Posts Tagged ‘global warming’


Global warming ‘irreversible’ for next 1000 years.

As reported by AFP, NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) scientists have released a study saying that current levels of global warming will cause irreversible damage, no matter what is done in the future to decrease CO2 and other related emissions.  I will add a link to the primary scientific article when the link is published.

“NOAA senior scientist Susan Solomon said the study, published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, showed that current human choices on carbon dioxide emissions are set to “irreversibly change the planet.” Researchers examined the consequences of CO2 building up beyond present-day concentrations of 385 parts per million, and then completely stopping emissions after the peak. Before the industrial age CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere amounted to only 280 parts per million. The study found that CO2 levels are irreversibly impacting climate change, which will contribute to global sea level rise and rainfall changes in certain regions. The authors emphasized that increases in CO2 that occur from 2000 to 2100 are set to “lock in” a sea level rise over the next 1,000 years.”

This is certainly well past a wake-up call, if anybody still needed one. Here’s where the relentless optimist meets the original cynic: I refuse to accept that it is worthless to make the biggest changes possible to head off increased global warming. Am I denying science? No, I’m just clinging to hope.

Original text copyright © 2009 James K. Bashkin

See futher discussion of this post here at Gather.com.

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As reported by Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post Staff Writer:

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson favored giving California some authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks … before he consulted with the White House and reversed course, congressional investigators said yesterday.

As the article describes:

An extensive congressional investigation into Johnson’s conduct relied on more than 27,000 pages of EPA documents; interviews with top EPA officials served as other sources of information. The results of the investigation were just announced.

According to the agency’s documents and depositions by staff members, EPA officials unanimously endorsed granting California the waiver, and Johnson initially agreed. EPA Associate Deputy Administrator Jason Burnett testified under oath that Johnson “was very interested in a full grant of the waiver’ in August and September of 2007 and later thought a partial grant of the waiver ‘was the best course of action.”

The White House claims it did not influence Johnson’s decision but has ordered Johnson not to answer questions about White House involvement in the process. Seemingly at odds with his refusal to allow California a waiver of the Clean Air Act that would have imposed more stringent emissions standards on cars and trucks, Johnson did admit to reporters that he considers CO2 to be a pollutant.

Groups including the California Air Resources Board and the Natural Defense Resources Council (NRDC) are poised to show courts how tainted Johnson’s decision was, and how it ignored internal EPA science and external scientific advisers. The NRDC and other advocacy groups will submit a brief to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in an attempt to overturn the EPA administrator’s decision.

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As reported in the related story here at OhMyGov.com,

A briefing prepared by the lead staff lawyer for EPA’s General Counsel stated: “After review of the docket and precedent, we don’t believe there are any good arguments against granting the waiver. All of the arguments … are likely to lose in court if we are sued.”

In fact, the EPA staff interviewed by the Committee were unable to identify any agency documents that argued in favor of denial prior to December 19, 2007, the day California’s petition was denied.

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By Bruce Nichols SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) – “Satellite data show that changes in the sun are contributing to global warming but to a smaller extent than human activity, a space scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington told a group of petroleum geologists…”

This is the third major study in the past year or so negating the “solar activity” claim of climate-change skeptics- the claim suggests that solar activity rather than human activity is responsible for modern global warming. See discussion of another report that show no major effects of solar activity on modern global warming (at this link).

“Climate-change skeptics have suggested that solar cycles may be more responsible than human activity for increasing global temperature. But (scientist Judith) Lean said her findings showed ‘the sun is a factor of 10 less than the anthropogenic.'” In other words, people (and human activity) are responsible for the vast majority of modern climate change according to this study.

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original text © James K. Bashkin, 2008

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“Scientists have produced further compelling evidence showing that modern-day climate change is not caused by changes in the Sun’s activity…” from an article by Richard Black, Environment correspondent, BBC News website. “The research contradicts a favoured theory of climate “sceptics”, that changes in cosmic rays coming to Earth determine cloudiness and temperature.”

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Affiliated with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Earth Hour 2008 will be held at 8 pm on the 29 of March, 2008. People and groups around the world, including cities and companies and schools, will turn their lights out for one hour. This is a global version of an event started in Sydney, Australia, last year. Earth Hour attempts to engage people, companies, organizations, schools and cities in the conservation process, to make people more aware of the environment, and to show how individual acts, multiplied by millions of people, can have a significant, positive influence on energy use and savings.

  • If you believe in global warming, you might see this as a chance to help reduce human contributions to climate change.
  • If you don’t believe in global warming, you might view this as a much-needed exercise in energy conservation.

I recently became aware of this event via two friends on gather.com, Morgan and flit (thanks!). See also this article by Kate Keeley for more information, and a personal perspective that starts out with the intriguing sentence:

Someone asked me while I was traveling in Antarctica, “So…are you having the greatest time ever?”

