Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

Worst U.S. drought in decades continues

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

The future?

The worst US drought in decades has deepened again after more than a month of encouraging reports of slowly improving conditions, a drought-tracking consortium said today, as scientists struggled for an explanation other than a simple lack of rain.

While more than half of the continental US has been in a drought since summer, rain storms had appeared to be easing the situation week by week since late September. But that promising run ended with today’s weekly US Drought Monitor report, which showed increases in the portion of the country in drought and the severity of it.

The report showed that 60.1 per cent of the lower 48 states were in some form of drought as of Tuesday, up from 58.8 per cent the previous week. The amount of land in extreme or exceptional drought the two worst classifications increased from 18.3 per cent to 19.04 per cent.

The Drought Monitor’s map tells the story, with dark red blotches covering the center of the nation and portions of Texas and the Southeast as an indication of where conditions are the most intense. Those areas are surrounded by others in lesser stages of drought, with only the Northwest, Florida and a narrow band from New England south to Mississippi escaping.

– more…

 

Global Warming and New Zealand

Monday, November 12th, 2012

– The New Zealand Listener Magazine has an editorial in their September 22-28, 2012  edition entitled:

GLOBAL WARMING – Record droughts, hottest US summer ever & Arctic sea ice vanishing – What does it mean for New Zealand?

– It makes a lot of good points and I recomend reading it if you are a New Zealander.

– It repeats a point that I’ve made on this Blog for a long time.  And that is that sooner or later, the same factors that brought me, and numerous other new immigrants to NZ, are going to become apparent to greater and greater numbers of folks and the rush to immigrate to NZ is going to be on.

– There will be, in the not too distant future, a lot of reasons to run away from other locations out in the world.  Rising sea levels, water shortages, food shortages, extreme weather and widening social chaos will be among those factors.   We’ve had economic and human rights refugees in the past.  These will increase in the future and to their numbers will be added environmental refugees.

– Right now, NZ is not in bad shape.

Our beautiful refuge

– We generate the majority of our energy needs from benign sources such as hydroelectric and geothermal.

– We also generate two or more times the food that we consume which is why we can do a handsome amount of agricultural exporting.

– We are also protected from the worst of the weather changes because our climate is strongly buffered by the fact that we are an island nation in the midst of a huge surrounding ocean.

– We also have a fairly homogeneous culture which is good.   It means that we, as a people, have fairly uniform ideas about how things should work.

– And, finally, we are protected from unwanted and forced immigration by that same ocean that surrounds us.   Australia is the closest and they are 1000 miles away  and most of the increasingly desperate world lies beyond them on the far side.

– But we will not remain in good shape if we don’t, as a nation, look out for ourselves.

– Should we let foreigners buy farmland here?

– The authors of the article think not and I agree with them.  If push comes to shove in a nastier future and we need the food that grows here to survive, we will not be happy if a significant portion of it belongs to folks from overseas and they want to ship it home to their own people.

– Should we let offshore folks own significant portions of our industries and our means of production?   I think not.  If the world gets tough, they won’t be asking ‘how can they help us with those things’.  They will be asking how those things can be used to help them.

– Should we let large numbers of folks immigrate into NZ from cultures significantly different from ours?  Currently, we are not split, say, over common law verses Sharia Law or whether women should be first class citizens here or not.  Or whether or not everyone should be able to practice their own religion so long as they leave other folks alone.  But, if we don’t watch our immigration rates and types, this situation could get away from us.  For a more detailed discussion of these ideas see here: 

– It is indeed sad that we might need to start thinking this way.  Is seems so isolationist and selfish and New Zealand has always been a compassionate and generous nation.

– But, tough times are coming.   The question is not ‘if‘ but simply ‘when‘.  And the question is not, ‘is it going to be bad?‘.   The fact is that it is going to be bad and the estimates of how bad it is going to be are only getting worse as we, as a world, keep continuing along without reacting to the dangers ahead.

– Please read the article.

– We in NZ are probably going to be some of the very luckiest people on the planet when the wheels come off because of our physical isolation, our low population, our excess food production capability and our well organized society.    But those factors are not going to be enough to save us  if we don’t look out for ourselves.

– The Arabs have an expression that comes to mind here:  “Trust in God, but tether your camel.

– dennis

– Late breaking:  Chinese want to buy into Fonterra.  See

 

 

End of an Era

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

– Parents, it is time to think about where your children are going to be when the sh** hits the fan.  I don’t think we’re going to avoid this mess but you could shift them to a place where another generation or two might have reasonable lives.   If you think that might be in a big city in the U.S., I think you are missing the point.

