avalanches and landslides

penguin_landslideOver the last decade, rock avalanches and landslides have become more common in high mountain ranges, apparently coinciding with the increase in exceptionally warm periods. The collapses are triggered by melting glaciers and permafrost, which remove the glue that holds steep mountain slopes together. Worse may be to come.

Thinning glaciers on volcanoes could destabilise vast chunks of their summit cones, triggering mega-landslides capable of flattening cities such as Seattle and devastating local infrastructure. Meanwhile, ongoing studies by Bill McGuire of University College London and Rachel Lowe at the University of Exeter, UK, are showing that non-glaciated volcanoes could also be at greater risk of catastrophic collapse if climate change increases rainfall.

“We have found that 39 cities with populations greater than 100,000 are situated within 100 kilometres of a volcano that has collapsed in the past and which may, therefore, be capable of collapsing in the future,” says McGuire.
New Scientist, 13 Oct 2010

health problems

Many more people will die of heart problems as global warming continues, experts are warning. Climate extremes of hot and cold will become more common and this will put strain on people’s hearts, doctors say. A study in the British Medical Journal found that each 1C temperature drop on a single day in the UK is linked to 200 extra heart attacks.
BBC News, 11 Aug 2010

Earth in deep freeze

iglooClimate change is not going to be a bad thing for every part of the world. It will help make the frozen north of Russia and Canada more liveable and more productive.

Billions of the world’s poorest people, however, will be at risk of more erratic rainfall patterns. Some arid regions will turn into deserts and rising seas will inundate fertile but low lying delta regions that are home to tens of millions of peasant farmers in countries such as Bangladesh and Egypt.

Global warming will also mean more forest fires; hurricanes hitting cities that are at present too far north of the equator to be affected by them; tropical diseases spreading beyond their present zones; the extinction of species unable to adapt to warmer temperatures; retreating glaciers and melting polar icecaps; and rising seas inundating coastal areas.

A far worse scenario cannot be ruled out: some scientists believe the melting icecaps could release huge amounts of methane that accelerate warming forming a cloud layer so dense as to block out heat from the sun and cause the planet to go into a deep freeze that extinguishes all life.
Professor Peter Singer, in the Sydney Morning Herald 28 Apr 2006 – screencopy held by this website

big bill

stack_of_poundsNick Starling, the director of general insurance for the Association of British Insurers, bleakly predicted that the worldwide cost of cleaning up major storms, triggered by global warming, could rise by two-thirds to £15 billion annually by 2080: he therefore implored governments to take stronger preventative action against climate change.
The Telegraph (UK), 3 Jul 05

new reality

Drought will become a redundant term as Australia plans for a permanently drier future, according to the nation’s urban water industries chief.

“The urban water industry has decided the inflows of the past will never return,” Ross Young said. “We are trying to avoid the term ‘drought’ and saying this is the new reality.”

The Age, (Australia), 7 Sep 2007 – image held by this website

disappearing polar bears

Two-thirds of the world’s polar bears could die out over the next 50 years as warmer weather melts away the thick sheet of sea ice where bears spend much of their lives, according to studies released on Friday by the US geological Survey.

The studies were commissioned for the US Fish and Wildlife Service which is now considering whether polar bears should be protected as a threatened species. Environmentalists hope that, if the bears are listed, that will push the Government to impose limits on the greenhouse pollution blamed for climate change.

The Sunday Age, 9 Sep 2007 – image held by this website

stop growth!

As the world meets in Cancun Mexico for the latest round of United Nations talk on climate change, the influential academics called for much tougher measures to cut carbon emissions.

In one paper Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said the only way to reduce global emissions enough \,while allowing the poor nations to continue to grow, is to halt economic growth in the rich world over the next twenty years.

“I’m not saying we have to go back to living in caves,” he said “Our emissions were a lot less ten years ago and we got by ok then.”

The Telegraph (UK), 29 Nov 2010<‘\/span>

let the models predict the future?

“The Weather of the Future” peers ahead at a world stricken by climate change.

Using models to predict weather patterns, climatologist Heidi Cullen, a frequent contributor to the Weather Channel, explores seven regions and their grim futures: the Sahel in Africa, the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, California’s Central Valley, two sites in Greenland, Bangladesh and New York City.

Massive floods in Bangladesh may produce “climate refugees,” Cullen suggests; New York may be battered by a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds as high as 135 miles per hour; and coral reefs may be eaten away by an acidic ocean.

