Global Warming News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on global warming
When it comes to global warming, we know that the real problem is not just fossil fuels – it is the logic of endless growth. If we don’t keep the global economy growing by at least 3% per year, it plunges into crisis. This ... makes little sense given the limits of our finite planet. Climate change is the most obvious symptom of this contradiction, but we’re also seeing it in the form of deforestation, desertification and mass extinction. Our economic system is incompatible with life on this planet. Debt is the reason the economy has to grow in the first place. Because debt always comes with interest, it grows exponentially. Without growth, debt piles up and eventually triggers an economic crisis. The global economic system runs on money that is itself debt. Instead of letting commercial banks create money by lending it into existence, we could have the state create the money and then spend it into existence. [In] the 1930s ... a group of economists in Chicago proposed [this] as a way of curbing the reckless lending that led to the Great Depression. The Chicago Plan, as it was called, made headlines again in 2012 when progressive IMF economists put it forward as a strategy for preventing the global financial crisis from recurring. This idea is already beginning to gain traction: in the UK, the campaigning group Positive Money has generated momentum around it. The idea has its enemies, of course. If we shift to a positive money system, big banks will no longer have the power to literally make money out of nothing.
Two movies on similar missions are opening within weeks of each other this season, “Racing Extinction” and “This Changes Everything,” both exploring the devastation humanity has wrought on the natural world. Yet rather than focusing only on what is dying and lost, both films offer messages of hope, profiling people who have helped stop ... the pillaging of wildlife and land. Naomi Klein, who adapted “This Changes Everything,” based on her book of the same name, said a film salesman ... told her that he would market the movie only if there was no reference to climate change in the marketing. If you beat people over the head with shame, guilt and despair ... people turn away and try to forget about it. Cognizant of such aversion, the teams behind each film ... developed similar plans: target the people most passionate about what’s at stake, and bank on them to draw in others. “We want to make sure we approach the core audience directly,” said Richard Abramowitz, whose company, Abramorama, is distributing both films. “Racing Extinction” got a head start with its message this summer when the director and his collaborators projected images of endangered animals onto the Empire State Building. “This Changes Everything”... focuses on grass-roots movements that thwarted oil companies and communities that embraced renewable energy. It’s all part of the effort to get people to see the movie and then take an action.
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We could live in a country powered entirely by renewable energy, woven together by accessible public transit. Caring for one another and caring for the planet could be the economy’s fastest growing sectors. Many more people could have higher-wage jobs with fewer work hours. Canada is not this place today – but it can be. Climate scientists have told us this is the decade to take decisive action to prevent catastrophic global warming. That means small steps will no longer suffice. So we need to leap. There is no longer an excuse for building new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future. That applies equally to oil and gas pipelines; fracking in New Brunswick, Quebec and British Columbia; increased tanker traffic off our coasts; and to Canadian-owned mining projects the world over. Since this leap is beginning late, we need to invest in our decaying public infrastructure so it can withstand increasingly frequent extreme weather events. Moving to a far more localized and ecologically based agricultural system would reduce reliance on fossil fuels, capture carbon in the soil and absorb sudden shocks in the global supply – as well as produce healthier and more affordable food for everyone. “Austerity” – which has systematically attacked low-carbon sectors such as education and health care – is a fossilized form of thinking that has become a threat. One thing is clear: Public scarcity in times of unprecedented private wealth is a manufactured crisis, designed to extinguish our dreams.
Note: The esteemed authors of this essay are Naomi Klein, David Suzuki, Leonard Cohen, Donald Sutherland and Ellen Page. For more, read the complete essay, and see concise summaries of deeply revealing global warming news articles from reliable major media sources.
Royal Dutch Shell has been accused of pursuing a strategy that would lead to potentially catastrophic climate change after an internal document acknowledged a global temperature rise of 4C, twice the level considered safe for the planet. A paper used for guiding future business planning at the Anglo-Dutch multinational assumes that carbon dioxide emissions will fail to limit temperature increases to 2C, the internationally agreed threshold to prevent widespread flooding, famine and desertification. Instead, the New Lens Scenarios document refers to a forecast by the independent International Energy Agency (IEA) that points to a temperature rise of up to 4C in the short term, rising later to 6C. Louise Rouse, an investor relations specialist and consultant to Greenpeace, said the New Lens document undermined Shell’s claim that ongoing oil and gas exploration helps raise living standards in the developing world by supplying the energy for rapidly expanding economies. “There is an incoherence at best between oil companies on the one hand positioning themselves as being on the side of the world’s developing countries and while on the other actively pursuing strategies which will entail catastrophic climate change which we already know is having a significant impact on the global south,” she said. Shell’s carbon dioxide emissions have risen in 2014 and are set to increase further as it expands the business through a planned Ł47bn takeover of rival BG.
