Archive for the 'Science_Readings' Category

Skeptics seize upon cold winter

Climate change skeptics, including the communications director for the Republican minority in the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, have seized upon  the unusually cold winter in North America as evidence that global warming is not really happening.  There is no doubt that this year’s La Niña has led to cooler winter weather over North America than we have seen for the past decade (see figure from NYT: 1980-2008 trend), but even this cooler weather is above the 1960-1990 monthly winter average.

Cold winter, but glacier melt accelerates

The World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich, Switzerland reports accelerating glacier melt based on 30 glaciers in 9 mountainous regions.  The biggest worry is loss of glaciers in regions that rely on them for summer drinking water and hydroelectric power, such as those on the western slope of the S. American Andes.  The full technical report is here.  A quote from the final remarks section, regarding melt rate since 1980:  “The melt rate and loss in glacier thickness continues to be extraordinary. This development further confirms the accelerating trend in worldwide glacier disappearance, which has become more and more obvious during the past two decades. “

Preserving the world’s seeds

One-fourth of the world’s species may vanish by the end of the century. There’s an effort afoot to preserve the diversity of the world’s crops by collecting seeds. Those seeds will go into the Svalbard Global Seed Vault now being built in Norway, above the Arctic Circle.

Scientists present roadmap for reducing climate change risks

The report (download here), produced by Sigma Xi and the UN Foundation, and prepared as input for the upcoming meeting of the UN’s Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), outlines a roadmap for preventing unmanageable climate changes and adapting to the degree of change that can no longer be avoided.

Stabilization Wedges (Pacala et al. Sci 2004)

Stabilization Wedges: Solving the climate problem for the next 50 years with current technologies. Pacala and Socolow, Science 2004. Article describes how to break down our ‘total CO2 footprint’ into manageable pieces and stabilize it with current technology.(228kb)