Sea Ice At Lowest Level In 800 Years Near Greenland
There has never been so little sea ice in the area between Svalbard
and Greenland in the last 800 years. (Credit: NASA/GSFC)
ScienceDaily (July 2, 2009) — New research, which reconstructs the extent of ice in the sea between Greenland and
Svalbard from the 13th century to the present indicates that there has never been so little sea ice as there is now. The research
results from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, are published in the scientific journal, Climate Dynamics.
There are of course neither satellite images nor instrumental records of the climate all the way back to the 13th century,
but nature has its own 'archive' of the climate in both ice cores and the annual growth rings of trees and we humans have
made records of a great many things over the years - such as observations in the log books of ships and in harbour records.
Piece all of the information together and you get a picture of how much sea ice there has been throughout time.
Modern research and historic records
"We have combined information about the climate found in ice cores from an ice cap on Svalbard and from the annual growth
rings of trees in Finland and this gave us a curve of the past climate" explains Aslak Grinsted, geophysicist with the Centre
for Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.
In order to determine how much sea ice there has been, the researchers needed to turn to data from the logbooks of ships,
which whalers and fisherman kept of their expeditions to the boundary of the sea ice. The ship logbooks are very precise and
go all the way back to the 16th century. They relate at which geographical position the ice was found. Another source of information
about the ice are records from harbours in Iceland, where the severity of the winters have been recorded since the end of
the 18th century.
By combining the curve of the climate with the actual historical records of the distribution of the ice, researchers have
been able to reconstruct the extent of the sea ice all the way back to the 13th century. Even though the 13th century was
a warm period, the calculations show that there has never been so little sea ice as in the 20th century.
In the middle of the 17th century there was also a sharp decline in sea ice, but it lastet only a very brief period. The
greatest cover of sea ice was in a period around 1700-1800, which is also called the 'Little Ice Age'.
"There was a sharp change in the ice cover at the start of the 20th century," explains Aslak Grinsted. He explains, that
the ice shrank by 300.000 km2 in the space of ten years from 1910-1920. So you can see that there have been sudden changes
throughout time, but here during the last few years we have had some record years with very little ice extent.
"We see that the sea ice is shrinking to a level which has not been seen in more than 800 years", concludes Aslak Grinsted.
1. Macias Fauria et al. Unprecedented low twentieth century winter sea ice extent in the Western Nordic Seas
since A.D. 1200. Climate Dynamics, 2009; DOI: 10.1007/s00382-009-0610-z
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MLA University of Copenhagen (2009, July 2). Sea Ice At Lowest Level In 800 Years Near Greenland. ScienceDaily. Retrieved
July 2, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2009/07/090701102900.htm
Climate Denial Crock of the Week- "Sea Ice"
Global Climate Change Accelerates Water Hunt in U.S. West
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - It's hard to visualize a water crisis while driving the lush boulevards of
Los Angeles, golfing Arizona's green fairways or watching dancing Las Vegas fountains leap more than 20 stories high.
So look Down Under. A decade into its worst drought in a hundred years Australia is a lesson of what the American West
Bush fires are killing people and obliterating towns. Rice exports collapsed last year and the wheat crop was halved two
years running. Water rationing is part of daily life.
"Think of that as California's future," said Heather Cooley of California water think tank the Pacific Institute.
Water raised leafy green Los Angeles from the desert and filled arid valleys with the nation's largest fruit and vegetable
crop. Each time more water was needed, another megaproject was built, from dams of the major rivers to a canal stretching
much of the length of the state.
But those methods are near their end. There is very little water left untapped and global warming, the gradual increase
of temperature as carbon dioxide and other gases retain more of the sun's heat, has created new uncertainties.
Global warming pushes extremes. It prolongs drought while sometimes bringing deluges the parched earth cannot absorb. California
Department of Water Resources Director Lester Snow says two things keep him up at night: drought and flood.
"It isn't that drought is the new norm," said Snow. "Climate change is bringing us higher highs and lower lows in terms
of water supplies."
Take Los Angeles, which had its driest year in 2006-2007, with 3 inches (7.6 cms) of rain. Only two years earlier, more
than 37 inches (94 cms) fell, barely missing the record.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a drought emergency last month, and Los Angeles plans to ration water
for the first time in 15 years. Courts are limiting the amount of water taken from into rivers to save decimated fish populations,
which is cutting back even more to farms.
California farmers lost more than $300 million in 2008 and economic losses may accelerate to 10 times that this year as
95,000 people lose their jobs. Farmers will get zero water from the main federal supplier.
Nick Tatarakis sank his life savings into the fertile San Joaquin Valley but now thinks his business will die of thirst.
"Every year it seems like this water thing is getting rougher and rougher," he said. "I took everything I had saved over
the last three or four years, put it into farming almonds, developed this orchard. Now it is coming into its fifth year and
probably won't make it through this year."
Climate Denial Crock of the Week- "It's cold. So there's no Climate
Climate Warming Gases Rising Faster Than Expected By: Randolph E. Schmid AP Science Writer Sat
CHICAGO – Despite widespread concern over global warming, humans
are adding carbon to the atmosphere even faster than in the 1990s, researchers warned Saturday.
Carbon dioxide and other gases added to the air by industrial and other activities have been blamed for rising temperatures,
increasing worries about possible major changes in weather and climate.
Carbon emissions have been growing at 3.5 percent per year since 2000, up sharply from the 0.9 percent per year in the
1990s, Christopher Field of the Carnegie Institution for Science told the annual meeting of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science.
"It is now outside the entire envelope of possibilities" considered in the 2007 report of the International Panel on Climate
Change, he said. The IPCC and former vice president Al Gore received the Nobel Prize for drawing attention to the dangers
of climate change.
The largest factor in this increase is the widespread adoption of coal as an energy source, Field said, "and without aggressive
attention societies will continue to focus on the energy sources that are cheapest, and that means coal."
Past projections for declines in the emissions of greenhouse gases were too optimistic, he added. No part of the world
had a decline in emissions from 2000 to 2008.
Anny Cazenave of France's National Center for Space Studies told the meeting that improved satellite measurements show
that sea levels are rising faster than had been expected.
Rising oceans can pose a threat to low level areas such as South Florida, New York and other coastal areas as the ocean
warms and expands and as water is added from melting ice sheets.
And the rise is uneven, with the fastest rising areas at about 1 centimeter — 0.39 inch — per year in parts
of the North Atlantic, western Pacific and the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica, she said.
Also, highly promoted efforts to curb carbon emissions through the use of biofuels may even backfire, other researchers
Demand for biologically based fuels has led to the growing of more corn in the United States, but that means fields were
switched from soybeans to corn, explained Michael Coe of the Woods Hole Research Center.
But there was no decline in the demand for soy, he said, meaning other countries, such as Brazil, increased their soy crops
to make up for the deficit.
In turn, Brazil created more soy fields by destroying tropical forests, which tend to soak up carbon dioxide. Instead the
forests were burned, releasing the gasses into the air.
The increased emissions from Brazil swamp any declines recorded by the United States, he said.
Holly Gibbs of Stanford University said that if crops like sugar and oil palm are planted after tropical forests are burned,
the extra carbon released may be balanced by lower emissions from biofuel in 40 to 120 years, but for crops such as corn and
cassava it can take hundreds of years to break equal.
"If we run our cars on biofuels produced in the tropics, chances will be good that we are effectively burning rainforests
in our gas tanks," she said.
However, there could be benefits from planting crops for biofuels on degraded land, such as fields that are not offering
low productivity due to salinity, soil erosion or nutrient leaching.
"In a sense that would be restoring land to a higher potential," she said. But there would be costs in fertilizer and improved
In some cases simply allowing the degraded land to return to forest might be the best answer, she said.
President George Bush: 'Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter'
President Bush, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for
failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."
He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy
looked on in shock.
Mr Bush, whose second and final term as President ends at the end of the year, then left the meeting at the Windsor Hotel
in Hokkaido where the leaders of the world's richest nations had been discussing new targets to cut carbon emissions.
One official who witnessed the extraordinary scene said afterwards: "Everyone was very surprised that he was making a joke
about America's record on pollution."
manmade global warming has caused an increased frequency of heat waves, droughts, severe rainfall,
and fierce hurricanes, and that there is a 90 percent likelihood that the frequency and intensity of such harsh weather conditions will
Thomas Karl, co-chairman of the report, said the recurrence of the type of flooding witnessed in Iowa
will continue as "time goes on and
NASA SCIENTIST WARNS MORE DRASTIC CUTS ARE NEEDED TO PROTECT CLIMATE
James Hansen, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, warned the European Union last week that its target
of 550 parts per million of CO2 emissions -- "the most stringent in the world -- should be slashed to 350ppm" if "humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed."
draft paper on the subject, Hansen relies on the earth's history, using samples taken from the bottom of the ocean
that "allow CO2 levels to be tracked millions of years ago. They show that when the world began to glaciate at the start of
the Ice age about 35 million years ago, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere stood at about 450ppm."
Hansen warned that allowing the earth to rest at 450ppm "will probably melt all the ice" and create "a disaster --
a guaranteed disaster." Hansen has called for an immediate
Yucca Mountain, located 100 miles northwest
of Las Vegas, was picked as the repository to hold the nation's nuclear waste. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 had three
western States under consideration and in 1987 with Congress being pressed to pick a site, they decide on Yucca Mountain.
''The politics won
out,'' said Allison Macfarlane of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Yucca Mountain Project. ''The weakest state, politically,
that was under consideration, got stuck with it.''
