Global Warming News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on global warming
From the assassination of John F Kennedy to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. From Roswell, New Mexico, to Nasa's moon landings. From the bloodline of Christ to the death of Elvis Presley. From the Moscow appartment bombings to the Indian Ocean tsunami. From Pearl Harbour to Peak Oil, the Philadelphia experiment and Pan Am flight 103. Every major event of the last 2,000 years has prompted a conspiracy theory and here we examine those with the biggest followings and the most longevity. 1. September 11, 2001. Thanks to the power of the web and live broadcasts on television, the ... theories surrounding the events of 9/11 ... have surpassed those of Roswell and JFK in traction. The [alternative] theories continue to grow in strength. At the milder end of the spectrum are the theorists who believe that the US government had prior warning of the attacks but did not do enough to stop them. Others believe that the Bush administration deliberately turned a blind eye to those warnings because it wanted a pretext to launch wars in the Middle East to usher in another century of American hegemony. A large group of people - collectively called the 9/11 Truth Movement - cite evidence that an airliner did not hit the Pentagon and that the World Trade Centre could not have been brought down by airliner impacts and burning aviation fuel alone. Many witnesses - including firemen, policemen and people who were inside the towers at the time - claim to have heard explosions below the aircraft impacts (including in basement levels) and before both the collapses and the attacks themselves.
Note: For a concise two-page summary of many unanswered questions about what really happened on 9/11, click here.
Changes to the climate due to human activity can now be detected on every continent, following a study showing that temperature rises in the Antarctic as well as the Arctic are the result of man-made emissions of greenhouse gases. It is the first time scientists have been able to prove the link between the temperature changes in both polar regions are down to human activity and it also undermines climate sceptics who believe the warming trend seen in the Arctic in recent decades is part of the climate's natural variability. The findings contradict the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said that Antarctica was the only continent where the human impact on the climate had not been observed. The new study shows that Antarctica has been caught up in the changes to the global climate over the past 60 years and that this warming cannot be attributed to natural variations. Using four computer models and data from dozens of weather stations sited around both the North and South poles, the study conclusively shows that humans are responsible for the significant increases in temperatures observed in the Arctic and the Antarctic over the past half century. "We're able for the first time to directly attribute warming in both the Arctic and the Antarctic to human influences on the climate," said Nathan Gillett of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, who led the study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Note: For many key reports from reliable sources on the reality of global warming, click here.
Consumption of resources is rising rapidly, biodiversity is plummeting and just about every measure shows humans affecting Earth on a vast scale. Most of us accept the need for a more sustainable way to live, by reducing carbon emissions, developing renewable technology and increasing energy efficiency. But are these efforts to save the planet doomed? A growing band of experts are looking at figures like these and arguing that personal carbon virtue and collective environmentalism are futile as long as our economic system is built on the assumption of growth. The science tells us that if we are serious about saving Earth, we must reshape our economy. This, of course, is economic heresy. Growth to most economists is as essential as the air we breathe. They see no limits to that growth, ever. In recent weeks it has become clear just how terrified governments are of anything that threatens growth, as they pour billions of public money into a failing financial system. Amid the confusion, any challenge to the growth dogma needs to be looked at very carefully. This one is built on a long-standing question: how do we square Earth's finite resources with the fact that as the economy grows, the amount of natural resources needed to sustain that activity must grow too? It has taken all of human history for the economy to reach its current size. On current form it will take just two decades to double. In this special issue, New Scientist brings together key thinkers from politics, economics and philosophy who profoundly disagree with the growth dogma but agree with the scientists monitoring our fragile biosphere.
