Climate

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Future
November 4, 2011 03:37 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

USGS scientists and academic colleagues have investigated how California's interconnected San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (the Bay-Delta system) is expected to change from 2010 to 2099 in response to both fast and moderate climate warming scenarios. Results indicate that this area will feel impacts of global climate change in the next century with shifts in its biological communities, rising sea level, and modified water supplies. "The protection of California's Bay-Delta system will continue to be a top priority for maintaining the state's agricultural economy, water security to tens of millions of users, and essential habitat to a valuable ecosystem," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "This new USGS research complements ongoing initiatives to conserve the Bay-Delta by providing sound scientific understanding for managing this valuable system such that it continues to provide the services we need in the face of climate uncertainty."

Parched Texas town seeks emergency relief from drought
November 1, 2011 09:32 AM - Kiah Collier, Reuters, ROBERT LEE, Texas

No one drinks the tap water, which is unbearably briny as the lake dries up. After one of the hottest summers on record, the lake that is the lone water supply and main recreational draw in this tiny West Texas town is more than 99 percent empty. Robert Lee, which is a two-hour drive east of Midland, has received only about six inches of rainfall this year, half the normal amount. It is the worst water stitch the town has been in at least since the lake, E.V. Spence Reservoir, was created in the 1960s by damming a portion of the Colorado River. More water is on the way, but it will only be enough to meet the basic needs of the town of 1,049 and will come at the expense of yet another sizable water rate increase. Residents are looking forward to improved palatability and a more stable supply because Spence -- which is usually 21 times the size of the entire area of Robert Lee, but now not much bigger than a pond -- withers away. "It tastes ugly and it stinks," said Delfino Navarro, a mechanic and handyman at a local car dealership, who stood on his browning front lawn on a recent afternoon with a bottle of water in hand. "You can't drink that water or you'll get sick."

Why Population Matters to the environment

Environmentalists agree on the issues facing us, including collapsing diversity, climate change and resource insecurity. We also agree on the causal factors, including pollution, invasive species, resource over-exploitation, waste, population growth, global industrialisation, unsustainable consumption and poor business practices. Solutions are harder. None will solve all our problems and all face obstacles and opposition. Technological solutions, such as biofuels, fracking, shale oil, GM foods and nuclear have side effects, while renewables have limited scope. Environmentally conscious lifestyles, including less waste, travel and consumption, are increasingly adopted, but the impact may by limited given the billions seeking to improve their low living standards. Changes to corporate and governmental practices have occurred, but are far from universal, particularly in the developing world. In my lifetime, human numbers have grown from 3 billion in 1960 to 7 billion today. By 2085, they are projected to grow to 10 billion. One can argue about the impact this makes, but it clearly does not help. We believe that a smaller population would help us to preserve the environment and live within the limit of renewable resources, as part of a comprehensive approach to the environment and sustainability. Most would agree that improving living standards for the poor, women's rights and access to health, including family planning, are desirable and they all tend to lead to women choosing to have smaller families. We would argue that aid for family planning to developing countries should be prioritised, both for environmental reasons and because it contributes to poverty alleviation, women’s empowerment and better health. While individual consumption in those countries is low, growing populations do affect the environment and they will not always be poor as the world industrialises.

Prehistoric Greenhouse Data from Ocean Floor Could Predict Earth's Future, Study Finds
October 28, 2011 08:13 AM - Editor, Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Oct. 27, 2011) — New research from the University of Missouri indicates that Atlantic Ocean temperatures during the greenhouse climate of the Late Cretaceous Epoch were influenced by circulation in the deep ocean. These changes in circulation patterns 70 million years ago could help scientists understand the consequences of modern increases in greenhouse gases.

Catholic archbishop says climate change action is a waste of time and money
October 28, 2011 08:01 AM - ClickGreen staff, ClickGreen

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney George Pell has questioned the morality and cost benefits of tackling climate change in a controversial speech in London. The Australian cardinal used his speech to liken carbon trading to Medieval indulgences and described green campaigners as not merely zealous but zealots. He said the only long-term benefits of schemes to tackle climate change will be extra government taxes and revenues and the cost of attempts to tackle global warming will be very heavy.