Well, twenty years
later and with more than $9 billion of our tax dollars spent, it is still not open and may never be open. And in my opinion
it never should.
Several facts have
come to light in recent years, such as the Mountain sits on a fault line, underground water, and falsified reports by the
Department of Energy (DOE) scientists who work at the site.
Antarctic Ice Shelf Crumbles
A 160 square mile chunk of Antarctica's
Wilkens ice shelf is collapsing in the continent's fast warming southwest Antarctic Peninsula. "Block after block of ice is
just tumbling and crumbling into the ocean.. The shelf is not just cracking off and a piece goes drifting away, but totally
shattering." Given the Connecticut sized collapsing shelf is permanent floating ice, in itself this will not lead to sea level
rise. But loss of ice shelves does make it easier for land ice to melt and otherwise move into the ocean.
Along with Arctic sea and glacial ice melt, this new alarming example of accelerated ice cap melting presents dramatic
visual evidence illustrating the advanced state of global heating. The time for the discussions of small thinking in response
to climate change and global ecological crises is long since past. Simply, light bulbs and Priuses, biofuels and carbon trading,
are not going to do it. Only a comprehensive program of social change -- things like ending coal use and ancient forest logging,
while reducing human population and consumption -- pursued through intense advocacy, awareness building and profound personal
and societal revolution, will save us now.
US Energy Bill Puts Brakes On Fuel-Guzzling Vehicles
(AFP) — The United States will put the brakes on gasoline-guzzling vehicles with a landmark energy bill establishing
new auto fuel economy standards that cleared a key hurdle and was set to become law.
The US Senate passed a wide-ranging energy bill late Thursday calling for a 40 percent
increase in fuel economy standards by 2020.
The "Energy Independence and Security Act," passed on a 86-8 vote, and the White
House said President George W. Bush would sign it after it is approved by the House of Representatives.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Democratic-controlled House would pass the bill
next week, calling it "a cause for celebration for our country."
"The vote by the Senate to overwhelmingly pass historic and sweeping energy security
legislation is great news for American consumers worried about the price of gas at the pump," Pelosi said. Gasoline pump prices
are more than double the price in 2001, with heating oil costs triple that of 2001.
The action came as a 190-nation conference on the Indonesian island of Bali was hammering
out an accord on how to fight global warming in the next decade, with the United States and the European Union fighting over
"It sends a message to world leaders meeting in Bali that the United States is serious
about addressing global warming," Pelosi said, noting the bill would reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to taking 28 million
cars and trucks off the road.
"It makes a major commitment to homegrown biofuels, sending our energy dollars to
the Midwest, not the Middle East. It sets our nation on a new course -- a new direction for energy security," the House leader
The legislation represents a compromise between automakers and environmental groups
for an average 35 mile-per-gallon (14.7 kilometers per liter) standard by 2020, the first increase by Congress since the first
standards were passed in 1975.
The 2008 model year standards are 27.5 miles per gallon (11.6 kilometers per liter)
for cars and 22.5 mpg for trucks.
As part of the flurry of last-minute changes, Democratic Michigan Senator Carl Levin
attempted to squeeze in some help for Detroit automakers by inserting a statement asserting that Congress and federal auto
safety regulators have the final say over fuel economy rules.
The end result of negotiations was a far narrower package of energy proposals than
what House and Senate Democrats had laid out earlier this year, with no new standards for renewable power from electric utilities
and no new incentive plans for alternative technologies, such as plug-in hybrids.
"It is historic to change the auto standards after 32 years, and do it in a way where
the automobile makers think they can comply," said Senator Pete Domenici, a New Mexico Republican. "That's very unique. They've
never done that."
The fuel economy increase was projected to save 1.1 million barrels of oil per day
in 2020, and four million barrels in 2030.
In addition, the bill's remaining major provision would boost American-grown alternative
fuel production to 36 billion gallons in 2022.
Lawmakers projected the bill would produce 22 billion dollars in net annual consumer
savings in 2020.
The American Petroleum Institute said it was "pleased that the Senate did the right
thing by removing a tax title that would have threatened US energy production and jobs" and passed a bill "that will enhance
our nation's energy security.
"However, we remain concerned by the unrealistic biofuels mandate," it said.
Greenland ice melts at record rate, scientists find
Robert S. Boyd | McClatchy Newspapers
— Rising temperatures caused ice to melt in Greenland at a record rate this year, climate scientists reported Monday.
``The amount of ice lost by Greenland over the last year is the equivalent of two
times all the ice in the Alps or a layer of water more than one-half-mile deep covering Washington, D.C.,'' said Konrad Steffen,
an Arctic expert at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Greenland is about one-quarter as big as the continental United States, and 80 percent
of it is covered by a massive ice sheet. It got its name because, from about A.D. 1000 to 1300, during the so-called ``Medieval
Warm Period,'' it was warm enough to support forests and thriving colonies of Viking settlers.
This year's melt lifted global sea levels by about two one-hundredths of an inch,
Steffen said. If the entire ice cap melted, it could raise the sea by 21 feet, swamping coastal cities and low-lying islands,
but such a catastrophe isn't expected for at least a thousand years, if ever.
Steffen, who's spent 18 seasons working on the Greenland ice cap, attributed the
accelerated melting to an air temperature increase of about 7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1991.
Ten percent more ice melted this year than in 2005, the previous record year. Since
1979, when satellite data over Greenland began, melting has increased by a total of 30 percent, he said.
Increases in snowfall thicken the ice at higher elevations in the interior of Greenland,
but glaciers around the coast have been thinning and sliding more rapidly toward the sea. The gain in the center is more than
offset by the loss around the margins, Steffen said.
This acceleration is partly caused by water trickling down through huge tunnels in
the ice, known as moulins. The water lubricates the bases of glaciers and speeds their flow toward the sea.
``The more lubrication there is under the ice, the faster that ice moves to the coast,''
Steffen said. ``We know the number of moulins is increasing."
For example, the massive Jacobshavn glacier on the west coast of Greenland has sped
up nearly twofold in the last decade.
Data on the recent melting trends were collected by a Defense Department meteorology
satellite program that checks the weather for military purposes. In addition, Steffen's team maintains a set of 22 observation
posts on the ice cap.
He reported his latest findings at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union
in San Francisco.
Along with melting glaciers, scientists are concerned about the shrinking of the
ice covering the Arctic Ocean. In October, scientists reported another record loss of sea ice in the far north. Floating ice
covered 39 percent less area since satellite observations began in 1979. The loss exposes more dark-colored water, which absorbs
heat rather than reflecting it as snow and ice do, thereby contributing to global warming.
Natural Disasters Have Quadrupled In Two Decades: Study
More than four times the number of natural disasters are occurring now than did two decades ago, British charity Oxfam
said in a study Sunday that largely blamed global warming.
"Oxfam... says that rising green house gas emissions are the major cause of weather-related disasters and must be tackled,"
the organisation said, adding that the world's poorest people were being hit the hardest.
The world suffered about 120 natural disasters per year in the early 1980s, which compared with the current figure of about
500 per year, according to the report.
"This year we have seen floods in South Asia, across the breadth of Africa and Mexico that have affected more than 250
million people," noted Oxfam director Barbara Stocking.
"This is no freak year. It follows a pattern of more frequent, more erratic, more unpredictable and more extreme weather
events that are affecting more people."
She added: "Action is needed now to prepare for more disasters otherwise humanitarian assistance will be overwhelmed and
recent advances in human development will go into reverse."
The number of people affected by extreme natural disasters, meanwhile, has surged by almost 70 percent, from 174 million
a year between 1985 to 1994, to 254 million people a year between 1995 to 2004, Oxfam said.
Floods and wind-storms have increased from 60 events in 1980 to 240 last year, with flooding itself up six-fold.
But the number of geothermal events, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, has barely changed.
Oxfam urged Western governments to push hard for a deal on climate change at a key international meeting that runs December
3-14 on the Indonesian island of Bali.
Rich Western nations and the United Nations must act to "make humanitarian aid faster, fairer and more flexible and to
improve ways to prepare for and reduce the risk of disasters," it said.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Bali aims to see countries agree to launch a roadmap
for negotiating cuts in climate-changing carbon emissions from 2012.
The Oxfam study was compiled using data from the Red Cross, the United Nations and specialist researchers at Louvain University
CHENEY QUIETLY MANEUVERS FOR INCREASED CONTROL OVER ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES
The White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is a "
OIRA and agency representatives regularly meet with "outside stakeholders" to solicit opinions on regulations. Vice
President Cheney's office has recently taken an interest in these meetings. In June, The Progress Report
noted that lobbyists for major polluters visited the White House to lobby against tighter smog standards.
At that time, Clean Air Watch observed how unusual it was for a representative from Cheney's office to attend that meeting.
"Also sitting in on that meeting was a representative of Vice President Dick Cheney, long considered the go-to-guy for
big industries opposed to tougher environmental standards," wrote Clean Air Watch.
This incident was not isolated. As OMB Watch has
noted, OIRA has "held more than 540 regulatory review meetings since February 2002." Prior to Feb.
2007, Cheney's office attended just three meetings; since that time, it has attended eight.
Sen. Boxer Seeks Answers On Redacted Testimony White
House Cut Climate Warnings
By Juliet Eilperin Washington Post
Bush administration officials acknowledged yesterday
that they heavily edited testimony on global warming, delivered to Congress on Tuesday by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after the president's top science adviser and other officials questioned its scientific basis.
