Friday, December 29, 2006

Ice shelf collapses in Canada

Guardian Unlimited reports that a Giant ice island breaks off Arctic shelf. You'll note those magic words that I've been pointing out as a common phrase in all climate change news: "What surprised us was how quickly it happened."
An ice island the size of a small city is adrift in the Arctic after breaking free from one of Canada's largest ice shelves, scientists said today.

The ice island is 37 metres (120ft) thick and measures 9 miles by 3 miles, according to the CanWest News Service. It broke clear from Ellesmere island, about 500 miles south of the North Pole, 16 months ago, triggering tremors so powerful they were picked up by earthquake monitors 155 miles away.

Scientists have only just released details about the island after piecing together the break-up from seismic monitors and satellite images.

Within days of breaking free from its fjord on Ellesmere, the floating ice island had drifted a few miles offshore. It travelled west for 31 miles until it froze into the sea ice in early winter.

The island was part of the Ayles ice shelf, one of six major ice shelves in Canada's Arctic. Scientists believe the shelf's break-up - the largest of its kind in the Canadian Artic in 30 years - is the result of global warming.

The Artic expert Warwick Vincent, of Laval University in Quebec, said he had never seen such a dramatic loss of sea ice and suggested the break-up indicated that climate change was accelerating.

Dr Vincent, who has travelled to the ice island, said yesterday: "This is a dramatic and disturbing event. It shows that we are losing remarkable features of the Canadian North that have been in place for many thousands of years. We are crossing climate thresholds, and these may signal the onset of accelerated change ahead.

"We think this incident is consistent with global climate change. We aren't able to connect all of the dots ... but unusually warm temperatures definitely played a major role."

He said Canada's remaining ice shelves were 90% smaller than when they were first discovered 100 years ago.

...
Using US and Canadian satellite images, as well as data from seismic monitors, Professor Copland discovered that the ice shelf collapsed on the afternoon of August 13 2005.

"What surprised us was how quickly it happened," he said. "It's pretty alarming. Even 10 years ago scientists assumed that when global warming changes occur that it would happen gradually so that perhaps we expected these ice shelves just to melt away quite slowly, but the big surprise is that, for one they are going, but secondly, that when they do go, they just go suddenly, it's all at once, in a span of an hour."
More from CNN: Ancient ice shelf breaks free from Canadian Arctic:
A giant ice shelf the size of 11,000 football fields has snapped free from Canada's Arctic, scientists said.

The mass of ice broke clear 16 months ago from the coast of Ellesmere Island, about 800 kilometers (497 miles) south of the North Pole, but no one was present to see it in Canada's remote north.
...
The Ayles Ice Shelf, roughly 66 square kilometers (41 square miles) in area, was one of six major ice shelves remaining in Canada's Arctic.

Scientists say it is the largest event of its kind in Canada in 30 years and point their fingers at climate change as a major contributing factor.

And this from the Montreal Gazette Ice shelf collapse sends chill:
Canada's North changing. Global warming suspected cause of huge breakup on Ellesmere Island
An ancient ice shelf has cracked off northern Ellesmere Island, creating an enormous 66-square-kilometre ice island and leaving a trail of icy blocks in its wake.

"It really is incredible," said Warwick Vincent of Universite Laval, one of the few people to have laid eyes on the scene. "It's like a cruise missile has come down and hit the ice shelf."
...
"We are seeing incredible changes," said Vincent, whose group is studying the island's disappearing ice shelves and their unique ecosystems. "People talk of endangered animals - well, these are endangered landscape features and we're losing them."

The Ayles ice shelf was one of six ice shelves left in Canada, remnants of a vast icy fringe that used to cover the top end of Ellesmere.

Scientists consider the Canadian shelves, located about 800 kilometres south of the North Pole, sentinels that reflect the accelerating change in the Arctic.

In 2002, one of Vincent's graduate students, Derek Mueller, discovered that Ellesmere's Ward Hunt ice shelf had cracked in half. The researchers have also seen the sudden collapse of ice dams and the draining of 30-kilometre-long lakes into the sea.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Polar bears to get 'threatened' listing thanks to climate change

And to think I know people that still think global warming is a natural cycle... they much prefer to gloss over the effects of what we are doing. Much easier to watch tv, go shopping, etc. and pretend that this is all natural... no need for guilt or responsibility. It's far too much trouble to consider reality and the possible need to change one's lifestyle.

I'm increasingly convinced that human beings are fucking monsters. At the very least, we've become nature's delete key. Sad to say but it will be a good thing for the rest of the planet when we manage the task of deleting ourselves... something that will not likely come soon enough.

Polar bears to get 'threatened' listing:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Polar bears are in deep trouble because of global warming and other factors and deserve federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, the Bush administration is proposing Wednesday.

Pollution and overhunting also threaten their existence. Greenland and Norway have the most polar bears, but almost 5,000 live mainly in Alaska and travel to Canada and Russia.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne plans to announce later Wednesday that polar bears should be listed as a "threatened" species on the government list of imperiled species, a department official confirmed Wednesday. The "endangered" category is reserved for species more likely to become extinct.

Such a decision would prevent the U.S. government from allowing any activity that could jeopardize polar bears or the sea ice where they live.

Thinner sea ice reduces the amount of food polar bears can find, including ice seals that are their main prey.

Environmentalists hope that invoking the Endangered Species Act protections eventually might provide impetus for the government to cut back on its emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping "greenhouse" gases that are warming the atmosphere.

The proposed listing also marks a potentially significant departure for the administration from its cautious rhetoric about the effects of global warming.

President Bush's steadfast refusal to go along with United Nations-brokered mandatory controls on carbon dioxide, the chief global warming gas, has contributed to international tension between the United States and other nations.

Polar bears, an iconic and cold-dependent animal, are dropping in numbers and weight in the Arctic. In July, the House approved a U.S.-Russia treaty to help protect polar bears from overhunting and other threats to their survival.

That vote put into effect a 2000 treaty that sets quotas on polar bear hunting by native populations in the two countries and establishes a bilateral commission to analyze how best to sustain sea ice. It also approved spending $2 million a year through 2010 for the polar bear program.

The Polar Bear Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union, based in Gland, Switzerland, has estimated that the polar bear population in the Arctic has dwindled to 20,000 to 25,000.

The group lists the polar bear among more than 16,000 species threatened for survival worldwide, and projects a 30 percent decline in their numbers over the next 45 years. It says sea ice is expected to decrease 50 percent to 100 percent over the next 50 to 100 years."

The Interior Department plans to allow up to 90 days of public comment on its proposal, which was first reported by The Washington Post on its Web site on Tuesday night.

A little over a year ago, three environmental groups -- the Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace -- filed suit to force such a proposal from Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees endangered species. Fish and Wildlife officials have been reviewing the status of polar bears more than two years.

They were pleased by the decision Wednesday.

"This is a victory for the polar bear, and all wildlife threatened by global warming," Kassie Siegel, a lawyer for the Center for Biological Diversity, said Wednesday. "There is still time to save polar bears but we must reduce greenhouse gas pollution immediately."

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Birds, Bears, and Climate Change

Some European birds delay migration due to warmth:
OSLO (Reuters) - Some European birds have failed to fly south for the winter, apparently lured to stay by weeks of mild weather that experts widely link to global warming.

