Sustainable Security is a website launched this month by the Oxford Research Group "to be an important platform for promoting a better understanding of the real threats to global security in the 21st century and the policies that should be implemented to address those threats at their root cause." It highlights "four interconnected drivers of global insecurity: climate change; competition over natural resources; global militarism; and poverty and marginalisation. Prof. Paul Rogers makes the case for a rethink of the security paradigm.
The Polar Bear/Grizzly Hybrid: The Ursid Hybrid cross has been attested since a hunter (with a Polar Bear license, and yes, they can be had) shot one in 2006 on Banks Island in Canada's Northwest Territories. Climate change may also play a role, causing an increasing overlap in range and mating season. Polar Bears do show a surprising resilience despite the overwhelming, increasing threats to their survival. Hunting policy itself may play a role, reducing the number of males and driving the females to mate out of season and range. The Native Inuit hunters who are permitted to hunt Polar Bears for subsistence (enabling the sport hunt, which may or may not benefit the Native economy, leading many Natives to support sport hunting) have come into sharp conflict with outside environmentalists. Welcome to the new Far North.
The Other Global Warming. Waste heat (second law of thermodynamics) over the next 300 years could add 3 degrees of warming.
MIT has completed the most comprehensive computer climate model to date to project how much warming will occur in the 21st century. The biggest unknown is not nature, but human actions to address the problem. To illustrate the results of 400 simulations they use a roulette wheel display - which wheel is spun and where the ball stops no one knows. [more inside]
Geoengineering and the New Climate Denialism. "[S]ometimes the politics around an issue become so twisted that it's necessary to address the politics before we can have a real discussion about the problems and how to solve them. That's the case with geoengineering."
Bruce Sterling, fresh from his online State of the World 2008 discussion (previously), delivers his succinct prognosis for the new year: 2009 Will Be a Year of Panic. At least it's an opportunity to say good-bye to the 20th century at last. (via)
Arctic Melt update: Scientists now have unambiguous evidence that the theorized phenomenon known as "polar amplification" has in fact been occurring for the past 5 years. It was not expected to be seen for at least another 10 or 15 years. "We're in a vicious positive feedback loop." [more inside]
Pollan for Agriculture Secretary? It has been suggested (and previously) that Michael Pollan, author of Second Nature, The Omnivore's Dilemma, might make a good Secretary of Agriculture. This would be a dramatic departure for an office that has a decades-long history of steering US agriculture policy to the advantage of the largest agribusiness corporations. Especially given Obama's potential connections to Big Corn, how silly would we be to anticipate real change in US ag policy, relevant as it may be to the economic, energy, climate, and national security issues he campaigned on? Via the Brian Lehrer Show.
New Year’s Day 2030. A new report from Forum on the Future, Climate Futures (6.7MB PDF), maps out five possible scenarios for how climate change might affect our collective future by 2030. Meanwhile, the WWF has released a report, Climate Change: Faster, Stronger, Sooner (1.65MB PDF) which claims that global warming is accelerating at a faster rate than climate change experts had previously predicted. [Via Gristmill and Disinformation]
Spiders invading Europe. Spiders invading England. Spiders invading Pittsburgh. Spiders invading your produce section. Spiders invading other spiders. [more inside]
The clathrate gun hypothesis has been discussed previously, but now might be a good time to start considering it less hypothetical. [via] [more inside]
sandbag.org.uk is a not-for-profit website that allows members to buy up surplus "permits to pollute" that form the currency of the European Union's emissions trading scheme (or EU ETSs). Members can then "retire" them so that they cannot continue to be traded between the industrial polluters - cement, steel and car manufacturers etc - forced by EU regulation to operate within the system. "I suppose it's a bit like burning money in front of someone so they can't spend it on something bad," says the founder, Bryony Worthington, to the Guardian. [more inside]
Weather History Offers Insight Into Global Warming. Weather History Offers Insight Into Global Warming. The problems that often haunt other weather records — the station is moved, buildings are constructed nearby or observers record data inconsistently — have not arisen here because so much of this place has been frozen in time. The weather has been taken (at Mohonk House, [map] ) in exactly the same place, in precisely the same way, by just a handful of the same dedicated people since Grover Cleveland was president... That extremely limited number of observers greatly enhances the reliability, and therefore the value, of the data. [more inside]
A Dutch government commission came up with a plan to prevent flooding in spite of climate change during the next two centuries. Predicting a sea level rise of between 0.65 and 1.3 metres (2.15 and 4.3 feet) by 2100, and up to four metres by 2200, the commission said the chances of flooding multiplied 100-fold with every 1.3 metre rise in the sea level. [more inside]
80 percent of Americans say global warming is real and poses a threat to humanity. Which is good because if the global temperature raises by 4 degrees we're all dead. However only 44 percent would be willing to face any financial hardship in the name of a solution.
Dispatches from Polar Scientists -- A compilation of blogs "in celebration of the International Polar Year (2007-08), [giving] you an up-close-and-personal look at research in extreme environments through the thoughts and experiences of the scientists working there. We’ll post their photos, videos, and blogs on this site."
