Friday, September 4, 2009

Ribbon Seal Protection Sought by Activists

From: Dan Joling, AP via Discovery News

Ribbon seals should be listed as threatened or endangered because global warming is quickly melting sea ice, which the seals depend on for several months each year, two environmental groups said in a lawsuit filed against the federal government in San Francisco Thursday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in December denied a listing under the Endangered Species Act for the seals found off the coasts of Alaska and Russia.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Greenpeace sued in U.S. District Court, claiming the agency ignored the best science available on global warming.

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Climate-change technology risks 'catastrophic' outcome

Risky and unproven climate-changing technologies could have "catastrophic consequences" for the earth and humankind if used irresponsibly, according to a new report.

Yet without drastic further cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, a geoengineering solution may offer the only hope of saving the world from disastrous run-away global warming, experts warned.

A report by the Royal Society, Britain's leading academic institution, looks at the feasibility and potential dangers of technologies designed to cool the earth.

They include artificial "trees" that suck carbon dioxide out of the air, and spraying sulphate particles high in the atmosphere to scatter the sun's rays into space. The scientists concluded that, although some approaches were possible, they had not yet been properly researched and posed serious potential dangers for the planet.

Professor John Shepherd, who chaired the Royal Society geoengineering working group, said: "It is an unpalatable truth that unless we can succeed in greatly reducing carbon dioxide emissions we are heading for a very uncomfortable and challenging climate future, and geoengineering will be the only option left to limit further temperature increases."

"Our research found that some geoengineering techniques could have serious unintended and detrimental effects on many people and ecosystems — yet we are still failing to take the only action that will prevent us from having to rely on them."

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Schwarzenegger to Obama cabinet: Water... please!

From: Peter Henderson, Reuters

Schwarzenegger to Obama cabinet: Water... please!

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has demanded that President Barack Obama's cabinet rethink federal policy that would divert water from parched farms and cities to threatened fish, his administration said on Wednesday.

California's rivers used to brim with salmon and sturgeon, but a massive system of canals diverted water that fed farms and cities, now suffering through a third year of drought.

Schwarzenegger has gained credibility as an environmentalist for his push to curb greenhouse gases but he argued that federal plans to save fish will worsen a water crisis that has cost farmers more than $700 million and caused mandatory rationing in cities of the most populous state.

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Abrupt reversal detected in Arctic cooling trend

David Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor

The Arctic climate has been warmer over the past decade than during any 10-year period in 2,000 years, according to a study by an international research team that adds powerful new evidence that human-generated greenhouse gases have speeded the pace of the planet's recent warming.

The report from an international team of climate scientists concludes that climate change in the Arctic has accelerated since the Industrial Revolution, abruptly reversing a long-term worldwide cooling trend.

"The study provides a clear example of how increased greenhouse gases are now changing our climate," said Caspar Ammann of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., a co-author of the report published Thursday in the journal Science.

To deduce the Arctic's decade-by-decade climate trend over the centuries, the leading scientists in the international study analyzed sediment cores in 14 Arctic lakes that revealed the varied growth rates of long-buried plants. They also studied Arctic tree rings to determine their growth rates and ages as well as ice cores from glaciers across the Arctic that showed patterns of relative warm and cold.

Researchers at other institutions, seeking to look for patterns of climate change even further back in time, used astronomical records to study the well-known wobble of the globe as it spins on its axis. They found that the Northern Hemisphere has long been moving away from the sun's warmth. During the summer solstice, the Northern Hemisphere is now a million kilometers - about 621,000 miles - farther away from the sun than it was 2,000 years ago, according to the scientist's computer models.

The result was a global period of relative cold that would have continued, the scientists found. But about 1850, at the beginning of the Industrial Age, the planet's climate began overcoming the cooling trend, and the Arctic climate has warmed decade by decade ever since as greenhouse gas emissions have increased, the scientists say.

Stephen Schneider, a Stanford climate expert and biologist who did not participate in the study, called the seven-year study, involving seven major research institutions in three nations, "a heroic effort."

The study, he said, "shows that nature has been, unfortunately, cooperating with theory and showing us on a long-time scale of millennia that the mainstream view is once again bolstered."

It is clear again, Schneider said, that anthropogenic influences - the increasing emission of greenhouse gases into the Earth's atmosphere - are the prime cause of global warming.

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