Birds including robins, thrushes and ducks that would normally fly south from Scandinavia, for instance, have been seen in December -- long after snow usually drives them south. And Siberian swans have been late reaching western Europe.

"With increasing warmth in winter we suspect that some types of birds won't bother to migrate at all," said Grahame Madge, spokesman of the British Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

Many individual birds were leaving later, and flying less far.

One Swiss study this month suggested that Europe has just had the warmest autumn in 500 years. Frosts have crept south in the past week -- chilling any birds gambling that the entire winter will be balmy.



Climate Change vs Mother Nature: Scientists Reveal That Bears Have Stopped Hibernating:
Bears have stopped hibernating in the mountains of northern Spain, scientists revealed yesterday, in what may be one of the strongest signals yet of how much climate change is affecting the natural world.

In a December in which bumblebees, butterflies and even swallows have been on the wing in Britain, European brown bears have been lumbering through the forests of Spain's Cantabrian mountains, when normally they would already be in their long, annual sleep.

Bears are supposed to slumber throughout the winter, slowing their body rhythms to a minimum and drawing on stored resources, because frozen weather makes food too scarce to find. The barely breathing creatures can lose up to 40 per cent of their body weight before warmer springtime weather rouses them back to life.

But many of the 130 bears in Spain's northern cordillera - which have a slightly different genetic identity from bear populations elsewhere in the world - have remained active throughout recent winters, naturalists from Spain's Brown Bear Foundation (La FundaciĆ³n Oso Pardo - FOP) said yesterday.

The change is affecting female bears with young cubs, which now find there are enough nuts, acorns, chestnuts and berries on thebleak mountainsides to make winter food-gathering sorties "energetically worthwhile", scientists at the foundation, based in Santander, the Cantabrian capital, told El Pais newspaper.




Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Oceans Warming and Rising

From the Inter Press Service, Oceans Warming and Rising:
Ocean levels will rise faster than expected if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, a leading German researcher warns.

Using data from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Stefan Rahmstorf, professor of physics of the oceans at the University of Potsdam near Berlin estimates that sea level could rise 140 cm by 2100.

Rahmstorf, member of the German Advisory Council on Global Change, is considered a leading European researcher on global warming and its effect on oceans.

"The semi-empirical model we used to process NASA data showed a proportional constant sea level rise of 3.4 mm per year per degree Celsius," Rahmstorf told IPS. "Then we applied this constant proportionality to future earth surface warming scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), and came to estimate that by the year 2100, sea level could rise between 50 and 140 cm above the level measured in 1990."

Through the 20th century, global warming led to an average 20cm rise in sea level. But most computer models of climate change used at present significantly underestimate sea level rise, Rahmstorf said. "Future projections of sea level based on these climate models are therefore unreliable."

Currently, sea level is rising at three cm per decade, faster than projected in the scenarios of the IPCC Third Assessment Report, Rahmstorf added.

The IPCC, an intergovernmental team of scientists carrying out a wide range of research related to climate change, was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organisation and the United Nations Environmental Programme. The IPCC aims to assess scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for understanding of climate change, its potential impact, and options for adaptation and mitigation.

Scientific research has found that industrial activities have produced greenhouse gas emissions considerably higher than levels observed before the industrial revolution.

Concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), the most potent of greenhouse gases, has risen from about 280 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere in the year 1750 to about 380 ppm today.

This rise is primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels, and to a lesser extent, deforestation. Scientists estimate that if the present emissions trend continues, the atmosphere could heat up by about five 5 degrees Celsius by 2100.

Studies by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research suggest that this would roughly be the temperature difference between an ice age and a warm stage. But while the rise of average temperatures by some five degrees between the last great ice age and today took 5,000 years, the new global warming would need only 100 years.

Rahmstorf acknowledged that forecasts of global warming and its effects on sea levels continue to be marked by uncertainty. "The fact that we get such different estimates using different methods shows how uncertain our sea level forecasts still are," Rahmstorf told IPS.

A major reason for the uncertainty is the behaviour of the large ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.

A likely consequence of a massive melting of the ice masses on the North Pole could be the breakdown of the North Atlantic Current (NAC). The NAC is the northern extension of the Gulf Stream, and constitutes a warm water current flowing between Britain and Iceland. This has considerable impact in moderating the North European and Scandinavian climate.

"One critical factor for the continuation of this current is the amount of fresh water that enters the Northern Atlantic region in the future," Rahmstorf said. "This will depend in large part on the speed at which Greenland's ice sheet melts."

Technorati Tags: , ,

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Europe wonders where the snow is

Well in Missouri we're having our 4th straight year of no winter. Instead we're having an extended fall that turns into spring. Snow has become a rare event and has been replaced by winter rain and flower blossoms. According to Peter Finn of the Washington Post Europe is also looking for snow:

Scattered flurries teased Moscow on Tuesday afternoon with the promise of a real winter, the birthright of a city whose people take pride in trudging through snow and in ice fishing and cross-country skiing in white countryside beyond the outer beltway.

The winter of 2006 has yet to arrive, however, and Muscovites are deeply discombobulated. "I want snow. I want the New Year's feeling," said Viktoria Makhovskaya, a street vendor who sells gloves and mittens. "This is a disgusting winter. I don't like it at all."

Moscow is not alone in the unexpected warmth -- it stretches across the continent.

Preliminary data from the Met Office, Britain's national weather service, and the University of East Anglia indicate that 2006 has been the warmest year in Britain since record-keeping concerning weather conditions began in central England in 1659.

Trees are sprouting leaves in Switzerland. And low-altitude ski resorts across the Alps look more like springtime meadows. "We are currently experiencing the warmest period in the Alpine region in 1,300 years," Reinhard Boehm, a climatologist at Austria's Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, told the Associated Press in Vienna.

Boehm was one of the authors of a European Union-funded climate study that found similar warming periods in the 10th and 12th centuries. But, he said, it's warmer now, and "it will undoubtedly get warmer in the future."

The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warns in a report this month "that climate change poses serious risks to the snow reliability of Alpine ski areas, and consequently to the regional economies that depend upon winter tourism."

Up to 80 million people visit Alpine resorts each year, and they are a key contributor to the local economies, the report says.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Free copies of "An Inconvenient Truth" for educators

A couple weeks back there was news on the internets that 50,000 free copies of the climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth were rejected by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) after pressure from Exxon and oil industry advocates. Taking a different approach that bypasses the NSTA, those DVDs are now being offered directly to teachers free of charge viaParticipate.net.

The giveaway ends January 18, or when the DVDs run out. Teachers can request a copy at this link.

Via BoingBoing

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Greenhouse Gas Is Ramping Up Fast

From Discovery News, Greenhouse Gas Is Ramping Up Fast:

The latest real-world measurements of carbon dioxide levels in Earth's atmosphere show that it's increasing at breakneck speed, despite some preliminary efforts in some parts of the world to rein in fossil fuel burning — the main source of the surplus greenhouse gas.

The new data reported in Tasmania last week shows there were 7.9 billion tons of carbon emitted in 2005 and that the 1 percent per year carbon dioxide concentration increase rate of the 1990s has already jumped to 2.5 percent per year. These numbers all point to a worst-case scenario greenhouse effect and global warming.

"There is an agreement between emissions and concentrations," said atmospheric researcher Mike Raupach of Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).

