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

1st International Marine Conservation Congress

imccThe Marine Section of the Society for Conservation Biology will be hosting its first stand-alone meeting, the International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC), from 20-24 May 2009 at George Mason University near Washington D.C. This will be an interdisciplinary meeting that will engage natural and social scientists, managers, policy-makers, and the public. The goal of the IMCC is to put conservation science into practice through public and media outreach and the development of concrete products (e.g., policy briefs, blue ribbon position papers) that will be used to drive policy change and implementation. Continue reading

Climate change is a certain threat

Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists and Activists Are Fueling the Climate Crisis—And What We Can Do to Avert DisasterMarch 6, 2009 – Why does the public often pay more attention to climate change deniers than climate scientists? Why do denial arguments that have been thoroughly debunked still show up regularly in the media?

Some researchers from New York’s Fordham University may have found some answers. Prof. David Budescu and his colleagues asked 223 volunteers to read sentences from reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The responses revealed some fundamental misunderstandings about how science works. Continue reading

Congratulations President Obama!

Congratulations President Obama! Yesterday’s inauguration of President Barack Obama was so inspiring and wonderful it is hard to describe. What a landmark event in US history! We finally have a tangible reason to hope, and to continue to act, for a better future for our planet. Obama has enormous tasks before him to get the US back on track economically, politically, and environmentally. He’ll now be expected to fix the economy, divert us and the rest of the world from a global depression, improve foreign relations and foreign policy to restore America’s reputation abroad and at home, solve the health care and education messes, and at least slow global warming so that our children have a world worth living in. Thankfully he has help. A strong cabinet, both houses in Congress, overwhelming support of the American people and billions of global citizens, a wife who seems as amazing as he is, and two beautiful daughters who are clearly devoted to their father. Continue reading

Penguins = canaries in a coal mine

Spheniscus magellanicusI always loved the song “Canary in a Coal Mine” by the Police:

First to fall over when the atmosphere is less than perfect
Your sensibilities are shaken by the slightest defect
You live your life like a canary in a coalmine
You get so dizzy even walking in a straight line

Now the first line of the song and the comparison of penguins to canaries in coal mines is disturbing. Are we going to be a generation remembered for celebrating penguins in films like “March of the Penguins” and “Happy Feet” only to be the generation that announces their extinction? I hope not. It would be a tragic loss to the animal kingdom and to mankind. Continue reading

Out of Africa – back to reality

So in case you’re wondering why MarineBio’s blog seems to have been neglected, it’s because I was in Tanzania. Though I was there for a meeting, I did take a day to explore Tanzania’s beautiful scenery and wild life. From the windows of our Toyota Camry-like car, we saw — zebras, giraffes, warthogs (so ugly they’re cute), buffalo, baboons, gazelles… all in a span of a quick 2-hour tour of the Arusha National Park. I was thinking about how cool I was for going on “safari” (seriously finger quoting here) in a fuel-efficient vehicle instead of a gas-guzzling 4-wheel drive SUV — safari utility vehicle. Ok, ok I’ll stop — it’s just that I really resented being in such an amazing place for a meeting and having to rush back to the US without enjoying more than 2-hours of the fantastic wild life there. Continue reading

Reduce greenhouse gases now

Technology called available

By Beth Daley, Globe Staff | May 5, 2007

Climate Change in the US, watch it online today.Technologies are available to significantly reduce greenhouse gases but nations must adopt them far more aggressively to avert the worst consequences of global warming, the leading scientific authority on climate change said yesterday.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said temperature increases that began more than a century ago could be capped at 3.6 degrees if nations level greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade and then reduce them between 50 percent and 85 percent by 2050. Continue reading

The global warming debate is over

The global warming debate is overUNITED NATIONS – NATIONS UNIES
FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE – Secretariat

PRESS RELEASE
UNFCCC Executive Secretary says significant funds needed to adapt to climate change impacts (Brussels, 6 April 2007) – On the occasion of the launch of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) assessment of present and future impacts of climate change, the UN’s top climate change official has pointed to the potential danger of climate change triggering conflicts over water, the spread of diseases and an increase in world-wide migration unless adequate adaptation measures are developed and integrated into long-term development planning. Continue reading

Panel Issues Bleak Report on Climate Change

Columbia Glacier 1980New York Times
Science / Environment

Panel Issues Bleak Report on Climate Change
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL and ANDREW C. REVKIN
Published: Paris, February 2, 2007

In a bleak and powerful assessment of the future of the planet, the leading international network of climate change scientists has concluded for the first time that global warming is “unequivocal” and that human activity is the main driver, “very likely” causing most of the rise in temperatures since 1950.

They said the world is already committed to centuries of warming, shifting weather patterns and rising seas, resulting from the buildup of gases in the atmosphere that trap heat. But the warming can be substantially blunted by prompt action, the panel of scientists said in a report released here today. Continue reading