eco-anxiety defined!

“My anxiety attacks began two summers ago. They were mild at first, a low-level unease. But over a period of months they grew steadily worse, morphing into full-fledged fits of panic. I was a wreck.

The sight of an idling car, heat-trapping carbon dioxide spewing from its tailpipe, would send me into an hours-long panic, complete with shaking, the sweats, and staring off into space while others conversed around me.

The same thing happened on overly warm days, like those 60-degree ones here in the Big Apple last January. The culprit, I realized, was all the reporting I’d been doing on global warming—that, and the emotional impact of becoming a first-time parent.

I had come down with a severe case of eco-anxiety—a chronic fear of the environmental future.”

mother nature network, 8 Apr 2009

worse than we thought – methane holes!

New research shows the Arctic is warming faster than previously believed. Russian scientists have found about 700 “methane holes” in the Arctic shelf.

The scale of emissions shows that the permafrost has degraded severely, and researchers think the thawing is irreversible. Because of the increasing permafrost thawing in West Siberia, the bigger thermokarst lakes could soon break up into numerous smaller ones.

“This could lead to a tenfold increase of greenhouse gases and dissolved organic carbon emissions into rivers and the Arctic,” said Sergei Kirpotin, head of TSU’s BioKlimLand research center.

Russia Beyond The Headlines, 11 Sep 2015

the loblolly pine breaks ranks!

Higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, predicted to adversely affect the environment and humans, may help one species in time of need: the loblolly pine.

In an experiment where carbon dioxide levels were elevated to those predicted for 2050, one and a half times today’s levels, scientists found that these trees were able to withstand ice storms much better than those growing under current carbon dioxide levels.

“Before the storm, I was absolutely certain the pines would be more susceptible to ice damage under elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide,” said study participant Ram Oren, an ecology professor at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences.

“My impressions were absolutely wrong. Instead of increasing the sensitivity to ice-storm damage, carbon dioxide decreased the sensitivity.”

Live Science, 18 Aug 2006

a fish without a shell

fish_shell
Greenhouse gases are turning the oceans acidic decades earlier than predicted with potentially catastrophic consequences for marine life, scientists have warned. The acid in sea water is powerful enough to dissolve the shells of sea creatures, they said.

An American team has found evidence that an acidic “tipping point” has been reached on the continental shelf along the west coast of North America.

This is potentially very bad news, said Paul Halloran, of Oxford University, an expert in the field. “The impact on tourism and fisheries may have huge economic consequences.”

The Telegraph (UK), 23 May 2008

worse than we thought – health of the oceans!

In the starkest warning yet of the threat to ocean health, the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) said: “This [acidification] is unprecedented in the Earth’s known history. We are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change, and exposing organisms to intolerable evolutionary pressure. The next mass extinction may have already begun.”

Alex Rogers, professor of biology at Oxford University, said: “The health of the ocean is spiralling downwards far more rapidly than we had thought. We are seeing greater change, happening faster, and the effects are more imminent than previously anticipated. The situation should be of the gravest concern to everyone since everyone will be affected by changes in the ability of the ocean to support life on Earth.”

The Guardian, 3 Oct 2013

last chance!

James Hansen told Congress on Monday that the world has long passed the “dangerous level” for greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and needs to get back to 1988 levels.

He said Earth’s atmosphere can only stay this loaded with man-made carbon dioxide for a couple more decades without changes such as mass extinction, ecosystem collapse and dramatic sea level rises.

We’re toast if we don’t get on a very different path, Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute of Space Sciences who is sometimes called the godfather of global warming science, told The Associated Press. “This is the last chance.”

USA Today, 23 Jun 2008

Why didn’t we figure this out before?

Weatherwatch: Did warm weather cause the Titanic disaster?

But in fact the catastrophe may have been set in motion by a warm, wet year over Greenland in 1908, resulting in greater snow accumulation.

Writing in the journal Weather, Grant Bigg and David Wilton of Sheffield University explain how the snow soaked through cracks in the ice sheet, encouraging excess iceberg calving over the following few years.

Soberingly, global warming has increased iceberg hazard greatly in recent decades, making years like 1912 more the norm than the exception.