“These predictions and our seeming inability to heed their warning is a potential tragedy,” she writes. Cullen also predicts some geopolitical repercussions of global warming: Pirates run rampant, Osama bin Laden invokes U.S. carbon emissions to recruit terrorists, and Canada and the United States argue over naval authority in an ice-free Northwest Passage.

The book is at its best and most insightful when it explores today’s environment, such as regreening efforts in Niger. Let models be used to predict the weather, not the politics.
Washington Post, 8 Aug 2010

uninhabitable planet!

uninhabited_planetThe world is currently on course to exploit all its remaining fossil fuel resources, a prospect that would produce a “different, practically uninhabitable planet” by triggering a “low-end runaway greenhouse effect.”

This is the conclusion of a new scientific paper by Prof James Hansen, the former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the world’s best known climate scientist.
The Guardian, 10 Jul 2013

deluge!

Boston and Atlantic City, New Jersey could experience the equivalent of a once-in-100-years flood as frequently as every year or two, according to the report by the Union of Concerned Scientists and a team of more than 50 researchers and economists.

Only western Maine would retain a reliable ski season by the end of the century if emissions are at the higher end of the scientists’ projections, the report said. Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the scientists’ group and chair of the research team that worked on the report.
bloomberg.com 12 Jul 2007

staring down barrel

pig_in_barrel“And how far will it go? Climate forecasts have long noted that every increase in global temperature heightens the odds of runaway global warming, beyond any human control. Continued overheating could unlock more methane from Arctic regions beyond Siberia.

It could cripple the vital ability of plants and oceans to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, turning them into gushing sources of new CO2 that accelerate the superheating even further. The ice caps that help cool the Earth by reflecting sunlight into space could vanish. In the end, the relentless rise in temperature could induce a cataclysmic venting of billions of tons of methane from the oceans.

It seems likely that we are staring down the barrel of the full force, worst-case scenarios studied by the IPCC and other research organizations”
alternet.org, 12 Oct 2005

Britain flooded

Heatwaves that kill thousands, tropical-style storms and widespread flooding could be regular features of Britain’s climate within a generation if global warming is not checked, according to the Met Office.

Southern Europe would become unbearable in the summer, destroying the tourism industry and making it impossible to grow staple crops like durum wheat for pasta in Italy and fruit and vegetables in Spain.

The findings come from the five-year Ensembles Project, paid for by the European Commission and led by the Met Office. It has brought together scientists from 66 institutions around the world.

John Mitchell, director of climate science at the Met Office, said that the research highlighted the importance of a global deal on climate change.

“This latest research emphasises the necessity to make drastic cuts in emissions as quickly as possible if we are to avoid dangerous climate change. It highlights the importance of the negotiations that will take place in Copenhagen in December,” he said.

The Telegraph, 17 Nov 2009

see also – just plain scary

saltier and fresher

The supercharging of Earth’s water cycle by global warming is making some parts of our oceans saltier, while others parts are getting fresher, according to a new study.

The study, by CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Science shows a clear link between salinity changes at the surface, caused by warming, and changes in the deeper waters over the last six decades.

ABC, 16 Apr 2010

off the air

A 2011 report from the U.K.’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs found that climate change could affect certain infrastructure, like wireless internet.

The Guardian reports, “higher temperatures can reduce the range of wireless communications, rainstorms can impact the reliability of the signal, and drier summers and wetter winters may cause greater subsidence, damaging masts and underground cables,” according to secretary of state for the environment.

The Guardian notes, “The government acknowledges that the impact of climate change on telecommunications is not well understood, but the report raises a series of potential risks.”

Huffington Post, 2001

UN climate conferences to end!

Car travel should be cut by 80%, road construction halted and public transport boosted if Australia is to meet carbon emission targets, energy experts have warned.

“The car is doomed,” Monash University associate professor Damon Honnery said, discussing the findings of a soon-to-be-published research paper, Mitigating Greenhouse: Limited Time Options, written with Dr Patrick Moriarty.

“People are going to have to fundamentally change the way they think about travel and make much more use of non-motorised travel such as cycling and walking.”

Dr Moriarty also believes there must be big reductions in air travel. “An overseas trip might become a once-in-a-lifetime experience rather than an annual event,” he said.

The Age (Australia), 3 Mar 2008 – screen copy held by this website

see also – action plan

use less stuff!

