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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

UN Report Says"World Running Out Of Time To Stop Global Warming"

OSLO, june 19(Reuters) - World powers are running out of time to slash their use of high-polluting fossil fuels and stay below agreed limits on global warming, a draft U.N. study to be approved this week shows.
A sea bird covered by oil lies dead on Mar de Fora's beach near Fisterra 03 December 2002. | PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU via Getty Images


Government officials and top climate scientists will meet in Berlin from April 7-12 to review the 29-page draft that also estimates the needed shift to low-carbon energies would cost between two and six percent of world output by 2050.



It says nations will have to impose drastic curbs on their still rising greenhouse gas emissions to keep a promise made by almost 200 countries in 2010 to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times.



Temperatures have already risen by about 0.8 C (1.4F) since 1900 and are set to breach the 2 C ceiling on current trends in coming decades, U.N. reports show.



"The window is shutting very rapidly on the 2 degrees target," said Johan Rockstrom, head of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and an expert on risks to the planet from heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising seas.



"The debate is drifting to 'maybe we can adapt to 2 degrees, maybe 3 or even 4'," Rockstrom, who was not among authors of the draft, told Reuters.



Such rises would sharply raise risks to food and water supplies and could trigger irreversible damage, such as a meltdown of Greenland's ice, according to U.N. reports.



The draft, seen by Reuters, outlines ways to cut emissions and boost low-carbon energy, which includes renewables such as wind, hydro- and solar power, nuclear power and "clean" fossil fuels, whose carbon emissions are captured and buried.



It said such low-carbon sources accounted for 17 percent of the world's total energy supplies in 2010 and their share would have to triple - to 51 percent - or quadruple by 2050, according to most scenarios reviewed.



That would displace high polluting fossil fuels as the world's main energy source by mid-century.




CARBON CAPTURE



Saskatchewan Power in Canada will open a $1.35 billion coal-fired electricity generating plant this year that will extract a million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from its exhaust gases - the first carbon capture and storage plant of its type.



Reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the group meeting in Berlin, will help governments, which aim to agree a deal to slow climate change at a Paris summit in December 2015. Few nations have outlined plans consistent with staying below 2 degrees C.



Another report by the IPCC last week in Japan showed warming already affects every continent and would damage food and water supplies and slow economic growth. It may already be having irreversible impacts on the Arctic and coral reefs.



The new draft shows that getting on track to meet the 2C goal would mean limiting greenhouse gas emissions to between 30 and 50 billion tonnes in 2030, a radical shift after a surge to 49 billion tonnes in 2010 from 38 billion in 1990.



The shift would educe economic output by between 2-6 percent by 2050, because of the costs of building a cleaner energy system based on low-carbon energies that are more expensive than abundant coal, the IPCC said. Capturing carbon dioxide is also expensive, it added.



China and the United States are the top emitters.



One option is to let temperatures overshoot the 2C target while developing technology to cool the planet by extracting greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, the draft says. The draft that would add to risks of warming and push up costs.



Extracting carbon from nature includes simple measures such as planting more trees, which soak up carbon as they grow, or capturing and burying greenhouse gases from electricity-generating plants that burn wood or other plant matter.



A problem is that markets for trading carbon dioxide focus on cuts in emissions at power plants and factories burning fossil fuels, not renewable energies which are viewed as green.



"In Europe there is no incentive" said Jonas Helseth, director of environmental group Bellona Europe who chairs a group of scientists and industry experts looking at burying emissions from renewable energy.



The IPCC draft report is the third and final study in a U.N. series about climate change, updating findings from 2007, after the Japan report about the impacts and one in September in Sweden about climate science.



The September report raised the probability that human actions, led by the use of fossil fuels, are the main cause of climate change since 1950 to at least 95 percent from 90. But opinion polls show voters are unpersuaded, with many believing that natural variations are the main cause. (Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Andrew Heavens)


OSLO, April 6 (Reuters) - World powers are running out of time to slash their use of high-polluting fossil fuels and stay below agreed limits on global warming, a draft U.N. study to be approved this week shows.



Government officials and top climate scientists will meet in Berlin from April 7-12 to review the 29-page draft that also estimates the needed shift to low-carbon energies would cost between two and six percent of world output by 2050.



It says nations will have to impose drastic curbs on their still rising greenhouse gas emissions to keep a promise made by almost 200 countries in 2010 to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times.



Temperatures have already risen by about 0.8 C (1.4F) since 1900 and are set to breach the 2 C ceiling on current trends in coming decades, U.N. reports show.