The data, as well as other data on rising global temperatures and sea level rise, are reaching the point where they can be used to check the models.

"People are now able to do comparisons between the way aspects of climate change are playing out and how the models predicted," said Raupach.

The documented rise in carbon levels was revealed as the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether or not the Environmental Protection Agency should regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Currently, carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollutants have not been classified as pollutants by the federal agency.

The new data could add some urgency to the Supreme Court's arguments.

Six climate scenarios were modeled in the late 1990s for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2000 report. The IPCC scenarios range from a world that vigorously curtails its fossil fuel addiction, to one in which greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow unchecked.

"The emissions are tracking the two uppermost of those scenarios," said Raupach. "That’s not good."



Technorati Tags: ,

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The melting of the Equator's glaciers causing significant problems

CNN/AP reporting on the melting of the Equator's glaciers. It's estimated that the 3 highest peaks of Africa will loose all of their ice in the next 2 to 5 decades. And it's not just in Africa or along the Equator of course, almost all of the 300 largest glaciers being monitored are in retreat and I'll predict that in the next five years the experts will say that the rate of melting is much faster than previously thought.
The effects of climate change on human populations and entire ecosystems is now becoming a very real part of every day life.

NARO MORU, Kenya (AP) -- Rivers of ice at the Equator -- foretold in the 2nd century, found in the 19th -- are now melting away in this new century, returning to the realm of lore and fading photographs.

From mile-high Naro Moru, villagers have watched year by year as the great glaciers of Mount Kenya, glinting in the equatorial sun high above them, have retreated into shrunken white stains on the rocky shoulders of the 16,897-foot peak.

Climbing up, "you can hear the water running down beneath Diamond and Darwin," mountain guide Paul Nditiru said, speaking of two of 10 surviving glaciers.

Some 200 miles due south, the storied snows of Mount Kilimanjaro, the tropical glaciers first seen by disbelieving Europeans in 1848, are vanishing. And to the west, in the heart of equatorial Africa, the ice caps are shrinking fast atop Uganda's Rwenzoris -- the "Mountains of the Moon" imagined by ancient Greeks as the source of the Nile River.

The total loss of ice masses ringing Africa's three highest peaks, projected by scientists to happen sometime in the next two to five decades, fits a global pattern playing out in South America's Andes Mountains, in Europe's Alps, in the Himalayas and beyond.

Almost every one of more than 300 large glaciers studied worldwide is in retreat, international glaciologists reported in October in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. This is "essentially a response to post-1970 global warming," they said.

...
Hardships may spread even to Nairobi, Kenya's metropolis. Most of this country's shaky electric grid relies on hydropower, and much of that is drawn from waters streaming off Mount Kenya. In a U.N. study issued in early November, scientists predicted that the glacial rivers of Mount Kenya and the rest of east Africa may dry up in 15 years.

"The repercussions on people living down the slopes will be terrible," said Kenyan environmentalist Grace Akumu.

Scientists say such repercussions would multiply across a world where human settlements have come to depend on steady runoffs from healthy glaciers -- in Peru and Bolivia, India and China. And it would extend beyond that, they say, to coastal settlements everywhere, as oceans rise from heat expansion and the melting of land ice.

The October journal report, by European and North American glaciologists, estimates that glacier melt contributed up to one-third of the 1-to-2-inch rise in global sea levels in the past decade. And that contribution is accelerating. Since 2001, they report, dying glaciers apparently have doubled their runoff into the world's rising seas.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Monday, December 18, 2006

My amazing Memphis friends

316344141 46Ffb2A098
Yes, I'm very lucky to know so many fantastic folk! Here's a good one of Chris and Valerie. I just finished her website a few months back, have a look. Chris has moved into deCleyre and given it new life... great talent and giving hearts. Yup.

Technorati Tags:

Climate change and phytoplankton

One of those many details regarding the effects of climate change: phytoplankton. I continue to be amazed in my conversations with the people around me and how little they know about climate change and what it all really means. Most folks that I encounter seem to have no clue about how it is our earth actually works or the delicate balance that keeps it all going.

Climate Change is Killing the Oceans' Microscopic 'Lungs'
Global warming has begun to change the way microscopic plant life in the oceans absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere - a trend that could lead to a dramatic increase in the heating power of the greenhouse effect.

Satellite data gathered over the past 10 years has shown for the first time that the growth of marine phytoplankton - the basis of the entire ocean food chain - is being adversely affected by rising sea temperatures.

Scientists have found that as the oceans become warmer, they are less able to support the phytoplankton that have been an important influence on moderating climate change.

The fear is that as sea temperatures continue to rise as a result of global warming, the loss of phytoplankton will lead to a positive-feedback cycle, where increases in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere leads to warmer oceans, and warmer oceans lead to increasing carbon dioxide concentrations.

...
"Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are a key part of global warming. This study shows that as the climate warms, phytoplankton production goes down, but this also means that carbon dioxide uptake by the ocean plants will decrease," Professor Behrenfeld said. "That would allow carbon dioxide to accumulate more rapidly in the atmosphere, making the problem worse."

...
Despite their small size, phytoplankton account for about half of the photosynthesis carried out by all plants on Earth. And phytoplankton have a high turnover because they are quickly eaten by small marine animals - making them even more vulnerable to climate change.

"This fast turnover and the fact that phytoplankton are limited to a thin veneer of the ocean surface, where there is enough sunlight to sustain photosynthesis, makes them very responsive to climate change," Professor Behrenfeld said. "This was why we could relate productivity changes to climate variability in only a 10-year record. Such connections would be much harder to detect from space for terrestrial plant biomass."




Technorati Tags: , , ,

Stolen Elections and Empire

Juan Cole has an interesting post on How the Republicans are Stealing the November Elections:
Or, Bushes and Bonapartes

On November 7, the American people delivered a stiff rebuke to the Bush Administration and the Republican Party over its far-right policies. They were especially worried about the Iraq fiasco, and upset over the mounting US and Iraqi casualties. But they also worried about Bush's coddling of the Religious Right and the erosion of the separation of religion and state, along with the assault on civil liberties.

...
You see, we do not have a democracy, with the Bush administration in power. We have an elective dictatorship. The elections are like lotteries. Many of them don't even reflect the popular vote or the general will. The Rehnquist Coup of 2000 was not intrinsically different from the Rounds Coup (if it happens) of 2006. Nor would the techniques whereby elections are "won" bear much scrutiny. Ask Tom Delay, through the penitentiary window. And the incumbents feel they owe nothing to the electorate, nothing whatsoever. They have the Power. They act as they please. The rest of us are just onlookers.

So Bush's response to the clear public demand for a change of course and a disengagement? It is to run to Henry Kissinger's apron strings. And what does the Butcher of Chile and Indonesia urge? That Bush should put another 40,000 US troops into Iraq!

The problem is that Iraq is a 500,000 troop problem. Another 40,000 are just going to anger locals. And, apparently, they would be sicced on the Shiite Mahdi Army in hopes of permanently crippling the Sadr Movement headed (in part) by Muqtada al-Sadr. And maybe they'd be used in a new offensive against the Sunni Arab guerrillas.

