Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Global Warming threshold for Greenland Ice Sheet collapse reduced to 1.6 degrees C


New research from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Universidad Complutense de Madrid has lowered the best estimate for the irreversible collapse of the Greenland Ice Sheet down to 1.6 °C, making the ice sheet more vulnerable than previously thought to global warming. The previous best estimate was 3.1 °C. As we currently have 0.8 °C of global warming, by the middle of the century we could easily pass this new threshold unleashing an ultimate sea level rise of several metres.


Already we have seen record summer melting in Greenland in 2010, and near record mass loss in 2011. According to NOAA the melt season in 2011 lasted up to 30 days longer than average and it affected 31 percent of the ice sheet surface, making 2011 one of just three years since 1979 where melt area exceeded 30 percent. Polar regions are warming much faster and to a greater degree than any other latitude on earth.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Global Warming means 20 Metre sea level rise in the pipeline say scientists

Scientists studying the geological record have determined that at slightly above current temperatures we are about 20 metres below what the sea level equilibrium should be. Sea levels are increasing and forecast to rise at least a metre this century (although there is a low probability they could be higher than this), much of the change in sea level will occur over several hundred or thousands of years.

Scientists looking at the Pliocene period from 2.7 to 3.2 million years ago, the last time temperatures were at a similar range of 2 degrees C above average, estimated peak sea level was 22 ± 10 m higher than modern levels (extreme likelihood). This rise in sea level would require the equivalent of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets disintegrating, and some volume loss from the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. We are already seeing substantial mass loss from Greenland and West Antarctic Ice sheets.

Related: Scientists Estimate Sea level Rise for next 500 years | Sea Level Rise and Australia | Video Interview - The risks of Sea Level Change - Dr Peter Ward

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Carnaby's Cockatoo suffers 37 per cent population decline in one year

Flocks of Carnaby's Black Cockatoo are iconic sights for the people of Perth, the Swan River Region and the forests of the South west. But comparing two population surveys in 2010 and 2011 showed a 37 percent decline in numbers across the Swan river region. That is a 37 per cent decline in one year.

According to Statistical modelling based on the 2011 Great Cocky Count the population of Carnaby’s cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus latirostris) in the Swan Region was between 5200 and 8600 birds. A year earlier it was estimated that the population was 8000 to 10,000.

Related: Scientific American - Endangered Australian Cockatoo Loses One Third of Population in Just 1 Year | Biodiversity crisis: Habitat loss and climate change causing 6th mass extinction

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ocean acidification increasing at unprecedented rate not seen in last 300 million years


In a new study marine scientists warn that the rate of ocean acidification presently occurring is unprecedented in the last 300 million years. This is due to dissolving carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, much of which human activity has contributed over the last 200 years through the use of fossil fuels. The extent of the acidification and rate of acidification enhances the prospect for a mass marine extinction event this century.

Related: Dec 2011 - Ocean acidification warning to Durban climate negotiators to act on reducing CO2 emissions | June 2011 - Oceans at high risk of unprecedented Marine extinction scientists warn | April 2010 - Paleo-perspectives on ocean acidification - marine ecosystems under threat | Feb 2010 - Marine Extinction looms with Ocean Acidification increasing

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Paul Gilding at TED: Choosing life over fear - The coming war for a sustainable civilisation



This talk by sustainability campaigner Paul Gilding is both pessimistic and optimistic about the future of human civilisation facing numerous planetary crises including human overpopulation, overuse of resources, anthropogenic climate change, and biodiversity loss. The earth is now full. Human civilisation is facing a great disruption this century, within our lifetimes.

Economic growth as we know it is dead, the planet can no longer sustain infinite growth, without degradation of our working capital, the earth and it's resources. We are now spending the future of our children.

Paul stresses that where we have a great crisis, humans have the capability to act with great resourcefulness. We have an opportunity for change. We can make the preparations in transitioning our lives, our communities through the great disruption.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Victorians want Baillieu State Government to act on climate change, clean energy

Most Victorians want more action on climate change and renewable energy from the Baillieu State Government according to a new public opinion survey commissioned by Environment Victoria.

The survey was conducted in late December 2011 and early January 2012 involving a series of questions to over 1000 people in Victoria conducted by Essential Media, a professional market survey company. The primary results show that 76 percent of Victorians expect the State Government to take action to reduce greenhouse pollution rather than leaving tackling climate change to the federal sphere of politics. There is also massive support for the implementation of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, and just 22 per cent believe the 2km wind farm veto is fair.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

James Hansen at TED: Why I must speak out about climate change


Recorded for TED on Feb. 29 2012 at Long Beach, Cal and posted in March, this video provides a succint account of Dr James Hansen's career as a climate scientist and why he campaigns for action on climate change. He has in recent years engaged in civil disobedience being arrested on a number of occasions campaigning specifically against the highly destructive and polluting practice of mountaintop removal coal mining in West Virgina. He has been arrested at protests in West Virginia and outside the Whitehouse.

The video includes a brief statement on his Fee and Dividend proposal for taxing the carbon emissions of oil, gas and coal at the mine or port of entry and distributing all this money back to citizens in a monthly dividend to allow them to make the energy choices to drive change in the economy. You would think this would make 'free market' sense to Republicans and Libertarians, but many people in the Republican party and the Libertarian Party are too caught up and captive to fossil fuel interests. Many of these people even deny the scientific facts on global warming and climate change as enunciated in peer reviewed journals and every academy of science in the world, including the US National Academy of Sciences.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sea ice volume: Multi-year arctic sea ice reducing dramatically


A new study has noted a substantial decadal decline in the Arctic Multiyear ice cover. While ice extent has been shrinking, much of this is seasonal ice that reforms each winter and can grow with variable weather factors such as changes in temperature, wind, weather and ocean currents. A reduction in the thicker multiyear ice indicates a much greater impact and collapse of sea ice is evident.

Greenpeace activists say Coal ship highlights 'Reef in Danger'

Greenpeace activists targeted a bulk coal carrier in Gladstone harbour early this morning. They painted 'reef in danger' on the side of the ship around dawn from two inflatable boats to highlight the massive expansion of coal port facilities and shipping through the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. The action was undertaken to highlight the threat to the Greet Barrier Reef from industrial development and expansion to a UNESCO team visiting Queensland to assess the dangers to the Great Barrier Reef and it's World Heritage status.

Related: Greenpeace Report -Boom Goes the Reef: Australia’s coal export boom and the industrialisation of the Great Barrier Reef (PDF) | Greenpeace - Live Action! A painted picture for UNESCO

"With the UNESCO team arriving in Gladstone today, we wanted the message to be very clear," Greenpeace spokeperson Julie Macken told AAP. The UNESCO team is expected to spend two weeks in Australia assessing the threats to the reef.