"The window is shutting very rapidly on the 2 degrees target," said Johan Rockstrom, head of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and an expert on risks to the planet from heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising seas.



"The debate is drifting to 'maybe we can adapt to 2 degrees, maybe 3 or even 4'," Rockstrom, who was not among authors of the draft, told Reuters.



Such rises would sharply raise risks to food and water supplies and could trigger irreversible damage, such as a meltdown of Greenland's ice, according to U.N. reports.



The draft, seen by Reuters, outlines ways to cut emissions and boost low-carbon energy, which includes renewables such as wind, hydro- and solar power, nuclear power and "clean" fossil fuels, whose carbon emissions are captured and buried.



It said such low-carbon sources accounted for 17 percent of the world's total energy supplies in 2010 and their share would have to triple - to 51 percent - or quadruple by 2050, according to most scenarios reviewed.



That would displace high polluting fossil fuels as the world's main energy source by mid-century.




CARBON CAPTURE



Saskatchewan Power in Canada will open a $1.35 billion coal-fired electricity generating plant this year that will extract a million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from its exhaust gases - the first carbon capture and storage plant of its type.



Reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the group meeting in Berlin, will help governments, which aim to agree a deal to slow climate change at a Paris summit in December 2015. Few nations have outlined plans consistent with staying below 2 degrees C.



Another report by the IPCC last week in Japan showed warming already affects every continent and would damage food and water supplies and slow economic growth. It may already be having irreversible impacts on the Arctic and coral reefs.



The new draft shows that getting on track to meet the 2C goal would mean limiting greenhouse gas emissions to between 30 and 50 billion tonnes in 2030, a radical shift after a surge to 49 billion tonnes in 2010 from 38 billion in 1990.



The shift would educe economic output by between 2-6 percent by 2050, because of the costs of building a cleaner energy system based on low-carbon energies that are more expensive than abundant coal, the IPCC said. Capturing carbon dioxide is also expensive, it added.



China and the United States are the top emitters.



One option is to let temperatures overshoot the 2C target while developing technology to cool the planet by extracting greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, the draft says. The draft that would add to risks of warming and push up costs.



Extracting carbon from nature includes simple measures such as planting more trees, which soak up carbon as they grow, or capturing and burying greenhouse gases from electricity-generating plants that burn wood or other plant matter.



A problem is that markets for trading carbon dioxide focus on cuts in emissions at power plants and factories burning fossil fuels, not renewable energies which are viewed as green.



"In Europe there is no incentive" said Jonas Helseth, director of environmental group Bellona Europe who chairs a group of scientists and industry experts looking at burying emissions from renewable energy.



The IPCC draft report is the third and final study in a U.N. series about climate change, updating findings from 2007, after the Japan report about the impacts and one in September in Sweden about climate science.



The September report raised the probability that human actions, led by the use of fossil fuels, are the main cause of climate change since 1950 to at least 95 percent from 90. But opinion polls show voters are unpersuaded, with many believing that natural variations are the main cause. (Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Andrew Heavens)




By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent : huffingtonpost

Climate change's costly wild weather consequences

Date:
February 17, 2013
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Atmospheric scientists show concern about how climate change is increasing the number of severe weather events.







Throughout 2012, the United States was battered by severe weather events such as hurricanes and droughts that affected both pocketbooks and livelihoods. Research suggests that in the coming years, U.S. five-day forecasts will show greater numbers of extreme weather events, a trend linked to human-driven climate change.
Tornado. Floods, tornadoes, droughts and wildfires: They are all weather-related, but blaming the latest meteorological disaster on climate change has always been a tricky matter that climate scientists have been shy to do. After all, how can you point to a specific and local event, such as a tornado or dry spell, and say it is caused by something as long-term and huge as global warming?
Credit: © Chris White / Fotolia
Donald Wuebbles, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will discuss extreme weather in a presentation Feb. 15 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston.

In recent decades, multi-day heat waves and severe precipitation have become more frequent. For example, in the U.S. in the 1950s, the number of days that set record high temperatures was equal to the number of days that set record low temperatures. By the 2000s, the United States was twice as likely to see a record high as a record low.

"Human-driven climate change is in fact driving changes in severe weather, and that leads to a lot of potential impacts in both humans and wildlife that end up being costly in many different ways," Wuebbles said.

As the global climate changes, normal weather patterns are altered. This is because the increasingly warmer atmosphere holds larger amounts of water vapor, which energizes storms, Wuebbles said.

The consequences of severe weather are much greater than the disappointment of a missed picnic or the inconvenience of a power outage. Weather-related disasters incur huge expenses, taxing both public funds and private equity. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 11 extreme weather events costing more than $1 billion each occurred in 2012.

