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Accelerating Global Climate Change II

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PostFri Apr 02, 2010 1:33 pm  Reply with quote  

Originally posted by Georgie

This post is on the edge of being in violation of the forum rules you agreed to when you registered to participate on this site.
You are free to debate on this thread but do not degrade the topic to a personal flame war...

...If the subject matter of this thread doesn't bode well with you and you cannot debate on it without the personal attacks you should not participate on it. Please respect the rules of the forum.

If my post was full of stuff like these : Smile Cool Sad Evil or Very Mad Crying or Very sad Very Happy , I am sure you wouldn't have made any comments.
You don't degrade anything just by wanting to make a present... Even if this is going to be a ...jar!
There may be just a hint of sarcastic humor -as one easily may see- BUT that's all there is!

I would be breaking my own personal rules if ever was to personally attack anybody here in this forum or anywere else!
Especially their own family...

Heed my warning, its not up for debate...
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Sore Throat

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Mass Extinctions & Water Wars PostFri Apr 02, 2010 8:00 pm  Reply with quote  

Mass Extinctions & Water Wars

Unpleaseant thoughts, but this is what is happening.

Head in sand for a continuation of ignorant bliss, or...

become a part of the solution.
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Sore Throat

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92! Record-Breaking Heat Sizzles NYC PostThu Apr 08, 2010 3:36 am  Reply with quote  

This is a WEATHER event. As an isolated event, it has little bearing on global CLIMATE change,. Just about as much as an East Coast blizzard in February. I just wonder how the deniers will deal with this WEATHER event in light of their hysterics over snow storms during the winter.

92! Record-Breaking Heat Sizzles NYC

81-Year-Old Central Park Record Smashed By April Blazer: 92 Degrees Measured At 1:57 P.M.

NEW YORK (CBS) ― Record-breaking heat took hold of New York City on Wednesday.

It was 92 degrees at 1:57 p.m. in Central Park, breaking the record of 89 degrees set April 7 in 1929.

The record for Newark was also shattered, where temperatures reached 91 degrees -- well above the previous record of 85. Trenton, Poughkeepsie, Islip, Bridgeport, and Atlantic City also broke their previous records.

Yes, it's only early April, but the tri-state area felt more like July or August on Wednesday, as the region was hit with a taste of summer.

CBS 2HD Meteorologist John Elliott said those who ventured outside to enjoy the heat should dress appropriately for the unseasonably warm temperatures.

"I want to make sure you have the right clothes, the right shoes, light colored. Don't forget the sunscreen and the water," said Elliott. "Prepare as you would for a scorcher during mid-summer."

"The last time we hit 87 degrees was on August 21 of last year,"
added Elliott.

Because of low humidity, there are fire weather watches and warnings for high brush fire potential in the area.

Wednesday will be partly cloudy with a low only in the mid-60s, near 60 in the suburbs.

Thursday, sun will give way to clouds, but it will still be quite warm - near 80, but cooler along the coastline. There is a chance of showers and thunderstorms by Thursday night
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Sore Throat

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PostThu Apr 08, 2010 5:01 am  Reply with quote,0,977464.story

Climate change continues to melt Glacier National Park
The northwestern Montana park has lost two more of its moving ice fields, and one expert warns that the rest of the glaciers may be gone by the end of the decade.

Associated Press Billings, Mont.

Glacier National Park has lost two more of its namesake moving ice fields to climate change, which is shrinking the rivers of ice, the U.S. Geological Survey said Wednesday.

Higher temperatures have reduced the number of named glaciers in the northwestern Montana park to 25, said Dan Fagre, an ecologist with the agency.

He said that the rest of the glaciers may be gone by the end of the decade.

"When we're measuring glacier margins, by the time we go home the glacier is already smaller than what we've measured," Fagre said.

The latest two to fall below the 25-acre threshold were Miche Wabun and Shepard. Each has shrunk by about 55% since the mid-1960s. The largest remaining glacier in the park is Harrison Glacier, about 465 acres.

Fewer glaciers mean less water in area streams for fish and a higher risk of forest fires. More broadly, Fagre said, the fate of the glaciers offers a climate barometer, indicating dramatic changes already underway in some ecosystems.

Although the melt-off shows that the climate is changing, it does not show what is causing temperatures to rise.

