Friday, October 1, 2010

Photos: Slopes of Kilimanjaro & Weekly commentary

9/30 Notes from Fremont

Click on web address below to open: To view slides click on "slideshow" top left corner

We in California have an opportunity in the coming election to make a difference in an important climate change issue. Please vote "NO" when you vote on California proposition 23 in the Nov 2010 ballot! This measure would permit the state to return to 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels....under the guise of protecting jobs but in reality the measure is financed and supported by large petroleum and business interests attempting to protect their profits. California cannot afford to return to its high air pollution past. Studies show that more jobs will be created than lost by a change from petroleum to “green” alternatives. We can’t change the entire climate of the world but we can affect the air we breathe and set an example for others.

In this week's blog I want to outline what we know about climate change and why it is important for us and out planet...

Understanding Climate Change

OK – Lets get this straight.

Climate is based on the statistics of temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, rainfall, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological elements in a given region over long periods of time.

Weather is the present condition of these same elements and their variations over periods up to two weeks. Weather refers, generally, to day-to-day temperature and precipitation activity.

Evidence for Climate change:

Based on information from NASA:

The Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era – and of human civilization. Most of these changes are attributed to very small changes in the Earth’s orbit changing the amount of solar energy the Earth receives.

The current warming trend is of particular significant because most of it is very likely human induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.

Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale. Studying these climate data collected over many years reveal the signals of a changing climate.

Certain facts about Earth’s climate are not in disput:

1. The heat trapping nature of CO2 and other gases was demonstrated in the mid 19th century. The gradual increase of CO2 in the atmosphere correlates exactly with the rate of fossil fuel burning and removal of forests, etc. The gradual increase of CO2 also correlated with the measured long term warming of the Earth’s atmosphere.

2. Ice cores from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in solar output, in the Earth’s orbit, and in greenhouse gas levels. They also show that in the past, large changes in climate have happened very quickly, geologically speaking: in tens of years, not in millions or even thousands of years.

3. The Global sea level rose about 6.7 inches in the last century. The rate of increase in the last decade is nearly double that of the last 100 years.

4. Twenty of the warmest years on record have been recorded since 1981, all ten of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years

5. Oceans have absorbed much of the increased heat, with the top 2300 ft. of ocean water warming by .3 degrees F since 1969. Such a temperature shift can trigger dramatic changes in animal and plant growth, leading to the destruction or moving of populations.

6. The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are decreasing. Greenland lost 36-60 cubic miles of ice per year between 2002 and 2006 and Antarctica lost 36 cubic miles of ice between 2002 and 2005.

7. Declining Arctic sea ice - The extent and thickens of Arctic sea ice has rapidly declined over the last several decades.

8. Glaciers have retreated almost everywhere in the world: Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska, and Africa.

9. The number of record high temperature events in the United States has been increasing, while the number of record low temperature events has been decreasing, since 1950. The U.S. has also witnessed increasing numbers of intense rainfall events.

10. The carbon dioxide content of the Earth’s oceans has been increasing since 1750, and is currently increasing about 2 billion tons per year. This has increased ocean acidity by about 30 percent.