Archive for the 'global climate change' Category

Published by Rosalind on 17 Apr 2009

EPA says greenhouse gases are a threat to public health

In an historic move, the Environmental Protection Agency today issued an “endangerment finding” for greenhouse gases. Stating that greenhouse gases such as CO2 are a danger to us all and a “serious problem for future generations,” the report indicates that the EPA will start regulating greenhouse gas emissions. You can read about the announcement here: Greenhouse Gases.

Published by Rosalind on 27 Mar 2009

Earth Hour to be observed March 28th

VOTE EARTH — YOUR LIGHT SWITCH IS YOUR VOTE

This year, Earth Hour has been transformed into the world’s first global election, between Earth and global warming.

For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote – Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming. WWF are urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.

This meeting will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. It is the chance for the people of the world to make their voice heard.

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness.

In 2009, Earth Hour is being taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote. Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you’re from, but instead, what planet you’re from. VOTE EARTH is a global call to action for every individual, every business, and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday.

We all have a vote, and every single vote counts. Together we can take control of the future of our planet, for future generations.

VOTE EARTH by simply switching off your lights for one hour, and join the world for Earth Hour.

Saturday, March 28, 8:30-9:30pm.

For more information, go to Earth Hour.

Published by Rosalind on 28 Jan 2009

Changes

A sobering new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concludes that global climate change is happening and is already irreversible. Researchers found that the excess Carbon Dioxide already in the environment will persist for many years, and CO2 held in the oceans and soils will move into the atmosphere. This means that we have to think carefully about how to minimize the effects, and see if it is possible to stop the trends — so that at least if we are living in a changed world, it will be as little changed as possible. You can listen to a report on the study here: Global Warming Is Irreversible, Study Says.

Published by Rosalind on 21 Jan 2009

Predictions

This little article is from this week’s issue of E/The Environmental Magazine.

Dear EarthTalk: Which parts of the United States are or will be hardest hit by global warming?

— Aliza Perry, Burlington, VT

 

Washington, DC‚s famous cherry trees are now blossoming earlier due to global warming-related temperature increases. But this pales in comparison to the much more serious impacts of more and fiercer hurricanes in the Southeast, major Midwest floods, shrinking glaciers in the West and rising sea levels around the nation’s coastlines.
© celestria, courtesy Flickr

It’s difficult to predict which areas of the U.S. will suffer the most from global warming, but it’s safe to say that no regions will be unaffected. Scientists already point to increased severity of hurricanes on the East Coast, major Midwest floods, and shrinking glaciers in the West as proof of global warming’s onset.

Of course, America couldn’t have asked for a better poster child in the fight to stave off global warming than Alaska, which is undergoing dramatic landscape changes as a result of warming-induced temperature increases, glacial melting and sea level rise. Even Alaska’s conservative elected officials can no longer deny that human-induced warming is affecting their state. The picture isn’t looking too rosy in the western continental U.S. either, which is already facing some of the country’ largest temperature increases. The signature glaciers in Montana’s Glacier National Park may be all gone within just two decades.

A recent report by two leading nonprofits, the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and the Natural Resources Defense Council, details how the 11 U.S. western states together have experienced an increase in average temperature during the last five years some 70 percent greater than the global average rise. The hottest part of the region has been drought-stricken Arizona, where average temperatures have risen some 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit—120 percent greater than the global rise—between 2003 and 2007. Researchers also found that the West has experienced more frequent and severe heat waves, with the number of extremely hot days increasing by up to four days per decade since 1950.

In the Midwest, seemingly minor increases in temperature have already wrought major effects. In 2006 Lake Erie didn’t freeze for the first time in history, which led to “lake effect” snowfalls as more evaporating water was available for precipitation. Likewise, changes in the lake’s water temperature have begun to alter fish populations, which in turn affect birds and their migratory patterns. Despite localized heavier snowfalls, though, the region is generally suffering from a drying trend. Farmers worry that the result will be lower crop yields and thus more expensive food for American consumers.

On the east coast, coral reef bleaching, heat waves and increased hurricane intensity are just some of the warming-related hazards Floridians have had to deal with in recent years. Washington, DC’s famous cherry trees are now blossoming earlier due to temperature increases. Further north, milder-than-typical winter temperatures have been linked to subtle changes in ocean currents. In New York City, the average temperature has increased about four degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, and could get 10 degrees hotter by 2100, according to a study commissioned by the federally funded U.S. Global Change Research Program.

But the bigger problem for New York City, as well as other low-lying areas around the nation’s coasts, will be sea level rise: Climate models predict that sea level around the Northeast is expected to rise between ¾ inch and 3 ½ feet over the course of this century.

CONTACTS: Rocky Mountain Climate OrganizationNatural Resources Defense CouncilU.S. Global Change Research Program

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EARTHTALK, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit your question at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalk.html; or e-mail us at: earthtalk@emagazine.com.

 

Published by Diana on 02 Jan 2009

A New Year’s Resolution

I would like to reduce my carbon footprint, just a bit, this year.

I will try to: eat less meat, drive less, create less garbage, use less water… take up just a bit less space on the planet.

