Global warming

With great sorrow I see how in some places on Earth, Global Warming is not a scientific or even social event. It's political agenda. And that's wrong. Nature should not be exploited in politics, not when so much is at stake. The fact that one party claims the fight with global warming to be its goal, doesn't justify the total ignorance and ridicule of the others. So, let me show you what I've got on the issue. Go figure it for yourself afterwards.

The sources of the 3 articles is all the same: EuroAktiv. I didn't remove the inside links, so you can follow them if you feel like to, or just read the original article from the link on the bottom of each one. Yes, science can be easily manipulated, but the same goes for every aspect of our life. We can never know for sure, the key is to act in a way that we won't regret afterwards even in the worst case scenario. And I'm gonna say what I always say about it- protecting Earth is not so impossibly hard. The big decisions are for the big players, but when it comes to the small ones, like me, all we have to do is vote for people that will preserve our Home, recycle our trash and try to use resources smartly. It's not painful to turn of the light, to buy energy saving bulb, to use the stairs instead of the elevator (not to mention it's healthy) and walk instead of using the car. Insulating our houses, we save money and help the planet. Buying energy efficient appliance, we save money and help the planet. It's easy. We just have to want it. I hope those articles would make you want it. For more information on the issue, please check my blog- To the future with love -the blog to find out the latest discoveries on the issue.

Science of climate change

Published: Friday 9 March 2007 | Updated: Wednesday 11 April 2007

The scientific consensus that humans are responsible for global warming is now compelling with over 90% probability, according to the latest conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN-backed scientific body. But uncertainties remain surrounding the extent of future temperature rises and the effects they will have on the earth's complex ecosystem.

Early climate models in the 1970s only took a limited number of factors into account: carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations, heat from the sun (radiation) and rain but not clouds (for an introduction to climate science, see BBCexternal ).

Climate science has evolved greatly since then. Models now take into account many more factors such as land surface, ice sheet cover (which reflects the sun's radiation), deserts (which also reflect radiation), forests (which absorb CO2), ocean currents, and more (for a description of main climate models, see Wikipediaexternal ).

Drawing on peer-reviewed work from hundreds of scientists worldwide, the reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changeexternal (IPCC) are seen as a reference in climate change science. Their purpose is to inform policy-makers about the causes of climate change, its potential impacts and draw up possible response options. The reports have laid the scientific foundations for some countries to embark on ambitious policies to try to reduce global warming. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its related Kyoto Protocol directly stem from conclusions drawn up by the IPCC.

Global warming has already had multiple effects, such as rising sea-levels, melting glaciers and shrinking ice caps, increasing temperatures and acidity of the oceans, as well as possible increases in the intensity of tropical cyclones.

The first IPCC report on climate change appeared in 1990 and was still rather cautious. Subsequent IPCC reports tried to narrow down uncertainties and refine predictions.

A summary of conclusions from the IPCC's 4th Assessment Report - Working Group I (AR4) was agreed on 2 February 2007. The document concludes that: "most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperature since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (human) greenhouse gas concentrations." The assertion "very likely" amounts to a probability of than 90% in UN terminology. It is stronger that the panel's previous conclusions which, in 2001, referred to human responsibility as being "likely", or equivalent to a 66% probability.

Other main conclusions of the IPCC's fourth report - WG I (20007):

  • Eleven of the last 12 years rank among the 12 warmest years on record since 1850
  • Global average temperatures have increased by 0.74°C over the last 100 years, with the trend over the last 50 years standing at twice the average (0.13 °C per decade).
  • Global average temperature will likely increase by a further 1.8-4.0°C this century.
  • Sea levels likely to rise by 28 to 43 cm.

Greenfacts has a more detailed and structured summary external of the first part of the IPCC 2007 report.

IPCC Working Group II presented its part of the 4th assessment on 6 April. Their report "Climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerabilityPdf external " highlighted that global warming is already having a dramatic negative effect on animals, plants and water in different regions of the world. It also underlined that it will be "the poorest of the poor" who will be the main victims of climate change.

Based on the IPCC's second report (1995), the EU has adopted binding targets to reduce GHG emissions with the ambition to keep global warming under control. EU environment ministers agreed in 1996 that global average temperature "should not exceed 2°C above pre-industrial levels".

They based their decision upon IPCC calculations which showed that, in order to keep temperatures below this limit, concentration of GHG in the atmosphere should stay below 400 parts per million CO2 equivalent (ppm), Conversely, if concentrations were to rise above 550 ppm, then the target would likely be missed. IBut the most well-known debate is the so-called "hockey stick" controversy which focused on the reconstruction of temperature fluctuations in the Northern hemisphere over the past 1,000 years, as presented in the IPCC's third assessment report in 2001. The reconstruction showed that the recent warming observed since the 1950s is unprecedented in history, rising up sharply in the later part of the graph, making the curve bend at the end like a hockey stick. The hockey stick theory was fiercely challenged by scientists and US republicans who claimed that the scientists compiling the date were deliberately playing down previous variations in temperatures to make the case for a more dramatic rise today. The dispute was eventually settled upon request from the US Congress by a panel of scientists which broadly supported the hockey stick depiction.

The most striking theories developed in the symposium concerned so-called ‘tipping points' where warming leads to consequences which, once started, cannot be reversed. The most widely commented of these ‘tipping points' related to the possible closure of the Gulf Stream (North-Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation – THC) which keeps Northern Europe relatively warm even though it is at the same latitude as Canada.