James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has [co-authored a] paper saying that [future global warming] is likely to turn out worse than most people think. The most recent major report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 projects a temperature rise of three degrees Celsius, plus or minus 1.5 degrees—enough to trigger serious impacts on human life from rising sea level, widespread drought, changes in weather patterns, and the like. But according to Hansen and his nine co-authors ... the correct figure is closer to six degrees C. “That’s the equilibrium level,” he says. “We won’t get there for a while. But that’s where we’re aiming.” And although the full impact of this temperature increase will not be felt until the end of this century or even later, Hansen says, the point at which major climate disruption is inevitable is already upon us. “If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted,” the paper states, “CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm [parts per million] to at most 350 ppm.” The situation, he says, “is much more sensitive than we had implicitly been assuming.” Back in 1998 ... Hansen was arguing that the human impact on climate was unquestionable, even as other leading climate scientists continued to question it. He was subsequently proved right, not only about the human influence but about the approximate pace of future temperature rise.
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The environmental damage caused to developing nations by the world's richest countries amounts to more than the entire third world debt of $1.8 trillion, according to the first systematic global analysis of the ecological damage imposed by rich countries. There are huge disparities in the ecological footprint inflicted by rich and poor countries on the rest of the world because of differences in consumption. The authors say that the west's high living standards are maintained in part through the huge unrecognised ecological debts it has built up with developing countries. "At least to some extent, the rich nations have developed at the expense of the poor and, in effect, there is a debt to the poor," said Prof Richard Norgaard, an ecological economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who led the study. "That, perhaps, is one reason that they are poor. You don't see it until you do the kind of accounting that we do here." The researchers examined so-called "environmental externalities" or costs that are not included in the prices paid for goods but which cover ecological damage linked to their consumption. They focused on six areas: greenhouse gas emissions, ozone layer depletion, agriculture, deforestation, overfishing and converting mangrove swamps into shrimp farms. The team confined its calculations to areas in which the costs of environmental damage, for example in terms of lost services from ecosystems, are well understood. "We think the measured impact is conservative. And given that it's conservative, the numbers are very striking," said co-author Dr Thara Srinivasan, who is also at Berkeley.
Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India's part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true. As the seas continue to swell, they will swallow whole island nations ... inundate vast areas of countries from Bangladesh to Egypt, and submerge parts of scores of coastal cities. Eight years ago ... the first uninhabited islands - in the Pacific atoll nation of Kiribati - vanished beneath the waves. The people of low-lying islands in Vanuatu, also in the Pacific, have been evacuated as a precaution, but the land still juts above the sea. The disappearance of Lohachara, once home to 10,000 people, is unprecedented. Two-thirds of nearby populated island Ghoramara has also been permanently inundated. Refugees from the vanished Lohachara island and the disappearing Ghoramara island have fled to Sagar, but this island has already lost 7,500 acres of land to the sea. In all, a dozen islands, home to 70,000 people, are in danger of being submerged by the rising seas.
Note: There has been little solid evidence showing that this island was inundated due to global warming. For more on this, see this link.
Six former heads of the Environmental Protection Agency, including five who served Republican presidents, said Wednesday that the Bush administration needed to act more aggressively to limit the emission of greenhouse gases linked to climate change. Speaking on a panel that also included the current agency chief, Stephen L. Johnson, they generally agreed that the need to address global warming was growing urgent and that the continuing debate over what percentage of the problem was caused by human activities was a waste of time. The blunt opinions of [the current EPA chief's] Republican predecessors served as a sharp reminder that since Mr. Bush took office in 2001, neither the president nor the Republican-led Congress has proposed any comprehensive plan to limit carbon emissions from vehicles, utilities and other sources, a problem that Mr. Bush's own Department of Energy predicts will grow worse.
Last year was the warmest in the continental United States in the past 112 years -- capping a nine-year warming streak "unprecedented in the historical record" that was driven in part by the burning of fossil fuels, the government reported yesterday. According to the government's National Climatic Data Center, the record-breaking warmth -- which caused daffodils and cherry trees to bloom throughout the East on New Year's Day -- was the result of both unusual regional weather patterns and the long-term effects of the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The center said there are indications that the rate at which global temperatures are rising is speeding up. Average temperatures nationwide in 2006 were 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the mean temperatures nationwide for the 20th century. Climate experts generally do not make much of temperature fluctuations over one or two years, but ... the record 2006 temperatures were part of a long and worrisome trend. For instance, NOAA said, the past nine years have all been among the 25 warmest years on record for the continental United States. Brenda Ekwurzel, a climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists [said] "when you look at temperatures across the globe, every single year since 1993 has been in the top 20 warmest years on record." Globally, 2005 was the hottest year on record ... and 2006 was slightly cooler.