In alpine regions around the world, glacier melting has accelerated in recent decades as temperatures have increased. Most scientists tie that warming directly to higher atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

Scientists working for the United Nations say the last period of widespread glacial growth was more than three decades ago, lasting only for a few years.

Since about 1850, when the Little Ice Age ended, the trend for glaciers has been steadily downward.

The area of the Rocky Mountains now within Glacier National Park once boasted about 150 glaciers, of which 37 were eventually named.

Fagre said a few the park's largest glaciers could survive past 2020 or even 2030, but by that point the ecosystem would already be irreversibly altered.

Fagre said geological evidence points to the continual presence of glaciers in the area since at least 5000 B.C.

"They've been on this landscape continually for 7,000 years, and we're looking at them disappear in a couple of decades," he said.
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Sore Throat

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Peru Glacier Collapses PostMon Apr 12, 2010 4:55 pm  Reply with quote

Peru Glacier Collapses

Lima - Around 50 people suffered injuries on Sunday when part of a glacier broke off and burst the Hualcan River banks in a development the local governor attributed to climate change.

The mass of glacial ice and rock fell into the so-called "513 lake" in the northern Ancash region, causing a ripple effect down the Hualcan, destroying 20 nearby homes.

"Because of global warming the glaciers are going to detach and fall on these overflowing lakes. This is what happened today," Ancash Governor Cesar Alvarez told reporters, linking climate change to the disappearance of a third of the glaciers in the Peruvian Andes over the past three decades.

A 2009 World Bank-published report warned Andean glaciers and the region's permanently snow-covered peaks could disappear in 20 years if no measures are taken to tackle climate change.

According to the report, in the last 35 years Peru's glaciers have shrunk by 22 percent, leading to a 12 percent loss in the amount of fresh water reaching the coast -- home to most of the country's citizens.
- Sapa-AFP
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Sore Throat

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Oil Tycoons Caught Sneaking Millions to Groups Spreading Cli PostMon Apr 12, 2010 5:17 pm  Reply with quote

Oil Tycoons Caught Sneaking Millions to Groups Spreading Climate Change Doubt

By RP Siegel

Koch Industries is a privately held Kansas-based conglomerate specializing in petroleum related businesses. David Koch, one of the two brothers that control most of the company, likes to boast that they are “the biggest company you’ve never heard of.” In fact, Koch is the second largest privately held company in America.

According to the company’s website, it creates “value by using resources more efficiently; protecting the environment and the safety and health of our workers and others; consistently applying good science…”

Indeed, what Koch applies may in fact be the best science money can buy. A recent report by Greenpeace revealed that between 1998-2007, the company channeled funds on the order of $50 million to a number of groups that work the apparently very fertile furrows of doubt-spreading on the climate change issue. Suddenly, a lot more people have heard of them.

To put this in perspective, this sum was roughly twice the amount spent by ExxonMobil on similar efforts in the same time frame, according to Greenpeace.

The groups funded include:

• Mercatus Center ($9.2 million)
a George Mason University think tank. Charles Koch sits on the board. It tends to be against most forms of government regulation and have come out with statements like “…if a slight warming does occur, historical evidence suggests it is likely to be beneficial…”

• Americans for Prosperity Foundation ($5.2 million) a DC non-profit “aimed to educate and mobilize citizens on behalf of ‘limited government and free markets.’” In 2008 AFP organized a Hot Air Tour aimed to discredit the idea of global warming. A recent headline on its website states “Eco-hypocrites fly in jets across Atlantic to attack AFP in Copenhagen.” Presumably the AFP representatives got to the conference by sailboat.

• The Heritage Foundation ($1.62 million) Well-known conservative think tank. A 2009 blog post stated Study Shows Global Warming Will Not Hurt U.S. Economy, when in fact the study in question, which was a review of anti-global warming literature, concluded nothing of the kind.

• Cato Institute ($1.03 million) Another well-known think-tank with the motto “Individual Liberty, Free Markets and Peace,” recently posted, “Science no longer provides justification for any rush to pass drastic global warming legislation.”

Koch officials wasted no time posting a response to the report on the Environmental Health and Safety page of its web site in which it states, “The Greenpeace report mischaracterizes these efforts and distorts the environmental record of our companies. Koch companies have long supported science-based inquiry and dialogue about climate change and proposed responses to it. Koch companies have put tremendous effort into discovering and adopting innovative practices that reduce energy use and emissions in the manufacture and distribution of our products.”