– Dennis

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 25th June 2012

It is, perhaps, the greatest failure of collective leadership since the first world war. The Earth’s living systems are collapsing, and the leaders of some of the most powerful nations – the US, the UK, Germany, Russia – could not even be bothered to turn up and discuss it. Those who did attend the Earth summit last week solemnly agreed to keep stoking the destructive fires: sixteen times in their text they pledged to pursue “sustained growth”, the primary cause of the biosphere’s losses(1).

The future

The efforts of governments are concentrated not on defending the living Earth from destruction, but on defending the machine that is destroying it. Whenever consumer capitalism becomes snarled up by its own contradictions, governments scramble to mend the machine, to ensure – though it consumes the conditions that sustain our lives – that it runs faster than ever before.

The thought that it might be the wrong machine, pursuing the wrong task, cannot even be voiced in mainstream politics. The machine greatly enriches the economic elite, while insulating the political elite from the mass movements it might otherwise confront. We have our bread; now we are wandering, in spellbound reverie, among the circuses.

We have used our unprecedented freedoms, secured at such cost by our forebears, not to agitate for justice, for redistribution, for the defence of our common interests, but to pursue the dopamine hits triggered by the purchase of products we do not need. The world’s most inventive minds are deployed not to improve the lot of humankind but to devise ever more effective means of stimulation, to counteract the diminishing satisfactions of consumption. The mutual dependencies of consumer capitalism ensure that we all unwittingly conspire in the trashing of what may be the only living planet. The failure at Rio de Janeiro belongs to us all.

– More…

Earth to America!

Monday, June 25th, 2012
blue_man_group

blue_man_group

– This is a great little video.  Pass it on….  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM-mfEMssy8

– research thanks to John P.

 

Earth Sends Climate Warning by Busting World Heat Records

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

First decade of 21st Century warmest on record; US locations break 7,000 temperature records in March

Accelerated climate change, driven by human activity, has led to soaring temperatures around the world and the decade between 2001 and 2010 was the warmest ever recorded in all continents of the globe, according to a new report released by the World Meteorological Organization.

Additionally, an ‘unprecedented’ heatwave in the United States “has set or tied more than 7,000 high temperature records” across the country, according to a report from Climate Central. “This heat wave is essentially unprecedented,” said the media and research orgnanization’s Heidi Cullen told Reuters. “It’s hard to grasp how massive and significant this is.”

The increase in global temperatures since 1971 has been “remarkable” according to the WHO’s assessment. Atmospheric and oceanic phenomena such as La Niña events had a temporary cooling influence in some years, the report says, but did not halt the overriding warming trend.

The “dramatic and continuing sea ice decline in the Arctic” was one of the most prominent features of the changing state of the climate during the decade, according to the preliminary findings. Global average precipitation was the second highest since 1901 and flooding was reported as the most frequent extreme event, it said.

“This 2011 annual assessment confirms the findings of the previous WMO annual statements that climate change is happening now and is not some distant future threat. The world is warming because of human activities and this is resulting in far-reaching and potentially irreversible impacts on our Earth, atmosphere and oceans,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “The world is warming because of human activities and this is resulting in far-reaching and potentially irreversible impacts on our Earth, atmosphere and oceans,” he added.

– More…

– Research thanks to Kathy G.

 

Northwest Oyster Die-offs Show Ocean Acidification Has Arrived

Monday, January 30th, 2012

The acidification of the world’s oceans from an excess of CO2 has already begun, as evidenced recently by the widespread mortality of oyster larvae in the Pacific Northwest. Scientists say this is just a harbinger of things to come if greenhouse gas emissions continue to soar

It was here, from 2006 to 2008, that oyster larvae began dying dramatically, with hatchery owners Mark Wiegardt and his wife, Sue Cudd, experiencing larvae losses of 70 to 80 percent. “Historically we’ve had larvae mortalities,” says Wiegardt, but those deaths were usually related to bacteria. After spending thousands of dollars to disinfect and filter out pathogens, the hatchery’s oyster larvae were still dying.

Finally, the couple enlisted the help of Burke Hales, a biogeochemist and ocean ecologist at Oregon State University. He soon homed in on the carbon chemistry of the water. “My wife sent a few samples in and Hales said someone had screwed up the samples because the [dissolved CO2 gas] level was so ridiculously high,” says Wiegardt, a fourth-generation oyster farmer. But the measurements were accurate. What the Whiskey Creek hatchery was experiencing was acidic seawater, caused by the ocean absorbing excessive amounts of CO2 from the air.

Ocean acidification — which makes it difficult for shellfish, corals, sea urchins, and other creatures to form the shells or calcium-based structures they need to live — was supposed to be a problem of the future. But because of patterns of ocean circulation, Pacific Northwest shellfish are already on the front lines of these potentially devastating changes in ocean chemistry. Colder, more acidic waters are welling up from the depths of the Pacific Ocean and streaming ashore in the fjords, bays, and estuaries of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, exacting an environmental and economic toll on the region’s famed oysters.

