Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Nasa News Stories

May 30, 2007


NASA and Columbia University Earth Institute research finds that human-made greenhouse gases have brought the Earth’s climate close to critical tipping points, with potentially dangerous consequences for the planet.

From a combination of climate models, satellite data, and paleoclimate records the scientists conclude that the West Antarctic ice sheet, Arctic ice cover, and regions providing fresh water sources and species habitat are under threat from continued global warming. The research appears in the current issue of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

Tipping points can occur during climate change when the climate reaches a state such that strong amplifying feedbacks are activated by only moderate additional warming. This study finds that global warming of 0.6ºC in the past 30 years has been driven mainly by increasing greenhouse gases, and only moderate additional climate forcing is likely to set in motion disintegration of the West Antarctic ice sheet and Arctic sea ice. Amplifying feedbacks include increased absorption of sunlight as melting exposes darker surfaces and speedup of iceberg discharge as the warming ocean melts ice shelves that otherwise inhibit ice flow.
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Himalayas show 'significant sign of global warming'

These Greenpeace-issued photographs show Mount Everest in 1968 (top) and this year (above), which the environmental group argues show how global warming has destroyed the field of ice towers on the glacier.

These Greenpeace-issued photographs show Mount Everest in 1968 (top) and this
year (above), which the environmental group argues show how global warming
has destroyed the field of ice towers on the glacier.
Photo: Greenpeace

Mary-anne Toy, Beijing
May 31, 2007

THESE two photographs taken 40 years apart show how one of the world's spectacular ice formations, the field of ice towers or serac forest, around Mount Everest, is shrinking.

Greenpeace, which released the photographs yesterday, says this is global warming in action.

The original picture from 1968 was taken by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Greenpeace has made three expeditions to the the area in the past two years.

Its campaigners were unable to reach the spot where they believed the 1968 picture was taken because a smaller glacier that was there four decades ago has disappeared, making the area impassable.

The season in which the 1968 photograph was taken is also unknown, though there are only two periods when the area is habitable by humans.

Greenpeace says there are two climbing seasons for Everest, April-May and September-October, so it is highly likely the 1968 shot was taken in one of these two seasons.

Global Warming: Who’s To Blame?

By Nicole Colson

30 May, 2007
Socialist Worker

Nicole Colson looks at the facts about the devastating consequences of global warming--and explains why a system that puts profits before all else is to blame.

It’s no secret that the wealth of available scientific evidence shows man-made global warming exists.

But recent studies suggest climate change may be happening at an even quicker pace than previously thought--and the consequences are already proving devastating for the environment and for huge numbers of people across the globe. Read More

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Combating Climate Change: Farming Out Global Warming Solutions

Scientific American - Science News
May 25, 2007

Changes to agricultural practice and forestry management could cut greenhouse gas emissions, buying time to develop alternative technologies
By David Biello

Science Image: tilling-soy-field
Image: USDA
NO TILL?: By avoiding tillage, seen here, farmers can both increase the quality of their soil and sequester greenhouse gases.
Saving the trees could slow climate change, new research shows. Each year, nearly 33 million acres of forestland around the world is cut down, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Tropical felling alone contributes 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon—some 20 percent of all man-made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—to the atmosphere annually. If such losses were cut in half, it could save 500 million metric tons of carbon annually and contribute 12 percent of the total reductions in GHG emissions required to avoid unpleasant global warming, researchers recently reported in Science.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Climate Changing Pollution Rising—Again

Despite worldwide concern, carbon dioxide emissions have tripled in the past few years, according to a new study

For years, emissions of greenhouse gases in developed countries—and throughout the world—have been going down while economic activity increased. Even as the economies of the U.S. and European Union continued to grow, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) per car built, burger served or widget sold was on the decline. No more. "It appears that the carbon intensity of economic activity has stopped improving," says Chris Field, director of the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Department of Global Ecology in Stanford, Calif. "Each dollar of economic activity is requiring more rather than less carbon, which reverses a long-term trend."

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Tracking Dangerous Climate Change This Week

By Bill Henderson21 May, 2007Countercurrents.orgSo what's new this week in the race to dangerous climate change?Well quote of the week goes to the deputy Mayor of London:We both know that our infrastructure and the accumulated wealth of centuries are at risk with a sea level rise of just a few meters.