Let me explain why it won't work. It won't work because Iraqis are now politically and socially mobilized. This means that they have the social preconditions for effective political and paramilitary action (they are largely urban, literate, connected by media, etc.) And they are politically savvy and well-connected. They are well armed, gaining in military experience, and well financed through petroleum and antiquities smuggling and through cash infusions from supporters abroad. The Mahdi Army fighters can be defeated by the US military, as happened twice in 2004. But they cannot be made to disappear, as they were not in 2004. That is because they are an organic movement springing from the Shiite poor, and are the paramilitary arm of a large social movement with a national network and ideology.

Attempts to crush popular movements once they have mobilized have most often failed. No attempts at counter-revolution in France in the 1790s were successful. Even powerful empires like Austria were helpless before the mobilized French infantry (who for the first time used large numbers of conscripts).

...
I am not saying that popular protests cannot be crushed. They can and have been. I am saying that when you have a whole country that is politically mobilized and has substantial resources, a crack-down is likely doomed unless it is almost genocidal (Saddam's use of chemical weapons in 1988 and of helicopter gunships against civilians in 1991 are examples, as is Truman's use of the atomic bomb against Japan).

The US is not going to commit the half a million troops it would take to have a chance of winning in Iraq. Nor is it going to use genocidal methods to strike absolute terror into the hearts of the Iraqi people.

...
Bush is the Napoleon of our age, trampling on whole peoples, a Jacobin Emperor mouthing the slogans of liberty and popular sovereignty while crushing and looting those he "liberated." And Kagan and Kristol (playing Talleyrand 1798) and Emperor Bush are readying a further slaughter of our US troops, 24,000 of whom have been killed or wounded, and of innocent Iraqis, 600,000 of whom have been killed by criminal and political violence since spring of 2003.

And you thought a mere election would make a difference. No one had to elect the American Enterprise Institute. No one needs to crown the emperor, he can do it himself. Welcome to Year 1 of the Empire.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Sea level rise 'under-estimated'

I'm definitely seeing a pattern with the reporting on climate change stories. Seems that with every single story on every new report it is always we underestimated the effects or this particular effect is happening much sooner than we thought it would. The BBC reports that Sea level rise 'under-estimated':
Current sea level rise projections could be under-estimating the impact of human-induced climate change on the world's oceans, scientists suggest.

By plotting global mean surface temperatures against sea level rise, the team found that levels could rise by 59% more than current forecasts.

The researchers say the possibility of greater increases needs be taken into account when planning coastal defences.

The findings have been published in the online edition of the journal Science.

The team from Germany and the US found that for the timescale relevant to human-induced climate change, the observed rate of sea level rise through the 20th Century held a strong correlation with the rate of warming.

When applied to the possible scenarios outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the researchers found that in 2100 sea levels would be 0.5-1.4m above 1990 levels.

This projection is much greater than the 9-88cm forecast made by the IPCC itself in its Third Assessment Report, published in 2001.

...

He writes in Science Express: "Understanding global sea level changes is a difficult physical problem, as a number of complex mechanisms with different timescales play a role."

These include:

* thermal expansion of water through heat absorption
* water entering the oceans from glaciers and ice sheets
* increased ice flows after the removal of buttressing ice shelves

Professor Rahmstorf said he decided to use observational data because computer models of climate significantly under-estimated the sea level rise that had already occurred.

"The fact that we get such differences using different methods shows how uncertain our sea level forecasts still are," he said.

Greenland's glaciers have been sliding faster towards the sea

He added that the main uncertainty was the response of large ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica to rising temperatures, which was difficult to predict.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Feeding ourselves on a warmer planet

I sometimes wonder if people are really thinking about the effects that global warming will have on their lives. Do folks just think the oceans will rise a little and erode away a few beaches? Maybe a few more intense hurricanes? I have a hunch most have no real clue just how far reaching the effects will be. Personally I've come to believe that our very survival is at stake and our ability to feed ourselves is at the top of the list.

The Guardian reports that the Search for crops that can survive global warming has already begun:

An unprecedented effort to protect the world's food supplies from the ravages of climate change will be launched today by an international consortium of scientists. The move marks a growing recognition that serious changes in weather patterns are inevitable over the coming decades, and that society must begin to adapt.

Some £200m a year will be poured into the research by governments across the world to help agricultural experts develop crops that can withstand heat and drought, find more efficient farming techniques and make better use of increasingly fragile soil and scarce water supplies.

Robert Zeigler, director general of the International Rice Research Institute, said: "The impacts of climate change on agriculture will add significantly to the development challenges of reducing poverty and ensuring sufficient food production for a growing population. The livelihoods of billions of people will be severely challenged as crop yields decline."

The Stern review of the economics of climate change said a 2-3C rise in average global temperatures would put 30-200 million more people at risk of hunger. Once temperatures rise 3C, 250-550 million extra people will be at risk, more than half in Africa and western Asia. At 4C and above, global food production is likely to be hit hard. The British scientist James Lovelock warned last week that such food shortages could trigger a growing number of conflicts this century between nations desperate to find fertile land to feed their people.



Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, December 14, 2006

China's white dolphin called extinct after 20 million years

Incredibly sad but as I've said before, this is going to get much worse. Climate change, combined with all the toxins we've released, is creating a very different planet earth. I'm convinced we won't be around much longer. Within 15 years, probably 10 we will no longer recognize our planet. Yes, I think it's happening that fast. China's white dolphin called extinct after 20 million years:
BEIJING, China (AP) -- An expedition searching for a rare Yangtze River dolphin ended Wednesday without a single sighting and with the team's leader saying one of the world's oldest species was effectively extinct.

The white dolphin known as baiji, shy and nearly blind, dates back some 20 million years. Its disappearance is believed to be the first time in a half-century, since hunting killed off the Caribbean monk seal, that a large aquatic mammal has been driven to extinction.

A few baiji may still exist in their native Yangtze habitat in eastern China but not in sufficient numbers to breed and ward off extinction, said August Pfluger, the Swiss co-leader of the joint Chinese-foreign expedition.

"We have to accept the fact, that the Baiji is functionally extinct. We lost the race," Pfluger said in a statement released by the expedition. "It is a tragedy, a loss not only for China, but for the entire world. We are all incredibly sad."

Technorati Tags: , ,

2006 Britain's hottest year since records began

In other climate news, The Guardian reports that this year will be Britain's hottest since records began:
· Surge in temperature astounds weather experts
· Man - not nature - is to blame, researchers say

Britain is on course for the warmest year since records began, according to figures from the Met Office and the University of East Anglia yesterday. Temperatures logged by weather stations across England reveal 2006 to have been unusually mild, with a mean temperature of 10.84C. The record beats the previous two joint hottest years of 1999 and 1990 by 0.21C.
Temperatures in central England have been recorded since 1659, the world's longest climate record, and they indicate the trend towards warming weather across Britain as a whole.


Why would a surge in temperatures astound weather experts?? It's to be expected and it will get worse. This is just the beginning.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

2006 Set to be 6th Warmest Worldwide

Via Common Dreams/Reuters, 2006 Set to be 6th Warmest Worldwide: UK Report:
This year is set to be the sixth warmest worldwide since records began, stoked by global warming linked to human activities, the British Meteorological Office and the University of East Anglia said on Thursday.

As England basks in unseasonably warm December weather two weeks before the end of the year, the Met Office said data from January to November made 2006 the warmest on record for central England.

"Worldwide, the provisional figures for 2006 using data from January to November, place the year as the sixth warmest year" since records began in the 1850s, the report said.