The Guardian, 28 Apr 2014

the end is nearly nigh!

sandwich_board_2Engineer and science writer David Auerbach is warning that several scientists have predicted the world as we know it will cease to be soon after the turn of the next century.

Mr Auerbach claims our civilisation could face the same fate of the inhabitants of Easter Island, who became extinct after ploughing through all the resources of their small natural habitat.

He says one of the biggest threats facing mankind is the growing problem of global warming and there is no way emission reductions will be enough to save us from our trend towards doom. At this point, lowering emissions is just half the story – the easy half.

The harder half will be an aggressive effort to find the technologies needed to reverse the climate apocalypse that has already begun.

Even if temperatures rise by less then 2C over the next 95 years, sea levels would rise by more than 1m, potentially displacing millions of people, Mr Auerbach added, but he believes the agreed targets cannot active that anyway.

If they do not come down at all an expected 5C rise would lead to famine, drought and extinction, he fears.

Express (UK), 24 Jun 2015

worse than we thought – climate change!

Since an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas pollution was signed in Kyoto, in 1997, the level of CO2 in the air has increased 6.5 per cent.

From 1997 to 2008, world CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have increased 31 per cent; U.S. emissions of this greenhouse gas rose 3.7 per cent. Since the 1997 international accord to fight global warming, climate change has worsened and accelerated — beyond some of the grimmest of warnings made back then.

“The latest science is telling us we are in more trouble than we thought,” said Janos Pasztor, climate adviser to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The Hindu, 23 Nov 2009

power beef

A Japanese study showed that producing a kilogram of beef leads to the emission of greenhouse gases with a global warming potential equivalent to 36.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2).

It also releases fertilising compounds equivalent to 340 grams of sulphur dioxide and 59 grams of phosphate, and consumes 169 megajoules of energy (Animal Science Journal, DOI: 10.1111/j.1740-0929.2007.00457.x).

In other words, a kilogram of beef is responsible for the equivalent of the amount of CO2 emitted by the average European car every 250 kilometres, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days.

Time for change, 23 Sep 2008

no more dogs chasing cars!

The German upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, passed a resolution calling for a ban on internal combustion engines by 2030.

No, this doesn’t mean someone is going to come to your driveway under the cover of night and take your car away. The cross-party resolution wants the EU Commission in Brussels to implement a ban that would make sure that only zero-emission vehicles were being sold by 2030.

A ban on internal combustion engines is expected to have an impact on the direction of the auto industry, since Germany does have the fourth largest automaking industry in the world.

“If the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming emissions is to be taken seriously, no new combustion engine cars should be allowed on roads after 2030,” said Greens party lawmaker Oliver Krischer to Der Spiegel.

Futurism, 10 Oct 2016

thanks to ddh

worse than we thought – average temperatures!

thermometerPredictions by international scientists that global warming will lead to a sharper rise in temperatures than previously thought made sobering reading yesterday.

The warning came in a major report on climate change published yesterday that suggests average temperatures could rise more than expected – by as much as 6.4C by 2100, unless greenhouse gas emissions are reined in.

The report, from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has upgraded its 2001 estimate that temperatures would rise by at most 5.8C, because at the time the feedback mechanisms were either unknown or poorly understood.

The Guardian, 3 Feb 2007

Arctic Sea ice – 2022

Prof Flannery said the clearest example of the IPCC’s conservatism was its prediction the Arctic ice cap could disappear in summers by 2100.

“The actual trajectory we’ve seen in the Arctic over the last two years, if you follow that, that implies that the the Arctic ice cap will be gone in the next five to 15 years. This is an ice cap that’s been around for the last three million years,”” he said.

“Those predictions tell you a little bit about the conservatism of the IPCC, how rapidly the science is moving and how rapidly events in the real world are moving, far in advance I think of even the most sombre warnings by scientists working in this area.”

Sydney Morning Herald, Temperature predictions conservative: Flannery, 2 Feb 2007

A dim theory

In the early 21st century, it’s become clear that air pollution can significantly reduce the amount of sunlight reaching Earth. Evidence of the previously unknown phenomenon of Global Dimming, one that scientists believe could dramatically alter global temperatures.

