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.

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.

April 7, 2008

The New Age of Unreason

London, England

Ah the wisdom of the retired!
Lord Lawson, one of the UK’s ex chancellors is confident that climate change is all hype. Declaring this year’s cooling trend a nail in the coffin for climate change theory, he encourages us to step away from the cliff hanger of ‘unreason’.

Well I’m sorry Lord Lawson, but there are a large number of distinguished climate scientists out there who consider your sort of complacency equally ‘unreasonable’.

WMO secretary-general Michel Jarraud points this out succinctly: La Nina’s cooling effect this year is just that- a temporary cooling in an otherwise inexorable rise.

James Hanson is calling for drastic reevaluation of the EU’s 550ppm CO2 target. Downwards. Or face ‘guaranteed catastrophe’.

Sadly, if keyclimate decisions were left to the likes of Lord Lawson we may as well commit harikari. For his complacent generalisations are typical of the mental disease of climate change denial.

Meanwhile the man in the street cares little for all this, as the UK has had a swift snowfall that has surprised and delighted children from Sussex to Scotland.

But when these children are retired, the world will be changed and all that we take for granted will have ceased.
And Lord Lawson’s words will have sunk to their proper place in the gardens of oblivion.

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?

November 7, 2007

Arctic Futurology

London, England

Most neuropsychologists would agree that one of the distinguishing features of the human brain is its highly complex frontal cortex which enables high-level planning and thought patterns to take place in abstract time.
We’re talking about future here. Planning ahead; thinking of consequences; anticipating outcomes… in other words, intelligence.
With news this week that humpback and fin whales are swimming hundreds of kilometres further north than ever before, it is again, time to sit up and listen and think ahead.
To quote Deborah Williams a former Department of Interior special assistant for Alaska who is now an advocate for finding solutions to climate change:
“We now have even more compelling reasons to protect the Arctic Ocean and the species dramatically affected by climate change…
Now one of the things that has struck me in recent weeks is an astonishing level of complacency emerging amongst certain writers and commentators on the matter of climate change.
Books are being published that offer a stunning insight into the capacity of the human mind to delude itself in the face of the obvious.
They argue that climate change will be seen to be not so bad after all… that climate change is happening, but its out of our control… etc etc
Its almost as if the human race is poised at an impasse. Do we begin the process of relearning how to integrate and care for our biosphere or do we shrug our shoulders and give in?
Well, our ancestors evolved in harmony with the natural world for millenia and the earth did not suffer.
Unfortunately, the earth’s capacity to absorb human effluence is being tested in ways that are having irreversible consequences.
This is the big test now.
Can our intelligence prove its worth? Is the human race truly superior and worthy of surviving on the beautiful planet that spawned it?
Or will the biosphere degrade beyond all capacity for renewal?
We can not afford complacency in the slightest degree… and taking the best care of our atmosphere is just one part of this challenge.
Carbon dioxide emissions are just a fraction of the problem the planet faces.

It is now time for a better re-integration of the human race with its biosphere.
We must all care about the world we live in, for if we don’t give a damn, we are not worthy of existence.

October 26, 2007

Pandora’s Box Part 2

London, England

Hot on the heels of James Lovelock’s dire predictions for the next hundred years, comes this…To quote the Independent newspaper:

A landmark assessment by the UN of the state of the world’s environment paints the bleakest picture yet of our planet’s well-being. The warning is stark: humanity’s future is at risk unless urgent action is taken. Over the past 20 years, almost every index of the planet’s health has worsened. At the same time, personal wealth in the richest countries has grown by a third.
The report, by the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep), warns that the vital natural resources which support life on Earth have suffered significantly since the first such report, published in 1987. However, this gradual depletion of the world’s natural “capital” has coincided with unprecedented economic gains for developed nations, which, for many people, have masked the growing crisis.
Nearly 400 experts from around the world contributed to the report, which warns that humanity itself could be at risk if nothing is done to address the three major environmental problems of a growing human population, climate change and the mass extinction of animals and plants.

 

It is not difficult to doubt mankind’s capabilities of saving the Earth; after all the track record so far is appalling.
Nothing less than the most profound change in human consciousness will offer any hope of a reasonable future for this species.
Unfortunately the human species is fundamentally selfish…and largely incapable of the ecological stewardship that is now required as a matter of extreme urgency.
How many grand destructions will it take to wake us all up?

We are now entering a period of extreme unpredictability, and humanity’s true values will be increasingly tested to destruction.
And then some.

October 24, 2007

Year 2100: 6 Billion Dead?

London, England

James Lovelock, author of the Revenge of Gaia, has spoken his most chilling words yet.
By the end of this century, upwards of 6 Billion human beings will have probably perished.
Global Warming is now approaching runaway levels, and the indicators we are seeing now are just the beginning.
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/16956300/the_prophet_of_climate_change_james_lovelock

By the end of the century, according to Lovelock, global warming will cause temperate zones like North America and Europe to heat up by fourteen degrees Fahrenheit, nearly double the likeliest predictions of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations-sanctioned body that includes the world’s top scientists. “Our future,” Lovelock writes, “is like that of the passengers on a small pleasure boat sailing quietly above the Niagara Falls, not knowing that the engines are about to fail…

“Some people will sit in their seats and do nothing, frozen in panic. Others will move. They’ll see what’s about to happen, and they’ll take action, and they’ll survive. They’re the carriers of the civilization ahead.”

Let us pray that California’s malevolent winds cease soon, and the thousands whose livelihoods and homes have vanished can begin to reclaim their lives.
The Earth is sounding a clarion call. It is time for our ‘civilisation’ to wake up. Coherent action is needed if we are ever to be considered responsible enough to offer a future to our descendents.
It is time to stop puerile arguments about whether change is or is not happening.
It is time to stop rubbishing those who campaign for a greener future.
It is time to begin to change.
Consider a 22nd Century and a planet that is almost uninhabitable, save for the North.
Anyone who argues for ‘Laissez Faire’ stewardship needs to be considered insane.

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