The entire ice mass of Greenland will disappear from the world map if temperatures rise by as little as 2C, with severe consequences for the rest of the world, a panel of scientists told Congress today. Greenland shed its largest chunk of ice in nearly half a century last week, and faces an even grimmer future, according to Richard Alley, a geosciences professor at Pennsylvania State University "Sometime in the next decade we may pass that tipping point which would put us warmer than temperatures that Greenland can survive," Alley told a briefing in Congress, adding that a rise in the range of 2C to 7C would mean the obliteration of Greenland's ice sheet. "What is going on in the Arctic now is the biggest and fastest thing that nature has ever done," he said. Greenland is losing ice mass at an increasing rate, dumping more icebergs into the ocean because of warming temperatures, he said. The stark warning was underlined by the momentous break-up of one of Greenland's largest glaciers last week, which set a 100 sq mile chunk of ice drifting into the North Strait between Greenland and Canada. The ice loss from the Petermann Glacier was the largest such event in nearly 50 years. Andreas Muenchow, professor of ocean science at the University of Delaware, who has been studying the Petermann glacier for several years, said he had been expecting such a break, although he did not anticipate its size.
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A new survey out this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ... found that 97 percent of scientific experts agree that climate change is "very likely" caused mainly by human activity. The report is based on questions posed to 1,372 scientists. Nearly all the experts agreed that it is "very likely that anthropogenic greenhouse gases have been responsible for most of the unequivocal warming of the Earth's average global temperature in the second half of the twentieth century." As for the 3 percent of scientists who remain unconvinced, the study found their average expertise is far below that of their colleagues, as measured by publication and citation rates. In the study, the authors wrote: "This extensive analysis of the mainstream versus skeptical/contrarian researchers suggests a strong role for considering expert credibility in the relative weight of and attention to these groups of researchers in future discussions in media, policy, and public forums regarding anthropogenic climate change." The report comes as the Earth continues to sizzle in 2010. So far, through May, 2010 is the warmest year ever recorded, according to the National Climatic Data Center.
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UK border police used anti-terrorist legislation to prevent a British climate change activist from crossing over into mainland Europe where he planned to take part in events surrounding the forthcoming United Nations summit in Denmark. Chris Kitchen, a 31-year-old office worker, said he feared his treatment by police could mark the start of a clampdown on protesters, hundreds of whom are planning to travel to Copenhagen for the climate change talks in December. [He had hoped] to take part in discussions organised by a network of protest groups coming together under the banner Climate Justice Action. He said he was prevented from crossing the border ... when the coach he was travelling on stopped at the Folkestone terminal of the Channel tunnel. Kitchen said police officers boarded the coach and, after checking all passengers' passports, took him and another climate activist to be interviewed under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, a clause which enables border officials to stop and search individuals to determine if they are connected to terrorism. The passports were not initially scanned, Kitchen said, suggesting the officials knew his name and had planned to remove him from the coach before they boarded. During his interview, he was asked questions about his family, work and past political activity. The police also asked him what he intended to do in Copenhagen. When Kitchen said that anti-terrorist legislation does not apply to environmental activists, he said the officer replied that terrorism "could mean a lot of things". Police are understood to be monitoring protesters on a number of databases, some of which highlight individuals when they pass through secure areas, such as ports.
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The pace of global warming is likely to be much faster than recent predictions, because industrial greenhouse gas emissions have increased more quickly than expected and higher temperatures are triggering self-reinforcing feedback mechanisms in global ecosystems, scientists [have] said. "We are basically looking now at a future climate that's beyond anything we've considered seriously in climate model simulations," [said] Christopher Field, founding director of the ... Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University. The higher emissions are largely the result of the increased burning of coal in developing countries, he said. Unexpectedly large amounts of carbon dioxide are being released into the atmosphere as the result of "feedback loops" that are speeding up natural processes. Prominent among these ... is a cycle in which higher temperatures are beginning to melt the arctic permafrost, which could release hundreds of billions of tons of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. The permafrost holds 1 trillion tons of carbon, and as much as 10 percent of that could be released this century, Field said. Along with carbon dioxide melting permafrost releases methane, which is 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. "It's a vicious cycle of feedback where warming causes the release of carbon from permafrost, which causes more warming, which causes more release from permafrost," Field said.