Climate scientists have discovered a phenomenon that threatens to disrupt our world. It may already have contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands through drought and famine. Unchecked, it will strike again.

The good news is that there is a cure. The bad news is that the cure may be worse than the disease.

If scientists are right, then we may be about to unleash a climate catastrophe on our planet the like of which it hasn’t experienced in its 4 billion years. These stark choices and about the dawning realization that all our predictions about the world’s climate may be wrong.

GeoEngineering Watch, 10 Jun 2013

BYO rock or tree bark!

Eco-anxiety is real, according to some psychologists, and it can really stress you out.

As one eco-anxious reporter described it, “The sight of an idling car, heat-trapping carbon dioxide spewing from the tailpipe, would send me into an hours-long panic, complete with shaking, the sweats, and staring off into space while others conversed around me”

We can’t even escape at the movies. In his 2006 Oscar-winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” Vice President Al Gore warned us that we might be a mere decade away from a global environmental disaster.

It was really time to be afraid — very afraid. Therapists who treat eco-anxiety say their patients report a number of general anxiety symptoms, including loss of appetite, irritability, panic attacks, insomnia, nightmares, unexplained weakness and actual physical pain.

Some people say they cry uncontrollably at the thought of the polar ice caps melting or of yet another species facing extinction. So what do you do if you are suffering from eco-anxiety? Some people see an eco-therapist.

According to the International Community for Ecopsychology, there are almost 150 ecopsychology practitioners around the world [source: Ecopsychology]. More colleges and universities, like Naropa University in Boulder, Colo., and Prescott College in Tucson, Ariz., have started offering ecopsychology as a major, so the number of trained eco-therapists is likely to grow.

Eco-therapists charge up to $250 an hour to diagnose the cause of your worries and offer solutions.

Some eco-therapists advise their patients to get outside and feel closer to nature, while others recommend that patients bring nature closer to them by carrying around a rock or piece of tree bark.

Stephanie Watson, “How Eco-anxiety Works” 15 October 2008. HowStuffWorks.com.

worse than we thought – sea level!

underwater_furnitureBINDSCHADLER: Yeah, I think there’s sort of an unspoken consensus in my community that if you want to look at the very largest number in the IPCC report, they said 58 centimeters, so almost two feet by the end of the century. That’s way low, and it’s going to be well over a meter. We may see a meter by the middle of the century.

e360: Oh my gosh.

interview with a leading glaciologist, Richard Bindschadler – A Change In The Wind, 16 Feb 2009

truly catastrophic!

UN predictions of a rise in global temperatures would be a disaster for all life on earth, resulting in widespread extinction of many species, Australian of the Year Tim Flannery says.

The respected scientist said the UN’s prediction of a three degree Celsius temperature rise was conservative and in fact could be double that figure resulting in “truly catastrophic” conditions for all life on earth.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases its report in Paris tonight, with its strongest warning yet that human activities are causing global warming that may bring more drought, heatwaves and rising seas.

Professor Flannery said the UN climate report’s predictions on the consequences of global warming are “middle of the road” but will still provide a useful benchmark for the world to tackle climate change.

Sydney Morning Herald, 2 Feb 2007

see also – just plain scary

worse than we thought – carbon storage in forests!

One more example of how we’ve understimated climate change: New Scientist is reporting that researchers in Australia have found that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has wrongly estimated the carbon storage potential of pristine temperate forests.

According to this data, intact forests store 60% more carbon than plantation forests. Brendan Mackey of the Australian National University] and colleagues used remote sensing and direct sampling to study eucalyptus trees at 240 sites across a 14.5-million hectare swathe of natural forest in south-east Australia.

Plugging the data into a computer, the team calculated that trees in areas untouched by logging store on average 640 tonnes of carbon per hectare, compared with an IPCC estimate for temperate forest of 217 tonnes.

Treehugger, 5 Aug 2008

swings & roundabouts

New Zealand could lose its unenviable reputation as the skin-cancer centre of the world thanks to climate change. However, there may be cause for celebration, with some scientists believing that by the second half of this century the rate will be falling.

