Reflections on the Surface

June 7, 2011

Mercury rising

Lets face it, most of us don’t think ahead much beyond the next five years. Ten at most. But the gathering probabilities point towards permanently hotter summers in the Northern Hemispheres that will make a hot day in New Delhi seem cool by comparison. Add to that the inexorable demands on energy for cooling our buildings and we’re in for a permanent summer of discontent.

A new study finds that the tropics and much of the Northern Hemisphere
are likely to experience an irreversible rise in summer temperatures
within the next 20 to 60 years if atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations continue to increase.
(Credit: iStockphoto/Tilmann Von Au)

 

 

 

But climate scientists in Australia are threatened with violence for discussing the subject!

And as for Right wing America, you can forget it. Those insanely stupid politicians who are lining up to be 2o12 contenders simply don’t have a clue what damage they would do if they enacted policies that deny the problem exists.

Listen carefully to their words over the coming months and see if anybody dares to speak the truth, because we’ll all be blinded otherwise.

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April 21, 2011

The Mountain

This stunning timelapse film my Norwegian Photographer Terje Sorgjerd is not only a joy to watch, but also a reminder of the fragility of atmosphere and of our interconnected world. At a time when the GOP in America is revealing itself once more as a collection of idiots who are downgrading environmental protection in the name of corporate profits and individual gain, just pause with these images for a moment to reflect.

America really needs to ask itself some critical questions about its future, and if the GOP were to have its way, you can kiss goodbye to the environment.

The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

June 30, 2010

Dead Zones

New Orleans

Prof. John Kessler of Texas A&M University Oceanography department has just returned from a fact finding research visit to the Gulf of Mexico with alarming news. Methane concentrations near the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill are I Million times expected. Oxygen depletion in the waters of the Gulf  will grow the  dead zones and the seas in the vicinity will become rancid, adding to the utter mess that BP’s catastrophe has brought to the area.

Tony Hayward, BP’s hapless CEO, should do the honorable thing and resign. He has exhibited incompetent disaster management skills and has told lies at a time when transparency and truth-telling is vital for the global community.

Meanwhile, it is pretty pointless for the GOP and Tea Party zealots to blame Washington for the way this crisis is being ‘managed’. As long-time promoters of de-regulation and environmental disregard, they are hypocrites to blame the Federal Government for what’s going on right now in the Gulf. True understanding of blame will probably highlight a combination of causation which will include US companies such as Halliburton as well as lacklustre controls at the highest levels within BP.

Its a real wake-up time for the planet right now. The impacts of global climate change are creeping steadily upon the environment: soaring heat in the Middle East, in DC, in the South West, in Africa. Record LOW levels of snow cover in the US in 2010, despite what the idiots at Fox News will say. That outfit is stuffed with dumbed-down, stupid journalists whose concept of science can’t even struggle out of the bathtub, let alone grapple with evolution as a principle of probability.

But, let us not forget that we all share a culpability of sorts for the disasters in the Gulf. Each and every one of us in the oil-dependent West must share our own chip of responsibility for this mess, for there would be no need to take risks with the planet if we were all not so inherently greedy for comfort.

January 30, 2009

Ocean Acidification- are coral reefs doomed?

155 of the world’s leading scientists will today issue the Monaco declaration in which they draw attention to the plight of the oceans over the next fifty and more years. By 2050 it is likely that much of the world’s coral will be dead.

This ‘other’ CO2 problem is not going to go away that easily, as the oceans absorb about 25% of the world’s carbon dioxide.

It is all too easy to take the vastness of the seas for granted, but we need to be reminded that dead seas mean a dead planet. And with dead zones proliferating all over the planet -zones where precious little life can survive, it is time to be reminded of the likelihood of the future.

But, sadly, seeing that most of the press is focussed on the economic mess that we are in right now, its hardly surprising that most of the human race won’t listen when the scientists speak.

Long term planning requires patience and persistence and a broad vision for a very different future. Qualities exemplified by President Barack Obama who is fast coming up against the 19th century ideas of the GOP as they rail against his vision.

