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Global Warming

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#61 Lazarus Long

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Posted 08 November 2003 - 03:17 PM

I happen to agree with you on the distinction between the various "mechanisms" at work. I am not a fan of the "single sided view" and I have long argued that Global Warming probably has a "Natural Component" where in it would be occurring anyway, but that does not absolve humans of influence over that process either. We are very likely accelerating and exponentiating the process.

Now the Greens want to take out the dams, because they disrupt the natural flow of water and the ecology that goes with it. Guess what?, wind mills disrupt the flow of air. They take momentum out of the air.

This is reduction to absurdity, please try and demonstrate that keen "mind" I am quite confident you possess and make a case that does not depend on such fanciful extensions that serve more political than scientific purpose. Obviously dams influence a vastly larger question of habitat, both with respect to wildlife and human. Or did you have a distressing debate with a "green coworker"?

Over 600,000 people alone had to be recently relocated for the Chinese to build the "Three Gorges Dam." Habitat for many species were drastically altered and/or destroyed. Wind power doesn't even effect the course of migrating ducks so please stay focused on salient issues and compare apples and apples. :))

Wind power is seriously under utilized as well as tidal but gaining access to it is far more complex and I tend to agree that it will never offer the potential that Solar and Tidal does, and noise pollution can be a factor as well as visual. Living near a small nuke is pretty unsightly too as I am well aware but I am not making that the basis of my criticism. What is vastly under utilized is Geothermal as well. But these are all industrial scale power supplies, what of decentralized independent demand specific generation?

What of efficiency and conservation?

Why have we decided to treat ten and twelve letter words as four letter ones?

Many types of our devices could be powered by our body heat and body effort. We could see low demand devices very soon as the first generation of true nanotech materials comes on line as well as being honest about cost, and supply and demand.

I also agree with you about allowing the market to drive the price of fuel up in our country to realistic global levels and cease the unfair and irrational subsidy we are using to prop up ancient industries and work forces but you do understand the socioeconomic disruption that will ensue before it gets better right?

Synfuels are needed if for no other reason than to better process the large volume of waste from urban and industrial centers but it needs to be remembered that this does not address the production of greenhouse gasses issue and what we need to do is go back to square one and determine whether or not we can agree on the basic model of yes there are greenhouse gasses, and humans are a major contributor, and there does exist a relationship between human practice and climate...

or not.

I grant that this is far more complex than most people are treating it but please don't fall prey to becoming complacent and simplistic in a "similar" manner. I look on global warming as influenced by an effect that can be understood like the one in which one drug can exponentially increase the impact of another. The effect is called "potentiation".

Humans are very likely having a "potentiation effect" on global climate. That doesn't mean that we wouldn't be experiencing some levels of global warming even if we were still living in preindustrial economies. But at what rate, to what extent, and with what level of environmental and socioeconomic impact can be demonstrated to be significantly greater IMO.

Often in the application of catalysts and enzymes potentiating is measured on a logarithmic scale not by simple addition. It may be the case that we are not merely accelerating global climate change cumulatively, or even exponentially, but that we may be accelerating the process by "orders of magnitude;" if this turns out to be the case then by the time the political debate ends it will in all likelihood be too late to alter behavior sufficiently to make any significant difference as to the outcome. But those that intend to survive till that time period need to be prepared to adapt to conditions that result from those changes. They also need to be honest about the probabilities and character of those changes to be able to prepare for them.

#62 Lazarus Long

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 05:47 AM

But for now let us discuss the human component, the exaggeration and the reality of it. It isn't as catastrophic as some claim but not because we ignored it but because we have been paying attention. By the same token time is a factor and the analysis is not yet complete as well as the cumulative and potentiating effect of specific gasses that are still entering the atmosphere now in growing quantities from emerging technology nations, what I call the Second World.

India and China may in great measure be seen as Second World about to become First World Industrial States. Together they will shift both resource consumption and greenhouse gas production dramatically over the next 2 to 5 decades and even if the levels in Europe and more importantly the US stabilize they cannot go down too significantly without representing dramatic socioeconomic change. Hopefully change for the better rather than socioeconomic disruption. Perhaps if we could usher in an age of change international & intentionally. We could then capitalize on our preeminent status as a world leader, earn the title, and use the advantage of new technology to demonstrate a new way of living.

Be nice wouldn't it?


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New View of Data Supports Human Link to Global Warming
Published: November 18, 2003

One of the last gaps in the evidence pointing to a human cause for global warming appears to be closing.

A re-examination of 24 years of data from weather satellites has found that temperatures are rising in the lower layer of the atmosphere, called the troposphere, at a rate that is consistent with what has been measured at the earth's surface.

The finding is subtle but significant, experts say, particularly because previous studies of the same data, showing no warming, have been highlighted by opponents of curbs on heat-trapping smokestack and tailpipe emissions linked to recent warming.

The difference between the two analyses also now has a clear explanation, with most of the divergence resulting from the way data were adjusted to account for a transition from one weather satellite to a successor in the mid-1980's.

The result is more consensus than ever that emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases are noticeably altering climate.

But at the same time, the new research is showing that, at least so far, the influence of greenhouse gases appears to have been more modest than some climate experts once predicted. The findings, after a year of review and debate at workshops, appear in the current issue of The Journal of Climate.

Dr. Thomas R. Karl, the director of the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., called the new work "a significant step forward," but stressed that more work would be necessary to reconcile the persistent differences between computer models of the climate and the real thing.

The new study, done by private satellite experts at Remote Sensing Systems for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Commerce Department, has not quelled doubters. But several experts not associated with the work said it had pushed the satellite record of recent warming more in line with what computer simulations had projected.

Dr. Frank J. Wentz, an author of the study and the director of the research firm, said continuing refinements in climate models had also brought the computer projections more in line with what the measurements were showing.

"The controversy is somewhat going away," Dr. Wentz said. "As time has gone on, the disconnect between the satellites and the models has gotten smaller and smaller."

Dr. John R. Christy, a University of Alabama at Huntsville scientist whose group was the first to analyze the satellite data for climate clues, agreed that the gap between models and measurements was closing somewhat. But he added that the evidence was pointing more firmly toward a modest impact from rising greenhouse gases.

Dr. Christy, who has long been an outspoken critic of catastrophic climate predictions, said, "We've had enough years of this human-induced forcing to get some boundaries on it, and it's just not going in the dramatic and catastrophic direction."

Other scientists who have assessed the satellite findings, old and new, cautioned that no one should draw any conclusion about the prospect for significant climate shifts from subtle trends in surface or air temperature trends over a few decades.

Dr. Roger A. Pielke Sr., a climatologist at Colorado State who participated in a workshop last month assessing the new paper and other work assessing temperature trends, said the climate system had a tendency to jump from one steady state to another.

"It is characterized by rapid shifts, rather than smooth changes," he said.

Dr. Christy and Dr. Roy W. Spencer, at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, pioneered efforts to sift weather-satellite data for clues to longer-term temperature trends.

The data are notoriously difficult to deal with because they were gathered by a dozen satellites launched over several decades with different kinds of instruments. In a number of cases, one satellite sometimes overlapped with its predecessor for only a short time, preventing adequate cross-checking of their readings.

Adjustments to calculations had to be made for all manner of variables, including the tendency of the satellites to tip and drift up and down and east and west, distorting readings.

Initially, Dr. Christy and his group found that the lower troposphere was actually cooling, and not warming, drawing strong interest in their work from companies and elected officials questioning whether global warming was happening.

More recently, as Dr. Christy and his team took into account factors that could distort the readings, they concluded that there had been a slight, but inconsequential warming.

The new analysis was begun several years ago by Remote Sensing Systems and the two groups have increasingly shared data over the past year. The rate of warming calculated by the new group is higher than the old analysis by just a sixth of a degree per decade.

But that adds up over time to a trend that is consistent with what some computer simulations say would occur under the influence of building greenhouse-gas concentrations, Dr. Wentz said.

Dr. Christy says his work matches up much better with readings taken by an independent method, instrument-laden balloons launched from hundreds of weather stations.

But other scientists said the balloon-gathered data were spotty and inconsistent as well, and did not provide a useful yardstick.

Some scientists said the most valuable result of the new analysis of the satellite record was to take it out of the realm of politicized science. Now, they said, it is simply one more data set in the broader body of evidence pointing in a generally warmer direction in years to come.

The only way to improve understanding of the causes and consequences of warming, Dr. Karl said, will be to look for clues in many places at once — melting glaciers, ocean temperatures and satellites, among others — and not rely on a lone line of evidence.

"The whole issue of global climate change is weighing evidence," he said. "Any conclusion will ultimately have to look like the results of a 100-question test. If you get a 90, you're probably on track."

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#63 Lazarus Long

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 06:06 AM

Here is why the near future promises to be very different from the past two and half decades of data collection. Even with running out of oil and switching to a hydrogen based technology; it won't be online with any proportion significance for three more decades at current estimates.

Saying we are run out of oil is not exactly correct, it is still an issue of supply and demand and the supply is peaking but not disappearing , what is happing is that demand is beginning to increase by logarithmic proportions. As such demand goes up it is not in the interests of the company's to curtail the ensuing windfall profits from global dependency on oil.

This is counter intuitive because as price goes up to consumers you would expect a rational application of market economy to make alternative more profitable but what is happening is that in reality the oil based economy is a "commons" as well as a principally a transnational extended economy representing not merely the consumption but the entire manufacturing and support infrastructure that depends on it from road taxes to service mechanics, from parts manufacturers to car salesmen, from food distribution to general transport for all cargo and people. It is the system that we depend on not merely oil.

It is a system that will run the tank nearly empty before worrying too much about how to replace it I am afraid. More so as in the near term their profits are going to rise not fall, even as production is curtailed because demand will exceed supply until rising prices level off consumption.



Global Warming Gas Seen Increasing Dramatically
Wed Nov 19, 9:18 PM ET Science - Reuters
By Jeff Franks

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide, considered a culprit in global warming (news - web sites), are expected to increase by 3.5 billion tonnes, or 50 percent, annually by the year 2020, an executive for Exxon-Mobil Corp said on Wednesday.

At the same time, global demand for energy will rise by 40 percent as the world population increases and economies grow, said Randy Broiles, global planning manager for Exxon's oil and gas production unit.

