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Sun

02

Dec

2007

Temperatures Rising
Sunday, 02 December 2007 16:26
by Dr. Paul J. Balles

Wake up! Forget the roses. They're not going to be around long to smell if we don't do something about the changing climate.

Melting ice sheets leading to a rapid rise in sea levels plus the extinction of large numbers of species should be enough to concern us all. If you live in a country surrounded by the sea, and you live close to the coast, you should be doubly concerned.

Many have seen the film The Butterfly Effect, where a small change in the early events of one’s life can result in huge differences in later life. The idea comes from chaos theory, where small changes in the initial conditions of a system may produce large variations in the long term behaviour of the system.

The title reflects the metaphor of the butterfly fluttering its wings in one part of the world causing a tornado to appear (or prevent a tornado from appearing) in another.

Sections of a UN report issued last spring focused on three issues: the first on science, the second on how the world could adapt to warming and the third about how countries could “mitigate,” or reduce the greenhouse gases produced.

According to the New York Times, "This fourth and final assessment — the so-called synthesis report — seeks to combine lessons from all three. Its conclusions are culled from data contained in the thousands of pages that were essentially technical supplements to the panel’s previous publications."

When the latest report was issued on November 18th, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that earth is on the brink of catastrophe. He warned the United States and China, the world’s leading greenhouse gas emitters, to” play a more constructive role” in meeting “the defining challenge of our age.”

NIWA scientist Dr Jim Salinger says glaciers are shrinking and the volume of ice in the Southern Alps has dropped almost 11% in the last 20 years, which he says is a clear sign temperatures in the area have been rising.

Some scientists have suggested that the report understates the problem since it's based on a five-year study and fails to take recent events, like greater energy use in China or latest data on climate change, fully into account.

Even the ripple effect of small degrees of temperature change can be disastrous in terms of species extinction and loss of biodiversity. Melting ice sheets could lead to rapid rises in sea levels, and this could occur from warming of only one to three degrees.

If ice-sheets in Greenland and Western Antarctica melt entirely, sea levels would rise 40 feet according to scientists. What happens to coastal areas if sea levels rise only five or ten feet from melting glaciers?

The real sufferers are and will continue to be the developing nations and countries surrounded by water. In December ministers will meet in Bali to learn about the options available and to understand the consequences of inaction.

Unfortunately countries like the United States and China have been trying to play down the consequences of global warming, primarily because they don't want to bear the expense of controlling the industries responsible.

As Secretary General Ban said, "Today the world's scientists have spoken clearly and with one voice, In Bali I expect the world's policymakers to do the same." The countries meeting in Bali need to insist on measures to control global warming, preserve the environment and stay above water.
 
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Harry Barracuda said:

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The facts they choose to ignore.
Global climate change is normal, in fact the scientists were telling us for the last 30 years that we are overdue an ice age. This tiny little blip in global temperatures (and it is tiny) may be nothing abnormal at all, there is simply so little data other than speculative.

That is the biggest flaw in the climate change argument, there is simply not enough hard evidence to blame it on human behaviour.
 
December 03, 2007
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