Posts Tagged ‘global warming’

For those of you out there who didn’t grow up in the evangelical culture, you may not be aware of this.  

HarrisMiracleDid you know that there are many, many fundamentalist Christians who believe that God is basically pulling the wool over our eyes, planting phony evidence for carbon-dated fossils, geological formations, DNA-based evolutionary relationships, and redshifts from galaxies that indicate that they are far older than the 6,000 years of existence accounted for by biblical creation?

Seriously.  The belief is that God, in his infinite wisdom, decided to not only not provide a stitch of evidence for the propositions laid out in his special book –  he also decided to plant evidence that actually contradicts these assertions.

And why does this make my stomach a little queazy?  It’s because this kind of thinking – that what we can see and experience and prove and test (let’s call this “science”) takes a back seat to what people want to believe – can lead to tragedy, destruction and death.  Does that sound over the top?  Maybe.

But here’s what’s happening:  Greedy corporate interests and unscrupulous politicians are exploiting the anti-science attitudes imbedded in popular religion in order to suppress scientific results on issues of global importance – issues that threaten the generations of humanity that will follow ours.  And then people get to do the “I don’t want to believe in human-induced climate changimages-301e, so I don’t” thing, and get away with it…to the detriment of our planet and to our descendants.  Their religion, egged on by corporations who benefit financially from destroying our planet, allows them to ignore unequivocal evidence, put their hands over their ears and shout “la, la, la, la, la, la, la – I can’t hear you!” while the world burns up.  This makes my stomach feel a little oozie.

There are members of Congress who don’t understand or accept basic science concepts. This hilarious video is dedicated to them.

Click HERE

climate-name-change

A degree by degree explanation of what will happen when the earth warms


ONE DEGREE OF WARMING

images-189Even if greenhouse emissions stopped overnight the concentrations already in the atmosphere would still mean a global rise of between 0.5 and 1C. A shift of a single degree is barely perceptible to human skin, but it’s not human skin we’re talking about. It’s the planet; and an average increase of one degree across its entire surface means huge changes in climatic extremes.

Six thousand years ago, when the world was one degree warmer than it is now, the American agricultural heartland around Nebraska was desert. It suffered a short reprise during the dust- bowl years of the 1930s, when the topsoil blew away and hundreds of thousands of refugees trailed through the dust to an uncertain welcome further west. The effect of one-degree warming, therefore, requires no great feat of imagination.

“The western United States once again could suffer perennial droughts, far worse than the 1930s. Deserts will reappear particularly in Nebraska, but also in eastern Montana, Wyoming and Arizona, northern Texas and Oklahoma. As dust and sandstorms turn day into night across thousands of miles of former prairie, farmsteads, roads and even entire towns will be engulfed by sand.”

What’s bad for America will be worse for poorer countries closer to the equator. It has beencalculated that a one-degree increase would eliminate fresh water from a third of the world’s land surface by 2100. Again we have seen what this means. There was an incident in the summer of 2005: One tributary fell so low that miles of exposed riverbank dried out into sand dunes, with winds whipping up thick sandstorms. As desperate villagers looked out onto baking mud instead of flowing water, the army was drafted in to ferry precious drinking water up the river – by helicopter, since most of the river was too low to be navigable by boat. The river in question was not some small, insignificant trickle in Sussex. It was the Amazon.

While tropical lands teeter on the brink, the Arctic already may have passed the point of no return. Warming near the pole is muchimages-191 faster than the global average, with the result that Arctic icecaps and glaciers have lost 400 cubic kilometres of ice in 40 years. Permafrost – ground that has lain frozen for thousands of years – is dissolving into mud and lakes, destabilising whole areas as the ground collapses beneath buildings, roads and pipelines. As polar bears and Inuits are being pushed off the top of the planet, previous predictions are starting to look optimistic. Earlier snowmelt means more summer heat goes into the air and ground rather than into melting snow, raising temperatures in a positive feedback effect. More dark shrubs and forest on formerly bleak tundra means still more heat is absorbed by vegetation.

Out at sea the pace is even faster. Whilst snow-covered ice reflects more than 80% of the sun’s heat, the darker ocean absorbs up to 95% of solar radiation. Once sea ice begins to melt, in other words, the process becomes self-reinforcing. More ocean surface is revealed, absorbing solar heat, raising temperatures and making it unlikelier that ice will re-form next winter. The disappearance of 720,000 square kilometres of supposedly permanent ice in a single year testifies to the rapidity of planetary change. If you have ever wondered what it will feel like when the Earth crosses a tipping point, savour the moment.

