Climate Change is Real

Thanks to extensive research and noticeable changes in weather and storm prevalence, it’s getting harder to turn a blind eye to the reality of climate change. Since the Industrial Age spurred the increasing usage of fossil fuels for energy production, the weather has been warming slowly. In fact, since 1880, the temperature of the earth has increased by 1 degree Celsius.

climate_changeAlthough 72% of media outlets report on global warming with a skeptical air, the overwhelming majority of scientists believe that the extreme weather of the last decade is at least partially caused by global warming. Some examples of climate calamities caused partly by global warming include:

  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Drought in desert countries
  • Hurricane Sandy
  • Tornadoes in the Midwest

These storms, droughts, and floods are causing death and economic issues for people all over the world – many of whom cannot afford to rebuild their lives from the ground up after being wiped out by a tsunami or other disaster.

Evidence also indicates that the face of the Earth is changing because of warming trends. The ice caps of the Arctic are noticeably shrinking, the ice cap of Mt. Kilimanjaro alone has shrunk by 85% in the last hundred years, and the sea levels are rising at the rate of about 3 millimeters per year because of all the melting ice. Climate change is also affecting wildlife – for instance, Arctic polar bears are at risk of losing their environment; the Golden Toad has gone extinct; and the most adaptable species are evolving into new versions capable of withstanding warmer water.

Despite some naysayers with alternative theories about why global temperatures are rising – including the idea that the earth goes through natural temperature cycles every few millennia – the dramatic changes in the earth’s atmospheric makeup suggests humans are to blame. In fact, 97% of scientists agree humans are responsible for climate change. Since the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide levels increased 38% because of humans, methane levels have increased 148%, nitrous oxide is up 15% – and the list goes on and on, all because of human-instigated production, manufacturing, and organizations and individuals work hard to promote an Earth-friendly existence, resistance to change is rampant and actions are slow. For instance, while the US Environmental Protection Agency is still working on collecting data to support development of greenhouse gas reduction expectations for businesses, most of their efforts feel more like pre-research than actual change. Other countries have made efforts – such as signing to Kyoto Protocol to reduce their 1990 emission levels by 18% by 2020 – but the only solution will require the whole world band together.

Steps anyone can take to reduce global warming include:

  • Driving a car with good gas mileage, or investing in a hybrid or electric car
  • Switching from incandescent light bulbs to CFL or LED
  • Insulating your home and stocking it with energy efficient appliances
  • Recycling
  • Using green power available in your area

Check out the infographic here to see what else the changing climate is affecting http://www.learnstuff.com/climate-change/

Ice sheet melt sets new record

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 22 January 2011

New research shows that 2010 set new records for the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, expected to be a major contributor to projected sea level rises in coming decades.

The shocking rate of Greenland’s ice melt is a wakeup call

“This past melt season was exceptional, with melting in some areas stretching up to 50 days longer than average,” said Dr. Marco Tedesco, Director of the Cryospheric Processes Laboratory at the City College of New York (CCNY – CUNY), who is leading a project studying variables that affect ice sheet melting.

“Melting in 2010 started exceptionally early at the end of April and ended quite late in mid- September.”

The study, with different aspects sponsored by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA, examined surface temperature anomalies over the Greenland ice sheet surface, as well as estimates of surface melting from satellite data, ground observations and models.

In an article published today in Environmental Research Letters, Dr. Tedesco and co-authors note that in 2010, summer temperatures up to 3°C (5.4°F) above the average were combined with reduced snowfall.

The capital of Greenland, Nuuk, had the warmest spring and summer since records began in 1873. Continue reading

Rise in sea levels threatens millions

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 14 July 2010

Sea levels are rising unevenly in the Indian Ocean, placing millions at risk along low-lying coastlines in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, scientists say in a study.

The Seychelles Islands show the largest sea-level drop.

Researchers from the University of Colorado and the National Centre for Atmospheric Research say the rising sea levels are caused in part by climate change and are triggered by warming seas and changes to atmospheric circulation patterns.

In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, US President Barack Obama warned that if the world does nothing to confront climate change, “we will face more drought, famine and mass displacement that will fuel more conflict for decades”.

The authors of the latest study say higher seas could exacerbate monsoon flooding, placing crops, homes and livelihoods at greater risk. They argue a better understanding of the changes are needed to improve risk assessment planning for the future.

Sea levels in general are rising globally by about 3mm (0.1181 inch) a year. Scientists blame rising temperatures caused by the growing amounts of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, that trap heat in the atmosphere. Continue reading

Antarctic thaw clues increase concerns

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 21 June 2010

A yellow submarine has helped to solve a puzzle about one of Antarctica’s fastest-melting glaciers, adding to concerns about how climate change may push up world sea levels, scientists say.

Pine Island Glacier. Photo by Tom Kellogg - 1985.

The robot submarine, deployed under the ice shelf floating on the sea at the end of the Pine Island Glacier, found that the ice was no longer resting on a subsea ridge that had slowed the glacier’s slide until the early 1970s.

Antarctica is key to predicting the rise in sea levels caused by global warming — it has enough ice to raise sea levels by 57 metres (187 ft) if it ever all melted. Even a tiny thaw at the fringes could swamp coasts from Bangladesh to Florida.

The finding from the 2009 mission “only adds to our concern that this region is indeed the ‘weak underbelly’ of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet”, co-author of the study Stan Jacobs at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said in a statement.

West Antarctica’s thaw accounts for 10% of a recently observed rise in sea levels, with melting of the Pine Island glacier quickening, especially in recent decades, according to the study led by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Loss of contact with the subsea ridge meant that ice was flowing faster and also thawing more as sea water flowed into an ever bigger cavity that now extended 30 km beyond the ridge.

The water was just above freezing at 1 degree Celsius (33,80F). Continue reading

Ocean acidification means double trouble for marine life

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 21 May 2010

Acidification of the oceans means “double trouble” for marine life from corals to shellfish since it is adding to stresses caused by global warming, a study showed on Wednesday.

Sea Butterfly. Picture: Kevin Raskoff, Hidden Ocean 2005 Expedition: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration.

“The oceans are more acidic than they have ever been for at least 20 million years,” according to the report by the European Science Foundation. On current trends, seas could be 150% more acidic by 2100 than they were in pre-industrial times.

Sea water is acidifying because carbon dioxide, released to the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, is slightly corrosive in water. That makes it harder for creatures such as corals, lobsters, crabs or oysters to build their protective shells.

“Ocean acidification…is double trouble because it is happening on top of global warming,” Jelle Bijma, lead author of the report and a professor at the Alred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany, told Reuters.

“Coastal zones such as in the Mediterranean and North Seas are rich in calcifying organisms such as shellfish that may be particularly sensitive to large changes in carbon chemistry,” a statement said.

Seas have already become 30% more acidic in the past 200 years – the oceans have absorbed about 430 billion tons of carbon dioxide, or about one third of emissions by human activities since the Industrial Revolution. Continue reading