Monday, May 30, 2011

Melting of the Arctic 'will accelerate climate change within 20 years'

An irreversible climate "tipping point" could occur within the next 20 years as a result of the release of huge quantities of organic carbon locked away as frozen plant matter in the vast permafrost region of the Arctic, scientists have found.

Billions of tons of frozen leaves and roots that have lain undisturbed for thousands of years in the permanently frozen ground of the northern hemisphere are thawing out, with potentially catastrophic implications for climate change, the researchers said.
A study into the speed at which the permafrost is melting suggests that the tipping point will occur between 2020 and 2030 and will mark the point at which the Arctic turns from being a net "sink" for carbon dioxide into an overall source that will accelerate global warming, they said.

The study is the first global investigation of what will happen in a warmer world to the huge amounts of frozen plant matter that has remained undegraded in the soil since it was incorporated into the permafrost about 30,000 years ago.

It also found that by 2200 about two-thirds of the Earth's permafrost will have melted, releasing an estimated 190 billion tons of carbon dioxide and methane into the air – about half of all the fossil fuel emissions of greenhouse gases since the start of the industrial revolution. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Beyond 2 Degrees Celsius -PDF

Implications of NASA/GISS updates for the Earth energy balance, global temperatures, ice melt and sea level rise.

The Earth energy balance—namely the difference between energy/heat absorbed by the Earth from solar radiation and the energy/heat emitted back to space— estimated at +3.1 Watt/m2, equivalent to a +2.3 degrees C (based on climate sensitivity of 3C per doubling of CO2) (Hansen et al., 2011 [1]), is currently in part mitigated by the cooling effect of albedo-enhancing sulphur aerosols (~ -1.6 Watt/m2 = ~ -1.2C) emitted from fossil fuels and industry, which effectively act as a global geo-engineering process (Figure 1). Had it not been for this short-lived (few years-long) cooling effect the internationally agreed maximum temperature target of <2 degrees C would be transcended.

According to the IPCC AR4 (2007) [2] mean global land/ocean temperature since 1880 has risen by about +0.8C, which translates to more than +4C rise in the polar region of northern Canada, Greenland and Siberia [3] (Figure 2), triggering feedback-amplified ice melting accelerating between 2002 and 2010 [4] (Figure 3) and related sea level rise at a rate of 3.0+/-0.4 mm/year between 1993-2010 (Figure 4A). Melting of Arctic ice leading to increased evaporation can result in the advance of cold fronts into the north Atlantic. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Official urges quick adoption of global agreement on climate change

Samoa - The science adviser to the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS), Dr. Albert Binger, is urging countries to quickly adopt a global

agreement which will spare small island states the agony of having to deal with the effects of more intense hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Dr Binger, who is on secondment from the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC), told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that while discussions are taking place on climate change, many are unaware of the urgency of the situation.

“Essentially we have five years to set a global agreement to keep the emissions to where we see we can survive.

“It seems like in all the talk people don’t seem to recognise the urgency involved in the situation. There are 2,000 days or five years to actually get an implementation to meet a window to keep the temperature below 1.5 degrees.

“If it goes above 1.5 degrees a lot of countries especially those in the Caribbean and Pacific will be in serious trouble,” he warned. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Friday, May 27, 2011

Renewable energy necessary for energy security

Senator Edgardo J. Angara, said that the government should fast track efforts to implement a national roadmap for renewable energy (RE) in order

to take advantage of new, clean technology and not lag behind as the world is making moves to invest heavily in RE.

Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science and Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), welcomed news that the Department of Energy (DOE) has completed a national roadmap for RE, saying that the development of a strong RE foundation would ultimately secure the energy supply of the country and end fossil fuel dependency.

DOE Undersecretary Josefina Asirit said that the National Renewable Energy Plan (NREP) will outline the policy framework for RE under the Renewable Energy Act of 2008.