Mountains, too, are starting to come apart. In the Alps, most ground above 3,000 metres is stabilised by permafrost. In the summer of 2003, however, the melt zone climbed right up to 4,600 metres, higher than the summit of the Matterhorn and nearly as high as Mont Blanc. With the glue of millennia melting away, rocks showered down and 50 climbers died. As temperatures go on edging upwards, it won’t just be mountaineers who flee. Whole towns and villages will be at risk. Some towns, like Pontresina in eastern Switzerland, have already begun building bulwarks against landslides.

At the opposite end of the scale, low-lying atoll countries such as the Maldives will be preparing for extinction as sea levels rise, and mainland coasts – in particular the eastern US and Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean and Pacific islands and the Bay of Bengal – will be hit by stronger and stronger hurricanes as the water warms. Hurricane Katrina, which in 2005 hit New Orleans with the combined impacts of earthquake and flood, was a nightmare precursor of what the future holds.

images-193Most striking of all was seeing how people behaved once the veneer of civilisation had been torn away. Most victims were poor and black, left to fend for themselves as the police either joined in the looting or deserted the area. Four days into the crisis, survivors were packed into the city’s Superdome, living next to overflowing toilets and rotting bodies as gangs of young men with guns seized the only food and water available. Perhaps the most memorable scene was a single military helicopter landing for just a few minutes, its crew flinging food parcels and water bottles out onto the ground before hurriedly taking off again as if from a war zone. In scenes more like a Third World refugee camp than an American urban centre, young men fought for the water as pregnant women and the elderly looked on with nothing. Don’t blame them for behaving like this, I thought. It’s what happens when people are desperate.

Chance of avoiding one degree of global warming: zero. 

BETWEEN ONE AND TWO DEGREES OF WARMING 

At this level, expected within 40 years, the hot European summer of 2003 will be the annual norm. Anything that could be called a heatwave thereafter will be of Saharan intensity. Even in average years, people will die of heat stress.

The first symptoms may be minor. A person will feel slightly nauseous, dizzy and irritable. Once body temperature reaches 41C (104F) its thermoregulatory system begins to break down. Unless drastic measures are taken to reduce the body’s core temperature, the brain is starved of oxygen and vital organs begin to fail. Death will be only minutes away unless the emergency services can quickly get the victim into intensive care.

These emergency services failed to save more than 10,000 French in the summer of 2003. Mortuaries ran out of space as hundreds of dead bodies were brought in each night. Across Europe as a whole, the heatwave is believed to have cost between 22,000 and 35,000 lives. Agriculture, too, was devastated. Farmers lost $12 billion worth of crops, and Portugal alone suffered $12 billion of forest-fire damage. The flows of the River Po in Italy, Rhine in Germany and Loire in France all shrank to historic lows. Barges ran aground, and there was not enough water for irrigation and hydroelectricity. Melt rates in the Alps, where some glaciers lost 10% of their mass, were not just a record – they doubled the previous record of 1998. According to the Hadley centre, more than half the European summers by 2040 will be hotter than this. Extreme summers will take a much heavier toll of human life, with body counts likely to reach hundreds of thousands. Crops will bake in the fields, and forests will die off and burn. Even so, the short-term effects may not be the worst:

From the beech forests of northern Europe to the evergreen oaks of the Mediterranean, plant growth across the whole landmass inclimatechange1a 2003 slowed and then stopped. Instead of absorbing carbon dioxide, the stressed plants began to emit it. Around half a billion tonnes of carbon was added to the atmosphere from European plants, equivalent to a twelfth of global emissions from fossil fuels. This is a positive feedback of critical importance, because it suggests that, as temperatures rise, carbon emissions from forests and soils will also rise. If these land-based emissions are sustained over long periods, global warming could spiral out of control.

In the two-degree world, nobody will think of taking Mediterranean holidays. The movement of people from northern Europe to the Mediterranean is likely to reverse, switching eventually into a mass scramble as Saharan heatwaves sweep across the Med. People everywhere will think twice about moving to the coast. When temperatures were last between 1 and 2C higher than they are now, 125,000 years ago, sea levels were five or six metres higher too. All this “lost” water is in the polar ice that is now melting. Forecasters predict that the “tipping point” for Greenland won’t arrive until average temperatures have risen by 2.7C. The snag is that Greenland is warming much faster than the rest of the world – 2.2 times the global average. “Divide one figure by the other,” says Lynas, “and the result should ring alarm bells across the world. Greenland will tip into irreversible melt once global temperatures rise past a mere 1.2C. The ensuing sea-level ?rise will be far more than the half-metre that ?the IPCC has predicted for the end of the century. Scientists point out that sea levels at the end of the last ice age shot up by a metre every 20 years for four centuries, and that Greenland’s ice, in the words of one glaciologist, is now thinning like mad and flowing much faster than it ought to. Its biggest outflow glacier, Jakobshavn Isbrae, has thinned by 15 metres every year since 1997, and its speed of flow has doubled. At this rate the whole Greenland ice sheet would vanish within 140 years. Miami would disappear, as would most of Manhattan. Central London would be flooded. Bangkok, Bombay and Shanghai would lose most of their area. In all, half of humanity would have to move to higher ground.