Melting Greenland glacier water forms a "slow wave" that stays in the Atlantic for at least 50 years before reaching the Pacific, according to a new study. The water piles up in the Atlantic. "It is often assumed that sea levels will rise instantaneously, but that is unlikely, given what we know about ocean dynamics." Fifty years after the meltwater is released from Greenland, sea-level rise could be 30 times greater around Greenland and down the eastern side of North America, including the Gulf of Mexico, than in the Pacific Ocean. Sea-level rises in Europe are around six times that of the Pacific, but only a fifth as great as on the opposite shore of the Atlantic.
Dystopian storytelling is pillar of Western narrative tradition, but this decade has seen a significant shift in the way our apocalypse is told. Orthodox tales of government tyranny are giving way to visions of humans running helpless in the wake of environmental meltdown. From the plausible to the fantastic, most of this fiction remains hauntingly real while the non-fiction can get downright scary. In 2008, the 20th anniversary of climatologist James Hansen's landmark speech before Congress, popular art is beginning to reflect an increasingly bleak public sentiment on the future, playing out some of our worst nightmares. It may be that these writers and directors are wishing for the end of the world, but even so, they are certainly giving voice to the creeping feeling that indeed, we might not make it.
Abrupt climate change is popularly thought of in the movies. But new Greenland ice core findings show two huge Northern Hemisphere temperature spikes occured prior to the close of the last ice age some 11,500 years ago, with a 22-degree-Fahrenheit spike in just 50 years. These followed a massive "reorganization" of atmospheric circulation taking just one or two years. "We know such events are in Earth's future, but we don't know when .. we are speeding blindly down a narrow road, hoping there are no curves ahead." [more inside]
New Kiribati "...will future climate change refugees become a new caste of service sector workers inhabiting a sort of Floating Hotel & Duty Free Mall ... ?" Small island states are on the front line.
Today marks the official 8-language launch of 350.org and the start of global action against climate change. But what does this 350 number even mean? As author Bill McKibben and a chorus of scientific voices suggest, it means everything to the planet. If we want an earth at all, we'll need an Earth at 350.
Earth2100.tv is a project by ABC (video preview) to solicit ideas from the public and experts about the dangers facing world in the next 100 years. "The world’s brightest minds agree that the “perfect storm” of population growth, resource depletion and climate change could converge with catastrophic results. We need you to bring this story to life."
Inconvenient Truths: Get Ready to Rethink What It Means to Be Green. Last month, Wired published what it called "10 green heresies" which makes the case for urban living, intensive forest management and, er, air conditioning, among other things.
Sucking CO2 out of the air has long been a holy grail for solving global warming; Richard Branson has promised $25m to anyone who succeeds. Of course it's already been done, but the amount of energy required doesn't make it net carbon positive. Now a team in Arizona, led by Klaus Lacknet under the company of Global Research Technologies, says it has made a significant breakthrough that massively reduces the amount of energy required - the "project has reached the stage where it is quite clear we can do it." The planned prototype, which will be finished in two years, will cost $200,000 USD, be smaller than a shipping container and be capable of eliminating around 1 ton of CO2. Even if it works many hurdles remain but it portends a cooler future for air-capture technology.
The U.S. Climate Change Science Program has just released "Synthesis and Assessment Product 4.3: The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources, and Biodiversity in the United States." It makes for pretty interesting reading. [more inside]
Meet Joules the climate change-sceptic robot. Joules is employed to teach 8-14 year-old school children in the UK about energy use. Joules says: "oil and gas could be in short supply in about 50 years time. The earth is believed to be getting warmer and sea levels apper to be rising. Energy Chest is funded in part by the world's biggest oil company: ExxonMobil. [more inside]
“I can’t express how extremely disappointed I am that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has chosen to list the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act," Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski said in a statement issued today. [more inside]
Too much traffic? Can't find parking? Choking on smog? Worried about climate change? Gas prices too high, but you still have to drive? Send your city planner a link to the Online Encyclopedia of Transportation Demand Management strategies. [more inside]
Why bother? "That really is the big question facing us as individuals hoping to do something about climate change," by Michael Pollan.
"We badly underestimated the degree of damages and the risks of climate change," said Lord Stern in a speech in London yesterday. "All of the links in the chain are on average worse than we thought (pdf) a couple of years ago." [more inside]
At TED this past March, Al Gore once again presented the Mother of all Power Point Shows. This time around, there is a renewed sense of urgency, with updated slides about Arctic sea ice loss, among other things. More so than in the past, Gore specifically focuses on the necessity for laws to change, and how before that can happen, politics, especially American politics, must change as well. Another theme of Gore's latest TED appearance is how climate change is also a tremendous opportunity for a new heroic generation, to be remembered as the ones who solved the greatest crisis of human civilization.
Enjoy life while you can. Because we're doomed. Global warming has passed the tipping point, and catastrophe is unstoppable. James Lovelock is still at it. (Previously.)
