Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Business as usual could result in sea level rise of up to seven metres - Club of Rome

Only a complete overhaul of our economic growth and international negotiations can prevent sea level rises that will destroy coastal cities like New York and London experts warn

New York, USA, 28 April: Energy expert Ian Dunlop and policy-planner and scholar Tapio Kanninen delivered a stark message in New York at the end of April that even limiting global warming to 2°C could eventually produce sea level rises of up to 6 to 7 metres (23 feet), wiping out coastal cities like New York, London, Shanghai and Tokyo. They told shocked audiences at the United Nations that if we continue with current policies, temperatures could rise 4°C or more, leading to sea level rises of up to 70 metres (230 feet).

Kanninen and Dunlop were in New York to address a series of packed meetings and panel discussions, organised by the Finnish Mission to the United Nations,Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the Club of Rome, the Temple of Understanding and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

They presented new evidence demonstrating the severity of the crisis of global sustainability and global survivability and discussed with diplomats, political decisionmakers, sustainable development experts and NGOs how to persuade the UN and other international institutions to take immediate emergency action.

Commenting on recent scientific findings, Ian Dunlop - with over 30 years experience at the Royal Shell Group as engineer and senior executive and a former leader of Australia's Emissions trading panel said: “Today’s leadersrefuse to accept that climate change science and the concept of peak oil condemns the international community to a catastrophic future. Why are we stillexploring for fossil fuels, since we can only burn of 20-30% of reserves if we wish to keep climate change to the 2 °C limit, while current policies will result in warming of4-6 °C?” he asked.

This level of temperature rise means that the globe can only carry 0.5-1 billion people, not the present 7 billion, leading experts evaluate.

Tapio Kanninen, a former long time UN staff member and policy-planner, said that scientists have determined a number of "tipping points" that exponentially and dramatically accelerate global warming trends. As they begin to kick in, in a matter of years not decades, we must take action before it is too late to avert a catastrophe.

The severity of the global crisis goes unrecognised: we need a global emergency response and newpolicy models

Dr Kanninen said current international and nationalinstitutional and political systems are incapable of preventing the increasing severe global crises; it requires a change in the entire system plus an emergency response. If runaway climate change leads to rising sea levels the next move has to be to urgently overhaul the UN and our global governance system so it is capable of dealing with rapidly changing global and regional conditions.

Ian Dunlop said that many scientists and practitioners are wrongly dubbed ‘alarmist’, but diplomats, politicians and the whole intergovernmental system have failed to grasp the severity of the crisis. If we fail to act we could find ourselves like a ‘ship of fools’ floating on rising sea levels.

Failing to institute a major global policy change will inevitably lead to the gradual implosion of the economic, ecological and social structures on which we depend, andthey called for “An urgent joint effort by member states, NGOs and scholars to improve the quality of global negotiations on climate change and sustainable development”.

The Club of Rome raised similar issues 40 years ago and recent research has confirmed that its projections ofindustrial collapse in the early 21st century aresurprisingly close to actually data gathered. In his recent book Crisis of Global Sustainability Dr Kanninen evaluates the Club's history and impact, as well as describing the future global crisis if no action is taken.

Setting up new structures

Faced with the reality gap between what scientists predict and what politicians are prepared to do, part of the solution to global inertia lies in creating an independent Global Crisis Network of regional, national and local centres with a global coordination unit that will interact with a revamped UN. Eventually, the UN Charter has to be totally rewritten to correspond to thenew global reality.

The Club of Rome is an international think-tank, based in Switzerland, with 1500 members and over 30 National Associations. Its mission is to undertake forward-looking analysis and assessment on measures for a happier, more resilient, sustainable planet. www.clubofrome.org

The Limits to Growth, a 1972 report to the Club of Rome was written by Denis Meadows, Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers and William Behrens III. It used computer models to project possible future scenarios with different assumptions of how humans would react to earth’s physical limitations.