"What we've seen in general is that the number of billion-dollar events has increased over the last three decades," Wuebbles said. "It's not just hurricanes, it's really a number of different types of weather extremes that are increasing, and that's what the worry is."

In his talk, Wuebbles will discuss the current understanding of severe weather in relation to the science of climate change, as well as speak about the issues and uncertainties that will affect the U.S. and world in the coming years.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. Help taken from sciencedaily.com/






There's something ancient in the icebox: Three-million-year-old landscape beneath Greenland Ice Sheet

Date:
April 17, 2014
Source:
University of Vermont
Summary:
Scientists were greatly surprised to discover an ancient tundra landscape preserved under the Greenland Ice Sheet, below two miles of ice. This finding provides strong evidence that the ice sheet has persisted much longer than previously known, enduring through many past periods of global warming.

This is a piece of the GISP2 ice core showing silt and sand embedded in ice. Soon after this picture was taken, the ice was crushed in the University of Vermont clean lab and the sediment was isolated for analysis.
Credit: Paul Bierman, University of Vermont

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything -- vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised to discover an ancient tundra landscape preserved under the Greenland Ice Sheet, below two miles of ice.

"We found organic soil that has been frozen to the bottom of the ice sheet for 2.7 million years," said University of Vermont geologist Paul Bierman -- providing strong evidence that the Greenland Ice Sheet has persisted much longer than previously known, enduring through many past periods of global warming.

He led an international team of scientists that reported their discovery on April 17 in the journal Science.

Antique landscapes

Greenland is a place of great interest to scientists and policymakers since the future stability of its huge ice sheet -- the size of Alaska, and second only to Antarctica -- will have a fundamental influence on how fast and high global sea levels rise from human-caused climate change.

"The ancient soil under the Greenland ice sheet helps to unravel an important mystery surrounding climate change," said Dylan Rood a co-author on the new study from the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre and the University of California, Santa Barbara, "how did big ice sheets melt and grow in response to changes in temperature?"

The new discovery indicates that even during the warmest periods since the ice sheet formed, the center of Greenland remained stable; "it's likely that it did not fully melt at any time," Vermont's Bierman said. This allowed a tundra landscape to be locked away, unmodified, under ice through millions of years of global warming and cooling.

"The traditional knowledge about glaciers is that they are very powerful agents of erosion and can effectively strip a landscape clean," said study co-author Lee Corbett, a UVM graduate student who prepared the silty ice samples for analysis. Instead, "we demonstrate that the Greenland Ice Sheet is not acting as an agent of erosion; in fact, at it's center, it has performed incredibly little erosion since its inception almost three million years ago."

Rather than scraping and sculpting the landscape, the ice sheet has been frozen to the ground, "a refrigerator that's preserved this antique landscape," Bierman said.

Cosmic signal

The scientists tested seventeen "dirty ice" samples from the bottommost forty feet of the 10,019-foot GISP2 ice core extracted from Summit, Greenland, in 1993. "Over twenty years, only a few people had looked hard at the sediments from the bottom of the core," Bierman said. From this sediment, he and a team at the University of Vermont's Cosmogenic Nuclide Laboratory extracted a rare form of the element beryllium, an isotope called beryllium-10. Formed by cosmic rays, it falls from the sky and sticks to rock and soil. The longer soil is exposed at Earth's surface, the more beryllium-10 it accumulates. Measuring how much is in soil or a rock gives geologists a kind of exposure clock.

The researchers expected to only find soil eroded from glacier-scoured bedrock in the sediment at the bottom of the ice core. "So we thought we were going looking for a needle in haystack," Bierman said. They planned to work diligently to find vanishingly small amounts of the beryllium -- since the landscape under the ice sheet would have not been exposed to the sky. "It turned out that we found an elephant in a haystack," he said; the silt had very high concentrations of the isotope when the team measured it on a particle accelerator at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

"On a global basis, we only find these sorts of beryllium concentrations in soils that have developed over hundreds of thousands to millions of years," said Joseph Graly, who analyzed the beryllium data while at the University of Vermont.

The new research, supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, shows that "the soil had been stable and exposed at the surface for somewhere between 200,000 and one million years before being covered by ice," notes Ben Crosby, a member of the research team from Idaho State University.

To help interpret these unexpected findings, the team also measured nitrogen and carbon that could have been left by plant material in the core sample. "The fact that measurable amounts of organic material were found in the silty ice indicates that soil must have been present under the ice," said co-author Andrea Lini at the University of Vermont -- and its composition suggests that the pre-glacial landscape may have been a partially forested tundra.