Angara, author of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, which encourages local entrepreneurs to go into the development of the country's vast renewable energy resources, stated that other countries are making aggressive moves to invest in RE, and that the country might be left behind in terms of development if the government is unable to encourage the local development of RE. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

UNDP Launches Guidebook on Catalyzing Climate Finance

19 May 2011: The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has launched a publication titled "Catalyzing Climate Finance – A Guidebook on Policy

and Financing Options to Support Green, Low-emission, Climate-resilient Development," which aims to enable countries to better assess the level and nature of assistance they will require to catalyze climate capital based on their national, regional and local circumstances

The Guidebook, authored by Yannick Glemarec, UNDP Director for Environmental Finance, was launched on 19 May 2011, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. The launch event included a presentation of UNDP’s approach to enhance the capacity of developing countries to formulate, finance and implement sustainable and inclusive development strategies, followed by a presentation of the main findings of the publication. The Guidebook indicates that developing countries will face three key climate finance challenges, namely: accessing new and innovative sources of climate finance; promoting synergies between development and climate finance; and using and delivering limited sources of public finance to catalyze climate capital. It notes that developing countries will require technical assistance to address these challenges, mitigate climate change impacts, and seize new opportunities associated with the transition to a low-emission climate-resilient society.

The publication is part of a series of manuals, guidebooks and toolkits to formulate green, low-emission and climate-resilient development strategies. This series of documents draws on the experience and information generated by UNDP’s support for climate change adaptation and mitigation projects in about 140 countries over the past decade. [Publication: Catalyzing Climate Finance – A Guidebook on Policy and Financing Options to Support Green, Low-emission, Climate-resilient Development] More >>>

Location:Lawrence Bl,,Cayman Islands

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New Tool Available for Assessing Social Vulnerability to Climate Change

The Global Socioeconomic Monitoring Initiative for Coastal Management are pleased to announce the availability of a new tool for assessing social

vulnerability to climate change.

The new guidelines, "Indicators to assess community-level social vulnerability to climate change" are now available for download at

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Violent Arctic storm a climate-change ‘harbinger,’ study finds

The Inuvialuit living in the Mackenzie Delta of the Northwest Territories watched incredulously in September of 1999, as a particularly violent storm

swept the Arctic Ocean 20 kilometres inland, killing all vegetation in its path and leaving lakes infused with salt water.

Local elders said nothing like it had ever happened in the known history of their people – and it turns out they were right.

Scientists from Carleton University in Ottawa and Queen’s University in Kingston, who attribute the surge to global warming, have looked at tree trunks and lake beds to determine that no comparable event has occurred in at least 1,000 years.

“It’s just another example of how recent climatic factors seem to be out of our normal range of variability,” John Smol, a professor at the Paleoecological Environment Assessment and Research Lab at Queen’s, said Monday as the study was about to be released. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Monday, May 16, 2011

Seaports need a plan for weathering climate change, Stanford researchers say

The majority of seaports around the world are unprepared for the potentially damaging impacts of climate change in the coming century, according to a new Stanford University study.

In a survey posed to port authorities around the world, the Stanford team found that most officials are unsure how best to protect their facilities from rising sea levels and more frequent Katrina-magnitude storms, which scientists say could be a consequence of global warming. Results from the survey are published in the journal Climatic Change.

"Part of the problem is that science says that by 2100, we'll experience anywhere from 1.5 to 6 feet of sea level rise," said the study's lead author, Austin Becker, a graduate student at Stanford. "That's a huge range."

Port authorities, like many government agencies and private companies, have to make tough financial decisions when it comes to funding infrastructure, he said. They need accurate information from scientists about what to expect, so that they can plan accordingly. Building a structure to withstand a 6-foot sea level rise would cost much more than trying to accommodate a 1.5-foot rise, said Becker, a doctoral candidate in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford.

In 2009, Becker distributed 160 surveys to members of the International Association of Ports and Harbors and the American Association of Port Authorities – the first worldwide survey of port authorities to address climate change adaptation. A total of 93 agencies representing major seaports on every continent, except Antarctica, responded. The majority of respondents ranked sea level rise and increased storm events associated with climate change high on their list of concerns. However, only 6 percent said that they intend to build hurricane barriers within the next 10 years, and fewer than 18 percent had plans to build dikes or other storm protection structures.

"As we saw with Katrina in 2005, storm and flood damage can devastate a regional economy for years after an event and have national impacts," said Becker. Katrina, a Category 5 hurricane, caused an estimated $1.7 billion of damage to Louisiana ports. This month, the region is bracing for flood damage once again, as the National Weather Service is predicting that the Mississippi River could crest in New Orleans on May 23.

And with scientists forecasting a doubling of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean by 2100, it seems all the more imperative to start thinking about adapting port infrastructures now, he said. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Historic climate change deal with legal powers agreed by Cabinet

Cabinet ministers have agreed a far-reaching, legally binding "green deal" that will commit the UK to two decades of drastic cuts in carbon emissions.

