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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December 21, 2009

The End of Days

Now that the window of opportunity at Copenhagen has been firmly slammed shut, today, on this darkest of days, it is time to reflect on the fact that the human race is probably the worst kind of self-centred DNA gone wrong. The political mess at Copenhagen will have repercussions far into the future that will likely outstrip the planet’s capacities for renewal and leave millions at risk from famine and thirst or at best be left with a very miserable existence indeed.

The naive assumption that global temperature rises can be capped at 2.5 degrees is yet another example of short term non-holistic thinking by politicians who exhibit only limited understanding of the scientific facts. It remains to be seen if some sort of positive decisions could be made in the next twelve months or so, but for now, we are left with the ugly fact that the planet’s atmosphere has been bargained over as if it were  loot to be exploited.

Not only must reckless pollution be curtailed but human population growth must be slowed. And it is a tragedy that the Papal and Catholic stupidity about contraception will perpetuate the inexorable rise in human numbers towards the nine billion or so that is probable within a few decades. That is, until the ravages of climate change wreak havoc upon the hapless and helpless of Africa and South East Asia.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are closing in fast on the human race in a synchronized gallop towards disaster.

And the blame game has only just begun.

December 4, 2009

Copenhagen and the audacity of truth.

Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory

Copenhagen, Denmark

It is no coincidence that the so called climategate shit has hit the fan at exactly the right time. Our 24/7 news cycle can’t get enough of conspiracy theories, and now, if you believe Christopher Booker  of the Daily Telegraph, we might as well pack it all in and sleep soundly in our beds for all time. It is quite frankly, ridiculous, how such a smugly self satisfied individual can string his thoughts together, let alone sing out as a champion of what seems to be the new chorus of scientific climate-issue scepticism that has rippled about the planet.

Copenhagen may well be a misguided squib of a conference, with politics and science clashing together like bulls in a china shop. And for all the hot air that will come of it, we can only hope that some semblance of truth will emerge. Of course, no amount of science facts will upset Booker’s army who, to paraphrase George Monbiot of the Guardian, are facing more nuanced psychological issues, such as developing immortality projects in order to boost self-esteem and find meaning that might extend beyond their own deaths.

Such subtleties are lost on closed minds.

Meanwhile, this NASA picture of the current Australian heatwave  might be a useful reminder of the intensity of climate change.

And, recently published GRACE data, from the University of Austin, Texas (nothing to do with East Anglia), has established that the previously considered safe haven of East Antarctica has been losing ice at about 57 gigatonnes per year.

“While we are seeing a trend of accelerating ice loss in Antarctica,
we had considered East Antarctica to be inviolate,” said lead author and
Senior Research Scientist Jianli Chen of the university’s Center for Space Research.
“But if it is losing mass, as our data indicate, it may be an indication the
state of East Antarctica has changed.
Since it’s the biggest ice sheet on Earth, ice loss there can have a large impact
on global sea level rise in the future.”

Much of central Africa is facing unprecedented drought that will kill millions. China is having to face up to the implications of Tibetan glacial melt that will impact millions.
And Christopher Booker is sleeping soundly in his bed.

Of course Phil Jones was right to resign and lets hope there is some serious soul searching going on in East Anglia right now, but lets not miss seeing the wood for the trees.
Otherwise we’re all just fiddling while the forest burns down.

September 1, 2009

Blue Diamonds

Photo courtesy of Phillipe Roy/Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Phillipe Roy/Getty Images

Sermilik Fjord, Greenland

Scientists studying the meltwaters in Greenland this August have been stunned by the unexpected acceleration in the rate of loss of Greenland’s ice. Existing climate change models will need to be rewritten to accommodate these surprising findings and, it is, once again, time to take note and listen to the canary in the coal mine, for these glaciers are a stark warning that all is not well in the North.

Local Inuits will tell you of permanent changes; of an ecology that is now altering in ways that could not have been predicted even ten years ago.
Ice that had been trapped for millennia is calving blue diamond icebergs at a rate that has taken the scientists’ breath away. Rapidly warming seas are just the beginning of a much larger than predicted sea level rise to come.

Meanwhile, the Station Fire in California is expanding like a nuclear disaster. Giant pyrocumulus clouds hover above the Santa Clarita canyons, sending plumes that can be smelt as far away as Colorado.

Fire and Ice, two great metaphors for disasters of historic proportions.

How long will we have to put up with the sheer bumbling ineptitude of writers like Christopher Booker, of idiots like Viscount Monckton, of GOP politicians like James Inhofe, with their infantile  ‘lets do nothing’ charts and diagrams?