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Deadlock for UN climate meeting

Deadlock for UN climate meeting
Harlan Watson
A US negotiator said the time was not right for negotiations
UN-hosted talks on climate change have ended in deadlock.

They were aimed at paving the way for the climate summit taking place in Bali in December which will focus on how to take forward the Kyoto Protocol.

However, the US said it was unlikely to take part in negotiations at the end of this year on a global agreement to cut emissions of carbon dioxide.

The UN acknowledged "sticking points", but said some issues had been resolved at the meeting.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary, Yvo de Boer, said: "We have come closer to broadening negotiations on a post-2012 regime by resolving some of the outstanding issues and clarifying which building blocks of a future agreement need to be put in place."

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Climate and the UN: A new bid for control?

Climate and the UN: A new bid for control?
Felix Dodds and Richard Sherman
Felix Dodds and Richard Sherman

At a recent United Nations debate, the UK argued that the Security Council should take a central role in responding to climate change. But, ask Felix Dodds and Richard Sherman in this week's Green Room, is this yet another way for rich nations to protect their own borders and interests?

UN climate debate
This UN debate on energy, security and climate... can definitely be seen as a historic event

While governments are preoccupied with negotiations on future international action when the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period expires in 2012, a more recent debate held in the UN Security Council elevated the climate struggle to a new level.

Central were the weighty questions: is climate change a threat to international peace and security, and, if so, does the Security Council have a role to play in generating intergovernmental consensus on a global response?

This UN debate on energy, security and climate, which took place on 17 April, can definitely be seen as a historic event - and might, by some, even be seen as an evolutionary step in the climate debate.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Earth’s Natural Defenses Against Climate Change ‘Beginning To Fail’

By Michael McCarthy

19 May, 2007
The Independent

The earth’s ability to soak up the gases causing global warming is beginning to fail because of rising temperatures, in a long-feared sign of “positive feedback,” new research reveals today.

Climate change itself is weakening one of the principal “sinks” absorbing carbon dioxide - the Southern Ocean around Antarctica - a new study has found.

As a result, atmospheric CO2 levels may rise faster and bring about rising temperatures more quickly than previously anticipated. Stabilizing the CO2 level, which must be done to bring the warming under control, is likely to become much more difficult, even if the world community agrees to do it.

The news may give added urgency to the meeting in three weeks’ time between the G8 group of rich nations and the leading developing countries led by China, at Heiligendamm in Germany, when an attempt will be made to put together the framework of a new world climate treaty to succeed the current Kyoto protocol.

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The Largest Solar Farm in North America Coming in 2010 to Canada (40 MW)

A California company is preparing to install a massive solar installation near Sarnia, Ontario that will be the largest solar installation in North America. Sarnia is close to major grid pathways, making it easy to tie the power produced by this solar farm into the North American grid. It is also a relatively southern location for Canada.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Scientists Urge Conservation of Canada's Precious Northern Forest

OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada, May 16, 2007 (ENS) - At least half of Canada's northern Boreal forest must be protected for the good of the planet, 1,500 scientists from more than 50 countries said in an open letter to the governments of Canada. The scientists said the vast forest that stretches across the Canadian North is one of the largest intact forest and wetland ecosystems remaining on Earth.

The scientists' letter released on Monday urges Canada's federal, provincial, territorial and aboriginal governments to preserve a minimum of half of the Boreal forest in protected areas while allowing only carefully managed development on the rest.

The Boreal forest extends across the majority of Canada's provinces and territories and into Alaska. (Map courtesy Environment Canada)
This plan accords with the Boreal Conservation Framework, a plan already endorsed by Canadian conservation groups, 25 Canadian First Nations, and more than 75 major businesses with combined annual sales of $30 billion.

"The extraordinary level of support expressed in this letter demonstrates the global ecological importance of Canada's Boreal Forest and the urgent need for Canada to protect it, said David Schindler, professor of ecology at the University of Alberta-Edmonton.

"We are losing so many of the world's great forests, despite the best efforts of conservationists," Schindler said. "Canada's Boreal forest offers what may be our last, best chance to do things right, but only if our leaders act decisively and act now.

The 1.4 billion acre forest is a major source of North America's fresh water and is inhabited by some of the planet's largest populations of wolves, grizzly bear and woodland caribou.

Its lakes and rivers still contain an abundance of fish and its trees and wetlands provide nesting grounds for billions of songbirds and waterfowl.