That may well be, but nowhere in its response does it deny funding these groups.

As for its environmental record, in 2009, Invista, a Koch Industries’ subsidiary was fined $1.7 million for environmental violations and ordered to spend $500 million to clean up facilities in seven states, in an agreement with the US EPA and Department of Justice. Darn government regulations.

The company has also paid fines in the tens of millions for illegally removing oil from federal lands, deliberately releasing close to 100 millions tons of carcinogenic benzene, spilling three million gallons of crude in over three hundred separate incidents, and illegally dumping a million gallons of ammonia discharge into the Mississippi River.

Apparently its focus on “protecting the environment,” must have been occasionally superseded by other considerations, though I can’t imagine what those might have been.

Come to think of it, it had to get the money to support that “science-based inquiry” on global warming from somewhere.

The Greenpeace report also includes a number of case studies that describe how various activities by these groups have influenced the climate debate that is playing out right now and influencing the myriad decisions Americans make every day.

RP Siegel is the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, which talks about this very type of thing.

Interesting use of "contrails" in the trailer for Siegel's latest book, Vapor Trails.
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Sore Throat

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GISS Surface Temperature Analysis PostThu Apr 15, 2010 12:26 am  Reply with quote  

So what data do the climate change deniers cling to that supports their claims that the planet is actually cooling? I don't see it.

Comparison of 2010 Temperature to the Two Other Years with the Warmest Annual Means

Global Annual Mean Surface Air Temperature Change

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PostThu Apr 15, 2010 4:12 pm  Reply with quote  

Hi SoreThroat! Is the raw data for the above graph available? Where, how frequently and at what times of the year were the measurements taken? Were the same places used consistently from 1880 to 2000?
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Sore Throat

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2009: Second Warmest Year on Record; End of Warmest Decade PostThu Apr 15, 2010 7:25 pm  Reply with quote  


Below is the full article from NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).

Note the sections in
GREEN which provide information about the data and contact information for personnel at GISS who could more precisely answer your questions. Good Luck.

2009: Second Warmest Year on Record; End of Warmest Decade

2009 was tied for the second warmest year in the modern record, a new NASA analysis of global surface temperature shows. The analysis, conducted by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City, also shows that in the Southern Hemisphere, 2009 was the warmest year since modern records began in 1880.

Although 2008 was the coolest year of the decade, due to strong cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean, 2009 saw a return to near-record global temperatures. The past year was only a fraction of a degree cooler than 2005, the warmest year on record, and tied with a cluster of other years — 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2007 1998 and 2007 — as the second warmest year since recordkeeping began.

"There's always an interest in the annual temperature numbers and on a given year's ranking, but usually that misses the point," said James Hansen, the director of GISS. "There's substantial year-to-year variability of global temperature caused by the tropical El Niño-La Niña cycle. But when we average temperature over five or ten years to minimize that variability, we find that global warming is continuing unabated."

January 2000 to December 2009 was the warmest decade on record. Throughout the last three decades, the GISS surface temperature record shows an upward trend of about 0.2°C (0.36°F) per decade. Since 1880, the year that modern scientific instrumentation became available to monitor temperatures precisely, a clear warming trend is present, though there was a leveling off between the 1940s and 1970s.

The near-record temperatures of 2009 occurred despite an unseasonably cool December in much of North America. High air pressures in the Arctic decreased the east-west flow of the jet stream, while also increasing its tendency to blow from north to south and draw cold air southward from the Arctic. This resulted in an unusual effect that caused frigid air from the Arctic to rush into North America and warmer mid-latitude air to shift toward the north.

"Of course, the contiguous 48 states cover only 1.5 percent of the world area, so the U.S. temperature does not affect the global temperature much,' said Hansen.

In total, average global temperatures have increased by about 0.8°C (1.5°F) since 1880.

"That's the important number to keep in mind," said Gavin Schmidt, another GISS climatologist. "In contrast, the difference between, say, the second and sixth warmest years is trivial since the known uncertainty — or noise — in the temperature measurement is larger than some of the differences between the warmest years."

Decoding the Temperature Record
Climate scientists agree that rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases trap incoming heat near the surface of the Earth and are the key factors causing the rise in temperatures since 1880, but these gases are not the only factors that can impact global temperatures.