Not only coastal communities will suffer. As mountains lose their glaciers, so people will lose their water supplies. The entire Indian subcontinent will be fighting for survival. As the glaciers disappear from all but the highest peaks, their runoff will cease to power the massive rivers that deliver vital freshwater to hundreds of millions. Water shortages and famine will be the result, destabilising the entire region. And this time the epicentre of the disaster won’t be India, Nepal or Bangladesh, but nuclear-armed Pakistan.

Everywhere, ecosystems will unravel as species either migrate or fall out of synch with each other. By the time global temperatures reach two degrees of warming in 2050, more than a third of all living species will face extinction.

Chance of avoiding two degrees of global warming: 93%, but only if emissions of greenhouse gases are reduced by 60% over the next 10 years. 

BETWEEN TWO AND THREE DEGREES OF WARMING 

Up to this point, assuming that governments have planned carefully and farmers have converted to more appropriate crops, not too many people outside subtropical Africa need have starved. Beyond two degrees, however, preventing mass starvation will be as easy as halting the cycles of the moon. First millions, then billions, of people will face an increasingly tough battle to survive.

images-192To find anything comparable we have to go back to the Pliocene – last epoch of the Tertiary period, 3m years ago. There were no continental glaciers in the northern hemisphere (trees grew in the Arctic), and sea levels were 25 metres higher than today’s. In this kind of heat, the death of the Amazon is as inevitable as the melting of Greenland. The paper spelling it out is the very one whose apocalyptic message so shocked in 2000. Scientists at the Hadley centre feared that earlier climate models, which showed global warming as a straightforward linear progression, were too simplistic in their assumption that land and the oceans would remain inert as their temperatures rose. Correctly as it would turn out, they predicted positive feedback.

Warmer seas absorb less carbon dioxide, leaving more to accumulate in the atmosphere and intensify global warming. On land, matters would be even worse. Huge amounts of carbon are stored in the soil, the half-rotted remains of dead vegetation. The generally accepted estimate is that the soil carbon reservoir contains some 1600 gigatonnes, more than double the entire carbon content of the atmosphere. As soil warms, bacteria accelerate the breakdown of this stored carbon, releasing it into the atmosphere.

The end of the world is nigh. A three-degree increase in global temperature – possible as early as 2050 – would throw the carbon cycle into reverse. Instead of absorbing carbon dioxide, vegetation and soils start to release it. So much carbon pours into the atmosphere that it pumps up atmospheric concentrations by 250 parts per million by 2100, boosting global warming by another 1.5C. In other words, the Hadley team had discovered that carbon-cycle feedbacks could tip the planet into runaway global warming by the middle of this century – much earlier than anyone had expected.

Confirmation came from the land itself. Climate models are routinely tested against historical data. In this case, scientists checked 25 years’ worth of soil samples from 6,000 sites across the UK. The result was another black joke. As temperatures gradually rose the scientists found that huge amounts of carbon had been released naturally from the soils. They totted it all up and discovered – irony of ironies – that the 13m tonnes of carbon British soils were emitting annually was enough to wipe out all the country’s efforts to comply with the Kyoto Protocol.” All soils will be affected by the rising heat, but none as badly as the Amazon’s. “Catastrophe” is almost too small a word for the loss of the rainforest. Its 7m square kilometres produce 10% of the world’s entire photosynthetic output from plants. Drought and heat will cripple it; fire will finish it off. In human terms, the effect on the planet will be like cutting off oxygen during an asthma attack.

In the US and Australia, people will curse the climate-denying governments of Bush and Howard. No matter what later administrations may do, it will not be enough to keep the mercury down. With new “super-hurricanes” growing from the warming sea, Houston could be destroyed by 2045, and Australia will be a death trap. “Farming and food production will tip into irreversible decline. Salt water will creep up the stricken rivers, poisoning ground water. Higher temperatures mean greater evaporation, further drying out vegetation and soils, and causing huge losses from reservoirs. In state capitals, heat every year is likely to kill between 8,000 and 15,000 mainly elderly people.