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From the assassination of John F Kennedy to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. From Roswell, New Mexico, to Nasa's moon landings. From the bloodline of Christ to the death of Elvis Presley. From the Moscow appartment bombings to the Indian Ocean tsunami. From Pearl Harbour to Peak Oil, the Philadelphia experiment and Pan Am flight 103. Every major event of the last 2,000 years has prompted a conspiracy theory and here we examine those with the biggest followings and the most longevity. 1. September 11, 2001. Thanks to the power of the web and live broadcasts on television, the ... theories surrounding the events of 9/11 ... have surpassed those of Roswell and JFK in traction. The [alternative] theories continue to grow in strength. At the milder end of the spectrum are the theorists who believe that the US government had prior warning of the attacks but did not do enough to stop them. Others believe that the Bush administration deliberately turned a blind eye to those warnings because it wanted a pretext to launch wars in the Middle East to usher in another century of American hegemony. A large group of people - collectively called the 9/11 Truth Movement - cite evidence that an airliner did not hit the Pentagon and that the World Trade Centre could not have been brought down by airliner impacts and burning aviation fuel alone. Many witnesses - including firemen, policemen and people who were inside the towers at the time - claim to have heard explosions below the aircraft impacts (including in basement levels) and before both the collapses and the attacks themselves.
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Changes to the climate due to human activity can now be detected on every continent, following a study showing that temperature rises in the Antarctic as well as the Arctic are the result of man-made emissions of greenhouse gases. It is the first time scientists have been able to prove the link between the temperature changes in both polar regions are down to human activity and it also undermines climate sceptics who believe the warming trend seen in the Arctic in recent decades is part of the climate's natural variability. The findings contradict the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said that Antarctica was the only continent where the human impact on the climate had not been observed. The new study shows that Antarctica has been caught up in the changes to the global climate over the past 60 years and that this warming cannot be attributed to natural variations. Using four computer models and data from dozens of weather stations sited around both the North and South poles, the study conclusively shows that humans are responsible for the significant increases in temperatures observed in the Arctic and the Antarctic over the past half century. "We're able for the first time to directly attribute warming in both the Arctic and the Antarctic to human influences on the climate," said Nathan Gillett of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, who led the study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
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Consumption of resources is rising rapidly, biodiversity is plummeting and just about every measure shows humans affecting Earth on a vast scale. Most of us accept the need for a more sustainable way to live, by reducing carbon emissions, developing renewable technology and increasing energy efficiency. But are these efforts to save the planet doomed? A growing band of experts are looking at figures like these and arguing that personal carbon virtue and collective environmentalism are futile as long as our economic system is built on the assumption of growth. The science tells us that if we are serious about saving Earth, we must reshape our economy. This, of course, is economic heresy. Growth to most economists is as essential as the air we breathe. They see no limits to that growth, ever. In recent weeks it has become clear just how terrified governments are of anything that threatens growth, as they pour billions of public money into a failing financial system. Amid the confusion, any challenge to the growth dogma needs to be looked at very carefully. This one is built on a long-standing question: how do we square Earth's finite resources with the fact that as the economy grows, the amount of natural resources needed to sustain that activity must grow too? It has taken all of human history for the economy to reach its current size. On current form it will take just two decades to double. In this special issue, New Scientist brings together key thinkers from politics, economics and philosophy who profoundly disagree with the growth dogma but agree with the scientists monitoring our fragile biosphere.
James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has [co-authored a] paper saying that [future global warming] is likely to turn out worse than most people think. The most recent major report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 projects a temperature rise of three degrees Celsius, plus or minus 1.5 degrees—enough to trigger serious impacts on human life from rising sea level, widespread drought, changes in weather patterns, and the like. But according to Hansen and his nine co-authors ... the correct figure is closer to six degrees C. “That’s the equilibrium level,” he says. “We won’t get there for a while. But that’s where we’re aiming.” And although the full impact of this temperature increase will not be felt until the end of this century or even later, Hansen says, the point at which major climate disruption is inevitable is already upon us. “If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted,” the paper states, “CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm [parts per million] to at most 350 ppm.” The situation, he says, “is much more sensitive than we had implicitly been assuming.” Back in 1998 ... Hansen was arguing that the human impact on climate was unquestionable, even as other leading climate scientists continued to question it. He was subsequently proved right, not only about the human influence but about the approximate pace of future temperature rise.
