Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Doom and Gloom Tuesday, Global Warming Style

It appears that various environmental agencies are combining efforts to release important stories on the growing threat of Global Warming simultaneously, in an apparent effort to raise public awareness of global warming. While obviously avoiding the scare tactics associated with our government, they do allude to the pending disaster that faces us if we don’t do something to reduce the emissions created from the burning of fossil fuels. And while it encourages me that the environmental community is appears to be coordinating efforts to push this emergent issue into the public eye, I can’t help but notice that their efforts to date have been less than successful.

Reuters covered a report from the World Meteorological Organization, called the “Greenhouse Gas Bulletin” that is meant to be an annual publication documenting the progression of Global Warming. The report documented conditions in 2004, and was pretty bleak. It indicated that greenhouse gases reached new highs in 2004, and were expected to reach new highs again in next years Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

"Global observations coordinated by WMO show that levels of carbon dioxide, the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, continue to increase steadily and show no signs of leveling off," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

Carbon dioxide, which the WMO says accounts for 90 percent of warming over the past decade, is largely generated by human activity involving the burning of fossil fuels -- including in industry, transport and domestic heating.

Scientists warn emissions must be slowed and reduced if the earth is to avoid climatic havoc with devastating heat waves, droughts, floods and rising sea-levels sinking low-lying island states and hitting seaboard cities like New York and London.

The second article in the Independent deals with Artic sea ice failing to reform. Regular readers of my blog may remember my Adopt a Glacier post, which dealt with the rapid melting of the Greenland glaciers, and the perils this posed for the Northern hemisphere. Well, the inability of sea ice to reform is devastating, because this sea ice is what is necessary to prevent further deterioration of these glaciers. Thus, the result of the melting sea ice is even more rapid melting of these glaciers, additional dumping of fresh water into the Atlantic, and more tumultuous weather shifts.

Although sea levels are not affected by melting sea ice - which floats on the ocean -the Arctic ice cover is thought to be a key moderator of the northern hemisphere's climate. It helps to stabilise the massive land glaciers and ice sheets of Greenland which have the capacity to raise sea levels dramatically.

"The sea ice cover waxes and wanes with the seasons. It partly melts in spring and summer, then grows back in autumn and winter. It has not recovered well this past winter - ice extent for every month since September 2005 has been far below average. And it's been so warm in the Arctic that the ice that has grown this winter is probably rather thin," Dr Mark Serreze, a sea ice specialist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, said.

But wait, it’s even a bit worse than that. The normal cycle is, as one might expect, that the arctic sea ice recedes during the summer time, and is replenished during the winter. And the article at first seems to indicate that the replenishment in the winter time is not enough to cover the melting during the summer. But in actuality, the case is that the arctic sea ice is receding both in summer and winter time, which would tend to indicate that the reductions will be massive and rapid.

Scientists are now convinced that Arctic sea ice is showing signs of both a winter and a summer decline that could indicate a major acceleration in its long-term rate of disappearance. The greatest fear is that an environmental "positive feedback" has kicked in, where global warming melts ice which in itself causes the seas to warm still further as more sunlight is absorbed by a dark ocean rather than being reflected by white ice.

Not exactly encouraging, huh? Well, we’re not done. Because News-Press reports that, at least in Florida, we are less prepared for major hurricanes, one of the potential effects of fresh water dumping into the Atlantic, because of the rapid development of the Florida coast line.

"How we have built along the coast is coming back to haunt us now," said Lyons, the tropical weather expert for The Weather Channel, noting that seven of the 10 costliest tropical cyclones in the United States happened in 2004 and 2005.

"That's not any global climate signal there," he said. "That's coastal vulnerability."

So you would expect that, with at least two, maybe three, very important pieces on advance of Global Warming, you would see these articles reprinted on every news service. Well, we won’t see these articles on CNN Online, who picked up none of them. We won’t see them on the online versions of Google News, CBS News, Fox News, BBC News, Knight Ridder, Yahoo News, NewsMax America, and MSNBC. ABC picked up the first piece, but it didn’t make their front page; it was in their science section.

And since no one picked up the articles, nobody seemed to notice. Take a look at Technorati and Google Blog Search only show a handful of posts on the articles. And meanwhile you look at the poll on my site and there’s no question that people see the danger inherent in Global Warming, as 13.6% said it was the greatest danger facing the Western world today. So does it not get coverage because Global Warming isn’t sexy enough? I have no idea, but it seems apparent to me that our environmental agencies will have to work harder to get these articles recognized by both the news agencies and the public at large.

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Posted by Scottage at 12:58 AM / | |