Wakey, wake-up, it’s alarming climate news from Radio Ecoshock.
A super-cyclone, the strongest in 30 years, has hit Northern Australia. Tropical cyclone “Larry,” brought incredible winds up to 180 miles an hour, or 290 kilometers an hour. It was a category five storm. Residents of the town of Innisfail compared the storm blast to being bombed.
If sea surface temperatures continue to rise, coral reefs off east Africa will likely be dead in a few decades. A continuing drought on the Western side of the Cape, in South Africa, devastated crops there for the third straight year. Wheat production in the Western Cape has dropped by almost half, and the country’s total yield of wheat per acre has fallen dramatically, in one of the key breadbaskets that feed Africa. Farmers are blaming the bad weather.
The Amazon continues to emit a thick plume of carbon into the atmosphere, as mining and ranching humans invade the world’s lungs, and it’s treasure box of species. One third of the world’s species make their home in Amazonia.
At an international climate conference in Brazil, scientists from Britain’s Hadley Centre predict the unraveling of the Amazon’s delicate carbon balance.
The forested heart of South America is already experiencing climate change as relative drought. As these lush forests experience “dieback,” their decomposition will release massive amounts of carbon, already in over-supply.
This prediction comes from on-the-ground reports, but also from a gigantic computer modeling and research project called the Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia, or “LBA,” for short. 1700 researchers are taking part.
Satellite reconnaissance showed that 600 fires were started in the region each day on average last year, the Brazilian government reports. The rate of destruction has almost doubled in the past decade. For example, in a 12 month period in 2003-2004, 23,400 square kilometers of rainforest were destroyed. The Amazon is a giant source of transpiration, taking water from the ground through plants, into the atmosphere for our global climate system. It is being destroyed, by humans, and by human-induced climate change.
The government of Brazil continues to build thousands of miles of new roads, each of them a highway for the expanding population to travel, settle, slash and burn. So far, there is no economic alternative for them, or for the wild species falling extinct by the wayside.
Meanwhile, the great glaciers of the Andes are melting at an alarming rate. At just the current rate, some famous South American glaciers will disappear within the next seven years. Cities like Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, depend on water from glacier melt to supply the population. Their glacier, called “Chacaltaya,” will be gone in 8 years, just like the famous snow of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. Much of the agriculture of the Andes depends upon ice and snow in the higher mountains, a water resource that is literally melting away.
The Japan Times reports that global warming appears to be the cause of abnormal fruit development in that country. Growers are finding grapes that don’t turn red, and peaches with brownish flesh. Fruit farmers are becoming concerned about climate change.
Fish migration and production off the coast of sea-food loving Korea has been disturbed by climate and ocean changes. Large stingrays, sharks, and even whales are showing up where they have never been seen before. Summer fish have been caught in November, while some winter fisheries are disappearing. The Korean East Sea Pollack fishery catch was only 15 tons by last Christmas, down 98 percent from the 1980 levels. Fishermen are disturbed by the changes in seasonal fisheries.
An editorial in the Journal of Turkish Weekly wonders if a warmer world will mean Armageddon. Among their worries, bears are coming out of hibernation early in Estonia, and yet early this year, Algeria experienced it’s worst snowfall in 50 years.
A WWF report, released last November, says a major link in the marine food chain, namely plankton in the Irish Sea, are being negatively affected by global warming.
According to a study in the journal BioScience, even gradual warming in the US upper Mid-West could cut the duck population in half by 2050. Fifty to eighty percent of North America’s ducks are born in a chain of 5 million small ponds from the Dakota’s and across the prairies in the Northern Mid-West states and Canada. It is called the prairie pothole region. But as warming proceeds, these birthing grounds will dry up, according to extensive scientific study of 95 years of duck data, and computer modeling of climate change impacts.
An Australian ski resort has joined elements from the American ski industry to try and save the sport from snowless peaks. Called “Keep Winter Cool”, and “Sustainable Slopes,” these campaigns draw in affluent skiers, and less affluent snow-boarders, to demand emissions reductions – from their governments and from themselves. Studies done for the ski industry predict there will be half as much snow by the year 2050.
Last year, the World Conservation Union reported that half of the world’s coral reefs may die within the next 40 years, unless they can be protected from climate change.
Recent science indicates that climate change is now “irreversible,” as reported in the March 14th, 2006 edition of the Independent newspaper. A key indicator: sea ice in the Arctic has failed to form for the second straight winter.
Scientists conclude that the ice covering over the north polar seas will eventually disappear, reducing the earth’s reflectiveness, and thus adding to the absorption of heat. The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center reported that Arctic Ice cover is the lowest seen since satellite monitoring began in 1979, and likely the lowest in the last 100 years or more.
Despite worries about climate change, China plans to boost coal production to record levels, going for 18 percent more coal by the year 2010. China produced 2.2 billion tons last year, according to government statistics. During the last 5 years, Chinese coal production has grown by almost seventy percent. In the Eastern economic miracle, 76 percent of China’s energy came from coal. They expect coal to rise to 80 percent of the newly industrialized economy by 2010.
The United States counts on coal for 75% of its electricity production.
Hang on to your hats…
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