It is all too easy to visualise what will happen in Africa. In Central America, too, tens of millions will have little to put on their images-190tables. Even a moderate drought there in 2001 meant hundreds of thousands had to rely on food aid. This won’t be an option when world supplies are stretched to breaking point (grain yields decline by 10% for every degree of heat above 30C, and at 40C they are zero). Nobody need look to the US, which will have problems of its own. As the mountains lose their snow, so cities and farms in the west will lose their water and dried-out forests and grasslands will perish at the first spark.

The Indian subcontinent meanwhile will be choking on dust. All of human history shows that, given the choice between starving in situ and moving, people move. In the latter part of the century tens of millions of Pakistani citizens may be facing this choice. Pakistan may find itself joining the growing list of failed states, as civil administration collapses and armed gangs seize what little food is left.

As the land burns, so the sea will go on rising. Even by the most optimistic calculation, 80% of Arctic sea ice by now will be gone, and the rest will soon follow. New York will flood; the catastrophe that struck eastern England in 1953 will become an unremarkable regular event; and the map of the Netherlands will be torn up by the North Sea. Everywhere, starving people will be on the move – from Central America into Mexico and the US, and from Africa into Europe, where resurgent fascist parties will win votes by promising to keep them out.

Chance of avoiding three degrees of global warming: poor if the rise reaches two degrees and triggers carbon-cycle feedbacks from soils and plants. 

BETWEEN THREE AND FOUR DEGREES OF WARMING 

The stream of refugees will now include those fleeing from coasts to safer interiors – millions at a time when storms hit. Where they persist, coastal cities will become fortified islands. The world economy, too, will be threadbare. As direct losses, social instability and insurance payouts cascade through the system, the funds to support displaced people will be increasingly scarce. Sea levels will be rampaging upwards – in this temperature range, both poles are certain to melt, causing an eventual rise of 50 metres. “I am not suggesting it would be instantaneous. In fact it would take centuries, and probably millennia, to melt all of the Antarctic’s ice. But it could yield sea-level rises of a metre or so every 20 years – far beyond our capacity to adapt.Oxford would sit on one of many coastlines in a UK reduced to an archipelago of tiny islands.

flooded_ny_0-1More immediately, China is on a collision course with the planet. By 2030, if its people are consuming at the same rate as Americans, they will eat two-thirds of the entire global harvest and burn 100m barrels of oil a day, or 125% of current world output. That prospect alone contains all the ingredients of catastrophe. But it’s worse than that: “By the latter third of the 21st century, if global temperatures are more than three degrees higher than now, China’s agricultural production will crash. It will face the task of feeding 1.5bn much richer people – 200m more than now – on two thirds of current supplies.” For people throughout much of the world, starvation will be a regular threat; but it will not be the only one.

The summer will get longer still, as soaring temperatures reduce forests to tinderwood and cities to boiling morgues. Temperatures in the Home Counties could reach 45C – the sort of climate experienced today in Marrakech. Droughts will put the south-east of England on the global list of water-stressed areas, with farmers competing against cities for dwindling supplies from rivers and reservoirs.

Air-conditioning will be mandatory for anyone wanting to stay cool. This in turn will put ever more stress on energy systems, which could pour more greenhouse gases into the air if coal and gas-fired power stations ramp up their output, hydroelectric sources dwindle and renewables fail to take up the slack. The abandonment of the Mediterranean will send even more people north to “overcrowded refuges in the Baltic, Scandinavia and the British Isles.

Britain will have problems of its own. As flood plains are more regularly inundated, a general retreat out of high risk areas is likely. Millions of people will lose their lifetime investments in houses that become uninsurable and therefore unsaleable? The Lancashire/Humber corridor is expected to be among the worst affected regions, as are the Thames Valley, eastern Devon and towns around the already flood-prone Severn estuary like Monmouth and Bristol. The entire English coast from the Isle of Wight to Middlesbrough is classified as at ‘very high’ or ‘extreme’ risk, as is the whole of Cardigan Bay in Wales.

One of the most dangerous of all feedbacks will now be kicking in – the runaway thaw of permafrost. Scientists believe at least 500 billion tonnes of carbon are waiting to be released from the Arctic ice, though none yet has put a figure on what it will add to global warming. One degree? Two? Three? The pointers are ominous.

As with Amazon collapse and the carbon-cycle feedback in the three-degree worldstabilising global temperatures at four degrees above current levels may not be possible. If we reach three degrees, therefore, that leads inexorably to four degrees, which leads inexorably to five?

Chance of avoiding four degrees of global warming: poor if the rise reaches three degrees and triggers a runaway thaw of permafrost. 