Dr Tapio Kanninen is Senior Fellow at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a Co-Director of the Project on Sustainable Global Governance. He was Chief of the Policy Planning Unit in the Department of Political Affairs (1998–2005) at the United Nations and worked earlier to set up a global environmental statistical framework in a UNEP-funded project in the UN Statistical Division. He is a member of the Club of Rome.

Ian Dunlop is an Australian Energy Expert, a fellow to the Centre of Policy Development and a former senior executive at the Royal Dutch Shell Group. He is Chair of Safe Climate Australia, Deputy Convenor of the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil and a Club of Rome member.

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung is a German political foundation with over 100 offices around the world, including an active UN office. It is the Germany's oldest organisation to promote democracy, political education, and promote students of outstanding intellectual abilities.

The Temple of Understanding is an interfaith NGO working to promote global survivability, and an active member of the NGO community working on the inside of the United Nations to advance social justice.

Crisis of Global Sustainability is published by Routledge. Paperback: £18.99, $29.95
978-0-415-69417-9; Master eBook ISBN10 : 0203071867. Master eBook ISBN13 : 978-0-203-07186-1. To order copies go to: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415694179/

For more information about the ideas behind the book: www.crisisofglobalsustainability.com

Ian Dunlop's presentation on same issues as he spoke at the UN can be seen here:http://vimeo.com/53540204


How to Moderate Climate Change: Plant More Trees to Avoid Warming

How do we moderate climate change? Plant more trees. A new study reveals that plants can actually release gases that help form clouds and cool the atmosphere. That's sure to provide some incentive for drought-stricken areas.

Researchers have known for quite some time that aerosols, which are particles that float in the atmosphere, tend to cool the climate as they form cloud droplets which reflect sunlight. These aerosols can come from many different sources, including human emissions. However, the effects of a biogenic aerosol, which is particulate matter that originates from plants, aren't as well-studied.

Plants actually release gases that, after atmospheric oxidation, tend to stick to aerosol particles. This causes the original particles to grow and reflect more sunlight. This also serves as the basis for cloud droplets.

In order to understand a bit more about this phenomenon and how it might affect our climate, researchers collected data at 11 different sites from around the world. They measured the concentrations of aerosol particles in the atmosphere, along with the concentrations of plant gases and temperature. They also reanalyzed estimates for the height of the boundary layer, which is the layer of air closest to Earth in which gases and particles mix effectively. This layer actually changes with weather, which made it a key variable in the scientists' estimates.

So what did researchers find? They discovered that as temperatures rise, there's an increase of natural aerosols which have a cooling effect on the atmosphere. In other words, plants actually reacted to changes in temperature and aided in the cooling effect.

That's not going to save us from climate change, though. The effect of enhanced plant gas emissions on climate only countered about one percent of warming. However, that effect had far more of an impact on the regional scale; it could potentially counter 30 percent of warming in more rural, forested areas where anthropogenic emissions of aerosols were much lower in comparison to the natural aerosols.

While this study may show that trees won't have a major impact on cooling, it does show how they might affect something else. The research could have major implications for climate models. More


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Entering a resource-shock world

Brace yourself. You may not be able to tell yet, but according to global experts and the US intelligence community, the earth is already shifting under you. Whether you know it or not, you are on a new planet, a resource-shock world of a sort humanity has never before experienced.

Two nightmare scenarios - a global scarcity of vital resources and the onset of extreme climate change - are already beginning to converge and in the coming decades are likely to produce a tidal wave of unrest, rebellion, competition and conflict. Just what this tsunami of disaster will look like may, as yet, be hard to discern, but experts warn of “water wars” over contested river systems, global food riots sparked by soaring prices for life’s basics, mass migrations of climate refugees (with resulting anti-migrant violence) and the breakdown of social order or the collapse of states. At first, such mayhem is likely to arise largely in Africa, Central Asia and other areas of the underdeveloped South, but in time all regions of the planet will be affected.

To appreciate the power of this encroaching catastrophe, it’s necessary to examine each of the forces that are combining to produce this future cataclysm.

Resource shortages

Start with one simple given: the prospect of future scarcities of vital natural resources, including energy, water, land, food and critical minerals. This in itself would guarantee social unrest, geopolitical friction and war.

