Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Climate in peril, reefs weaken, Nero fiddles

The carbon dioxide load in the atmosphere keeps rising unabated, as the chart at the right shows, and scientists are getting a better handle all the time on consequences.

(Image: 1958 to 2009 chart of CO2 levels taken at Mauna Loa Observatory shows the rise of the gas in the atmosphere, if anything, is increasing at a steeper rate than it was half a century ago. More information on it here. Credit: NOAA.)

Against this ominous background, here is today's news, starting with something in Hawai'i back yard.

International researchers report that reef growth will slow as more and more carbon dioxide translates into more and more acid oceans. CO2 levels since 1958 have risen from under 320 to more than 380 parts per million (ppm).

The worse news: “ the time atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 will reach 560 ppm all coral reefs will cease to grow and start to dissolve.”

There goes the shoreline. There goes your favorite surf break. There goes the nearshore fishery.


Reuters is reporting that by 2060, summer heat as a result of global warming in Sydney could be fatal to some residents.

Climate change is said to be one-third responsible for major droughts across the world, and as things continue, the droughts are likely to get worse. This is hardly news—these droughts were predicted more than a decade ago as one feature of a warmer world. And now they're here.

It's not that we're doing nothing, although it's not clear we're doing enough.

Europeans are looking at straightening out airline routes
, to reduce fly time and fuel burn.

Congress has some legislation to address carbon emissions, but is not going to fast-track climate legislation for fear of a Republican filibuster.

International groups are pointing fingers rather than acting on climate issues.

And the United Nations official in charge of climate change says India's cheap Nano is just fine, because people deserve automobiles.

The really bad news, perhaps, is that most folks agree that we need to do something about climate, but as Scientific American reports, we can't agree on who should do it or what, exactly to do.

©2009 Jan TenBruggencate

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