Posts Tagged ‘climate change’
Republican answer to every climate question
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time since measurements began, breaching a threshold not seen for 3 million years.
The main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming averaged 400.03 parts per million at a monitoring station on Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano yesterday, according to data published today on the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website. The administration’s data stretches back to 1958.
The reading is considered a landmark by scientists and environmentalists, who say carbon emissions caused by burning fossil fuels are warming the planet and must be reined in before they cause irreversible changes to weather, sea levels and Arctic ice cover.
“We are in the process of creating a prehistoric climate that humans have no evolutionary experience of,” Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment…
The last time CO2 levels were this high was at least 3 million years ago, he said. Then, “temperatures were 2 to 3 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial times, the polar ice caps were much smaller, and sea levels were about 20 meters higher than today,” he said…
Carbon dioxide can stay in the atmosphere for as much as a century, so levels now may cause warming for decades. The concentration has now increased by more than 40 percent from the pre-industrial mark of 280 parts per million…
The United Nations in 2007 said stabilizing the gas at 400 ppm to 440 ppm may lead to a temperature gain of as much as 2.8 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s at odds with the goal set out by climate treaty negotiators from more than 190 nations, who have agreed to shoot for limiting the temperature increase to 2 degrees. The global average has already risen by about 0.8 of a degree since pre-industrial times.
As usual, conservative politicians in the United States and their peers in the Flat Earth community pay no attention to landmarks like this – other than to pat themselves on the back for ignoring science. Pimps for the fossil fuel industries, their only notice of ongoing scientific research is to complain that it occurs at all.
In a parallel effect, we have already reached and surpassed the critical mass for stupidity, egregious politics and short-sighted incompetence in the Congress of the United States.
Seventy-five years ago an amateur scientist made a breakthrough discovery in the field of climate change. Guy Stewart Callendar linked global warming to CO2 emissions but his work went largely unnoticed at the time.
Now the anniversary of his discovery has been commemorated by two leading climate scientists.
Prof Phil Jones, from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, and Dr Ed Hawkins, from the University of Reading, have published a paper looking at Callendar’s legacy.
Prof Jones said the steam engineer’s work was “groundbreaking”.
Callendar, born in Montreal, Canada in 1898, made all his calculations by hand in his spare time, decades before the effects of global warming became widely debated.
The son of English physicist Hugh Longbourne Callendar, who studied thermodynamics, Callendar worked from his home in West Sussex.
A steam engineer by profession, his research first appeared in the quarterly journal of the Royal Meteorological Society in April 1938.
Prof Jones, of the UEA’s Climatic Research Unit, and Dr Hawkins, from Reading’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science, have had their commemorative research paper on Callendar published in the same journal this month.
“Callendar was the first to discover that the planet had warmed,” said Prof Jones. “He collected world temperature measurements and suggested that this warming was related to carbon dioxide emissions.”
“He is still relatively unknown as a scientist but his contribution was fundamental to climate science today,” said Prof Jones.
He deserves credit for his groundbreaking work. The kind of research still unread by most of the no-nothing skeptics who remain unperturbed by essential peer-reviewed science. It is a delight to learn of seminal work being republished.
Qori Kalis glacier in 1983 and 2007
Glacial ice in the Peruvian Andes that took at least 1,600 years to form has melted in just 25 years, scientists reported Thursday, the latest indication that the recent spike in global temperatures has thrown the natural world out of balance.
The evidence comes from a remarkable find at the margins of the Quelccaya ice cap in Peru, the world’s largest tropical ice sheet. Rapid melting there in the modern era is uncovering plants that were locked in a deep freeze when the glacier advanced many thousands of years ago.
Dating of those plants, using a radioactive form of carbon in the plant tissues that decays at a known rate, has given scientists an unusually precise method of determining the history of the ice sheet’s margins.
Lonnie G. Thompson, the Ohio State University glaciologist whose team has worked intermittently on the Quelccaya ice cap for decades, reported the findings in a paper released…by the journal Science.
The paper includes a long-awaited analysis of chemical tracers in ice cylinders the team recovered by drilling deep into Quelccaya, a record that will aid scientists worldwide in reconstructing past climatic variations…
Of greater immediate interest, Dr. Thompson and his team have expanded on previous research involving long-dead plants emerging from the melting ice at the edge of Quelccaya, a huge, flat ice cap sitting on a volcanic plain 18,000 feet above sea level…
In the new research, a thousand feet of additional melting has exposed plants that laboratory analysis shows to be about 6,300 years old. The simplest interpretation, Dr. Thompson said, is that ice that accumulated over approximately 1,600 years melted back in no more than 25 years.
“If any time in the last 6,000 years these plants had been exposed for any five-year period, they would have decayed,” Dr. Thompson said. “That tells us the ice cap had to be there 6,000 years ago…”
Throughout the Andes, glaciers are now melting so rapidly that scientists have grown deeply concerned about water supplies for the people living there. Glacial meltwater is essential for helping Andean communities get through the dry season.
In the short run, the melting is producing an increase of water supplies and feeding population growth in major cities of the Andes, the experts said. But as the glaciers continue shrinking, trouble almost certainly looms.
