Earth Now ~ Page 2

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Plenty about Climate Change recently:

* IPCC – Greenhouse gas highest in 800,000 years
* IPCC report on fossil fuels ‘too conservative’
* Calls to close worst-polluting power stations
* Coal ‘good for humanity’, says PM Tony Abbott

The world’s top scientists have given their clearest warning yet of the severe and irreversible impacts of climate change.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns greenhouse gas levels are at their highest they have been in 800,000 years, with recent increases mostly due to the burning of fossil fuels.

“Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” the report said.

Too Conservative –
Dr Terry Leahy, a University of Newcastle sociologist, has criticised the latest global report on the threat of climate change for not doing enough to highlight the problem.

“The statement that we have to eliminate coal by the end of the century is a massively conservative statement and really understates the problem.”

Dr Leahy said 86 more years of coal is a very unrealistic estimate, and the Hunter region’s economy needs to transition. “It’s a huge problem for residents of the Hunter who have jobs in the coal industry,” he said.

Close Worst Polluting Power Plants –
Australia’s energy system is using more coal than ever. While demand for electricity is falling, the carbon emissions from its generation have been steadily rising since June.

In the electricity market, Victoria’s brown coal power stations are back on top, reaping the rewards of higher gas prices, an end to the carbon tax and the subsequent fall in hydro-electricity production.

PM Abbott,  An Enemy of the Environment? –
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says coal is “good for humanity” and will be the “world’s main energy source for decades to come” as he opened a new $3.9 billion coal mine in central Queensland.

The BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) said the new mine, the company’s eighth in the region, would produce about 5.5 million tonnes of coal each year.

Speaking at the mine’s opening, Mr Abbott said coal should not be demonised. “Coal is good for humanity, coal is good for prosperity, coal is an essential part of our economic future, here in Australia, and right around the world,” he said. “Coal is essential for the prosperity of the world.”

It’s hard to pin down exactly what prime minister Tony Abbott really believes on climate change, but his policies could only have been developed by someone who believes global warming is a hoax. In October 2009 he said, “The argument [on climate change] is absolute crap… however, the politics of this are tough for us. 80 per cent of people believe climate change is a real and present danger.”

Abbott still vacillates between repeating denialist talking points and more moderate statements accepting the reality of climate change. For example after meeting with Barack Obama on 13 June, Abbott said in an ABC radio interview that “I regard myself as a conservationist”, yet later that day he fronted an audience in Texas to laud the unrestrained burning of fossil fuels. “Australia should be an affordable energy superpower, using nature’s gifts to the benefit of our own people and the wider world…. we don’t believe in ostracizing any particular fuel and we don’t believe in harming economic growth. Energy consumption defines prosperity.”


Sea Change:
The Ecological Disaster That Nobody Sees

Jack and Jude have been witnessing this ecological disaster increase rapidly during our lifetime afloat upon the world’s oceans. Now experts warn that we are currently facing an extinction event in the oceans which may rival the “Great Death” of the Permian age 250 million years ago, when 95 percent of marine species died out due to a combination of warming, acidification, loss of oxygen and habitat – all conditions that are rife today.

Within the past half century the oceans have been transformed from the planet’s most productive bioregion into arguably its most abused and critically endangered. That is the conclusion of a report issued earlier this summer by the Global Ocean Commission, a private think tank consisting of marine scientists, diplomats and business people, which makes policy recommendations to governments.

The report catalogues a grim laundry list of environmental ills. Commercial fish stocks worldwide are being overexploited and are close to collapse; coral reefs are dying due to ocean acidification – and may be gone by midcentury; vast dead zones are proliferating in the Baltic and the Gulf of Mexico caused by an influx of nitrogen and phosphorous from petroleum-based fertilizers; non-biodegradable plastic trash – everything from tiny micro-plastic beads to plastic bags and discarded fishing gear – is choking many coastal nurseries where fish spawn; and increased oil and gas drilling in deep waters is spewing pollution and posing the risk of catastrophic spills like the Deepwater Horizon disaster which dumped an estimated 4.2 million barrels of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico during a five-month period in 2010.

Yet these worrying trends have failed to spark public indignation. It may be a matter of “out of sight, out of mind.” [More]


New Population Projections Shatter Earlier Estimates 11 Billion by 2100

New UN population estimate

New UN population estimate

In a paper published Thursday in Science, demographers from several universities and the United Nations Population Division conclude that instead of leveling off in the second half of the 21st century, as the UN predicted less than a decade ago, the world’s population will continue to grow beyond 2100.

Jack and Jude say that this is by far the most disturbing report in all of the news. Our population generates all the wastes presently endangering Earth, it accounts for the immense decline in species, and our burgeoning need for resources is stripping the wild kingdom, replacing it with highways and larger cities. Tackling our population explosion is by far our greatest challenge ever.


