Monday, April 9, 2007

Do-Or-Die-Decade News

Scientists vs. Statesmen: There was intense debate between the international scientists responsible for the IIPC Fourth Assessment Report: “Climate Change 2007: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.”

According to the AP: “Agreement came after an all-night session during which key sections were deleted from the draft and scientists angrily confronted government negotiators who they feared were watering down their findings … some scientists vowed never to take part in the process again.”

It’s interesting to note that the three countries that demanded the report be softened were the United States, China, and Saudi Arabia.

What the scientists agree on: “about a third of the earth's species face a greater risk of vanishing if global temperatures rise 2C above the average of the 1990s. Ecosystems in areas of coral reef, sea ice, tundra and boreal forests are under serious threat … desertification, drought and rising sea levels will affect billions of people. Africa, home to the poorest people on the planet, will be hardest hit. Some 75 million to 200 million more people there will be exposed to water shortages and crop failure … Small island communities will also be at severe risk. A sea-level rise is expected to exacerbate flooding, storm surges, coastal erosion and other hazards faced by such communities.”

Unfortunately, children are most vulnerable: “The Save the Children charity said up to 175 million children would be affected every year over the next decade by climate-related disasters like droughts, floods and storms.”

Droughts in the American Southwest: One area here in the states ay risk is the southwest where water is increasingly scarce. “The bottom line message for the average person and also for the states and federal government is that they’d better start planning for a Southwest region in which the water resources are increasingly stretched,” said Richard Seager of Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. Like the years of the Dust Bowl, “the reduction in rainfall could be equivalent to those times when thousands of farmers abandoned their parched land and moved away in search of jobs.”

Some good news: in Australia, the 4 million residents of Sydney turned off their lights to show their united concern about global warming.

Small wind: Engineers at the University of Hong Kong have developed a micro wind-turbine that can be installed on rooftops and balconies in crowded cities.

They “can generate electricity even if wind speeds are as low as two meters per second … Lucien Gambarota, the main inventor of the technology, says this is its advantage over conventional small wind turbines, which only work about 40 percent of the time because of low wind speed. "We never stop this machine and they never stop because there is always one meter per second wind - 365 days, 24 hours a day, they keep working," said Gambarota.”