Population World Population: CO2 ppm World Carbon: 390 ppm

Saturday, 22 October 2011

David Attenburgh : Climate Change will have a Profound Affect on Mankind


David Attenborough's latest TV series, Frozen Planet, is being heralded as his take on climate change. Now 85, he explains why - finally - he's speaking out on the issue.
David Attenborough.
David Attenborough: 'Climate change is going to affect us much more profoundly than the loss of the polar bear.'
He explained to the Guardian Newspaper ..'I'm not a propagandist, I'm not a polemicist; my primary interest is just looking at and trying to understand how animals work," says David Attenborough. We are talking in a gigantic BBC sitting room. Attenborough, wearing slacks, shirt and jacket, is a trifle unkempt at 85, but sharp as ever and kind, too, listening carefully as I ask what it felt like for the crew on his latest BBC series, Frozen Planet, to meet the Inuit people whose way of life is cracking up with the ice underneath them. I tell him I found this upsetting, but imagine he doesn't cry easily.

"No, I don't cry easily. Yes. [He pauses.] Yes, but there's inevitability about it.  

The series, which is stunning, and took four years to make, has been heralded as Attenborough's take on climate change – though for most of it he is the narrator rather than author-presenter. But while it might look like a political statement for the BBC to invest a vast sum in seven hours of TV about the Arctic and Antarctic – 
And so, in the final programme, Attenborough appears on location, talking to camera in his own measured words about shrinking glaciers, warming oceans, and the threat posed by man-made global warming. "The polar bear is the easy one, it's a very charismatic animal that people can identify with," he says. "It's beautiful, and also savage; it's got a lot going for it. But it's only a white grizzly bear, really. All these big issues need a mascot and that's what the polar bear is. 

"But climate change is going to affect us all much more profoundly than the loss of the polar bear."

Source : the Guardian 22.10.2011

Friday, 14 October 2011

Climate Change: Major New Scientific Discoveries

Paul Thompson
(credits below)
14th October 2011

The latest science summarized below suggests that the impacts of climate change in many areas of the world are not advancing linearly: profound changes are already occurring and models project even greater changes for the remainder of the 21st Century. The findings support the need for rapid and deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, and at the same time confirm that climate adaptation measures are increasingly required today—and will be ever more important in the future—to enhance the resilience of both human communities and ecosystems. There is new and abundant literature on four topics: climate feedbacks where the literature generally suggests positive feedbacks from many different processes; sea level rise where the evidence indicates that previous estimates of sea level rise are likely to be revised upward; ocean acidification where new science is confirming the potential global implications of an ocean that is already 30 percent more acidic than about 100 years ago; and on climate impacts to ecological systems, where the literature base on climate impacts is broadened to provide more evidence of changes to a variety of species and discussion of our entering the sixth mass extinction of species that the planet has experienced. This review is divided into  three sections:
  • Physical Climate
  • Hydrological Cycle
  • Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services