The following is taken from earthhour.org:

Earth Hour 2007 was a Sydney event. Earth Hour 2008 is a global movement.

Created to take a stand against the greatest threat our planet has ever faced, Earth Hour uses the simple action of turning off the lights for one hour to deliver a powerful message about the need for action on global warming.

This simple act has captured the hearts and minds of people all over the world. As a result, at 8pm on the 29 March, 2008 millions of people in some of the world’s major capital cities, including Copenhagen, Toronto, Chicago, Melbourne, Brisbane and Tel Aviv will unite and switch off for Earth Hour.

There is much more information at the primary site, earthhour.org. You can help organize participation by your whole community, participate on your own, etc. Take a look, you might want to register and participate. I did.

For more on the WWF, see the following links from the US website (or look here for their global site, which links to WWF organizations in many countries):

DISCOVER

Endangered Species
Where We Work
Global Forces
Conservation Science
WWF In Action
Travel
Get Involved
Newsroom
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Humanitarian Partnerships
About WWF / Jobs

EXPLORE

WildFinder

WildWorld Camera Traps

Marketing Partners
Shop WWF Gear
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DONATE

Donate to WWF
Gift Center
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Partners in Conservation

© James K. Bashkin, 2008
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From Fresh Air, WHYY, you can hear an interview with James Hansen, described as NASA’s leading climate scientist, on how the Bush Administration has been trying to censor his work. Mark Bowen, also interviewed, wrote a book on this subject called “Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Truth of Global Warming”.

James Hansen is one of the climate scientists whose work was specifically misrepresented by Michael Chrichton in his anti-environmentalist novel of several years ago.

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Thanks to Connell83 over on hugg.com for drawing my attention to the Nature Conservancy’s website. Although I have supported them for years, I never looked at the website before.

This undated page discusses legislation proposed by senators Lieberman and Warner and adaptations supported by the Nature Conservancy aimed at decreasing, minimizing or avoiding a wide variety of environmental problems associated with climate change and other environmental issues. Adaptations by mankind and by nature are discussed.

One interesting adaptation is based on supporting international research to identify forms of coral (and symbiotic algae) that are hardiest to changes in temperature. These hardy forms might serve as the backbone of “adapted” coral reefs.

Many other specific and detailed examples are given of ongoing work being done to prepare for, or avoid, the effects of climate change. I recommend reading through the Nature Conservancy site- it displays a positive attitude to addressing problems that is different from many “doom and gloom” stories associated with the environment.

SELF-TEST. I would pose the following to people who say that global warming isn’t credible:

  • Science does not always predict correctly what will happen in highly complex systems like the global environment. There are scientists who have been predicting environmental disasters related to oil use for decades, but nothing seemed to be happening to the environment until relatively recently (the environment of the whole planet rather than local issues).
  • However, there are also plenty of cases where scientists have not predicted harmful environmental effects, and we have had to learn hard lessons (take the great damage to the salmon population by pesticides). So, scientists can be too sure of themselves in cases of warnings or “all-clear signals”.
  • We simply need to be prepared for problems that might affect our food, water, transport, health, environment and lifestyles before these issues become even more overwhelming. What if thousands of professional scientists who study climate change, and believe it to be happening, are absolutely right? It isn’t a political issue any longer.
  • Even if you find yourself claiming or believing that global warming is a political, not a scientific or “real” issue, how sure can you be? Don’t you think it would be strategically inexcusable to be unprepared to deal with problems of energy use, dependence on foreign oil, damage to the environment and potentially catastrophic climate change? What would you think of leaders who didn’t prepare for the worst (and the best, and cases in between)?

This has probably been said better elsewhere. I’ll write and cite more on the subject.

As I would like to continue stressing, it is more important for people who disagree to discuss these subjects than for people who agree to do so, but the discussions have to involve real listening by all “sides”.

© James K. Bashkin, 2007

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Peaks Island in Casco Bay, off Portland, Maine. Photo by S. R. Shray, used with permission, some rights reserved, 2007

Please check out Treehugger.com for a huge collection of articles, discussion forums, practical tips and wildly utopian but stimulating ideas for helping the environment.

The site also has treehuggertv for video reports (haven’t watched any yet).

As usual, I don’t endorse all the views expressed on the site (though I do endorse my own comments found there!), but I fully support engaging in the discussion and debate on treehugger as well as on my own blog.

We simply will not make progress talking only to people who agree with us or by dogmatically refusing to listen to dissenting opinions. Of that, I am sure. So, again, I invite comments, criticism, debate and discussion. Praise is nice, but not as important as these other responses.