Senate Democrats say they want to investigate the circumstances
involved in the editing of CDC Director Julie L. Gerberding's written testimony to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on "climate change and public
health." Gerberding testimony shrank from 12 pages to six after it was reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.
The OMB removed several sections of the testimony that
detailed how global warming would affect Americans, according to White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, because John H. Marburger III, who directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and his staff
questioned whether Gerberding's statements matched those released this year by the U.N.Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
"As I understand it, in the draft there was broad characterizations
about climate change science that didn't align with the IPCC," Perino told reporters yesterday. "When you try to summarize
what is a very complicated issue and you have many different experts who have a lot of opinions, and you get testimony less
than 24 hours before it's going to be given, you -- scientists across the administration were taking a look at it, and there
were a decision that she would focus where she is an expert, which is on CDC."
White House officials eliminated several successive
pages of Gerberding's testimony, beginning with a section in which she planned to say that many organizations are working
to address climate change but that, "despite this extensive activity, the public health effects of climate change remain largely
unaddressed," and that the "CDC considers climate change a serious public concern."
In another deleted part of her original testimony,
the CDC director predicted that areas in the northern United States "will likely bear the brunt of increases in ground-level
ozone and associated airborne pollutants. Populations in mid-western and northeastern cities are expected to experience more
heat-related illnesses as heat waves increase in frequency, severity and duration."
The Associated Press, citing anonymous sources, first reported that Gerberding's testimony had been edited.
In an e-mail yesterday, OSTP spokeswoman Kristin Scuderi
wrote that the president's science adviser and his aides were trying to "strengthen the testimony, not to remove the weak
sections entirely." After Marburger questioned "inconsistencies in the use of language between the [IPCC] report and the testimony
. . . the OMB editor decided to transmit a version that simply struck the first eight pages" because there was not time to
reconcile the concerns raised by Marburger's office and Gerberding's original statement.
But several experts on the public health impact of
climate change, having reviewed Gerberding's testimony, said there were no inconsistencies between the original testimony
and the IPCC's recent reports.
"That's nonsense," said University of Wisconsin at Madison public health professor Jonathan Patz, who served as an IPCC lead author for its 2007, 2001 and 1995
reports. "Dr. Gerberding's testimony was scientifically accurate and absolutely in line with the findings of the IPCC."
Just as the CDC director predicted climate change could
exacerbate air-pollution-related diseases, the IPCC 2001 report predicted that dangerous summer ozone levels may increase
across 50 cities in the eastern U.S., and said, "The large potential population exposed to outdoor air pollution, translates
this seemingly small relative risk into a substantial attributable health risk."
Michael McCally, executive director of the advocacy
group Physicians for Social Responsibility, said the editing means that the "White House has denied a congressional committee's
access to scientific information about health and global warming," adding: "This misuse of science and abuse of the legislative
process is deplorable."
Gerberding, however, said in a statement yesterday
that the editing did not alter the underlying message of her testimony.
"It is important to note that the edits made to the
written testimony document did not alter or affect my messages to the Senate committee," she said. "I was perfectly happy
with the testimony I gave to the committee, and was very pleased for the opportunity to have a frank and candid discussion
with the Senate committee on the public health issues associated with climate change."
But Gerberding's statement did not satisfy Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the committee's chairman, who wrote Bush yesterday to demand that he turn over "a copy of
all drafts of the CDC director's testimony sent to the Office of Management and Budget or other offices within the Executive
Office of the President or other agencies," along with any comments administration officials made on the draft testimony.
Southeast Drought Fuels Battle Over Water Rights Halimah Abdullah | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — Alabama, Florida and Georgia lawmakers are upping the ante in a feud over water rights, a fight
fueled by Atlanta's explosive growth and worries that drought-stricken regions of the Southeast are months away from running
out of water.
Each state is pressing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on decades-old water control plans that give guidance on how
best to release millions of gallons of water from river basins that the states share. Such plans are especially important
when states face floods or droughts.
All three states accuse the Corps playing favorites in choosing when to release millions of gallons of water for drinking,
hydropower, recreational and agricultural uses.
The tri-state battle pits Florida's concerns about preserving endangered species of mussels and sturgeon and the effects
of booming population growth in Atlanta against those of Georgia, which worries that the water needed to keep the species
alive draws from dwindling sources such as Lake Lanier outside of Atlanta. Alabama, meanwhile, contends Georgia needs to loosen
its hold on water from Lake Allatoona in the Atlanta metro area so that the state can replenish much-needed water supplies
and continue running a nuclear power plant in the southern part of the state.
"The water control plan governing these two critical river basins is decades old and is no longer serving the needs of
the state of Georgia," said Sen. Johnny Isakson R-Ga. "Thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of residents have
moved to this part of Georgia since then. It is imperative that we update the water control plan to reflect 21st century demand
Earlier this week, Georgia's governor, Sonny Purdue, threatened to sue the Army Corps over how it handles decisions to
release water from Atlanta's reservoir.
Florida's Department of Environmental Protection recently fired off a terse letter to the Corps, saying failure to release
the water would result in "a profound disruption of the socioeconomic foundation in Florida's panhandle region."
All three states have river basin lawsuits pending in federal courts, Corps officials said.
And though all three states have enacted varying degrees of water restrictions, the states accuse one another of not
doing enough to help conserve water.
"While we are all suffering from this drought, relief for metro Atlanta cannot come at the expense of the people of Alabama,"
said Alabama Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, who represents a district near the Alabama-Georgia state line. "... The Corps should
address whether it is allowing Atlanta municipalities to take far more than their fair share of water from Lake Allatoona."
The Corps said it's trying to steer clear of picking sides in the regional squabble.
"We don't own the water — the water is owned by the states," said Rob Holland, a spokesman for the Corps' regional
office in Atlanta. "We encourage the states to resolve their problems, but we can't solve them for them."
Experts on climate say this is the first time in a century that the Southeast has faced such a critical drought. Other
parts of the nation, such as California and Idaho, have long dealt with droughts and have plans to deal with the wildfires
and diminished crops that result from them.
"The drought in the Southeast is far more widespread," said Mike Hayes, the director of the National Drought Mitigation
Center at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. "People wonder, 'Can I ask my neighbor for water if they are in the same
boat?' Other natural disasters, like hurricanes and floods, bring people together. Drought, if people aren't careful, can
really set one sector against another sector and can create chronic tension."
But in the historically water-rich South, the battle over dwindling water sources already has turned nasty.
Georgia's congressional delegation is pushing legislation that would give all states the power to suspend the Endangered
Species Act during extreme droughts, a move that would cut short Florida's claims to extra water.
"While they're worrying about an endangered species of mussels in Apalachicola, we're worried about the endangered people,"
Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said Thursday.
Alabama's congressional delegation also took the Corps to task for giving Georgia a larger share of water from Lake Allatoona,
saying, "Decisions to drastically cut the water flowing into Alabama from Lake Allatoona are being made without all stakeholders
being able to evaluate very important information."
Environmental groups say that Atlanta, not the Army Corps of Engineers, is at fault for the region's water woes.
"The Corps has been a convenient punching bag to point to in all of this," said Gil Rogers, a staff attorney with the
Southern Environmental Law Center, a nonprofit regional group that focuses on environmental protection issues throughout the
Southeast. "The Corps has made some mistakes in the past, but I don't think it's fair to point to the problem as the fault
of the engineers, or the mussels in Florida or Alabama. We've allowed growth without asking questions about whether they can
sustain that growth."
Cities Take the Lead on Climate Change
In Europe, Cities Aren't Waiting Around for International Action on Climate Change
By KARL RITTER
The Associated Press
When this quiet city in southern Sweden decided in 1996 to wean itself off fossil fuels, most people doubted the ambitious
goal would have any impact beyond the town limits.
A few melting glaciers later, Vaxjo is attracting a green pilgrimage of politicians, scientists and business leaders from
as far afield as the United States and North Korea seeking inspiration from a city program that has allowed it to cut CO2
emissions 30 percent since 1993.
Vaxjo is a pioneer in a growing movement in dozens of European cities, large and small, that aren't waiting for national
or international measures to curb global warming.
From London's congestion charge to Paris' city bike program and Barcelona's solar power campaign, initiatives taken at
the local level are being introduced across the continent often influencing national policies instead of the other way around.
"People used to ask: Isn't it better to do this at a national or international level?" said Henrik Johansson, environmental
controller in Vaxjo, a city of 78,000 on the shores of Lake Helga, surrounded by thick pine forest in the heart of Smaland
province. "We want to show everyone else that you can accomplish a lot at the local level."
The European Union, mindful that many member states are failing to meet mandated emissions cuts under the Kyoto climate
treaty, has taken notice of the trend and is encouraging cities to adopt their own emissions targets. The bloc awarded one
of its inaugural Sustainable Energy Europe awards this year to Vaxjo, which aims to have cut emissions by 50 percent by 2010
and 70 percent by 2025.
"We are convinced that the cities are a key element to change behavior and get results," said Pedro Ballesteros Torres,
manager of the Sustainable Energy Europe campaign. "Climate change is a global problem but the origin of the problem is very
So far only a handful of European capitals have set emissions targets, including Stockholm, Copenhagen and London. Torres
said he hopes to convince about 30 European cities to commit to targets next year.
While such goals are welcome, they may not always be the best way forward, said Simon Reddy, who manages the
C40 project, a global network of major cities exchanging ideas on tackling climate change.