It is important to note that absolute scarcity does not have to be on the horizon in any given resource category for this scenario to kick in. A lack of adequate supplies to meet the needs of a growing, ever more urbanised and industrialised global population is enough. Given the wave of extinctions that scientists are recording, some resources - particular species of fish, animals and trees, for example - will become less abundant in the decades to come, and may even disappear altogether. But key materials for modern civilisation like oil, uranium and copper will simply prove harder and more costly to acquire, leading to supply bottlenecks and periodic shortages.

Oil - the single most important commodity in the international economy - provides an apt example. Although global oil supplies may actually grow in the coming decades, many experts doubt that they can be expanded sufficiently to meet the needs of a rising global middle class that is, for instance, expected to buy millions of new cars in the near future. In its 2011 World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency claimed that an anticipated global oil demand of 104 million barrels per day in 2035 will be satisfied. This, the report suggested, would be thanks in large part to additional supplies of “unconventional oil” (Canadian tar sands, shale oil and so on), as well as 55 million barrels of new oil from fields “yet to be found” and “yet to be developed”.

However, many analysts scoff at this optimistic assessment, arguing that rising production costs (for energy that will be ever more difficult and costly to extract), environmental opposition, warfare, corruption and other impediments will make it extremely difficult to achieve increases of this magnitude. In other words, even if production manages for a time to top the 2010 level of 87 million barrels per day, the goal of 104 million barrels will never be reached and the world’s major consumers will face virtual, if not absolute, scarcity.

Water provides another potent example. On an annual basis, the supply of drinking water provided by natural precipitation remains more or less constant: about 40,000 cubic kilometres. But much of this precipitation lands on Greenland, Antarctica, Siberia and inner Amazonia where there are very few people, so the supply available to major concentrations of humanity is often surprisingly limited. In many regions with high population levels, water supplies are already relatively sparse. This is especially true of North Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East, where the demand for water continues to grow as a result of rising populations, urbanisation and the emergence of new water-intensive industries. The result, even when the supply remains constant, is an environment of increasing scarcity.

Wherever you look, the picture is roughly the same: supplies of critical resources may be rising or falling, but rarely do they appear to be outpacing demand, producing a sense of widespread and systemic scarcity. However generated, a perception of scarcity - or imminent scarcity - regularly leads to anxiety, resentment, hostility and contentiousness. This pattern is very well understood and has been evident throughout human history.

In his book Constant Battles, for example, Steven LeBlanc, director of collections for Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, notes that many ancient civilisations experienced higher levels of warfare when faced with resource shortages brought about by population growth, crop failures, or persistent drought. Jared Diamond, author of the bestseller Collapse, has detected a similar pattern in Mayan civilisation and the Anasazi culture of New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon. More recently, concern over adequate food for the home population was a significant factor in Japan’s invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and Germany’s invasions of Poland in 1939 and the Soviet Union in 1941, according to Lizzie Collingham, author of The Taste of War.

Resource-related conflict

Although the global supply of most basic commodities has grown enormously since the end of World War II, analysts see the persistence of resource-related conflict in areas where materials remain scarce or there is anxiety about the future reliability of supplies. Many experts believe, for example, that the fighting in Darfur and other war-ravaged areas of North Africa has been driven, at least in part, by competition among desert tribes for access to scarce water supplies, exacerbated in some cases by rising population levels.

“In Darfur,” says a 2009 report from the UN Environment Programme on the role of natural resources in the conflict, “recurrent drought, increasing demographic pressures, and political marginalisation are among the forces that have pushed the region into a spiral of lawlessness and violence that has led to 300,000 deaths and the displacement of more than two million people since 2003.”

Anxiety over future supplies is often also a factor in conflicts that break out over access to oil or control of contested undersea reserves of oil and natural gas. In 1979, for instance, when the Islamic revolution in Iran overthrew the Shah and the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, Washington began to fear that someday it might be denied access to Persian Gulf oil. At that point, President Jimmy Carter promptly announced what came to be called the Carter Doctrine. In his 1980 State of the Union Address, Carter affirmed that any move to impede the flow of oil from the Gulf would be viewed as a threat to America’s “vital interests” and would be repelled by “any means necessary, including military force”.

