientists have disagreed about what causes the waves, but researchers at UCLA think that they may have found a clue"
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Fri, Dec 14, 2007: from American Geophysical Union, by way of Reuters:
Carbon cuts a must to halt warming -- US scientists
"We're a lot closer to climate tipping points than we thought we were," said James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "If we are to have any chance in avoiding the points of no return, we're going to have to make some changes." .... "In the summer of 1980, the North Pole was covered by an ice sheet about the size of the continental United States, but this year the ice would not have covered the states west of the Mississippi River."
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Tue, Dec 11, 2007: from AP News:
Ominous Arctic melt worries experts
"An already relentless melting of the Arctic greatly accelerated this summer, a warning sign that some scientists worry could mean global warming has passed an ominous tipping point. One even speculated that summer sea ice would be gone in five years. Greenland's ice sheet melted nearly 19 billion tons more than the previous high mark, and the volume of Arctic sea ice at summer's end was half what it was just four years earlier, according to new NASA satellite data obtained by The Associated Press."
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Tue, Dec 11, 2007: from AAAS (US):
Sir David King Urges Global Pact by 2009 to Reduce Greenhouse Gases
Speaking to an overflow audience, King said that the Earth is already feeling destructive effects of human-caused climate change. But if a rigorous new agreement could be approved in 2 years and implemented by 2012, he said, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases could be stabilized between 450 and 550 parts per million. "The impacts at 450 ppm will be 'dangerous,'" King said. But if levels were to approach 550 ppm and beyond, possible on current trends by mid-century, impacts which would become progressively more severe at higher levels include: reduced crop yields in many areas; reduced supplies of fresh water; storms, droughts, and forest fires of increasing intensity; species extinction; lethal heat waves; and coastal flooding that could create tens of millions of refugees. "We must get global agreement," he said, "and I'm standing here in Washington [D.C.] saying: 'We need it in a very short period of time.' "
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Tue, Dec 11, 2007: from KOTV (Oklahoma):
Worst Tulsa ice storm in 20 years
"Thousands of calls have been made to the City's 911 operators requesting police, fire, medical and other assistance. Tulsa firefighters have responded to more than 50 structural fires since the storm began. One smoke-inhalation fatality was reported. One person died Monday when their vehicle struck a downed power line and brought a power pole down on the vehicle. At 2:00 p.m. on Monday, Tulsa police had 76 uniformed officers patrolling streets. They were assisted by 65 detectives, academy staff and recruits and other police officers taking calls and looking for hazardous situations. Public Works had 30 crews removing tree debris and checking bridges and overpasses for ice. "All agencies are working diligently to deal with the needs of citizens," said Mayor Taylor. "We will continue to monitor weather conditions and to direct operations as long as needed from the EOC." "I want to urge everyone to be very cautious in coming days," the mayor said."
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Sat, Dec 8, 2007: from Sydney Morning Herald (Australia):
Academic seeks 100 percent greenhouse target
Nations need to cut greenhouse pollution by 50 per cent by 2025 and 100 per cent by 2050 to avoid climatic disaster, an academic says. Climate change researcher Ian McGregor said the kind of emissions cuts being discussed at the UN conference on Bali would fail to avert catastrophic climate change.
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