Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

By Bill McKibben, July 19, 2012

If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven’t convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.

Meteorologists reported that this spring was the warmest ever recorded for our nation – in fact, it crushed the old record by so much that it represented the “largest temperature departure from average of any season on record.” The same week, Saudi authorities reported that it had rained in Mecca despite a temperature of 109 degrees, the hottest downpour in the planet’s history. Continue reading

Race to the bottom of the sea… part 2

So I should probably begin with part 1…. Back in 1960, January 23rd to be precise, the first ever deep submersible dive occurred by two oceanographers, Don Walsh and Jacques Picard. Using the Bathyscaphe Trieste (above) they reached a depth of 10,911 m (35,797 ft) at the Challenger Deep section of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean (11 km or about 7 miles deep). This so far, is still the only time this depth has ever been reached in the ocean by humans with it taking the Trieste five hours to reach the bottom and only being allowed 20 minutes at this depth due to the constraints of technology at the time. Continue reading

“Ocean Warming”? Lovely…

I wonder if they’ll rename it “Ocean Change” too…

New research published in the journal Nature Geoscience shows us that not only is global warming (aka Climate Change) increasing the acidity of the entire ocean (by forcing more CO2 into it) and increasing it’s temperature (which alone is forecasted to cause widespread shifts in habitats, changes in currents, oxygen levels, and sea level rise due to the thermal expansion of water itself…), we now find that a warming ocean also melts ice faster. Continue reading

Massive Coral Mortality & Bleaching

This is one of the most important reasons why we need to fight harder to stop climate change. The loss of these precious ecosystems is a tragedy.

The Wildlife Conservation Society has released initial field observations that indicate that a dramatic rise in the surface temperature in Indonesian waters has resulted in a large-scale bleaching event that has devastated coral populations.

WCS’s Indonesia Program “Rapid Response Unit” of marine biologists was dispatched to investigate coral bleaching reported in May in Aceh — a province of Indonesia located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. The initial survey carried out by the team revealed that over 60 percent of corals were bleached. Continue reading

Healthy Oceans vs Climate Change

International coalition advances marine conservation as part of the solution to climate change

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A large international coalition today urged the United States to support marine conservation options that will help mitigate climate change.

The ‘Blue Climate Coalition,’ comprised of sixty-six conservation groups and interests and over 150 marine scientists and professionals, from 33 countries, issued communications today addressed to President Obama and the United States Senate.

MangrovesTogether, the coalition letters request the option for marine conservation solutions to climate change to be considered in national climate change legislation and international climate change treaties, and support for marine science research that further explores this concept. Continue reading

Healthy Oceans Binding Carbon

Oceans play a significant role in the global carbon cycle. Not only do they represent the largest long-term sink for carbon but they also store and redistribute CO2. Some 93% of the earth’s CO2 (40 Tt) is stored and cycled through the oceans.

Blue CarbonThe ocean’s vegetated habitats, in particular mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses, cover <0.5% of the sea bed. These form earth’s blue carbon sinks and account for more than 50%, perhaps as much as 71%, of all carbon storage in ocean sediments. They comprise only 0.05% of the plant biomass on land, but store a comparable amount of carbon per year, and thus rank among the most intense carbon sinks on the planet. Blue carbon sinks and estuaries capture and store between 235–450 Tg C every year – or the equivalent of up to half of the emissions from the entire global transport sector, estimated at around 1,000 Tg C yr–1. By preventing the further loss and degradation of these ecosystems and catalyzing their recovery, we can contribute to offsetting 3–7% of current fossil fuel emissions (totaling 7,200 Tg C yr–1) in two decades – over half of that projected for reducing rainforest deforestation. The effect would be equivalent to at least 10% of the reductions needed to keep concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere below 450 ppm. If managed properly, blue carbon sinks, therefore, have the potential to play an important role in mitigating climate change. Continue reading

UN Secretary criticizes G8 on climate change

I’m in Geneva, Switzerland right  now attending a meeting at the UN on global health. I had the privilege of meeting Ban Ki Moon briefly on Monday when he stopped by an exhibit I put together for the conference. He was quiet, and gracious, and personable. I couldn’t help but wonder what his thoughts are on this week’s G8 summit in Italy. Global health is on the agenda here this week, but there it’s been all about the economy and climate change. Following the progress of this week’s summit on the refreshingly Michael Jackson-free BBC Europe and CNN International channels, I was disappointed to see that little progress was made. Today, Ban Ki Moon spoke out against the G8 stating “The policies that they have stated so far are not enough, this is politically and morally (an) imperative and historic responsibility … for the future of humanity, even for the future of the planet Earth.” Continue reading