Sample Findings

Physical Climate:
  • 2000–2009 was the warmest decade on record since 1880 (NASA, p. 4).
  • Models indicate that cumulative total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions need to be limited to 1 trillion tons in the future if global average temperature increase is to remain below 2° C (roughly one half of the 1 trillion tons have already been emitted) (Allen et al., p. 4).
  • The climate system has a number of different feedback mechanisms built into it, some of which are better known than others. New evidence suggests that as temperature rises, there may be positive feedbacks (processes that reinforce processes) through less cloud cover and in changes in aerosols, soils, peatlands, and Arctic ice cover (pages 6–11), which can lead to accelerated climate change impacts.
  • Recent estimated projections of future global sea level rise (Horton et al., Vermeer and Rahmstorf, Grinsted et al., and Jevrejeva et al., p. 11) have generally been significantly higher than estimates from the 2007 IPCC Report. Additionally, new estimates also suggest that global sea level could rise approximately 3.26 meters from the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. If perturbations in Earth’s rotation and shoreline migration are taken into account, the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the United States, could be impacted by sea levels 25 percent higher than the global mean at the end of the century (Mitrovica et al., p. 12).
Hydrological Cycle:
  • Observations show that multi-year (MY) winter sea ice area decreased by 42 percent between 2005 and 2008 and that there was a thinning of ~0.6 m in MY ice thickness over the same 4 years (average thickness of the seasonal ice in midwinter is ~2 m) (Kwok et al., p. 19).
  • As much as 12 percent of the volume of Swiss alpine glaciers was lost over the period from 1999 to 2008 (Farinotti et al., p. 17).
  • As glaciers melt, persistent organic pollutants are finding their way into “pristine” alpine lakes, representing a toxic “blast from the past” (Bogdal et al., p. 18).
  • The rate of mass loss in the East Antarctic Ice Sheet may be greater than previously estimated (Chen et al., p. 15).
  • Changing ice dynamics in the Arctic may be leading to an increase in observed “winter weather” including more snow and colder temperatures in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere (Francis et al. and Petoukhov et al., p. 21).
Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services:
  • New research suggests that while wildfire frequency increases in response to climate change globally, regional changes demonstrate both increases and decreases in wildfire distribution, largely mediated by regionally-specific vegetation, precipitation changes and CO2 fertilization (Krawchuk et al., p. 30).
  • Ocean acidification, which only recently was recognized a threat to coral in areas such as the Great Barrier Reef (and is happening much more quickly than anticipated (De’ath et al., p. 32), is now recognized as having implications for the entire ocean food web which is critical to whales, fish, and mollusks (snails and scallops) (Munday et al., Gooding et al. and Comeau et al., pages 33–34).
  • Based on human physiological estimates, a global average temperature increase of 7° C, which is toward the extreme upper part of the range of current projections, would make large portions of the world uninhabitable (Sherwood et al., p. 28).
  • The impacts of projected climate change on emperor penguin populations are likely to be significant; with a 36 percent probability of “quasi extinction” (greater than 95 percent decline) by 2100 (Jenouvrier et al., p. 25).
  • A 28 cm future sea level rise is projected to reduce the current Bengal tiger habitat in the Sundarban region of Bangladesh by 96 percent and would likely reduce tiger numbers to 20 breeding pairs (Loucks et al., p. 26). Climate Change Mitigation Technologies and Geoengineering:
  • Land-use change associated with planting biofuel crops can have implications on the regional average temperatures through an albedo effect (Georgescu et al., p. 39).
  • Advances in more flexible, cheaper small-scale solar photovoltaics could make it easier and less expensive to integrate solar-powered electricity generation into building materials (Lee et al., p. 36).
  • If all urban surfaces worldwide were made reflective, the heat trapping effects of urban surfaces would be eliminated, an impact greater than eliminating the annual anthropogenic emissions of the entire globe (Akbari et al., p. 41).
  • Geoengineering—“the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planet’s environment to counteract climate change” (Royal Society 2009)—is being more widely studied in terms of its potential to limit global warming if efforts to reduce emissions fail, as well as its implications. Various proposals (and preliminary findings), grouped into two categories—carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM—are summarized here (pages 40–44).Credit : World Resource Institute

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Volcanic vs. Anthropogenic CO2

Guest Commentary by Terry Gerlach*

TV screen images of erupting and exploding volcanoes spewing forth emissions are typically spectacular, awesome, and vividly suggestive of huge additions of gas to the atmosphere. By comparison, the smokestack and exhaust pipe venting of anthropogenic emissions is comparatively unexciting, unimpressive, and commonplace. Consequently, it easy to get traction with the general public for claims that volcanic CO2 emissions are far greater than those of human activities, or that the CO2 released in some recent or ongoing eruption exceeds anthropogenic releases in all of human history, or that the threat of a future super-eruption makes concerns about our carbon footprint laughable. The evidence from volcanology, however, does not support these claims.

Volcanic plume ** V Fossil fuel plumes**

My article “Volcanic Versus Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide” appeared in the June 14 issue of the American Geophysical Union’s publication Eos and addresses the widespread mis-perception in the media, the blogosphere, and much of the climate skeptic literature that volcanic CO2 emissions greatly exceed anthropogenic CO2 emissions. I wrote the article to provide a comprehensive overview of the topic using only published peer-reviewed data with a minimum of technical jargon for a broad spectrum of Earth science researchers and educators, students, policy makers, the media, and the general public. AGU has made the article public; anyone can download a copy. There is also an Eos online supplement, although I have a better formatted pdf version that is available upon request.

The bottom line? Annual anthropogenic CO2 emissions exceed annual volcanic CO2 by two orders of magnitude, and probably exceed the CO2 output of one or more super-eruptions***. Thus there is no scientific basis for using volcanic CO2 emissions as an excuse for failing to manage humanity’s carbon footprint.

*Terry Gerlach is retired from the U.S. Geological Survey where he was a volcanic gas geochemist.The views expressed are his own.
** Yes we are aware that CO2 is colorless and that the plumes in the figures are mostly steam. – Eds.
***Super-eruptions are extremely rare, with recurrence intervals of 100,000–200,000 years; none have occurred historically, the most recent examples being Indonesia’s Toba volcano, which erupted 74,000 years ago, and the United States’ Yellowstone caldera, which erupted 2 million years ago.