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The environmental damage caused to developing nations by the world's richest countries amounts to more than the entire third world debt of $1.8 trillion, according to the first systematic global analysis of the ecological damage imposed by rich countries. There are huge disparities in the ecological footprint inflicted by rich and poor countries on the rest of the world because of differences in consumption. The authors say that the west's high living standards are maintained in part through the huge unrecognised ecological debts it has built up with developing countries. "At least to some extent, the rich nations have developed at the expense of the poor and, in effect, there is a debt to the poor," said Prof Richard Norgaard, an ecological economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who led the study. "That, perhaps, is one reason that they are poor. You don't see it until you do the kind of accounting that we do here." The researchers examined so-called "environmental externalities" or costs that are not included in the prices paid for goods but which cover ecological damage linked to their consumption. They focused on six areas: greenhouse gas emissions, ozone layer depletion, agriculture, deforestation, overfishing and converting mangrove swamps into shrimp farms. The team confined its calculations to areas in which the costs of environmental damage, for example in terms of lost services from ecosystems, are well understood. "We think the measured impact is conservative. And given that it's conservative, the numbers are very striking," said co-author Dr Thara Srinivasan, who is also at Berkeley.
Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India's part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true. As the seas continue to swell, they will swallow whole island nations ... inundate vast areas of countries from Bangladesh to Egypt, and submerge parts of scores of coastal cities. Eight years ago ... the first uninhabited islands - in the Pacific atoll nation of Kiribati - vanished beneath the waves. The people of low-lying islands in Vanuatu, also in the Pacific, have been evacuated as a precaution, but the land still juts above the sea. The disappearance of Lohachara, once home to 10,000 people, is unprecedented. Two-thirds of nearby populated island Ghoramara has also been permanently inundated. Refugees from the vanished Lohachara island and the disappearing Ghoramara island have fled to Sagar, but this island has already lost 7,500 acres of land to the sea. In all, a dozen islands, home to 70,000 people, are in danger of being submerged by the rising seas.
Note: There has been little solid evidence showing that this island was inundated due to global warming. For more on this, see this link.
Six former heads of the Environmental Protection Agency, including five who served Republican presidents, said Wednesday that the Bush administration needed to act more aggressively to limit the emission of greenhouse gases linked to climate change. Speaking on a panel that also included the current agency chief, Stephen L. Johnson, they generally agreed that the need to address global warming was growing urgent and that the continuing debate over what percentage of the problem was caused by human activities was a waste of time. The blunt opinions of [the current EPA chief's] Republican predecessors served as a sharp reminder that since Mr. Bush took office in 2001, neither the president nor the Republican-led Congress has proposed any comprehensive plan to limit carbon emissions from vehicles, utilities and other sources, a problem that Mr. Bush's own Department of Energy predicts will grow worse.
Last year was the warmest in the continental United States in the past 112 years -- capping a nine-year warming streak "unprecedented in the historical record" that was driven in part by the burning of fossil fuels, the government reported yesterday. According to the government's National Climatic Data Center, the record-breaking warmth -- which caused daffodils and cherry trees to bloom throughout the East on New Year's Day -- was the result of both unusual regional weather patterns and the long-term effects of the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The center said there are indications that the rate at which global temperatures are rising is speeding up. Average temperatures nationwide in 2006 were 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the mean temperatures nationwide for the 20th century. Climate experts generally do not make much of temperature fluctuations over one or two years, but ... the record 2006 temperatures were part of a long and worrisome trend. For instance, NOAA said, the past nine years have all been among the 25 warmest years on record for the continental United States. Brenda Ekwurzel, a climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists [said] "when you look at temperatures across the globe, every single year since 1993 has been in the top 20 warmest years on record." Globally, 2005 was the hottest year on record ... and 2006 was slightly cooler.