"At the moment a lot of cities don't know what they're emitting so it's very difficult to set targets," Reddy said.
More important than emissions targets, he said, is that cities draft action plans, outlining specific goals needed to reduce
emissions, like switching a certain percentage of the public transit system to alternative fuels.
London Mayor Ken Livingstone's Climate Action Plan calls for cutting the city's CO2 emissions by 60 percent in 2025, compared
to 1990 levels. However, planners acknowledge the cuts are not realistic unless the government introduces a system of carbon
Barcelona, Spain's second biggest city, has, since 2006, required all new and renovated buildings to install solar panels
to supply at least 60 percent of the energy needed to heat water.
The project has been emulated by dozens of Spanish cities and inspired national legislation with similar, though less stringent,
requirements, said Angels Codina Relat of the Barcelona Energy Agency.
It's not only in Europe that cities are taking action on climate change.
Several U.S. cities including Austin, Texas; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle have launched programs to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Bogota, the capital of Colombia, has reduced emissions with the TransMilenio municipal bus system and an extensive network
of bicycle paths.
In Vaxjo, (pronounced VECK-shur), the vast majority of emissions cuts have been achieved at the heating and power plant,
which replaced oil with wood chips from local sawmills as its main source of fuel. Ashes from the furnace are returned to
the forest as nutrients.
"This is the best fir in Sweden," said plant manager Ulf Johnsson, scooping up a fistful of wood chips from a giant heap
outside the factory.
He had just led Michael Wood, the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden, on a guided tour of the facility, which is considered state
of the art. Not only does it generate electricity, but the water that is warmed up in the process of cooling the plant is
used to heat homes and offices in Vaxjo.
Every week, foreign visitors arrive to see Vaxjo's environmental campaign. Last year, even a delegation of
10 energy officials from reclusive North Korea got a tour.
A similar but much larger system is in place in Copenhagen, Denmark's capital, where waste heat from incineration and combined
heat and power plants is pumped through a purpose-built 800-mile network of pipes to 97 percent of city.
Copenhagen is often cited as a climate pioneer among European cities. It cut CO2 emissions by 187,600 tons annually in
the late '90s by switching from coal to natural gas and biofuels at its energy plants. Its goal is to reduce emissions by
35 percent by 2010, compared to 1990 levels, even more ambitious than Denmark's national target of 21 percent cuts under the
In 1995, the city became one of the first European capitals to introduce a public bicycle service that lets people pick
up and return bikes at dozens of stations citywide for a small fee. Similar initiatives have since taken root in Paris and
several other European cities.
Next, Copenhagen plans to spend about $38 million on various initiatives to get more residents to use bicycles instead
Transport is one of the hardest areas for local leaders to control since traffic is not confined to a single city. Without
stronger national policies promoting biofuels over gasoline, Vaxjo, for one, will never reach its long-term target of becoming
free of fossil fuels.
But it's doing what it can locally. So-called "green cars" running on biofuels park for free anywhere in the city. About
one-fifth of the city's own fleet runs on biogas produced at the local sewage treatment plant.
Using biofuels instead of gasoline in cars is generally considered to cut CO2 emissions, although some scientists say greenhouse
gases released during the production of biofuel crops can offset those gains.
Vaxjo has also invested in energy efficiency, from the light bulbs used in street lights to a new residential area with
Europe's tallest all-wood apartment buildings. Wood requires less energy to produce than steel or concrete, and also less
transportation since Vaxjo is in the middle of forests.
Although Vaxjo is tiny by comparison, the C40 group, including major metropolitan centers such as New York,
Mexico City and Tokyo, has been impressed by the city's progress and uses it as an example of "best practices" around the
"They're a small town," Reddy said. "Apply that to 7 million? It's doable but its going to take a lot longer."
Gore: Award Puts Focus On Global Warming By SETH BORENSTEIN and LISA LEFF Associated Press
For years, former Vice President Al Gore and a host of climate scientists were belittled and, worst of all, ignored
for their message about how dire global warming is. On Friday, they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their warnings
about what Gore calls "a planetary emergency."
Gore shared the prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations network of scientists. This
scientific panel has explained the dry details of global warming in thousands of pages of footnoted reports every six years
or so since 1990.
Gore, fresh from a near miss at winning the U.S. presidency in 2000, translated the numbers and jargon-laden reports into
something people could understand. He made a slide show and went Hollywood.
His documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" won two Academy Awards and has been credited with changing the debate in America
about global warming.
For Gore it was all about the message.
"This is a chance to elevate global consciousness about the challenges that we face now," he said Friday at the offices
of the Alliance For Climate Protection, a nonprofit he founded. "The alarm bells are going off in the scientific community."
Despite a live global stage, Gore did not take questions from reporters, avoiding the issue of a potential 2008 presidential
run. His aides repeatedly say he won't enter the race. Gore donated his share of the $1.5 million prize to the nonprofit.
"For my part, I will be doing everything I can to try to understand how to best use the honor and the recognition from
this award as a way of speeding up the change in awareness and the change in urgency," Gore said in brief remarks. "It is
a planetary emergency and we have to act quickly."
In announcing the award earlier in the day in Oslo, Norway, Nobel committee chairman Ole Danbolt Mjoes said the prize was
not a slap at the Bush administration's current policies. Instead, he said it was about encouraging all countries "to think
again and to say what can they do to conquer global warming."
Gore is the first former vice president to win the Peace Prize since 1906 when Theodore Roosevelt, who by that time had
become president, was awarded. Sitting Vice President Charles Gates Dawes won the prize in 1925. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter
won it in 2002 and Woodrow Wilson in 1919.
Gore, who learned of his award from watching the live TV announcement — hearing his name amid the Norwegian —
was not celebratory Friday. His tone was somber. He spoke beside his wife, Tipper, and four Stanford University climate scientists
who were co-authors of the international climate report. Outside the building, schoolchildren held a sign saying, "Thank you
For years, there was little thanks.
From the late 1980s with his book "Earth in the Balance," Gore championed the issue of global warming. He had monthly science
seminars on it while vice president and helped negotiate the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that called for cuts in greenhouse gases.
"When he first started really working on the climate change issue, I remember he was ridiculed in the press and certainly
by political opponents as some kind of kook out there in la-la land," said federal climate scientist Tom Peterson, an IPCC
co-author. "It's delightful that he's sharing this and he deserves it well. And it's nice to have his work being vindicated."
Since his loss to George W. Bush in 2000, Gore put aside political aspirations and become a global warming evangelical.
He traveled to more than 50 countries. He presented his slide show on global warming more than 1,000 times.
He turned that slide show into "An Inconvenient Truth."
The film won praise but also generated controversy. On Wednesday, a British judge ruled in a lawsuit that it was OK to
show the movie to students in school. High Court Judge Michael Burton said it was "substantially founded upon scientific research
and fact" but presented in a "context of alarmism and exaggeration." He said teachers must be given a written document explaining
More than 20 top climate scientists told The Associated Press last year that the film was generally accurate in its presentation
of the science, although some were bothered by what they thought were a couple of exaggerations.
Gore's movie was deeply personal. It was about him after losing the 2000 election and about his travels, and he talked
about the changing climate in a personal way.
"He has honed that message in a way that many scientists are jealous of," said University of Michigan Dean Rosina Bierbaum.
She was a top White House science aide to Gore and President Clinton. "He is a master communicator."
Climate scientists said their work was cautious and rock-solid, confirmed with constant peer review, but it didn't grab
"We need an advocate such as Al Gore to help present the work of scientists across the world," said Bob Watson, former
chairman of the IPCC and a top federal climate science adviser to the Clinton-Gore Administration.
Watson and Bierbaum, who regularly briefed Gore about global warming, described him as voracious, wanting to understand
every detail about the science. Bierbaum recalled one Air Force Two journey with Gore and the head of the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration.
"Gore was such a consummate scientist that he would keep asking and asking and asking deeper and deeper questions until
at one point Jim Baker of NOAA and I ran back to our seats to go back through textbooks to get the answers," Bierbaum said.
"It was both exhilarating and exhausting to be part of his science team."
Scientists and Nobel committee members said it was not a stretch to award the Peace Prize to Gore and the scientists. Studies
by national security experts say a hotter world with changes in water and food supply can lead to wars and terrorism.
"We're already seeing the first climate wars, in the Sahel belt of Africa," said Jan Egeland, a Norwegian peace mediator.
The man who beat Gore in 2000, President Bush, had no plans to call Gore to congratulate him. But spokesman Tony Fratto
called it "an important recognition" for both Gore and the scientific panel.
Some in the shrinking community of global warming skeptics and those downplaying the issue, were dubious, however.
"I think it cheapens the Nobel Prize," said William O'Keefe, chief executive officer of the conservative science-oriented
think tank the Marshall Institute. O'Keefe, a former oil industry executive and current consultant to fossil fuel firms, called
Gore's work "rife with errors."
As he was leaving the alliance's office, Gore was asked whether the Nobel would quiet climate naysayers. He said the award
would help the cause of fighting global warming overall: "I hope we have a chance to really kick into high gear."
Arctic Ice Melt Opens Northwest Passage
By JAMEY KEATEN
Associated Press Writer
Arctic ice has shrunk to the lowest level on record, new satellite images show, raising the possibility that the Northwest
Passage that eluded famous explorers will become an open shipping lane.
The European Space Agency said nearly 200 satellite photos this month taken together showed an ice-free passage along northern
Canada, Alaska and Greenland, and ice retreating to its lowest level since such images were first taken in 1978.
