Saturday, April 15, 2006

More Global Warming News

This walrus pup alone in the Arctic Ocean, separated from its mother, was a troubling sight for researchers in 2004. (By Phil Alatalo -- Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

WaPo: Warming Arctic Is Taking a Toll
Peril to Walrus Young Seen as Result of Melting Ice Shelf


The rapid melting of Arctic sea ice appears to be separating walrus young from their mothers, leaving them likely to die at sea, a team of researchers said.

During a two-month cruise off northern Alaska in 2004, a Coast Guard icebreaker came across nine lone walrus calves swimming in the deep waters -- what the scientists called a highly unusual sighting.

They report in the journal Aquatic Mammals that the pups most likely fell into the sea when a shelf of sea ice that they lived on with their mothers collapsed because of an influx of unusually warm water.

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The team found that water flowing from the Bering Sea to the shallower continental shelf of the Chukchi Sea off northern Alaska was six degrees warmer than it had been at the same time and place two years earlier.


WaPo: British Expert Warns of Global Warming

LONDON -- Global temperatures are likely to rise by 5.4 degrees by the end of the century, sharply increasing drought and water shortages, Britain's chief scientist said.

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A British government report said a 3 degree increase would cause millions of tons of cereal crops to fail and put between 1.2 billion and 3 billion people at risk of water shortages.

The Washington Post article, from the AP, is poorly written, as it does not specify which scale the degrees are measured in. I think they mean to say 5.4F and 3C, as the British research is measured in celsius temperatures, and 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit is the same as 3 degrees Celsius. The international press captures the truly dire scientific warnings:

The Scotsman: Three billion lives hang on three degrees, warns scientist

GLOBAL temperatures are set to rise by more than 3C, sparking a massive drought that could put 400 million people at risk of hunger, the government's chief scientific adviser has warned.

Professor Sir David King called for the world to take immediate action to alleviate the looming crisis, which could also jeopardise water supplies for up to three billion people.

His warning, on the back of an official report by a leading UK climate change centre, highlights the huge gulf between government's goals on gas emissions and the level of cuts needed to curb global warming.

Even by the most optimistic assessments, carbon dioxide levels are set to rise to double what they were during the industrial revolution, Prof King said.

In Britain, the main threat would come from flooding and "coastal attack" as sea levels rose. He said it was essential that the world began to take action to cope with the changes over the next 100 years.

"We don't have to succumb to a state of despondency where we say, 'There is nothing we can do so let's just carry on living as per usual'. It is very important to understand that we can manage the risks to our population."

Global levels of carbon emissions need to be cut by 27 per cent more than the current goal of 550 parts per million in the atmosphere to achieve a 2C rise in temperatures - the level deemed acceptable by the EU and Tony Blair. Going beyond this level would force temperature and sea-level rises which would be "extremely difficult for populations to manage".

Prof King was also scathing about politicians who believed they could rely on new technologies to produce cleaner fuels. "There is a difference between optimism and head in the sand," he said. His criticism will be seen as a clear swipe at President George Bush, who has refused to sign up to international agreements to cut gas emission and has instead pledged to look to new technologies to combat climate change.

2 comments:

geoff seago said...

Bush is a nightmare

2 years to go before someone with a brain gets in the white house - on the upside the next guy couldnt possibly be any worse. Im quite young (36) and will certainly live to see some of the effects of this mental short termist idiotic approach.

If 95% of scientists said you had cancer you wouldnt doubt it so what is the problem with global warming . The 5% who dont agree are mostly funded by oil companies to sow doubt anyway

the chinese, worried about the ever encroaching Gobi desert are on one hand planting 5 bn trees then on the other digging up tonnes of naturally sequestered CO2 in the form of coal and burning it - mental

nice to find an American ( I'm British) who sees the reality of the situation.

truth said...

Thanks Geoff. I too worry about the future, and expect to live with the aftereffects of our main toxic pollutants: George W. Bush, the Republican Party and the warmonger neocons.