The previous warmest years were 1998 and 2005, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The WMO was due to release its own 2006 figures later on Thursday.

"The top 10 warmest years have all occurred in the last 12 years," it said, adding that 2006 could have been warmer but for La Nina, a cooling of parts of the Pacific Ocean.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Of politics and a warming planet

Regarding the recent U.S. elections Ted Glick writes that it was Not the Revolution, But an Opening:

Fundamental, revolutionary, political and social change is clearly needed in the USA and the world. Corporate domination of the economic and political system and mass culture is a huge threat to the possibilities for a decent and sustainable future for humankind and for all forms of life on the earth.

King Coal and Big Oil continue to use their power and vast wealth to keep us locked into a reliance on earth-heating fossil fuels that, if not quickly reversed, will lead to a steady escalation of catastrophic climate events and a breakdown of an already-stressed ecosystem.

The dominance of the Pentagon and corporate-supporting, militaristic approaches to problems, the immense amounts of money wasted in weapons production, robs the masses of people of badly-needed resources for housing, health care, education and economic development. It also generates armed resistance, including the terrorism of the stateless that, in a nuclear age, is indeed terrifying.


Yeah, a very small opening and frankly I'm not too hopeful that this new congress will do squat because there's not much new about it. I'd agree that fundamental, revolutionary political and social change are needed.

Randolph Schmid writing for the AP reports on news that will surprise no one: Signs of warming continue in the Arctic:
Signs of warming continue in the Arctic with a decline in sea ice, an increase in shrubs growing on the tundra and rising concerns about the Greenland ice sheet.

"There have been regional warming periods before. Now we're seeing Arctic-wide changes," James Overland, an oceanographer at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, said Thursday.

For the past five years, it was at least 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above average over the Arctic over the entire year, he said.

The new "State of the Arctic" analysis, released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, also reports an increase in northward movement of warmer water through the Bering Strait in 2001-2004. This may have contributed to a continuing reduction of sea ice.

During that time, there were record lows in sea ice coverage in the region, Overland said. This year there was more normal coverage in the Bering area but a record low on the Atlantic side of the Arctic.

In the past when such a shift occurred, there would have been no net loss of ice overall, just a change in where there was a smaller amount. Now, however, there is both the shift and an overall net loss of ice, he said.

Indeed, the report said Arctic sea ice coverage this past March was the lowest in winter since measurements by satellite began in the early 1970s.

Jacqueline A. Richter-Menge of the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H., said the sea ice decline is now being observed in both winter and summer.


Yet another pile of reasons to put George Bush and his cronies in jail. Will be interesting to see what the Supreme Court does with this: High court to hear global warming case:
The Supreme Court hears arguments this week in a case that could determine whether the Bush administration must change course in how it deals with the threat of global warming.

A dozen states as well as environmental groups and large cities are trying to convince the court that the Environmental Protection Agency must regulate, as a matter of public health, the amount of carbon dioxide that comes from vehicles.

Carbon dioxide is produced when fossil fuels are burned. It is the principal "greenhouse" gas that many scientists believe is flowing into the atmosphere at an unprecedented rate, leading to a warming of the earth and widespread ecological changes.

The Bush administration intends to argue before the court on Wednesday that the EPA lacks the power under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. The agency contends that even if it did have such authority, it would have discretion under the law on how to address the problem without imposing emissions controls.


More concerning the Supreme Court and climate change from this article by Greg Stohr: Nobel Laureates Back Case Pushing Bush to Act on Global Warming:
Environmentalists concerned about global warming want the U.S. Supreme Court to turn up the heat on President George W. Bush.

The justices, taking their first plunge into the debate over emissions that scientists blame for increasing the Earth's temperature, hear arguments Nov. 29 in a case brought by conservation groups and 12 states. Their goal is to force Bush's Environmental Protection Agency to regulate so-called greenhouse- gas emissions from new cars and trucks.

Bush argues that the government needs more scientific evidence before it acts against such emissions. A victory for environmentalists in the case, which may scramble the court's usual ideological lineup, would "light a fire'' under the administration, says Carol Browner, who headed the EPA under President Bill Clinton.

"They will have no choice but to get going,'' says Browner, who -- along with a group of scientists that includes two Nobel laureates -- is supporting the states and environmental groups.

That might add new burdens on automakers, including Detroit- based General Motors Corp. and Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Co., and may also lead to tougher rules for coal-fired power plants.

Shortly after Bush took office in 2001, he rejected the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases on the grounds that the agreement would cost jobs and hurt the U.S. economy. In 2003, the EPA declined to regulate carbon emissions, citing "substantial scientific uncertainty'' about the effects of climate change and the most efficient means to deal with it.


George Monbiot: Drastic Action on Climate Change is Needed Now - and Here's the Plan:

The government must go further, and much faster, in its response to the moral question of the 21st century

It is a testament to the power of money that Nicholas Stern's report should have swung the argument for drastic action, even before anyone has finished reading it. He appears to have demonstrated what many of us suspected: that it would cost much less to prevent runaway climate change than to seek to live with it. Useful as this finding is, I hope it doesn't mean that the debate will now concentrate on money. The principal costs of climate change will be measured in lives, not pounds. As Stern reminded us yesterday, there would be a moral imperative to seek to prevent mass death even if the economic case did not stack up.

But at least almost everyone now agrees that we must act, if not at the necessary speed. If we're to have a high chance of preventing global temperatures from rising by 2C (3.6F) above preindustrial levels, we need, in the rich nations, a 90% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030. The greater part of the cut has to be made at the beginning of this period. To see why, picture two graphs with time on the horizontal axis and the rate of emissions plotted vertically. On one graph the line falls like a ski jump: a steep drop followed by a shallow tail. On the other it falls like the trajectory of a bullet. The area under each line represents the total volume of greenhouse gases produced in that period. They fall to the same point by the same date, but far more gases have been produced in the second case, making runaway climate change more likely.

So how do we do it without bringing civilisation crashing down? Here is a plan for drastic but affordable action that the government could take. It goes much further than the proposals discussed by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown yesterday, for the reason that this is what the science demands.

1. Set a target for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions based on the latest science. The government is using outdated figures, aiming for a 60% reduction by 2050. Even the annual 3% cut proposed in the early day motion calling for a new climate change bill does not go far enough. Timescale: immediately.

2. Use that target to set an annual carbon cap, which falls on the ski-jump trajectory. Then use the cap to set a personal carbon ration. Every citizen is given a free annual quota of carbon dioxide. He or she spends it by buying gas and electricity, petrol and train and plane tickets. If they run out, they must buy the rest from someone who has used less than his or her quota. This accounts for about 40% of the carbon dioxide we produce. The remainder is auctioned off to companies. It's a simpler and fairer approach than either green taxation or the EU's emissions trading scheme, and it also provides people with a powerful incentive to demand low-carbon technologies. Timescale: a full scheme in place by January 2009.

3. Introduce a new set of building regulations, with three objectives. A. Imposing strict energy-efficiency requirements on all major refurbishments (costing £3,000 or more). Timescale: in force by June 2007. B. Obliging landlords to bring their houses up to high energy-efficiency standards before they can rent them out. Timescale: to cover all new rentals from January 2008. C. Ensuring that all new homes in the UK are built to the German Passivhaus standard (which requires no heating system). Timescale: in force by 2012.