"Between now and 2020 we estimate increases of some 3.5 billion tonnes per year of additional carbon emissions, so it's definitely increasing," Broiles said at an energy conference sponsored by accounting and consulting firm Deloitte.

He said about 7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, go into the earth's atmosphere each year from power plants, cars and other sources.

Experts say the United States, which has the world's largest economy and 4 percent of its population, is responsible for about 25 percent of so-called "greenhouse" gases now produced, but Broiles said most future growth in output will come from developing countries.

"Eighty percent of that number, 80 percent of 3.5 billion tonnes, is going to be driven by those developing countries, those economies that are growing at the 4 to 5 percent range, so that's where it's coming from," he said.

A huge increase in the number of cars will cause part of the pollution growth.

Broiles said there are now 15 cars for every 1,000 people in the world, but ExxonMobil expects that number to rise to 50 cars per 1,000 by 2020.

He said ExxonMobil foresees a 40 percent increase in energy demand even though humans are boosting their energy efficiency by about 1 percent a year. Despite advances in technology most energy will still come from fossil fuels, and in particular oil and gas, of which there remain very large reserves, he said.

"The oil resource base is huge -- it's huge -- and we expect it to satisfy world demand growth well beyond 2020," he said.

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#64 Lazarus Long

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 06:24 AM

Broiles said there are now 15 cars for every 1,000 people in the world, but ExxonMobil expects that number to rise to 50 cars per 1,000 by 2020.

To put this in perspective this is not only significantly more cars per people but many more people to demand the use of cars with all the subsequent impact globally that entails on the ground as well as in the atmosphere.

So it is not only over three times as many cars as are now in the world it is that proportion in relation to an additional billion to a billion and half people and closer to five times as many cars with all the daily exhaust this will contribute.

Such impact will be catastrophic to many aspects of environmental health and stability. The area of road bed and the width of roads to contain the traffic alone will impact on neighborhood and forests around the world. It will impact on lakes and rivers as well as coastal fishing and it will mitigate much of the gains of any possible gains from conservation. It is a question of volume.

Is it not perhaps time to seek alternative transport now and make it available to emerging technologies first before they go online with the old mindset of how to develop?

#65 chubtoad

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Posted 27 November 2003 - 12:12 AM

Source: CSIRO Australia
Date: 2003-11-26

Global Halt To Major Greenhouse Gas Growth

Nov. 25, 2003 -- The greenhouse gas, methane, has stopped growing in the global background atmosphere and could begin to decrease, CSIRO researchers announced today.

"Methane is the second most important gas after carbon dioxide. It is responsible for a fifth of the enhanced greenhouse effect over the past 200 years," says Dr Paul Fraser, a chief research scientist at CSIRO Atmospheric Research.

"Over the past four years there has been no growth in atmospheric methane concentrations compared to a 15% rise over the preceding 20 years and a 150% rise since pre-industrial times. This is a very exciting result," says Dr Fraser.

The results are from Cape Grim, Tasmania, Australia's important greenhouse gas monitoring facility operated by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO.

Methane, a very potent greenhouse gas (some 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide) is released to the atmosphere from agriculture rice, cattle and sheep from landfills, and from the mining and use of fossil fuels coal, oil and gas as well as from natural wetlands.

"Although we can't be certain why methane concentrations have levelled out, we think it is in response to emissions declining due to better management of the exploration and use of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) and the increasing recovery of landfill methane,"Fraser says.

"If this global decline in methane emissions continues, global atmospheric methane concentrations will start to fall."

"Global emissions of the most important greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, are difficult to control, and are set to continue to increase, despite the efforts of the Kyoto Protocol and similar initiatives. This makes the good news on methane all the more important," concluded Dr Fraser.

#66 chubtoad

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Posted 03 December 2003 - 10:26 PM

Source: National Science Foundation
Date: 2003-12-03

Top Scientists Conclude Human Activity Is Affecting Global Climate

Arlington, Va. -- Two of the nation's best-known atmospheric scientists, after reviewing extensive research by their colleagues, say there is no doubt human activities are having measurable—and increasing—impacts on global climate. Results of the study, which appears in the December 5th issue of the journal Science as part of a "State of the Planet" assessment, cites atmospheric observations and multiple computer models to paint a detailed picture of the climate changes likely to buffet Earth in coming decades, including rising temperatures and an increase in extreme weather events such as flooding.

What's Related
Livermore Scientists Create Highest Resolution Global Climate Simulations To Date

Record-Breaking Temperatures Seen As Evidence Of Faster Rate Of Global Warming

As Carbon Dioxide Levels Double, Data Suggest U.S. Will See Major Climate Changes

Related section: Earth & Climate

Thomas Karl of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., and Kevin Trenberth, director of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., conclude that industrial emissions have been the dominant influence behind climate change for the past 50 years, overwhelming natural forces. The most important of these emissions is carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps solar radiation and warms the planet. Trenberth's research is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.

"There is no doubt the composition of the atmosphere is changing because of human activities, and today greenhouse gases are the largest human influence on global climate," they write. "The likely result is more frequent heat waves, droughts, extreme precipitation events, and related impacts, e.g., wildfires, heat stress, vegetation changes, and sea-level rise which will be regionally dependent."

"Many important climate research accomplishments over the past several decades have led to major improvements in understanding and predicting our climate," said Jay Fein, director of NSF's climate dynamics program. "Karl and Trenberth summarize those accomplishments in terms of what we have learned about our climate and the many factors that force it. As they point out, however, there still remain important uncertainties, both in terms of climate forcing and climate response. Addressing the uncertainties will require continuing research and model development, underpinned by high-quality, long-term global environmental observations and social and economic data."

Karl and Trenberth estimate that, between 1990 and 2100, global temperatures will rise by 1.7°C to 4.9°C (3.1°F-8.9°F). The increase would have widespread impacts on society and the environment, including melting the great ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica and inundating the world's coasts. The authors base their estimate on computer model experiments by a number of climate scientists, observations of atmospheric changes and recorded climate changes over the past century.

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have risen by 31 percent since pre-industrial times-from 280 parts per million by volume (ppmv) to over 370 ppmv today. Other human activities, such as emissions of sulfate and soot particles and the development of urban areas, have significant but more localized climate impacts. Such activities sometimes cause temperatures to rise or fall, but not by enough to offset the impact of greenhouse gases.

If societies successfully cut emissions and stabilized carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, temperatures would still increase by an estimated 0.5°C over a period of decades, Karl and Trenberth warn. This is because greenhouse gases are slow to cycle out of the atmosphere. "Given what has happened to date and is projected in the future, significant further climate change is guaranteed," the authors state.

If current emissions continue, the world would face the fastest rate of climate change in at least the past 10,000 years. This could potentially alter ocean current circulations and radically change existing climate patterns. Moreover, certain natural processes would likely accelerate the warming. As snow cover melts away, for example, the darker land and water surface would absorb more solar radiation, further increasing temperatures.

Karl and Trenberth say more research is needed to pin down both the global and regional impacts of climate change. Scientists have yet to determine the temperature impacts of increased cloud cover or how changes in the atmosphere will influence El Niño, the periodic warming of Pacific Ocean waters that affects weather patterns throughout much of the world. The authors call for multiple computer model studies to address the complex aspects of weather and climate. The models must be able to integrate all components of Earth's climate system-physical, chemical and biological. This, in turn, will require considerable international cooperation and establishment of a global climate monitoring system to collect data.

"Climate change is truly a global issue, one that may prove to be humanity's greatest challenge," the authors conclude.

Editor's Note: The original news release can be found here.

#67 Lazarus Long

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Posted 29 December 2003 - 10:11 PM

Here is a list of some interesting articles & sites:

Danish Ethics Panel Censured for Critique of Book
Published: December 23, 2003
A Danish government agency has concluded that a scientific ethics panel erred earlier this year when it ruled that a popular book on environmental trends displayed "scientific dishonesty."

The book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist," by Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish statistician, rebuts contentions by environmental groups that the planet is in peril and has been acclaimed by conservative groups and some scientists since it was published in English in 2001.

Last January, the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty said Dr. Lomborg had used "systematic one-sidedness" in selecting data. The report led to calls for Dr. Lomborg's removal from the directorship of a government agency that examines environmental regulations.

Ships' logs uncover past climate
By Alex Kirby
BBC News Online environment correspondent

An international team is pioneering a new source of information about climate change: old sailing ships' logbooks.
The team, which is led by an expert from the University of Sunderland, UK, is the Climatological Database for the World's Oceans, or Cliwoc for short.

The 19th and 18th Century logbooks from UK, Dutch, French and Spanish fleets yield "consistent and reliable" data.

Cliwoc says its work is slowly building up "one of the most accurate pictures yet of daily weather over the oceans."

Cliwoc says it "aims to discover more about the changing climate over the world's oceans before industrialisation could have had any significant influence on climate and weather."

Soot 'makes global warming worse'
23 Dec 03 | Science/Nature

US science body warns on climate
16 Dec 03 | Science/Nature


National Maritime Museum - Information about Cliwoc

Humans' 10,000-year warming habit
By Richard Black
Human influence on climate is hotly debated
Humans have been warming the Earth's climate for the last 10,000 years, US scientist William Ruddiman claims.

INFOTERRA: Solar activity and human influence on climate change

COP 9 Report Now Available (December 2003)
A synopsis of decisions and political developments at the UN climate negotiations in Milan, Italy.


New Report: Beyond Kyoto (December 2003)
Beyond Kyoto: Advancing the International Effort Against Climate Change

New Report: U.S. Technology Policy and Lessons for Climate Change (November 2003)
U.S. Technology and Innovation Policies:

Lessons for Climate Change

Climate Change: Then & Now (August 2003)
Remarks by Eileen Claussen

Environmental Council of the States
Salt Lake City, UT

Report Examines Future U.S. Energy Scenarios (July 2003)
U.S. Energy Scenarios for the 21st Century

#68 Mind

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 09:47 PM

Wind power doesn't even effect the course of migrating ducks so please stay focused on salient issues and compare apples and apples.

Alternative Energy Proves Deadly for Birds

Jeff Miller, of the Center for Biological Diversity (search), said the latest research indicates that one to two thousand or more birds are killed each year in the area. Included in the yearly death toll are approximately 60 golden eagles, 300 red-tailed hawks, and 270 burrowing owls.

These numbers are tiny but so are the number of wind mills.