In 1990, this principle was invoked by President George HW Bush to justify intervention in the first Persian Gulf War, just as his son would use it, in part, to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Today, it remains the basis for US plans to employ force to stop the Iranians from closing the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic waterway connecting the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean through which about 35 percent of the world’s seaborne oil commerce passes.

Recently, a set of resource conflicts have been rising toward the boiling point between China and its neighbours in Southeast Asia when it comes to control of offshore oil and gas reserves in the South China Sea. Although the resulting naval clashes have yet to result in a loss of life, a strong possibility of military escalation exists. A similar situation has also arisen in the East China Sea, where China and Japan are jousting for control over similarly valuable undersea reserves. Meanwhile, in the South Atlantic Ocean, Argentina and Britain are once again squabbling over the Falkland Islands (called Las Malvinas by the Argentinians) because oil has been discovered in surrounding waters. More


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Waters off Northeast US coast unusually warm, says NOAA

Sea surface temperatures on the Northeast US Continental Shelf reached the highest recorded in 150 years, says an advisory issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
From North Carolina to Maine, the waters have been unusually warm lately.
This is according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Northeast Fisheries Science Center, which issued an advisory today noting that sea surface temperatures in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem during the second half of 2012 were the highest recorded in 150 years.
According to the advisory, sea surface temperatures in this region, which extends from Cape Hatteras to the Gulf of Maine and outward to the boundary of the continental shelf, increased dramatically to reach a record 57.2 degrees Fahrenheit, beating a previous record high in 1951. The average temperature over the past three decades has been typically lower than 54.3 degrees Fahrenheit.
The temperatures were recorded via satellite and ship-board measurements. Historical measurements, based on ship-board thermometers, date back to 1854. According to NOAA, the warming was the greatest increase on record, and one of only five instances when the temperature has changed by more than 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. These drastic changes have not been noted elsewhere in the ocean basin, although in recent years global sea surface temperatures have been the highest on record.
The warmer ocean temperatures might be good news for beachgoers in the Northeast, but they could also disrupt ecosystems, along with the livelihoods that depend on them. The report notes that black sea bass, summer flounder, longfin squid, and butterfish have been migrating northeastward. Lobsters are migrating too, but at a slower rate.
The report quotes Michael Fogarty, who heads NOAA's the Ecosystem Assessment Program:
“What these latest findings mean for the Northeast Shelf ecosystem and its marine life is unknown,” Fogarty said. “What is known is that the ecosystem is changing, and we need to continue monitoring and adapting to these changes.” More


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Atmospheric carbon levels nearing historic threshold

For the first time in human history, concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) could rise above 400 parts per million (ppm) for sustained lengths of time throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere as soon as May 2013.

To provide a resource for understanding the implications of rising CO2 levels, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego is providing daily updates of the “Keeling Curve,” the record of atmospheric CO2 measured at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa. These iconic measurements, begun by Charles David (Dave) Keeling, a world-leading authority on atmospheric greenhouse gas accumulation and Scripps climate science pioneer, comprise the longest continuous record of CO2 in the world, starting from 316 ppm in March 1958 and approaching 400 ppm today with a familiar saw-tooth pattern. For the past 800,000 years, CO2 levels never exceeded 300 parts per million.

“I wish it weren’t true, but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400-ppm level without losing a beat,” said Scripps geophysicist Ralph Keeling, who has taken over the Keeling Curve measurement from his late father. “At this pace we’ll hit 450 ppm within a few decades.”

The website keelingcurve.ucsd.edu offers background information about how CO2 is measured, the history of the Keeling Curve, and resources from other organizations on the current state of climate. An accompanying Twitter feed, @keeling_curve, also provides followers with the most recent Keeling Curve CO2 reading in a daily tweet.

Dave Keeling began recording CO2 data at Mauna Loa and other locations after developing an ultraprecise measurement device known as a manometer. Ralph Keeling took over the program in 2005 and also heads a program at Scripps to measure changes in atmospheric oxygen. The Scripps O2 and CO2 programs make measurements of CO2 and other gases at remote locations around the world, including Antarctica, Tasmania, and northern Alaska. The Scripps programs are complementary to many other programs now measuring CO2 and other greenhouse gases worldwide.

Scientists estimate that the last time CO2 was as high as 400 ppm was probably the Pliocene epoch, between 3.2 million and 5 million years ago, when Earth’s climate was much warmer than today. CO2 was around 280 ppm before the Industrial Revolution, when humans first began releasing large amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels. By the time Dave Keeling began measurements in 1958, CO2 had already risen from 280 to 316 ppm. The rate of rise of CO2 over the past century is unprecedented; there is no known period in geologic history when such high rates have been found. The continuous rise is a direct consequence of society’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels for energy.

Each year, the concentration of CO2 at Mauna Loa rises and falls in a sawtooth fashion, with the next year higher than the year before. The peak of the sawtooth typically comes in May. If CO2 levels don’t top 400 ppm in May 2013, they almost certainly will next year, Keeling said.

“The 400-ppm threshold is a sobering milestone, and should serve as a wake up call for all of us to support clean energy technology and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, before it's too late for our children and grandchildren,” said Tim Lueker, an oceanographer and carbon cycle researcher who is a longtime member of the Scripps CO2 Group. More


Pathways into the Future - Triggers of Change

The 2013 Earth Dialogues will attract leading figures of international politics, science, business and civil society in the search for solutions to resolve the most pressing and interconnected challenges of insecurity, poverty and environmental degradation.

The event is open to members of the public, who register with Green Cross following the guidelines found here.

The 7th edition of the Earth Dialogues will be held at the United Nations Office at Geneva, Switzerland, on 3 September, 2013. The day-long event, titled Pathways into the Future - Triggers of Change, comes at a time of deep crisis in multilateralism, hallmarked by a lack of consensus, and coordinated international action, to respond to rampant ecological breakdown, globalization and disparities between rich and poor.

The UN says clean energy funding too low to address climate change. http://buswk.co/12KfhH0 Clean energy is the future solution to our energy needs, and will be a key topic at the upcoming Earth Dialogues conference in Geneva on 3 September: http://bit.ly/15G7H2W

How can gains in human development be sustained, climate change controlled and sustainability ensured in the absence of a strong multilateral system that all decision-makers are party to?

The conference's objective will be to demonstrate how multilateralism can – and must – be recalibrated to meet these challenges. The event will provide a launching pad for initiatives to bolster effective multilateral action, and Geneva, the cradle for international modern consensus and cooperation, offers a perfect platform.

Five panels will be held during the Earth Dialogues conference on:

  • Lessons learned (from Rio 1992 to Rio+20)
  • Inclusive and Circular economy based Growth (In Search of a New Development Model)
  • Reinventing Multilateralism (Climate, Water/Energy/Food, Security) - two panels
  • Preparedness for the Future – Global and Local Resilience – Ability to Overcome and Reconsolidate Societal Functions after Major Shocks

The event will enable rich, valuable discourse and exchanges on critical issues and agendas facing the world today.

Discussions and decisions will go towards developing the “Geneva Appeal”, which will outline a road map of specific acitons and “tipping points” needed to launch the Future We Want movement, as outlined in the outcoome documentof the United Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

For more information: Please email earthdialogues@gci.ch or click here for registration details

Water World: Sea Level Rise in Real Life

Sea levels have risen along the East Coast around 6 to 8 inches since 1960. Under different global warming scenarios, seas could rise 8 inches to several feet by 2100.

The longer term concern is that if warming causes the collapse of the Greenland and/or Antarctic ice sheets, seas could rise tens of feet, although it is thought a rise of that magnitude would take hundreds of years.

Nickolay Lamm, a 24-year-old researcher and artist from StorageFront.com, was motivated to gain a better idea of what such a devastating rise in sea level would look like. And so he created a set of surreal images showing treasured landmarks swallowed by sea water.