Scientists think that climate change will speed up a recovery of the ozone layer over much of the world and block out more of the damaging UV rays.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research scientist Greg Bodeker said the peak in the skin-cancer rate was expected about 2040. Beyond that, increased ozone concentrations were likely to take New Zealand and the rate back to where it was in the 1950s or 60s.

“It’s a good story, absolutely. We are already seeing ozone recovery over New Zealand,” Bodeker said.

Stuff.co.nz, 1/12/08

2 wheels good, 4 wheels bad!

With concern over global warming rising nearly as quickly as petrol prices, Australians are turning to motorcycles and scooters in record numbers. Most new riders are citing cost — of petrol, parking and insurance — as reasons for turning to a bike.

But others are turning to two-wheeled alternatives out of concern over carbon.

Stevie Murray of Kensington will go for his learner’s permit next week. He said he decided to buy a scooter for environmental reasons.

“I just felt a bit guilty driving around the inner city in a car, so it was that environmental reason which initially led me to consider a scooter,” he said.

The Age, 30 Nov 2006

No TV’s for you!

One useful approach on low-carbon development from a developing country perspective is put forth by Professor Jiahua Pan, executive director of the research centre for sustainable development at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and member of the Global Climate Network.

The notion is that while this path also seeks to minimize GHG emissions, “no restriction should be placed on development goals that are directed to enhance the welfare of the poor at large. Development goals are not compromised for reasons of emissions control”.

But, luxurious or wasteful emissions (viewed as those that do not meet basic human needs such as shelter or food) should be discouraged.

Low Carbon Development Path for Asia and the Pacific, December, 2010, UN report, p16

…not for all the tea in ….

China’s long-term food security and social stability may be threatened unless the world’s largest grain producer invests more to fight the effects of drought, McKinsey & Co. said in a report Nov. 24.

The country’s corn harvest, the world’s second-largest, plunged by 13 percent to a four-year low this year because of drought, a survey of farmers by Geneva-based SGS SA for Bloomberg showed.

The crops affected would include wheat, corn and rice, Zheng Guoguang, head of the China Meteorological Administration, said in an article published on the agency’s Web site Tuesday.

“By 2050, with extreme conditions, South Asia’s grain output could be cut by 30 percent and with the level of global grain stores falling sharply, it would increase the difficulty of boosting imports,” Zheng said. “Trying to make up the difference of lower output by relying on imports doesn’t look very optimistic.”

China Post, 3 Dec 2009

Going, going ….

The entire ice mass of Greenland will disappear from the world map if temperatures rise by as little as 2C, with severe consequences for the rest of the world, a panel of scientists told Congress Tuesday.

Sometime in the next decade we may pass that tipping point which would put us warmer than temperatures that Greenland can survive, Richard Alley, a geosciences professor at Pennsylvania State University, told a briefing in Congress, adding that a rise in the range of 2C to 7C would mean the obliteration of Greenland’s ice sheet.

The fall-out would be felt thousands of miles away from the Arctic, unleashing a global sea level rise of 23ft (7 metres), Alley warned. Low-lying cities such as New Orleans would vanish.

“What is going on in the Arctic now is the biggest and fastest thing that nature has ever done,” he said.

CounterCurrents.org, 11 Aug 2010

see also – just plain scary

don’t let the grass grow under your feet!

Global warming could rapidly threaten grasses, including wild relatives of staple foods such as wheat and rice that provide half of all the calories consumed by humans.

A new study looking ahead to 2070 found that climate change was occurring thousands of times faster than the ability of wild grasses to adapt. While the research cannot predict what might happen to world food supplies as a result, the authors warn of “troubling implications”.

“We show that past rates of climatic niche change in grasses are much slower than rates of future projected climate change, suggesting that extinctions might occur in many species and/or local populations,” wrote the researchers, led by John Wiens, from the University of Arizona in the US.

“This has several troubling implications, for both global biodiversity and human welfare.”

New Scientist, 28 September 2016

thanks to ddh

waiting with bated ……

Don’t panic, but researchers have discovered that oxygen is (very) slowly draining out of Earth’s atmosphere, and right now, they’re not sure why.

