Environment

Experts Fear Collapse of Global Civilisation

Experts on the health of our planet are terrified of the future. They can clearly see the coming collapse of global civilisation from an array of interconnected environmental problems.

Global collapse of human civilisation seems likely, writes Paul Ehrlich, president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University in the prestigious science journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society.

This collapse will take the form of a gradual breakdown because famines, epidemics and resource shortages cause a disintegration of central control within nations, in concert with disruptions of trade and conflicts over increasingly scarce necessities.

Already two billion people are hungry today. Food production is humanity’s biggest industry and is already being affected by climate and other environmental problems. No civilisation can avoid collapse if it fails to feed its population.

Escalating climate disruption, ocean acidification, oceanic dead zones, depletion of groundwater and extinctions of plants and animals are the main drivers of the anticipated collapse.

Our reality is that current overconsumption of natural resources and the resulting damage to life-sustaining services nature provides means we need another half of a planet to keeping going. And that’s if all seven billion remain at their current living standards.

If everyone lived like a U.S. citizen, another four or five planets would be needed.

Global population is projected to increase by 2.5 billion by 2050. It doesn’t take an expert to conclude that collapse of civilisation will be unavoidable without major changes.

We’re facing a future where billions will likely die, and yet little is being done to avoid certain disaster.

Environment

Tip of Greenland Drives Atlantic Ocean Circulation

The steep topography at the southern tip of Greenland has been found to create a profound effect on local wind currents and the ocean circulation of the entire North Atlantic. Researcher Kent Moore of the University of Toronto Mississauga documented that the sharp cliffs of Cape Farewell, at the very bottom of the massive island, make the site the windiest place in the world.

Winds forced around the cape instead of over it by topography become “tip jets” in wind acceleration similar to what allows an airplane wing to create lift.

The jets interact with the ocean below, chilling the warm Gulf Stream current and causing it to sink as it becomes colder and denser.

“The winds are what cause the return flow for the Gulf Stream, and are an example of how the atmosphere drives ocean circulations,” Moore says in his findings, published in the journal Geophysical Review Letters.

Similar tip jets affect the flow of sea ice in northern Greenland and create ocean storms over the Labrador Sea, Moore adds.

Cloud eddies form when winds bunch up against the rough terrain of southeastern Greenland:

Ew130104c

Environment

Deep Freeze in China

China is experiencing unusual cold this winter with the national average temperature hitting the lowest in 28 years. Snow and ice have closed highways, cancelled flights, stranded tourists and knocked out power in several provinces.

The China Meteorological Administration attributes plunging temperatures partly to southward-moving polar cold fronts, caused by melting polar ice from global warming. It said the air was moist and likely to dump heavy snow in China, Europe and North America.

The national average temperature was -3.8° C since late November 2012, the coldest in nearly three decades. The average in northeastern China dipped to -15.3°C, the coldest in 43 years, and dropped to a 42-year low of -7.4°C in northern China.

In some areas — northeastern China, eastern Inner Mongolia, and the northern part of far-western Xinjiang province — the low has hit -40° C.

The state-run, English-language China Daily reported on Friday that about 1,000 ships were stuck in ice in Laizhou Bay in eastern China’s Bohai Sea.

The cold spell has killed about 180,000 head of livestock, affecting some 770,000 people across Inner Mongolia since late December.

Environment

Heatwave Conditions in Australia

More than 70 per cent of the continent is currently experiencing heatwave conditions. Among the hottest parts of the country on Friday were Wudinna, on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, which hit 48.2C. Adelaide reached 45C and Hobart reached a record 41.8C – one degree hotter than the record set in 1976. Authorities are urging people to prepare themselves and their properties in case of bushfires.

Environment

Jakarta sinking as water supplies dry up

Experts in Indonesia are preparing to build a huge wall to stop the ocean from swamping parts of Jakarta. Some suburbs in the capital already go underwater when there is a big tide but the problem is expected to get even worse.

Jakarta is sinking by up to 10 centimetres a year and Indonesia’s national disaster centre says with oceans rising, large parts of the city, including the airport, will be inundated by 2030. Flooding and high tides are already causing problems for some residents in the city of 10 million people.

Environment

The River Nile at Night

This satellite image of the River Nile in Egypt taken at night shows the extent of human settlement along the life-giving river, with very little settlement away from the water, with further strong areas of brightness around Cairo, along the Suez Canal and Tel Aviv.

Nile Lights

Environment

USA at Night

This image of the United States of America at night is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite.

 

Dnb united states

Environment

Antarctic Ice Melt

West Antarctica is warming almost twice as fast as previously believed, adding to concerns that this warming can lead to more melting and have direct and indirect effects on global sea levels. The direct impacts are the run-off of melting waters into the sea. But the scientists say this is unlikely to happen for several decades because much of the water is likely to percolate down the ice sheet and refreeze.

Annual average temperatures at the Byrd research station in West Antarctica has risen 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3F) since the 1958, one of the fastest gains on the planet and three times the global average in a changing climate. The western part of the Antarctic ice sheet is experiencing nearly twice as much warming as previously thought.

The unexpectedly big increase adds to fears the ice sheet is vulnerable to thawing. West Antarctica holds enough ice to raise world sea levels by at least 3.3 metres (11 feet) if it ever all melted, a process that would take centuries.