Together they represent a ghastly alliance of the stupid, the patronizing and the daft, whilst the rest of us can only take photographs and wait.

July 7, 2009

The Age of Stupid

Lets imagine it is the year 2055. An old man looks back at old footage of Planet Earth from 2008 and wonders why we did so little  at the time. Here is a video clip preview of the film, which is to be released in September on DVD.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/mpd/permalink/m3OC3LGHQO3840

But what about the deniers out there in la-la land? Christopher Booker is one of them. Writing in the Daily Telegraph he rubbishes the whole concept of the link between man made C02 emissions and the probability of environmental catastrophe. Both he and Viscount Monckton inhabit a parallel world of the grossly disturbed, an ostrich-like stupidity that beggars belief. And as for the conservative nut-jobs out there in the GOP, the less said the better.

But one thing is sure. Humanity is set for  major upset, and by 2055 some of us will be alive to know.

June 29, 2009

Republican Treason

The Waxman-Markey climate bill is just the beginning of a change in attitudes in America that could hold not just hope for the planet but the prospect of a real shift in the zeitgeist of contemporary attitudes towards climate change. Whether  it passes through the Senate remains to be seen, but, for now at least we might be encouraged that at last, the USA has woken up to the dangers the planet is facing. Save for 212 Republicans who, with few exceptions, believe that the issue doesn’t exist. Quite what education system would produce such intellectually moribund minds is a question that only educationalists can answer, but the sad fact is this: these are people with remarkably ignorant minds who on the whole, possess religious views that are stuck in the Dark Ages.

Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times today is right to accuse such individuals of treason. For not only are they are an insult to biosphere and an insult to intelligent life, but their thimble-minded belief system is not worthy of existence on a planet that is set for catastrophe.

And what is it going to take to shift such stupidity? Soaring temperatures in the American Mid West? Collapse of the Arctic ice fields? Billions thirsting for water in the Far East? The Indian sub continent like a molten death trap?

It is not only high time for America to become a 21st century pioneer in new technologies, it is well past the hour.

Photo courtesy of (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

US Climate Bill

May 26, 2009

The Gathering Storm-Pink Snow in the Rockies

An unusual series of dust storms has blanketed parts of the Colorado Rockies.  Pristine snow capped peaks are now dirtied and pinked by the dust, which accelerates snowmelt. Water supplies are becoming unpredictable and much is set to change in landscapes which we have all taken so long for granted. Imagine the Rockies in 30 years time, bereft of Summer snows…

Dust in the Rocky Mountains

Photo courtesy of  the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies

There is news that the odds of severe climate change are to be much worse than had been predicted- perhaps twice as much. According to the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change there is a 90% probability that Global Surface Temperatures will be 3.5 to 7.4 degrees higher by 2100. Unless drastic action is taken at an International Level, before a series of climate change tipping points begin the process of inevitable catastrophe.

By 2100 Much of South West America will become a dust bowl.

But with 30% of Americans either doubtful, dismissive or disengaged about climate change what will it take for them to accept such facts?

Future generations will look back on these current decades as a lost opportunity, but with the planet wrecked by 2100 who will care ?

Of one thing we can be certain- all those stupid idiots who casually deny  these global realities will be commemorated on a vast roll-call of shame:

Christopher Monckton, Sarah Palin, James Inhofe, Christopher Booker, David Bellamy, Melanie Phillips, Vaclav Klaus, Michele Backman, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Fox News, the vast majority of the Republican Mediocrity Party (aka the GOP) and, for that matter, the legions of fundamentalist American evangelicals who have buried their heads in the sand.

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.

January 23, 2009

Warming Antarctica

At a time when the Northern Hemisphere has experienced a cooler winter it is prudent to be reminded that Western Antarctica, so long thought to be immune from global warming, is heating up. By 0.25 Degrees per decade in the last fifty years or so. So what! cry the sceptics.
But this vivid image, courtesy of NASA is not only beautiful, it is a stark warning to all those complacent observers who are satisfied that the Earth is safe in human hands.

antarcticatemps_1957-2006

Meanwhile, the economic and financial downturn has fixated the minds of millions on the short term just as the sweeping change in the White House has warmed our hearts with hope. But Barack Obama and the new Executive would do well to embed their environmental plans with a real concern for the long term.

There will be a rising tide of global warming denialism in the next few years and, then when it is perhaps too late, we will look back on this picture and be warned.

antarctica_temp_trend

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.

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