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April 05, 2007

Global Warming Tipping Points Environment

USA Today Tuesday carried a preview of the upcoming IPCC report on the projected effects of global warming. Not bad for a thoroughly mainstream publication:

Earth is spinning toward many points of no return from the damage of global warming, after which disease, desolation and famine are inevitable, say scientists involved in an international report due Friday on the effects of climate change. [...]

In its first report in February, the panel, backed by the World Meteorological Organization and conducted under the auspices of the United Nations Environmental Programme, concluded that "unequivocal" evidence shows industrial releases of greenhouse gases have warmed the Earth an average of about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century. That makes it "very likely" that temperatures will rise 3 to 7 degrees this century, depending on future emissions. [...]

"In a sense, we are looking at a series of tipping points for humanity and climate," says Richard Moss, senior director on climate at the United Nations Foundation.

Irreversible effects on plants, animals, farming and weather already are apparent, says biologist Camille Parmesan of the University of Texas in Austin, one of the scientists assigned to review the report. Studies weighed in the report show that warming has eliminated about 70 animal species and affects 59% of wild species surveyed. [...]

Moss says the roughly 5-degree rise in global average temperatures envisioned in the February report will cause damage that cannot be recovered. He echoes a warning by NASA scientist James Hansen in 2004 that the window for action is only 10 years. The Stern Review, a high-profile report last year by the United Kingdom's chief economist, Nicholas Stern, warns of serious financial threats to agriculture and commerce. [...]

In Brussels this week, about 60 lead authors are working with representatives of more than 100 nations to distill, clarify and approve the panel's findings in a short summary for policymakers. The summary is out Friday; the scientific chapters arrive Tuesday.

Environmental and energy analyst Anthony Patt of Boston University, a report co-author, says the report will divide the possible effects of temperature increases this century into three grades: a 3.6-degree rise with warmer winters but few human catastrophes; an up to 7.2-degree rise that wealthy nations could handle but would prove calamitous to poor nations and many species; and an even higher rise, which "would prove difficult for any society to adapt to." [...]

What the panel's report will not establish is whether vast infestations by pine beetles in the forests of the western USA and Canada are tied to warming, Running says. Although many scientists believe there is a link, he says, research has not focused enough on temperature. "My nose is telling me there's a climate-change signal here, but the papers in print yet aren't doing a strong enough analysis."

Worldwide, thresholds were outlined last year in "Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change," a summary of tipping points for which British Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote the foreword. They include:

  • At a 3.6-degree rise, all Indian Ocean coral reefs go extinct, and 97% of the rest around the globe are "bleached" or severely damaged. All Arctic ice disappears.

  • At a 5.4-degree increase, half of all nature reserves become unable to conserve native species. The Amazon rainforest disappears.

  • At 7.2 degrees or higher, coastal flooding is seven times worse than in 1990. Malaria threatens 330 million more people a year, and hunger jeopardizes 600 million. Australia no longer can grow food.

    All of this leaves aside the most extreme risks that Schneider calls the "dark edge of the bell curve": melting of the vast Antarctic ice sheets; shutdown of Atlantic Ocean circulation, which brings warm weather to the United Kingdom; and the release of more greenhouse gases frozen in the Arctic tundra.

    Some scientists, such as Penn State's Michael Mann, worry that the panel's reports lag behind the latest science because of a six-month research cutoff before their release, a lifetime in climate study.

    Last month, for instance, a report in Geophysical Research Letters found that ocean acidification from increased carbon dioxide is likely to wreak "havoc" for shellfish and coral and disrupt food chains.

    A Colorado State University analysis in March said warming will make grazing lands less productive by 2050.

    A University of Minnesota team reported that Lake Superior has warmed an average of 4.5 degrees since 1979, about twice the local atmospheric warming. [...]

    James McCarthy of Harvard, incoming head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, says the reality of warming is accepted, with regional climate-change trends already playing out as predicted. [Emphasis added]

  • One hopeful sign is that awareness of the seriousness and scope of the global warming threat is growing rapidly and going mainstream, as this article demonstrates. Let us hope awareness leads to action, and quickly.

    Posted by Jonathan at April 5, 2007 03:34 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Comments


    I must admit that I really didn't pay much attention to Global Warming in the past. I have since viewed the former Vice-President Gore movie called "An Inconvenient Truth". This should serve as a wake up call to all those who loves this gift (EARTH) that was given to us by Jehovah God!

    After viewing this movie you were compel as it were to do something! The current dialogue that is taken place is a positive sign that people are finally taken it serious!

    I have a some suggestion that might be useful, I have been doing some reading on Global Warming and one of its worst contributors, Carbon Dioxide! If we can reduce the levels of this gas by a significant percent it would do wonders for our planet.

    I would like to propose the building of "Air Filtration Systems" through out the USA since it is the largest emitter, and then the world. These super structures that will host these "Air Filtration Systems" can be as tall as 100 ft.In some parts of the United States a lot of buildings are left abandon or is no longer being used for human habitation. These buildings could be modified to host these "Air Filtration Systems.

    The walls of these structures will be lined with coal and lime. After reading some articles that are circling through the media at present, I have learned that Coal attracts Carbon Dioxide, it works in the same manner as a magnet does with metal!

    The air will be forced through the tops of these structures and release through the filters ,which are the walls.

    These structure would be mandatory in all industrial areas and cities that have high levels of harmful pollutions. The numbers and size of theses structures will be based on the toxic levels in each city and state. We could replicate these " Air Filtration Systems" and retro fit them on large trucks which could be driven through the cities when the air quality is at it worst. We could place them on trains, barges, and boats.

    The benefits are obvious but here is something that is not so obvious, the coal that is used in these "Air filtration Systems" can be harvested for something valuable? Carbon Dioxide can be used as an alternative source of fuel and energy once compressed and placed into a cylinder!

    posted by Ideagalore @ 7:07 PM

    Posted by: Malcolm Crawford at April 7, 2007 09:51 PM