Just how far will corporate lobbyists go to tilt governmental decisions in their favor? Last fall, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the Clean Air Act does not require regulating carbon dioxide emissions that are heating up the planet at an unprecedented rate. It turns out that two of the jurists who helped decide the case -- Chief Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg and Judge David B. Sentelle -- attended a six-day global warming seminar at Yellowstone National Park sponsored by a free-market foundation and featuring presentations from companies with a clear financial interest in limiting regulation. Exxon Mobil Corp. and other large businesses contribute to conservative think tanks to help "educate" federal judges through seminars like the one at Yellowstone. The Code of Conduct for federal judges does not prohibit attending such seminars -- as long as participation does not "cast reasonable doubt on the capacity to decide impartially issues that may come before them." Leaders of Congress and the federal courts seem to recognize that the federal judiciary ought to be out of bounds for lobbyists. Judges are appointed for life, and allowing insider access threatens the integrity of the one branch of government that should stand above politics. Court cases must be won by argument, not by influence, and that means putting a stop to judicial junkets that give one side of the debate an unfair advantage.
A group of 1,700 leading scientists called on the US government yesterday to take the lead in fighting global warming. Citing the "unprecedented and unanticipated" effects of global warming, the scientists, including six Nobel prizewinners, presented a letter calling for an immediate reduction in US carbon emissions. The letter, issued by the non-profit Union of Concerned Scientists, warns: "If emissions continue unabated, our nation and the world will face more sea level rise, heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, snowmelt, flood risk, and public health threats, as well as increased rates of plant and animal species extinctions." The White House joined in the chorus of gloom when it issued a long-delayed report bringing together research into global warming. The report was issued after environmental groups won a court order last year enforcing a statute that obliges the government to produce an assessment of global warming every four years. Described as "a litany of bad news in store for the US", the report catalogues threats from drought, natural disaster, insect infestation and energy shortages. The scientists call on the government to "reduce emissions on the order of 80% below 2000 levels by 2050." As a first step, the scientists call for a 15-20% reduction on 2000 levels by 2020. "There is no time to waste," the letter concludes. "The most risky thing we can do is nothing." Another group of climate scientists warned yesterday that a "curious optimism ... pervades the political arenas of the G8 and UN climate meetings. The authors are part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but stress in this paper they do not represent the panel.
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It's been dubbed a Noah's Ark for plant life and built to withstand an earthquake or a nuclear attack. Dug deep into the permafrost of a remote Arctic mountain, the "doomsday" vault is designed by Norway to protect the world's seeds from global catastrophe. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a backup to the world's 1,400 other seed banks, was to be officially inaugurated in a ceremony Tuesday on the northern rim of civilization attended by about 150 guests from 33 countries. The frozen vault has the capacity to store 4.5 million seed samples from around the globe, shielding them from climate change, war, natural disasters and other threats. Norway's government owns the vault in Svalbard, a frigid archipelago 620 miles from the North Pole. The Nordic country paid $9.1 million for construction, which took less than a year. Other countries can deposit seeds for free and reserve the right to withdraw them upon need. Giant air conditioning units have chilled the vault to just below zero, a temperature at which experts say many seeds could survive for 1,000 years. Inside the concrete entrance ... a roughly 400-foot-long tunnel of steel and concrete leads to three separate 32-by-88-foot chambers where the seeds will be stored. The first 600 boxes with 12 tons of seeds already have arrived from 20 seed banks around the world, Norwegian Agriculture Minister Terje Riis-Johansen said. Each chamber can hold 1.5 million packets holding all types of crop seeds, from carrots to wheat.