 

Byrd Station

Environment – Wildlife

Finland study tracks global warming impacts on bird populations.

Researchers in Finland say they’ve documented bird populations trends that are at least partly linked with global warming. Comparing data from extensive bird counts conducted between 1981 to 1999, and 2000 to 2009, the biologists said that, in general, northern species have decreased and southern species increased.

Mean temperatures in Finland rose between the two periods, with April to June mean temperatures climbing by 0.7 degrees Celsius. According to the study, population densities of common forest habitat generalists remained the same between the two periods, while species preferring old-growth or mature forests increased, but those living on mires and wetlands, and species of Arctic mountains decreased.

The trends suggest that climate change impacts on species in natural boreal and Arctic habitats most probably are habitat-specific with large differences in response times and susceptibility. Open mires and mountain heaths change more rapidly in consequence of climate warming than old-growth forests, for which reason populations on mires and mountain heaths may also be more affected by climate change.

Environment

Human link to climate change stronger than ever

International climate scientists are more certain than ever that humans are responsible for global warming, rising sea levels and extreme weather events, according to a leaked draft report by an influential panel of experts.

The early draft, which is still subject to change before a final version is released in late 2013, showed that a rise in global average temperatures since pre-industrial times was set to exceed 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, and may reach 4.8 Celsius.

“It is extremely likely that human activities have caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperatures since the 1950s,” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) draft report said.

“Extremely likely” in the IPCC’s language means a level of certainty of at least 95 percent. The next level is “virtually certain”, or 99 percent, the greatest possible certainty for the scientists.

The IPCC’s previous report, in 2007, said it was at least 90 percent certain that human activities, led by burning fossil fuels, were the cause of rising temperatures.

Environment

The United Nations climate talks in Doha, Qatar, went a full extra 24 hours and ended without increased cuts in fossil fuel emissions and without financial commitments between 2013 and 2015.

The Doha Gateway creates a second phase of the Kyoto Protocol to cut fossil fuel emissions by industrialised nations from 2013 to 2020 but does not set new targets. There is also no financial support to help poor countries adapt to impacts of climate change – only agreement for more meetings in 2013. Talks will also begin next year to create a “mechanism” to assess damages and costs for countries suffering losses from climate change.

Finally, the Doha Climate Gateway has an agreed outline for two years of negotiations on a new global climate treaty that would go into legal force in 2020.

The general impression gained from environmental groups seems to be one of disappointment that another opportunity to take substantive steps to address and combat the impact of climate change has been squandered.

Environment

Wildfires Darken Greenland Snowpack, Increase Ice Melt

Satellite observations have revealed the first direct evidence of smoke from Arctic wildfires drifting over the Greenland ice sheet, tarnishing the ice with soot and making it more likely to melt under the sun. Researchers previously recorded a 6 percent drop in reflectivity in Greenland over the last decade, which will cause enough warming to bring the entire surface of the ice sheet to melting each summer, as it did in 2012. Soot is an extremely powerful light absorber. It settles over the ice and captures the sun’s heat, which leads to stronger and more prolonged melting. That’s why increasing tundra wildfires have the potential to accelerate the melting in Greenland.

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The week’s hottest temperature was 110.5 degrees Fahrenheit (43.6 degrees Celsius) at Nyang, Western Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 58.4 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 50.2 degrees Celsius) at Russia’s Siberian community of Dzhalinda, which borders China.

Environment

Global warming opens new shipping lane through Arctic.

A tanker carrying Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) has crossed the Arctic Ocean route for the first time. It shows how global warming has opened up new routes for commercial shipping. It represents a new lane between Europe and Asia a third shorter than through the Suez Canal. The tanker left Norway in November, sailed over the Arctic Ocean and the Bering straight and arrived in Southwestern Japan.

Tanker

 

Environment

International interest seems to be rapidly cooling on global warming. Past meetings in places such as Copenhagen and Cancun have received worldwide attention as participants have gathered to hammer out new emissions restrictions in hopes of limiting global warming. But the Doha gathering has garnered much less notice.

Environment

Greenland and Antarctica have lost four trillion tonnes of ice in 20 years.

A new, definitive study of satellite data has found that polar ice sheets are now melting three times faster than they did in the 1990s.

The amount of ice lost from Greenland and Antarctica is enough to raise world sea levels by almost one millimetre a year. Since 1992, it has added more than 1cm to global sea levels – contributing around a fifth of the total rise. About two thirds of the ice loss was from Greenland and the remainder from Antarctica, said scientists.

 

melting ice

 

The new survey is said to be the most accurate assessment to date, ending 20 years of uncertainty. It confirms that, with the exception of East Antarctica, both land masses are losing ice. But big differences in the pace of change were seen at each pole.

The new research concludes that Antarctica is melting, but points to the smaller ice sheet in Greenland, which covers most of the island, as the bigger and more pressing issue. Its melt rate has grown from about 55 billion tons a year in the 1990s to almost 290 billion tons a year recently, according to the study.

The vast polar ice sheets lock up unimaginable amounts of water. The Antarctic ice sheet contains 30 million cubic kilometres of ice and holds around 90% of all the fresh water on the surface of the Earth.

If the whole Antarctic ice sheet melted, sea levels would rise by more than 60 metres. The Greenland ice sheet is much smaller, but would add seven metres to sea levels if it all melted away.