According to different protection methods, the odds that the Gulf Stream would shut down ranged to anything between none to a 2 in 3 chance in the next 200 years to a 30% possibility by 2100. Further modelling experiments and observation data were essential for more robust answers, one scientist noted.

A report by the European Environment Agency issued in August 2004 concluded that Europe is warming faster that the global average with temperatures projected to climb by a further 2.0-6.3°C this century as emissions of GHG continue building up.

Once a stern challenger of mainstream climate science, US oil major ExxonMobil now recognises that something needs to be done about manmade greenhouse gas emissions. "We know enough now to say that we need to be on a path to start addressing anthropogenic emissions," said Ken Cohen, vice-president for public affairs at ExxonMobil in a recent interview with EurActiv.

For environmental NGOs, the scientific evidence is now beyond any doubt. "The science is clear, Humans are causing climate change," said the WWF after the IPCC issued the summary conclusions of its fourth assessment report in February 2007. "The report embodies an extraordinary scientific consensus that climate change is already upon us, and that human activities are the cause," said James P. Leape, Director General of WWF International.

For Friends of the Earth, "scientists say that while all climate change is dangerous, a global average temperature increase of more than 2°C would have catastrophic consequences, putting the lives and livelihoods of millions of people at risk." "The 2003 European heat-wave has killed 33,000 people in Europe and has caused €13 billion in economic damages while tremendous forest fires in the south of Europe have destroyed large ecosystems with serious effects on the touri sector," said Friends of the Earth Europe.


Global warming could speed up as oceans soak up less CO2

Published: Monday 22 October 2007

The North Atlantic Ocean's capacity to absorb greenhouse gases has decreased by half in ten years, according to the results of a decade-long study conducted by environmental scientists at the University of East Anglia.

The study on surface marine CO2 levels in the Atlantic Ocean shows a 50% reduction in the ocean's capacity to soak up greenhouse gases.

"Such large changes are a tremendous surprise. We expected that the uptake would change only slowly because of the ocean's great mass," said Dr Ute Schuster, who has been involved in the research since 2000. The results of the survey, conducted between 1995 and 2005 by scientists at the University of East Anglia (UK), will be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research this week.

The oceans, together with the land biosphere, are major carbon "sinks" for CO2 emissions. Together, they absorb some 50% of all the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. According to the researchers, oceans soaking up less CO2 will lead to a faster increase in CO2 levels in the atmosphere and increase the rate of global warming.

Scientists are also concerned that the oceans may in time become saturated with CO2 and begin reflecting the gas back into the atmosphere.

Asked whether, based on these alarming results in the North Atlantic, the research could be extended to the South Atlantic as well, Dr Ute Schuster told EurActiv that "the interest is definitely growing" but that "the absence of regular lines for trade ships is a problem for conducting such extensive research at the South Atlantic. In the absence of merchant ships, we could consider placing measurement devices on immobile drifting buoys there," she said.

The data for North Atlantic was collected by merchant ships, and in particular one container ship carrying bananas from the West Indies to the UK, that regularly sail there equipped with specific devices for measuring CO2 levels.

Regarding the future of research on surface marine CO2 in the Atlantic Ocean, Schuster said that "instruments are in place and still running."

The researchexternal conducted by scientists at the University of East Anglia is part of an EU-funded project called CarboOceanexternal , which targets accurate scientific assessment of marine carbon sources and sinks within space and time.


Biofuels: no viable solution for climate, survey reveals

Published: Tuesday 11 December 2007

Climate professionals across the world have no faith in the current generation of biofuels, placing them bottom of a list of 18 technologies with carbon-reduction potential, according to a survey published on 10 December 2007 by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the World Bank.

Solar power, wind farms, tidal energy, clean coal and nuclear technologies and even bicycles are expected to contribute more to reducing CO2 levels over the next 25 years, according to a survey of a thousand decision-makers representing governments, the private sector, NGOs and media from 105 countries.

According to the report, only 21% of respondents believe in the potential of first-generation biofuels, made from agricultural crops, such as ethanol and biodiesel, to "lower overall carbon levels in the atmosphere without unacceptable side effects".

On the other hand, over 70% of respondents said they were confident in the potential of solar power for hot water and electricity, while nuclear and second-generation biofuels, made from non-food crops, each got backing from more than 400 of the thousand respondents.

The survey comes ahead of the publication of Commission proposals, expected in January 2008, to boost the share of biofuels in transport fuels from current levels of less than 2% to 10% by 2020 (EurActiv 11/01/07).

The results, however, appear to confirm rising concerns that imposing a mandatory target could impact negatively both on the environment and on food security.

While the Commission says it will deal with these concerns through the introduction of binding sustainability criteria, green NGO Friends of the Earth Europe (FoE), which has published a leaked draft of the EU executive's plans, says the proposed criteria will fail to adequately protect ecosystems and people in developing countries (EurActiv 10/12/07).

"Using crops to produce fuel is a false solution to climate change - the real solutions lie in forcing car companies to produce cleaner cars, improving public transport and making our towns and cities more energy efficient," said FoE climate campaigner Adrian Bebb.

But biofuel producers claim that first-generation biofuels are needed in the short term as second-generation ones are still far from being commercially viable.