A sea change in the consumption of a resource that Americans take for granted may be in store — something cheap, plentiful, widely enjoyed and a part of daily life. And it isn’t oil. It’s meat. Global demand for meat has multiplied in recent years, encouraged by growing affluence and nourished by the proliferation of huge, confined animal feeding operations. These assembly-line meat factories consume enormous amounts of energy, pollute water supplies, generate significant greenhouse gases and require ever-increasing amounts of corn, soy and other grains, a dependency that has led to the destruction of vast swaths of the world’s tropical rain forests. The world’s total meat supply was 71 million tons in 1961. In 2007, it was estimated to be 284 million tons. Per capita consumption has more than doubled over that period. (In the developing world, it rose twice as fast, doubling in the last 20 years.) At about 5 percent of the world’s population, [Americans] “process” (that is, grow and kill) nearly 10 billion animals a year, more than 15 percent of the world’s total. Growing meat (it’s hard to use the word “raising” when applied to animals in factory farms) uses so many resources that it’s a challenge to enumerate them all. An estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production. Livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation. Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens.
Hydrogen, tested in buses from Amsterdam to Vancouver ... is a clean power that promises to break dependence on oil and gas -- at least in Iceland. With almost unlimited geothermal energy sizzling beneath its surface, Iceland has an official goal of making the country oil-free by shifting cars, buses, trucks and ships over to hydrogen by about 2050. About 70 percent of Iceland's energy needs ... are already met by geothermal or hydro-electric power. Only the transport sector is still hooked on polluting oil and gas. The world's first hydrogen filling station, run by Shell, opened in Reykjavik in April 2003. Hydrogen bus projects have also been launched in cities including Barcelona, Chicago, Hamburg, London, Madrid, Stockholm, Beijing and Perth, Australia. The efficiency of the hydrogen fuel cells will decide if the ventures take off into the wider car market. "The idea is that the buses should be twice as efficient as an internal combustion engine," said Jon Bjorn Skulason, general manager of Icelandic New Energy Ltd. Greater engine efficiency would compensate for the inefficiency of producing hydrogen. Iceland's buses, made by DaimlerChrysler, cost about 1.25 million euros ($1.67 million) each, or three to four times more than a diesel-powered bus, Skulason said. It takes about 6-10 minutes to refill a hydrogen bus, giving a range of 240 miles. [A] Reykjavik bus driver said diesel and hydrogen buses were similar to drive. "But the hydrogen bus is less noisy."
Bush's relationship to science can be illustrated by the fact that he is speaking rapturously of producing ethanol from (of all things) switch grass -- but not saying a word about what many scientists say may be the greatest disaster facing humankind: global climate change. [In] a Time magazine cover story...Mark Thompson and Karen Tumulty write that "growing numbers of researchers, both in and out of government, say their findings -- on pollution, climate change, reproductive health, stem-cell research and other areas in which science often finds itself at odds with religious, ideological or corporate interests -- are being discounted, distorted or quashed by Bush Administration appointees. In the past two years, the Union of Concerned Scientists has collected the signatures of more than 8,000 scientists -- including 49 Nobel laureates... -- who accuse the Administration of an unprecedented level of political intrusion into their world. Says Francesca Grifo, director of the group's Scientific Integrity Program,"'What's new is its pervasive and systemic nature. We get calls every week from federal scientists reporting stuff to us. Rarely, however, are they willing to put their jobs and their research grants at risk by going public with their complaints." 29-year NASA veteran James Hansen, who is director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, charged on the front page of the New York Times that he has been muzzled by the agency. Melissa Block interviewed Bransby on NPR and found out that politics played a role in Bush's mention of switch grass.
The ozone layer has stopped shrinking but it will take decades to start recovering, U.S. scientists reported on Tuesday. They said an international agreement to limit production of ozone-depleting chemicals has apparently worked, but the damage to ozone has not been halted completely. An analysis of satellite records and surface monitoring instruments shows the ozone layer has grown a bit thicker in some parts of the world, but is still well below normal levels, the scientists report in Wednesday's issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research. The experts credited, at least in part, the 1987 Montreal Protocol which was ratified by more than 180 nations and set legally binding controls for on the production and consumption of ozone-depleting gases containing chlorine and bromine.