#69 Mind

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 10:12 PM

It is a system that will run the tank nearly empty before worrying too much about how to replace it I am afraid. More so as in the near term their profits are going to rise not fall, even as production is curtailed because demand will exceed supply until rising prices level off consumption.

I hold the opposite view. People will not run the tank empty and then say "who turned the lights out?". People of the world are not that dumb. This is the same reason that Kyoto was never ratified. People are smart and could see through the tyrannical socialist agenda.

That now said, people do not generally react quickly to change, and big changes are coming. Whole industries including oil and its services are going to go down the tubes soon. I am sure there will be socio-economic havoc.

Still it is better to allow people the "freedom to choose" than to ram some giant social program down their throats. Freedom is better than tyranny.

#70 advancedatheist

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Posted 29 January 2004 - 03:52 AM


The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare
The climate could change radically, and fast. That would be the mother of all national security issues.
Monday, January 26, 2004
By David Stipp

Global warming may be bad news for future generations, but let's face it, most of us spend as little time worrying about it as we did about al Qaeda before 9/11. Like the terrorists, though, the seemingly remote climate risk may hit home sooner and harder than we ever imagined. In fact, the prospect has become so real that the Pentagon's strategic planners are grappling with it.

The threat that has riveted their attention is this: Global warming, rather than causing gradual, centuries-spanning change, may be pushing the climate to a tipping point. Growing evidence suggests the ocean-atmosphere system that controls the world's climate can lurch from one state to another in less than a decade—like a canoe that's gradually tilted until suddenly it flips over. Scientists don't know how close the system is to a critical threshold. But abrupt climate change may well occur in the not-too-distant future. If it does, the need to rapidly adapt may overwhelm many societies—thereby upsetting the geopolitical balance of power.

Though triggered by warming, such change would probably cause cooling in the Northern Hemisphere, leading to longer, harsher winters in much of the U.S. and Europe. Worse, it would cause massive droughts, turning farmland to dust bowls and forests to ashes. Picture last fall's California wildfires as a regular thing. Or imagine similar disasters destabilizing nuclear powers such as Pakistan or Russia—it's easy to see why the Pentagon has become interested in abrupt climate change.

Climate researchers began getting seriously concerned about it a decade ago, after studying temperature indicators embedded in ancient layers of Arctic ice. The data show that a number of dramatic shifts in average temperature took place in the past with shocking speed—in some cases, just a few years.

The case for angst was buttressed by a theory regarded as the most likely explanation for the abrupt changes. The eastern U.S. and northern Europe, it seems, are warmed by a huge Atlantic Ocean current that flows north from the tropics—that's why Britain, at Labrador's latitude, is relatively temperate. Pumping out warm, moist air, this "great conveyor" current gets cooler and denser as it moves north. That causes the current to sink in the North Atlantic, where it heads south again in the ocean depths. The sinking process draws more water from the south, keeping the roughly circular current on the go.

But when the climate warms, according to the theory, fresh water from melting Arctic glaciers flows into the North Atlantic, lowering the current's salinity—and its density and tendency to sink. A warmer climate also increases rainfall and runoff into the current, further lowering its saltiness. As a result, the conveyor loses its main motive force and can rapidly collapse, turning off the huge heat pump and altering the climate over much of the Northern Hemisphere.

Scientists aren't sure what caused the warming that triggered such collapses in the remote past. (Clearly it wasn't humans and their factories.) But the data from Arctic ice and other sources suggest the atmospheric changes that preceded earlier collapses were dismayingly similar to today's global warming. As the Ice Age began drawing to a close about 13,000 years ago, for example, temperatures in Greenland rose to levels near those of recent decades. Then they abruptly plunged as the conveyor apparently shut down, ushering in the "Younger Dryas" period, a 1,300-year reversion to ice-age conditions. (A dryas is an Arctic flower that flourished in Europe at the time.)

Though Mother Nature caused past abrupt climate changes, the one that may be shaping up today probably has more to do with us. In 2001 an international panel of climate experts concluded that there is increasingly strong evidence that most of the global warming observed over the past 50 years is attributable to human activities—mainly the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal, which release heat-trapping carbon dioxide. Indicators of the warming include shrinking Arctic ice, melting alpine glaciers, and markedly earlier springs at northerly latitudes. A few years ago such changes seemed signs of possible trouble for our kids or grandkids. Today they seem portents of a cataclysm that may not conveniently wait until we're history.

Accordingly, the spotlight in climate research is shifting from gradual to rapid change. In 2002 the National Academy of Sciences issued a report concluding that human activities could trigger abrupt change. Last year the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, included a session at which Robert Gagosian, director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, urged policymakers to consider the implications of possible abrupt climate change within two decades.

Such jeremiads are beginning to reverberate more widely. Billionaire Gary Comer, founder of Lands' End, has adopted abrupt climate change as a philanthropic cause. Hollywood has also discovered the issue—next summer 20th Century Fox is expected to release The Day After Tomorrow, a big-budget disaster movie starring Dennis Quaid as a scientist trying to save the world from an ice age precipitated by global warming.

Fox's flick will doubtless be apocalyptically edifying. But what would abrupt climate change really be like?

Scientists generally refuse to say much about that, citing a data deficit. But recently, renowned Department of Defense planner Andrew Marshall sponsored a groundbreaking effort to come to grips with the question. A Pentagon legend, Marshall, 82, is known as the Defense Department's "Yoda"—a balding, bespectacled sage whose pronouncements on looming risks have long had an outsized influence on defense policy. Since 1973 he has headed a secretive think tank whose role is to envision future threats to national security. The Department of Defense's push on ballistic-missile defense is known as his brainchild. Three years ago Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld picked him to lead a sweeping review on military "transformation," the shift toward nimble forces and smart weapons.

When scientists' work on abrupt climate change popped onto his radar screen, Marshall tapped another eminent visionary, Peter Schwartz, to write a report on the national-security implications of the threat. Schwartz formerly headed planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group and has since consulted with organizations ranging from the CIA to DreamWorks—he helped create futuristic scenarios for Steven Spielberg's film Minority Report. Schwartz and co-author Doug Randall at the Monitor Group's Global Business Network, a scenario-planning think tank in Emeryville, Calif., contacted top climate experts and pushed them to talk about what-ifs that they usually shy away from—at least in public.

The result is an unclassified report, completed late last year, that the Pentagon has agreed to share with FORTUNE. It doesn't pretend to be a forecast. Rather, it sketches a dramatic but plausible scenario to help planners think about coping strategies. Here is an abridged version:

A total shutdown of the ocean conveyor might lead to a big chill like the Younger Dryas, when icebergs appeared as far south as the coast of Portugal. Or the conveyor might only temporarily slow down, potentially causing an era like the "Little Ice Age," a time of hard winters, violent storms, and droughts between 1300 and 1850. That period's weather extremes caused horrific famines, but it was mild compared with the Younger Dryas.

For planning purposes, it makes sense to focus on a midrange case of abrupt change. A century of cold, dry, windy weather across the Northern Hemisphere that suddenly came on 8,200 years ago fits the bill—its severity fell between that of the Younger Dryas and the Little Ice Age. The event is thought to have been triggered by a conveyor collapse after a time of rising temperatures not unlike today's global warming. Suppose it recurred, beginning in 2010. Here are some of the things that might happen by 2020:

At first the changes are easily mistaken for normal weather variation—allowing skeptics to dismiss them as a "blip" of little importance and leaving policymakers and the public paralyzed with uncertainty. But by 2020 there is little doubt that something drastic is happening. The average temperature has fallen by up to five degrees Fahrenheit in some regions of North America and Asia and up to six degrees in parts of Europe. (By comparison, the average temperature over the North Atlantic during the last ice age was ten to 15 degrees lower than it is today.) Massive droughts have begun in key agricultural regions. The average annual rainfall has dropped by nearly 30% in northern Europe, and its climate has become more like Siberia's.

Violent storms are increasingly common as the conveyor becomes wobbly on its way to collapse. A particularly severe storm causes the ocean to break through levees in the Netherlands, making coastal cities such as the Hague unlivable. In California the delta island levees in the Sacramento River area are breached, disrupting the aqueduct system transporting water from north to south.

Megadroughts afflict the U.S., especially in the southern states, along with winds that are 15% stronger on average than they are now, causing widespread dust storms and soil loss. The U.S. is better positioned to cope than most nations, however, thanks to its diverse growing climates, wealth, technology, and abundant resources. That has a downside, though: It magnifies the haves-vs.-have-nots gap and fosters bellicose finger-pointing at America.

Turning inward, the U.S. effectively seeks to build a fortress around itself to preserve resources. Borders are strengthened to hold back starving immigrants from Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean islands—waves of boat people pose especially grim problems. Tension between the U.S. and Mexico rises as the U.S. reneges on a 1944 treaty that guarantees water flow from the Colorado River into Mexico. America is forced to meet its rising energy demand with options that are costly both economically and politically, including nuclear power and onerous Middle Eastern contracts. Yet it survives without catastrophic losses.

Europe, hardest hit by its temperature drop, struggles to deal with immigrants from Scandinavia seeking warmer climes to the south. Southern Europe is beleaguered by refugees from hard-hit countries in Africa and elsewhere. But Western Europe's wealth helps buffer it from catastrophe.

Australia's size and resources help it cope, as does its location—the conveyor shutdown mainly affects the Northern Hemisphere. Japan has fewer resources but is able to draw on its social cohesion to cope—its government is able to induce population-wide behavior changes to conserve resources.

China's huge population and food demand make it particularly vulnerable. It is hit by increasingly unpredictable monsoon rains, which cause devastating floods in drought-denuded areas. Other parts of Asia and East Africa are similarly stressed. Much of Bangladesh becomes nearly uninhabitable because of a rising sea level, which contaminates inland water supplies. Countries whose diversity already produces conflict, such as India and Indonesia, are hard-pressed to maintain internal order while coping with the unfolding changes.

As the decade progresses, pressures to act become irresistible—history shows that whenever humans have faced a choice between starving or raiding, they raid. Imagine Eastern European countries, struggling to feed their populations, invading Russia—which is weakened by a population that is already in decline—for access to its minerals and energy supplies. Or picture Japan eyeing nearby Russian oil and gas reserves to power desalination plants and energy-intensive farming. Envision nuclear-armed Pakistan, India, and China skirmishing at their borders over refugees, access to shared rivers, and arable land. Or Spain and Portugal fighting over fishing rights—fisheries are disrupted around the world as water temperatures change, causing fish to migrate to new habitats.

