Archive for the ‘weather’ Category

Geoengineering — trying to change the Earth’s climate on a global scale by doing things like seeding the upper atmosphere with reflective particles — is getting attention from serious scientists.

But not so fast, says James Lovelock, originator of the hugely influential ‘Gaia Hypothesis.‘  In an article in today’s Guardian, Lovelock says:

our ignorance of the Earth system is great; we know little more than an early 19th-century physician knew about the body. Geoengineering is like trying to cure pneumonia by immersing the patient in a bath of icy water; the fever would be cured but not the disease.

Better to leave the Earth to cleanse itself, says Lovelock, since our cure may be worse even than the ailment it currently suffers, both for the Earth and for us.

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Even though it’s raining hard here in EarthQuaker land, we’re still being told to expect a drought this summer.  That makes us more than usually interested in issues of water management and conservation.

A good place to start for a global overview of the crises we face with water is this interview with Peter Gleick, founder and president of the Pacific Institute.

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Europeans now feel that climate change is the world’s biggest security threat, reports the Christian Science Monitor this week.

Correspondent Nicole Itano writes from Italy that the EU sees it as a “threat multiplier” that “intensifies existing trends, tensions, and instability.”

The report — written by Javier Solana, EU foreign-policy chief, and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations — warns of ‘environmental migrants’ flooding the EU and of instability and collapse in both energy-producing and weakly-established states.

It’s a striking contrast with the American national perspective.  In the USA, where so much money is spent and so many lives expended in the name of national security, climate change appears to make only the faintest blip on the Federal government’s national security radar.

Not all Americans agree with that, of course.  Even many high-ranking former US officials have publicly stated that they think this is a mistake.  Another recent Monitor story references John Podesta and Peter Ogden’s article on the threats posed by climate change in the Winter 2007-’08 issue of The Wilson Quarterly.

And last year a group of retired US military officers warned of the security dangers that can attend rapid climate change.  The impact of such efforts on US national security policy seem to be meager so, far, however.

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Today is the first official day of Spring.

It finds Verlyn Klinkenborg, the New York Times ‘Rural Life’ columnist, in rhapsodies. He writes:

“What cheers me, though, is the thought that spring isn’t a human season, not like the seasons we create for ourselves.”

Elsewhere, however, writers fear that even if it’s not of our own creation, Spring is being radically altered by humans.

“Spring, which officially starts today, is starting to dissolve as a distinct season as climate change takes hold,” worries the UK Independent.

This isn’t ‘quaint or charming,’ the paper’s Environmental Editor, Michael McCarthy, insists. It’s another sign that climate change is with us; a confirmation, he writes, that “a profound alteration in the environment, the consequences of which are likely to prove catastrophic, is already under way.”

Over at the AP, Seth Borenstein, remarks on similar changes in the USA. Like McCarthy, he notes the renewed importance of that Victorian passion par excellence, phenology — the human recording of the timing of seasonal biological events.

Borenstein is helpfully specific about why these phenological changes are significant.

“The changes could push some species to extinction,” he says. “That’s because certain plants and animals are dependent on each other for food and shelter. If the plants bloom or bear fruit before animals return or surface from hibernation, the critters could starve. Also, plants that bud too early can still be whacked by a late freeze.”

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The Heartland Institute, described by the NY Times as “a public policy research group in Chicago opposed to regulatory approaches to environmental problems,” is running a conference today and tomorrow that offers skeptics on Global Warming a platform.

The skeptical position gained ammunition last week with the widespread trumpeting of news of a very recent cooling trend around the planet.

Many climate scientists argue in return that climate change is by its nature unstable and that it’s long term trends that count — and that right now the long term is still looking decidely cozy.

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