By analysing air bubbles trapped inside ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica, a team from Princeton University has found oxygen levels have dropped by 0.7 percent in the last 800,000 years, and figuring out why could be crucial to predicting our planet’s future.

As far as ecosystems on Earth are concerned, the drop is only a trivial one, but it can still tell us more about the secrets of what makes a planet habitable – useful information to have if we’re ever going to live on Mars

….Another possible cause is long-term climate change – over the last few million years, we’ve seen a slight overall drop in global temperatures, even though Earth has been rapidly heating up over the past half a century.

Science Alert, 23 Sep 2016

thanks to ddh

climate change turns fish into lemmings!

Continued exposure to carbon dioxide seriously compromises the safety of small reef fish, with research showing they lose their survival instincts and become vulnerable to predators as seawater becomes more acidic.

The study by Australian and American scientists, conducted in naturally occurring carbon dioxide seeps in Papua New Guinea’s Milne Bay, found an acidic environment made reef fish become attracted to the smell of their predators.

Results showed that more than 90 per cent of the time, fish in these waters swam into areas where predators were. Fish studied in non-acidified water consistently avoided areas with predators.

The work by scientists from the institute, James Cook University and the Georgia Institute of Technology is in the journal Nature Climate Change on Monday.

Sydney Morning Herald, 14 Apr 2014

worse than we thought – potency of heroin!

Greater concentrations of carbon dioxide in a warming world may have a drastic effect on the potency of opium poppies, according to a new study.

While this increase might mean more morphine available for legal pharmaceutical uses, the painkiller is also the main ingredient in heroin.

The speed of the biological changes affecting plants’ alkaloid levels suggests that the climate may have a greater impact on plant life than computer models had generally predicted, Ziska says Lewis Ziska of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Crop Systems and Global Change Laboratory.

The net result, according to Ziska, is that climate change’s impacts on plants are likely to be chaotic and difficult to predict. For example, he says, “wheat may make more seeds, but we may have stronger poison ivy and poppies.”

Science Line, 3 Aug 2009

Call to action!

Considering that climate change represents a real threat to the existence of humanity, of living beings and our Mother Earth as we know it today,

Confident that the peoples of the world, guided by the principles of solidarity, justice and respect for life, will be able to save humanity and Mother Earth,

and Celebrating the International Day of Mother Earth,

The Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia calls on the peoples of the world, social movements and Mother Earth’s defenders, and invites scientists, academics, lawyers and governments that want to work with their citizens to the Peoples’ World Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth’s Rights to be held from 20th to 22nd April 2010 in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Evo Morales Ayma, President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Bolivia, January 5th, 2010 – CounterCurrents.org

worse than we thought – the absorptive capacity of the planet!

GEORGE NEGUS: You originally said that unless we invest in something like 1% of global GDP per annum fighting climate change it could ultimately cost us up to 20% of global GDP. Now in your new work you are calling for an investment of 2%. Does that mean the situation is worsening?

LORD NICHOLAS STERN: I raised the number because I think, looking back, the targets that were proposed in the Stern Review were not ambitious enough, given the kinds of risk which we’re now seeing. The risks are actually still worse than we saw in the Stern Review because greenhouse gases are growing faster than we assumed, the absorptive capacity of the planet – particular the oceans – to absorb greenhouse gases is less than we thought, and some of the effects – for example, Greenland ice melting – are coming through faster than we thought.

interview SBS, 15 Nov 2009

It’s going to be a bumpy ride!

“It is predicted there will be more and more incidents of severe clear-air turbulence, which typically comes out of the blue with no warning, occurring in the near future as climate change takes its effect in the stratosphere,” Dr Paul Williams, a Royal Society research fellow at Reading University, said last week.

“There has already been a steady rise in incidents of severe turbulence affecting flights over the past few decades. Globally, turbulence causes dozens of fatalities a year on small private planes and hundreds of injuries to passengers in big jets. And as carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere keep on rising, so will the numbers of incidents.”

The Guardian, 11 Sep 2016