Growing tensions engender novel alliances. Canada joins fortress America in a North American bloc. (Alternatively, Canada may seek to keep its abundant hydropower for itself, straining its ties with the energy-hungry U.S.) North and South Korea align to create a technically savvy, nuclear-armed entity. Europe forms a truly unified bloc to curb its immigration problems and protect against aggressors. Russia, threatened by impoverished neighbors in dire straits, may join the European bloc.

Nuclear arms proliferation is inevitable. Oil supplies are stretched thin as climate cooling drives up demand. Many countries seek to shore up their energy supplies with nuclear energy, accelerating nuclear proliferation. Japan, South Korea, and Germany develop nuclear-weapons capabilities, as do Iran, Egypt, and North Korea. Israel, China, India, and Pakistan also are poised to use the bomb.

The changes relentlessly hammer the world's "carrying capacity"—the natural resources, social organizations, and economic networks that support the population. Technological progress and market forces, which have long helped boost Earth's carrying capacity, can do little to offset the crisis—it is too widespread and unfolds too fast.

As the planet's carrying capacity shrinks, an ancient pattern reemerges: the eruption of desperate, all-out wars over food, water, and energy supplies. As Harvard archeologist Steven LeBlanc has noted, wars over resources were the norm until about three centuries ago. When such conflicts broke out, 25% of a population's adult males usually died. As abrupt climate change hits home, warfare may again come to define human life.

Over the past decade, data have accumulated suggesting that the plausibility of abrupt climate change is higher than most of the scientific community, and perhaps all of the political community, are prepared to accept. In light of such findings, we should be asking when abrupt change will happen, what the impacts will be, and how we can prepare—not whether it will really happen. In fact, the climate record suggests that abrupt change is inevitable at some point, regardless of human activity. Among other things, we should:

• Speed research on the forces that can trigger abrupt climate change, how it unfolds, and how we'll know it's occurring.

• Sponsor studies on the scenarios that might play out, including ecological, social, economic, and political fallout on key food-producing regions.

• Identify "no regrets" strategies to ensure reliable access to food and water and to ensure our national security.

• Form teams to prepare responses to possible massive migration, and food and water shortages.

• Explore ways to offset abrupt cooling—today it appears easier to warm than to cool the climate via human activities, so there may be "geo-engineering" options available to prevent a catastrophic temperature drop.

In sum, the risk of abrupt climate change remains uncertain, and it is quite possibly small. But given its dire consequences, it should be elevated beyond a scientific debate. Action now matters, because we may be able to reduce its likelihood of happening, and we can certainly be better prepared if it does. It is time to recognize it as a national security concern.

The Pentagon's reaction to this sobering report isn't known—in keeping with his reputation for reticence, Andy Marshall declined to be interviewed. But the fact that he's concerned may signal a sea change in the debate about global warming. At least some federal thought leaders may be starting to perceive climate change less as a political annoyance and more as an issue demanding action.

If so, the case for acting now to address climate change, long a hard sell in Washington, may be gaining influential support, if only behind the scenes. Policymakers may even be emboldened to take steps such as tightening fuel-economy standards for new passenger vehicles, a measure that would simultaneously lower emissions of greenhouse gases, reduce America's perilous reliance on OPEC oil, cut its trade deficit, and put money in consumers' pockets. Oh, yes—and give the Pentagon's fretful Yoda a little less to worry about.

Feedback: dstipp@fortunemail.com

#71 chubtoad

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Posted 05 February 2004 - 05:39 AM

Increasing greenhouse gases lead to dramatic thinning of the upper atmosphere


#72 Mind

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Posted 05 February 2004 - 09:44 PM

I think this might be a good point to repeat a salient point brought up by Bob early in the discussion

This is a quote from a 1970 "Global Cooling" article.

Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects. They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers, might create problems far greater than those they solve. But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies. The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.

Even back then scientists berated politicians for doing nothing in the face of climate change (of course it was about global cooling at that time). Can you imagine if there were attempts to melt the polar ice caps?

#73 advancedatheist

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 04:11 PM


Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us

· Secret report warns of rioting and nuclear war
· Britain will be 'Siberian' in less than 20 years
· Threat to the world is greater than terrorism

Mark Townsend and Paul Harris in New York
Sunday February 22, 2004
The Observer

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..
A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.'

The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. Experts said that they will also make unsettling reading for a President who has insisted national defence is a priority.

The report was commissioned by influential Pentagon defence adviser Andrew Marshall, who has held considerable sway on US military thinking over the past three decades. He was the man behind a sweeping recent review aimed at transforming the American military under Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Climate change 'should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern', say the authors, Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network.

An imminent scenario of catastrophic climate change is 'plausible and would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately', they conclude. As early as next year widespread flooding by a rise in sea levels will create major upheaval for millions.

Last week the Bush administration came under heavy fire from a large body of respected scientists who claimed that it cherry-picked science to suit its policy agenda and suppressed studies that it did not like. Jeremy Symons, a former whistleblower at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said that suppression of the report for four months was a further example of the White House trying to bury the threat of climate change.

Senior climatologists, however, believe that their verdicts could prove the catalyst in forcing Bush to accept climate change as a real and happening phenomenon. They also hope it will convince the United States to sign up to global treaties to reduce the rate of climatic change.

A group of eminent UK scientists recently visited the White House to voice their fears over global warming, part of an intensifying drive to get the US to treat the issue seriously. Sources have told The Observer that American officials appeared extremely sensitive about the issue when faced with complaints that America's public stance appeared increasingly out of touch.

One even alleged that the White House had written to complain about some of the comments attributed to Professor Sir David King, Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser, after he branded the President's position on the issue as indefensible.

Among those scientists present at the White House talks were Professor John Schellnhuber, former chief environmental adviser to the German government and head of the UK's leading group of climate scientists at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. He said that the Pentagon's internal fears should prove the 'tipping point' in persuading Bush to accept climatic change.

Sir John Houghton, former chief executive of the Meteorological Office - and the first senior figure to liken the threat of climate change to that of terrorism - said: 'If the Pentagon is sending out that sort of message, then this is an important document indeed.'

Bob Watson, chief scientist for the World Bank and former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, added that the Pentagon's dire warnings could no longer be ignored.

'Can Bush ignore the Pentagon? It's going be hard to blow off this sort of document. Its hugely embarrassing. After all, Bush's single highest priority is national defence. The Pentagon is no wacko, liberal group, generally speaking it is conservative. If climate change is a threat to national security and the economy, then he has to act. There are two groups the Bush Administration tend to listen to, the oil lobby and the Pentagon,' added Watson.

'You've got a President who says global warming is a hoax, and across the Potomac river you've got a Pentagon preparing for climate wars. It's pretty scary when Bush starts to ignore his own government on this issue,' said Rob Gueterbock of Greenpeace.

Already, according to Randall and Schwartz, the planet is carrying a higher population than it can sustain. By 2020 'catastrophic' shortages of water and energy supply will become increasingly harder to overcome, plunging the planet into war. They warn that 8,200 years ago climatic conditions brought widespread crop failure, famine, disease and mass migration of populations that could soon be repeated.

Randall told The Observer that the potential ramifications of rapid climate change would create global chaos. 'This is depressing stuff,' he said. 'It is a national security threat that is unique because there is no enemy to point your guns at and we have no control over the threat.'

Randall added that it was already possibly too late to prevent a disaster happening. 'We don't know exactly where we are in the process. It could start tomorrow and we would not know for another five years,' he said.

'The consequences for some nations of the climate change are unbelievable. It seems obvious that cutting the use of fossil fuels would be worthwhile.'

So dramatic are the report's scenarios, Watson said, that they may prove vital in the US elections. Democratic frontrunner John Kerry is known to accept climate change as a real problem. Scientists disillusioned with Bush's stance are threatening to make sure Kerry uses the Pentagon report in his campaign.

The fact that Marshall is behind its scathing findings will aid Kerry's cause. Marshall, 82, is a Pentagon legend who heads a secretive think-tank dedicated to weighing risks to national security called the Office of Net Assessment. Dubbed 'Yoda' by Pentagon insiders who respect his vast experience, he is credited with being behind the Department of Defence's push on ballistic-missile defence.

Symons, who left the EPA in protest at political interference, said that the suppression of the report was a further instance of the White House trying to bury evidence of climate change. 'It is yet another example of why this government should stop burying its head in the sand on this issue.'

Symons said the Bush administration's close links to high-powered energy and oil companies was vital in understanding why climate change was received sceptically in the Oval Office. 'This administration is ignoring the evidence in order to placate a handful of large energy and oil companies,' he added.

#74 advancedatheist

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 04:19 PM


Key findings of the Pentagon

Sunday February 22, 2004
The Observer

· Future wars will be fought over the issue of survival rather than religion, ideology or national honour.
· By 2007 violent storms smash coastal barriers rendering large parts of the Netherlands inhabitable. Cities like The Hague are abandoned. In California the delta island levees in the Sacramento river area are breached, disrupting the aqueduct system transporting water from north to south.

· Between 2010 and 2020 Europe is hardest hit by climatic change with an average annual temperature drop of 6F. Climate in Britain becomes colder and drier as weather patterns begin to resemble Siberia.

· Deaths from war and famine run into the millions until the planet's population is reduced by such an extent the Earth can cope.

· Riots and internal conflict tear apart India, South Africa and Indonesia.

· Access to water becomes a major battleground. The Nile, Danube and Amazon are all mentioned as being high risk.

· A 'significant drop' in the planet's ability to sustain its present population will become apparent over the next 20 years.

· Rich areas like the US and Europe would become 'virtual fortresses' to prevent millions of migrants from entering after being forced from land drowned by sea-level rise or no longer able to grow crops. Waves of boatpeople pose significant problems.

· Nuclear arms proliferation is inevitable. Japan, South Korea, and Germany develop nuclear-weapons capabilities, as do Iran, Egypt and North Korea. Israel, China, India and Pakistan also are poised to use the bomb.

· By 2010 the US and Europe will experience a third more days with peak temperatures above 90F. Climate becomes an 'economic nuisance' as storms, droughts and hot spells create havoc for farmers.