Hundreds of First Nations communities also depend on the Boreal forest ecosystem for fish and wildlife.

Canada's northern boreal forest is targeted for logging and other development. (Photo courtesy Canadian Forest Service)
The Boreal forest also is the single largest terrestrial carbon storehouse in the world. The Boreal stores 186 billion metric tons of carbon – equivalent to 27 years of the world's carbon dioxide emissions from the consumption of fossil fuels.

But the Boreal forest is under increasing pressure from logging, mining and oil and gas operations and only 10 percent has been protected to date, far less than what is scientifically recognized as necessary to sustain the ecosystem over time, the scientists said.

"In the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, report, deforestation was identified as a significant source of green house gas emissions. The Boreal forest stores large quantities of carbon and provides a shield against global warming and critical habitat for countless species of birds, fish and wildlife, said Dr. Terry Root, Stanford University professor and author of multiple IPCC reports.

"The world's scientists urge Canada to take action now by implementing the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework, Root said.

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Arctic Ice Retreating 30 Years Ahead of Projections

BOULDER, Colorado, April 30, 2007 (ENS) - Arctic sea ice is melting much more quickly than projected by even the most advanced computer models, a new government funded study has found. Comparing actual ice observations with climate models, the scientists conclude that the Arctic could be seasonally free of sea ice as early as 2020.

Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center have demonstrated that the Arctic's ice cover is retreating more rapidly than estimated by any of the 18 computer models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in preparing its 2007 assessments.

"While the ice is disappearing faster than the computer models indicate, both observations and the models point in the same direction - the Arctic is losing ice at an increasingly rapid pace and the impact of greenhouse gases is growing," says co-author Marika Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, NCAR.

Arctic Ocean sea ice breaking up in March (Photo by James Hannigan ©UCAR)
Whereas the computer models indicate that about half of the ice loss from 1979 to 2006 was due to increased greenhouse gases, and the other half due to natural variations in the climate system, the new study indicates that greenhouse gases may be playing a significantly greater role.

The study, "Arctic Sea Ice Decline: Faster Than Forecast?" will appear Tuesday in the online edition of "Geophysical Research Letters." It was led by Julienne Stroeve of the National Snow and Ice Data Center and funded by the National Science Foundation and by NASA.

The authors arrived at their conclusions by comparing model simulations of past Arctic climate and sea ice conditions with observations by satellites and other instruments.

Satellites have flown over the Arctic and looked at sea ice since 1978. Some sea ice melts in the summer every year, even in the Arctic, where temperatures are still near freezing. But in 2002, satellites showed that the springtime melting of sea ice started earlier than normal.

Satellites helped scientists learn that there was about 502,000 square miles less sea ice each September since 2001 than there typically was in previous Septembers. September marks the yearly minimum of sea ice in the Arctic.

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Spring Drought Leaves Millions of Chinese Thirsty

Spring Drought Leaves Millions of Chinese Thirsty

BEIJING, China, May 15, 2007 (ENS) - Drought in provinces across northern China has left 4.8 million people and an equal number of livestock short of drinking water, the state drought relief headquarters said today.

Temperatures are higher than normal for this time of year and rain is scarce, meteorologists said.

Eleven million hectares of crops have been affected by drought in Gansu, Hebei, Henan and Liaoning, as well as other provinces in northeastern, northern and northwestern China, the headquarters told the official state news agency Xinhua.

At least 500,000 people are thirsty in North China's Hebei Province, which completely surrounds the capital city of Beijing. More than 200 small reservoirs have dried up, officials said.


A Chinese woman enjoys a drink of precious water. (Photo courtesy State Environmental Protection Agency)
Beijing, with a permanent population of 15.36 million and more than four million transient residents, has suffered spring drought for the past eight years, and last year experienced its worst drought for 50 years.

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Big City Mayors Strategize to Beat Global Warming

NEW YORK, New York, May 15, 2007 (ENS) - The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, today addressed mayors from 34 of the world's largest cities about the dangers of catastrophic climate change and the need for immediate action.

Speaking at the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit in New York, Mayor Livingstone said, "The fight to tackle climate change will be won or lost in cities. Whatever the discussions between our national governments, as cities we are not waiting for anyone else to move first."

