Friday, April 06, 2007

Weather, Water, Energy 4-6-07

  • Well, it's out, the second IPCC report, screwed up by certain countries (surprise, US, China, and the Saudis). In fact, "Several scientists objected to the editing of the final draft by government negotiators but in the end agreed to compromises. However, some scientists vowed never to take part in the process again. The climax of five days of negotiations was reached when the delegates removed parts of a key chart highlighting devastating effects of climate change that kick in with every rise of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and in a tussle over the level of scientific reliability attached to key statements." Key points? This: "There is very high confidence that many natural systems are being affected by regional climate changes, particularly temperature increases," said the statement on the first page of text. But China insisted on striking the word "very," injecting a measure of doubt into what the scientists argued were indisputable observations. The report's three authors refused to go along with the change, resulting in an hours-long deadlock that was broken by a U.S. compromise to delete any reference to confidence levels. And this: North America will experience more severe storms with human and economic loss, and cultural and social disruptions. It can expect more hurricanes, floods, droughts, heat waves and wildfires, it said. Coasts will be swamped by rising sea levels. In the short term, crop yields may increase by 5 to 20% from a longer growing season, but will plummet if temperatures rise by 7.2 F.
    Africa will be hardest hit. By 2020, up to 250 million people are likely to exposed to water shortages. In some countries, food production could fall by half, it said. Parts of Asia are threatened with massive flooding and avalanches from melting Himalayan glaciers. Europe also will see its Alpine glaciers disappear. Australia's Great Barrier Reef will lose much of its coral to bleaching from even moderate increases in sea temperatures, the report said.
    So now we know why we got all the early leaks before the truly irresponsible nations could get their hands on the report. We better hope there is no God because, if there is, meet the nations that will burn in Hell. Now you know why there were so many leaks of what the true report had to say prior to the whoring of it by US and Chinese deadbeats.
  • On a normal day, these would be the big stories. A study in Science predicting increasing drought in the SW and northern Mexico, possibly rivalling Dust Bowl days. [Wonder how long those stories of Sun Belt political dominance of the country will last now?] And up north, another report that Lake Superior is warming faster than the surrounding land, primarily because it's lost the ice cover that prevented winter evaporation in the past. Meaning even more evaporation and water loss. Again, weather and water dance. Maybe we could learn from the Baltic Sea nations which are using satellites now to monitor snowmelt and to manage the changing water supplies.
  • Or maybe the story would be this: the destruction of natural wonders of the world from the Amazon to the Himalayan glaciers. Get the full list of climate threatened wonders here.
  • Plants use solar energy efficiently so, if we copy their colors and approaches, can we learn from them?
  • Turns out, not only did we not save energy with earlier daylight savings as Congress in its wisdom claimed but we actually used more. Again, surprise.
  • We whack on ethanol and biofuels here more often than praise them, so here's an article seeing potential in the less well-known biocrops like "reed canarygrass" and "hybrid poplar." Yeah, go ahead and tell us that you've really heard of these before.
  • An interesting social psych study using energy use to show that social norms can influence how homeowners conserve or not. Nicely done. Basically informed high and low energy users of their categories and watched both groups move to the average use. Okay, but if the conservers were specifically noted for their efforts, they stayed at their lower use. Lesson? Smiley faces on lower bills?