If you're familiar with the internets tubes, you can get on and put “snow ice” into the NOAA satellite servers. I do this, and then select a polar view, and put on a 30-day animation, to watch the polar ice cap melt. As of today you can see the NorthWest Passage pop right out of legend and into reality along the coasts of Canada, Alaska and Russia. This view is made more alarming by the following report:
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
July 29, 2008 at 3:39 AM EDT
A four-square-kilometre chunk has broken off Ward Hunt Ice Shelf - the largest remaining ice shelf in the Arctic - threatening the future of the giant frozen mass that northern explorers have used for years as the starting point for their treks.
Scientists say the break, the largest on record since 2005, is the latest indication that climate change is forcing the drastic reshaping of the Arctic coastline, where 9,000 square kilometres of ice have been whittled down to less than 1,000 over the past century, and are only showing signs of decreasing further.
"Once you unleash this process by cracking the ice shelf in multiple spots, of course we're going to see this continuing," said Derek Mueller, a leading expert on the North who discovered the ice shelf's first major crack in 2002.
Dr. Mueller was part of a team monitoring ice along the northern coast of Ellesmere Island last April that discovered deep new cracks - 18 kilometres long and 40 metres wide - on the edge of Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, a 350-square-kilometre mass of ice that joins tiny Ward Hunt Island to the bigger Ellesmere. The cracks indicated a split was likely coming.
"It may weaken over time; it may melt away slowly, then all of a sudden you pass this threshold," Dr. Mueller said. "It's like a bar of soap. If you use the soap over and over again, it gets thinner and thinner. Then all of a sudden, it could break.” \\
I bring you this minutiae because it is just another sign of disaster. We needed that ice shelf and all the others like it that have melted away, because we needed the heat-moderating reflectivity to survive the rays of the Sun. This ice shelf, the Northern Polar mass, and subsequently the Greenland glaciers are all at risk now and are suddenly changing, and events such as the loss of ice described here are accelerating. We don't know how much longer we have, but if I may draw a metaphor, the house is already on fire.
Global climate change is the greatest danger to our survival. Here in the NorthWest we are just beginning to see economic consequences, as we suffered damage to apple, pear, and cherry crops. Of course the flooding in the MidWest did away with millions of acres of corn and other crops. Tornado Alley continues its march North, as reports of freak twisters appear in places like Germany and Vancouver, Washington. My sister wrote me of tornadic winds on her property in Maryland this week, saying “The not-tornado (cone that didn't quite reach the ground) from the storm Saturday had a jump-path down one side of the street and then across the other. It started way up on top of the hill, came down the cleared area (logging path) until it got behind the house next door, hopped the fence and roto-tillered next to my backyard, then hopped over the front-yard trees and roto-tillered the creekbed, whacked all of the poplars and smaller trees and the two big pines by the creek (one is seen laying across my driveway, the other is a jagged stump in the pic showing the McMansion in back), then jumped across the street and over into Shirley's woods for about 20 feet, then went back up. There were more than one 'conewall of tree-snapping whirlwinds'...going around but
ours did the most damage for this area, and the planes and camera crews were around yesterday to document it. I saw the cone, a big white half-tube above one of the (surviving) pines, during the storm - we had pebble-hail and sheetwall rain right before it showed up, and right after I saw it there was a blinding, deafening crack of lightning that seemed to be right overhead. But the trees weren't smoking at all when we checked, so the wind was the tree-killer.”
Reports like my sister's have gone over the wires many times now, for many such events, and it brings to fore the fact that the situation is rapidly deteriorating. Meanwhile in Washington where the Dictator sits, the official word is that needed dramatic action against global climate change is a'la Nancy Pelosi “off the table.”
US environmental agency silences employees on climate change
Elana Schor in Washington
Tuesday July 29 2008
Amid intensifying scrutiny of its failure to act on climate change, the US environmental protection agency (EPA) has ordered employees not to talk to internal auditors, Congress or the media, according to a leaked email released yesterday by green campaigners.
The EPA has refused repeated requests from Congress to explain its December denial of California's request to regulate greenhouse gas emissions - a move that overruled the agency's own career scientists.
Three Democratic senators have scheduled a press conference today to discuss the controversy.