To create these visualizations, Lamm took stock photos of the different landmarks, used Google Earth to determine their exact location, and applied mapped sea level rise projections obtained from Climate Central.

In addition to the Jefferson and Washington monuments, he created visualizations from landmarks in Miami, New York City, and Boston viewable in a multimedia post at Mashable.com

“The inspiration for these sea level rise photos came from What Could Disappear from the New York Times,” Lamm wrote on his blog. “Because the maps shown were not in a high enough resolution to figure out exactly which places would be flooded, I got in touch with Remik Ziemlinski from Climate Central who gave me access to more precise versions of the same maps that New York Times used.”

Even if you’re skeptical of some of the more alarming and dramatic sea level rise projections from global warming, these visuals can give you a realistic sense of what hurricane storm surge flooding could do in these East Coast cities. Major hurricanes could bring double digit foot surges up and down the East Coast (although a 25-foot surge is probably unrealistic – in the current climate).

Hurricane Sandy swamped sections of New York City with a 14 foot surge, and, in 2003, Hurricane Isabel sent an 8-foot surge up the Potomac River.

Related: If Hurricane Sandy had come south: the dramatic storm surge scenario for Washington, D.C.

(Sources of images: StorageFront.com). More


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kerry says 'The science is screaming at all of us and demands action'

Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a strong Earth Day message on climate change, calling it a “clear and present danger.”

He also repeated the line from his powerful March remarks on climate change that “the science is screaming” at us to act. But that raises the question — are Kerry and his boss really listening?

The White House started sending signals last month “the president is inclined to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.” And, for what it’s worth, David Gordon, State’s director of policy planning when Condoleezza Rice was Secretary, just told a Canadian newspaper “I would say the chances are about four-to-one” Obama approves the tar sands pipeline.

Perhaps so, but then how empty would Kerry’s Earth Day message be:

This year’s Earth Day theme, the Faces of Climate Change, puts a special focus on the very real impact climate change has on people everywhere, and demonstrates just how clearly connected we all are. What one country does impacts the livelihoods of people elsewhere – and what we all do to address climate change now will largely determine the kind of planet we leave for our children and generations to come. As was clear in President Obama’s second inaugural address and in his State of the Union message, the United States is committed to meeting this challenge head on…. Dealing responsibly with the clear and present danger of climate change was a focus of my recent trip to China, and it is a challenge I will be engaging to meet everywhere I travel….

The science is screaming at all of us and demands action. From the far reaches of Antarctica’s Ross Sea to tropical wetlands in Southeast Asia, we have a responsibility to safeguard and sustainably manage our planet’s natural resources, and the United States remains firm in its commitment to addressing global environmental challenges.

One can’t, of course, “sustainably manage” the tar sands.

A must-see 2012 video explains how tar sands development threatens the carbon-rich boreal forests and their vital ecosystems. A 2012 study found that existing industry plans for exploiting the tar sands will destroy over 29,500 hectares (65%) of local carbon-rich peatland (aka bogs, moors, mires, and swamp forests) — which in turn will release the equivalent of up 173 million metric tons of CO2.

The bottom line is that Keystone is a gateway to a huge pool of carbon-intensive fuel most of which must be left in the ground — along with most of the world’s coal and unconventional oil and gas – if humanity is to avoid multiple devastating impacts that may be beyond adaptation.

Is Kerry going to accelerate the ruination of the whole world’s climate in return for not bloody much. To paraphrase Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons:

The Center for American Progress has filed its own comments on the Keystone XL Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement explaining why the pipeline is not “in the national interest”:

Dear Secretary Kerry:

We urge you to reject the resubmitted permit for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. It is not in the national interest of the United States because the pipeline would facilitate a dramatic increase in the production of high carbon polluting tar sands oil, but will only create very few U.S. jobs. And much of the oil transported to the Gulf Coast will be exported to other nations. The United States must not facilitate the expansion of a huge source of carbon pollution that would exacerbate climate change. The Keystone XL pipeline is all risk and no reward.