Global warming is approaching the point of no return, after which widespread drought, crop failure and rising sea levels will be irreversible, an international climate change task force warned Monday. It called on the Group of 8 leading industrial nations to cut carbon emissions, double their research spending on technology and work with India and China to build on the Kyoto Protocol for cuttings emissions of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” blamed for global warming. “An ecological time bomb is ticking away,” said Stephen Byers, who was co-chairman of the task force with U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. “World leaders need to recognize that climate change is the single most important long-term issue that the planet faces.” According to the report, urgent action is needed to stop the global average temperature rising by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the level of the year 1750 — the approximate start of the Industrial Revolution, when mankind first started significantly adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. No accurate temperature readings were available for 1750, the report said, but since 1860 the global average temperature has risen by 0.8 percent to 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit).
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is quitting the hydropower and geothermal power research business -- if Congress will let it. Declaring them "mature technologies" that need no further funding, the Bush administration in its FY 2007 budget request eliminates hydropower and geothermal research. "What we do well is research and funding of new, novel technologies," says Craig Stevens, chief spokesman for the DOE. "I'm just astonished the department would zero out these very small existing budgets for geothermal and hydro," says V. John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies. "These are very important resources for our energy future that could replace the need for a lot of coal-fired power plants." Indeed, the costs of lost opportunities from dropping such research could be enormous in the long run. Geothermal holds vast potential -- at least 30,000 megawatts of identified resources developable by 2050. Meanwhile, the more than 5,400 potential "small hydro" power projects could produce about 20,000 megawatts of power, a DOE study in January found. And most would require no new dams at all, shunting a portion of a small river's flow to one side to make electricity. Others would add turbines to dams that don't have them yet. Together, high-tech hydropower and geothermal resources could contribute at least enough power to replace more than 100 medium-size coal-fired power plants with emissions-free electricity.
Climate change is serious business - in more ways than one. Capitalist 'bootleggers' have co-opted the environmental [movement] to fulfil their raison d'etre - making money. Thanks to the 'greenwash', the solutions could be worse than the problems. Sitting on the board of [a] virtuous-sounding group - the Alliance for Climate Protection (ACP) - is one of the world's most famous green champions, Al Gore. Alongside him sits Theodore Roosevelt IV. Theodore the Fourth is a ... managing director of Barclays Capital. Consider another environmental-economics powerhouse, Generation Investment Management (GIM). Gore founded it ... with the aid of David Blood - chief executive of Goldman Sachs Asset Management from 1999 to 2003. It is economics, not environmentalism, that has driven the search for ethically superior energy from "clean" sources derived from previously sacrosanct areas of wilderness, the exploitation of which has suddenly been legitimised, perhaps as new "energy farms" or for "biofuels". Likewise, previously off-limits coastal areas have been designated as not only suitable but also positively benign sites on which to drill for oil and gas. After all, the long-term interest - one might say the fuel - propelling countries is money. "Greenwash" is the term environmentalists use to describe businesses that present themselves as green although their practices are not.
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Floods, fires, melting ice, and feverish heat — from smoke-choked Moscow to water-soaked Iowa and the High Arctic, the planet seems to be having a midsummer breakdown. It is not just a portent of things to come, scientists say, but a sign of troubling climate change already under way. The weather-related cataclysms of July and August fit patterns predicted by climate scientists, the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization says, although those scientists always shy from tying individual disasters directly to global warming. The specialists see an urgent need for better ways to forecast extreme events like Russia’s heat wave and wildfires and the record deluge devastating Pakistan. “There is no time to waste,’’ because societies must be equipped to deal with global warming, says British government climatologist Peter Stott. The UN’s network of climate scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has long predicted that rising global temperatures would produce more frequent and intense heat waves and more intense rainfalls. In its latest assessment, in 2007, the Nobel Prize-winning panel went beyond that. It said these trends “have already been observed,’’ in an increase in heat waves since 1950, for example. The World Meteorological Organization pointed out that this summer’s events fit the international scientists’ projections of “more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to global warming.’’
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