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.

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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."

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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.




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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."

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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.

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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

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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."



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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.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

My amazing Memphis friends

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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.

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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."




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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.

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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.

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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.



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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."

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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.

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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.

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