Monday, June 27, 2016

The Climate…In Your Backyard

Dr. James Hansen
  The Open Mind, Hosted by Alexander Heffner <>   I’m Alexander Heffner your host on The Open Mind. Joining me today is perhaps the world’s most famous climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, Director of Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Formerly the leader of NASA’s Space Studies, Hansen recently returned from the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Conference, where he pitched Warren Buffett and fellow investors on a carbon fee. His discussion, “Energy and Climate Change: How justice can be achieved for young people,” focused on the inter generational imperative of climate change and the harm climate disruption poses to us, Millennials and their children and grandchildren. Hansen’s newest study, alongside his European counterparts, projects more melted ice sheets, rising sea levels, and superstorms. As we have explored here on this program, the consensus of modeling forecasts, a dangerous doom and gloom, that puts in jeopardy the habitability of the planet, just decades from now. I want to welcome Jim, James, Dr. Hansen. Thank you for being here today.   HANSEN: Thank you for having me.     HEFFNER: Now, we were talking off camera. And in, in The Guardian, you said, in response to the Paris talks, “It’s really a fraud, a fake.” And I said, uh, well… More

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Global Extreme Weather in June 2016

Understanding Climate Change.  As air temperatures get hotter more evaporation takes place leading to greater precipitation and flooding.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Economic and Social Sustainability of the Cayman Islands

The next four decades are going to be extremely challenging in many ways. They will be challenging not only economically and socially, these islands will also be challenged by a changing climate, exposing us to much higher levels of risk, as well as exposed politically to violent winds of change. There are also the issues of energy security and sea level rise that will have to be addressed .   The leadership of these islands have time and again proved themselves incapable of visualizing and planning for the future, and the concomitant issues that we are going to faced with in the medium and long-term. I often feel overwhelmed by complacency, given that the only forward thinking runs in four year cycles and is politically driven.  The Cayman Islands have never liked planning and as I often repeat "failing to plan is planning to fail".      

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Has veteran climate scientist James Hansen foretold the ‘loss of all coastal cities’ with latest study?

Has veteran climate scientist James Hansen foretold the ‘loss of all coastal cities’ with latest study?
Firstly, Hansen says they may have uncovered a mechanism in the Earth’s climate system not previously understood that could point to a much more rapid rise in sea levels. When the Earth’s ice sheets melt, they place a freshwater lens over neighboring oceans. This lens, argues Hansen, causes the ocean to retain extra heat, which then goes to melting the underside of large ice sheets that fringe the ocean, causing them to add more freshwater to the lens (this is what’s known as a “positive feedback” and is not to be confused with the sort of positive feedback you may have got at school for that cracking fifth grade science assignment). Secondly, according to the paper, all this added water could first slow and then shut down two key ocean currents – and Hansen points to two unusually cold blobs of ocean water off Greenland and off Antarctica as evidence that this process may already be starting. If these ocean conveyors were to be impacted, this could create much greater temperature differences between the tropics and the north Atlantic, driving “super storms stronger than any in modern times”, he argues.   “All hell will break loose in the North Atlantic and neighbouring lands,” he says in a video summaryMore

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Environmental Degradation Leading Cause of Deaths Globally, Says UN Report

Degradation Leading Cause of Deaths Globally, Says UN Report




23 May 2016: Environmental degradation and pollution cause almost a quarter of all deaths, up to 234 times as many premature deaths as occur in conflicts annually and the deaths of more than 25% of all children under the age of five, according to a UN report released to coincide with the second session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-2). The report, titled ‘Healthy Environment, Healthy People,' emphasizes the importance of a healthy environment to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and addresses dangers posed by air pollution, chemicals, climate change and other issues linking environmental quality to health. 


The report finds that in 2012, an estimated 12.6 million deaths were attributable to deteriorating environment conditions, with the highest proportion occurring in Southeast Asia and in the Western Pacific, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa. Deaths related to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are rising in all regions.