BETWEEN FOUR AND FIVE DEGREES OF WARMING 

We are looking now at an entirely different planet. Ice sheets have vanished from both poles; rainforests have burnt up and turned to desert; the dry and lifeless Alps resemble the High Atlas; rising seas are scouring deep into continental interiors. One temptation may be to shift populations from dry areas to the newly thawed regions of the far north, in Canada and Siberia. Even here, though, summers may be too hot for crops to be grown away from the coasts; and there is no guarantee that northern governments will admit southern refugees. Lynas recalls James Lovelock’s suspicion that Siberia and Canada would be invaded by China and the US, each hammering another nail into humanity’s coffin. Any armed conflict, particularly involving nuclear weapons, would of course further increase the planetary surface area uninhabitable for humans.

When temperatures were at a similar level 55m years ago, following a very sudden burst of global warming in the early Eocene, images-194alligators and other subtropical species were living high in the Arctic. What had caused the climate to flip? Suspicion rests on methane hydrate – “an ice-like combination of methane and water that forms under the intense cold and pressure of the deep sea”, and which escapes with explosive force when tapped. Evidence of a submarine landslide off Florida, and of huge volcanic eruptions under the North Atlantic, raises the possibility of trapped methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – being released in a giant belch that pushed global temperatures through the roof.

Summer heatwaves scorched the vegetation out of continental Spain, leaving a desert terrain which was heavily eroded by winter rainstorms. Palm mangroves grew as far north as England and Belgium, and the Arctic Ocean was so warm that Mediterranean algae thrived. In short, it was a world much like the one we are heading into this century. Although the total amount of carbon in the atmosphere during the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum, or PETM, as scientists call it, was more than today’s, the rate of increase in the 21st century may be 30 times faster. It may well be the fastest increase the world has ever seen – faster even than the episodes that caused catastrophic mass extinctions.

Globalism in the five-degree world will break down into something more like parochialism. Customers will have nothing to buy because producers will have nothing to sell. With no possibility of international aid, migrants will have to force their way into the few remaining habitable enclaves and fight for survival.

Where no refuge is available, civil war and a collapse into racial or communal conflict seems the likely outcome. Isolated survivalism, however, may be as impracticable as dialling for room service. How many of us could really trap or kill enough game to feed a family? Even if large numbers of people did successfully manage to fan out into the countryside, wildlife populations would quickly dwindle under the pressure. Supporting a hunter-gatherer lifestyle takes 10 to 100 times the land per person that a settled agricultural community needs. A large-scale resort to survivalism would turn into a further disaster for biodiversity as hungry humans killed and ate anything that moved. Including, perhaps, each other. Invaders do not take kindly to residents denying them food. History suggests that if a stockpile is discovered, the householder and his family may be tortured and killed. Look for comparison to the experience of present-day Somalia, Sudan or Burundi, where conflicts over scarce land and food are at the root of lingering tribal wars and state collapse.

Chance of avoiding five degrees of global warming: negligible if the rise reaches four degrees and releases trapped methane from the sea bed. 

BETWEEN FIVE AND SIX DEGREES OF WARMING 

Although warming on this scale lies within the IPCC’s officially endorsed range of 21st-century possibilities, climate models have little to say about what Lynas, echoing Dante, describes as “the Sixth Circle of Hell”. To see the most recent climatic lookalike, we have to turn the geological clock back between 144m and 65m years, to the Cretaceous, which ended with the extinction of the dinosaurs. There was an even closer fit at the end of the Permian, 251m years ago, when global temperatures rose by – yes – six degrees, and 95% of species were wiped out.

images-195That episode was the worst ever endured by life on Earth, the closest the planet has come to ending up a dead and desolate rock in space.” On land, the only winners were fungi that flourished on dying trees and shrubs. At sea there were only losers. Warm water is a killer. Less oxygen can dissolve, so conditions become stagnant and anoxic. Oxygen-breathing water-dwellers – all the higher forms of life from plankton to sharks – face suffocation. Warm water also expands, and sea levels rose by 20 metres.” The resulting “super-hurricanes” hitting the coasts would have triggered flash floods that no living thing could have survived.

There are aspects of the so-called “end-Permian extinction” that are unlikely to recur – most importantly, the vast volcanic eruption in Siberia that spread magma hundreds of metres thick over an area bigger than western Europe and shot billions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. That is small comfort, however, for beneath the oceans, another monster stirred – the same that would bring a devastating end to the Palaeocene nearly 200m years later, and that still lies in wait today. Methane hydrate.

What happens when warming water releases pent-up gas from the sea bed: First, a small disturbance drives a gas-saturated parcel of water upwards. As it rises, bubbles begin to appear, as dissolved gas fizzles out with reducing pressure – just as a bottle of lemonade overflows if the top is taken off too quickly. These bubbles make the parcel of water still more buoyant, accelerating its rise through the water. As it surges upwards, reaching explosive force, it drags surrounding water up with it. At the surface, water is shot hundreds of metres into the air as the released gas blasts into the atmosphere. Shockwaves propagate outwards in all directions, triggering more eruptions nearby.

