Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The food crisis: How bad can it get?

The food crisis: How bad can it get?
PJ Patterson
Former Jamaica prime minister PJ Patterson has sounded a grim warning on the dangers to security of the food crisis.
The former prime minister of Jamaica PJ Patterson has sound a grim warning on just how bad the global food crisis can get, unless it is quicky resiolved.

Speaking at a meeting in Antigua of the G 77 group of countries, he raised the spectre of warfare as an possible outcome.

Referring to so-called food riots which have already taken place in several countries, including Haiti, Mr Patterson warned of the potential for further upheavals if a solution is not found. More>>>

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Solar Power Lightens Up with Thin-Film Technology

Cheap, durable, efficient devices are needed to generate a significant amount of electricity from the sun. So-called thin-film photovoltaic cells may be just the ticket

The sun blasts Earth with enough energy in one hour—4.3 x 1020 joules—to provide all of humanity's energy needs for a year (4.1 x 1020 joules), according to physicist Steven Chu, director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The question is how to most effectively harness it. Thin-film solar cells may be the answer: One recently converted 19.9 percent of the sunlight that hit it into electricity, surpassing the amount converted into power by mass-produced traditional silicon photovoltaics and offering the potential to unleash this renewable energy source.

Prices for high-grade silicon (that can generate electricity from sunlight) shot up in 2004 in response to growing demand, reaching as high as $500 per kilogram (2.2 pounds) this year. Enter thin-film solar cells—devices that use a fine layer of semiconducting material, such as silicon, copper indium gallium selenide or cadmium telluride, to harvest electricity from sunlight at a fraction of the cost. More>>>

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Global Warming Is Affecting Arctic Faster, WWF Says

April 24 -- Global warming is hitting the Arctic harder and faster than scientists expected, causing unforeseen changes to the frigid region's ice, wildlife, atmosphere and oceans, the conservation group WWF said.
The most prominent differences observed over the last three years include a ``massively accelerated'' decline in summer sea ice and ``much greater'' shrinking of the Greenland Ice Sheet, the environmental campaign group, known in the U.S. as the World Wildlife Fund, said in a 123-page report today.

``We're seeing more rapid temperature-warming,'' Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, said by phone. The best explanation is ``a trigger from greenhouse gases,'' he said. Scambos wasn't involved in the WWF report.

Conserving Arctic ecosystems requires slashing emissions blamed for climate change and reducing human activities that threaten the region that stretches between the North Pole and the northern timberlines of Eurasia and North America, the WWF said.

``Whatever happens in the Arctic is of global concern,'' Martin Sommerkorn, climate change adviser at WWF and the study's author, said today in a phone interview from Norway's Lofoten Islands, inside the Arctic Circle. ``We're going into a very uncertain future where we don't understand the changes that are already happening with global climate change.'' More >>>

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

NOAA: Greenhouse Gases Growing Faster Than Ever

April 23, 2008 = WASHINGTON — Major greenhouse gases in the air are accumulating faster than in the past, despite efforts to curtail their growth.

Carbon dioxide concentration in the air increased by 2.4 parts per million last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Wednesday, and methane concentrations also rose rapidly.

Concern has grown in recent years about these gases, with most atmospheric scientists concerned that the increasing accumulation is causing the earth's temperature to rise, potentially disrupting climate and changing patterns of rainfall, drought and other storms.

• Click here to visit's Natural Science Center.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has worked to detail the scientific bases of this problem and the Kyoto agreement sought to encourage countries to take steps to reduce their greenhouse emissions.

Some countries, particularly in Europe, have taken steps to reduce emissions.

But carbon dioxide emissions, primarily from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, have continued to increase. More >>>

Monday, April 21, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wild fires likely to spread due to global warming

Thu Apr 17, 2008 - VIENNA (Reuters) - Wild fires are likely to be bigger, more frequent and burn for longer as the world gets hotter, in turn speeding up global warming to create a dangerous vicious circle, scientists say.
The process is being studied as part of work to develop a detailed map of global fire patterns which will be used with climate models to predict future fire trends.

