Sunday, October 04, 2009

Arctic Seas Turn to Acid, Putting Vital Food Chain at Risk

With the world's oceans absorbing six million tonnes of carbon a day, a leading oceanographer warns of eco disaster

by Robin McKie For the Guardian/UK

Carbon-dioxide emissions are turning the waters of the Arctic Ocean into acid at an unprecedented rate, scientists have discovered. Research carried out in the archipelago of Svalbard has shown in many regions around the north pole seawater is likely to reach corrosive levels within 10 years. The water will then start to dissolve the shells of mussels and other shellfish and cause major disruption to the food chain. By the end of the century, the entire Arctic Ocean will be corrosively acidic.

"This is extremely worrying," Professor Jean-Pierre Gattuso, of France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, told an international oceanography conference last week. "We knew that the seas were getting more acidic and this would disrupt the ability of shellfish – like mussels – to grow their shells. But now we realise the situation is much worse. The water will become so acidic it will actually dissolve the shells of living shellfish."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Methane Seeps from Arctic Sea-Bed

By Judith Burns for BBC News

Scientists say they have evidence that the powerful greenhouse gas methane is escaping from the Arctic sea-bed.

Researchers say this could be evidence of a predicted positive feedback effect of climate change.

As temperatures rise, the sea-bed grows warmer and frozen water crystals in the sediment break down, allowing methane trapped inside them to escape.

The research team found that more than 250 plumes of methane bubbles are rising from the sea-bed off Norway.

The joint British and German research team detected the bubbles using a type of sonar normally used to search for shoals of fish. Once detected, the bubbles were sampled and tested for methane at a range of depths.

Writing in Geophysical Research Letters, the team says the methane was rising from an area of sea-bed off West Spitsbergen, from depths between 150m and 400m.

The gas is normally trapped as "methane hydrate" in sediment under the ocean floor

Monday, July 13, 2009

Climate Change 'Will Cause Civilisation to Collapse

By Jonathan Owen for The Independent/UK

Authoritative new study sets out a grim vision of shortages and violence – but amid all the gloom, there is some hope too

An effort on the scale of the Apollo mission that sent men to the Moon is needed if humanity is to have a fighting chance of surviving the ravages of climate change. The stakes are high, as, without sustainable growth, "billions of people will be condemned to poverty and much of civilisation will collapse".

This is the stark warning from the biggest single report to look at the future of the planet - obtained by The Independent on Sunday ahead of its official publication next month. Backed by a diverse range of leading organisations such as Unesco, the World Bank, the US army and the Rockefeller Foundation, the 2009 State of the Future report runs to 6,700 pages and draws on contributions from 2,700 experts around the globe. Its findings are described by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the UN, as providing "invaluable insights into the future for the United Nations, its member states, and civil society"

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Permafrost Melting a Growing Climate Threat

From Reuters

SINGAPORE - The amount of carbon locked away in frozen soils in the far Northern Hemisphere is double previous estimates and rapid melting could accelerate global warming, a study released on Wednesday says.

Large areas of northern Russia, Canada, Nordic countries and the U.S. state of Alaska have deep layers of frozen soil near the surface called permafrost.

Global warming has already triggered rapid melting of the permafrost in some areas, releasing powerful greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane.

As the world gets warmer, more of these gases are predicted to be released and could trigger a tipping point in which huge amounts of the gases flood the atmosphere, rapidly driving up temperatures, scientists say.

"Massive amounts of carbon stored in frozen soils at high latitudes are increasingly vulnerable to exposure to the atmosphere," said Pep Canadell, executive director of the Global Carbon Project at Australia's state-funded Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

"The research shows that the amount of carbon stored in soils surrounding the North Pole has been hugely underestimated."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Friends of the Earth Urges NO on Climate Bill

by Stacy Morford for Solve

The House climate bill took another hit this week as Rep. Henry Waxman made further concessions, this time to farm-state Democrats, to ensure the bill's safe passage on Friday. Even weakened, though, the bill continued to draw support from most of the big environmental organizations.

Except for Friends of the Earth. The organization is going it alone with an ad campaign and request to its members to demand better legislation from Congress. FOE President Brent Blackwelder is publicly urging Congress to either substantially strengthen the bill or vote no.

"This exercise in politics as usual is a wholly unacceptable response to one of the greatest challenges of our time, and it endangers the welfare of current and future generations. ... If the ‘political reality' at present cannot accommodate stronger legislation, their first task must be to expand what is politically possible-not to pass a counterproductive bill."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Water Stress, Ocean Levels to Unleash 'Climate Exodus'

From Agence France Presse

BONN, Germany - Tens of millions of people will be displaced by
climate change in coming years, posing social, political and security
problems of an unprecedented dimension, a new study said on Wednesday.

aggressive measures are taken to halt global warming, the consequences
for human migration and displacement could reach a scope and scale that
vastly exceed anything that has occurred before," its authors warned.

"Climate change is already contributing to migration and displacement.

major estimates project that the trend will rise to tens of millions of
migrants in coming years. Within the next few decades, the consequences
of climate change for human security efforts could be devastating."

Friday, May 29, 2009

Global Warming Causes 300,000 Deaths a Year, Says Kofi Annan thinktank

By John Vidal for the Guardian/UK

Climate change is greatest humanitarian challenge facing the world as heatwaves, floods and forest fires become more severe.
Global Warming is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and
is affecting 300m people, according to the first comprehensive study of
the human impact of global warming.
[A family wades through flood waters to catch a relief boat, north-east of Patna, India. Photograph: Manish Swarup/AP]A family wades through flood waters to catch a relief boat, north-east of Patna, India. Photograph: Manish Swarup/AP
projects that increasingly severe heatwaves, floods, storms and forest
fires will be responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths a year by 2030,
making it the greatest humanitarian challenge the world faces.

Economic losses due to climate change today amount to more than $125bn
a year - more than the all present world aid. The report comes from
former UN secretary general Kofi Annan's thinktank, the Global
Humanitarian Forum. By 2030, the report says, climate change could cost
$600bn a year.