Monday, January 12, 2009

Climate Crisis & Sustainability Update: The Sea & The Earth, The Beauty & The Bounty, In Peril

Botticelli's Birth of Venus

Climate Crisis & Sustainability Update: The Sea & The Earth, The Beauty & The Bounty In Peril

By Richard Power

Here are four recent stories highlighting the peril, and two profound images that embody what is at stake, i.e., nothing less than the greatest beauty and the richest bounty.

While the former Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, was participating in the Bush-Cheney White House's petty and dangerous ploy to deny Barack Obama access to Blair House (where the President-Elect traditionally stays in the days before the inauguration), the Australian military, freed from the grip of the delusional Neo-Cons is sounding the alarm and raising awareness in the Pacific: "Climate change and rising sea levels pose one of the biggest threats to security in the Pacific and may also spark a global conflict over energy reserves under melting Arctic ice, according to Australia's military. A confidential security review by Australia's Defense Force, completed in 2007 but obtained in summary by the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, said environmental stress had increased the risk of conflicts in the Pacific over resources and food." Reuters, 1-6-09

Two other recent stories from the Pacific provide further insight:

Scientists have issued a new warning about climate change after discovering a sudden and dramatic collapse in the amount of carbon emissions absorbed by the Sea of Japan. ... "Our result in the East Sea unequivocally demonstrated that oceanic uptake of CO2 has been directly affected by warming-induced weakening of vertical ventilation," he says. Korea argues that the Sea of Japan should be renamed the East Sea, because it says the former is a legacy of Japan's military expansion in the region. Guardian, 1-12-09

A sharp slowdown in coral growth on Australia's Great Barrier Reef since 1990 is a warning sign that precipitous changes in the world's oceans may be imminent, scientists said ... Strong evidence points to the cause being a combination of warmer seas and higher acidity from increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, Australian Institute of Marine Science researchers reported. Agence France Press, 1-2-09

Frida Kahlo's Roots

Meanwhile, the impact of climate change on fresh water is impacting soil and crops:

Half of the world's population could face severe food shortages by the end of the century as rising temperatures take their toll on farmers' crops, scientists have warned. Harvests of staple food crops such as rice and maize could fall by between 20% and 40% as a result of higher temperatures during the growing season in the tropics and subtropics. Warmer temperatures in the region are also expected to increase the risk of drought, cutting crop losses further, according to a new study. ... Guardian, 1-10-09

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