The scientists told a geoscience conference in Vienna they already predict fires will increase and could spread to previously fire-free parts of the world as the climate changes.

"An increase in fire may be the greatest early impact of climate change on forests," Brian Amiro from the University of Manitoba said late on Wednesday.

"Our forests are more likely to become a victim of climate change than a savior," he added. More >>>

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Jamaica's energy conservation policy

April 14, 2008 - The world's population is growing. Globalisation has opened up hitherto (geographically, politically and ideologically) isolated places to travel for business and pleasure. Competitive and diverse job markets necessitate frequent long-distance commuting and precipitate lengthy, serpentine traffic lines.

The demands of 'modern' living and the need for creature comforts have put a tremendous strain on the world's energy resources. The economic boom in India and (especially) China is accelerating the depletion of our uncertain energy stores. Consequently, every nation, including Jamaica, needs a programme of energy conservation to significantly reduce consumption of fossil fuel. This energy source - believed to be formed by the fossilised remains of dead plants and animals that have been heated and pressurised within the Earth's crust over hundreds of millions of years - is not only non-renewable, it is expensive and extremely polluting.

Jamaica's innumerable motor vehicles congest our streets day and night. Air-conditioned, multi-storey administrative offices; hillsides bejewelled by opulent illuminated residences, energy-hungry factories and businesses all go to prove that we consume far more than we produce. Our penchant for First-World amenities on a Third-World budget (that landed us deep in generation-spanning debt) belies the fact that Jamaica's energy bill is subject to volatile crude oil prices (now more than US$110 per barrel). More >>>

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Eritrean coral reefs provide hope for global marine future

SHEIKH SEID, Eritrea, April 15 (AFP) Apr 15, 2008 Silver bubbles pop to the surface as a snorkeler glides over a colourful coral reef, bright fish speeding to safety in its protective fronds.

Experts say this small Horn of Africa nation has some of the most pristine coral reefs left anywhere worldwide, a "global hotspot" for marine diversity supporting thousands of species.

Known also as Green Island for its thick cover of mangroves, Sheikh Seid is only one of 354 largely uninhabited islands scattered along Eritrea's southern Red Sea desert coast, many part of Eritrea's Dahlak archipelago.
The remote reefs are exciting scientists, who see in Eritrea's waters a chance of hope amidst increasingly bleak predictions for the future of coral reefs -- if sea temperatures rise as forecast due to global climate change.
Unlike the deeper, cooler waters elsewhere in the Red Sea, Eritrea's large expanses of shallow -- and therefore hotter -- waters have created corals uniquely capable of coping with extremes of heat, scientists say.

"Eritrea has the most temperature tolerant corals in the world," said marine expert Dr John 'Charlie' Veron, dubbed the "king of coral" for his discovery of more than a fifth of all coral species.

"That bodes well, for climate change is set to decimate coral reefs." More >>>

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Caribbean Governments Urged to Set Climate Action Agenda

KINGSTON, Jamaica, April 9, 2008 (ENS) - Regional scientists are calling on Caribbean governments to help develop an emerging research and action agenda that will prepare the islands for the effects of climate change.
A preliminary agenda was reached after three teams of scientists carried out extensive research on climate change scenarios and modeling, coastal, marine and terrestrial biodiversity in the region.

Fined tuned at a two-day workshop hosted by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Natural Resource Institute at the University of the West Indies, Mona, the agenda identifies gaps in existing capacity in the region to deal with the effects of climate change and outlines measures to correct those deficiencies.
Dr. John Agard, chairman of the Environmental Management Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, says the agenda is long overdue.

"At the climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia last December, the Caribbean had no defined position," he declared. "Other countries had positions, and we, named as the primary targets that are likely to be most affected by climate change, had no regional positions on what we wanted to achieve, while other people were busy lobbying for what they wanted."

"That is absurd and embarrassing and we must not do that again!" said Dr. Agard. More >>>

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

EU Funding to fight climate change

New €80 million fund to boost energy efficiency and renewables in the fight against climate change in developing countries.