Not that we have an overabundance of politicians who pay attention to science. Imagine how World War 2 might have turned out if the head of the Democrats back in the day – President Roosevelt – hadn’t listened to Einstein and Szilard?
We may not have needed to use the atomic bomb; but, we certainly needed to prevent Hitler from building one.
In the race to adapt to climate change, weeds may be the winners. Understanding their well-honed coping mechanisms could inform strategies for ecological management, says a Cornell crop and soil researcher.
While other species are expected to suffer from environmental fluctuations, changes in temperature may help invasive weeds expand their ranges. Many weeds are capable of relatively rapid genetic change as well, further enhancing their ability to colonize new areas.
The findings stem from the study, “Predicting Weed Invasion in Canada Under Climate Change: Evaluating Evolutionary Potential,” published in the Canadian Journal of Plant Science…by weed ecologist Antonio DiTommaso, Richard C. Call, Director of Agricultural Sciences, and biologist David Clements of Trinity Western University…
For many years, scientists thought weeds would not develop herbicide resistance on a comparable scale to the insecticide resistance that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s; now, herbicide resistance is widespread, showing weeds have a strong potential to evolve in the presence of intense selection pressure, DiTommaso said.
In the study, the researchers looked at four different weed species — Himalayan balsam, velvetleaf, Japanese knotweed and johnsongrass — that were expanding their ranges northward within North America. They observed evidence for potential evolutionary responses to climate change in each species, despite population genetic differences.
DiTommaso said that the study’s findings will help address the spread of weeds and the economic and ecological damage it could cause. He’s also intrigued by what weeds can teach us about inhabiting and restoring degraded areas.
“Most people define weeds simply as plants out of place, but from an ecological point of view they’re just especially good at colonizing disturbed sites and staying abundant under repeated disturbance,” he said. “Ecologically, they’re just survivors…”
Weeds are the workingclass heroes of the plant world. They just haven’t been tailored into something that produces profit for the owners of the means of production – usually agribusiness – yet.
Temperature tolerance is key to the spread of wasp spiders into northern Europe, according to scientists.
Since the 1930s the distinctive spiders have expanded their range from the Mediterranean coast to Norway…Researchers in Germany traced the population boom to breeding between the native European spiders and an isolated colony living near the Black Sea.
Molecular Ecology reports the genetic mixing resulted in generations rapidly adapting to living in colder climates.
Wasp spiders (Argiope bruennichi) are commonly named for their bright, striped abdomens and were recently recorded by the Woodland Trust in Usk, south Wales for the first time.
The first official records of this conspicuous species in the UK were made in the 1920s.
Henrik Krehenwinkel from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Germany, analysed the DNA of spiders caught across their current range, and museum specimens to understand more about their evolutionary history.
Piecing together the genetic puzzle, he found that the spiders diverged after the last ice age: part of the population stayed on the Mediterranean while a colony headed east to Central Asia.
While these eastern populations adapted to live in climates as diverse as the tropical south of Japan and cold south-eastern Siberia, the spiders in the Mediterranean remained limited to warm areas.
But, according to the research, rising temperatures across the continent in the last century allowed the Mediterranean spiders to join up and breed with a previously isolated Black Sea population…
He theorised that the novel combination of genes resulted in new physical characteristics that helped spiders to survive in different environments.
Mr Krehenwinkel described the hatchlings as “highly dispersive”, commenting that they can cover huge distances via a method known as “ballooning”: riding the breeze on a special parachute made of gossamer silk threads.
“By aerial dispersal, little spiders can cover distances of several hundred kilometres,” he told BBC Nature.
Cripes. One of my favorite signs of spring really making it to our tough dry terrain and altitude is the silk from balloon spiders being captured by our East-facing fence. Generally blown there by a warming West wind.
I wonder if our balloon spiders are distant kin of the wasp spider?
Global temperatures are warmer than at any time in at least 4,000 years, scientists reported Thursday, and over the coming decades are likely to surpass levels not seen on the planet since before the last ice age.
Previous research had extended back roughly 1,500 years, and suggested that the rapid temperature spike of the past century, believed to be a consequence of human activity, exceeded any warming episode during those years. The new work confirms that result while suggesting the modern warming is unique over a longer period.
Even if the temperature increase from human activity that is projected for later this century comes out on the low end of estimates, scientists said, the planet will be at least as warm as it was during the warmest periods of the modern geological era, known as the Holocene, and probably warmer than that…
In the new research…Shaun Marcott, an earth scientist at Oregon State University, and his colleagues compiled the most meticulous reconstruction yet of global temperatures over the past 11,300 years, virtually the entire Holocene. They used indicators like the distribution of microscopic, temperature-sensitive ocean creatures to determine past climate…
Though the paper is the most complete reconstruction of global temperature, it is roughly consistent with previous work on a regional scale…
Scientists say that if natural factors were still governing the climate, the Northern Hemisphere would probably be destined to freeze over again in several thousand years. “We were on this downward slope, presumably going back toward another ice age,” Dr. Marcott said.
Instead, scientists believe the enormous increase in greenhouse gases caused by industrialization will almost certainly prevent that…
The modern rise that has recreated the temperatures of 5,000 years ago is occurring at an exceedingly rapid clip on a geological time scale, appearing in graphs in the new paper as a sharp vertical spike. If the rise continues apace, early Holocene temperatures are likely to be surpassed within this century, Dr. Marcott said.
Dr. Michael Mann pointed out that the early Holocene temperature increase was almost certainly slow, giving plants and creatures time to adjust. But he said the modern spike would probably threaten the survival of many species, in addition to putting severe stresses on human civilization.
“We and other living things can adapt to slower changes,” Dr. Mann said. “It’s the unprecedented speed with which we’re changing the climate that is so worrisome.”
The science is clear. It has been for a while, now. I first engaged in this debate over a decade ago and it only took me a couple of years of examining research – mostly from the Max Planck Institute – to come to conclusions requiring a commitment to action.
The opposition which fraudulently abuses the term of skeptic is well-funded by enterprise profiting from exploiting fossil fuels, populated by opportunists who hope for a pimp’s share of the action – and by the superstitious and ignorant who fear science as much as they cringe from progress.
Responsibility still accrues to those who recognize the need to act.
An agreement by almost 200 nations to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 will be far more costly than taking action now to tackle climate change, according to published research.
Quick measures to cut emissions would give a far better chance of keeping global warming within an agreed U.N. limit of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times to avert more floods, heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels…
The timing of cuts in greenhouse gases was more important than other uncertainties – about things like how the climate system works, future energy demand, carbon prices or new energy technologies.
The study indicated that an immediate global price of $20 a ton on emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, would give a roughly 60 percent chance of limiting warming to below 2C.
Wait until 2020 and the carbon price would have to be around $100 a ton to retain that 60 percent chance, Keywan Riahi told Reuters of the study made with other experts in Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia and Germany…
After the failure of a 2009 summit in Copenhagen to agree a worldwide accord, almost 200 nations have given themselves until 2015 to work out a global deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions that will enter into force in 2020.
Amid an economic slowdown, many countries at the last U.N. meeting on climate change in Qatar in December expressed reluctance to make quick shifts away from fossil fuels towards cleaner energies such as wind or solar power…
The report…showed that greener policies, such as more efficient public transport or better-insulated buildings, would raise the chances of meeting the 2C goal.
Being the world’s dominant economic power means we’re the focus of cause-and-effect relationships. Especially in politics. Failure of the United States to lead on the question of climate change is key to resolving the future costs – and increases.
Obama made mention of the question briefly in his inauguration. Republicans and Blue Dog Dems have started whining even before the introduction of any useful legislation. Power companies have lots of buck$. Most of the rest of corporate America is ready to pitch in – and do nothing constructive – as ever.
Funny thing happens sometimes when you look at who the witnesses are in a public policy debate . . .
“FACT” organizations from Is There a Scientific Consensus on Global Warming?, SkepticalScience.com.“FRAUD” organizations are petitioners v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act.
Click the link in the paragraph above to see the comparison. Barry Ritholtz knocks it out of the park, once again.
With climate change increasingly wreaking havoc the world over, besides traditional natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis, managing natural disasters more efficiently is a priority for the future. For that reason, the University of Copenhagen has created the Copenhagen Center for Disaster Research (COPE), a hub of multidisciplinary expertise on disaster management, based on analysis and intelligence.
One of the main concepts behind COPE is the Disaster Situation Room, a place where both researchers and specialists with first-hand experience in disaster relief can meet to brainstorm and provide advice during disasters. One of the key aspects of the center’s ethos is to bring analytical skills into disaster management. This includes factoring in, for instance, cultural aspects of the populations affected, which provide clues on how to proceed more effectively. The center will collect data from each case to build a knowledge bank by monitoring relief aid activities, media coverage and political agendas.
The media will be a main focus of the center’s work, since media coverage influences how relief work is carried out and what it achieves. Despite its role in creating awareness of disasters, its focus often can do more harm than good. Peter Kjær Mackie Jensen, head of the research center, cites as an example the relief efforts after the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010. While people were dying in the streets, financial resources were going mainly towards digging survivors out of the rubble because the latter made for more dramatic TV.
The idea for the center was inspired by the handling of the 2004 tsunami in Asia during the Christmas holiday season. At the time, hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives. Faced with a tragedy of unprecedented scale, relief operations lacked coordination and, as a consequence, there was less collaboration between different fields of expertise than there could have been.
Given Denmark’s tradition of volunteering aid for nations around the world – no strings attached – I’m not surprised. This is the sort of venture we should see as an add-on to the work after-the-fact by FEMA in the United States, by the Red Cross and the Red Crescent around the world. Of course, don’t hold your breath waiting for Congress to fund a national effort. The Know-Nothings still don’t think that FEMA is necessary – and 67 members of the House voted against the minimal loan guarantee just passed to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy – weeks late.
Still, I can think of several universities here in the States ready and willing to take up ventures this sensible. The spirit of cooperation and humanism may not exist inside the DC Beltway; but, it’s alive and well in many institutions of higher learning.