4. Ban the sale of incandescent lightbulbs, patio heaters, garden floodlights and other wasteful and unnecessary technologies. Introduce a stiff "feebate" system for all electronic goods sold in the UK, with the least efficient taxed heavily and the most efficient receiving tax discounts. Every year the standards in each category rise. Timescale: fully implemented by November 2007.

5. Redeploy money now earmarked for new nuclear missiles towards a massive investment in energy generation and distribution. Two schemes in particular require government support to make them commercially viable: very large wind farms, many miles offshore, connected to the grid with high-voltage direct-current cables; and a hydrogen pipeline network to take over from the natural gas grid as the primary means of delivering fuel for home heating. Timescale: both programmes commence at the end of 2007 and are completed by 2018.

6. Promote the development of a new national coach network. City-centre coach stations are shut down and moved to motorway junctions. Urban public transport networks are extended to meet them. The coaches travel on dedicated lanes and never leave the motorways. Journeys by public transport then become as fast as journeys by car, while saving 90% of emissions. It is self-financing, through the sale of the land now used for coach stations. Timescale: commences in 2008; completed by 2020.

7. Oblige all chains of filling stations to supply leasable electric car batteries. This provides electric cars with unlimited mileage: as the battery runs down, you pull into a forecourt; a crane lifts it out and drops in a fresh one. The batteries are charged overnight with surplus electricity from offshore wind farms. Timescale: fully operational by 2011.

8. Abandon the road-building and road-widening programme, and spend the money on tackling climate change. The government has earmarked £11.4bn for road expansion. It claims to be allocating just £545m a year to "spending policies that tackle climate change". Timescale: immediately.

9. Freeze and then reduce UK airport capacity. While capacity remains high there will be constant upward pressure on any scheme the government introduces to limit flights. We need a freeze on all new airport construction and the introduction of a national quota for landing slots, to be reduced by 90% by 2030. Timescale: immediately.

10. Legislate for the closure of all out-of-town superstores, and their replacement with a warehouse and delivery system. Shops use a staggering amount of energy (six times as much electricity per square metre as factories, for example), and major reductions are hard to achieve: Tesco's "state of the art" energy-saving store at Diss in Norfolk has managed to cut its energy use by only 20%. Warehouses containing the same quantity of goods use roughly 5% of the energy. Out-of-town shops are also hardwired to the car - delivery vehicles use 70% less fuel. Timescale: fully implemented by 2012.

These timescales might seem extraordinarily ambitious. They are, by contrast to the current glacial pace of change. But when the US entered the second world war it turned the economy around on a sixpence. Carmakers began producing aircraft and missiles within a year, and amphibious vehicles in 90 days, from a standing start. And that was 65 years ago. If we want this to happen, we can make it happen. It will require more economic intervention than we are used to, and some pretty brutal emergency planning policies (with little time or scope for objections). But if you believe that these are worse than mass death then there is something wrong with your value system.

Climate change is not just a moral question: it is the moral question of the 21st century. There is one position even more morally culpable than denial. That is to accept that it's happening and that its results will be catastrophic, but to fail to take the measures needed to prevent it.


Regarding the recent climate talks, we have a long way to go and... it does not look good. Slow Talks Could Leave Climate Deal in 'Tatters'
A new global agreement to tackle climate change may be scuppered by cumbersome international bodies and a lack of political will, David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, fears.

He warned that politics was now lagging dangerously behind the science on global warming and feared that negotiations on a new deal might drag on so long that there would be a "gap" in 2012 when the Kyoto protocol's first stage runs out.

To ensure deeper cuts in carbon emissions from then, he said, agreement in principle would be needed by the end of next year. "If we have a gap in 2012, we would have a very serious problem. The whole system would be in tatters," he said.

Mr Miliband was speaking yesterday after returning from a United Nations conference in Kenya involving 189 countries, which ended without a major breakthrough but agreed to keep talking about a "son of Kyoto" treaty.

In an interview with The Independent, he said: "The political institutions and their speed are out of sync with the scientific needs of the issue. There was real progress on important issues in Nairobi but the gap between the science and the politics remains large, with industrialised and developing countries divided by priorities and divided among themselves."

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Peak Oil and Climate Change Round-up

From the NewScientist we read the news that Carbon emissions rising faster than ever:
Far from slowing down, global carbon dioxide emissions are rising faster than before, said a gathering of scientists in Beijing on Friday.

Between 2000 and 2005, emissions grew four times faster than in the preceding 10 years, according to researchers at the Global Carbon Project, a consortium of international researchers. Global growth rates were 0.8% from 1990 to 1999. From 2000 to 2005, they reached 3.2%.

What can be said? I'll try to be positive. Each and every day presents opportunities in the form of choices that we can make to reduce the amount of carbon we contribute. There is no doubt that time is running out or already has. The time to act is NOW.

Jim Kunstler over at Clusterfuck Nation has a great post on the scope and meaning of real Energy Independence.

There's also this story out of London regarding Labour Party leader Michael Mearcher who suggests that England needs to be on war footing against global warming:
This is the one overriding overall political issue which challenges the future of the human species on this planet.

I could not agree more. I tend to not think about organizing our human activities on a "war" footing but I understand the meaning. This needs to be the TOP priority in all our human endeavors. Each and every one of us should wake up everyday thinking about what we can do to stop global warming. The human race must by unified in it's pursuit of this one primary goal.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, November 10, 2006

Time travel and climate change

In reply to my last post Kyle asked:

Denny, you and I and many others know that there is nothing natural about the rate and the way in which the Earth is warming.... especially when the catastrophic affects are so scary. I was wondering how you go about convincing others who believe the warming of the Earth is a natural part of the Earth's "cycles." I only say this because there is a NASA quote in your piece that reads, "Earth's temperature could be reaching it's highest level in a million years"....therefore, it would be easy for someone to say....so the Earth got just as hot (or hotter) a million years ago. I'm just curious because whenever I get into this with someone, it always comes up....and I don't have an answer.


My reply to this specifically is that yes there natural cycles but a) the current warming is not one of them and b) just because there are natural warming and cooling cycles over the course of millions of years it's not likely that such cycles would be easy to survive, even for humans. People want to discount human caused climate change because people, especially those in western, "civilized", nations don't want to face the change it might require to their lifestyle. At least, that's my take and I think there's a good bit of truth to it. Does it really matter if the earth has been this hot before? No. What matters, at least from a very selfish human perspective, is will humans survive? We seem to think that we are special because of our ability to create technology but it is a mistake to assume that technology will save us.

The fact that the earth was warmer a million years ago should offer no comfort at all. With the exception of a small handful of scientists the vast majority of us have no clue at what this really means in terms of a livable planet. Not a damn clue. As an example, how does a warmer earth effect insect populations which in turn effect agricultural systems? That's just one small consideration and it's not small at all... the implications on human food supply are quite large. Add to that the effects of other variables that are likely to be changing such as weather patterns and it's not hard to see that we will likely be facing a food crisis never seen before. The effects of a significantly warmer earth are mind boggling.