Published by Rosalind on 18 Dec 2008

Global Temperatures, 2008

Want to find out the latest research on our warming planet? Several recent reports concur that 2008 was cooler than 2007, but still ranks among the warmest years recorded. Right now we in the Northeast have had an ice storm, leaving many without power for up to a week in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and a snow storm. More snow is forecast tomorrow. All this wintry weather is a good reminder that global climate change doesn’t necessarily mean that every part of the globe will be warmer every day! Read Andrew Revkin’s Dot Earth blog post for a good discussion of the four recently released reports: Dot Earth Summarizes 2008 Climate Reports.

Published by Rosalind on 25 Nov 2008

Ocean Acidity Increasing Rapidly

Many organisms inhabit the rocky and sandy intertidal areas of the Pacific Ocean

Many organisms - including barnacles and mussels - inhabit the rocky and sandy intertidal areas of the Pacific Ocean in the Northwest.

A study of the Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of Tatoosh Island (Washington State) measured water pH, salinity and temperature every half-hour for eight years. Results were dramatic and showed that the acidity was rising sharply, shown by a fast decline in ocean pH. The study also showed that the local organisms, particularly the Californian mussel, were quite sensitive to CO2 changes. You can read about it here: Marine Life faces ‘Acid Threat’.

Related Question: What is pH?

One pH definition is: “a logarithmic scale, from 1 to 14, used to describe the acidity or alkalinity of a solution.” Acid things taste tart or sour, like lemons. Alkaline (or basic) things are slippery, like soap. Blood in the human body should be close to 7.4 on the pH scale and is slightly basic. Dissolving carbon dioxide in water makes it more acidic. A pH level of less than 7 indicates an acidic solution while a pH greater than 7 indicates an alkaline solution. 7–which is neutral (neither acidic or basic) is the pH level of distilled water. pH stands for “potential Hydrogen.”

On a logarithmic scale, each increase of one unit–from five to six, for example–represents ten times greater or less. So something that has a pH of 1 is ten times more acidic that something with a pH of 2 (or ten times less basic).

Another logarithmic scale that is used in science is the Richter scale, used to measure the strength of earthquakes. On the Richter scale, an earthquake measuring 5 releases ten times the energy of an earthquakes measuring 4; an earthquake measuring 6 releases 100 (ten times ten) times the energy of an earthquake measuring 4.

The short version is: remember that the difference between a pH of 4 and a pH of 3 is much more than just one unit. So pH 3 is very much more acidic than pH 4, because it is on a logarithmic scale!

Dictionary Definition:

pH is the degree of acidity or alkalinity of a solution; it is the logarithm of the reciprocal of the hydrogen-ion concentration in gram equivalents per liter of solution (Ex: .0000001 gram atom of hydrogen ion per liter yields a numeric reciprocal of ten million, the log of ten million equals 7, therefore 7 is the pH): a pH of 7, the value for pure distilled water, is regarded as neutral; pH values from 7 to 0 indicate increasing acidity and from 7 to 14 indicate increasing alkalinity (from YourDictionary.com)

Published by Rosalind on 25 Nov 2008

It’s Always Good to have a Sense of Humor

 

These great outfits, made entirely of recycled materials, prepare the wearer to meet various challenges: extreme storms, flooding, insects, germs and a smaller carbon footprint.torms,

These great outfits, made entirely of recycled materials, prepare the wearer to meet various challenges: extreme storms, flooding, insects, epidemics and a smaller carbon footprint.

At “Meeting the Climate Challenge: Taking Action in the Hudson Valley” — a recent conference sponsored by the Hudson River Watershed Alliance and Mohonk Consultations — these useful outfits were presented in a short (and hilarious) fashion show.

In the photo you can see (starting from the left) 1. the Un-Brella Rain Collector with backpack storage unit 2. the Anti-Germ Outfit with layered latex gloves 3. the Bug Zapper dress with wind-powered beanie 4) the Insect-net Ensemble 5) the Flood-floatation Dress with plastics and inner-tube belt 6) the Lightning Attractor with rechargeable batteries 7) the All-Weather Tarp Dress. All were designed by Jessica Williams.

Published by Diana on 18 Nov 2008

President-elect Obama Refuses to Back Down

President-elect Barack Obama, in strongly-worded remarks to a gathering of governors and foreign officials on Tuesday, said he had no intention of softening or delaying his aggressive targets for reducing emissions that cause the warming of the planet. 

In this article Obama Affirms Climate Change Goals President-elect Obama reiterated that it is urgent:

“Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response.”

with regard to climate change and new energy technologies.

Published by Diana on 16 Nov 2008

Al Gore Writes About Climate Change

In a long and thought-provoking article in the New York Times last Sunday (November 9th, 2008), Al Gore wrote this about the election of Barack Obama:

THE inspiring and transformative choice by the American people to elect Barack Obama as our 44th president lays the foundation for another fateful choice that he — and we — must make this January to begin an emergency rescue of human civilization from the imminent and rapidly growing threat posed by the climate crisis.

and he went on to say that:

Economists across the spectrum — including Martin Feldstein and Lawrence Summers — agree that large and rapid investments in a jobs-intensive infrastructure initiative is the best way to revive our economy in a quick and sustainable way.

In short, Al Gore–and many others–propose that the United States create a massive investment in sustainable energy technology–solar, wind, water, and more–as a way of revitalizing our American economy, much as the switch to information technology changed the American economy in the 1980s and 1990s.

The full article can be found here: The Climate for Change.

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