Three others key factors — including changes in the Sun's irradiance, oscillations of sea surface temperature in the tropics, and changes in aerosol levels — can also cause slight increases or decreases in the planet's temperature. Overall, the evidence suggests that these effects are not enough to account for the global warming observed since 1880.

El Niño and La Niña are prime examples of how the oceans can affect global temperatures. They describe abnormally warm or cool sea surface temperatures in the South Pacific that are caused by changing ocean currents.

Global temperatures tend to decrease in the wake of La Niña, which occurs when upwelling cold water off the coast of Peru spreads westward in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. La Niña moderates the impact of greenhouse-gas driven warming, lingered during the early months of 2009 and gave way to the beginning of an El Niño phase in October that's expected to continue in 2010.

An especially powerful El Niño cycle in 1998 is thought to have contributed to the unusually high temperatures that year, and Hansen's group estimates that there's a good chance 2010 will be the warmest year on record if the current El Niño persists. At most, scientists estimate that El Niño and La Niña can cause global temperatures to deviate by about 0.2°C (0.36°F).

Warmer surface temperatures also tend to occur during particularly active parts of the solar cycle, known as solar maximums, while slightly cooler temperatures occur during lulls in activity, called minimums.

A deep solar minimum has made sunspots a rarity in the last few years. Such lulls in solar activity, which can cause the total amount of energy given off by the Sun to decrease by about a tenth of a percent, typically spur surface temperature to dip slightly. Overall, solar minimums and maximums are thought to produce no more than 0.1°C (0.18°F) of cooling or warming.

"In 2009, it was clear that even the deepest solar minimum in the period of satellite data hasn't stopped global warming from continuing," said Hansen.

Small particles in the atmosphere called aerosols can also affect the climate. Volcanoes are powerful sources of sulfate aerosols that counteract global warming by reflecting incoming solar radiation back into space. In the past, large eruptions at Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines and El Chichón in Mexico have caused global dips in surface temperature of as much as 0.3°C (0.54°F). But volcanic eruptions in 2009 have not had a significant impact.

Meanwhile, other types of aerosols, often produced by burning fossil fuels, can change surface temperatures by either reflecting or absorbing incoming sunlight. Hansen's group estimates that aerosols probably counteract about half of the warming produced by man-made greenhouse gases, but he cautions that better measurements of these elusive particles are needed.

Data Details

To conduct its analysis, GISS uses publicly available data from three sources: weather data from more than a thousand meteorological stations around the world; satellite observations of sea surface temperature; and Antarctic research station measurements. These three data sets are loaded into a computer program, which is available for public download from the GISS website.
The program calculates trends in temperature anomalies — not absolute temperatures — but changes relative to the average temperature for the same month during the period of 1951-1980.

Other research groups also track global temperature trends but use different analysis techniques. The Met Office Hadley Centre, based in the United Kingdom, uses similar input measurements as GISS, for example, but it omits large areas of the Arctic and Antarctic, where monitoring stations are sparse.

In contrast, the GISS analysis extrapolates data in those regions using information from the nearest available monitoring stations, and thus has more complete coverage of the polar areas. If GISS didn't extrapolate in this manner, the software that performs the analysis would assume that areas without monitoring stations warm at the same rate as the global mean, an assumption that doesn't line up with changes that satellites have observed in Arctic sea ice, Schmidt explained. Although the two methods produce slightly different results in the annual rankings, the decade-long trends in the two records are essentially identical.

"There's a contradiction between the results shown here and popular perceptions about climate trends," Hansen said. "In the last decade, global warming has not stopped."

Related Links
Climatologist Gavin Schmidt Discusses the Surface Temperature Record

GISS Surface Temperature Analysis

GISS Annual Temperature Summation for 2008 and NASA News Release

Media Contact

Steve Cole, 202-358-0918, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

Leslie McCarthy, 212-678-5507, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, N.Y.,

Adam Voiland, 301-352-4631, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

This article is derived from a NASA Looking at Earth news feature.

Last edited by Sore Throat on Thu Apr 15, 2010 7:56 pm; edited 5 times in total
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Oceans' Saltiness Reaching Extremes PostThu Apr 15, 2010 7:33 pm  Reply with quote

Oceans' Saltiness Reaching Extremes

Climate change is already causing weird changes to the saltiness of the seas.

By Larry O'Hanlon


Global warming has ramped up the planetary water cycle since records began in 1950.

The salinity of different parts of the oceans serves as a rain gauge for researchers.

An army of 3,200 autonomous ARGO buoys gathered data used in this study.


The supercharging of Earth's water cycle by global warming is already making some parts of Earth's oceans much saltier while others parts are getting fresher.

A new study by Australian scientists shows a clear link between salinity changes at the surface, caused by warming, and changes in the deeper waters over the last six decades.

The reasoning goes like this: The saltiness, or salinity, of the oceans is controlled by evaporation and rainfall, explains Paul Durack of CSIRO, the Australian government's research agency. The more heat and evaporation there is at a given patch of ocean, the more concentrated the salts get in the seawater, and the higher the salinity.

In places where lots of rain is falling, the salty water gets more diluted and fresher.

Tracking the salinity changes over the oceans is, then, a great way to monitor the water cycle over the oceans. That's pretty important, says Durack, since the 97 percent of the water on Earth is in the oceans that cover 70 percent of the planet. So when the oceans start saying the global climate is changing, it's truly a global matter.

"The thing is, the general (population) doesn't live in the oceans," said Durack who has coauthored with Susan Wijffels a paper in the latest issue of the Journal of Climate.

There are few actual rain gauges in the oceans. "So salinity is effectively a proxy for rainfall." In other words, the salinity changes are the rain gauges for the oceans.

Reading those gauges takes a great deal of work, however. Durack analyzed more than 1.6 million oceanic readings from the now 2,000-strong army of autonomous ARGO buoys that have been bobbing through the oceans since 2003 to create a framework into which they could fit the more spotty ocean salinity data collected since 1950.

After subtracting out such things as cyclical seasonal salinity changes seen by ARGO buoys, El Ninos and other extreme events, they found a strong signal of more evaporation and rainfall over the oceans.

What they found is that the tropical waters of the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans are getting saltier while the higher latitude waters are getting fresher.

But the matter goes deeper than just the ocean surface water, says Durack. The ARGO buoys don't just float around, they can sink down to two miles under the surface and then rise again, gathering data the whole way to create three dimensional ocean profiles. These show that the salinity changes are actually moving into the depths.

"While such changes in salinity would be expected at the ocean surface (where about 80 per cent of surface water exchange occurs), sub-surface measurements indicate much broader, warming-driven changes are extending into the deep ocean," said Durack.

"Before we had the global array of ARGO we really didn't have any idea," said Durack. Previous studied were, by necessity, snap shots that could see changes, but not really address the amounts of change in the oceans.

"This is probably one of the most significant papers we've seen yet in this area,” said Dean Roemmich, part of the ARGO leadership team and a professor at the University of California at San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography. "This is only the most recent paper on this topic and I think it is the best paper on this topic."
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March 2010 is warmest on record, NOAA reports PostSat Apr 17, 2010 6:01 pm  Reply with quote

March 2010 is warmest on record, NOAA reports

Climate science doubter Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), whose family built an igloo in the capital to mock global warming, might want to check in with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

That federal agency reported that average land and sea surface temperatures made March the warmest on record and helped push the January-March period to the fourth warmest on record. (The data go back to 1880.)

A cold snap propelled by the Arctic oscillation that included ample snowfall struck the East Coast and areas of northern Europe this winter. Skeptics of climate science used the weather to poke fun at Al Gore and scientists who warn that manufactured greenhouse gases are warming the planet, potentially shifting climate patterns worldwide.

-- Geoff Mohan
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Warm, and getting warmer PostThu Apr 22, 2010 2:56 pm  Reply with quote,0,5468093.story

Warm, and getting warmer

New NASA data show just how quickly the climate is changing. What can we do now?

It is about time to panic.

According to the NASA data, we have just experienced the hottest 12-month period in more than 100 years, which means that the past 12 months have been the hottest in at least the past 1,000 years.

What does this mean? Well, if global temperatures continue to rise at the rate that they have risen for the past generation, then the world of 2100 will see a world 4.1 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the world of the 1970s. New York will get the climate of Washington. Los Angeles will get the climate of Tijuana.

But global warming might accelerate, especially if China, India and other industrializing powers continue to increase the amount of carbon dioxide they pour out. Perhaps the world by 2100 will be 9 degrees hotter than the world of the 1970s. That would give Washington the climate of Miami and Los Angeles the climate of Cabo San Lucas.