Some still seem to think we are capable of rational thought though I'm starting to question that... we're certainly capable of rationalizing. The question regarding a warmer climate is what does it mean for our survival? That really is the question. Really. Will we survive. We're not talking about the far distant future. We are talking about 30 - 100 years. Our lifetimes, our children's lifetimes. Strange and sad that such an important question is so quickly glossed over by most people. It's easier to lie to ourselves and our children than face the inconvenient truth. Al Gore could not have picked a better title for his movie. Actually, the truth will prove to be far, far worse than inconvenient.

Something I've found at least somewhat effective in communicating the importance and the immediacy of climate change is time travel. Yes, time travel. You didn't know you could did you. No, I'm not crazy. I'm talking about our ability to think, to envision. Try this easy exercise with yourself, friend, family member or co-worker. Just sit for a minute and really allow yourself to think about today and the effects we've seen from climate change already. Retreating glaciers, melting ice caps... the list is long and is being reported in new studies every month. Now, we're ready for the time travel. Ask yourself, what will it look like in 10 years? 20 years? 30 years? Ponder that future and how the climate of that time may be affecting the planet. Now imagine yourself, in that future looking back to 2006. What would that future self ask? I think the people of the future will look back and wonder why? Why did people not act? They will wonder why we ignored the evidence, the symptoms. They will condemn not our ignorance (because we are not ignorant) but our stupidity.

We cannot time travel to the future but we can attempt to wonder what it will look like and we can create a vision that is at least somewhat likely. We cannot know exactly how the climate will look in 2036 but it seems worth the effort to ponder it. Is it the world we want for today's children? I find that folks that will take a few minutes to really ponder the future might be more inclined to deal with their own contributions to climate change today.

I've heard more than a few people say... "If only I had know I would have done something." Well, we do know. We know right now at this moment. We are not ignorant and there is no excuse. We can face the future we are creating today and we can have power over it.

One last thing. If we want to change our future we have to do it now with direct action. Individually and collectively we must take responsibility. This is not about waiting for the government to fix things. We do not need the government to force us to do what we need to do. To say that unless the government makes laws to enforce broad behavior change is lazy and it is shirking OUR responsibility. Governments have failed on this and in particular, the U.S. government, bought and paid for by the energy industry has failed. No, we cannot wait for the government. We can do this ourselves. We must lead in the way we live our lives every day. As individuals and in our communities we can create the change that needs to happen.

Turn off the devices that you don't need. Ride a bike. Carpool. Grow your own food. If you absolutely must drive accelerate slowly, coast to stops, keep it at 60 mph on the highway. Conserve in every way possible in every aspect of your life. Do it yourself and do it with others in your community. Share. Cooperate. We can do this.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Climate change and global consumption

Been far too long since I put up a post regarding the impending doom that is climate change. Actually, impending is the wrong word because that implies that it has yet to arrive. No, it's already here. Climate change and its effects are right now, not the future. Of course climate change is a direct result of our rapid over consumption of natural resources. We'll start with the BBC which reports on Global ecosystems collapse:
Current global consumption levels could result in a large-scale ecosystem collapse by the middle of the century, environmental group WWF has warned.

The group's biannual Living Planet Report said the natural world was being degraded "at a rate unprecedented in human history".

Terrestrial species had declined by 31% between 1970-2003, the findings showed.

It warned that if demand continued at the current rate, two planets would be needed to meet global demand by 2050.

The biodiversity loss was a result of resources being consumed faster than the planet could replace them, the authors said.
The Guardian reports on NASA scientests warning that Earth's temperature is dangerously high:
Earth's temperature could be reaching its highest level in a million years, American scientists said yesterday.

Researchers at Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies said a further one degree celsius rise in the global temperature could be critical to the planet, and there was already a threat of extreme weather resulting from El Niño.

The scientists said that in the 30 years to the end of 2005, temperatures increased at the rate of 0. 2 degrees per decade, a rate they described as "remarkably rapid".

Comparison of the current global temperature with estimates of historical temperatures - based on a study of ocean sediment - showed the current temperature was now within 1C of the maximum temperature of the past million years.

Dr James Hansen, who led the study, said further global warming of just 1C could lead to big changes to the planet.

"If warming is kept less than that, effects of global warming may be relatively manageable," he said.

"But if further global warming reaches two or three degrees celsius, we will likely see changes that make Earth a different planet [to] the one we know.

"The last time it was that warm was in the middle Pliocene, about 3m years ago, when sea level was estimated to have been about 25 meters (80 feet) higher than today."
Also from NASA, we have only a decade left to act in time:
‘We have a very brief window of opportunity,’ NASA scientist says

A leading U.S. climate researcher says the world has a 10-year window of opportunity to take decisive action on global warming and avert catastrophe.

NASA scientist James Hansen, widely considered the doyen of American climate researchers, said governments must adopt an alternative scenario to keep carbon dioxide emission growth in check and limit the increase in global temperatures to 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

“I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change ... no longer than a decade, at the most,” Hansen said Wednesday at the Climate Change Research Conference in California’s state capital.

If the world continues with a “business as usual” scenario, Hansen said temperatures will rise by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 7.2 degrees F) and “we will be producing a different planet.”

On that warmer planet, ice sheets would melt quickly, causing a rise in sea levels that would put most of Manhattan under water. The world would see more prolonged droughts and heat waves, powerful hurricanes in new areas and the likely extinction of 50 percent of species.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

You think there will be an election in 2008? How quaint.

I've been saying now for 3 or 4 years that there would be no presidential election in 2008. The theft of the 2004 elections just affirmed it for me. Now, for any Republicans that may stumble upon this post, let me be very clear about something from the very get go. I'm not a Democrat and I don't like the Democratic Party any more than the Republican Party. I think they are both deeply flawed elements of a very broken system. In fact that brings me directly to my first point.

The two party system is a false set of choices and always has been. America is not, in any way, a democracy. Never has been. The democracy of this republic has never been anything more than a facade created to give the appearance of democracy. Another way to describe it would be to say that it is a carefully designed cage that is large enough and fine enough to give the appearance of freedom and a sense of mobility and choice.

As a facade "our" democracy has functioned fairly well in terms of its real purpose. But even its performance as a facade is now beginning to break down. I think that's because the real structure underneath is strained and it's flaws, fundamental and deep, are beginning to weaken. The real engine has run into social, political, and ecological realities that it is unable to adapt to and may not have planned for. The result is that the foundation is now out of balance and is shifting quite a bit and that energy carries over into the facade.

Seems to me that the facade only really works as long as a middle and moderate path is taken because the whole point is to sustain the illusion of freedom and democracy. It has to keep the majority happy by giving them a sense of control in its periodic swings to the left and then the right and that's not just for it's own citizens but also its image in the larger community of nations. In the past few years, really the past few decades, we've taken such a significant swing to the right that the sense of balance is gone. This current group in the White House is, in many ways, a logical and predictable result... at least certain aspects of it are. Other aspects of it are, in a strange way, the contradiction to what was really needed.

The contradiction is that this swing too far to the right is detrimental to the existence of the core machine, often called the "State". The State is something that exists in the background, it is the real power center. Of course global capitalism also plays a role and there are relationships between the two. But the entities that make up the State and Capital, powerful as they may be, must still deal with the reality of billions of people on a planet of finite resources and this is perhaps the fundamental problem at the moment. Peak oil and peak energy will become a major issue in the short term and I believe that the effects of climate change will only complicate the matter. Add to this scenario the many variables and complications of expanding war in the Middle East and the situation begins to seem dire.