Just how far will corporate lobbyists go to tilt governmental decisions in their favor? Last fall, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the Clean Air Act does not require regulating carbon dioxide emissions that are heating up the planet at an unprecedented rate. It turns out that two of the jurists who helped decide the case -- Chief Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg and Judge David B. Sentelle -- attended a six-day global warming seminar at Yellowstone National Park sponsored by a free-market foundation and featuring presentations from companies with a clear financial interest in limiting regulation. Exxon Mobil Corp. and other large businesses contribute to conservative think tanks to help "educate" federal judges through seminars like the one at Yellowstone. The Code of Conduct for federal judges does not prohibit attending such seminars -- as long as participation does not "cast reasonable doubt on the capacity to decide impartially issues that may come before them." Leaders of Congress and the federal courts seem to recognize that the federal judiciary ought to be out of bounds for lobbyists. Judges are appointed for life, and allowing insider access threatens the integrity of the one branch of government that should stand above politics. Court cases must be won by argument, not by influence, and that means putting a stop to judicial junkets that give one side of the debate an unfair advantage.
A group of 1,700 leading scientists called on the US government yesterday to take the lead in fighting global warming. Citing the "unprecedented and unanticipated" effects of global warming, the scientists, including six Nobel prizewinners, presented a letter calling for an immediate reduction in US carbon emissions. The letter, issued by the non-profit Union of Concerned Scientists, warns: "If emissions continue unabated, our nation and the world will face more sea level rise, heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, snowmelt, flood risk, and public health threats, as well as increased rates of plant and animal species extinctions." The White House joined in the chorus of gloom when it issued a long-delayed report bringing together research into global warming. The report was issued after environmental groups won a court order last year enforcing a statute that obliges the government to produce an assessment of global warming every four years. Described as "a litany of bad news in store for the US", the report catalogues threats from drought, natural disaster, insect infestation and energy shortages. The scientists call on the government to "reduce emissions on the order of 80% below 2000 levels by 2050." As a first step, the scientists call for a 15-20% reduction on 2000 levels by 2020. "There is no time to waste," the letter concludes. "The most risky thing we can do is nothing." Another group of climate scientists warned yesterday that a "curious optimism ... pervades the political arenas of the G8 and UN climate meetings. The authors are part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but stress in this paper they do not represent the panel.
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It's been dubbed a Noah's Ark for plant life and built to withstand an earthquake or a nuclear attack. Dug deep into the permafrost of a remote Arctic mountain, the "doomsday" vault is designed by Norway to protect the world's seeds from global catastrophe. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a backup to the world's 1,400 other seed banks, was to be officially inaugurated in a ceremony Tuesday on the northern rim of civilization attended by about 150 guests from 33 countries. The frozen vault has the capacity to store 4.5 million seed samples from around the globe, shielding them from climate change, war, natural disasters and other threats. Norway's government owns the vault in Svalbard, a frigid archipelago 620 miles from the North Pole. The Nordic country paid $9.1 million for construction, which took less than a year. Other countries can deposit seeds for free and reserve the right to withdraw them upon need. Giant air conditioning units have chilled the vault to just below zero, a temperature at which experts say many seeds could survive for 1,000 years. Inside the concrete entrance ... a roughly 400-foot-long tunnel of steel and concrete leads to three separate 32-by-88-foot chambers where the seeds will be stored. The first 600 boxes with 12 tons of seeds already have arrived from 20 seed banks around the world, Norwegian Agriculture Minister Terje Riis-Johansen said. Each chamber can hold 1.5 million packets holding all types of crop seeds, from carrots to wheat.
A sea change in the consumption of a resource that Americans take for granted may be in store — something cheap, plentiful, widely enjoyed and a part of daily life. And it isn’t oil. It’s meat. Global demand for meat has multiplied in recent years, encouraged by growing affluence and nourished by the proliferation of huge, confined animal feeding operations. These assembly-line meat factories consume enormous amounts of energy, pollute water supplies, generate significant greenhouse gases and require ever-increasing amounts of corn, soy and other grains, a dependency that has led to the destruction of vast swaths of the world’s tropical rain forests. The world’s total meat supply was 71 million tons in 1961. In 2007, it was estimated to be 284 million tons. Per capita consumption has more than doubled over that period. (In the developing world, it rose twice as fast, doubling in the last 20 years.) At about 5 percent of the world’s population, [Americans] “process” (that is, grow and kill) nearly 10 billion animals a year, more than 15 percent of the world’s total. Growing meat (it’s hard to use the word “raising” when applied to animals in factory farms) uses so many resources that it’s a challenge to enumerate them all. An estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production. Livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation. Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens.
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