The waters are exposing unexplored resources, and vessels could trim thousands of miles from Europe to Asia by bypassing
the Panama Canal. The seasonal ebb and flow of ice levels has already opened up a slim summer window for ships.
Leif Toudal Pedersen, of the Danish National Space Center, said that Arctic ice has shrunk to some 1 million square miles.
The previous low was 1.5 million square miles, in 2005.
"The strong reduction in just one year certainly raises flags that the ice (in summer) may disappear much sooner than expected,"
Pedersen said in an ESA statement posted on its Web site Friday.
Pedersen said the extreme retreat this year suggested the passage could fully open sooner than expected — but ESA
did not say when that might be. Efforts to contact ESA officials in Paris and Noordwik, the Netherlands, were unsuccessful
A U.N. panel on climate change has predicted that polar regions could be virtually free of ice by the summer of 2070 because
of rising temperatures and sea ice decline, ESA noted.
Russia, Norway, Denmark, Canada and the United States are among countries in a race to secure rights to the Arctic that
heated up last month when Russia sent two small submarines to plant its national flag under the North Pole. A U.S. study has
suggested as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas could be hidden in the area.
Environmentalists fear increased maritime traffic and efforts to tap natural resources in the area could one day lead to
oil spills and harm regional wildlife.
Until now, the passage has been expected to remain closed even during reduced ice cover by multiyear ice pack — sea
ice that remains through one or more summers, ESA said.
Researcher Claes Ragner of Norway's Fridtjof Nansen Institute, which works on Arctic environmental and political issues,
said for now, the new opening has only symbolic meaning for the future of sea transport.
"Routes between Scandinavia and Japan could be almost halved, and a stable and reliable route would mean a lot to certain
regions," he said by phone. But even if the passage is opening up and polar ice continues to melt, it will take years for
such routes to be regular, he said.
"It won't be ice-free all year around and it won't be a stable route all year," Ragner said. "The greatest wish for sea
transportation is streamlined and stable routes."
"Shorter transport routes means less pollution if you can ship products from A to B on the shortest route," he said, "but
the fact that the polar ice is melting away is not good for the world in that we're losing the Arctic and the animal life
The opening observed this week was not the most direct waterway, ESA said. That would be through northern Canada along
the coast of Siberia, which remains partially blocked.
Belching Moose Add To Global Warming
A grown moose belches out methane gas equivalent to 2,100 kilograms (4,630 pounds) of carbon dioxide a year, contributing
to global warming, Norwegian researchers said Wednesday.
That is more than twice the amount of CO2 emitted on a round-trip flight across the Atlantic Ocean from Oslo to the Chilean
capital Santiago, according to Scandinavian Airlines.
"An adult moose emits about 100 kilograms of methane gas a year. But methane gas is much stronger than carbon dioxide,
so to get the equivalent you have to multiply by 21," professor Odd Harstad at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences told
With an estimated 140,000 moose roaming Norway's forests, that is a total of of 294,000,000 kilograms of CO2 per year.
But Harstad said that was no reason to begin killing off the entire moose population.
"Moose have very important functions in nature. They are ruminants that eat the grass. If we don't have ruminants, we have
too much grass and that changes the landscape and has consequences for the flora and fauna," he said.
Harstad said the figure of 100 kilograms of methane gas was a rough estimate based on earlier calculations for beef cows
As is the case with cows and other ruminants, methane is produced from the microbes in the moose's stomach which help break
down the roughage they eat.
Because methane gas is stronger than carbon dioxide, it is considered even more harmful to the environment. Both methane
and carbon dioxide are so-called greenhouses gases, one of the main causes of global warming.
'Dirty Snow' Warming Earth, Study Finds Canada Urged To Lead International Cleanup Randy
Boswell CanWest News Service
A team of U.S. scientists has found that "dirty snow" is a surprisingly significant contributor to global warming, and
is urging Canada - as "custodian" of a vast, snowbound nation - to lead an international cleanup effort.
The researchers have measured, in the first comprehensive study of its kind, how snowy landscapes tainted by carbon particles
from inefficiently burned fuels and forest fires are absorbing more of the sun's heat than the less sooty snow cover of centuries
"Snow becomes dirty when soot from tailpipes, smokestacks and forest fires enters the atmosphere and falls to the ground,"
the team explains. "Soot-infused snow is darker than natural snow. Dark surfaces absorb sunlight and cause warming, while
bright surfaces reflect heat back into space and cause cooling."
Even a slightly darkened surface impairs the natural reflective properties of snow crystals, say the scientists, who calculated
that dirty snow accounts for one-third of rising temperatures in the Arctic over the past two centuries.
"When we inject dirty particles into the atmosphere and they fall onto snow, the net effect is we warm the polar latitudes,"
says Charlie Zender, a University of California atmospheric physicist and co-author of a study published in the latest Journal
of Geophysical Research. "Dark soot can heat up quickly. It's like placing tiny toaster ovens into the snow pack."
About 80% of "black carbon" pollutants are man-made, the researchers estimate, with forest fires accounting for the rest.
Mr. Zender told CanWest News Service that although all nations contribute to the problem of snow impurity through the long-range
transport of pollutants, Canada bears particular responsibility to push for cleaner-burning fuels and reduced industrial emissions
"Just as Brazil is the custodian of the Amazon, a world resource whose deforestation has all sorts of negative consequences,
so is Canada a custodian of an important swath of snow-covered land that helps to cool the planet," Mr. Zender said.
He also raised a red flag about increased ship traffic through the Northwest Passage - widely viewed as a potential economic
boon for Canada in the coming decades - as a result of the melting Arctic ice pack.
"One implication," Mr. Zender said of his team's research, "is that any increase in shipping through the Arctic Ocean -
for example, the Northwest Passage - is likely to exacerbate these effects by putting soot emissions right in the middle of
the remaining snow and sea-ice. We must think very carefully about this."
In their NASA-funded project, Mr. Zender and three colleagues from UC-Irvine and the University of Colorado calculated
that dirty snow caused the Earth's temperature to rise 0.1 to 0.15 C, or up to 19% of the total warming of 0.8 C over the
past 200 years.
In that time, the Arctic has warmed about 1.6 C, and dirty snow there has caused at least 0.5 C of the warming, the team
"The global warming debate has focused on carbon dioxide emissions," the scientists note. But their research has "determined
that a lesser-known mechanism - dirty snow - can explain one-third or more of the Arctic warming primarily attributed to greenhouse
While the international Kyoto strategy to cut greenhouse gases is deemed essential to fight climate change, Mr. Zender's
team says targeting sources of dirty snow could pay faster dividends in curbing some of the increase in global temperatures.
"Carbon dioxide lives in the atmosphere for a century, so cutting back on emissions can prevent further warming but does
not produce immediate cooling," they said. "Policymakers could use these research results to develop regulations to mitigate
global warming. Limiting industrial soot emissions and switching to cleaner-burning fuels would leave snow brighter. New snow
falls each year, and if it contained fewer impurities, the ground would brighten and temperatures would cool." The researchers
warn that dirty snow not only results in gradual warming but can also create temperature spikes where surface snowmelt is
accelerated enough to expose the deeper, darker layers of previous years' snowfall, or even the soil lying below.
"In some polar areas, impurities in the snow have caused enough melting to expose underlying sea ice or soil that is significantly
darker than the snow. The darker surfaces absorb sunlight more rapidly than snow, causing additional warming. This cycle causes
temperatures in the polar regions to rise as much as 3 C during some seasons," the scientists say.
"Once the snow is gone, the soot that caused the snow to melt continues to have an effect because the ground surface is
darker and retains more heat."
A map produced by the team to highlight the impact of dirty snow around the planet shows a minimal effect across most of
mainland North America, a zone of slightly elevated temperatures in Canada and the United States around the heavily industrialized
Great Lakes region, and extensive areas of significant heating from darkened snow throughout the High Arctic latitudes.
ENERGY -- CARBON CAPTURE PROVIDES MEANS TO HARNESS COAL ENERGY WHILE COMBATING GLOBAL WARMING:
As the most
plentiful fossil fuel available, coal is a staple of U.S. energy production. But growing consumer and government thirst for cheap energy through the construction of a new generation of coal-fired power plants
poses a grave threat to the environment.
"In the absence of emission controls, these new plants will increase worldwide annual emissions of carbon dioxide by approximately
"Technology currently exists to capture CO2 emissions from coal-fired plants before they are released into the environment
and to sequester that CO2 in underground geologic formations," so-called carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems.
This pathway, as American Progress proposes it to be implemented, "would allow continued use of coal as an energy source
without magnifying the risk of global warming." Unfortunately, "we are so far failing" in the effort to expand use of CCS,
as industry experts predict only a small percentage of coal plants in the next quarter century will be using clean technology.
To expand the use of clean coal technology, Congress must take bold action to "put in place an emission performance standard
for new coal-fired plants." Subsequently, such leadership would build a foundation for developing nations like India and China
-- which rival the U.S. in greenhouse emissions -- to emulate. Our leadership on this front is crucial, as "[l]ack of progress
in these countries would
two long-time statesmen generally agreed on most of the fundamental points, particularly that "the evidence is sufficient" that climate change is both a real phenomenon and that humans have contributed to it.
He neglected to mention, however, that there
are also lucrative rewards for global warming skeptics who side with the deep pockets of the oil lobby.