In an article describing the well developed pattern of lies by Bush and his fellow Republicans, Juan Cole has this to say about the one-party state:
The United States has a one-party state. The presidency, the vice presidency, the cabinet, the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Supreme Court-- are all and have for some time been in the hands of the same party. Not only that, but the most extreme factions within the Republican Party: the theocrats, the Neoconservative ex-Trotskiyites, the John Yoo Torture Apologists, the Grover Norquist advocates of Mr. Scrooge plutocracy, the corrupt Abramoffist lobbyists and Delayist horse thieves--they are ascendant. Parties don't investigate themselves. They are about power, interests, and money. They are about winning. They aren't a charity.

The American public has been unwise to allow this one party state to grow up, which is chipping away at our liberties as Americans and creating a new monarchy and a new aristocracy. It works by lies and cover-ups.

Another four years of the one-party state, and the Republic will be finished, if it is not already.

I would add to this that the two-party state is not much better. I'd also add that the Republic is already finished. There are very dark times ahead but in truth, I think they've been a long time coming and are probably a necessary development. Americans have been living in fantasy land for the past 50+ years. We took the bribe of suburbia, gadgets, and cheap entertainment, we traded in our role of citizen for that of consumer. The simple truth is that freedom and democracy, if they are to be meaningful and real, must be a part of everyday life. Which brings me back to the original point of this post: the 2008 elections.

Over at Another Day in the Empire Kurt discusses Keith Olbermann's July interview with former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean. He writes that Dean "comes within a hair’s breadth of declaring the neocons have specifically created terrorism in order to run roughshod over our former republic. Of course, as ample documentation reveals, this is precisely what the neocons have done."

I agree with that and also his assessment that last week's approval of HR 6166, S 3930 was the next step and that a clamp-down will soon follow. This is the New America:
Dean’s interview is interesting as well because he describes the neocons as dangerous authoritarians who will do anything to remain in power and aggressively foist their agenda on the nation, even if it ultimately destroys the nation.

As the so-called “detainee bill,” more accurately characterized as the Habeas Corpus Murder bill, reveals, the neocons will sacrifice our republic without a second thought in order to realize their forever war agenda.

The Habeas Corpus Murder Bill is an obvious attempt to remove all constitutional restraint prior to the coming authoritarian clamp-down, as dissent will not be tolerated after the neocons shock and awe (with nukes) Iran in the anticipated kick-off of World War Four, a catastrophe that will demand the sort of imperious society Straussian neocons have dreamed of implementing for decades.

Elections in 2008? I don't think so.


Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, September 28, 2006

HR 6166, S 3930, and the trashing of an already trampled Constitution

Jonathan at Irregular Times has this to say about HR 6166 and S 3930:
The legislation (HR 6166 and S 3930) currently moving through the Congress to give President Bush the powers of a dictator through severe attacks on the freedom guaranteed in the Bill of Rights is so important to President Bush’s agenda that he has personally visited the Senate to push the vote on S 3930 to go through as soon as possible.

In a short speech to the Senate, George W. Bush announced that “Our most important responsibility is to protect the American people from further attack.”

No, President Bush, your most important responsibility is not to protect the American people from further attack.

Senators, please remember today that you have taken a solemn oath of office, the same oath that the President of the United States of America has taken. That oath was not a promise to make the American people secure. It was a promise to protect the Constitution of the United States of America from enemies foreign and domestic.

George W. Bush has become a domestic enemy of the Constitution of the United States of America. It is the sworn duty of every United States Senator to defy Bush, and to vote NO on his request for new totalitarian powers.


Another Day in the Empire asks: Are You an Enemy Combatant?
Slowly but surely, the Bush neocons and their perfidious allies in Congress are cobbling together a secret police apparatus that will eventually mirror Hitler’s Gestapo, Stalin’s NKVD, East Germany’s Stasi, and Chile’s Dirección Nacional de Inteligencia, to cite but a few examples.

“The United States could detain more foreigners as enemy combatants under legislation Congress will debate this week after a last-minute change in the bill, lawmakers said on Tuesday,” reports Reuters. “Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a key negotiator on the bill, said enemy combatants would now include those who provided money, weapons and other support for terrorist groups as well as those involved in actual operations.”

Of course, many would argue that the key word here is “foreigners” and this legislation poses no threat to Americans. However, considering previous comments of “key negotiator” Lindsey Graham, we can likely expect this legislation to be used against “fifth columnists,” as the good senator from South Carolina deems all who oppose the neocon doctrine of forever war.

As Graham told the Senate Judiciary Committee in February, “the administration has not only the right, but the duty, in my opinion, to pursue fifth column movements…. And let me tell folks who are watching what a fifth column movement is. It is a movement known to every war where American citizens will sympathize with the enemy and collaborate with the enemy. And it’s happened in every war,” never mind that this particular war is undeclared. Naturally, for the neocons, simply opposing the “war” in Iraq and the parallel “war” against terrorism at home is an act of sympathizing with the enemy, that is to say “al-Qaeda,” the black op pseudo gang crafted by the CIA and the Pentagon.

“Graham said U.S. citizens could not be deemed enemy combatants under the bill, but several human rights advocates said the language was so broad that they believed Americans could be detained under it. The Center for Constitutional Rights said even attorneys representing Guantanamo inmates could be deemed enemy combatants,” Reuters continues.



Back to Irregular Times, Jim also discusses the issue: Republican Torture Bill Draws In More People With Less Proof, Buggering the Constitution
That’s right. A committee drawn up by George W. Bush or Donald Rumsfeld gets to decide whether you are an “enemy combatant.” And if they decide you are, you are. And if they so decide, may whatever deity you believe in have mercy on your soul, because the USA will show no such mercy.




Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A brief Bush, Torture, Constitution, War round-up

A few articles from the Irregular Times worth checking. First read Jonathan's
September 11 Was Nothing Compared to This:

Think that the attacks of September 11, 2001 were bad? Three thousand dead civilians. That’s pretty bad, right?

Still, that’s nothing compared to the attacks the people in Iraq have suffered as a result of the American invasion and occupation there. A new report from the United Nations indicates that 6,500 civilians in Iraq have been killed, and many of them tortured first, in the last two months alone.

If we unleashed a global war seeking vengeance for our 3,000 dead, what will the desperate Iraqis do now?

Someone come on here and talk to me about how war is a good tool for solving problems. Come on. Do it. I really want to see what kind of twisted argument pro-war people are coming up with now.


Then there is Jim's write-up regarding the torture authorized by Bush and the logic of Fox News' John Gibson: Gibson: It’s Not Torture Because I Say So? It’s Torture Because The Law Says So.:

John Gibson wrote a column for FOX News yesterday that I’d like you to read in its entirety.


Jim has also written a good bit regarding Bush's continued abandonment of the the Constitution and the willingness of the GOP to go along:
The New York Times reports tonight that the members of the Republican Party in Congress and George W. Bush have agreed on legislation, with enough votes to pass, that will bring two formerly illegal Bush administration practices under the law:

1. People accused of being terrorists will be tried under military tribunal, rather than through a trial by jury.

2. In these tribunal proceedings, people accused of being terrorists will not be able to confront witnesses when the identity of those witnesses are classified, and will not be able to obtain any classified evidence for their own defense.

Well, excuse me, but whatever became of the Sixth Amendment to our very own United States Constitution?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,