But now is not the time for obfuscation. It is time for clarity and time to wake up. Lets listen to the scientists and start a dialogue.

September 9, 2008

Rubbish Soup

The Pacific Ocean hosts the world’s largest rubbish dump: a continent-sized swirl of rotting plastic and rubbish which is growing in size as I write and which could double over the next ten years.

This ghastly spectacle stretches from Hawaii to Japan in two giant circulating dumps of rubbish.

Charles Moore, the oceanographer who discovered this mess estimates that there are about 100 million tons of detritus fouling the seas.

Meanwhile, its ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ and business as usual as the planet staggers on, bowed down by the enormity of biosphere degradation.
Its a tragedy that the US election is being reduced to sarcastic sound bites and negativity by the Republicans at a time when, more than any other, the entire human community needs positivity and a real sense of vision.
And so the rubbish will continue to expand when all the election is over and the earth will be poorer and humanity, increasingly, poised on a downward spiral towards environmental catastrophe.

August 20, 2008

Virtual Water

London, England

The average UK resident uses a staggering 4650 litres of water a day!
Now before you fall off your chair in disbelief, perhaps look at this fact for the truth of what it is.

Writing in the UK’s Guardian, (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/aug/20/water.food1) Felicity Lawrence cogently introduces us to the concept of ‘virtual water’ usage.
Accepting that immediate water usage is in the region of about 150 litres per day per person, the other 4100 litres is accounted for in the supply chain of all that we consume: the production of food, textiles, goods and everything else we take for granted.
You can imagine what the statistics for the USA might show.

If we are to even begin to entertain the concept of sustainability of water resources, each and every one of us will need to wake up to our precious dependence on water.

The warning signs are there for us to see and hear: shifting jetstream flows in the South West of America are irrevocably changing mountain snowpack in the Rockies and the Sierras; Spain risks becoming a partial desert and in India and China glaciers are disappearing fast so that water resources for billions are threatened; The Murray Darling river basin in Australia is headed for catastrophe…
This is climate change.

Its not just peak oil we need be concerned with, but peak water.
Unbridled thoughtless consumerism robs the future of hope.
We are all standing at the edge of the labryinth, a descent into a darkness that could destroy civilization and end the lives of billions.

Or, perhaps not. Perhaps we can change. Perhaps we can placate the monsters of consumerist demand before it is too late. Perhaps the very soul of our existence as a race might be challenged to change…
Or, perhaps not.

It will be a long way down.

July 29, 2008

Plumbing the Depths

Lake Baikal, Russia

Breaking News.

Russian divers have just broken the record for the deepest freshwater dive into the abyss of Lake Baikal.
Containing more water than all of North America’s lakes put together, Lake Baikal is home to a rich, bountiful ecology, teeming with biodiversity.
It is the same team who, earlier this year, succeeded in planting a Russian Flag on the Arctic sea bed, underneath the North Pole.

Russia assures us that the Lake Baikal dive is just for ‘Scientific’ purposes. You know, they just ‘checking up’ on the largest body of fresh water on Earth, that sort of thing.

Oh, and, by the way, there’s a suggestion of possible oil and gas reserves down there.
We are told that Lake Baikal is safe and its ecology will never be damaged by oil and gas exploration.

Now sit back and wait for the sound of hollow laughter when those Russian assurances echo back from the depths of the future: when Lake Baikal is damaged beyond repair by corporate greed, by climate change and by the ever further reaching grasp of mankind.
Or, perhaps not.

Perhaps this wonder of wonders will still be safe in fifty, one hundred, perhaps five hundred years time.

But you can be sure that whenever Peak Oil hits, those sound assurances will be swiftly forgotten and the divers’ monumental achievements will be cast in stone.