"Greenland really was green! However, it was millions of years ago," said Rood, "Greenland looked like the green Alaskan tundra, before it was covered by the second largest body of ice on Earth." To confirm their findings about this ancient landscape, the researchers also measured beryllium levels in a modern permafrost tundra soil on the North Slope of Alaska. "The values were very similar," said Bierman, "which made us more confident that what we found under Greenland was tundra soil."

Future tense

Many geologists are seeking a long-term view of the history of the Greenland Ice Sheet, including how it moves and has shaped the landscape beneath it -- with an eye toward better understanding its future behavior. It's 656,000 square miles of ice, containing enough water, if fully melted, to raise global sea levels twenty-three feet -- "yet we have very little information about what is happening at the bed with regards to erosion and landscape formation," said Corbett.

What is clear, however, from an abundance of worldwide indicators, is that global temperatures are on a path to be "far warmer than the warmest interglacials in millions of years," said Bierman. "There is a 2.7-million-year-old soil sitting under Greenland. The ice sheet on top of it has not disappeared in the time in which humans became a species. But if we keep on our current trajectory, the ice sheet will not survive. And once you clear it off, it's really hard to put it back on."



Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Vermont. The original article was written by Joshua E. Brown. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. Also Source



Journal Reference:
  1. Paul R. Bierman, Lee B. Corbett, Joseph A. Graly, Thomas A. Neumann, Andrea Lini, Benjamin T. Crosby, Dylan H. Rood. Preservation of a Preglacial Landscape Under the Center of the Greenland Ice SheetScience, 2014 DOI:10.1126/science.1249047

Fighting Global Warming-The Simple Things You Can Do To Make a Major Impact

Global warming is indeed of major concern, not only for ecological think tank, policy makers and environmentalist but also for ordinary world citizens like you and me. Global warming is indeed affecting us in many ways, although many of us may not be really aware of its true impacts in terms of climate changes, higher degree of pollution, poor waste management programs and our world getting hotter and hotter with each passing day. Most of us may wonder what we as individuals and citizens could do about a transnational issue like global warming, which even world leaders are finding difficult to address, let along resolve in positive and concrete manners. We must remember that it is the small drops that make the ocean.
These are just some of the common tips through which we could show that we do care, as anybody else, about global warming and how it impacts our daily lives:
  1.   Replace high voltage bulbs with CFL ones: Not only would this reduce your energy bills but you could also save energy and use only the amount that is really required for needs. Use of environmentally friendly energy or green devices adds much to overall energy conservation and arrests more intensities of global warming
  2. Walk to work instead of using cars or two wheelers: C02 release into the atmosphere does cause a great deal of pollution and exacerbates global warming. By conserving the use of fossil fuels and seeking better alternatives like electrical, battery eco driven cars, pollution could indeed be dramatically reduced and curbed in big way. 
  3. Do not destroy trees if you cannot plant trees: Deforestation is a major cause of climate change and global warming. It is very important that we grow more trees not only to protect the environment, but also reduce the adverse impacts of climate changes that could cause major damage to our health and well being on earth.
  4. Recycle wastes wherever possible: Most of us dump trash and wastes, not realizing that this would ultimately take up major landfill areas. Millions of tons of waste accumulate over time and major cause of health hazards and other malaise. Instead, we should recycle whatever is possible and put this to best use. Others could be burned, or destroyed thus saving the earth from the hazards of mounting waste management that soon becomes beyond human coping.
  5. Industrial wastes need to be properly managed: Those of us who work in factories know the kind of wastes that could be generated and the poor methods by which they are disposed, even polluting water sources and the immediate environment. There needs to be a sound and environmentally safe system of industrial waste disposal including use of incinerators and other heavy duty machines that could take care of heavy waste in effective , efficient and environmentally hazard- free manner, without impacting our environment.
  6. Do think about future also since our hazardous ecological negligence of today will have its repercussions tomorrow: Most of us taken nature for granted and continue to defile, spoil and ravage the very planet which provides us food, succor and virtual living. In effect, by destroying nature, we are destroying our own very future existence on earth.
It is common knowledge that we would get from nature what we give to it. If we observe strict environmental rules, do not unduly exploit the bounty of nature, grow trees and plants, care for nature in order to ensure that would grow forth in abundance and favor us with health, happiness and harmony..
The GO GREEN concept needs to be applied by all denizens of the world to save us from virtual annihilation caused by global warming and its ill effects on earth.

Author Bio:
James Finnan PhD degree