In a discussion on what is impacting or driving such trends, the report points to ecosystem disruption, climate change, inequality, unplanned urbanization, unhealthy and wasteful lifestyles, and unsustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns. The publication highlights, in particular, that climate change is exacerbating the scale and intensity of environment-related health risks, with the WHO estimating that 250,000 additional deaths could occur annually between 2030 and 2050 from climate-induced malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.


The report also explains that: air pollution kills seven million people annually, with 4.3 million of those deaths from household air pollution; lack of access to clean water and sanitation results in 842,000 deaths annually from diseases that cause diarrhea, which are the third leading cause of deaths of children younger than five; approximately 107,000 people die annually from asbestos exposure, and 654,000 died from lead exposure in 2010; and natural disasters have led to 606,000 deaths since 1995.


The report then goes on to illustrate how investing in a healthy environment can bring multiple benefits. For example, by phasing out nearly 100 ozone-depleting substances (ODS) up to two million cases of skin cancer and millions of eye cataracts may be prevented each year. In addition, eliminating lead in gasoline has prevented an estimated one million premature deaths per year, and reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, such as black carbon and methane, could reduce global warming by 0.5°C by mid-century, and save 2.4 million lives a year by 2030.


To achieve these benefits, the report recommends: detoxification and removing harmful substances from and/or mitigating their impact on the environment; decarbonization and increased use of renewables; decoupling resource use and changing lifestyles; and enhancing ecosystem resilience and protecting natural systems, including protecting and conserving genetic diversity and terrestrial, coastal and marine biodiversity; strengthening ecosystem restoration; and reducing pressures from livestock production and logging on natural ecosystems. [Publication: Healthy Environment, Healthy People] [UNEP Press Release] [IISD RS Coverage of UNEA-2]


Read More

Thursday, May 26, 2016

How is climate change impacting the water cycle?


Find out how rising global temperatures affect the water cycle in our latest infographic.  

Climate change increases our risk of both heavy rains and extreme droughts. But why – and how – is that? Aren't the two contradictory?

Science has shown that climate change touches every corner of our planet’s ecosystem, and the water cycle is no exception. Because the processes involved are highly dependent on temperature, changes in one have consequences on the other. Specifically, as global temperatures have steadily increased at their fastest rates in millions of years, it’s directly affected things like water vapor concentrations, clouds, precipitation patterns, and stream flow patterns, which are all related to the water cycle.

So how does climate change impact the water cycle? We’ve created an infographic below that illustrates what’s going on, but we’ll describe it here too. Put simply, water evaporates from the land and sea, which eventually returns to Earth as rain and snow. Climate change intensifies this cycle because as air temperatures increase, more water evaporates into the air. Warmer air can hold more water vapor, which can lead to more intense rainstorms, causing major problems like extreme flooding in coastal communities around the world.

But it doesn’t end there. At the same time that some areas are experiencing stronger storms, others are experiencing more dry air and even drought. Like we mentioned above, as temperatures rise, evaporation increases and soils dry out. Then when rain does come, much of the water runs off the hard ground into rivers and streams, and the soil remains dry. The result? Still more evaporation from the soil and an increased risk of drought. More

Monday, May 16, 2016

Climate change: Flooding caused by global warming to put one billion people at risk by 2060, charity warns

Climate change: Flooding caused by global warming to put one billion people at risk by 2060, charity warns 
  More than a billion people will be at risk from flooding caused by climate change in just a few decades' time, a leading charity has warned.   Christian Aid says that  huge numbers of people in coastal cities would exposed to rising seas, flooding, extreme weather and storm surges by 2060.   The urban poor – a demographic expected to grow in coming years - would be hardest hit, the charity said, in a “humanitarian crisis waiting to happen”. However, the report says a widespread catastrophe was not inevitable and protective measures implemented now could negate the worst effects.   If trends continue, many of the places likely to be hardest hit will be in Asia, but the US will also badly suffer the effects, according to the paper.     South Asia will be the hardest hit, with the Indian cities of Kolkata and Mumbai, and the Bangladeshi city of Dhaka, predicted to have the largest populations – all of at least 11 million people - exposed to coastal flooding by the 2070s. More