Brussels, 28 March 2008 - New €80 million fund to boost energy efficiency and renewables in the fight against climate change in developing countries.

The Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF)
As part of its initiatives to fight against climate change, the European Commission has launched a fund, the GEEREF, to mobilise private investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in developing countries and economies in transition. Targeted at small scale projects, the Commission will kick-start the fund with a contribution of up to €80million over the next four years. New €80 million fund to boost energy efficiency and renewables in the fight against climate change in developing countries. More >>>
[How nice it would be if the British Overseas Territories were eligable for some of this! Editor.]

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Global warming threatens to flood Manila – WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday that Asia’s “delta megacities” like Manila and Calcutta in India “could be threatened” by river and coastal flooding brought about by global warming.

April 9, 2008
- WHO noted that sea levels are expected to rise because of increasing temperatures, threatening those living in low-lying areas.“Millions of people could face disease, poverty and hunger if Asia’s arable lands become unworkable through changes in temperature, rainfall, river flows or pest abundance,” the agency added. WHO estimates that climate change and variability might be the cause of increase in the number of deaths – now at over 150,000 every year – from malaria, diarrhea, malnutrition and injury from floods. Half of them are in Asia and the Pacific.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

World Health Day 2008 to Highlight Health Effects of Climate Change

PAHO/WHO calls for action to mitigate impacts that range from hurricanes and floods to shortages of food and water.

Washington, D.C., April 4, 2008 (PAHO)—The effects of global climate change on human health and the need for action to prevent adverse impacts will be the focus of World Health Day 2008, which this year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO). The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) will host a celebratory event marking the day at its Washington, D.C., headquarters on Monday, April 7, at 9:30 a.m.

"Climate change is already affecting the health of people in countries around the world, and the consensus is that these effects are only going to intensify," said PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses, who will give the welcoming message at the event. "This year's World Health Day is a call for raising awareness and taking action to protect health through preventive measures at the global, regional, and local levels. We cannot wait any longer to act." More >>>

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Should Drivers Pay for Global Warming?

April 02, 2008 Nothing riles Southern Californians like a new tax on their God-given right to drive. Yet motorists in Los Angeles County might be paying an extra 9 cents per gallon at the gas pump -- or an additional $90 on their vehicle registration fees. The purpose? It would help fight global warming.

Voters will decide whether to approve a "climate change mitigation and adaptation fee" under a proposed law being debated by the state legislature. It has already been endorsed by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The money would be used to fund public transportation and other projects that ease traffic congestion at a time when the state budget is strapped and money from Washington has all but dried up. Critics are hopping mad. They say that it exploits public sympathy for global warming in order to fund projects that are already sucking down taxpayers' dollars. More >>>

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Disintergration: Antarctic warming claims another ice shelf

In late February 2008, the Wilkins Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula disintegrated, an indication of warming temperatures in the region.
March 26 2008 - The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites provided some of the earliest evidence of the Wilkins Ice Shelf disintegration. Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), noticed changes in the shelf in MODIS imagery in March 2008.

Terra acquired these images on February 28 (top) and March 17 (bottom). The top image, acquired just before the breakup, shows the intact ice shelf. The bottom image, taken 18 days later, shows the remnants of the ice shelf becoming frozen in place by surrounding seawater. Whereas the intact ice shelf appears white, the disintegrated shelf appears in varying shades of pale blue indicating small pieces of water-saturated ice mixed with a newly forming veneer of sea ice.

In the March 17 image, amid the pieces of shattered shelf, large blocks of ice cluster along the northern and (especially) southern edges of the shelf. Upstream from the broken shelf, crevasses appear on what remains of the shelf, suggesting that this portion of the shelf remains vulnerable to disintegration. According to Scambos, however, the ice shelf will not likely undergo further breakup until the next Antarctic summer. “The ice has begun to re-freeze, and it’s already been snowed on,” he stated. More >>>