The eruption is more than just another positive feedback in the quickening process of global warming. Unlike CO2, methane is flammable. Even in air-methane concentrations as low as 5%, the mixture could ignite from lightning or some other spark and send fireballs tearing across the sky. The effect would be much like that of the fuel-air explosives used by the US and Russian armies – so-called “vacuum bombs” that ignite fuel droplets above a target. According to the CIA, those near the ignition point are obliterated. Those at the fringes are likely to suffer many internal injuries, including burst eardrums, severe concussion, ruptured lungs and internal organs, and possibly blindness.” Such tactical weapons, however, are squibs when set against methane-air clouds from oceanic eruptions. Scientists calculate that they could “destroy terrestrial life almost entirely (251m years ago, only one large land animal, the pig-like lystrosaurus, survived). It has been estimated that a large eruption in future could release energy equivalent to 108 megatonnes of TNT – 100,000 times more than the world’s entire stockpile of nuclear weapons. Not even Lynas, for all his scientific propriety, can avoid the Hollywood ending. “It is not too difficult to imagine the ultimate nightmare, with oceanic methane eruptions near large population centres wiping out billions of people – perhaps in days. Imagine a ‘fuel-air explosive’ fireball racing towards a city – London, say, or Tokyo – the blast wave spreading out from the explosive centre with the speed and force of an atomic bomb. Buildings are flattened, people are incinerated where they stand, or left blind and deaf by the force of the explosion. Mix Hiroshima with post-Katrina New Orleans to get some idea of what such a catastrophe might look like: burnt survivors battling over food, wandering far and wide from empty cities.

Then would come hydrogen sulphide from the stagnant oceans. “It would be a silent killer: imagine the scene at Bhopal following the Union Carbide gas release in 1984, replayed first at coastal settlements, then continental interiors across the world. At the same time, as the ozone layer came under assault, we would feel the sun’s rays burning into our skin, and the first cell mutations would be triggering outbreaks of cancer among anyone who survived. Dante’s hell was a place of judgment, where humanity was for ever punished for its sins. With all the remaining forests burning, and the corpses of people, livestock and wildlife piling up in every continent, the six-degree world would be a harsh penalty indeed for the mundane crime of burning fossil energy.

From:  http://globalwarming.berrens.nl/globalwarming.htm

climate-change_1509200cWe are going over Niagara Falls in a life raft.  We can hear the falls at this point.  Unfortunately, turning the boat around and leisurely paddling against the current will not be enough at this point.  The ice caps are already melting.  The globe is already on fire.  The islands are already drowning.  People are dying.

To my conservative friends:  This is not alarmist.  This is science.  The reason you don’t know about this and don’t believe it when you do hear about it is two-fold:

1.  The energy companies (the wealthiest corporations on earth) control the Republican Party AND they control the mainstream media, and therefore our access to information.

2.   The fundamentalists believe that God is in control, and that nothing bad will happen to this planet or to us (or to other species) that isn’t ordained by God.

So – if you’re conservative politically AND conservative religiously, you’ve got an uphill battle to fight toward truth.  You have likely bought into the lies you hear on TV and talk radio – things like “many scientists disagree that climate change is a result of human activity.”  You know what?  The scientists who say things like this are ones whose checks are signed by Mobile and friends OR by the Christian Right.  Bad things are happening, and worse things are coming, and if you’re a science-denier, you are part of the problem!

Scientists agree that a temperature increase above 1900 levels of over 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) will be problematicimages-188 – more wild fires, crazier storms, an accelerated loss of species, and more.  They also agree that a rise of over 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius) above 1900 levels will be catastrophic.  We’re talking world drought, the loss of coastlines, more fires, more violent storms, billions of dollars in loss – and lots of deaths.

Today we are well on our way – we are up just a little over 1 degree Farenheit, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.  Let me say this again…we are in big trouble.  This isn’t a Hollywood movie or alarmist propaganda.  It’s science, and it’s real.

Click HERE for “A degree by degree explanation of what will happen as the earth warms up.

Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are  due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.  The following is a partial list of scientific organizations that have endorsed the position that we are in trouble:

AMERICAN SCIENTIFIC SOCIETIES

GSA-emblem-with-canvass-borderStatement on climate change from 18 scientific associations:  
“Observations throughout the world make it  clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.”

AAAS-emblem-with-canvas-borderAmerican Association for the Advancement of Science
:  “The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society.”