The package will require sweeping changes to domestic life, transport and business and will place Britain at the forefront of the global battle against climate change.

The deal was hammered out after tense arguments between ministers who had disagreed over whether the ambitious plans to switch to more green energy were affordable. The row had pitted the energy secretary, Chris Huhne, who strongly backed the plans, against the chancellor, George Osborne, and the business secretary, Vince Cable, who were concerned about the cost and potential impact on the economy.

However, after the intervention of David Cameron, Huhne is now expected to tell parliament that agreement has been struck to back the plans in full up to 2027. He will tell MPs that the government will accept the recommendations of the independent committee on climate change for a new carbon budget. The deal puts the UK ahead of any other state in terms of the legal commitments it is making in the battle to curb greenhouse gases. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Friday, May 13, 2011

Axe coal to halt global warming - scientist

Stopping the use of coal for electricity generation is the answer to halting global warming.

This is the view of an internationally acclaimed scientist, known as the `father of climate change', who spoke at Massey University yesterday.

Dr James Hansen is one of the world's leading climate scientists and was in Palmerston North as part of a six-stop tour of New Zealand. He was one of the first scientists to bring the world's attention to global warming in the 1980s and was Director of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Yesterday he spoke to a packed theatre for his public lecture, which centred on leaving coal in the ground and how to persuade governments to take action to reduce carbon emissions. He said a major problem in the pursuit of lowering carbon emissions was communication.

"It's difficult for people to recognise that we have a crisis, but we do," he said. "Politicians just assume we can go drill all the fossil fuels on the planet ... we can't do that."

Dr Hansen said the world could not burn all of the fossil fuels and coal needed to be phased out. He proposed it be phased out by 2030. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Taiwan mulls growing crops overseas to ensure food security

A report released Thursday by a National Research Council committee cites

"the pressing need for substantial action to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare to adapt to its impacts."

Since the effects of greenhouse gases can take decades to come about, and then persist for hundreds or even thousands of years, waiting for impacts to occur before taking action will likely be too late for meaningful mitigation, according to the report.

Beginning emissions reductions soon will also lower the pressure to make steeper and costlier cuts later. "It is our judgment that the most effective strategy is to begin ramping down emissions as soon as possible," said committee chair Albert Carnesale of UCLA. More >>>

Location:George Town,Cayman Islands

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sunlight May Turn Jet Exhaust Into Toxic Particles

Airports can pose a far bigger threat to local air than previously recognized, thanks to the transformative power of sunlight.

In the first on-tarmac measurements of their kind, researchers have shown that oil droplets spewed by idling jet engines can turn into particles tiny enough to readily penetrate the lungs and brain.
Allen Robinson of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and his team collected the pollution spewed from a plane powered by one of the most common types of commercial jet engines as it operated at different loads. Though jet engines operating at full power produce mostly solid particles, at low engine loads — such as when a plane idles at the gate or on the runway — emissions are predominantly in the form of microscopic droplets.

The researchers piped the engine’s exhaust into a 7-cubic-meter covered Teflon bag. When the bag was full the researchers uncovered it, allowing sunlight to fire up chemical reactions that would normally occur in the open air. More >>>

Location:George Town, Cayman Islands

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Peak Oil Crisis: Peak Oil Elasticity

Earlier this week the U.S. Department of Energy announced that the average national price for regular gasoline in the U.S. was now $3.96 a

gallon. Don’t feel too bad though; last week the Kremlin banned gasoline and diesel exports from Russia to alleviate domestic shortages sending gasoline prices in Germany to a record $9.10 a gallon. Gasoline prices have been rising steadily since last October, and given that the summer driving season is still a few weeks away are likely to keep rising for at least a while longer.
One would think that with an increase in gasoline prices of over a dollar a gallon in the last year sales of gasoline would be slipping – and indeed they have, but not very much. With U.S. gasoline consumption running around 9 million b/d in last couple of years, consumption has only fallen by about 150,000 barrels a day, or 1.6 percent, compared with last year. Three years ago during a similar price spike, U.S. gasoline consumption fell by closer to 400,000 b/d. So far this year’s drop in consumption has not been enough to stem the rise in prices which in recent weeks have become more closely tied to the global supply/demand balance and the falling U.S. dollar.
More >>>