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Climate Change Escape Routes

Animal and plant populations would need to move to keep up with recent climate change One if by land, two if by sea? Results of a study published this week in the journal Science show how fast animal and plant populations would need to move to keep up with recent climate change effects in the ocean and on land.The answer: at similar rates.The study was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and performed in part through the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California at Santa Barbara."That average rates of environmental change in the oceans and on land are similar is not such a surprise," says Henry Gholz, program director in NSF's Division of Environmental Biology."But averages deceive," Gholz says, "and this study shows that rates of change are at times greater in the oceans than on land--and as complex as the currents themselves."Greenhouse gases have warmed the land by approximately one degree Celsius since 1960. That rate is roughly three times faster than the rate of ocean warming. These temperatures have forced wild populations to adapt--or to be on the move, continually relocating.Although the oceans have experienced less warming overall, plants and animals ...

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Meeting on Climate change impacts and adaptation: a challenge for global ports

Geneva on 29-30 September The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) issued a notice stating that it will host in Geneva on 29-30 September an Ad Hoc Expert Meeting on climate change impacts and adaption: a challenge for global portsWith over 80 per cent of the volume of world trade carried by sea, international shipping and ports provide crucial linkages in global supply-chains and are essential for the ability of all countries, including those that are landlocked, to access global markets.Ports are likely to be affected directly and indirectly by climatic changes, such as rising sea levels, extreme weather events and rising temperatures, with broader implications for international trade and for the development prospects of the most vulnerable nations, in particular LDCs and SIDS.Given their strategic role as part of the globalized trading system, adapting ports and transport systems in different parts of the world to the impacts of climate change is of vital importance. A good understanding of risks and vulnerabilities is a pre-condition to well-designed and effective adaptation response measures that enhance the resilience of systems, structures and processes and minimize the adverse effects of climatic factors.To help advance the important debate on how best to ...

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Hurricane Irene 2011: Climate Change To Blame?

One of the most hotly debated questions It's been one of the most hotly debated questions this week: Is climate change driving Hurricane Irene?"No one is going to point to Irene and say this is climate change," Kim Knowlton, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, told The Huffington Post. "But we can say that we are seeing the fingerprint of climate change this year."Knowlton was of course referring to the growing list of extreme weather events that have ravaged the U.S. in 2011 -- from tornadoes and flooding, to droughts and heat waves. And now millions of Americans, many of whom have never seen a real tropical storm in their lifetime, are facing a major hurricane.Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes with "more destructive potential" have been linked to climate change as far back as the 1970s, Knowlton said. And higher wind speeds and larger quantities of rain are expected to accompany future storms, much like the one currently beating its way up the East Coast. Whether or not climate change actually affects the frequency of hurricanes is more intensely debated.Jay Gulledge, a senior scientist at the nonprofit Pew Center on Global Climate Change, told HuffPost in an ...

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Climate change could release toxins trapped in Arctic ice

Rising temeratures cause the release of persistent organic pollutants Despite a global decrease in the production of certain toxic chemicals, we may be in for an onslaught.That's because rising global temperatures are causing the release of persistent organic pollutants, such as DDT and PCBs, which have been locked in arctic ice for more than half a century.Although the chemicals were created to provide societal benefits, such as killing mosquitoes and protecting crops, it didn't take long for scientists to see they were having devastating effects on the environment.Studies have shown many of these chemicals can cause cancer, birth defects and other health problems. And they don't just wash away. Persistent organic pollutants, as the class of chemicals is known, stick around for decades before finally breaking down.They also are attracted to fatty tissue in animals and pass through the food chain from one animal to the next.Recognizing the dangers of these chemicals, dozens of wealthy nations joined forces in 2001 to ban 12 of them by signing the Stockholm Convention on POPs (persistent organic pollutants). Yet since that ban, scientists had noticed localized upticks in atmospheric concentrations of these chemicals, especially over the Arctic.These reports inspired a team of Canadian ...

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Facing the security challenge of climate change

One of the biggest threats to our world Most people would agree climate change is one of the biggest threats to our world. But opinions differ on the nature of this threat, how it will affect our lives and what we must do to face it.Politicians, diplomats and security experts across the board -- not only in the Western world -- share the assessment that climate change might have a serious impact on international peace and security. It is not difficult to see why: rising sea levels threaten the very existence of small island states in the Pacific and the loss of coastal shores to the sea leading to population resettlements.The increased scarcity of potable water -- as a consequence of wells becoming brackish due to salty sea water -- adds to rivalry and tension. Overwhelming evidence shows this has already begun to happen: it is not the subject of a scientific discussion in an ivory tower.Let there be no doubt: we are not talking about a small number of people on a remote island having to give up their stretch of the beach. We are talking about sea level rises that might seriously impact the lives of millions of ...

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Did ExxonMobil break Its promise to stop funding climate change deniers?

