Global environmental challenges
You remember John Kerry, right? Tall, silver-haired, urbane enough to be accused of being French. But there’s a feisty side to the senior senator from Massachusetts, and it was on display at a forum on energy and economic growth, where Kerry teed off on congressional Republicans and others who doubt the seriousness of the challenge of climate change.
“After a while you get exasperated and jaded and frustrated about it all,” Kerry told The New Republic forum at the National Press Club. “I’ve had it just about up to here with America’s indifference to the realities of this crisis … the United States is like an ostrich putting its head in the sand.”
How do you feel about the U.S. political establishment, Senator Kerry? “I don’t know what’s happened to us in the body politic of this country where facts and science seem to be so easily shunted aside and disposed of in favor of simple sloganeering, pure ideology and little bromides of politics that are offered up, that offer no solution to anything but might get you through an election.”
Your Republican colleagues in Congress? “In the Republican party … about half the class that came in (to Congress) this year doubts that humans have anything to do with climate change or that climate change is happening … The Flat Earth Caucus is growing.”
from Photographers Blog:
The world turned off its lights on March 26 for an hour from 8.30 p.m. local time as a show of support for tougher action to confront climate change.
I was given the assignment to not only photograph the event from Taipei, Taiwan, but to produce a multimedia video that showcased the world's landmarks without lights as part of the fifth annual Earth Hour.
It has all the signs of a sick good-news/bad-news tale. The bad news is that Earth may be ripe for a mass extinction, where 75 percent or more of the life on the planet vanishes forever.
The good news is it’s unlikely to happen for at least three more centuries.
Climate doesn’t change by magic.
Just ask Mark Serreze, director of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado. On a conference call with other scientists and reporters, Serreze and others linked climate change to the last two harsh winters over much of the United States and Europe. And they squarely blamed human-caused greenhouse gas emissions for the rise in world temperatures that got the process going.
“Climate doesn’t change all by itself,” Serreze said. “It’s not like the Harry Potter theory of climate, where he flicks his magic wand and the climate suddenly changes. Climate only changes for a reason.”
How many investigations of climate scientists’ stolen e-mails does the world really need?
The answer, in Washington at least, appears to be five. And counting.
These are not investigations into who might have stolen the e-mails — that’s still publicly unknown. They’re investigating whether the scientists themselves manipulated data to bolster the case for human-caused climate change or tried to keep dissenting researchers from publishing their findings.
Please don’t blame Dr. Jay Portnoy, an allergy specialist in Kansas City, Missouri. He doesn’t go around planting ragweed. But he does treat people who suffer from asthma and hay fever, and he figures he will be busier now that the ragweed pollen that exacerbates these conditions is around longer each season than it used to be.
“These are really common diseases and they’re very expensive and they definitely affect quality of life and it’s just going to get worse for pollen sufferers,” Portnoy said of the report he helped write on climate change’s impact on the ragweed pollen season. “Of course for allergists like me, it’s job security.”
Another winter storm is brewing in Middle America. So what else is new?
It’s been one spate of severe weather after another even before 2011 began. And you would expect those skeptical of climate change to capitalize on the cold snap by questioning whether human-spurred global warming is a real deal.
Strangely enough, climate skeptics appear to be less vocal than they were last year, when Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma built an igloo as a blizzard blew through Washington DC, and dubbed it “Al Gore’s new home.” If it’s so cold, the argument went, how can there be global warming?
Remote villages in developing countries might benefit from these twin 40-ft long containers (left) — a water purification system driven by solar power — as a substitute for noisy diesel-powered generators, trucks bringing in water or people spending hours every day walking to fetch water.
That’s the hope of the makers, environmental technology group SwissINSO Holding Inc. The small company has recently won its first contracts to supply the systems to Algeria and Malaysia and is aiming to sell 42 units of what it calls the world’s “first high-volume, 100 percent-solar turnkey water purification system” in 2011.
The Chinese flags have disappeared from Washington’s wide avenues after China’s President Hu Jintao’s visit this week, but one statistic is still in the air: the rapidly expanding size of the Chinese ecological footprint, compared to the huge but slowing impact U.S. consumers have on global supplies of food, water, fuel — everything, really.
China and the United States are generally considered to hold the top two spots in the world for emissions of climate-warming greenhouse gases. But how do they compare when consumption of all goods is taken into account?
Greenland’s ice sheet melted at a record rate in 2010, and this could be a major contributor to sea level rise in coming decades.
The ice in Greenland melted so much last year that it formed rivers and lakes on top of the vast series of glaciers that covers much of the big Arctic island, with waterfalls flowing through cracks and holes toward the bottom of the ice sheet. Take a look at video from Marco Tedesco of City College of New York, who is leading a project to study what factors affect ice sheet melting. The photo at left shows a camp by the side of a stream flowing from a lake — all of it on top of the ice sheet.