On June 16, after an email from the campaign group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Peer), the EPA told its enforcement officials not to answer questions on the issue - even those from the agency's in-house auditors.
"If you are contacted directly by the [auditors'] office or [congressional investigators] requesting information of any kind … please do not respond to questions or make any statements," the email said.
--more at guardian.co.uk...........
Al Gore's Climate Institute scientist Michael McCracken has the following prescription:
“....avoiding the most catastrophic potential aspects of climate change will require reducing emissions sharply by 2050 and to near zero by 2100.....”
“To accomplish this difficult challenge, he proposes a reciprocal arrangement under which "(1) developed nations move rapidly to demonstrate that a modern society can function without reliance on technologies that release carbon dioxide (CO2) and other non-CO2 greenhouse gases to the atmosphere; and (2) … developing nations act in the near-term to sharply limit their non-CO2 emissions while minimizing growth in CO2 emissions, and then in the long-term join with the developed nations to reduce all emissions as cost effective technologies are developed.” Under this approach developing nations at the outset would focus on low hanging fruit--emissions reductions with significant ability to limit radiative forcing and that are achievable at low relative cost. These include greatly reducing emissions of methane, air pollutants that contribute to tropospheric ozone, and black soot, which blackens glaciers, in turn causing greater absorption of solar radiation and melting of glaciers that are crucial to the water supply of a large portion of humanity. Initially, the primary efforts to limit CO2 emissions in developing nations would focus on ending deforestation and on implementing energy efficiency measures--e.g. reducing power consumption for lighting, reducing conversion loss and transmission loss, and encouraging energy recycling including combined heat and power.” (more at climate.org)
So, to return to the point, since we are faced with extinction or at least severe hardship from climate change and since the Bush Administration has failed to take needed emergency actions, how do we defend our lives? By what methods can we undertake the massive change necessary to our self-defense, since we have no recourse from the corrupted former government of the US?
It seems to me that for a start we could demand that local officials begin to coordinate with other officials. That is to say, city council can contact city council, mayors' offices can contact mayor's offices, and so on right up the regional authority lines to State governments. Since this is indeed a life-threatening crisis that will require the mobilization of tremendous assets, as well as the careful and democratic consideration of planned activities, it could well develop an added benefit—it could create a new paradigm of cooperation that overshadows and replaces the sadly corrupted and irrelevant US government. Climate change mobilization could give us the peaceful revolution we've been needing.
In any event, massive extinctions, crop failures, and life-threatening storms are already happening, so this is the time to take action—and we don't have time for wistful nostalgia about how great the old US of A used to be. That paradigm failed us, and I say let's get on with revolution, unless you just like dying for no particular good reason.
Most of the potentially damaging consequences relating to climate change are associated with extremes - the number of heat waves, floods, or severe storms, for example. Since extreme weather events cause loss of life and property, it is important to understand what impact global warming may have on their occurrence.
Global climate change has different effects on different regions of the Earth. Although regional climate forecasts are improving, they are still uncertain. However, we know that a warmer atmosphere will result in a greater number of tropical storms, extreme heat waves, floods and droughts.
Intense tropical cyclone activity has increased since 1970 in the North Atlantic and is projected to worsen, because tropical storms are powered by factors affected by climate change. In order to occur, tropical storms need warm ocean temperatures, no strong changes in wind speed or direction, and high humidity. Two of these factors have increased as a result of global warming; oceans have become warmer, and humidity and water vapor have increased 4% since 1970 because warm air holds more vapor than cold air.
Hurricanes occur when surface temperatures exceed 79° F (26°C). As moist, hot air rises, the lower air pressure at sea level pulls the surrounding air into a rotating pattern. Then, the water-vapor laden air spirals and rises to the higher altitudes that cool it and releases heat as it condenses into rain. Hurricanes are fed by evaporation and condensation, which bring the ocean’s heat energy into the vortex.
(much more at climate.org)
By Joel Achenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 31, 2008; Page A02
The "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, an area on the seabed with too little oxygen to support fish, shrimp, crabs and other forms of marine life, is nearly the largest on record this year, about 8,000 square miles, researchers said this week.
Only the churning effects of Hurricane Dolly last week, they said, prevented the dead zone from being the largest ever.