And we might get lucky. We might learn that the climate is in fact immensely stable on the upside. Even though past ice ages have ended quickly with very rapid warming, perhaps there are factors in the Earth's biosphere that allow it to soak up excess carbon dioxide quickly, like a sponge, and perhaps the world of 2100 will not be much warmer than the world of today. Or perhaps we will discover magical new energy technologies that are actually cheaper than our current technologies and will be rapidly adopted without the governments of the world lifting a finger to take action.

But that is not the prudent way to bet. The prudent thing to do is to plan, and to hedge: to plan for the most likely case, and to hedge by taking precautions — insurance — against the worst case. The world was supposed to plan how to deal with our global warming future at Kyoto. And then the world was supposed to plan for how to deal with our global warming future at Copenhagen. It did not do so.

So what do we do now?

Let us start with our global institutions. It is a fact that global warming is not likely to be a total human catastrophe here in California during the next 100 years. We will mourn the losses of our glaciers and our snowpack. We will lament the extinction of the polar bear, the coral reefs and the giant sequoias. We will be distressed at the transformation of California's Central Valley into the north Mojave Desert. But many San Franciscans really won't mind having the climate of Los Angeles. And many Angelenos will not be greatly distressed to have the climate of Tijuana. We will probably move a few miles north and relocate economic activity to get out of the paths of hurricanes and droughts. We will turn down our heaters and turn up our air conditioners. We will live our lives. It will be expensive for us to simply adapt, and it would be cheaper over the next century to deal with the problem. But here in California, there's little question we will be able to adapt without immediate human catastrophe for the next century.

That's not the case for Asia. China, India and their neighbors will soon have 3 billion peasants farming in the great river valleys of Asia. They depend on regular monsoon rains in the valleys and water flows down the channels of the Indus, the Ganges, the Mekong, the Yangtze and the Yellow rivers. Global climate change means that there will either be more precipitation in the valleys and feeding the rivers — or much less. If there is more, millions will die in floods, and the dwelling and working places of hundreds of millions will simply be washed away. The 3 billion are not rich enough to abandon their land and move away. They are also not rich enough to protect themselves. If there is much less water, hundreds of millions will die in famine and drought. Again, the peasant farming populations of Asia are not rich enough to abandon their land and move away. And they are also not rich enough to bring icebergs up from the Antarctic and pipe the water uphill from the sea to their farms.

The peasant farming populations are not rich enough to simply adapt. So the first thing we need to do is to beg the rulers of China and India to understand their nations' long-term interest.

But even if China and India understand and join the North Atlantic and the island nations of the Pacific in understanding the immensity of the long-run problem, that will not be enough. In the current international forum, China and India are simply two out of a 150 nations, and consensus is required. That is just too big a body with too many conflicting interests.

So the second thing we need to do is change the forum. We need a climate council made up of the seven governments that have the biggest power to influence the climate and the most at stake: the United States and the European Union, along with Japan, China, India, Indonesia and Brazil. Once the council has agreed to a treaty, it should be enorced by using aggressive and substantial trade sanctions against outsider countries that do not want to come up to the mark.

Utopian? Yes. Impractical? Probably. But what is the practical and realistic alternative that it would be better to push for?

J. Bradford DeLong is a professor of economics at U.C. Berkeley and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
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Are Global Warming, Volcanoes and Earthquakes Linked? PostMon Apr 26, 2010 5:29 am  Reply with quote

Are Global Warming, Volcanoes and Earthquakes Linked?

A thaw of ice caps caused by global warming may trigger more volcanic eruptions in coming decades by removing a vast weight and freeing magma from deep below ground, research suggests. Eventually there will be either somewhat larger eruptions or more frequent eruptions in coming decades. The end of the Ice Age 10,000 years ago coincided with a surge in volcanic activity in Iceland, apparently because huge ice caps thinned and the land rose. Climate chaos could also trigger volcanic eruptions or earthquakes in places such as Mount Erebus in Antarctica, the Aleutian islands of Alaska or Patagonia in South America.

Scientists at NASA and United States Geological Survey (USGS) are using satellite and global positioning system receivers, as well as computer models, to study movements of Earth’s plates and shrinking glaciers in southern Alaska. Glaciers are very sensitive to climate chaos. Higher temperatures and changes in precipitation over the last century appear to be contributing to an increase in glacier melting. Southern Alaska is also prone to earthquakes because a tectonic plate under the Pacific Ocean is pushing into its coast, building up significant pressure at critical points.

Ice is heavy and exerts enormous pressure on whatever lies beneath it. Under the ice’s weight, the Earth's crust bends and as the ice melts the crust bounces up again. Imagine a floating cork, topped with a piece of lead. Will it not pop upwards when the lead is taken off? Similarly, a shrinking ice cap reduces the pressure on the earth's mantle, causing it to melt and creating magma. Also, this frees tectonic plates up to move against each other and cause the friction needed to initiate earthquakes. This tallies with mathematical models that suggest such processes may potentially lead to more earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.

Research published in the scientific journal, Geophysical Research Letters, by the volcanologist Freysteinn Sigmundsson at the University of Iceland and the geophysicist Carolina Pagli at the University of Leeds in England, suggests that:

. About 10 percent of Iceland's biggest ice cap, Vatnajökull, has melted since 1890 and the land nearby has been rising about 25 millimetres (0.98 inches) a year, bringing shifts in geological stresses.

. Melting ice appears to be the main way in which global warming could have knock-on effects on geology.

. At high pressures, such as under an ice cap, rocks cannot expand to turn into liquid magma even if they are hot enough. As the ice melts the rock can melt because the pressure decreases.

. The effects would be biggest with ice-capped volcanoes. If the load of ice removed is big enough, this will have an effect at depths on magma production.

. As a result, there will be either somewhat larger eruptions or more frequent eruptions in Iceland in coming decades.

However, there is no sign yet that the current eruption from below the Eyjafjallajökull glacier in Iceland that paralysed flights over northern Europe for nearly a week was linked to global warming. The glacier is too small and light to affect local geology.

Rapid Cooling

The volcanic eruptions could cool the planet. The sulphur dioxide that they fling into the stratosphere transforms into sulphuric acid droplets. This aerosol reflects sunlight so temperatures can drop. A far bigger explosion than the recent one in Iceland, at Mt Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, caused an average cooling of between 0.5 and 0.6 degrees centigrade in the Northern Hemisphere over the following year. Mexico's Mount Chichon eruption in 1982 also had a demonstrable cooling effect. As carbon dioxide and other green house gas emissions continued to build up in the atmosphere, the thermometer rose to compensate once the initial effects wore off. At this point, scientists think Iceland's eruption is too small to cause cooling although the massive disruption it caused to air travel in northern Europe may have significantly reduced aviation-linked carbon dioxide emissions.

False Solutions

Advocates of geoengineering, or manipulating climatic elements in order to slow climate chaos, have suggested mimicking the cooling effect of volcanoes by artificially spewing sulphur dioxide into Earth's atmosphere. However, one of the flaws in their argument, in addition to the need for an extremely long vertical hose, is that sulphur dioxide is not benign. The gas also causes acid rain and
wears away the ozone layer, a key barrier to the sun's harmful rays.


Ecological and geological matters are tightly interlinked and affect all types of life on this planet: from single-cell organisms to the vast expanse of humanity distributed across the world. Slight interruption in the Earth's fragile balance can mean particular damage to the very mechanisms that embrace the lives of so many interdependent species. The recent Icelandic volcano eruption shows us just how fragile our modern, technologically dependent, systems really are. When was the last time a volcano on a small island brought a vast swathe of the modern world to a halt for nearly a week? The poet Robert Frost famously wrote, "Some say the world will end in fire; some say in ice." Volcanoes, earthquakes and glaciers are entangled in an elaborate web. We have to ask ourselves what type of contingency plans need to be put in place should similar events occur in the future. Survival depends on our civilisation's resilience in the face of adversity.
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Sore Throat

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Climate change increases heat waves, floods - U.S. EPA PostWed Apr 28, 2010 4:56 am  Reply with quote

Climate change increases heat waves, floods - U.S. EPA

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Deaths from heat waves, property damage from floods and rising seas from melting glaciers are a few of the things Americans can expect as a result of climate change, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a report released on Tuesday.

The report, called "Climate Change Indicators in the United States," examined the impact of global warming on 24 environmental indicators, such as ice cover and ocean temperatures.

It said there was scientific evidence that climate change was making 22 of the 24 indicators worse.

