Thursday, June 5, 2008

World Enviroment Day

MELTING ICE: A HOT TOPIC.


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The Earth has warmed by approximately 0.75 °C since pre-industrial times. Eleven of the warmest years in the past 125 years occurred since 1990, with 2005 the warmest on record. There is overwhelming consensus that this is due to emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), from burning fossil fuels.


Examination of ice cores shows that there is more CO2 in the atmosphere than at any time in the past 600,000 years Warming in this century is projected to be between 1.4 and 5.8 °C. The impacts of climate change are already visible. Examples include: the shrinking Arctic ice cap;
accelerating sea level rise;
receding glaciers worldwide;
thawing permafrost;
earlier break-up of river and lake ice;
increasing intensity and duration of tropical storms;
lengthening of mid- to high-latitude growing seasons;
shifts in plant and animal ranges and behaviour.


In the Arctic, as peat bogs thaw they are releasing methane, an even more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Scientists are increasingly concerned about the possibility of abrupt climate change, including reductions in ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream which warms Europe, and changed patterns of rainfall, such as the monsoon seasons, which would affect food security for billions of people.


Ask a polar bear…



The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average. Since 1980, between 20 and 30 per cent of sea ice in the European Arctic has been lost. Polar bears depend on sea ice, where they hunt seals and use ice corridors to move from one area to another. Pregnant females build winter dens in areas with thick snow cover. They have not eaten for five to seven months when they emerge with their cubs in the spring. They need good spring sea-ice conditions for their own and their cubs’
survival. During the past two decades, the condition of adult polar bears in the Hudson Bay area in Canada has declined, with a reduction of between 15 and 26 per cent in average adult body weight and the number of cubs born between 1981 and 1998.
Some climate models project that there may be an almost complete loss of summer sea-ice in the Arctic before the end of the century. If this happens, polar bears are unlikely to survive as a species.


Ask a farmer…


Although crop yields may increase in some areas due to climate change, the negative effects are likely to dominate as warming increases. Africa is especially vulnerable, and studies warn that there may be a significant increase in hunger. Poor communities are most directly dependent for their livelihoods on a stable and hospitable climate. They often rely on rain-fed subsistence agriculture, and are deeply dependent on climatic phenomena, such as the Asian monsoons. They are also most vulnerable to extreme weather events such as droughts and tropical storms.


As glaciers melt in the world’s great mountain ranges, water supplies to rivers will be affected. In Europe, eight out of nine glaciated regions show significant retreat. Between 1850 and 1980, glaciers in the European Alps lost approximately one-third of their area and one-half of their mass.
In China, highland glaciers are shrinking each year by an amount equivalent to all the water in the Yellow River. The Chinese Academy of Sciences says that 7 per cent of the country’s glaciers are vanishing annually. By 2050, as many as 64 per cent of China’s glaciers will have disappeared. An estimated 300 million people live in China’s arid west and depend on water from glaciers for their survival.


Ask an islander…


In the past 100 years, global sea level rose between 1 and 2 millimetres a year. Since 1992 the rate has increased to about 3 millimetres a year, primarily through thermal expansion of warming oceans and freshwater flowing into the oceans from melting ice.
Melting ice is responsible for a significant portion of the observed sea level rise, with the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets the largest contributors. The Greenland Ice Sheet is melting faster than new ice is being formed. In the Antarctic, three large
sections of ice shelves in the Antarctic Peninsula have collapsed over the past 11 years, followed by a marked acceleration and thinning of glaciers that were held back by the shelves.
As sea levels rise, inhabitants of low-lying islands and coastal cities face inundation. In December 2005, a small community living in the Pacific island chain of Vanuatu became perhaps the first to be formally moved as a result of climate change.


Ask an indigenous person…


Arctic communities, including indigenous people striving to maintain and adapt traditional lifestyles, are particularly vulnerable to environmental change. The Arctic is home to some 4 million people, of whom roughly 10 per cent (400,000) are indigenous..
Widespread melting of permafrost in Alaska and Siberia is causing serious damage to buildings, pipelines, roads and other infrastructure. Climate change means shorter ice seasons for traveling on winter roads, and warmer and less predictable weather, causing more forest fires in some regions.
Agriculture in the Arctic is severely limited. Subsistence economic activities are therefore mainly hunting and fishing, reindeer herding, trapping and gathering.
Sea-ice changes and related increased coastal erosion are also causing damage, necessitating the relocation of some coastal communities (such as in Shishmaref, Alaska), and affecting indigenous marine hunters and fishers.