Some time this month, French wine will once again be transported by sail. As the Guardian reports today, French vineyards concerned about climate change are about to make life much easier for oenophiles wishing to reduce their carbon footprint. Later this month, the Belem, a 19th century barque will sail from Languedoc to Dublin with 60,000 bottles of Bordeaux. [more inside]
New Jersey is drowning, or rather it would if the the future as predicted by David Spratty & Philip Sutton in climate code red comes true. Philip Sutton said in an interview that "within five years the Arctic ice in the summertime will be all gone.". With all the ice melting, the waterlevels rise - will your house be under water?
Biofuels worsen global warming, according to two studies published in Science last week. Current US biofuel policies would double carbon emissions over the gasoline alternative. More details: ScienceExpress fulltext pdf of study #1, powerpoint summary of study #1, abstract of study #2, summary of both, policy recommendations pdf (via: 1, 2). [more inside]
The rock art of the Tassili culture is found throughout North African mountains, the Tassili n'Ajjer. The rock art of Europe is well known around the world. Lesser known but just as amazing and less well-understood is the rock art of North Africa. (prev.,prev.) This tradition is thought to have developed independently of European rock art although researchers agree about very little else about it. This art hearkens back to a time when the Sahara's climate was milder and more wet. This rock art has often been compared to the pre-Nguni San rock art of Southern Africa. There are of course people who believe that aliens did it. The more research that is done about this area and its archaeology, the more we may have to rethink our ideas about the Sahara. . Sadly enough, like many archaeological sites it is becoming endangered.
Thoreau was into it. Scientists are using it to understand climate change. When Project Budburst starts again on Febraury 15th, you can participate, too. [more inside]
Climatologists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies have found that 2007 tied with 1998 for Earth's second warmest year in a century (2005 being the hottest). More here. of course, others disagree.
"Intended to deepen our understanding of disputes over climate change and the human contribution to it," the new 'Climate Debate Daily' is brought to you by the folks who created the well-known 'Arts and Letters Daily'. Links to everything from scientific articles through PR releases down to blog entries, are arranged on the page in 'face-off' format, with pros and cons in side-by-side columns. If you want to keep on top of the debate on climate change, it seems that you'll find no better source of information anywhere ..
"They are happy when they run." So says Kalle Leissner, a Swedish musher, of the Alaskan Husky, a breed of dog best known for pulling sleds over long stretches of unforgiving terrain, as in the world famous Iditarod competition. (Not everyone, it should be noted, agrees with Leissner's assessment.) But with climate change forcing the Iditarod's planners to rework their race, could this sport's days be numbered? Maybe...and then again, maybe not.
"So by this analysis dead-tree magazines have a smaller net carbon footprint than web media. We cut down trees and put them in the ground. From a climate change perspective, this is a good thing" explains Chris Anderson, Wired Magazine's editor-in-chief. While some decry this type of carbon footprint accounting as "cheating", the paper industry has lately been eager to convince the public that they are carbon-neutral.
The new UN Human Development Report is out. Lots of interesting stuff on climate change. But for me, nothing beats the Human Development Index, a number that means different things to different people.
The historically significant* "4th IPCC report on global warming" was published in full last weekend to wide publicity. Part 1 "The Science". Part 2 "The Impacts" and Part 3 "The Solutions" - each about a 1000 page 6 pound brick, but summaries make it accessible. Beyond its gloomy dire warnings and calls for immediate action, observed global measurements of CO2 levels are already worse than the worse case scenarios and some say the report is overly conservative and already outdated. However there is a surprising idea for "solving" climate change (TED) that may be inevitable.
CARMA, released today, is a map/database that shows the carbon emissions of more than 50,000 power plants and 4,000 power companies in every country on Earth, showing not only the worst but the best. Find out how much CO2 comes from electricity plants in a particular city, county, congressional district, company, town, ZIP code, or an individual plant.
300,000 people are stranded due to massive flooding in Tabasco, Mexico. More from UNICEF. Video from Reuters. [more inside]
So you've all heard about how global warming will lead to rising sea-levels, but what about falling freshwater levels? [more inside]
In what it calls "the final wake-up call to the international community," a UN report (press release, website, 21 MB PDF) warns that damage to the environment is reaching a "point of no return" and now threatens "humanity's very survival." Oh, c'mon, tell us what you really think.
Georgia's going dry -- and we're not talking liquor stores. Record temperatures in Georgia and a long drought have left many Georgia cities wondering when the taps will run dry. Some towns have only a few weeks of water left, while rivers near Athens have nearly dried up. A broken water main hasn't helped the problem, and some fear that the University of Georgia campus there may shut down for lack of water. What's more, Atlanta itself is already feeling the pressure, as Lake Lanier, a water source for 3 million residents, falls by 1.5 feet per week and has only a three month supply remaining. While there have been more severe (pdf) droughts in Georgia's history, rising population numbers have increased demand to now unsustainable levels.