– More…

-Research thanks to Tony H.

 

Rivers of ice: Vanishing glaciers

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Stunning images from high in the Himalayas – showing the extent by which many glaciers have shrunk in the past 80 years or so – have gone on display at the Royal Geographical Society in central London.

Between 2007 and 2010, David Breashears retraced the steps of early photographic pioneers such as Major E O Wheeler, George Mallory and Vittorio Sella – to try to re-take their views of breathtaking glacial vistas.

The mountaineer and photographer is the founder of GlacierWorks – a non-profit organisation that uses art, science and adventure to raise public awareness about the consequences of climate change in the Himalayas.

– To the article and pictures…

Climate change ‘grave threat’ to security and health

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Climate change poses “an immediate, growing and grave threat” to health and security around the world, according to an expert conference in London.

Officers in the UK military warned that the price of goods such as fuel is likely to rise as conflict provoked by climate change increases.

A statement from the meeting adds that humanitarian disasters will put more and more strain on military resources.

It asks governments to adopt ambitious targets for curbing greenhouse gases.

The annual UN climate conference opens in about six weeks’ time, and the doctors, academics and military experts represented at the meeting (held in the British Medical Association’s (BMA) headquarters)argue that developed and developing countries alike need to raise their game.

Scientific studies suggest that the most severe climate impacts will fall on the relatively poor countries of the tropics.

UK military experts pointed out that much of the world’s trade moves through such regions, with North America, Western Europe and China among the societies heavily dependent on oil and other imports.

Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, climate and energy security envoy for the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), said that conflict in such areas could make it more difficult and expensive to obtain goods on which countries such as Britain rely.

“If there are risks to the trade routes and other areas, then it’s food, it’s energy,” he told BBC News.

“The price of energy will go up – for us, it’s [the price of] petrol at the pumps – and goods made in southeast Asia, a lot of which we import.”

– More…

 

Coal is the enemy of the human race, mainstream economics edition

Monday, October 10th, 2011

… noted a new paper in theAmerican Economic Review: “Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy.”   Brad Johnson has a longer summary here.   I want to emphasize the paper’s conclusions and make a few related points. But mostly I want to beg everyone: spread this around. Coal’s net economic effects on the U.S. are poorly understood, to say the least, and this paper’s findings are stunning.

Once you strip away the econ jargon, the paper finds that electricity from coal imposes more damages on the U.S. economy than the electricity is worth. That’s right: Coal-fired power is a net value-subtracting industry. A parasite, you might say. A gigantic, blood-sucking parasite that’s enriching a few executives and shareholders at the public’s expense.

– From the Grist Blog ( www.grist.org

– To more of the original article…  

Arctic ozone loss in 2011 unprecedented

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Record ozone depletion over the Arctic early this year rivals what was observed in the Antarctic when holes in the protective atmospheric layer first appeared there during the 1980s.

The observation raises concerns that portions of the Northern Hemisphere might periodically begin experiencing potentially harmful levels of ultraviolet radiation during early spring, an international team of scientists reports online October 2 in Nature.

“It was significantly worse than anything we have ever seen,” says Geir Braathen of the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva, who was not one of the authors of the Nature paper. Typically, spring Arctic ozone depletion has maxed out at a drop of between 20 and 30 percent, the atmospheric chemist notes. “But in 2011, we had a loss of around 40 percent.”

In Antarctica, 70 percent of the ozone can disappear in springtime, Braathen says. Within a 5- to 7-kilometer–thick band of the stratosphere, ozone concentrations actually plummet to zero, he says.

Arctic conditions have not gotten nearly that bad, says Michelle Santee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., one of 29 authors of the new Arctic ozone analysis.

Although ozone can be found at any altitude over the Arctic, most accumulates between 14 to 21 kilometers up. There, concentrations hover around 4.5 parts per million much of the year. But in late March, “there was an approximately 2-kilometer altitude region where ozone fell to around 0.7 ppm,” Santee says — “meaning the ozone was pretty much gone.” In small regions, she adds, patches of the Arctic stratosphere saw ozone drop to 0.5 ppm.

It takes four things to destroy much of the stratosphere’s ozone: sunlight; very prolonged cold temperatures; a stable vortex of winds that prevents ozone losses inside it from being replenished with more from outside; and the presence of special clouds that foster the transformation of benign chlorine molecules into ozone-vanquishing types. For the first time in the Arctic, all of these conditions aligned for months, says JPL atmospheric scientist and coauthor Nathaniel Livesey, “making it the perfect storm.”

– More…