January 2009 Archives

Hell on Earth

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by DarkSyde


It's tough to imagine that a few million years ago, Antarctica was a green continent of lush cool rain forests, wooded hills, and bountiful plains. But the narrow straits separating Antarctica from the tip of South America and Australia finally widened enough that a system of circular ocean currents locked arms and thermally isolated it. The flora and fauna that flourished in ancient, temperate Antarctica will never be well understood. Rivers of ice have patiently sanded off the softer, fossil bearing surface rock and dumped it into the southern ocean, easier than a belt sander ripping through old wood finish.

Over time, a new global climate arose marked by advancing and retreating glaciers bordering tropical belts of rain forest and savanna. This is the world hominids evolved on, the home that 7 billion people think of as somewhere between normal and eternal today. For us, a frozen southern continent is a good thing. It's a massive heat sink and solar reflector that has acted like a damper on climate since its formation. That's the obligatory kernel of truth expertly woven into a finely hewn distortion still popular among apologists for the greenhouse gas industry: Until now:

"The thing you hear all the time is that Antarctica is cooling and that's not the case," said Eric Steig of the University of Washington in Seattle, lead author of the study in Thursday's edition of the journal Nature. The average temperature rise was "very comparable to the global average," he told a telephone news briefing. Skeptics about man-made global warming have in the past used reports of a cooling of Antarctica as evidence to back their view that warming is a myth.

The borg are already half-heartedly working to discredit the study -- with an occasional swipe at algore. Then there's the usual yammering that 'scientists themselves admit' the earth has undergone disastrous upheavals before. Many times in fact. That the planet is none the worse for the wear. That it's normal, even natural, and therefore, somehow ... "OK."


65 million years ago, a hefty rock struck the Gulf of Mexico. It wasn't nearly as large as the one in the Large Impact Simulation that peeled the earth like an orange. But it was large enough that its top was still in the stratosphere when its bottom was already vaporizing a swath of shallow ocean and sandy seabed bigger than Sicily. So much ejecta was splashed into low earth orbit that within minutes, as each mountain or molehill burned back in, the skies over much of the world glowed as bright as the sun, entire rain forests and whole herds of dinos lit up like torches where they stood. Land and sea were bombarded by meteors and bleached bare by acid rain. The earth survived. But all over the planet most every link in the food chain snapped: in about one day an exquisite, interlocking set of global ecologies forged over a hundred and seventy million years, from microbes to monsters, utterly disintegrated. And as bad as the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction sounds, there was at least one other event far worse.

Millions of years before the first dinosaurs evolved, there was a world of astonshing diversity. But that world was doomed. The most likely culprit is a runaway greenhouse effect initially triggered by what geologists call a flood basalt volcano, but this was unlike any volcano you've ever imagined. It was an open wound in the earth's skin the size of Kansas, spewing geysers of blood red magma and mineral gore, on a scale so vast it would have been easily visible from the surface of the moon. The Permian-Triassic Extinction. Nickname, the Great Dying.

The P-T and K-T boundaries mark just two deadly highlights in our planet's ruthless natural history. The kind of hell on earth that climate change denialists use to justify their rejection or concern over anthropogenic warming today.

There were many, many others. And while we cannot say with metaphysical certainty exactly why they each happened, they all have one thing in common: We know how deadly those events were because all over the world, by virtue of slow erosion and uplift, the pitiful, fossilized remains of their innumerable victims rise up from stony graves and bob to the surface like corpses in a lake. At the risk of mixing metaphors, imagine that same, conservative it's-happened-before-so-it's-OK-now 'logic' used for a much smaller disaster, like Hurricane Katrina: what might we think of someone who pointed to bloated bodies floating in stagnant flood waters to glibly argue we needn't bother keeping on eye on the weather, or worry about storm warnings, and anyone who says otherwise is an alarmist liberal moonbat?

Given the evidence, the idea that we shouldn't worry about climate change because it's happened before has to rank among the most perverse, deranged arguments ever made. It's like reassuring the lobster, by pointing out the pot and water will always survive his imminent boiling. Cu-cu-Cachoo.

A much better lesson taken from recent history suggests that not only can we get a handle on this, government investment in alternative energy could lead to millions of jobs for the middle class, and big green piles of cold hard cash for anyone with a knack for marrying scientific innovation and blue-collar manufacturing to good old fashioned American capitalism. That sure beats the hell out of business as usual where, in a few short decades, we have managed to raise global temperature one-fifth of the way to a hypothetical Permian-Triassic trigger. Whatever the source of ignorance and contempt for empirical evidence among those whose collective intelligence barely surpasses the caramelized algal blooms that fueled this threat, if they're given free reign, the next set of mineralized corpses bobbing up out of the earth in silent witness to global disaster could include our own.

Sea level rise to happen faster than predicted

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Sea levels will rise much faster than previously forecast because of the rate that glaciers and ice sheets are melting, a study has found.

Research commissioned by the US Climate Change Science Program concludes that the rises will substantially exceed forecasts that do not take into account the latest data and observations.

The adjusted outlook, announced at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, suggests that recent predictions of a rise of between 7in and 2ft over the next century are conservative.



Seychelles threatened by Sea Level rise

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By Cherelle Jackson, Pacific Communications Team, Poznan, Poland
Sunday: December 07, 2008

The African islands of Seychelles today said they identified more with the threats facing Pacific islands due to climate change, more so than their own neighbours.
"The Seychelles and Maldives are similar to the Pacific islands, we have the same fears," says Seychelles Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ronny Jumeau.

"We will lose 60 percent of our islands due to sea level rise, most of our neighbours do not have atolls. Although we are part of the same family we do not feel it. They do not speak the same way I do when it comes to climate change," Jumeau said.
Speaking at the Development and Climate Days side event at the Conference of the Parties (COP) 14 in Poznan, Poland, Jumeau said his country fully supports the stance of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in demanding more proactive actions from developed countries.



Chief Bill Erasmus of the Arctic Athabaskan Council, and representative of the Indigenous people's movement says that preconceived imagery of countries affected by climate change does not help the cause.
"When you think of the arctic you think of the melting ice caps and the polar bears, you don't really think of the people whose lives are going to change as a result," Erasmus said.

According to him indigenous people like those of the Pacific stand to lose more than their homes as a result of climate change - cultures and ancestoral ties are at stake too.

Cities in Fiji likely to be submerged by 2027

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By Samisoni Pareti

However, unpleasant it may sound, the jetset town of Nadi will need to be relocated to an elevated piece of land by 2027. And so as Navua and Labasa.
That's the word from one of the most esteemed scientists in our part of the ocean, Professor Patrick Nunn of the University of the South Pacific (USP).


In a paper presented at last month's Pacific round-table on climate change in Samoa, Professor Nunn said between 1890 and 1990, global temperatures rose by an average of 0.5¡C.
But he said between 1990 and 2100, temperatures globally are projected to rise between 1.4¡C and 6.4¡C. The rise in temperature will also see a rise in sea level.
Between the years 1890 to 1990, global sea level, scientists say, rose by an average of 15cm.
Future projections
For 14 years alone, from 1993 to 2007, sea level rose by another 4.3cm.
And the future projections?
Professor Nunn said from 1990 to 2100, the sea level globally is expected to rise between 20cm and 60cm.






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