Hot and cold
Last week began with a Supreme Court decision declaring that the U.S. government had the authority to regulate greenhouse-gas
emissions and all but ordering the Bush administration to do so. It ended with a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change - the world's authoritative voice on global warming - warning that failure to contain these emissions will
have disastrous environmental effects, especially in poorer countries, which are least able to defend themselves and their
people against the consequences of climate change.
One would hope that these events would shake President George W. Bush out of his state of denial and add his authority
to the chorus of governors, legislators and business leaders calling for an aggressive regulatory and technological response
to the dangers of global warming. They haven't. When asked about the Supreme Court decision, the president said he thought
he was already doing enough.
He argued further that there was little point in America doing any more unless other polluters like China acted as well.
That ignores the reality that no developing country is going to move unless the United States - which produces one-fourth
of the world's emissions with only 5 percent of its population - takes the lead.
The report from the intergovernmental panel was the second of three due this year. The first concluded with "90 percent
certainty" that humans had caused the rise in atmospheric temperatures over the last half-century. The most recent focused
on the consequences, few of them positive.
The northern latitudes will have longer growing seasons. But elsewhere climate change will lead to more severe storms,
the flooding of tropical islands and coastlines inhabited by hundreds of millions of people, the likely extinction of at least
one-fourth of the world's species and, in poorer countries in Asia and Africa, drought and hunger.
Some of these changes have begun. But the report also makes clear that while emissions already accumulated in the atmosphere
make some damage inevitable, the worst can be avoided if the world's nations take swift action to stabilize and then reverse
What must be avoided, the report said, is a rise of 3 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit, the point at which truly devastating effects
will begin to kick in. But such a rise is almost inevitable over the next century if the world continues to do business as
The panel's next paper will discuss alternatives to business as usual. These policies will almost certainly require a major
shift in the way energy is produced and used, as well as massive investments in new technologies. They will also be expensive.
But what the world's scientists are telling us, with increasing confidence, is that the costs of doing nothing will be far
greater than the costs of acting now.
Climate Report: Poor Will Suffer Most By ARTHUR MAX Associated Press Writer Fri Apr 6, 2007 4:36 PM ET
world faces increased hunger and water shortages in the poorest countries, massive floods and avalanches in Asia, and species
extinction unless nations adapt to climate change and halt its progress, according to a report approved Friday by an international
conference on global warming.
Agreement came after an all-night session during which key sections were deleted from the draft and scientists angrily
confronted government negotiators who they feared were watering down their findings.
"It has been a complex exercise," said Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Several scientists objected to the editing of the final draft by government negotiators but, in the end, agreed to compromises.
However, some scientists vowed never to take part in the process again.
Five days of negotiations reached a climax when the delegates removed parts of a key chart highlighting devastating effects
of climate change that kick in with every rise of 1.8 degrees, and in a tussle over the level of scientific reliability attached
to key statements.
There was little doubt about the science, which was based on 29,000 sets of data, much of it collected in the last five
years. "For the first time we are not just arm-waving with models," Martin Perry, who conducted the grueling negotiations,
The United States, China and Saudi Arabia raised many of the objections to the phrasing, often seeking to tone down the
certainty of some of the more dire projections.
The final IPCC report is the clearest and most comprehensive scientific statement to date on the impact of global warming
mainly caused by man-induced carbon dioxide pollution.
"The poorest of the poor in the world — and this includes poor people in prosperous societies — are going
to be the worst hit," Pachauri said. "People who are poor are least able to adapt to climate change."
The report said up to 30 percent of species face an increased risk of vanishing if global temperatures rise 3.6 degrees
above the average in the 1980s and 1990s.
Areas in drought will become even more dry, adding to the risks of hunger and disease, it said. The world will face heightened
threats of flooding, severe storms and the erosion of coastlines.
"This is a glimpse into an apocalyptic future," the Greenpeace environmental group said of the final report.
Without action to curb carbon emissions, man's livable habitat will shrink starkly, said Stephen Schneider, a Stanford
scientist who was one of the authors. "Don't be poor in a hot country, don't live in hurricane alley, watch out about being
on the coasts or in the Arctic, and it's a bad idea to be on high mountains with glaciers melting."
"We can fix this," by investing a small part of the world's economic growth rate, said Schneider. "It's trillions of
dollars, but it's a very trivial thing."
Negotiators pored over the 21-page draft meant to be a policy guide for governments. The summary pares down the full
1,572-page scientific assessment of the evidence of climate change so far, and the impact it will have on the Earth's most
vulnerable people and ecosystems.
More than 120 nations attended the meeting. Each word was approved by consensus, and any change had to be approved by
the scientists who drew up that section of the report.
Parry denied the hard-fought editing process resulted in a watered-down version, but acknowledged that "certain messages
At one point early Friday, it looked like the report "was not going to be accepted. It was very, very close to that point,"
said David Karoly, one of the scientific authors from the University of Oklahoma.
Though weakened by the deletion of some elements, the final report "will send a very, very clear signal" to governments,
said Yvo de Boer, the U.N.'s top climate official.
The summary will be presented to the G8 summit of the world's richest nations in June, when the European Union is expected
to renew appeals to President Bush to join in international efforts to control emissions of fossil fuels.
This year's series of reports by the IPCC were the first in six years from the prestigious body of 2,500 scientists,
formed in 1988. Public awareness of climate change gave the IPCC's work unaccustomed importance and fueled the intensity of
the closed-door negotiations during the five-day meeting.
"The urgency of this report prepared by the world's top scientists should be matched by an equally urgent response from
governments," said Hans Verolme, director of the global climate change program of the World Wide Fund for Nature.
At the final session, the conference snagged over a sentence that said the impact of climate change already were being
observed on every continent and in most oceans.
"There is very high confidence that many natural systems are being affected by regional climate changes, particularly
temperature increases," said the statement on the first page of text.
But China insisted on striking the word "very," injecting doubt into what the scientists argued were indisputable observations.
The report's three authors refused to go along with the change, resulting in an hours-long deadlock that was broken by a U.S.
compromise to delete any reference to confidence levels.
It is the second of four reports from the IPCC this year; the first report in February laid out the scientific case for
how global warming is happening. This second report is the "so what" report, explaining what the effects of global warming
For the first time, the scientists broke down their predictions into regions, and forecast that climate change will affect
billions of people.
North America will experience more severe storms with human and economic loss, and cultural and social disruptions. It
can expect more hurricanes, floods, droughts, heat waves and wildfires, it said. Coasts will be swamped by rising sea levels.
In the short term, crop yields may increase by 5 percent to 20 percent from a longer growing season, but will plummet if temperatures
rise by 7.2 degrees.
Africa will be hardest hit. By 2020, up to 250 million people are likely to be exposed to water shortages. In some countries,
food production could fall by half, it said.
Parts of Asia are threatened with massive flooding and avalanches from melting Himalayan glaciers. Europe also will see
its Alpine glaciers disappear. Australia's Great Barrier Reef will lose much of its coral to bleaching from even moderate
increases in sea temperatures, the report said.
Separately, an independent organization that keeps tabs on glacial melting in Austria's Alps said its latest survey confirms
that the ice sheets continue to shrink significantly and predicted most will vanish by the end of the century.
The Austrian Alpine Association said experts measured 105 of Austria's 925 glaciers last year and found they had receded
by an average of 52 1/2 feet, with one of the sheets shrinking a dramatic 262 feet during 2006.
Winter warmest on record worldwide By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID AP Science Writer
winter was the warmest on record worldwide, the government said Thursday in the latest worrisome report focusing on changing
The report comes just over a month after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said global warming is very likely
caused by human actions and is so severe it will continue for centuries.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the combined land and ocean temperatures for December through
February were 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit above average for the period since record keeping began in 1880.
The report said that during the past century, global temperatures have increased at about 0.11 degrees per decade. But
that increase has been three times larger since 1976, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center reported.
Most scientists attribute the rising temperatures to so-called greenhouse gases which are produced by industrial activities,
automobiles and other processes. These gases build up in the atmosphere and trap heat from the sun somewhat like a greenhouse.
Also contributing to this winter's record warmth was an El Nino, a periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean. It was
particularly strong in January — the warmest January ever — but the ocean surface has since begun to cool.
The report noted that in the Northern Hemisphere the combined land and water temperature was the warmest ever at 1.64 degrees
above average. In the Southern Hemisphere, where it was summer, the temperature was 0.88 degree above average and the fourth
The late March date of the vernal equinox noted on most calendars notwithstanding, for weather and climate purposes northern
winter is December, January and February.
For the United States, meanwhile, the winter temperature was near average. The season got off to a late start and spring-like
temperatures covered most of the eastern half of the country in January, but cold conditions set in in February, which was
the third coldest on record.
For winter, statewide temperatures were warmer than average from Florida to Maine and from Michigan to Montana while cooler-than-average
temperatures occurred in the southern Plains and areas of the Southwest.
For Alaska, both February and winter were warmer than average but far from the record warmth of 2003 and 2001, respectively.
U.S. Projects 19 Percent Emissions Rise By JOHN HEILPRIN Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON -- By 2020, the United States will emit almost one-fifth more gases that lead to global warming than it did
in 2000, increasing the risks of drought and scarce water supplies.
That projection comes from an internal draft report from the Bush administration that is more than a year overdue at the
United Nations. The Associated Press obtained a copy Saturday.
The United States already is responsible for roughly one-quarter of the world's carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse" gases
that scientists blame for global warming.
