Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Tiny island with a global warning

The island, part of a chain called the Sundarbans, was first settled by farmers in colonial times when the authorities decided to expand rice production to feed the multitudes in the city of Calcutta.

But when I visited Ghoramara there was powerful evidence that soil erosion caused in part by farming and the rising surrounding sea level caused by global warming were gradually making the island disappear.

...The factors which are impacting on food production include soil erosion caused by intensive farming, and global warming which could reduce the yield of staple grains or make weather patterns less predictable for farmers.

..."In terms of the basic cereals like rice, wheat and maize, we probably need 50-60%t more production by, say, 2030", warns Mark Rosegrant of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington.

Earlier coverage: Rising sea levels engulfing Indian world heritage islands

Article Reference: 

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Antarctic Melting May Be Speeding Up, Scientists Say

Rising sea levels and melting polar ice-sheets are at upper limits of projections, leaving some human population centres already unable to cope, top world scientists say as they analyse latest satellite data.

...But even in east Antarctica, which is insulated from global warming by extreme cold temperatures and high-altitudes, new information shows the height of the Tottenham Glacier near Australia's Casey Base has fallen by 10 metres over 15-16 years.

...About 100 million people around the world live within a metre of the present-day sea level, CSIRO Marine Research senior principal research scientist Steve Rintoul said.

Article Reference: 

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Urban Bee Gardens


In urban settings bees often have a hard time living. Bee's aren't all stinging menaces, and they don't all live in hives. Bee's play a vital role in preserving life through pollinating plants, and many plant species absolutely require that bees play their role to pollinate the plants. An Urban Bee Garden is based on research showing what sort of flowers and land use techniques will provide the best bee habitat in an urban setting.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

From a Rapt Audience, a Call to Cool the Hype

Apparently while scientists are applauding the attention Al Gore is bringing to the issue of global warming, they're (some of them) concerned about the little details and wish he would cool the hype. It's not clear whether this article is the typical bashing that's been aimed in the direction of Al Gore and his movie An Inconvenient Truth, bashing that says he's full of bunk or that there is a legitimate debate going on. The article is in the mold of cover the controversy which is the tactic used by, for example, those pushing the Intelligent Design concept to establish some credibility for themselves when very few scientists buy into those ideas. By covering the debate the news media helps to establish in the publics mind that a debate exists when the debate may not be very strong or well thought of.

The statements sound very nice ... that they're concerned Al Gore is going "beyond the science". That's a real and legitimate concern alright. Would Al Gore, in the quest for publicity, go to creating a controversy to help him ride the wave of publicity? I don't know about that, but what I do know is there's an alarming series of news articles I've seen about environmental problems. Problems that threaten the survival of all of us, and are scary enough in consequence that we should be thinking of solutions now rather than debating. The solutions for the problems unfolding before us will take years to have a serious effect, making time of the essence.

Article Reference: 

2007 world's warmest winter on record

Weather records have been kept for a bit over a hundred years, so in terms of global climate this is pretty scant evidence given the age of the planet. Still the last 10 years has seen record warm winters year after year. That sure indicates a trend. This last winter was the warmest yet on record, a thought we shouldn't be surprised over given how warm it was in January. There were several reports throughout the winter where bears were not hibernating, because it wasn't cold enough to trigger that response. In Moscow, Russia, they didn't have a white christmas. etc.

Can we just get past the question of whether this is happening and get on with a solution?

Article Reference: 

Carbon dioxide levels threaten oceans regardless of global warming

Regardless to the truth of the idea of human-caused climate change, carbon dioxide growth in the oceans is still a problem. This is from a study published in the March 9, 2007, issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters authored by Ken Caldeira from the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution at Stanford University and Long Cao and Atul Jain of the University of Illinois. Increasing absorption of carbon dioxide is acidifying global oceans, because carbon dioxide absorbed into water becomes carbonic acid. This is putting sea life at risk because carbonic acid is a corrosive agent, which can eat away shells of important species in the global food chain. This would disrupt the food chain of the creatures we hunt in the oceans for our seafood supplies.

Scientists estimate that the oceans have soaked up about half of all carbon dioxide produced from fossil fuel emissions over the past 200 years. Had oceans not absorbed this carbon, current atmospheric carbon dioxide would be much higher than the current 381 parts-per-million (ppm)--probably closer to 500-600 ppm say climatologists.

Article Reference: