Global Warming


A 2,500 Square-Mile Methane Plume Is Silently Hovering over Western US A monstrous cloud of accumulated methane—a potent greenhouse gas—is now hovering over a large portion of the western United States according to satellite imagery analyzed by NASA and reported by the Washington Post.

Climate Biz 101
Climate Change
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES page of links
Global Climate Change Student Guide comprehensive work for geology, geography and environmental science students studying climate change
Global Issues That Affect Everyone poverty, globalization, arms control, the Middle East, the war on terror, human rights, women's rights, racism, genetic engineering, biodiversity, much more
Global Warming - State Impacts from the EPA
Global Warming - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) UN - see their major report "Climate Change 2001"
Global Warming and Bush "George W. Bush: The Un-Science Guy" by David Corn, AlterNet, 6-22-01
Global Warming: Early Warning Signs map of hot spots with popup notes
Global Warming - State Impacts from the EPA
Global Warming - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) UN - see their major report "Climate Change 2001"


"An extraordinary new report by an elite Pentagon planning unit has delcared that climate change is a national security threat of the greatest urgency and demands an immediate response... Directly contradicting Bush and other right-wingers...

"A copy of the unclassified study was given to Fortune, which published a measured yet terrifying summary in its February 9 issue...

"One immediate effect may involve the World Bank, whose board of directors is expected to vote.. to stop all funding of coal and oil development.." (Mark Hertsgaard. "A New Ice Age?" The Nation, March 1, 2004, 8).


"...the choice of Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai as this year's Nobel Peace Prizewinner... stands as an implicit rebuke to the environmental backwardness of America's political and media classes...

"The Bush administration remains in denial about climate change even though its closest overseas ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, said in September that climate change is the single biggest long-term problem his nation faces. Blair's top scientific adviser, David King, has gone further, declaring that climate change is the biggest threat civilization has ever faced--bigger even than the global terrorism that dominates headlines and obsesses George W. Bush. King warned in July that there is now enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to melt all the ice on earth. which would put most of the world's biggest cities under water, starting with low-lying metropolises like New York, London and New Orleans...

Climate change is to the twenty-first century what the nuclear arms race was to the twentieth: the overriding threat to humanity's continued existence on this planet. And it is already killing people. In the summer of 2003, some 15,000 people died in France from an unprecedented heat wave. No single weather event can be definitively attributed to climate change, but such heat waves are exactly what scientists expect as warming intensifies. If climate change is not moderated, more will die in years to come--either directly, through declines in food production and the spread of infectious disease...

"... most US journalists still don't get it. At best, they see climate change as just one of many environmental issues. At worst, they are still fooled by industry propaganda casting doubt on the science behind claims of climate change...

"Now that Russia supports Kyoto, the United States and Australia are the only major industrial countries outside the protocol" (Mark Hertsgaard. "Climate, the Absent Issue." The Nation, Nov. 1, 2004: 3).


"Continued reliance on petroleum and other fossil fuels (coal, natural gas) for the majority of our energy supply--90 percent, in the case of the United States--will intensify the buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, thus hastening the onset of relentless droughts, heat waves, sea-level surges and other cataclysmic climate changes" (Michael T. Klare. "Crude Awakening." The Nation, Nov. 8, 2004: 35-41).


Warming Hits Tipping Point

"Climate change alarm as Siberian permafrost melts for first time since ice age...

"A vast expanse of western Siberia is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could dramatically increase the rate of global warming, climate scientists warned last week.

"Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres--the size of France and Germany combined--has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

"The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere...

"Climate scientists reacted with alarm to the finding, and warned that predictions of future global temperatures would have to be revise upwards" (Ian Sample. "Warming hits 'tipping point'." Guardian Weekly, Aug. 25, 2005: 1).


"Big business is not to blame.... Corporations would act on global warming but are stalled by government in the name of the market...

"At a conference organized by the Building Research Establishment, I witnessed an extraordinary thing: companies demanding tougher regulations--and the government refusing to grant them...

"..the British government... Elliot Morley, the minister for climate change, proposed to do as little as he could get away with. The officials from the Department of Trade and Industry, to a collective groan from the men in suits, insisted that the measures some of the companies wanted would be "an unwarranted intervention in the market."

"It was unspeakably frustrating. The suits had come to unveil technologies of the kind that really could save the planet" (George Monbiot. "Big business is not to blame." Guardian Weekly, Sep. 30: 6).


"Large parts of the Amazon rainforest are at their driest in living memory, a direct consequence, scientists say, of the severe hurricane season that devastated the US Gulf coast...

"The unprecedented dry spell can be linked to the extreme weather that hit the southeastern US, according to meteorologists. "There is no rain here because the air is descending, which prevents the formation of cloudsd," said Ricardo Dellarosa, of the Amazon Protection Organisation (SIPAM). "The air is descending here because the air is rising very intensely in the north Atlantic creating storms and hurricanes. What goes up must come down" ("Hurricanes dry out rainforest." Guardian Weekly, Oct. 17, 2005: 9).


"Global warming in the Arctic could be soaring out of control, scientists warned last week as figures revealed that melting of sea ice in the region has accelerated to record levels.

"Experts at the US National Snow and Data Centre in Colorado fear the region is locked into a destructive cycle, with warmer air melting more ice, which in turn warms the air further. Satellite pictures show that the extent of Arctic sea ice last month dipped 20% below the long-term average for September, melting an extra 1.3m square kilometres. If current trend continue, the Arctic Ocean in summer will be ice-free well before the end of the century.

Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the Colorado centre, says melting sea ice accelerates warming because dark-coloured water absorbs heat from the sun that was previously reflected back into space by white ice. "We could see changes in Arctic ice happening much sooner than we thought," he said, "and that is important, because without the ice cover over the Arctic Ocean we have to expect big changes in Earth's weather" (David Adam. "Skating on thin ice up north." Guardian Weekly, Oct. 17, 2005: 21).


"This year's hurrican season seems certain to be the most severe on record. But the nay-sayers make two counterpoints. First, they say that much of the rise in temperature is due to natural cycles. The current upcycle may have 20 more years to run, but it will then subside. Second, although they concede that the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin has risen in the past 20 years, there has been no upward trend in the world as a whole, and so common global factors cannot be responsible.

"Why should we not believe them? Well on sea temperature, figures are already much higher than they were during the last upcycle, so there seems to be an underlying adverse long-term trend. On frequency, although the number of hurricanes has not risen on a global basis, new evidence has established that the intensity of an average storm has risen sharply in all regions.

"The odds that all regions would experience increased storm intensity without a common cause are about one in 1,000" (Gavyn Davies. "The answer is blowing in the wind, George." Guardian Weekly, Oct. 17, 2005: 21).


"Two degrees is the point beyond which most climate scientists predict catastrophe: several key ecosystems are likely to flip into runaway feedback; the biosphere becomes a net source of carbon; global food production is clobbered and 2 billion people face the risk of drought...

"Let us forget for the moment that nuclear power spreads radioactive pollution, presents a target for terrorists and leaves us with waste that no government wants to handle...

"The first "even if" is a big one. Private insurers will not cover the risk [of nuclear accidents]. Three international conventions limit investors' liability and oblige governments to pick up the bill. According to a report commissioned by the European parliament, the costs of a large-scale nuclear accident range from $100bn to $6.6 trillion. They would have to be met by taxpayers...

"He begins by examining the terms of reference used by people such as King, who compare nuclear power "only with a central power plant burning coal or natural gas"... None of them can compete with windpower... let alone with two far cheaper resources: cogeneration of heat and power, and efficient use of electricity".

"Ten cents of investment, Lovins shows, will buy either 1 kilowatt-hour of nuclear electricity, 1.2-1.7 of windpower, 2.2-6.5 of small-scale cogeneration or up to 10 of energy efficiency...

"Already the market is voting with its wallet. "In 2004 alone," Lovins notes, "Spain and Germany each added as much wind capacity--2bn watts--as nuclear power is adding worldwide in each year of this decade." Although the nuclear industry in the US has guzzled 33 times as much government money as wind and has "enjoyed a regulatory system of its own design for a quarter century", it hasn't fulfilled a single new order from the electricity companies since 1973" (George Monbiot. "Scientific spin doctor." Guardian Weekkly, Nov. 4, 2005: 5).


