Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hard Rain Journal 3-13-07: Climate Crisis Update -- Seven Stories that Underscore Dangers and Highlight Proactive Efforts

Branson prize to fight global warming, The Age, 2-10-07, (Photo Credit: AP)

Hard Rain Journal 3-13-07: Climate Crisis Update -- Seven Stories that Underscore Dangers and Highlight Proactive Efforts

By Richard Power

Global warming and climate change have many implications, including rising sea levels, disappearing glaciers, desertification, food shortages, mass migrations, and the spread of tropical diseases.

Coming to grips with the planet-altering reality of this crisis, and turning its challenges into opportunities is the overriding moral, spiritual, political, economic and scientific imperative of our time.

It is, indeed, the number one national and global security issue. It not only trumps the others, it aggravates each one of them as well.

Here are excerpts from seven recent stories that underscore the looming dangers and highlight some proactive efforts to mitigate the risks and adapt to the consequences, with links to the full texts:

If the oceans rise 20 feet, much of our coastal land would be imperiled. What would that mean? Most of Florida is barely above sea level. A 20-foot ocean level rise would put half of Florida under water, including Miami, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville, Florida's three largest cities. What would be the cost of building dikes around all this real estate? Hundreds of billions of dollars, perhaps well into the trillions. . . . The option is to abandon all that land. What costs would that entail? What would be the further cost of rebuilding all that infrastructure elsewhere? A third of Manhattan lies less than 20 feet above sea level. That's very expensive real estate. Do we dike Manhattan? Should Manhattan and Florida (together with the other states) battle it out for the money? Which is more important to save? Do we enter a new civil war to answer that question? The same problems plague Washington, D.C., Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego and other low-lying areas. A sea level rise would not present difficult problems; it would present catastrophic problems and impossible choices. Bruce Barnbaum, It's Expensive to Ignore Global Warming, Seattle Post-Intelligence, 3-12-07

Peru has the largest number of tropical glaciers in the world. These water towers are crucial for slowly releasing water, particularly in the dry season. And Peru desperately needs the water all year round.
Apart from the need for drinking water, 80% of the country's power has traditionally come from hydro-electricity. And, the current boom sectors of the economy - agro-exports and mining - also absorb huge volumes of water.
Lima already has a large deficit between supply and demand and official projections say it's going to get a lot larger in the future
The latest figures on glacial melt are alarming.
Estimates by a team of Peruvian and international scientists say that Peru and Bolivia, which together account for more than 90% of the world's tropical glaciers, have lost about a third of the surface area of their glaciers between the 1970s and 2006. . . . ."We really are on the edge of an abyss," [Carlos Silvestri] warns.
James Painter, Peru's alarming water truth, BBC, 3-12-07

Data from satellites is showing that sea-level rises and polar ice-melting might be worse than earlier thought, a leading oceanographer said on Monday.
Sea levels, rising at 1 millimetre a year before the industrial revolution, are now rising by 3 millimetres a year because of a combination of global warming, polar ice-melting and long natural cycles of sea level change. "All indications are that it's going to get faster," said Eric Lindstrom, head of oceanography at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), told Reuters on the sidelines of a global oceans conference in Hobart. . . . "What we're learning is that ice isn't slow. Things can happen fast," Lindstrom said. "If the (polar) ice sheets really get involved, then we're talking tens of metres of sea level -- that could really start to swamp low-lying countries," he said.
Michael Byrnes, Scientist says sea level rise could accelerate, Reuters, 3-12-07

The harmful effects of global warming on daily life are already showing up, and within a couple of decades hundreds of millions of people won't have enough water, top scientists will say next month at a meeting in Belgium. At the same time, tens of millions of others will be flooded out of their homes each year as the Earth reels from rising temperatures and sea levels, according to portions of a draft of an international scientific report . . .Tropical diseases like malaria will spread. By 2050, polar bears will mostly be found in zoos, their habitats gone. Pests like fire ants will thrive. For a time, food will be plentiful because of the longer growing season in northern regions. But by 2080, hundreds of millions of people could face starvation, according to the report, which is still being revised. The draft document by the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change focuses on global warming's effects and is the second in a series of four being issued this year. Written and reviewed by more than 1,000 scientists from dozens of countries, it still must be edited by government officials. SETH BORENSTEIN, New climate report: More bad news, Associated Press, 3-10-07

ORDINARY light bulbs are to be banned across the European Union within two years in the fight against climate change. The 490 million citizens of the 27 member states will be expected to switch to energy-efficient bulbs after a summit of EU leaders yesterday told the European Commission to "rapidly submit proposals" to that effect.
Environmentalists said the change would save the public up to £5.4 billion a year in fuel bills and also about 20 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year.
The energy that would be saved in the UK is equivalent to one medium-sized power station.

IAN JOHNSTON, Two years to change EU light bulbs, Scotsman, 3-10-07

Retailers have agreed to cut the use of plastic bags as part of the battle against global warming, according to the Department of the Environment. The agreement involving top retailers such as Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's and Asda, should lead to a 25% cut in the environmental impact of the bags by the end of next year. ... 

Under the agreement, retailers will encourage consumers to use fewer bags and re-use those that they already have. Retailers will also switch over to recyclable carrier bags where they can. ... If all goes as hoped, the move should reduce emissions of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by up to 58,500 tonnes a year, or the equivalent to taking 18,000 cars off the road, the department said. UK Retailers Agree To Cut Plastic Bag Use, Stop Global Warming!, 3-2-07

Bank of America pledged yesterday some $20 billion over the next 10 years to help save the world from the ravages of global warming, lending its voice to a growing chorus of corporations who see green in being green.
Unlike other initiatives, however, BofA outlined a slew of investments, donations and new products and services across all its business lines intended to help deliver on the cause philanthropically, in generating business for the bank while it works to become more energy efficient.
"We have the opportunity to do more than address our own internal business practices," says Anne Finucane, chief marketing officer in a statement. "As one of the world's leading financial institutions, we can and will work directly with individual and business customers to address the pressing issue of global climate change."
Judy Warner, Going Green: BofA Commits Billions to Ecofriendly Initiative, Stop Global Warming!, 3-7-07

Want to participate in the effort to mitigate the impact of global warming? Download "Ten Things You Can Do"

There is a powerful magic in personal commitment.


Hard Rain Journal 3-3-07: Climate Crisis & UN Millennium Goals Update -- The Interdependence of All Life

Hard Rain Journal 2-24-07: Climate Crisis Update -- Our Greatest Planetary Threat is Our Greatest Planetary Opportunity

Hard Rain Journal 2-10-07: Climate Crisis Update -- It is a Strange Bird that Fouls its own Nest

Hard Rain Journal 2-1-07: Climate Crisis Update -- From California to Queensland, the "Inconvenient Truth" has Become Unavoidable

Hard Rain Journal 1-22-07: Climate Crisis Update -- At Five Minutes to Midnight, Europe at Risk

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and Words of Power. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: richardpower@wordsofpower.net. For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net

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