 

TED TURNER: Not doing it will be catastrophic. We’ll be eight degrees hotter in ten, not ten but 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals. Civilization will have broken down. The few people left will be living in a failed state — like Somalia or Sudan — and living conditions will be intolerable.

The droughts will be so bad there’ll be no more corn grown. Not doing it is suicide. Just like dropping bombs on each other, nuclear weapons is suicide. We’ve got to stop doing the suicidal two things, which are hanging on to our nuclear weapons and after that we’ve got to stabilize the population. When I was born-

CHARLIE ROSE: So what’s wrong with the population?

TURNER: We’re too many people. That’s why we have global warming. We have global warming because too many people are using too much stuff. If there were less people, they’d be using less stuff.

what do you say to a polar bear?

bear_wavingBut today’s emerging solution to eco-anxiety is ecotherapy.

The science originated among the New Agers of the USA, like Santa Fe-based therapist Melissa Pickett, who describes herself as “a student of evolutionary inquiry, a visionary and a change agent”.

“Eco-anxiety is caused by our disconnection from nature. People tell me how an article about the polar bears losing their habitat was making them ill,” she says.

“So I place a photograph of a polar bear into the patients’ hands and encourage them to have an imaginary conversation with him as a way to ease their despair.”

She also advises we carry rocks in our pockets to remind us of our connection with the Earth and buy one of her “sacred matrices” (yours for $10 each).

The Independent, 20 Mar 2008

see also – action plan

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

flat as a …..

It may be a bit harder to drown your pancakes in maple syrup in the future, studies suggest.

According to a 2010 Cornell University study, “maple syrup production in the Northeast is expected to slightly decline by 2100, and the window for tapping trees will move earlier by about a month.”

Additionally, most maple syrup production south of Pennsylvania “will likely be lost by 2100 due to lack of freezing.”

Huffington Post, 2001

out of the clouds

The Great Smoky Mountains have the most annual rainfall in the southeastern U.S., which mostly falls as a light, misty rain, explains OurAmazingPlanet.

A study by a team from NASA’s Precipitation Measurement Missions found that “light rainfall is the dominant form of precipitation in the region, accounting for 50 to 60 percent of a year’s total, governing the regional water cycle.”

OurAmazingPlanet notes: The results suggest the area may be more susceptible to climate change than thought; as temperatures rise, more of the fine droplets from light rain will evaporate in the air and fail to reach the ground.

Lower elevations will have to contend with not only higher temperatures, but less cloud cover.

Huffington Post, 2001

winemakers head for the hills

Huge tracts of potential wine-producing country are expected to vanish from Australia over the next few decades as climate change bites, and winemakers may need to head for higher, cooler ground.

A new international study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, estimates that up 74 per cent of the nation’s potential vineyard country will become unsuitable for growing the right grapes.

An earlier study, led by CSIRO researcher Leanne Webb, found that just under half of Australia’s potential wine country could become unsuitable for future production by 2050.

Sydney Morning Herald, 9 Apr 2013

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

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

solution to climate change – write more articles!

“I feel confident that we WILL reduce emissions to slow global warming to a pace to which we can (mostly) adapt.

Why am I so confident? Firstly, because in 2015, more than 1.5% of all articles in the New York Times mentioned “climate change”. This compares with 2% of articles that mentioned “terrorism” and 1.4% that mentioned “refugees”.

As in other countries, the media profile of “climate change” is now very strong – politicians and the public see reports about our changing climate almost daily. Secondly, in 2015 over 15,000 scholarly papers were published with the topic of “climate “change”, “greenhouse effect”, or “global warming” as the topic.

In 1988, the year the IPCC was established, only 68 scholarly articles published on these topics. With such strong and growing media and expert interest, how can we fail?”

– Neville Nicholls Professor Emeritus, School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment Monash University, Australia –

Is This How You Feel? Website – How scientists feel

clouded thinking

Stephen Salter, professor of engineering design at the University Edinburgh, and Professor John Latham, from the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, have been using Salt Flares to test if it is possible to seed or even create Marine Stratocumulus Clouds.

The flares will spray up salt water into the clouds. When the particles rise into a cloud they redistribute the moisture, increasing its reflectivity. As a result the cloud bounces more sunlight back into space.