The C40 is a group of the world's largest cities committed to addressing climate change. Mayors from across the United States and around the world are at the summit including the mayors of Bangkok, Berlin, Bogata, Chicago, Copenhagen, Delhi, Houston,
Istanbul, Johannesburg, Mexico City, Rio, Rome, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Sydney,
Tokyo, Toronto, and Vancouver.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone is also chairman of the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit. (Photo courtesy Office of the Mayor)

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Clinton Unveils $5 Billion Green Makeover for Cities

NEW YORK, New York, May 16, 2007 (ENS) - Former President Bill Clinton today announced the creation of a $5 billion global effort to fight global warming by retrofitting existing buildings with more energy efficient products, thereby reducing the emission of greenhouse gases.

A project of the Clinton Climate Initiative, the program brings together four of the world's largest energy service companies, five of the world's largest banks, and 15 of the world's largest cities to reduce energy consumption in existing buildings.

President Clinton announced the Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit Program at the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit now underway in New York. Mayors from across the United States and around the world are at the summit to strategize on climate change issues.
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Southern Ocean already losing ability to absorb CO2

17 May 2007 news service

Catherine Brahic

One of the world's largest carbon sinks has stopped soaking up the carbon dioxide that humans are pumping into the atmosphere, according to a new study.

Global warming has caused the Southern Ocean to become windier, churning up the waters so that they are unable to absorb CO2 at the rate we produce it, the researchers say.

The implications are far-reaching, and once more imply that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's projections are conservative: temperatures are likely to rise higher than predicted.Link

Corinne Le Quéré at the University of East Anglia in the UK, and colleagues say their study suggests that climate feedback loops – whereby more CO2 in the atmosphere causes warming which in turn releases even more CO2 from the oceans – are happening between 20 and 40 years before they were expected.

Cold storage

"This is serious," says Le Quéré. "All climate models predict that this kind of feedback will continue and intensify during this century."

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Oxygen supplies for India police

By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

Taxi belches out smoke in Calcutta
Few vehicles are tested for pollution emissions
Police stations across the Indian city of Calcutta have been equipped with oxygen devices to enable police to offset the effects of pollution. The extra air is for the benefit of hundreds of traffic policemen in the city who have to brave some of the worst pollution in the world.

The move follows a recent report which said that some 70% of people in the city suffer from respiratory disorders.
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Could this be a fortaste of the future?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Deforestation: The Hidden Cause Of Global Warming

14 May, 2007

The Independent

The accelerating destruction of the rainforests that form a precious cooling band around the Earth's equator, is now being recognised as one of the main causes of climate change. Carbon emissions from deforestation far outstrip damage caused by planes and automobiles and factories.

The rampant slashing and burning of tropical forests is second only to the energy sector as a source of greenhouses gases according to report published today by the Oxford-based Global Canopy Programme, an alliance of leading rainforest scientists.

Figures from the GCP, summarising the latest findings from the United Nations, and building on estimates contained in the Stern Report, show deforestation accounts for up to 25 per cent of global emissions of heat-trapping gases, while transport and industry account for 14 per cent each; and aviation makes up only 3 per cent of the total.

"Tropical forests are the elephant in the living room of climate change," said Andrew Mitchell, the head of the GCP.

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US Trying to Weaken G-8 Climate Change Declaration

US Trying to Weaken G-8 Climate Change Declaration

by Juliet Eilperin

WASHINGTON — Negotiators from the United States are trying to weaken the language of a climate change declaration set to be unveiled at next month’s G-8 summit of the world’s leading industrial powers, according to documents.

A draft proposal dated April 2007 that is being debated in Bonn by senior officials of the Group of Eight includes a pledge to limit the global temperature rise this century to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as an agreement to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. 0514 01

The United States is seeking to strike that section, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Many scientists have warned that an increase of more than 3.6 degrees this century could trigger disastrous consequences such as mass extinction of species and accelerated melting of polar ice sheets, which would raise sea levels.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

City parks could cool urban areas by 4°C

City parks could cool urban areas by 4°C

15 May 2007

Creating more parks and green spaces in urban areas could cool cities by up to 4°C – possibly enough to offset the warming from climate change – say researchers.
“If you look at infrared maps of cities, the woodland areas are 12°C cooler than city centres with no trees,“ says Roland Ennos at Manchester University in the UK, who carried out the study with colleagues.
Ennos's team used the city of Manchester as a template for their study. With two computer models – one to calculate changes in temperature and one to calculate changes in rainwater run-off – they investigated how the urban climate would change if world greenhouse-gas emissions continue to rise at the current rate.
“We found that the temperature in Manchester will go up by 4°C by 2080 if the amount of green area remains unchanged,“ says Ennos.