The draft report, which is still being completed, projects that the current administration's climate policy would result
in the emission of 9.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases in 2020, a 19 percent increase from 7.7 billion tons in 2000.
Doing more than slowing the growth rate of greenhouse gas emissions, which remains the administration's stated goal, will
be decided "as the science justifies," according to the draft report. The biggest source of the gases is the burning of fossil
fuels, chiefly oil, coal and natural gas.
But an authoritative U.N. report last month from hundreds of scientists and government officials said global warming is
"very likely" caused by mankind and that climate change will continue for centuries even if heat-trapping gases are reduced.
That report was approved by 113 nations including the United States.
It was the strongest language ever used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose last report came in 2001.
Despite the dire outlook, most scientists say huge sea level rises and the most catastrophic storms and droughts may be
avoided if strong action is taken soon.
"We're on a path to exceeding levels of global warming that will cause catastrophic consequences, and we really need to
be seriously reducing emissions, not just reducing the growth rate as the president is doing," Michael MacCracken, chief scientist
at the nonpartisan Climate Institute in Washington, said Saturday. Until 2001, he coordinated the government's studies of
the consequences of global warming,
The administration's internal draft covers inventories of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, projected environmental
consequences and policies to limit emissions and risk. The New York Times reported on the draft in Saturday's editions.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality has been coordinating the draft report. A spokeswoman, Kristen Hellmer,
said it "will show that the president's portfolio of actions and his financial commitment to addressing climate change are
working. And the president is always looking at ways to address our energy security and environmental needs."
Hellmer blamed the delay in completing the fourth U.S. Climate Action Report on the "extensive interagency review process"
the draft must go through. The report, which was due no later than Jan. 1, 2006, is required under the U.N. Framework Convention
on Climate Change.
Among the consequences of a warming world anticipated in the report is "a distinct reduction in spring snowpack in the
northwestern United States," which supplies much of the water in that region, the report says.
Warmer temperatures expected from more greenhouse gases would only "exacerbate present drought risks in the United States
by increasing the rate of evaporation," it says.
Rick Piltz, director of Climate Science Watch, a nonprofit watchdog program, said Saturday he expects the final report
will evade a full discussion of how global warming might affect the nation.
"I think it is very likely that the main reason the report has been held up for more than a year beyond the deadline is
because the administration is reluctant to make an honest statement about likely climate change impacts on this country,"
said Piltz, a former senior associate with the federal Climate Change Science Program.
The U.S. spends $3 billion a year to research technologies to cut global warming and $2 billion on climate research. Bush
has formed a partnership with Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea -- producers of half the world's greenhouse gases
-- to attract private money for cleaner energy technologies. He envisions using more hydrogen-powered vehicles, electricity
from renewable energy sources and clean coal technology.
Shortly after taking office, Bush rejected the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, a U.N. treaty that requires industrial nations to cut
global warming gases by 2012 by an average 5 percent below 1990 levels.
He argued that cutting the U.S. share to below 6 billion tons a year, as the treaty would have required, would have cost
5 million U.S. jobs. He objected, too, that such high-polluting developing nations as China and India are not required to
According to the U.S. National Climactic Data Center, the world's land areas were on average 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit
warmer last month than a normal January, a major increase since "such records are often broken by hundredths of a degree at
With the help of El Nino, which the scientists assert was only partial, traditionally frigid areas of the world
witnessed huge temperature spikes, such as Siberia, where January temperatures were recorded as much as 9 degrees Fahrenheit
While global warming skeptics have cited the colder February air as evidence against global warming, climate scientist David Easterling said the patterns witnessed last month are indicative of man-made
ENVIRONMENT -- BUSH ADMINISTRATION IGNORES TOP BIOLOGIST
ON BALD EAGLE PROTECTIONS:
The bald eagle population "has rebounded from around 400
breeding pairs in the lower 48 states in the early 1960s to more than 7,000 breeding pairs today," and the Fish and Wildlife
Service (FWS) has been developing a plan to take the bird off the Endangered Species list.
"The problem for FWS officials has been in developing protections
for the eagle once it is no longer under the wing of [the Endangered Species Act], and particularly what it means to 'disturb' a bird" under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
Last December, FWS defined "disturb" as any actions that
injure or kill an eagle. "But a memo, obtained this week by National Public Radio, shows that proposed regulations for the
bird went against recommendations of FWS Director Dale Hall and some agency scientists."
"There is sufficient public comment to support a new, more
protective definition of 'disturb,'" Hall -- the nation's "top wildlife biologist" -- wrote in the memo. "The new definition does not require actual injury, death, or nest abandonment. Instead the threshold
is the likelihood of one of those outcomes. ...
The current proposal would be very difficult to enforce
without evidence of a dead or injured eagle. Adding 'or is likely to cause' reduces the uncertainty and is more acceptable."
SCIENCE -- OIL LOBBY OFFERS $10,000 PAYMENTS TO GLOBAL WARMING DENIERS
TO REBUT THE FACTS:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the most authoritative group on global warming,
reports last Friday, that human activities were "very likely" the main cause of warming in the past 50 years.
The Guardian reports that there is a well-heeled orchestrated movement going on below the radar to
confuse the public about the IPCC's report.
The oil lobby is so desperate to push back on the new climate change study that it has been offering to pay global warming skeptics to speak out.
The Guardian reports, "Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby
group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.
... The letters were sent by Kenneth Green, a visiting scholar at [American Enterprise Institute], who confirmed that the organisation had approached
scientists, economists and policy analysts to write articles for an independent review that would highlight the strengths
and weaknesses of the IPCC report."
Global warming to speed up By Alister Doyle Environment Correspondent
OSLO (Reuters) - A draft U.N. report projecting a big rise in temperatures this century is likely to add fuel to the debate
about whether the world is facing dangerous global warming, experts said on Friday.
The draft, by 2,500 scientists and due for release in Paris on February 2, is expected to warn of more heat waves, floods,
droughts and rising seas linked to greenhouse gases released mainly by burning fossil fuels, scientific sources say.
World leaders, including former U.S. President George Bush, signed a U.N. Climate Convention in 1992 with an overriding
goal of stabilizing greenhouse gases at levels preventing "dangerous (human) interference with the climate system."
However, it did not define "dangerous" and the issue has been a vexed point in efforts to slow climate change ever since.
"The new report should fuel the debate" among scientists and in the media, said Jan Corfee-Morlot, who heads work on climate
change at the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
"For politicians, the question of what is dangerous is not formally on a negotiating agenda, but it is in the background."
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is expected to predict a temperature rise of 2 to 4.5 degrees
Celsius (3.5-8 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by 2100 with a "best estimate" of a rise of 3 degrees C (5.5 F), scientific
That is a narrower range than the 1.4-5.8C (2.5-10.4F) in the previous IPCC report in 2001 -- even the minimum 1.4 rise
would be the biggest in a century for 10,000 years. Temperatures have risen about 0.6C (1.1F) since 1900.
SLOWER SEA RISE
Among good news, the new report will narrow and revise down forecast sea rises this century to less than half a meter from
9 cm to 88 cm (3.5-34.5 inches) in the 2001 report.
The European Union and many environmental groups want the world to cap any rise in temperatures at 2 degrees C (3.6 F)
over pre-industrial levels, saying such a rise would cause dangerous changes to nature such as more heat waves.
"The IPCC cannot say what is dangerous because that is a political judgment," said Bert Metz, a climate expert at the Dutch
Environmental Assessment Agency.
"But it gives the ingredients for the politicians to draw conclusions...as the EU has done."
Corfee-Morlot said it might be easier to set targets such as limiting the concentrations of carbon dioxide or temperature
rises than to define dangerous benchmarks.
Inuit peoples say a melting of the Arctic ice is already "dangerous" for their hunting culture, for instance, while Russia
might benefit from a slight rise in temperatures because of fewer deaths from cold and higher yields of some crops.
A 2006 report by Nicholas Stern, the chief British government economist, projected a rise of 3 C would mean that between
1 billion and 4 billion more people would suffer water shortages and put an extra 150 million to 550 million people at risk
Other experts say the risks have been exaggerated.
"I don't think the IPCC will reflect the sense of catastrophe that has built up in the climate change debate," said Bjorn
Lomborg, the Danish author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist."
Under the Kyoto Protocol, the U.N. plan for fighting global warming, 35 industrial nations have agreed to cut emissions
by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.
President George W. Bush pulled the United States out of the protocol in 2001, saying it would damage the U.S. economy
and wrongly exempted developing nations from the first phase.
Protecting Polar Bears Global warming threatens population
By Karen Fanning
The Bush administration took action last week to help the world's shrinking polar bear population, announcing that the
animals may soon be protected under the Endangered Species Act.
"Polar bears are one of nature's ultimate survivors, able to live and thrive in one of the world's harshest environments,"
says Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. "But we are concerned the polar bears' habitat may literally be melting."
While pollution and hunting continue to threaten the polar bear, global warming in the Arctic poses a real danger to its
The world's remaining 25,000 polar bears make their home in the frosty climates of Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Norway, and
Russia. Warmer than normal temperatures, however, have caused the sea ice there to melt—the same ice polar bears roam
to hunt for seals and walruses.
Habitat loss has resulted in polar bears' losing weight, drowning, and starving to death. Fewer cubs have been able to
survive the changing conditions. For example, the polar bear population in western Hudson Bay in Canada experienced a 22-percent
decrease from 1987 to 1994.
