Wednesday, December 26, 2007

China’s Glaciers (and People) are in Trouble

From Celsias Blog

Yes, more bad news about glaciers melting around the world, and this time it is from the “Third Pole” as the Tibet (or Himalayan) Plateau is known.

Western China is experiencing glacial melt in the 7 to 18 percent range in the last five years. The area is part of the so-called Third Pole as it is an area that reflects the sun’s heat, much like the North and South Polar regions. Of course, when the snow and ice melts, it exposes the darker Earth underneath, which then serves as a “heat sink”, which in turn exacerbates the melting and thus exposes more earth and rock, and well, you see where this is heading. A little something called the “Albedo Effect.”

The Third Pole may be even more crucial as it is on a part of the globe that receives much more sunlight than either the Arctic or Antarctic. We have been reading about the ever-quickening loss of ice at the Poles, but now a Chinese survey of the Western part of the country shows that things are much worse than previously thought.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Oceans’ Growing Acidity Alarms Scientists

by Les Blumenthal for McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - Seven hundred miles west of Seattle in the Pacific at Ocean Station Papa, a first-of-its-kind buoy is anchored to monitor a looming environmental catastrophe.

Forget about sea levels rising as glaciers and polar ice melt, and increasing water temperatures affecting global weather patterns. As the oceans absorb more and more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, they’re gradually becoming more acidic.

And some scientists fear that the change may be irreversible.

At risk are sea creatures up and down the food chain, from the tiniest phytoplankton and zooplankton to whales, from squid to salmon to crabs, coral, oysters and clams.

The oceans are already 30 percent more acidic than they were at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, as they absorb 22 tons of carbon dioxide a day. By the end of the century, they could be 150 percent more acidic.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ominous Arctic melt worries experts


WASHINGTON - An already relentless melting of the Arctic greatly accelerated this summer, a warning sign that some scientists worry could mean global warming has passed an ominous tipping point. One even speculated that summer sea ice would be gone in five years.

Greenland's ice sheet melted nearly 19 billion tons more than the previous high mark, and the volume of Arctic sea ice at summer's end was half what it was just four years earlier, according to new NASA satellite data obtained by The Associated Press.

"The Arctic is screaming," said Mark Serreze, senior scientist at the government's snow and ice data center in Boulder, Colo

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Electricity composition by Zip Code

Here's a web site that gives the source mix for local power companies searched by Zip Code, Fast and really informative.

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BP Set To Commit ‘The Biggest Environmental Crime in History’

By Cahal Milmo for the Independaent/UK

The multinational oil and gas producer, which last year made a profit of £11bn, is facing a head-on confrontation with the green lobby in the pristine forests of North America after Greenpeace pledged a direct action campaign against BP following its decision to reverse a long-standing policy and invest heavily in extracting so-called “oil sands” that lie beneath the Canadian province of Alberta and form the world’s second-largest proven oil reserves after Saudi Arabia.

Producing crude oil from the tar sands - a heavy mixture of bitumen, water, sand and clay - found beneath more than 54,000 square miles of prime forest in northern Alberta - an area the size of England and Wales combined - generates up to four times more carbon dioxide, the principal global warming gas, than conventional drilling. The booming oil sands industry will produce 100 million tonnes of CO2 (equivalent to a fifth of the UK’s entire annual emissions) a year by 2012, ensuring that Canada will miss its emission targets under the Kyoto treaty, according to environmentalist activists.

The oil rush is also scarring a wilderness landscape: millions of tonnes of plant life and top soil is scooped away in vast open-pit mines and millions of litres of water are diverted from rivers - up to five barrels of water are needed to produce a single barrel of crude and the process requires huge amounts of natural gas. The industry, which now includes all the major oil multinationals, including the Anglo-Dutch Shell and American combine Exxon-Mobil, boasts that it takes two tonnes of the raw sands to produce a single barrel of oil. BP insists it will use a less damaging extraction method, but it accepts that its investment will increase its carbon footprint.

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