Approximately 300 flares will be released at sea level from a boat moored off the South African coast. Prof Latham added: “We’ve got the most massive global problem that we’ve ever had, so we’ve got to think big.”

The Telegraph, 19 Feb 2009

plan backfires

Scientists say sprinkling the ocean surface with trace amounts of iron or releasing other nutrients over many thousands of square kilometers promotes blooms of tiny phytoplankton, which soak up carbon dioxide in the marine plants.

When the phytoplankton die, they drift to the ocean depths, along with the carbon locked inside their cells where it is potentially stored for decades or centuries in sediments on the ocean floor.

Firms eyeing this natural carbon sink hope to commercialize it to yield carbon credits to help industries offset their emissions.

The problem is no one knows exactly how much carbon can be captured and stored in this way, for how long, or the risks to ocean ecosystems from such large-scale geo-engineering.

Some scientists fear such schemes could change species composition in the oceans, increase acidity or cause oxygen depletion in some areas, even promote the release of another powerful greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide.

“It is very important to recognize that if deleterious effects increase with scale and duration of fertilization, detection of these cumulative effects may not be possible until the damage is already done,” said John Cullen, professor of oceanography at Dalhousie University at Nova Scotia in Canada.

Heat Is Online – Reuters News Service, Dec. 15, 2008

time’s up

The world has lost 19 per cent of its coral reefs: a further 15 per cent are threatened within the next 10 to 20 years, and a further 20 per cent could be lost in 20 to 40 years, according to a report sponsored by the US and Australian governments.

Releasing the report in Washington, Clive Wilkinson, co-ordinator of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, siad the forecasts did not take into acocunt the impact of climate change.

“We have about eigth to 10 years to do something about it Carbon dioxide is currently at 380 parts per million. We need to do something before it reaches 450 parts per million,” he said.

The Age (Australia), 12 Dec 2008 – screen copy held by his website

trout drought

According to a 2002 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Defenders of Wildlife, a warming planet does not bode well for species that thrive in cold streams.

The study found that “global warming is likely to spur the disappearance of trout and salmon from as much as 18 to 38 percent of their current habitat by the year 2090.”

A 2011 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science produced “models [which] forecast significant declines in trout habitat across the interior western United States in the 21st century,” reported The New York Times.

The study claims, “The decline will have significant socioeconomic consequences as recreational trout fisheries are valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars in the United States alone.”

Huffington Post

cold water poured on artificial clouds!

A controversial proposal to create artificial white clouds over the ocean in order to reflect sunlight and counter global warming could make matters worse, scientists have warned.

The proposed scheme to create whiter clouds over the oceans by injecting salt spray into the air from a flotilla of sailing ships is one of the more serious proposals of researchers investigating the possibility of “geoengineering” the climate in order to combat global warming.

However, a study into the effects of creating man-made clouds which reflect sunlight and heat back into space has found that the strategy could end up having the opposite effect by interfering with the natural processes that lead to the formation of reflective white clouds over the ocean.

Our research suggests that attempts to generate brighter clouds via sea spray geoengineering would at best have only a tiny effect and could actually cause some clouds to become less bright, said Professor Ken Carslaw of the University of Leeds.

Heat Is Online – originally The Independent 7 Jun 2010

smoke and ….

Eric Hu, from Melbourne’s Deakin University, said that while red house roofs absorbed heat from the sun, white ones would bounce energy back into space and “it will never come back”.

He also proposed painting roads white, and building giant mirrors in the outback. He said energy reflectors could be built in the desert using aluminium foil, “like you use in the kitchen”.

A climate change expert at the University of NSW, Andy Pitman, said Dr Hu’s ideas were “not stupid” but required more research to ensure there would be no unwanted side-effects. But better than reflecting energy would be to harness it using roof tiles with built-in solar cells.

Dr Pitman suspected white roads and roofs could inflict glare on motorists and said scientists would need to be sure heat reflected from outback mirrors did not interfere with the weather.

Sydney Morning Herald, 31 Mar 2007

house on stilts

Houses should be built on stilts to adapt to flooding caused by climate change, scientists have said. The Newcastle University study looked at the impact of predicted rises in temperature – particularly in urban areas.

“Houses built on stilts, flood resilient wiring where the sockets and wires are raised above flood level, and water resistant building materials are going to have to be incorporated into our building plans.” said Dr Richard Dawson, one of the report’s authors.
Daily Telegraph, 12 Oct 2009