· More than 400m people in subtropical regions at grave risk.

· Europe will face huge internal struggles as it copes with massive numbers of migrants washing up on its shores. Immigrants from Scandinavia seek warmer climes to the south. Southern Europe is beleaguered by refugees from hard-hit countries in Africa.

· Mega-droughts affect the world's major breadbaskets, including America's Midwest, where strong winds bring soil loss.

· China's huge population and food demand make it particularly vulnerable. Bangladesh becomes nearly uninhabitable because of a rising sea level, which contaminates the inland water supplies.

#75 advancedatheist

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Posted 11 March 2004 - 02:15 AM


'We face climate disaster'

By Ben Leapman, Evening Standard Political Reporter
10 March 2004

The Government's chief scientist today set out an "apocalyptic vision" of global warming bringing back the conditions which drove the dinosaurs to extinction.

Professor Sir David King told a House of Lords committee that urgent action was needed "within the next few years" to avert the threat of sudden and severe climate change.

He claimed that last summer's heatwave was a man-made event and a warning sign of worse to come.

And he defied Downing Street by repeating his charges that global warming is a bigger threat than terrorism, and that Washington is failing to tackle the problem.

#76 tony335

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Posted 13 March 2004 - 08:52 PM

If catastrophic climate changes really will devastate our planet in the coming years, then I don't think we stand much of a chance. Governments don't percieve environmental problems as a major threat, I guess there's not as much money and power to be gained there as with tackling eachother. The average inhabitant of Earth is unlikely to stop chopping down the forests, or giving up other activities that release CO2 and otherwise damage the environment even if the climate starts to change dramatically. They're more likely to pray more so that God stops punishing them for their sins instead of giving up the little comforts that cause the problems. And if we take a look at the big industries...they're even more unlikely to change their ways. As long as there's profit to be made...
So lets just hope that the climate can support us until we have universal assemblers or a way to establish permanent offworld colonies, otherwise we're in big trouble.

#77 kevin

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Posted 19 April 2004 - 02:37 AM

Link: http://www.itechnolo...84B251&set_id=1

Global warming devastating native Alaskans
April 18 2004 at 10:12AM

By Yereth Rosen

Anchorage, Alaska - Anyone who doubts the gravity of global warming should ask Alaska's Eskimo, Indian and Aleut elders about the dramatic changes to their land and the animals on which they depend.

Native leaders say that salmon are increasingly susceptible to warm-water parasites and suffer from lesions and strange behaviour. Salmon and moose meat have developed odd tastes and the marrow in moose bones is weirdly runny, they say.

Arctic pack ice is disappearing, making food scarce for sea animals and causing difficulties for the Natives who hunt them. It is feared that polar bears, to name one species, may disappear from the Northern hemisphere by mid-century.

'They obviously don't live in the Arctic'
As trees and bushes march north over what was once tundra, so do beavers, and they are damming new rivers and lakes to the detriment of water quality and possibly salmon eggs.

Still, to the frustration of Alaska Natives, many politicians in the lower 48 United States states deny that global warming is occurring or that a warmer climate could cause problems.

"They obviously don't live in the Arctic," said Patricia Cochran, executive director of the Alaska Native Science Commission. The Anchorage-based commission, funded by the National Science Foundation, has been gathering information for years on Alaska's thawing conditions.

The climate changes are disrupting traditional food gathering and cultures, said Larry Merculieff, an Aleut leader from the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea.

Indigenous residents of the far north are finding it increasingly difficult to explain the natural world to younger generations. "As species go down, the levels of connection between older and younger go down along with that," Merculieff told an Anchorage conference.

Climate and weather changes even affect human safety, said Orville Huntington, vice chairman of the Alaska Native Science Commission.

"It looks like winter out there, but if you've really been around a long time like me, it's not winter," said Huntington, an Athabascan Indian from the interior Alaska village of Huslia. "If you travel that ice, it's not the ice that we travelled 40 years ago."

River ice is thinner and less dependable than it used to be.

Global warming is believed to result from pollutants emitted into the atmosphere, which trap the Earth's heat and create a greenhouse effect. The warming is more dramatic in polar latitudes because cold air is dry, allowing greenhouse gases to trap more solar radiation. Even a modest rise in temperature can thaw the glaciers and permafrost that cover much of Alaska.

There is no question that global warming is having pronounced effects in Alaska, said Gunter Weller, director of the University of Alaska's Fairbanks Center for Global Change and Arctic System Research.

Average temperatures in Alaska are up about five degrees Fahrenheit from three decades ago, and about twice that during winter, said Weller, who also heads the Cooperative Institute for Arctic Research established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

That causes serious problems not only for rural Natives who live off the land but for major industries and for public structures, he said.

Most of Alaska's highways run over permafrost that is now rapidly thawing, meaning maintenance headaches for state officials. The thaw has already caused increased maintenance costs for the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, which uses special vertical supports for suspension over the tundra.

If the plight of Alaska Natives does not get politicians' attention, then the economic toll should, Weller said.

He cited the cost - estimated at over $100-million - of moving Shishmaref, an Inupiat Eskimo village on Alaska's northwestern coastline, to more stable ground. The village of 600 is on the verge of tumbling into the Bering Sea because of severe erosion resulting from thawed permafrost and the absence of sea ice to protect the coastline from high storm waves.

Along with Shishmaref, there are about 20 Alaska villages that are candidates for relocation because of severe erosion, with similar costs, Weller said.

Alaska's economy has already suffered from the permafrost thaw, said Robert Corell, chairman of the international Arctic Climate Impact Assessment committee.

The hard-frozen conditions needed to support ice roads around the North Slope oil fields now exist for only about 100 days a year, he pointed out. Thirty years ago, oil companies could use ice roads for about 200 days of the year, he said.

#78 kevin

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Posted 21 April 2004 - 06:37 AM

Link: http://seattlepi.nws..._warming20.html

Want evidence of global warming? See Canada
Unusual wildlife sightings, studies of temperature cited


In the summer of 1993, a Canadian government fisheries scientist was on Banks Island, the most westerly of the big islands that stretch across Canada's Far North, when some people showed him what had come up in the nets they had set for Arctic char.

No one in the tiny Inuvialuit community of Sachs Harbor had ever seen such a fish, which wasn't such a surprise, considering that it was about 900 miles away from home. They had caught sockeye salmon, normally found on the Pacific coast of British Columbia and Alaska.

"We actually saw, recorded, took pictures and did some measurements on some sockeye salmon that had shown up in Sachs Harbor. That was the first time that any of the locals that we talked to had seen them," the scientist, John Babaluk, says.

The itinerant salmon is just one of many strange sightings across the country.

The Far North is being introduced to the robin, the South's harbinger of spring and a bird so rarely seen above the tree line that the Inuvialuit don't even have a name for it.

In Southern Ontario, the Virginia opossum now thrives as far north as Georgian Bay. A few decades ago, it was unknown because the climate was too cold.

Wildlife biologists in Manitoba have noted that migratory butterflies are returning earlier in the spring and that polar bears along the province's Hudson Bay coastline are getting thinner because the sea ice is melting earlier, giving the animals less time to fatten up on seals, their main prey.

Why is all this happening?

There could be many explanations, but the common thread through all the occurrences is that Canada's climate has been getting warmer.

That climate change would occur is hardly controversial. Humans are adding more carbon dioxide and other planet-warming gases to the atmosphere every year.

Scientific models suggest that human-induced changes to the composition of the atmosphere will almost certainly cause temperatures to rise substantially over the next 50 to 100 years.

But on the eve of another Earth Day, Canadians might want to consider something more radical on the subject of global warming -- evidence directly from their own back yards.

Warming should not be considered an abstraction due to occur at some vague point in the country's future. It has arrived, and has been under way for the past few decades.

A group of federal and provincial scientists has concluded that global warming has had a profound influence on Canada after completing the most exhaustive review ever undertaken of the hundreds of studies on the country's climate trends.

They looked at reports of unusual wildlife sightings, such as Babaluk's salmon, the extent of glaciers on the Rockies and data from weather stations going back more than a century.

Except for small parts of the Northeast that have actually become cooler of late, the warming is almost universal -- and not necessarily just a momentary blip.

"There are really strong indicators that the climate is changing," says Environment Canada's Linda Mortsch, the scientist coordinating the effort, "and I think Canadians should be aware of that."

That is why the researchers summarized their findings in a 45-page report, published by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment and recently made public.

The publication has not prompted the interest normally associated with a major environmental review because the Winnipeg-based council, which includes the federal, provincial and territorial environment ministers, is little known outside environmental-policy circles. (It normally works on such technical issues as the question of whether Canada should regulate mercury emissions from power-plant smokestacks.)

The climate change has been most dramatic in the North. The Mackenzie Basin is now an average of two degrees Celsius warmer than it was in the early 1950s, even though parts of Labrador, northern Quebec and Baffin Island have grown cooler.

But the best long-term temperature data are for the South, and the report reveals that all of Canada below the line formed by the northern boundaries of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba has become warmer over the past 100 years.

In fact, the average increase of 0.9 degrees in Southern Canada is about 50 percent larger than the rise that has occurred elsewhere on the planet, making the country a global-warming hot spot.

#79 Lazarus Long

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Posted 21 April 2004 - 04:14 PM

Turn on the sound and enjoy, go check out these two articles that are some of many that can be found on this page for a little while longer.


Posted Image Posted Image

And this interesting article:

Changing All the Rules
Published: April 4, 2004

President Bush doesn't talk about new-source review very often. In fact, he has mentioned it in a speech to the public only once, in remarks he delivered on Sept. 15, 2003, to a cheering crowd of power-plant workers and executives in Monroe, Mich., about 35 miles south of Detroit. It was an ideal audience for his chosen subject. New-source review, or N.S.R., involves an obscure and complex set of environmental rules and regulations that most Americans have never heard of, but to people who work in the power industry, few subjects are more crucial
Full text

Also this important technological approach to building solutions at a waste to energy site
Posted Image

#80 kevin

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Posted 22 April 2004 - 06:20 AM

Link: http://www.guardian....1200273,00.html

It's too late. Climate change floods are inevitable - no matter what we do
Cost of erosion, rising rivers and polluted drains could hit £20bn

Paul Brown, environment correspondent
Thursday April 22, 2004
The Guardian

The east coast floods of 50 years ago, in which 300 people died after the sea overcame neglected defences, amounted to Britain's worst peacetime disaster in recent memory. The last serious floods in 2000, when 10,000 homes were inundated after weeks of heavy rain, was caused by rivers flooding.
More recently localised flash flooding, where Victorian drainage systems have been overwhelmed by sudden downpours, have caught householders unprepared.