Counting the Costs of Climate Change

SIX KEY FINDINGS

  1. Sea level has already risen and continues to rise due to climate change. Climate change exacerbates coastal flooding from a storm surge as the storm rides on higher sea levels.
  2. Australia is highly vulnerable to increasing coastal flooding because our cities, towns and critical infrastructure are mainly located on the coast. Australia’s infrastructure has been built for the climate of the 20th century and is unprepared for rising sea level.
  3. Coastal flooding is a sleeping giant. If the threat of sea level rise is ignored, the projected increases in economic damage caused by coastal flooding are massive.
  4. Rising sea levels pose risks for many of Australia’s species and iconic natural places, such as Kakadu National Park and the Great Barrier Reef.
  5. Rising sea level is eroding the viability of coastal communities on islands in the Torres Strait and the Pacific, and in low-lying areas of Asia, increasing the likelihood of migration and resettlement.
  6. We need deep and urgent cuts in greenhouse gas emissions this decade and beyond if we are to avoid the most serious risks from rising sea levels and coastal flooding.

 


Tuna Stocks on Brink of Disaster
states head of fishery management

Blue Fin Tuna off Australia

At Risk – Bluefin swim off Australia – Photo Kerstin Fritsches AAP

Professor Glenn Hurry said bluefin and bigeye tuna should no longer be harvested as stocks were dangerously depleted. He also warned “serious action” needed to be taken to reduce the yellowfin tuna catch.

Jack and Jude have fished the oceans of the world since 1974 and know first hand that our fish stocks have been severely depleted. “Quite simply there are too many mouths to feed,” says Jack. “Today we are far too advanced in technology for the fish to hid from our factory ships.”  Professor Hurry has warned an international agreement is urgently needed to avert disaster for the tuna industry.

“Yellowfin tuna’s down to about 38 per cent of its original spawning biomass,” said Professor Hurry. “Bigeye tuna’s down now to about 16 per cent…. in a well-managed fishery you’d actually stop fishing on that and begin to rebuild the stocks.”

Even More Dire

Professor Hurry said the situation for bluefin tuna was even more dire with the Pacific population at “3 or 4 per cent of its original spawning biomass.”

Human need, helped by human greed and the fact that we are not a cohesive unit with sensible regulations in place is decimating the wild kingdom is what Jack and Jude think. You can help. Talk to your children and explain why we are out of control for it is their future that is in jeopardy.


Algae Blooms Driven by Climate Change

A massive algae bloom in 2011 turned Lake Erie into pea soup. PHOTOGRAPH BY PETER ESSICK, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

The toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie that provoked last weekend’s tap water ban in Toledo, Ohio—where nearly half a million people were told not to use water for drinking, cooking, or bathing—is a preview of similar problems to come around the world, scientists say, thanks in part to climate change.

Northwest Ohio’s water ban was lifted Monday morning, but experts say harmful algal blooms that can turn tap water toxic and kill wildlife are becoming more common in coastal oceans and in freshwater across the United States and around the globe.

A toxic algae bloom killed record numbers of manatees in Florida early last year. Another bloom put a record number of marine mammals into California rehabilitation centers earlier this year. (See“Record Number of Seals and Sea Lions Rescued in California.”) They can also result in massive fish kills.


Beijing to ban coal use to curb pollution

Beijing will ban coal use in its six main districts by the end of 2020, state media cited the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau as saying, as the Chinese capital steps up efforts to combat air pollution.

Beijing and the surrounding area in China’s northeast is often wreathed in noxious smog, which has been cited as a factor in high rates of lung cancer.

Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai and Shijingshan districts will all stop using coal and coal products and shut down coal-fired power plants and other coal facilities, the official Xinhua news agency said on Monday.

In 2012, coal made up one-quarter of the city’s total energy consumption, Xinhua quoted official statistics as saying.

Fuel oil, petroleum coke, combustible waste and some biomass fuels will also be prohibited as part of the effort to fight pollution, Xinhua said.


Stories that deserve more media coverage in the USA

According to Christian Christensen,

Professor of Journalism, Stockholm University, Sweden.

  • Iraq: Since 2008, over 37,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq. That’s just over twelve 9/11 attacks, or the equivalent of 370,000 civilians dying in the US (Iraq’s population is 10 times smaller of that of the US).
  • Global warming/climate change: The US remains the home of more political climate change sceptics than any other country in the so-called “developed world”
  • Guantanamo: Many inmates, in violation of the US Constitution, remain incarcerated without charge, denied of their basic right of habeas corpus.
  • Military spending: In 2011, of the 14 leading countries in the world when it came to spending on national defense, the US was, of course, first with an offensive $711bn budget. Even more offensive, te fact that the 13 countries underneath the US spent $695bn on national defense…combined. And, this US budget did not include the estimated $6tn (that’s $6,000,000,000,000) the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will likely wind up costing the US taxpayers.

[ EARTH NOW continued ]


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