The problem of hypoxia -- very low levels of dissolved oxygen -- is a downstream effect of fertilizers used for agriculture in the Mississippi River watershed. Nitrogen is the major culprit, flowing into the Gulf and spurring the growth of algae. Animals called zooplankton eat the algae, excreting pellets that sink to the bottom like tiny stones. This organic matter decays in a process that depletes the water of oxygen.
Researchers expected the dead zone to set a record -- even more than the 8,500 square miles observed in 2002 -- after the Mississippi, swollen with floodwaters, carried an extraordinary amount of nitrates into the Gulf, about 37 percent more than last year and the most since measuring these factors was begun in 1970.
Global warming affects insurance
By Alan Markoff, alan@cfp,ky
Tuesday 29th July, 2008 Posted: 15:38 CIT (20:38 GMT)
> Comment on this story
Computerised catastrophe modelling that factors the impact global warming might have on the frequency and intensity of hurricanes is increasingly being used by re–insurers to price their insurance rates.
The practice has drawn criticism in the United States, partially because scientists not only have differing views on the effects climate change will have on the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, but also on whether global warming is a long–term phenomenon or just a cyclical warming of the earth’s oceans.
Island Heritage Chief Marketing Officer Nigel Twohey said he spoke to representatives of Munich Re, an active reinsurer in the Caribbean, about this issue in June at an insurance conference.
“Reinsurers are aware of the probable effects of global warming on sea temperatures and are making provisions for this in pricing and deductibles,” Mr. Twohey said. (more at whatdoesitmean.com)
OSLO (Reuters) - Birds have been moving north in Europe over the past 25 years because of climate change in the vanguard of likely huge shifts in the ranges of plants and animals, scientists said on Wednesday.
A study of 42 rare bird species in Britain showed that southern European bird species such as the Dartford warbler, Cirl bunting, little egret or Cetti's warbler had become more common in Britain from 1980-2004.
And species usually found in northern Europe, such as the fieldfare, redwing or Slavonian grebe, had become less frequent in Britain.
"The species are almost certainly responding to the changing climate," said Brian Huntley of Durham University in England of a report he wrote with researchers at Cambridge University and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
The study tried to filter out other factors that would affect counts of rare birds, including growing public interest that could mean more sightings. Shifts in farming, pollution, expansion of cities and conservation efforts have all affected wildlife.
Birds and butterflies are among the first to adapt to climate change because they can fly long distances to seek a cooler habitat. Other creatures and plants can take far longer if their traditional range gets too warm.
"It depends on the mobility of the species. Birds and butterflies are two of the groups where there is the best evidence that species are already showing responses to the changing climate," Huntley told Reuters of the study in Royal Society journal Biology Letters.
The shifts in the birds' ranges since 1980 were also consistent with scientists' expectations because of global warming, blamed by the U.N. Climate Panel on human use of fossil fuels in power plants, factories and cars, he said.
(more at reuters.com)
Mystery Fatal Hemorrhagic Disease in Shandong China
Recombinomics Commentary 03:05
July 28, 2008
"China reported that approximately 20 days ago, a man suddenly died from an unidentified disease in Wanjiakou Village, Xiaoguan Town, Wendeng City, Shandong Province. His entire body turned dark purple, and he bled from his mouth, nostrils, ears, and eyes just as he died.
Shortly after the man died, 2 other men who been in contact with him, died showing the same symptoms. Villagers who had left the village to work said "3 people died 10 days ago. 6 or 7 more are being treated in the Wendeng Central Hospital. People have been to the area to investigate, but they are unable to classify the disease."
(more at recombinomics.com)
Wed Jul 30, 12:16 PM ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States reaffirmed Wednesday a weekend deadline for Iran to give a final answer to world powers seeking a breakthrough in the nuclear crisis, warning of consequences on any defiance by the Islamic republic.
Iran was given a two-week deadline expiring Saturday to give a final answer to a package of incentives offered by the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany aimed at persuading it to freeze its sensitive nuclear activities.
But Iran has rejected any deadline, saying it was only agreed that it would during a two-week period examine the proposal put forward by the international community.
The US State Department said Wednesday that the Iranians were aware of and had acknowledged the Saturday deadline following talks in Geneva on July 19 with representatives of the six powers, including EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
(more at antiwar.com)