Society has reacted in the past by building new defences such as the Thames barrier. But this will no longer be enough.

A team of 60 experts, under the direction of the government's chief scientist, Dr David King, says such flooding is expected to recur with ever greater frequency and intensity. With the already noticeable effects of climate change speeding up, millions will be added to the at risk category while hundreds of thousands will be likely to be flooded at least once every 10 years, rendering their homes uninsurable.

Perhaps the most startling warning in the report by the government's Office of Science and Technology, is that disasters will be inevitable, no matter what we do. The changes in sea level rise and climate are going to happen, whatever efforts we make to prevent them. We could try to reduce the worst effects of the damage, but some communities will be very hard hit whatever happens.

The number of those at high risk from river and coastal flooding could increase by between 700,000 and 2 million by the 2080s. Parts of cities may have to be demolished for make room for flood reservoirs or green corridors to take the water away. An increase in urban flooding caused by sudden downpours could affect between 520,000 and 710,000 people.

But the human cost of flooding cannot be measured by statistics alone, says the report. "There will be substantial health implications, particularly when the floodwaters carry pollutants or are mixed with foul water from drains and agricultural land.

"The floodwaters could also cause indirect hazards by making sewage treatment works inoperable for expended periods and spilling their contents over the landscape, as happened in the recent central European floods.

"There will be mental health consequences. Besides the considerable stress of extensive damage, the threat of repeat flooding, coupled with possible withdrawal of insurance cover can make properties unsaleable.

"The socially disadvantaged will be hardest hit. The poor are less able to afford flood damage and less able to pay for extensive repairs. People who are ill or with disabilities will be more vulnerable to the immediate hazard of a flood and to health risks due to polluted floodwaters. Those areas of the country most vulnera ble to river and flash flooding because of crumbling Victorian sewers are the cities and towns between Lancashire and the Humber, including Manchester, Bradford and Leeds. Areas along the Wash and Lincolnshire coasts, badly hit in 1953, are also likely to be inundated again.

The south-east, and all major estuaries with a potential for tidal surge, are also high risk. Large farmed areas might either be lost to the sea or sacrificed for coastal defence.

Flash flooding from sudden downpours affects around 80,000 properties a year but this will grow to 460,000 by the 2080s and the damage to more than £10bn a year.

"The situation would would worsen considerably if the drains and sewers in the UK's cities were to reach the limits of their capacity.

"If this happened the floods would become much more frequent and we would need substantial investment programmes to upgrade sewers, drains and other urban drainage systems," warns the report. Coastal erosion will also increase because of increased storms and rising sea levels. Present levels of expenditure will not be enough to keep pace with changes in climate and "one third of existing coastal defences could be destroyed".

The report says the most dangerous course of action for society is to carry on as we are. Business as usual with high international growth and continued carbon dioxide emissions makes the UK increas ingly vulnerable to flooding. The current bill from all flood damage is around £1.2bn a year. This would rise to £20bn a year if no extra preventive action was taken.

A different pattern with medium, or low growth but selfish consumerism, weak government, and individuals looking out for themselves causes almost equal havoc.

The best possibility for the next 75 years, where local people take control of their own areas and manage floods with strong social and environmental control, reduces the financial risk to £2bn a year, but still double what it is today.

A similar model where worldwide action is taken with careful resource use, strong political, social and environmental goals also minimises the effect but costs would still be up to five times more than they are now.

#81 Mind

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Posted 06 May 2004 - 02:42 PM

New Article From Nature

A group of scientists have published information they say strengthens the case for global warming. As this ScienCentral News video reports, the study, published in the journal "Nature," investigates a scientific puzzle about temperature change.

Warming Trend

Global warming refers to an average increase in the Earth's temperature, and our planet does seem to have warmed by about 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past century, with accelerated warming during the past two decades.

But there's a scientific riddle that skeptics of global warming have used to cast doubt on computer forecasts predicting this warming trend: Temperatures are indeed rising near the earth's surface, but, up in the lower atmosphere, or troposphere, where the most weather occurs, measurements have shown comparably small increases.

"There was a long debate in the science community about the temperature trends in the atmosphere and at the surface," says Qiang Fu, an atmospheric physicist at the University of Washington. "Based on the surface records, the surface temperature change has increased tremendously, [but] in the lower atmosphere based on satellite observations, the lower atmosphere hasn't changed as much as the surface. In a lot of ways, the global climate model tells us these two have to be increasing at the same time."

So Fu and his team re-examined the information from NOAA satellites carrying devices called microwave-sounding units. The units measure microwave energy to determine temperatures at various levels in the atmosphere. "I think the basic question we want to answer in the research is what's the temperature trend in the lower atmosphere," Fu says. "That is, how has the temperature changed in the last 20 years in the lower atmosphere, based on the satellite measurements."

Scientists measure temperatures in the troposphere by looking at the microwave energy given off by oxygen. The energy is measured across several frequency ranges called channels. One range, channel 2, mostly measures the troposphere, but it also measures part of the upper atmosphere, known as the stratosphere, which, according to Fu, cools about five times faster than the troposphere warms, due to ozone depletion and the increase of greenhouse gases.

Fu and his team wanted to somehow remove the extra information from the readings, so they moved to another frequency, known as channel 4, which measures just the stratosphere. By comparing channel 4 to channel 2, they could then subtract out the interference from the stratosphere to come up with more accurate temperatures about the troposphere.

After examining measurements from January 1977 through December 2001, Fu and his team found the rising temperatures were indeed much closer to what the computers predicted—the troposphere has been warming at about one-third of a degree Fahrenheit per decade, which closely resembles measurements of warming at the surface. "So that means at least that people shouldn't use [previous figures]...as a basis to say global warming does not happen," says Fu. "I hope that convinces people that global warming does happen, not only at the surface, but also in the atmosphere."

Fu hopes this new information will allow researchers to move forward and focus on other issues regarding climate change. This research was published in the May 6, 2004 issue of the journal Nature. It was funded by the U.S Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and NASA.

#82 kevin

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 06:50 PM

Link: http://story.news.ya...nment_arctic_dc

Inuit 'Poisoned from Afar' Due to Climate Change
Wed May 12, 5:04 PM ET
By Amran Abocar

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Inuit living in the Arctic region are being "poisoned from afar" as climate change takes its toll on the area and threatens their existence, the head of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (news - web sites) said on Wednesday.

Posted Image
Reuters Photo

Sheila Watt-Cloutier, chairwoman of the group that represents about 155,000 Inuit in the Arctic regions of Canada, Russia, Greenland and the United States, said Inuit were paying dearly for the actions of people elsewhere.

"The Inuit have now become the net recipients of toxins coming from afar and we carry heavy body burdens in our blood core and the nursing milk of our mothers," Watt-Cloutier told an environmental conference. "Not of our doing, we are being poisoned from afar."

Inuit say that rising temperatures are undermining traditional lifestyles based around hunting for animals like seal, whale, walrus and polar bear.

"For us, the environment is our supermarket," Watt-Cloutier said. "We are out there every single day and every day we can't help but wonder what surprises lie as a result of the things that are happening."

More thawing permafrost -- the normally perpetually frozen layer of earth -- heavier snowfalls and seas with longer ice-free seasons are some visible effects of climate change in the area, she said.

In addition, the region now hosts new species such as barnyard owls, and hunters are drowning by falling through thinning ice. U.N. studies say the Arctic Ocean may be largely ice-free in summer by 2100.

An assessment to be delivered to foreign ministers of the eight-member Arctic Council -- Canada, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and the United States -- next November points to a bleak future for the Arctic region.

Watt-Cloutier said the report predicts the depletion of summer sea ice will push some marine mammals, including polar bears and walrus, into extinction by the middle or end of this century.

"So you can well imagine if the polar bear is extinct in 50, 60, 70 years, where we will be as Inuit," she said. "This assessment projects the end of the Inuit as a hunting culture."

Because they are small in numbers, Watt-Cloutier said the Inuit need to partner with other regions threatened by global warming, such as the low-lying Pacific Island nations, to put themselves on the political map.

The Inuit group is also petitioning the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, part of the Organization of American States, for a declaration that the destruction of their way of life because of human-caused climate change is a violation of their rights.

Meantime, Watt-Cloutier said, the rest of the world should pay closer attention to the experience of the Inuit in the Arctic. U.N. climate models say that global warming is felt first in polar regions.

"Metaphorically speaking, the Inuit are the mercury in the barometer, we are the early-warning system," Watt-Cloutier said. "Because we are on the land every single day, we witness the most minute of changes, so the world has a vested interest in keeping the Inuit on the land."

#83 Mind

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 10:50 PM

Here is something that needs to be addressed in global climate models. One researcher in the article says there is some aerosol representation in the current models, but agrees it is not represented to the extent it should be.

This appeared in ECES. It is one of the "earth is dying" websites.

Scientists say the amount of sunlight reaching the earth's surface has declined by up to 20% in recent years due to air pollution.
The U.K. Guardian reports that in 1985, geography researcher Atsumu Ohmura at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology got the shock of his life. As part of his studies into climate and atmospheric radiation, Ohmura was checking levels of sunlight recorded around Europe when he made an astonishing discovery. It was too dark. Compared to similar measurements recorded by his predecessors in the 1960s, Ohmura's results suggested that levels of solar radiation striking the Earth's surface had declined by more than 10% in three decades.

The finding went against all scientific thinking. By the mid-1980s there was undeniable evidence that our planet was getting hotter, so the idea of reduced solar radiation - the Earth's only external source of heat - just didn't fit. And a massive 10% shift in only 30 years? Ohmura himself had a hard time accepting it. "I was shocked. The difference was so big that I just could not believe it," he says.

Neither could anyone else. When Ohmura eventually published his discovery in 1989, the science world was distinctly unimpressed. "It was ignored," he says.