July 16, 2008

The Hubris of King Canute

London, England

The Wilkin’s ice shelf in Antarctica is hanging on by a thread. Alarmingly, scientists are seeing it crumble almost daily. And its not even Summer down there. The process seems inexorable.
At the other end of the globe, Arctic Foxes are next on the list of endangered Polar species as their habitat is degraded far sooner than earlier climate models had predicted.
And, only this week, climate scientists are predicting that snowmelt patterns in the Rockies are set to change dramatically in the coming decades with catastrophic implications for water resources in much of the Western USA.
And the beat goes on.
Now that the 2 Degree tipping point not far away for the planet, Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall centre argues that we “mitigate for 2°, but adapt for 4°”.
It will be ‘The beginning of the End’.
To quote Mark Lynas: ‘Adapting to 4°C of warming would be quite a challenge. With this level of temperature change, we can expect a huge increase in drought-prone zones, a mass extinction of half or more of the life on earth, hundreds of millions of refugees from areas deprived of fresh water or inundated by rising seas, and widespread starv ation due to food and water shortages.”

The complancy of the Bush Administration seems staggering, as news emerges that the USA’s  Clean Air Act legislation was bypassed in a gross cover up of the key projections of climate science.
You can picture GW sat there on his throne, down by the beach, determined to see off the tide.

But history will prove this unconscionable madness utterly wrong when the planet gasps into the last decades of the 21st century.
And all those ridiculous sceptics out there will only be remembered for the turpitude of their beliefs.

April 2, 2008

450ppm and Rising. What is a Wedge?

London, England

How many of us out there in cyberspace have heard of a carbon wedge?

Well, for those of us who are curious, here is a superb analysis of what the Planet needs, to prevent a truly catastrophic rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the forthcoming decades.
Joseph Romm, writing on Gristmill (http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/3/31/181924/330) makes his cogent arguments in a truly sobering read. To quote:

“A wedge is a mind-bogglingly large amount of “activity.”
For instance, a post last year on the Keystone report explained that one nuclear wedge would require adding globally:
An average of 14 plants each year for the next 50 years, while building an average of 7.4 plants a year to replace those that will be retired; plus
Ten Yucca Mountains to store the waste.” …
If we built two million large (one mW) wind turbines, or 2000 gW. “Last year’s global wind power installations reached a record 20,000 mW, equivalent to 20 large-size 1 gW conventional power plants.” So we’re at half the rate needed for 1 wedge of wind (or maybe a quarter).
If the fuel economy of the 2 billion or so cars in the world in 2050 got 60 mpg, that would be one wedge.
For the conservation/peak oil folks, if the 2 billion cars in 2050 travel 5,000 miles a year, rather than 10,000.
If we grew biofuels requiring 1/6 of the world’s cropland.
…In fact, if we don’t sharply reduce deforestation, we probably need to add another two wedges
We probably need more than 14 wedges starting in 2010 to stay below 450 ppm, and we currently don’t have the political will to do more than two or three”

Is there hope?
Imagine a seachange in attitudes (so to speak). Imagine a concerted effort by all of the globe’s industrial nations to bring about constructive change. Imagine a planet that is held back from the cliff-edge of catastrophe. Imagine a future.
And then remember that deforestation is killing the Amazon; that global industrial greed is almost unstoppable; that the Malthusian population crisis is unstoppable. And remember that the Conservative Right in America is blind to the science of climate change, just as it is blind to the facts of evolution.
Today’s problems with food price inflation are nothing compared with what is to come.

December 5, 2007

A cooler sun?

London, England

 Astronomers have detected that the solar sunspot cycle has ground to a halt. With an expected return of activity 12 months ago, the sun’s internal circulation is still quiescent. Now, it is believed, we may have to wait until 2009 for the sun to gear up its systems for a return to more or less normal. And, importantly, this may cool the Earth.
Meanwhile, George Monbiot writing in the UK’s Guardian argues that ifwe are to avoid runaway global warming we will require 100% cuts in emissions by 2050.
Humanity has to face up to this sort of unpredictability right now. On the one hand we face catastrophe through overheating; on the other, we may be spared global warming for a while.
Are we capable of responsible change? Do we care?
Or will the human race simply consume itself into oblivion?

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