Reflections on the Surface

April 21, 2011

Dead Zones, Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — asharpminor @ 7:15 am
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Courtesy of the New York Times:

Beyond the Oil Spill…
That tragedy is the ill and declining health of the Gulf of Mexico, including the enormous dead zone off the mouth of the Mississippi and the alarmingly rapid disappearance of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, roughly 2,000 square miles smaller than they were 80 years ago.

Lets not forget that for a while there was a sense of smug complacency our there that this spill was not really as bad as had been feared. Reminds me of climate change and the GOP who regard the issue as nothing to be worried about.

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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.

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.

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.

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

January 19, 2009

Plastiki

David de Rothschild, founder of Adventure Ecology, has created an innovated experiment: an intriguing raft crafted from disused water plastic water bottles which is to be released into the Pacific Ocean. His project is intended to raise our awareness about plastic waste and the enormity of the problem that faces the Oceans.
He writes…
“I think that the most important thing is not to make plastic the enemy, but to really reassess how we use, dispose, and reuse it. It comes down to the old cliché of stopping to think before you buy. Can you reuse the bottle that contained the water or soda you drank earlier? The small things can make a big difference. We can all minimize our impact if we fundamentally change the way in which we consume.”

Imagine this boat as it encounters the Great Pacific Gyre: an Oceanic rubbish patch three times the size of the UK that is hidden from our conscience. Plastiki will be dwarfed by the vast soup of rubbish and it plastiki-mapstands every chance of being strangled by debris.
But lets be optimistic for now and assume it makes it all the way South to the Antipodes.
It is time to listen to its message and hope that our attitudes change or face the grim reality of an ugly truth. That humanity is callous, careless and capricious and that using the Oceans as a bottomless dumping ground is a sign of our limitless capacity for self-destruction.

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.

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