It turns out that Ohmura was the first to document a dramatic effect that scientists are now calling "global dimming". Records show that over the past 50 years the average amount of sunlight reaching the ground has gone down by almost 3% a decade. It's too small an effect to see with the naked eye, but it has implications for everything from climate change to solar power and even the future sustainability of plant photosynthesis. In fact, global dimming seems to be so important that you're probably wondering why you've never heard of it before. Well don't worry, you're in good company. Many climate experts haven't heard of it either, the media has not picked up on it, and it doesn't even appear in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"It's an extraordinary thing that for some reason this hasn't penetrated even into the thinking of the people looking at global climate change," says Graham Farquhar, a climate scientist at the Australian National University in Canberra. "It's actually quite a big deal and I think you'll see a lot more people referring to it."

That's not to say that the effect has gone unnoticed. Although Ohmura was the first to report global dimming, he wasn't alone. In fact, the scientific record now shows several other research papers published during the 1990s on the subject, all finding that light levels were falling significantly. Among them they reported that sunshine in Ireland was on the wane, that both the Arctic and the Antarctic were getting darker and that light in Japan, the supposed land of the rising sun, was actually falling. Most startling of all was the discovery that levels of solar radiation reaching parts of the former Soviet Union had gone down almost 20% between 1960 and 1987.

The problem is that most of the climate scientists who saw the reports simply didn't believe them. "It's an uncomfortable one," says Gerald Stanhill, who published many of these early papers and coined the phrase global dimming. "The first reaction has always been that the effect is much too big, I don't believe it and if it's true then why has nobody reported it before."

That began to change in 2001, when Stanhill and his colleague Shabtai Cohen at the Volcani Centre in Israel collected all the available evidence together and proved that, on average, records showed that the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth's surface had gone down by between 0.23 and 0.32% each year from 1958 to 1992. This forced more scientists to sit up and take notice, though some still refused to accept the change was real and instead blamed it on inaccurate recording equipment.

Solar radiation is measured by seeing how much the side of a black plate warms up when exposed to the sun, compared with its flip side, which is shaded. It's a relatively crude device, and we have no way of proving how accurate measurements made 30 years ago really are. "To detect temporal changes you must have very good data, otherwise you're just analysing the difference between data retrieval systems," says Ohmura.

Stanhill says the dimming effect is much greater than the possible errors (which anyway would make the light levels go up as well as down), but what was really needed was an independent way to prove global dimming was real. Last year Farquhar and his group in Australia provided it.

The 2001 article written by Stanhill and Cohen sparked Farquhar's interest and he made some inquiries. The reaction was not always positive and when he mentioned the idea to one high-ranking climate scientist (whose name he is reluctant to reveal) he was told: "That's bullshit, Graham. If that was the case then we'd all be freezing to death."

But Farquhar had realised that the idea of global dimming could explain one of the most puzzling mysteries of climate science. As the Earth warms, you would expect the rate at which water evaporates to increase. But in fact, study after study using metal pans filled with water has shown that the rate of evaporation has gone down in recent years. When Farquhar compared evaporation data with the global dimming records he got a perfect match. The reduced evaporation was being caused by less sunlight shining on the water surface.

While Stanhill and Cohen's 2001 report appeared in a relatively obscure agricultural journal, Farquhar and his colleague Michael Roderick published their solution to the evaporation paradox in the high-profile U.S. magazine Science. Almost 20 years after it was first noticed, global dimming was finally in the mainstream. "I think over the past couple of years it's become clear that the solar irradiance at the Earth's surface has decreased," says Jim Hansen, a leading climate modeller with Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

The missing radiation is in the region of visible light and infrared - radiation like the ultraviolet light increasingly penetrating the leaky ozone layer is not affected. Stanhill says there is now sufficient interest in the subject for a special session to be held at the joint meeting of the U.S. and Canadian geophysical societies in Montreal next May.

So what causes global dimming? The first thing to say is that it's nothing to do with changes in the amount of radiation arriving from the sun. Although that varies as the sun's activity rises and falls and the Earth moves closer or further away, the global dimming effect is much, much larger and the opposite of what would be expected given there has been a general increase in overall solar radiation over the past 150 years.

Read the full article here

#84 Lazarus Long

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Posted 19 May 2004 - 01:18 PM

This is an example of "anecdotal evidence" not "proof" but it is an example of an expert witness, a trained and experienced observer whose opinion should be taken as meaning more than common hysteria.

The evidence is mounting that we are in a "convergence of events" a sort of social and environmental "Perfect Storm". So I ask you all to contemplate for a moment what course? What path is most likely to offer the best possible outcome and before you answer I think it is long past time to determine if by that "best possible outcome" we are even discussing results we can all agree upon.



Arctic Temperatures Warming Rapidly- Polar Explorer
Mon May 17,11:49 AM ET Science - Reuters
By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Summer temperatures in the Arctic have risen at an incredible rate over the past three years and large patches of what should be ice are now open water, a British polar explorer said on Monday.

Ben Saunders, forced by the warm weather to abandon an attempt to ski solo from northern Russia across the North Pole to Canada, said he had been amazed at how much of the ice had melted.

"It's obvious to me that things are changing a lot and changing very quickly," a sunburned Saunders told Reuters less than two days after being rescued from the thinning ice sheet close to the North Pole.

"I do know it's happening because that was my third time in the Arctic (in the last three years)," said Saunders, who explored the region in 2001 and 2003.

An international study last year said global warming would melt most of the Arctic icecap in summertime by the end of the century. Many scientists blame the rising temperatures on human emissions of greenhouse gases while others point to what they say are longer-term natural warming and cooling cycles.

"The temperatures were incredibly warm ... I had days when I could ski with no gloves and no hat at all, just in bare hands, because I was too hot," said Saunders.

Logs from an expedition in 2001 showed the average Arctic temperature at this time of year was minus 15 to minus 20 degrees Celsius (plus 5 to minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit).

Saunders said the average temperature this time was just minus 5 to minus 7 degrees Celsius (23 to 19 degrees Fahrenheit).

"I saw open water every single day of the expedition, which is not what I was expecting," said Saunders, who had to don a special thermal suit and drag his sled across open patches of water nine times during the 71 days he spent alone. He covered a total of 965 km (600 miles) before giving up.

"I think a ski crossing from land to land (Russia to Canada) if conditions stay the same -- let alone get any worse -- is impossible," he said.

Saunders had planned to set off from Russia's northernmost Arctic islands in March but instead of ice, he discovered a 70 km (34 mile) open stretch of water. He had to be flown to the closest pack ice.

"The ice was terrible, right from the word go; very smashed up, very few flat areas," he said, adding that the usually impermeable multiyear ice was thinning.

"(It) is becoming less stable and it's breaking up more easily. There are enormous pressure ridges, and enormous areas of what I'd describe as rubble."

Saunders said he had also been struck by the almost complete absence of polar bears on the Russian side.

"That surprised me a lot ... that's historically been a very concentrated area for bears," he said.

"Whereas in 2001 we were attacked by a bear on day two (of the trek) and saw bear tracks nearly every day for the first three weeks, this year I saw four sets of tracks during the entire expedition."

Polar bears hunt out on the ice during summer months and are forced to retreat back to land when the ice is too thin.

Saunders said the weather had been poor for much of the trip with much more cloud cover and fog than he had expected. The fresh snow he encountered was soft and bulky, unlike the typical hard, fine-grained snow found in the Arctic.

#85 Lazarus Long

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Posted 19 May 2004 - 01:23 PM

Well the UN is taking the reports seriously and so by the way are our own security forces, even as they present a very different attitude in public.

Posted Image
Unnatural Weather, Natural Disasters: A New U.N. Focus
Published: May 18, 2004
Posted Image
Officials at a U.N. agency hope that their project to improve weather warning systems can save lives lost to natural disasters like Hurricane Mitch, which left this scene behind in Honduras in 1998.

As 1999 drew to a close, two weeks of continuous rain drummed down the sides of the Ávila Mountains in northern Venezuela. The soil was so saturated that landslides and mudflows careered down the mountain, washing away towns, dams and bridges and claiming thousands of lives.

Although this was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recent decades, it was far from unique. Last year, 700 floods, storms and other weather calamities claimed 75,000 lives worldwide and caused about $65 billion in economic damage. By far, most of the victims - about 98 percent - were in the poorest nations.

But officials at the World Meteorological Organization, the world's weather agency, say that in the future that toll can be cut in half. The little-known United Nations agency, with 187 member countries, began a drive in March to improve early weather warnings and disaster preparations, and to build up weather agencies in developing countries.

Michel Jarraud, who took over as secretary general of the Geneva-based agency in January, said sweeping improvements in forecasting had made it possible to notify people of impending disasters in time to evacuate them or shore up their defenses.

"Five-day forecasts today are as good as two-day forecasts were about 20 years ago," Mr. Jarraud said. And they can be broadcast almost instantaneously, almost anywhere in the world.

China, for example, used such forecasting when its coast was hit by Typhoon Winnie in 1997, said Gao Lanying, a meteorologist with the Chinese weather agency. Accurate forecasting allowed the government to broadcast typhoon information hourly, to recall fishing boats to port, to evacuate 1.4 million people from risky and low-lying areas, and to move grains and other materials. The death toll was 239, rather than thousands, she wrote in a recent paper analyzing China's meteorological disasters.

While forecasting has improved, Mr. Jarraud said there was a worrisome gap between developed countries and developing ones. Poorer nations often lack the means to use weather data to blunt the effects of natural disasters and to avoid disruptions to food and water supplies.

The cost of natural disasters and their negative effects on development have attracted the attention of the World Bank, which no longer thinks of disasters as a purely humanitarian issue. Natural disasters can decimate a country's economy. Venezuela's 1999 mudslides cost the country $3.2 billion. Honduras lost 41 percent of its annual gross domestic product when Hurricane Mitch barreled through in October 1998, according to the World Bank.

"This is not just a natural phenomenon and there's nothing to do about it," said Margaret Arnold, a hazard management official at the bank. "There is a lot you can do."

Mr. Jarraud said such devastating losses made it urgent to take action. "We have to get out of our box and look at things from a wider perspective to help these countries," he said.

By contrast, industrialized nations incorporate weather predictions into their emergency preparedness efforts. "We don't have situations such as countries like Bangladesh, where a natural disaster can kill thousands of people," said Dr. Ronald D. McPherson, executive director of the American Meteorological Society. "Those people would have been moved away in advance."