Exxon provided $55,000 for a study on Arctic climate change in 2007 and 2008 Back in 2008, ExxonMobil pledged to quit funding climate change deniers. But according to new documents released through a Greenpeace Freedom of Information Act request, the oil giant was still forking over cash to climate skeptics as recently as last year, to the tune of $76,000 for one scientist skeptical of humankind's role in global warming.This-and much more-came to light in a new report about the funding of Wei Hock "Willie" Soon, an astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.Soon has been a favorite among climate skeptics for years, since coauthoring a paper back in 2003 that claimed that the 20th century was probably not the warmest, nor was it unique. That paper, published in the journal Climate Research, was widely criticized by climate scientists for its content, not to mention the funding it received from the American Petroleum Institute. An astrophysicist by training, Soon has also claimed that solar variability-i.e., changes in the amount of radiation coming from the sun-are to likely to blame for warming temperatures.In 2007, Soon coauthored a paper challenging the claim that climate change harms polar bears. The paper drew plenty ...

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Sea levels along Atlantic coast rise faster than any time in the past 2,000 years

Due to increasing global temperatures The rate of sea level rise along the U.S. Atlantic coast is greater now than at any time in the past 2,000 years--and has shown a consistent link between changes in global mean surface temperature and sea level. The findings are published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).The research, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), was conducted by Andrew Kemp, Yale University; Benjamin Horton, University of Pennsylvania; Jeffrey Donnelly, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Michael Mann, Pennsylvania State University; Martin Vermeer, Aalto University School of Engineering, Finland; and Stefan Rahmstorf, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany."Having a detailed picture of rates of sea level change over the past two millennia provides an important context for understanding current and potential future changes," says Paul Cutler, program director in NSF's Division of Earth Sciences."It's especially valuable for anticipating the evolution of coastal systems," he says, "in which more than half the world's population now lives."Adds Kemp, "Scenarios of future rise are dependent on understanding the response of sea level to climate changes. Accurate estimates of past sea-level variability provide a context for such projections."Kemp and colleagues developed the first ...

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New insight into how climate change and sea level rise are shaping barrier islands

7 key findings from a new survey A new survey of barrier islands published earlier this spring offers the most thorough assessment to date of the thousands of small islands that hug the coasts of the world's landmasses.The study, led by Matthew Stutz of Meredith College, Raleigh, N.C., and Orrin Pilkey of Duke University, Durham, N.C., offers new insight into how the islands form and evolve over time - and how they may fare as the climate changes and sea level rises.The survey is based on a global collection of satellite images from Landsat 7 as well as information from topographic and navigational charts. The satellite images were captured in 2000, and processed by a private company as part of an effort funded by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.During the 20th century, sea level has risen by an average of 1.7 millimeters (about 1/16 of an inch) per year. Since 1993, NASA satellites have observed an average sea level rise of 3.27 millimeters (about 1/8 of an inch) per year.A better understanding of how climate change and sea level rise are shaping barrier islands will also lead to a more complete grasp of how these dynamic forces are affecting ...

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Climate change s role in the flooding of the Mississippi

Clearly climate change isn't the only factor influencing these floods It seems like there's been a lot of crazy weather lately. Powerful tornadoes wreaking havoc across the Southeast, Texas in the worst drought in decades and now flooding along the Mississippi.Global warming, right? Um, actually, maybe so.It's a standard first response whenever any climate scientist is asked if a particular weather event was caused by climate change: "You can't say any one storm happened because of climate change." And then they go on to talk about how climate change may have played a role, but that it's hard to tell without a long-term context.But by that point, most listeners (including highly-distractible high school students) have moved on. You wasted your 10-second window of opportunity on the caveat as opposed to the main point:Climate change was involved.There's no way it wasn't. The world we live in is a world warmed-up and altered by greenhouse gases that we put in our atmosphere and that's just the way it is. There is no control group. Every weather event we get is happening within the context of a climate-changed world.As one scientist, Dr. Peter Gleick at the Pacific Institute, puts it, "We are loading ...

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Target of peaking emissions by 2020

Less than a decade to put in place measures The world now has less than a decade to put in place measures that would prevent damaging and irreversible changes to global climate, a new science-based report delivered to the Australian parliament warns.The report from a government-appointed commission of climate experts tables the latest evidence in climate science and also targets what it says is ill-informed debate that is confusing the public and holding back action.The report's authors conclude there is "strong and clear" scientific evidence of global warming and humans' role in it. The "fingerprints" of greenhouse-gas forcing are increasingly there to see, they argue.In a report entitled The Critical Decade, the report warns that global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must reach their peak as soon as possible if the plus-2-degrees "guardrail" warming limit is to be met to avoid irreversible alterations in the climate that will make it "a struggle to maintain our present way of life".On the latest available science, it argues, if the generally accepted target of peaking emissions by 2020 is followed then steep reductions in emissions of 9 per cent per year will be required thereafter - something that would appear impossible unless economies were ...

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