ACS-emblem-with-canvass-borderAmerican Chemical Society
:  “Comprehensive scientific assessments of our current and potential future climates clearly indicate that climate change is real, largely attributable to emissions from human activities, and potentially a very serious problem.”

AGU-emblem-with-canvas-borderAmerican Geophysical Union
:  “The Earth’s climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming. Many components of the climate system — including the temperatures of the atmosphere, land and ocean, the extent of sea ice and mountain glaciers, the sea level, the distribution of precipitation, and the length of seasons — are now changing at rates and in patterns that are not natural and are best explained by the increased atmospheric abundances of greenhouse gases and aerosols generated by human activity during the 20th century.”

AMA-emblem-with-canvas-border 
American Medical Association
:  “Our AMA … supports the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fourth assessment report and concurs with the scientific consensus that the Earth is undergoing adverse global climate change and that anthropogenic contributions are significant.”

AMS-emblem-with-canvass-border_133x75American Meteorological Society:  
“It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide.”

APS-emblem-with-canvass-borderAmerican Physical Society:  
“The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.”

GSA-emblem-with-canvass-borderThe Geological Society of America:  
“The Geological Society of America (GSA) concurs with assessments by the National Academies of Science (2005), the National Research Council (2006), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) that global climate has warmed and that human activities (mainly greenhouse‐gas emissions) account for most of the warming since the middle 1900s.”

SCIENCE ACADEMIES

International academies joint statement
:  “Climate change is real. There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate. However there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring. The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities.”

USNAS-emblem-with-canvass-border_133x75U.S. National Academy of Sciences
:  “The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify taking steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

U.S. GOVERNMENT AGENCIES

USGCRP-emblem-with-canvas-borderU.S. Global Change Research Program
:  “The global warming of the past 50 years is due primarily to human-induced increases in heat-trapping gases. Human ‘fingerprints’ also have been identified in many other aspects of the climate system, including changes in ocean heat content, precipitation, atmospheric moisture, and Arctic sea ice.”

INTERGOVERNMENTAL BODIES

IPCC-emblem-with-canvass-and-borderIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
:  “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.   Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is likely (greater than 90 percent probability) due to the observed increase in man-made greenhouse gas concentrations.”

images-174If you’re following politics at all, you’d be forgiven if you came to the conclusion that the Republican members of Congress are insane. What is happening in our country’s politics makes absolutely no sense…that is, until you factor in corporate money (legalized bribery) and rightwing extremism (the Tea Party and a loony-tunes brand of Christianity).

Three examples:

Guns
How in the world can a bill about basic background checks for gun purchases fail to win in the House, when 93% of the lawmakers’ constituents (the people they are elected to represent) want it? Especially when it’s already illegal for felons and spouse abusers and the mentally ill to purchase guns, and all that’s missing is a law that requires gun sellers to do a five-minute check to make sure the person trying to buy a gun isn’t in one of those categories.

The reason? Two things: Corporate money (these law makers are paid through campaign contributions to not agree to 7.6.12C.Money-Politics-610x427anything that would piss off gun manufacturers) and rightwing extremism (if you’re a lawmaker and the tea party nutwings find out you’re not toeing the party line, they will “primary” you).

ExxonMobile
How does ExxonMobile get to wreck an entire town in Arkansas with a sands oil spill and not have to explain to the public (or show photos) of how or why this happened? How do they get to legally keep reporters out of the area? How did they get a frickin’ no-fly zone over their clean up operations?!?! Why were they allowed to not make proactive repairs when they knew that the potential for disaster existed? (One executive famously stated: “We know the cost of a clean up operation is much less than the cost to improve equipment and avoid a disaster.”) And why we’re on the subject, why does this obscenely wealthy corporation get billions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks every year???

The reasons? Legalized bribery. They give money to (usually) Republicans’ campaigns in exchange for no media accountability, lots and lots of free money and a free pass to fuck up the environment. And there are the extremists, of course. A tweet from Rep. Steve Stockman:

The best thing about the Earth is if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out.

95205167-global-warming-deniersClimate change
While the rest of the industrial world is working to curb global warming, why do our politicians continually vote against anything that would help to cool down the earth, even while 98% of scientists agree that a global temperature increase of just 5 degrees would be a disaster…AND that it’s becoming inevitable that this WILL happen if we don’t do something, and do it soon?

The reasons?