One reason the United States loses relatively few lives is experience; it has had to learn to cope with some of the world's worst weather. "We have about as many hurricanes as China, as many winter storms as Russia and Europe, thunderstorms and virtually all the world's tornadoes plus big distances here, which make everything vulnerable to disruption," said William Hooke, director of the meteorological society's atmospheric policy program.

But Dr. McPherson noted that developing countries often lacked preparedness plans. "Part of it is lack of money and lack of experience," he said, "and it's lack of political will." Many politicians do not understand what modern forecasting can do, he said, and some cultures are fatalistic about such catastrophes.

Venezuela's government has promised to put a high priority on developing a rainfall monitoring network, coupled with an early warning system for the Ávila Mountains, where thousands still make their homes along banks carved out by the mudflows or on crumbling hillsides.

"Perhaps we cannot prevent landslides, flash floods and debris flows," said Dr. José L. López, an engineering professor at the University of Central Venezuela who speaks for the government on weather issues. "But we can be much better prepared to prevent these natural hazards from becoming disasters."

Mr. Jarraud acknowledged that his initiative, which does not have its own budget, could not be accomplished overnight. He has set a 15-year timeline for improving early warnings and disaster preparedness, and bolstering national weather agencies.

A first goal is to make sure that all countries have access to observations of extreme weather events that are collected by weather satellites, and assistance in incorporating such data into their emergency planning system. He also wants to help train weather service personnel, transfer useful technologies and educate the public about disaster preparedness.

In research, he said, every nation would benefit from more systematic studies and observations of weather phenomena. The world needs to know more about "how and why natural hazards happen, and how they can escalate into disasters," he said.

#86 Lazarus Long

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 03:00 PM

Mind could you get us a copy of that Arctic report online or uploaded to the archives? It seems that there is a marked acceleration being noticed that some of us have been warning to watch for. It is ominous even if what it portends is not fully understood.


Fast Arctic Thaw Portends Global Warming-Report
Mon May 24,12:06 PM ET Science - Reuters
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) - Global warming (news - web sites) is hitting the Arctic more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet in what may be a portent of wider, catastrophic changes, the chairman of an eight-nation study said on Monday.

Inuit hunters are falling more frequently through the thinning ice with habitats for plants and animals also disrupted. The icy Hudson Bay in Canada could be uninhabitable for polar bears within just 20 years.

The melting is also destabilizing buildings on permafrost and threatening an oil pipeline laid across Alaska.

Benefits, for human commerce, might accrue from the opening up of a now largely icebound short-cut sea route from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Russia might also win easier access to oil and gas as the icecap shrinks and permafrost retreats.

The broader consequences are however disturbing.

"There is dramatic climate change happening in the Arctic right now...about 2-3 times the pace of the whole globe," said Robert Corell, chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessement (ACIA), an 1,800 page report to be handed to ministers in Iceland in November.

"If you want to know what the rest of the planet is going to see in next generation, watch out for the Arctic in the next 5-10 years," he told Reuters. The report combines input from scientists, indigenous peoples and eight Arctic rim nations.

The Arctic reacts most to global warming, blamed largely on emissions of gases like carbon dioxide from fossil fuels in cars and factories, partly because dark-colored water or earth, once exposed, soaks up heat far faster than white ice or snow.

Some parts of Alaska have heated up 10 times more than the global average, said Corell, a senior fellow at the American Meteorological Society. Future temperature rises in the Arctic were likely to be twice the 1.4-5.8 Celsius (3-11 F) gain by 2100 forecast by a U.N.-led panel of scientists, he said.


"I think it (climate change) can be stopped but we will need an aggressive response," Corell said. Global climate change may bring everything from disastrous floods or droughts to a rise in global sea levels that could swamp low-lying Pacific islands.

But environmentalists doubt that governments will decide strong action based on the ACIA report because the United States has pulled out of the U.N.'s Kyoto protocol, the main international scheme to tackle climate change.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that he favored ratifying Kyoto, which has already been backed by the other six Arctic rim nations -- Canada, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland and Denmark.

"The (ACIA) report underlines how critical it is that we take action as soon as possible, first under Kyoto, to reduce emissions and invest in renewable energy," said Samantha Smith, director of the Arctic Program at the WWF environmental group.

Among signs of change in the Nordic region, birch trees were taking over traditional reindeer lichen pastures, Corell said. The reindeer had to compete with elk and red deer moving north.

Corell said that the sea route between the Pacific and the Atlantic via the Arctic could open far earlier than expected by most previous studies, cutting shipping times compared to routes via the Suez or Panama canals.

"On average our models show that by 2050 the Northern Sea Route will be open about 100 days a year. Now it's open about 20 days," he said.

#87 the bricoleur

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Posted 18 June 2004 - 10:47 AM

I would be interested to hear how those who support the anthropogenic global warming theory address the evidence for a global Medieval Warm Period that was on average 2°C warmer than today?


the bricoleur

#88 Michael

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Posted 12 August 2004 - 03:35 PM

I would be interested to hear how those who support the anthropogenic global warming theory address the evidence for a global Medieval Warm Period that was on average 2°C warmer than today?

Even if true, it's not particularly relevant to the threat posed by climate change or the strategies best adopted to preserve an advanced civilization. The issue with climate change is not the absolute temperature at which the planet is now or will ultimately settle, but the unprecedented* rate of change, which the models predict (and which current phenomena seem to confirm) will be a dramatic unstabilizing influence on atmospheric phenomena and therefore on agriculture, weatjer-based disasters, shipping, the physical basis of geopolitics, etc.


*I mean here "unprecedented" within the period of human civilization. Prehuman disasters like what may have happened in the Cretaceous, or in preagricultural periods, are helpful in giving us ideas about what we may expect to happen, but don't offer any direct information on the challenges faced by an advanced civilization with an enormous fixed infrastructure.

#89 the bricoleur

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 10:23 AM

How does a 0.6°C rise in surface temperature over the last 140 years get raised to the level of "unprecedented"?

During the 20th century the bulk of rising temperature occurred from 1900 to 1940. It was followed by a cooling trend from 1940 to around 1975. Yet the concentration of greenhouse gases was measurably higher in that later period than in the former. Moreover, through much of the earth's history, increases in CO2 have followed global warming.

In the middle and upper troposphere, over 1000 meters above the sea level, there has occurred no perceivable warming due to increased CO2. The only actual warming observed during 1958–2001 occurred at the time of the abrupt climate regime shift in 1977. Therefore, the less cloudy tropics and the Himalayan (and all other) glacier melting have causes other than increasing CO2.


Seidel, Dian J., J.K. Angell, J. Christy, M. Free, S.A. Klein, J.R. Lanzante, C. Mears, D. Parker, M. Schabel, R. Spencer, A. Sterin, P. Thorne, and F. Wentz, 2004. Uncertainty in signals of large-scale climate variations in radiosonde and satellite upper-air temperature datasets. Journal of Climate Vol. 17, No. 11, pp. 2225–2240, June 2004, online

Seidel, Dian J., and John R. Lanzante, 2004. An assessment of three alternatives to linear trends for characterizing global atmospheric temperature changes. J. Geophys. Res. – Atm., 109, D14108, doi:10.1029/2003JD004414, July 29, 2004, online

I have a few remarks to make with regards to computer "models"/simulations but will save them for another time.

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#90 Mind

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Posted 04 November 2004 - 10:26 PM

Laz, I do have a keen mind.

Mind: Now the Greens want to take out the dams, because they disrupt the natural flow of water and the ecology that goes with it. Guess what?, wind mills disrupt the flow of air. They take momentum out of the air.

Laz: This is reduction to absurdity, please try and demonstrate that keen "mind" I am quite confident you possess and make a case that does not depend on such fanciful extensions that serve more political than scientific purpose. Obviously dams influence a vastly larger question of habitat, both with respect to wildlife and human. Or did you have a distressing debate with a "green coworker"?

This article has to do with how tall wind turbines tap air above the boundary layer at night, but there are other effects that wind farms will have, especially the ones over water. They will disrupt the "natural" surface wave action, and shore erosion patterns. Still, I would rank these problems below acid rain and other chemical pollution caused by burning fossil fuels.

Weather hots up under wind farms

10:34 04 November 04

Wind farms can change the weather, according to a model of how these forests of giant turbines interact with the local atmosphere. And the idea is backed up by observations from real wind farms.

Somnath Baidya Roy from Princeton University, and his colleagues modelled a hypothetical wind farm consisting of a 100 by 100 array of wind turbines, each 100 metres tall and set 1 kilometre apart.

They placed the virtual farm in the Great Plains region of the US, an area suitable for large wind farms, and modelled the climate using data from Oklahoma.

During the day, the model suggests that wind farms have very little effect on the climate because the warmth of the sun mixes the lower layers of the atmosphere. But at night, when the atmosphere is stiller, the wind turbines have a significant effect.

“At hub height the turbine gives an extra input of turbulence to the wind, which increases the vertical mixing,” explains Baidya Roy. This brings down to ground level the warm night air and higher wind speeds that are normally found at 100 metres.

At 3 am the average wind speed in Oklahoma is 3.5 metres per second, but it increased to around 5 m/s in the model wind farm. The model also suggested that the temperature would increase by around 2°C underneath the 10,000 turbines. Over the course of a day this averages out to an increase in ground-level wind speed of around 0.6 m/s and a rise in temperature of around 0.7°C.

Heat of the night

How such a change might affect local wildlife and agriculture is not clear.

The findings are backed by real observations. Neil Kelley, a meteorologist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, has gathered data from a wind farm in California.

“Although the wind farm was more dense and the turbines smaller we still found that the turbines tended to pull down heat and momentum from above, particularly during the night-time hours,” he says.

Meanwhile, Gustave Corten from the Energy Research Centre in Petten in the Netherlands is carrying out experiments with a model wind farm inside a wind tunnel. “I think the study is of much interest and I can confirm that large wind farms will affect the microclimate,” says Corten.

Baidya Roy says it may be possible to modify the wind turbines so that their effect on the weather is not so extreme. “If engineers can reduce turbulence then the turbine would become more efficient and the environmental impact would be reduced,” he says.

But no amount of engineering will change the fact that energy is being removed from the wind. “People tend to think that renewable energy is for free, but it isn’t. There is a price to pay for all kinds of consumption, including renewable energy,” says Baidya Roy.

Journal reference: Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres (DOI: 10.1029/2004 JD004763).
Kate Ravilious

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