The draft Supplement Environmental Impact Statement SEIS includes the following information that reinforces that the pipeline is not in the national interest:

  • Production of tar sands oil emits more carbon pollution than conventional oil, which is confirmed by independent analysis by both the Congressional Research Service and Environmental Protection Agency;
  • Much of the oil transported via Keystone XL to refineries in the Gulf Coast will be refined into fuel and exported to other nations, thereby adding little to U.S. energy security.
  • Only 35 permanent jobs would result from the pipeline. More


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Thin Ice Film



Thin Ice is a joint initiative between Oxford University, United Kingdom, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand (VUW), and London-based DOX Productions. Both Universities have active programmes with world-wide networks of collaborators in climate change and related research. For Oxford see www.climateprediction.net andwww.eci.ox.ac.uk, and for VUW see www.victoria.ac.nz/antarctic and www.victoria.ac.nz/climate-change.

The project began over a cup of coffee at a Climate Change and Governance conference in Wellington in March 2006. Peter Barrett (VUW) suggested to Simon Lamb (Oxford) that he make a film about it with his friend David Sington (DOX Productions)

The aim from the outset was to give people from all walks of the life the chance to see the astonishing range of human activity as well as scientific endeavour that is required to help us understand our changing climate. Our idea was then we would all be better able to decide both individually and collectively how we might deal with it.

What we have done

We have visited researchers on 4 continents and the ocean as they studied the changes in the atmosphere, oceans and ice sheets through measurements (from instruments, satellites, ice and rock) and computer modelling. We have to think not only in human time scales (hundreds of years), but also Ice Age time scales (tens of thousands of years), and even beyond (before 2-3 million years ago) when Earth was naturally warmer.


A David Sington/Simon Lamb Film

Directors: David Sington and Simon Lamb

Co-producer: Catherine Fitzgerald

Executive Producers: Peter Barrett and Philip England

Editor: David Fairhead

Music: Phillip Sheppard

Photographer: Simon Lamb

Additional photography: Tony Burrows, Christoph Lerch and Chris Terpstra

Sound: Sarah Kinsella, Michael Kerslake, Tony Williams,

Rudolf Schwarz, Steve Cochran and James Rae


Oxford University Department of Earth Sciences

Victoria University of Wellington:

- Research Office (Professor Neil Quigley)

- Victoria University Foundation (Tricia Walbridge)

- Faculty of Science, Architecture & Design (David Bibby)

- Teaching Aids (Steve Cochran and staff)

Antarctica New Zealand:

- Lou Sanson and staff in Christchurch

- Staff at Scott Base for logistical support during the 2007/8 Antarctic field season

United States National Science Foundation:

- Office of Polar Programs

- Staff at McMurdo Station for logistical support during the 2007/8 Antarctic field season

National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA):

- The captains and crews of the of the RV Tangaroa and RV Kaharoa

University Museum of Natural History, Oxford University:

- Prof. Jim Kennedy

British High Commission, New Zealand:

- Chris Harrington, Philippa Norton and Ric Nye

Glassworks, Wellington, New Zealand:

- Grant Franklin

British Embassy, Copenhagen, Denmark:

- Mogens Olsen


Satellite imagery courtesy of Geoeye and NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Scientific Visualization Studio (www.geoeye.com and http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/)

Ocean current animation courtesy of CSIRO, Australia, kindly animated at 1080p by Graeme Whittle.

One year computer weather simulation courtesy of the UK - Japan Climate Collaboration (www.earthsimulator.org.uk)animated by R. Stockli & P.L. Vidale.

Global temperature data courtesy of Goddard Institute of Space Studies - GISTEMP Project (Dr James Hansen and Robert Schmunk) http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/.

Ice core record courtesy of NOAA Ice Core Gateway, Etheridge et al. 1996, Jouzel et al. 2007, Luthi et al. 2008, www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/icecore/antarctica .

CO2 historical emissions data courtesy of Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre (CDIAC), www.cdiac.ornl.gov .