Conservation groups are calling for the U.S. government to pass a law that would reduce greenhouse gases that cause global
The Department of the Interior will take the next 12 months to determine the polar bear's fate. If the agency decides to
list it as a "threatened species," the polar bear would be protected from activities that would hurt the species or its habitat.
The world's largest bears, polar bears can stand up to 11 feet tall, and some males weigh as many as 1,400 pounds. A four-inch
layer of fat insulates the animal from harsh temperatures.
ENVIRONMENT -- BRITISH SCIENTISTS DEMAND EXXON STOP FUNDING GLOBAL
The Royal Society, "Britain's premier scientific academy," examined Exxon's public reporting and found
the company "last year distributed $2.9m to 39 groups that the society says misrepresent the science of climate change."
According to the group Exxon had promised it would not provide "any further funding to these organizations."
An Exxon spokesman responded that the company had "stopped funding the Competative Enterprise Institute
this year," the group that "responded to the recent release of Al Gore's climate change film, An Inconvenient Truth, with
adverts that welcomed increased carbon dioxide pollution."
Arctic ice melting rapidly, study says By SETH BORENSTEIN AP Science Writer
Arctic sea ice in winter is melting far faster than before, two new NASA studies reported Wednesday, a new and alarming
trend that researchers say threatens the ocean's delicate ecosystem.
Scientists point to the sudden and rapid melting as a sure sign of man-made global warming.
"It has never occurred before in the past," said NASA senior research scientist Josefino Comiso in a phone interview. "It
is alarming... This winter ice provides the kind of evidence that it is indeed associated with the greenhouse effect."
Scientists have long worried about melting Arcticsea ice in the summer, but they had not seen a big winter drop in sea
ice, even though they expected it.
For more than 25 years Arctic sea ice has slowly diminished in winter by about 1.5 percent per decade. But in the past
two years the melting has occurred at rates 10 to 15 times faster. From 2004 to 2005, the amount of ice dropped 2.3 percent;
and over the past year, it's declined by another 1.9 percent, according to Comiso.
A second NASA study by other researchers found the winter sea ice melt in one region of the eastern Arctic has shrunk about
40 percent in just the past two years. This is partly because of local weather but also partly because of global warming,
The loss of winter ice is bad news for the ocean because this type of ice, when it melts in summer, provides a crucial
breeding ground for plankton, Comiso said. Plankton are the bottom rung of the ocean's food chain.
"If the winter ice melt continues, the effect would be very profound especially for marine mammals," Comiso said in a NASA
telephone press conference.
The ice is melting even in subfreezing winter temperatures because the water is warmer and summer ice covers less area
and is shorter-lived, Comiso said. Thus, the winter ice season shortens every year and warmer water melts at the edges of
the winter ice more every year.
Scientists and climate models have long predicted a drop in winter sea ice, but it has been slow to happen. Global warming
skeptics have pointed to the lack of ice melt as a flaw in global warming theory.
The latest findings are "coming more in line with what we expected to find," said Mark Serreze, a senior research scientist
at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. "We're starting to see a much more coherent and firm picture occurring."
"I hate to say we told you so, but we told you so," he added.
Serreze said only five years ago he was "a fence-sitter" on the issue of whether man-made global warming was happening
and a threat, but he said recent evidence in the Arctic has him convinced.
Summer sea ice also has dramatically melted and shrunk over the years, setting a record low last year. This year's measurements
are not as bad, but will be close to the record, Serreze said.
Equally disturbing is a large mass of water — melted sea ice — in the interior of a giant patch of ice north
of Alaska, Serreze said. It's called a polynya, and while those show up from time to time, this one is large — about
the size of the state of Maryland — and in an unexpected place.
"I for one, after having studied this for 20 years, have never seen anything like this before," Serreze said.
The loss of summer sea ice is pushing polar bears more onto land in northern Canada and Alaska, making it seem like there
are more polar bears when there are not, said NASA scientist Claire Parkinson, who studies the bears.
The polar bear population in the Hudson Bay area has dropped from 1,200 in 1989 to 950 in 2004 and the bears that are around
are 22 percent smaller than they used to be, she said.
ENVIRONMENT -- HEAT WAVE MAKES GLOBAL WARMING
'CONVERT' OUT OF PAT ROBERTSON:
Robertson said that he has "not been one who believed in global warming in
the past." But now, he said, "it is getting hotter and the ice caps are melting and there is a build up of carbon dioxide
in the air."
Robertson implored, "we really need to do something on fossil fuels."
But Robertson isn't the only one feeling the heat and thinking twice. "More Americans than ever disapprove of President Bush's handling of the environment," according to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg
poll, which found 56 percent believe the administration is doing too little protect the environment, a 15 percent jump since
Roughly three-quarters of Americans say they have had to cut back on household
spending because of devastating energy bills and the rising cost of oil.
Taxpayer-Funded Propaganda Against Global Warming
Corporations from a variety of industries are funding a coordinated, multi-faceted
propaganda blitz attacking global warming science.
One problem: there is no "scientific community" that disputes the basic science on
global warming. The memo acknowledges that almost all the doubters have no "involvement in climatology."
Their solution is to lavish money on the one climatologist who they are confident
will do their bidding: Pat Michaels.
The memo reveals that the small Colorado cooperative has paid Michaels $100,000 this year and is aggressively seeking more donations for Michaels from other electric cooperatives.
The effort to fund Michaels is described in the memo as part of a larger effort to
distort global warming science that involves several Fortune 500 corporations, a think tank, misleading advertisements, lobbying,
and a propaganda film.
GLOBAL WARMING -- MANMADE GLOBAL WARMING
CONTRIBUTING TO INCREASE IN WILDFIRES:
But respected studies have repeatedly disputed their arguments. A 2001 report
by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds that "negative health impacts [from global climate change] are anticipated to outweigh positive health impacts."
The U.N. Global Environmental Outlook (2000) found that "expansion of warmer
areas may increase and extend the ranges of mosquito and other vector populations, affecting the incidence of vector-borne
diseases and re-introducing malaria to Europe."
"Two models, one designed in Britain and one here in the US, got it almost exactly. We were stunned."
Even Bush's own Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said that the recent warming trend "is real and has been particularly
strong within the past 20 years…due mostly to human activities."
SCIENCE -- NASA CLIMATOLOGIST SPEAKS OUT
ABOUT ADMINISTRATION'S ATTEMPTS TO SILENCE HIM:
As proof, Hansen displayed a 2004 email he received that read, "The
White House [is] now reviewing all climate related press releases."
Hansen believes global warming is accelerating, pointing to the melting
Arctic and to Antarctica, where new data show massive loss of ice to the sea.
"In my more than three decades in the government I've never witnessed such
restrictions on the ability of scientists to communicate with the public," said Hansen.
The White House disputes the science behind global warming. While Bush
ignores the counsel of the world's leading scientists who warn of pending environmental disaster, he solicits the opinions of fiction author Michael Crichton who tells him the science on warming is underwhelming.
The White House has also relied on the advice of oil industry lobbyist Philip
Cooney who, while he worked on the Council on Environmental Quality, edited government climate reports to play down links between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
Hansen explains the danger of the White House's ignorance: "If the ice sheets
begin to disintegrate, what can you do about it? You can’t tie a rope around the ice sheet. You can’t build a
wall around the ice sheets. It will be a situation that is out of our control."
This is significant, since the official position of the Bush administration is that global warming
"Bush, you will recall, asked the National Academy of Sciences in 2001 whether humans are causing
the earth to warm," science journalist Chris Mooney reports.
"The NAS, predictably, said that indeed we were. Since then, the administration has officially proceeded
as [if] global warming is real."
Even more disturbing is that President Bush would receive his science advice from a novelist whose latest book is about a corrupt scientist who invents false data about global warming to help raise funds for his
projects, then contracts a group of global terrorists to create a series of floods, tsunamis, and other natural disasters
to "prove" his point.
The bad news is the book's science is apparently evenworse than its plot.
HOW THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT WORKS
Naturally occurring gases in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, water vapour, methane, nitrous oxide and
ozone, are collectively termed greenhouse gases. These gases absorb outgoing energy emitted from the earth's surface (terrestrial radiation) and re-radiate a significant proportion back to earth, in this way warming the lower atmosphere. This process has been
in place since the development of the earth's atmosphere and is termed the greenhouse effect. During the course of this century
human (anthropogenic) activity has increasingly modified the concentration of existing greenhouses gases and produced a number
of new chemical compounds called halocarbon's e.g. CFC's and bromine. This has served to enhance the existing greenhouse effect and thus produce greater atmospheric temperatures
Ice cores are cylinders of ice drilled in
areas that have active glaciers or ice sheets. The ice cores provide an important window into the climatic history of the
region it was extracted from. When snow falls to the surface it carries with it aerosols and other chemicals. Over time, snowfalls
are buried by successive snowfalls, and the constituents contained in the snow are buried along with it. By drilling down
from the surface of an ice sheet to the deeper layers, a history of the compounds can be obtained. As cores go deeper (below
80m) the snow turns to ice due to the weight of the layers above. Small bubbles of air are trapped within these layers and
thus, in addition to trapping atmospheric compounds, ice sheets and glaciers can trap small samples of air. This trapped air
can also be analysed to provide information about the composition of the atmosphere at the time when was ice formed.
From the measurements of the air trapped
in the ice cores scientists have been able to document the relationship between greenhouse gas concentrations and temperature
change. Recent measurements highlight the relationship between heightened CO2 concentrations and increases in average
temperature in the Antarctic.
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