For instance, eight of the top 10 years for extreme one-day floods or heavy snowfalls in the United States have occurred since 1990, the report said.

In addition heat waves have increased steadily since the end of the 1970s. "For society, increases in temperature are likely to increase heat-related illnesses and deaths, especially in urban areas," said the report, which relied on data from a variety of U.S. and international agencies and sources.

President Barack Obama has pushed the EPA to take steps to fight climate change to pressure lawmakers to support the climate bill. Late last year the EPA declared greenhouse gases a threat to human health and welfare which set the ball rolling for its regulation of the emissions.

The agency is regulating greenhouse gases from automobiles for the first time. By May it is expected to issue a rule that would determine which power plants and factories it will regulate for the emissions.

The agency will also soon undertake an economic analysis of the climate bill, which suffered a blow after Republican Senator Lindsey Graham dropped out of negotiations.

Senator John Kerry, the lead writer of the bill, said on Tuesday he is sending the bill to the EPA. The analysis could take six weeks to complete.

Environmentalists said Tuesday's report showed the need for a new energy and climate law. Emily Figdor, the director for global warming programs at Environment America, said it "underscores the urgent need for the Senate to pass meaningful legislation to limit pollution and jump-start the move to truly clean energy, like energy efficiency and wind and solar power."

The report found that the science surrounding some indicators is too young to conclude climate change is making them worse.

For instance, from 2001 to 2009 some 30 to 60 percent of the U.S. land area experienced drought conditions at any one time, it said. But the data have not been collected long enough to determine whether droughts are increasing over time, it added.

Overall, however, the indicators will likely get worse.

"Considering that future warming projected for the 21st century is very likely to be greater than observed warming over the past century, indicators of climate change should only become more clear, numerous and compelling," the EPA report concluded.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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Sore Throat

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Sea ice loss major cause of Arctic warming: study PostFri Apr 30, 2010 7:46 pm  Reply with quote

Sea ice loss major cause of Arctic warming: study

By Marlowe Hood (AFP) – 2 days ago

PARIS — Melting sea ice has dramatically accelerated warming in the Arctic, where temperatures have risen faster in recent decades than the global average, according to a study released Wednesday.

The study, published in the journal Nature, also suggests that current forecasts underestimate the degree to which the polar region could heat up in the future.

"It was previously thought that loss of sea ice could cause further warming. Now we have confirmation this is already happening," said James Screen, a researcher at the University of Melbourne and co-author of the study.

While itself a consequence of climate change, the shrinking Arctic ice cap has contributed to a "positive feedback loop" in which global warming and loss of ice reinforce each other on a regional scale.

"The sea ice acts like a shiny lid floating on top of the Arctic Ocean, reflecting most of the incoming sunlight back into space," Screen explained by email.

But when the ice melts, more heat is absorbed by the darker water, which in turn heats the atmosphere above it.

"What we found is this feedback system has warmed the atmosphere at a faster rate than it would otherwise,"
he said.

From 1989 to 2008, global temperatures climbed on average by 0.5 Celsius (0.8 Fahrenheit), whereas the Arctic has warmed by 2.1 C (3.4 F) -- the most rapid increase of any place on the planet.

Up to now, scientists have sharply disagreed on the main causes of this discrepancy.

Using the most recent observational data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting, Screen and co-author Ian Simmonds uncovered a nearly perfect season-by-season match during the 20-year period analysed between surface warming trends and reductions in sea ice cover.

The findings show that the main driver of so-called "polar amplification" -- warming in excess of the global average -- is shrinking ice cover, and not increased cloudiness or changes in ocean and atmospheric circulation, as others have argued.

Models used by the UN's top scientific authority, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), seriously underestimated the recent loss of Arctic sea ice, Screen pointed out.

"They may also underestimate future sea ice loss and warming, but only time will tell for sure," he added.

At the end of northern hemisphere summer 2007, the Arctic ice cap shrank to the smallest size on record, 40 percent below the average 7.23 million square kilometers (2.8 million square miles) observed in 1979-2000, according to the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

The sea ice pack thawed to its second smallest size in 2008, followed by the third smallest in 2009.

NASA satellite data has also shown that Arctic sea ice has thinned considerably.

During the period 2004-2008, the ice diminished in thickness by some 2.2 feet (67 centimeters).
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