Hard Rain Journal 10-21-06: Climate Crisis Update -- Bad News from Armenia, Good News from Germany & Oregon, & More Proof for Those who Still Doubt
By Richard Power
Global warming, and the climate change it is precipitating, is a national security issue for all governments; and like the proliferation of nuclear weapons, it is an issue of survival for the human race itself.
Here are five news stories that underscore some of the many aspects of the planetary climate crisis, including how certain we are about what is happening, how bad it is, and what to do about it:
A dramatic increase in respiratory diseases over the past several years means that Armenia is now struggling to breathe, physicians and public health specialists say. While government representatives downplay the problem, environmentalists point to desertification as the cause. (Eurasianet, 10-20-06)
German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel has warned of the unexpectedly fast pace of global warming and said the country needs to follow a unified plan to protect itself from increasing environment change. (Deutsche Welle, 10-18-06)
The world - especially the Mediterranean region, Brazil and the Western United States - will likely suffer more extended droughts, heavy rainfalls and longer heat waves over the next century because of global warming, a new study forecasts. ( Sapa-AP, 10-20-06)
Scientists said...that they had found the first direct evidence linking the collapse of an ice shelf in Antarctica to global warming widely blamed on human activities. (Reuters, 10-16-6)
Electrical engineers at Oregon State University are developing electricity-generating buoys they believe will be a key component for clean, green wave power. Their objective is to convert the Pacific Ocean's heavy rolling swell into a renewable energy resource., relying on buoys to harness the near constant rise and fall of waves to produce electricity. (lnter Press Service, 10-17-06)
Here are brief excerpts from these five news stories, with links to the full text:
A dramatic increase in respiratory diseases over the past several years means that Armenia is now struggling to breathe, physicians and public health specialists say. While government representatives downplay the problem, environmentalists point to desertification as the cause.
Between 2001 and 2005, the number of respiratory diseases registered in Armenia increased by 45 percent to just over 161,000 cases, according to statistics from the Ministry of Health.
Andranik Voskanyan, one of Armenia’s chief lung specialists, believes that the real number of individuals suffering from respiratory diseases, particularly asthma, is much higher than officially reported. Voskanyan estimates that the number of such cases has at least doubled in the past decade. He is also seeing respiratory disease strike at an earlier age. “A few years ago the youngest child suffering from asthma was five or six … [but] we now find this disease also among one to two-year-old[s],” said Voskanyan. “This is the reaction of the body to the environment.”
Voskanyan believes that shrinking green areas, industrial emissions, lack of quality control for imported fuel, and increased emissions from automobiles have played a central role in the increased number of respiratory diseases....
Environmentalists and public health specialists say a major factor behind the trend is galloping desertification. Recent United Nations (UN) data reports that 82 percent of Armenia’s territory is at risk of desertification and 26 percent is at risk of extreme desertification. In response, the UN recently called on the government and civil society groups to develop programs to address environmental issues. Marianna Grigoryan, ARMENIA: ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE SPURS RESPIRATORY DISEASES, Eurasianet, 10-20-06
German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel has warned of the unexpectedly fast pace of global warming and said the country needs to follow a unified plan to protect itself from increasing environment change.
At a conference on the topic in Berlin, Gabriel and the head of Germany's Federal Environment Agency (UBA), Andreas Troge, presented a national concept for adapting to climate change that would create a "competency center" on the issue.
The center will coordinate more efficient use of energy and a greater use of renewable energy sources, and also for improved flood protection and early-warning systems.
Presenters at the conference said it is clear global warming is taking place more quickly than expected, with glaciers melting faster, and a higher than expected incidence of hurricanes and drought. Gabriel said the country needed to start applying the brakes on global warming now....
"We have to prepare now in order not to be mowed down by tomorrow's economic and social consequences," Gabriel told the conference. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research, said a national plan on climate change is long overdue. "If we don't have strong climate-control policies in place, by the end of the century, temperatures will rise by somewhere between two and five degrees Celcius," he said. "If it increases more than two degrees Celsius, then we are getting into an area that we can no longer control." Germany Puts Global Warming Prevention Plan in Gear, Deutsche Welle, 10-18-06
The world - especially the Mediterranean region, Brazil and the Western United States - will likely suffer more extended droughts, heavy rainfalls and longer heat waves over the next century because of global warming, a new study forecasts. But the prediction of a future of nasty extreme weather also includes fewer freezes and a longer growing season. In a preview of a major international multiyear report on climate change that comes out next year, a study out of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research details what nine of the world's top computer models predict for the lurching of climate at its most extreme. "It's going to be a wild ride, especially for specific regions," said study lead author Claudia Tebaldi, a scientist at the federally funded academic research center. Tebaldi pointed to the Western US, Mediterranean nations and Brazil as "hot spots" that will get extremes at their worst, according to the computer models. And some places, such as the Pacific Northwest, are predicted to get a strange double whammy of longer dry spells punctuated by heavier rainfall. Seth Borenstein, Global warming project predicts 'wild ride', Sapa-AP, 10-20-06
Scientists said...that they had found the first direct evidence linking the collapse of an ice shelf in Antarctica to global warming widely blamed on human activities. A view of the breakup of the northern section of the Larsen B ice shelf is seen in an image taken from NASA's Moderate-resolution Imaging SpectroRadiometer satellite. Scientists said on Monday that they had found the first direct evidence linking the collapse of an ice shelf in Antarctica to global warming widely blamed on human activities. Shifts in winds whipping around the southern Ocean, tied to human emissions of greenhouse gases, had warmed the Antarctic peninsula jutting up toward South America and contributed to the break-up of the Larsen B ice shelf in 2002, they said. "This is the first time that anyone has been able to demonstrate a physical process directly linking the break-up of the Larsen Ice Shelf to human activity," said Gareth Marshall, lead author of the study at the British Antarctic Survey. The chunk that collapsed into the Weddell Sea in 2002 was 3,250 sq kms (1,255 sq miles), bigger than Luxembourg or the U.S. state of Rhode Island. Alister Doyle, Antarctic Ice Collapse Linked to Greenhouse Gases, Reuters, 10-16-06
Electrical engineers at Oregon State University are developing electricity-generating buoys they believe will be a key component for clean, green wave power. Their objective is to convert the Pacific Ocean's heavy rolling swell into a renewable energy resource., relying on buoys to harness the near constant rise and fall of waves to produce electricity.
"Waves generate energy through motion," said Dr. Annette von Jouanne, an electrical engineering professor at Oregon State University (OSU).
The OSU project is part of a renewed global effort to investigate wave and tidal power as a potential source of alternative energy, she noted.
"Oregon is an ideal location," von Jouanne added in an interview.
Along Oregon's 460 kilometers of open coastline, waves average 1.5 meters high during the summer months and 3.5 meters during the winter.
To achieve their goals, von Jouanne and her colleagues at OSU have designed several types of power buoys, including oscillating linear generators they refer to as "direct drive" technology.
"The devices directly convert the linear motion of the wave into electrical energy without any hydraulic or pneumatic stages," von Jouanne said....Enrique Gili, Waves: The Next Wave in Clean, Green Power, lnter Press Service, 10-17-06
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Global Warming, Energy Security, Environmental Security, Alternate Energy, Sustainability, Green Power, Renewable Resources, Climate Change, Weather, Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, Extreme Weather, Crisis Management, Desertification, Armenia, Germany, Oregon, Antarctica, Richard Power, Words of Power