Ask yourself…
There are many options available to avoid catastrophic climate change. These include worldwide improvements in energy efficiency and a shift to low-carbon and renewable resources such as solar and wind power, bio-energy and geothermal energy. ….

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As individuals we can also make consumer choices that help.

Don't purchase overpackaged goods.

Don't buy unnessesary goods, such as fashion fads.

Don't replace anything that isn't worn out or broken beyond repair

Recycle whatever you can...

What are YOU doing?


15 comments:

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Magnificent post, Cathy! Thank you! With my mind engrossed with yesterday’s Blog Blast for Peace post, I would have missed World Environment Day had it not been for you. So….. I shall quickly change gears (although going from world peace to world environment is that much of an adjustment) and prepare a World Environment Day post for today.

Bond said...

Exceptional...all these facts yet so many say it is fiction...I shake my head at their ignorance

Akelamalu said...

Excellent post Cathy!

val said...

My little thing is turning off the lights in the staff room at school when the sun is shining in so strongly you can't tell the difference between on and off. I get ridiculed for it.

morton said...

Me? Well, I'm driving around in my Hummer eating a Whopper while sparying my hair with some sweet aresol (sp?) suave hairspray.

Hi Cathy, it's Danny. I just thought I'd stop in and say 'hi' and that I'm back.

So...Hi. And, I'm back.

Later

Diesel said...

"all these facts yet so many say it is fiction"

Ok, but where are the facts that indicate that any of this will actually do any good?

It's a big leap from "Global warming is happening" to "Global warming is a huge problem that is happening because of human beings and if we all get together we can stop it (and not cause even more misery in the process)."

Sandy said...

Rapid deforestation, factories, arms and ammuniations are the main culprit and acting as catalyst for global warming

Travis said...

Thank you for the science.

I don't know that the process can be stopped or the effects reversed. Climate changes do occur naturally. The fact that so many things we do can accelerate the process is a problem.

It's time for people to change their habits, conserve as much as possible, and prepare to adapt.

puerileuwaite said...

I was under the impression that the Eskimos were trapped up there by the ice.

BBC said...

Not enough people care.

I'm back from camping and have started posting CAMPING PICTURES

MyUtopia said...

Our family is doing what it can to be as green as possible. Thank you for this sober post about the condition of our world.

Hammer said...

One small volcanic eruption releases 100 times the greenhouse gasses that have been released in the entirety of modern man.

The temperature figures have been disputed and now hundreds of scientists are now claiming that global warming is part of a natural cycle because it happened in the 800's 1500's as well.

I do think we should take care of the environment but the emotional fear tactics pushed on us by socialist politicians and the hijacking of good science really confuses and worries me.

cathy said...

Sorry guys. I've been too busy!

ssnick, I'll pop over shortly.

bond, sometimes you can't see the wood for trees.

akela, cheers m'dear.

val "It's hard to soar like an eagle when you work with turkeys!"

morton, I'm glad you're back you irreverent pup of dora fame!

diesel, Joseph lister was laughed at by people who thought it was stupid for doctors to wash their hands before examining patients.
But even if we're wrong this time a cleaner enviroment and reduction of wastefulness will not harm us any more than washing their hands hurt those doctors.

sandy, we definitely need more trees and less weapons.

travis, If we don't try we will never know.

pug, You'd think they'd have left when we invented aeroplanes, wouldn't you. LOL.

bbc, their kids will care when it's too late.

myutopia, thanks for trying. one by one we can make a difference.


hammer, Global warming is only one aspect the problem though. Rampant consumerism is a cancer.

Jocelyn said...

This touches on so much that's dear to my heart. Well done, friend. We recycle like mad, bike as we can, turn off every extra lamp, shower not every day (very unAmerican, that!), and a host of other small changes that I hope add up to something.

puerileuwaite said...

Wow! I KNOW it's a big world, but it's STILL "World Environment Day"? Somebody ... maybe even OUR President ... needs to do something to the environment to keep it in check.