"But global warming foot-draggers have succeeded in the past largely because the public was confused about whether the problem really existed. That confusion was encouraged by the mainstream media, which in the name of journalistic "balance" gave equal treatment to global warming skeptics and proponents alike, even though the skeptics represented a tiny fringe of scientific opinion and often were funded by companies with a financial interest in discrediting global warming" (Mark Hertsgaard. "Global storm warning." The Nation, Oct. 17, 2005: 4-5).


"Several yellow jacket wasps were sighted in Arctic Bay, a community of 700 people on the northern tip of Baffin Island at more than 73 degrees North latitude, during the summer of 2004. Noire Ikalukjuaq, the mayor of Arctic Bay, said he knew no word in the Inuit language for the insect.

"In Kaktovik, Alaska, a village on the Arctic Ocean, a robin built a nest during the summer of 2003--not an unusual event in more temperate latitudes but quite a departure where, in the Inupiat language, no name exists for robins.

"During the summer of 2004, hunters found half a dozen polar bears that had drowned about 200 miles north of Barrow, on Alaska's northern coast. They had tried to swim for shore after the ice had receded 400 miles. A polar bear can swim 100 miles--but not 400.

"Global warming is leaving its evidentiary trail in melting ice as well as in the heating of the seas. The wrath of intensifying hurricanes and typhoons stoked by warming oceans has already devastated parts of the subtropics. The yellow jacket, the robin, the drowned polar bears, and the hurricane triplets--Katrina, Rita, and Wilma--are harbingers of an ominous future...

"Climate change in the Arctic is accelerating year by year. During the summer of 2004, compared to the previous year, enough Arctic ice to blanket an area twice the size of Texas melted...

"...Scientists now talk seriously of an ice-free Arctic in the summer. The main point of debate is how soon this will happen...

""The climate is changing much more quickly than scientists had projected only a few years ago," says Ross Gelbspan, author of The Heat Is On and Boiling Point. "We are seeing impacts--accelerating migrations of species, the thawing of the Siberian and Canadian tundra, the drying of the Amazon rainforest--that researchers did not expect to see until near the end of the twenty-first century. As a result, scientists are concerned about natural systems crossing invisible thresholds and taking on their own irreversible momentum"...

"By the end of this century, temperatures may reach a level that may melt solid methane in the oceans. During past periods of rapid warming, tens of millions of years ago, methane in gaseous form (called "clathrate") has been released from sea floors in intense eruptions, following an increase in temperatures of up to 8 degrees Celsius, which is within the range projected by many climate models for the end of this century. Scientists call these explosions the "clathrate gun" or "methane burp." Once such reactions begin, they feed themselves, dramatically accelerating the rate of warming in the atmosphere.

"Will humankind be able to dodge this bullet? If so, how? The short answer, according to many scientists, is to cut fossil fuel consumption by about 70 percent within the next fifteen to twenty years. That's what would be required to stabilize greenhouse-gas levels in the atmosphere before natural feedbacks begin to accelerate warming beyond control...

"In Denmark, for example, most families now own a share of a wind turbine. Some areas of Germany derive a substantial proportion of their energy from wind and solar power. In Spain, building codes have been amended to require use of passive solar power. Hansen and many other experts warn, though, that these changes are not sufficient and that the window of opportunity is narrowing with each passing day" (Bruce E. Johansen. "From Baffin Island to New Orleans." The Progressive, Dec. 2005: 18-21).


Climate scientists issue dire warning Global warming may be far worse than predicted, says report to UN experts

"Earth's temperature could rise to levels far higher than predicted under the impact of global warming, according to the UN's team of climate experts.

"A draft of the next influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report will say that scientists are unable to place a reliable upper limite on how quickly the atmosphere will warm as carbon dioxide levels increase...

"Such an outcome would have severre consequences, such as the collapse of the Greenland ice sheet and disruption of the Gulf Stream ocean current...

"Set up in 1988 by the UN, the IPCC brings together hundreds of experts to summarise the state of climate science for policymakers" (David Adam. "Climate scientists issue dire warning." Guardian Weekkly, Marc. 3, 2006: 9).


Colby Glass, MLIS