Corporate money: Reporters from The Independent researched the ways that corporate money is influencing politics in the area of climate change, and they discovered that the amount of money being spent on fighting the science of climate change is just over 500 million dollars each year. Here’s how it works: The Koch brothers (Bill and Charles), the guys who started (and fund) the Tea Party, own Koch industries, a large oil, gas and chemical conglomerate. Koch industries gives millions and millions of dollars each year to a group called the “Knowledge and Progress Fund,” which in turn gives the money to two sister groups: Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund. These two groups then spend shitloads of money “educating” the public against climate change, buying “scientists” who will de-bunk the real scientists’ research results, and paying off congresspeople. So, while 98% of scientists believe that it’s time to yell “fire!” in regards to global warming, these clowns are pretending that, “Oh my gosh! There are scientists out there who are totally against climate change!” The end results? The Koch brothers get richer, and we as a planet experience more and more deaths through “extreme weather events” (drought, storms, tornados, fires, floods) and get closer and closer to complete ecological ruin and the extinction of species, including our own. Good work, Bill and Charles.

bp-funds-tea-partys-climate-change-deniersExtremism: Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) appeared on Voice of Christian Youth America’s radio program Crosstalk with Vic Eliason a few months back to promote his new book The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, where he stated:

God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.

Enough said.

Of course, there are many, many more examples, including the corporations that are allowed to coat our vegetables with pesticides, the minimum wage, aid to the poor, colleges loans and more. Watch this space.

When we talk about the environment, about creation, my thoughts turn to the first pages of the Bible, the Book of Genesis, which states that God placed man and woman on earth to cultivate and care for it.  And the question comes to my mind: What does cultivating and caring for the earth mean? Are we truly cultivating and caring for creation? Or are we exploiting and neglecting it?

The popes have spoken of human ecology, closely linked to environmental ecology. We are living in a time of la-tot-cartoons-pg-ocean-acidification-killing-sea-life-we-are-culpritscrisis: we see this in the environment, but above all we see this in mankind … Man is not in charge today, money is in charge, money rules. God our Father did not give the task of caring for the earth to money, but to us, to men and women: we have this task! Instead, men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the ‘culture of waste.’

Pope Francis to the crowds of pilgrims and visitors to St. Peter’s Square this week

He went on to stress what has become a recurrent theme for him: the contrast between how culture views the well-being of the financial world with the well-being and needs of the poor and the homeless.

If you break a computer it is a tragedy, but poverty, the needs, the dramas of so many people end up becoming the norm. If on a winter’s night, here nearby in Via Ottaviano, for example, a person dies, that is not news. If in so many parts of the world there are children who have nothing to eat, that’s not news, it seems normal. It cannot be this way! Yet these things become the norm: that some homeless people die of cold on the streets is not news. In contrast, a ten point drop on the stock markets of some cities, is a tragedy. A person dying is not news, but if the stock markets drop ten points it is a tragedy! Thus people are disposed of, as if they were trash.  Our grandparents used to make a point of not throwing away leftover food. Consumerism has made us accustomed to wasting food daily and we are unable to see its real value.  Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hunger.

Since taking office in March, Pope Francis has said he wants the 1.2-billion-strong Roman Catholic Church to defend the poor and to practice greater austerity itself. He has also made several calls for global financial reform.  Around 1.3 billion tons of food, or one third of what is produced for human consumption, gets lost or wasted every year, according to the United Nations’ food agency.

If more Christians thought this way, the world would be a different place.

cartoon_380First, a couple facts:

FACT 1  95% of scientists believe that man is the chief cause of climate change.

FACT 2 – Of the 5% that don’t believe this, somewhere around 85% of them are being funded by wealthy energy companies.  Yes, those scientists’ conclusions are for sale.

Smokey Joe Barton (R) from Texas, chair of the energy committee and one of the biggest recipients of fossil fuel lobbying money of anyone in congress, explained in a recent congressional hearing why there is some confusion about the science behind climate change.

(This was regarding the Keystone Pipeline debate, which he supports, of course, because he’s being paid to support it.)

He says:

I would point out that people like me who support hydrocarbon development don’t deny that climate is changing.  I think you can have an honest difference of opinion of what’s causing that change without automatically being either all in that’s all because of mankind or it’s all just natural.

wearedestroyingearthvoteby08aug08oOk – before we get to the rest of his quote, let me just say this.  This is NOT a matter of opinion.  The “opinion” he’s referring to is “Am I going to listen to the vast majority – the 95% of scientists – who say this is a man-made change, or not?”  This isn’t a “difference of opinion” like “I prefer chocolate ice cream” or “I prefer vanilla ice cream” or even “I’m pro-background checks for gun purchases” or “I’m against background checks for gun purchases.”   No – this is about choosing whether or not to believe science.

Smokey Joe went on to state in this congressional hearing:

I would point out that if you’re a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change, and that certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.

Yup, he really said that.