Climate change and population growth making US water problems worse
October 27, 2011 07:14 AM - Kim Palmer, Reuters, ERIE, Pa

Climate change and population growth in the United States will make having enough fresh water more challenging in the coming years, an expert on water shortages said on Wednesday. "In 1985-1986 there were historical (water level) highs and now in less than 25 years we are at historical lows. Those sorts of swings are very scary," said Robert Glennon, speaking at the State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference in Erie, Pennsylvania. Glennon, a professor at Arizona State University and the author of "Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It," said that that according to climate experts, shorter, warmer winters mean less ice and greater exposure to the air, leading eventually to more water evaporation. "We think about water like the air -- infinite and inexhaustible but it is very finite and very exhaustible," Glennon said. "When you have a shorter ice season you have great exposure to the air and more evaporation. As temperatures go up it is very troubling," Glennon said. "The cycles are going to become more acute which is very troubling."

Cedar Trees Beneficial Uses
October 26, 2011 04:18 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Deserts are an unlikely place to find a form of plant life that is so promising as to grown quickly on very little. Still arid climate plants are very hardy. Tel Aviv University researchers are doing their part to reduce humanity's carbon footprint by successfully growing forests in the most unlikely place — deep in Israel's Aravah Desert. With environmental "extras" such as a local plant species, recycled sewage water unsuitable for agriculture, and arid lands unusable for crops, a group of researchers including Profs. Amram Eshel and Aviah Zilberstein of TAU's Department of Molecular Biology and Ecology of Plants at the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences and the university's new Renewable Energy Center have discovered a winning combination.

Calcutta leads world city list most at risk from climate change
October 26, 2011 08:37 AM - ClickGreen staff, Click Green

A major new mapping study, analysing climate change vulnerability down to 25km² worldwide, has revealed some of the world's fastest growing populations are increasingly at risk from the impacts of climate related natural hazards and sea level rise. Many of the countries with the fastest population growth are rated as 'extreme risk' in the Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) released by risk analysis and mapping firm Maplecroft. These include the strategically important emerging economies of Bangladesh (2nd), Philippines (10th), Viet Nam (23rd), Indonesia (27th) and India (28th).

Water use growing twice as fast as population!
October 26, 2011 07:04 AM - Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters, Environment Correspondent WASHINGTON

Like oil in the 20th century, water could well be the essential commodity on which the 21st century will turn. Human beings have depended on access to water since the earliest days of civilization, but with 7 billion people on the planet as of October 31, exponentially expanding urbanization and development are driving demand like never before. Water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century, said Kirsty Jenkinson of the World Resources Institute, a Washington think tank. Water use is predicted to increase by 50 percent between 2007 and 2025 in developing countries and 18 percent in developed ones, with much of the increased use in the poorest countries with more and more people moving from rural areas to cities, Jenkinson said in a telephone interview.

Is the danger of global warming really the heat?
October 24, 2011 06:55 AM - Christine Stebbins, Reuters, CHICAGO

Crop scientists in the United States, the world's largest food exporter, are pondering an odd question: could the danger of global warming really be the heat? For years, as scientists have assembled data on climate change and pointed with concern at melting glaciers and other visible changes in the life-giving water cycle, the impact on seasonal rains and irrigation has worried crop watchers most. What would breadbaskets like the Midwest, the Central Asian steppes, the north China Plain or Argentine and Brazilian crop lands be like without normal rains or water tables? Those were seen as longer-term issues of climate change. But scientists now wonder if a more immediate issue is an unusual rise in day-time and, especially, night-time summer temperatures being seen in crop belts around the world. Interviews with crop researchers at American universities paint the same picture: high temperatures have already shrunken output of many crops and vegetables. "We don't grow tomatoes in the deep South in the summer. Pollination fails," said Ken Boote, a crop scientist with the University of Florida.

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