UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 20, 2010 (IPS) - The carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels have melted the Arctic sea ice to its lowest volume since before the rise of human civilisation, dangerously upsetting the energy balance of the entire planet, climate scientists are reporting.
"The Arctic sea ice has reached its four lowest summer extents (area covered) in the last four years," said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in the U.S. city of Boulder, Colorado.
The volume - extent and thickness - of ice left in the Arctic likely reached the lowest ever level this month, Serreze told IPS.
The coal seam gas (CSG) industry being developed in Queensland could create huge amounts of the potent greenhouse gas methane, a Climate Institute scientist says.
"It's so frustrating when I hear that Queensland is opening up great swathes of country, of productive land in particular, to coal seam gas production," said Corey Watts, regional projects manager with the Climate Institute.
BOULDER, Colorado, June 29, 2010 (ENS) - Current levels of Earth's atmospheric carbon dioxide may be high enough to bring about "irreversible" shifts in Arctic ecosystems, according to new research published today by scientists from the United States, Canada and The Netherlands.
The Arctic climate system is more sensitive to greenhouse warming than previously known said the researchers, who gathered evidence on what is now Ellesmere Island in Canada's High Arctic from a time period 2.6 to 5.3 million years ago. This period, known as the Pliocene Epoch, occurred shortly before Earth was plunged into an ice age.
"The Aborigines showed that without science and the production of carbon dioxide and global warming, they could survive for 40,000 or 50,000 years. But the world can't. The human species is likely to go the same way as many of the species that we've seen disappear.
"Homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years," he says. "A lot of other animals will, too. It's an irreversible situation. I think it's too late. I try not to express that because people are trying to do something, but they keep putting it off.
"Mitigation would slow things down a bit, but there are too many people here already."
It's an opinion shared by some scientists but drowned out by the row between climate change sceptics and believers.
Polar bear populations are unlikely to decrease steadily and predictably as their sea ice habitat shrinks and thins due to climate change, says a new study by Canadian scientists. Rather, numbers are likely to decline gradually and then suddenly fall off a cliff as the bears reach a "tipping point" in relation to their deteriorating environment.
"This is the most comprehensive report ever on climate change," said atmospheric scientist Ralph J. Cicerone, the president of the academy. They outline "why the U.S. should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and why we should have a national strategy to adapt to the inevitable." The reports are available online at http://www.nationalacademies.org
In 2002, the world's leaders agreed to achieve a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. Having reviewed all available evidence, includingSide5.JPGnational reports submitted by Parties, this third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook concludes that the target has not been met. Moreover, the Outlook warns, the principal pressures leading to biodiversity loss are not just constant but are, in some cases, intensifying.
This will evolve as a systemic crisis; as the integrated infrastructure of our civilisation breaks down. It will give rise to a multi-front predicament that will swamp governments' ability to manage. It is likely to lead to widespread disorientation, anxiety, severe welfare risks, and possible social breakdown. The report argues that a managed 'de-growth' is impossible.
We are at the cusp of rapid and severely disruptive changes. From now on the risk of entering a collapse must be considered significant and rising. The challenge is not about how we introduce energy infrastructure to maintain the viability of the systems we depend upon, rather it is how we deal with the consequences of not having the energy and other resources to maintain those same systems. Appeals towards localism, transition initiatives, organic food and renewable energy production, however laudable and necessary, are totally out of scale to what is approaching.
There is no solution, though there are some paths that are better and wiser than others. This is a societal issue, there is no 'other' to blame, but the responsibility belongs to us all. What we require is rapid emergency planning coupled with a plan for longer-term adaptation.