Sample stories from treehugger.com:

IBM Chips In a Wafer

by Tim McGee, Helena, MT, USA

“Although silicon is one of the most abundant elements on earth, single crystal silicon wafers don’t grow on trees- yet. It is actually quite an extensive and expensive process to produce silicon wafers, which are used to create everything from computer chips to solar cells. As announced via the IBM video above, IBM’ers in Vermont have devised a process that allows their rejected wafers to be repurposed for solar cells.”

Garbage-Burning Oven Helps Clean Up and Power Kenyan Slum

by Eliza Barclay, Nomad

“The Christian Science Monitor has a piece out of Nairobi on a garbage-burning oven in the notorious slum of Kibera that aims to preserve the country’s forests, which are swiftly being cleared to provide wood and charcoal for cooking, while finding a way to utilize trash for energy. If successful, Monitor says, the pilot project could be a model for megacities and the waste they create.”

© James K. Bashkin, 2007

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This is going up in honor of Blog Action Day, 10/15/2007.

One site that does a lot to make affiliations of “dissenters” clear is the Global Warming Forum. Here we find opinion, commentary, quotes and graphics on many subjects, including:

Curious, to say the least, don’t you think?

I recommend reading Global Warming Forum regularly and learning about a variety of things, including who and what are behind some of the anti-environmental and anti-“environmental regulation” papers that some people publish routinely.

  • Please don’t get the impression that I condemn industrially-funded research, or that I believe all dissenters are evil.
  • I am funded by industry and the Federal government, and plan to keep it that way.
  • In the US, Federal funding levels are low, and industry has always funded important work, worldwide
  • Furthermore, some scientists may believe that global warming is a non-issue without having any ties to large corporations.

However, as required by all reputable, “peer-reviewed” scientific journals (as opposed to newspapers, magazines, trade magazines, etc.), all publications acknowledge funding sources and make clear any possible conflicts of interest. “Peer-reviewed” means that an article has to be read and approved by (typically) 2-3 anonymous, independent scientists and an editor before it can be published. It isn’t a perfect system, but it works pretty well.

Just the other day I found an unreviewed article on the web that was, I felt, really just advertising. It was a very positive discussion of biodiesel, which does have many good properties, but can also be bad for the environment and/or food prices, depending on the details of how it is made and used. The source cited for this article was a website that promotes and advertises biodiesel directly. I tried to contact the author but the email bounced back, so I responded with a post about the problems with Bioethanol (I didn’t want to attack Biodiesel, I just wanted some balance. I address some issues I have with certain types of biodiesel elsewhere in this blog).

There are many things to commend biodiesel, but I’d be willing to bet that any technology examined from only one perspective can sneak up and hurt us:

We need balanced reporting of the benefits and possible drawbacks of all technology!

Let’s take a look at an unrelated example that does acknowledge the “connections”, but also reveals something curious about the past. Searching Googlescholar for the “link between cigarettes and cancer” turns up articles like:

The idea behind this article is that an “electrically heated cigarette” (EHC) is far safer than a cigarette that burns in the normal way. Who cares? It will still kill you. Of course, the authors and their employers from the tobacco industry care. Interestingly, the following note accompanies the paper:

“Philip Morris Research Laboratories GmbH recently changed its name from INBIFO Institüt für Biologische Forschung GmbH.”

Just perhaps, this change took place because people became angry that something called

“INBIFO, the Institute for Biological Research” (translated from the German)

was just an arm of Phillip Morris, the tobacco company. Somehow the “Institute for Biological Research” sounds impressive and independent, especially compared to “Philip Morris Research Laboratories”. I wonder how many years the “deceptive labeling” practice went on.

So, keep reading here, at the Global Warming Forum and elsewhere to have a better chance of judging the quality and sources of information for yourself.

© James K. Bashkin, 2007

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Japan reduced CO2 emissions by about 1.4 million tons last year, in part by cutting back on air conditioning. This was made more comfortable by dispensing with the business suit and tie culture.

However, extensive commercial building and increases in transportation are making it difficult for Japan to meet its promises for the future.

Also in Japan, the solar energy industry is turning a profit, but remains expensive- this is keeping some consumers from switching to a solar system.

The above three articles from NPR (National Public Radio) shed light on progress and difficulties in a country that long ago recognized the Kyoto Accord and subsequent Kyoto Protocol, which address CO2 emissions, greenhouse gases and global warming.

Meanwhile, Diane Rehm‘s 10 am October 2, 2007, show on NPR dealt with rising food costs and the effect of corn-ethanol on the environment and society. While I didn’t hear the whole show yet, I did not find myself agreeing with some of the guests’ support for corn ethanol and its supposed economic benefits. In particular, one guest seemed to be skirting the issue by talking about reduced CO2 emissions instead of total energy costs when comparing the use of corn-derived ethanol (mixed with gasoline/petrol) in an automobile vs. gasoline/petrol alone. However, I still need to do more reading of current research before giving a complete answer.

© James K. Bashkin, 2007

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