Hard Rain Journal 9-15-06: Climate Crisis Update – If You Have Children, or Care About the Future for Any Reason, You Should Read These Five News Items
By Richard Power
Accelerated global warming caused by human consumption of fossil fuels threatens to profoundly alter life on this planet. The negative impact is already becoming evident. Within the next few decades, the catastrophic will be commonplace.
Global warming is a national security issue.
There are three vital and urgent imperatives:
Cultivate sustainability for real energy security at all levels
Monitor and analyze how climate change exacerbates other global and regional security threats
Develop preparedness, continuity and crisis management capabilities at all levels
There are too many Neros in the high places of business and government -- small-minded, faint-hearted leaders who fiddle while the world burns.
Don’t be a Nero in your own life. If you have children, or care about the future for any reason (whether selfish or altruistic), you should read the five news items included in this post.
As you glance through the following summary keep in mind that every one of these stories was worthy of headline TV and radio news coverage, which, of course, they did not receive (well, at least not in the USA):
NASA scientist James Hansen, “widely considered the doyen of American climate researchers,” says we only have a “10-year window of opportunity to take decisive action on global warming and avert a weather catastrophe.” (Reuters, 9-14-06)
The vast expanses of ice floating in the Arctic Sea are melting in winter as well as in the summer… (San Francisco Chronicle, 9-14-06)
Methane — a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide — is being released from the permafrost at a rate five times faster than thought, and could trigger a “climate time bomb.” (Associated Press, 9-6-06)
Spanish beaches are expected to shrink by an average of 15 metres (50ft) by 2050. Sea walls in some Spanish ports must be raised. Some of Europe’s most important wetlands will be negatively impacted. (Guardian, 9-11-06)
The substantial and sometimes acrimonious debate about the connection between global warming and the documented increase in the number and strength of hurricanes over the past 10 to 15 years is now over. According to a new Proceedings of National Academy of Science (PNAS) study, there is a clear link to rising sea surface temperatures in the regions of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans that give birth to hurricanes. (Inter Press Service, 9-11-06)
Here are excerpts with links to the full texts:
A leading U.S. climate researcher said on Wednesday the world has a 10-year window of opportunity to take decisive action on global warming and avert a weather 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)….
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. Mary Milliken, World has 10-Year Window to Act on Climate Warming - NASA Expert, Reuters, 9-4-06
The vast expanses of ice floating in the Arctic Sea are melting in winter as well as in the summer, likely because of global warming, NASA scientists said Wednesday.
"This is the strongest evidence yet of global warming in the Arctic,'' said Josefino Comiso, a research scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
And if the ice continued to melt at the current rate, Comiso said, it could have profound effects on all life in the Arctic and other consequences around the world….
Last year, scientists found that polar ice twice the size of Texas had melted since NASA started compiling satellite data 27 years ago. Scientists said there could be no ice left in the Arctic in the summer by the end of the century. Jane Kay, Even in Winter, Arctic Ice Melting, Alarmed Scientists Warn that Polar Thawing Threatens Wildlife and is 'Strongest Evidence Yet of Global Warming' in Region, San Francisco Chronicle, 9-14-06
Global warming gases trapped in the soil are bubbling out of the thawing permafrost in amounts far higher than previously thought and may trigger what researchers warn is a climate time bomb.
Methane — a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide — is being released from the permafrost at a rate five times faster than thought, according to a study being published Thursday in the journal Nature. The findings are based on new, more accurate measuring techniques….
Scientists worry about a global warming vicious cycle that was not part of their already gloomy climate forecast: Warming already under way thaws permafrost, soil that has been continuously frozen for thousands of years. Thawed permafrost releases methane and carbon dioxide. Those gases reach the atmosphere and help trap heat on Earth in the greenhouse effect. The trapped heat thaws more permafrost and so on….
"It's kind of like a slow-motion time bomb," said Ted Schuur, a professor of ecosystem ecology at the University of Florida and co-author of the study in Science.... SETH BORENSTEIN, Study says methane a new climate threat, Associated Press, 9-7-06
The fight for space on Spain's beaches looks set to grow fiercer over the next four decades as the sand starts to disappear under a rising sea that also threatens to flood beach-side homes, according to a Spanish environment ministry report. Spain's beaches are expected to shrink by an average of 15 metres (50ft) by 2050 as global warming causes sea levels to creep up while stronger waves and currents eat away at the coastline.
In some of the worst hit resorts, unprotected beaches could vanish altogether while salt water washes into holiday homes, the authors warn….The Mediterranean coast, where many resorts already have to truck in sand each spring, will lose an average of around 10 metres of beach by 2050….The report also recommends that sea walls be raised in some Spanish ports and that planning permits for beach-side buildings take into account the changing shape of the coastline.
It also warns that some of Europe's most important wetland sites will be hit.
The Albufera of Valencia and the delta of the River Ebro as well as the Dóana national park in south-west Spain - one of Europe's biggest nature reserves - will all suffer the consequences of rising water levels and higher salinity…. Giles Tremlett, Global Warming to Wash away Beaches, Warns Spanish Study, Guardian, 9-11-06)
"There is no doubt at all that hurricane intensity has increased," said Kerry Emanuel, a climatologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"I was startled to see the power of hurricanes and cyclones increase by 50 to 100 percent since the 1970s," said Emanuel, one of 19 climate scientists who published a major study Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Sea surface temperatures in the regions around the equator where hurricanes and cyclones are born have increased about 0.5 C since 1970. That relatively small rise is the main factor in the observed increases in storm intensity.
It turns out that hurricanes are more sensitive to increased sea surface temperatures (SST) than previously believed, Emanuel told IPS. "That has us all worried," he added.
There has been substantial and sometimes acrimonious debate about the connection between global warming and the documented increase in the number and strength of hurricanes over the past 10 to 15 years.
That debate is now over based on the PNAS study, which documents a clear link to rising SST in the regions of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans that give birth to hurricanes.
The PNAS paper and other recent scientific research close the loop on the link between human-induced climate change and hurricanes, says Robert Corell of the American Meteorological Society. Stephen Leahy, New Data Erases Doubt on Storms and Warming, Inter Press Service, 9-11-06
Unfortunately, the political establishment is not providing leadership, nor is the mainstream news media.
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.
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Global Warming, Energy Security, Environmental Security, Alternate Energy, Sustainability, Renewable Resources, Climate Change, Weather, Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, Extreme Weather, Permafrost, Spain, Hurricanes, Typhoons, NASA, James Hansen