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Nuclear key to Japan's climate plans

Nuclear key to Japan's climate plans
15 May 2007

Nuclear power is a key element in Japan's climate change mitigation strategy, a United Nations working group heard on 14 May.

Kazuhiko Hombu, deputy director general of Japan's Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry (METI), explained his country's strategy to members of a working group of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Hombu said that Japan's energy use per unit of gross domestic product had been reduced by 37% since 1973, while the supply of low-carbon primary energy from nuclear and renewable sources had increased from 6% to 15%. However, the country aims to increase efficiency by 'at least' 30% more by 2030. He identified industry, and in particular the steel industry, as having potential for major efficiency gains.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Climate Change Could Lead to Global Conflict

Climate Change Could Lead to Global Conflict, Says Beckett

by Julian Borger

LONDON - Climate change could spawn a new era of conflicts around the world over water and other scarce resources unless more is done to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, warned yesterday.

She said climate-driven conflicts were already under way in Africa. Underlying the Darfur crisis, she said, was a “struggle between nomadic and pastoral communities for resources made more scarce through a changing climate”.0511 01

Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute in London, Mrs Beckett quoted evidence that a similar conflict was brewing in Ghana where Fulani cattle herdsmen are reportedly arming themselves to take on local farmers in a confrontation over water and land as climate change expands the Sahara desert. The foreign secretary said the Middle East - with 5% of the world’s population but only 1% of its water - would be particularly badly affected, with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq particularly hard hit by a drop in rainfall.

She said the Nile could lose 80% of its flow into Egypt, a country which would also be threatened by rising sea levels in the Nile delta, its agricultural heartland, where flooding could displace 2 million people, threatening internal stability.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

United States seeks changes in G8 Climate Change Agreement

US seeks G8 climate text changes
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Cyclist. Image: AFP/Getty
The US appears to be on a different road from other G8 members
The US is trying to block sections of a draft agreement on climate change prepared for next month's G8 summit.

Washington objects to the draft's targets to keep the global temperature rise below 2C this century and halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The draft, prepared by the German G8 Presidency, says action is imperative.

With UN talks struggling to move beyond the current Kyoto Protocol targets, the G8 summit is seen as a key opportunity to regain political momentum.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has made climate a priority for the organisation, with backing from other leaders including Tony Blair.

Different directions

They are trying to lay landmines under a post-Kyoto agreement after they leave office
Philip Clapp
The European Union, which includes half of the G8 members, has already adopted commitments to aim for a global temperature rise of less than 2C, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020.

Japanese news organisations recently reported that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government was also planning to push fellow G8 members for tough targets.

But at preparatory discussions between officials of the G8 countries, US negotiators have made clear their opposition to several key components of the draft.

As well as objecting to mention of targets for global temperature rise and greenhouse gas emissions, Washington is also seeking to remove a section acknowledging that the UN is the "appropriate forum" for agreeing further action.

Protestor. Image: AFP/Getty
Japan has recently endorsed tough action on emissions
President Bush's administration has repeatedly pushed voluntary agreements as an alternative. The US is a key player in the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, a six-nation pact which promises greenhouse gas mitigation without targets.

US officials are also questioning the draft's call for the establishment of a global carbon market. Many observers believe that such a market can only be effective if there are binding caps on emissions.

"I think the real objective (of the US negotiators) is not just to keep the lid on and have nothing happen while Bush is in office, but they are trying to lay landmines under a post-Kyoto agreement after they leave office," commented Philip Clapp, president of the Washington-based National Environmental Trust, who has seen the US's proposed amendments.

"It lies in the hands of Prime Minister Blair and Chancellor Merkel, whether it's all sweetness and light or whether they are prepared to stand up and say 'I'm sorry, but the rest of the world is moving in a different direction from you'," he said.

Preparations for the 2005 G8 summit in the Scottish resort of Gleneagles also began with a climate change draft which grew weaker as discussions continued.

Leaders decided then to agree a weak document rather than leave with no agreement at all.