“A tormenting thought: as of a certain point, history was no longer real. Without noticing it, all mankind suddenly left reality; everything happening since then was supposedly not true; but we supposedly didn’t notice. Our task would now be to find that point, and as long as we didn’t have it, we would be forced to abide in our present destruction.” —Elias Canetti
We left reality when we believed the “infinite earth ideas” of Locke, Smith, and Marx. Our “present destruction” (economic system) encourages its disciples to dominate and exploit each other and nature, and rewards the most powerful, aggressive, and ruthless with even more power and riches. Since the system actively destroys people and the environment (both morally and physically), it requires a continuous feast of new people and natural resources.
In essence, this method ingests natural-living systems (including people) in one end, and excretes un-natural-dead garbage and waste (including wasted people) out the other—development and progress. The entropy law dictates that this method can not run in reverse. Our society can not be “de-developed” and “de-progressed”.
We, like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, call forth “artificials” (large corporations) to faithfully administer our present destruction. Artificials may be seen as autonomous technical structures (machines) that follow the logic inherent in their design. They have no innate morals to keep them from seducing our politicians, subverting our democratic processes or lying to maximize profit. Today, the artificials are transforming life into death as efficiently and as quickly as they can.
Now we find that Locke, Smith, Marx, and that entire “dismal science” called economics—were wrong. Dead wrong. We find that we actually do live in a finite world with a finite life-support system that may be destroyed in less than 35 years. Yet we are unable to call the artificials back because they have stolen our only means to do so: our so-called political system.
Thus, the artificials will rip, tear, and gulp down our life-support system till it’s gone. We gambled it all and we were wrong. Dead. Wrong.
(This page also has data on ozone depletion and global warming)
Media contact: March 11, 1997 Lynn Simarski NSF PR 97-19 (703) 306-1070
Program contact: Polly Penhale (703) 306-1033
Researchers supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) have presented the first direct evidence that increased ultraviolet light (UVB) damages the DNA of animals in a natural population in Antarctica — the eggs and larvae of icefish, an Antarctic fish lacking hemoglobin. The ozone hole opens up over Antarctica every southern spring, letting more UVB from the sun penetrate to the earth’s surface.
In an article published in the February 17 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, biologists from Northeastern University and the University of Texas demonstrated that icefish eggs accumulate significant levels of DNA lesions called cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers.
“We were surprised at the extent of the DNA damage we found,” said lead author Kirk Malloy, biologist at Northeastern, “although we still need to know what happens during the rest of the year when the ozone hole closes up.”
“Ozone depletion has previously been shown to harm one-celled marine plants in Antarctica. We’ve now documented significant damage at a higher level of the food chain,” said William Detrich, a Northeastern biologist who coauthored the paper. “It is striking how closely the damage to the fish eggs tracked with the increased intensity of ultraviolet light.”
The studies were done on cruises in waters around the Antarctic Peninsula, the finger of land that juts up toward South America.
The protective ozone layer over Antarctica has thinned over the past two decades, as human-created chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons have risen to the stratosphere and helped to destroy ozone. Antarctica’s ozone levels typically drop to less than half of normal during the spring ozone hole, allowing wavelengths of sunlight harmful to life to penetrate to the earth’s surface and into ocean waters. The ozone layer has also thinned, although less so, in temperate regions. Ozone depletion is predicted across even broader areas of the globe over the next century.
The excess ultraviolet light may slow a fish’s growth, hamper cellular processes such as transcription and mitosis, and divert precious energy to DNA repair. “Increased UVB may ultimately let fewer larvae survive to adulthood,” Malloy said.
The biologists also found that animals vary in how fast they can repair damage to their DNA. Organisms such as icefish and krill, which breed in spring and release their eggs into ocean waters at the peak of the ozone hole, can repair DNA more than twice as fast as rockcod and other fish that breed in winter. Detrich believes that animals that breed in spring and summer when the sun is out “are a little better prepared by nature to face the ozone hole.”
The researchers’ next step is to explore whether the DNA damage actually does hamper the animals’ ability to survive. In any case, key members of the Southern Ocean food web such as larval and adult fish, krill, copepods, and some zooplankton -the food base for seabirds, whales, and seals — could all be vulnerable to increased UVB.
For more information, contact Polly Penhale, NSF, (703)306-1033 or visit Naional Scince Foundation
LOW OZONE MEASURED OVER NORTH POLE
Donald Savage Headquarters, Washington, DC April 8, 1997 (Phone: 202/358-1547)
Allen Kenitzer Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (Phone: 301/286-2806)
Barbara McGehan National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, CO (Phone: 303/497-6288)
LOW OZONE MEASURED OVER NORTH POLE
Unusually low levels of ozone over the Arctic were measured during March by satellite-based monitoring instruments operated by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA).
“These are the lowest ozone values ever measured by the TOMS instruments during late-March and early-April in the Arctic,” said TOMS Project Scientist, Dr. Pawan K. Bhartia, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, MD. “However, these low ozone amounts are still nearly a factor of two greater than the lowest values seen by TOMS in the Antarctic during Southern hemisphere Spring.”
Centered in a stable, nearly circular region over the North Pole, the average March 1997 ozone amounts were 40 percent lower than the average March amounts observed between 1979 and 1982. This follows ozone amounts in March 1996 that were 24 percent lower than the 1979-82 average, although this low was off center of Earth’s pole toward the North Atlantic.
The minimum in total column ozone fell to 219 Dobson units on March 24, 1997, from values near 280 units earlier in March. Two NASA Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) instruments, one aboard NASA’s Earth Probe (TOMS-EP) satellite and the other aboard Japan’s Advanced Earth Observing Satellite (ADEOS) made the measurements of the rapid decrease, supported by similar data from the Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet instruments aboard the NOAA-9 and NOAA-14 satellites.
The Halogen Occultation Experiment (HALOE) aboard NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) measured vertical distributions of ozone that confirm these low Arctic values. On March 26, HALOE measured a very low ozone concentration of less than one part per million of ozone (normal concentrations are near 3-4 parts per million) at an altitude of 12.4 miles slightly northeast of Hudson’s Bay.
Over the Alaskan Arctic, where NOAA monitors ozone from the surface at Barrow, Alaska, March average ozone was about 375 Dobson units, slightly below the March average for the past ten years of 413 Dobson units, according to David Hofmann, Director of NOAA’s Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory in Boulder, CO. “On March 17 and 18 ozone dipped to values below the 300 Dobson unit range when the edge of the low ozone region extended to the latitude of Barrow (71 degrees north),” he said. “This is not a typical occurrence and indicates the unusual conditions this year.”
“The unusual meteorological conditions played a significant role in the March ozone lows,” according to Paul A. Newman of the GSFC. “The reason or reasons behind these unusual stratospheric weather patterns are unclear, and figuring out why this pattern occurred will be a significant component of our further research efforts.”
Furthermore, measurements from balloon-based ozone instruments operated by Environment Canada and launched from Eureka (80 degrees North latitude) and Resolute Bay (75 degrees North) reveal 60 percent ozone losses between the altitudes of 6.2-15.5 miles during March, in comparison to historical March observations.
The TOMS data show that the region of low ozone amounts below 280 DU exceeded 5.3 million square kilometers, covering a substantial fraction of the Arctic region. These low ozone amounts are found inside the Arctic polar vortex, a part of the stratospheric circumpolar jet stream.
The 1996/1997 winter polar vortex has been unusually strong and persistent into March. Data from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center show cold temperatures low enough to form polar stratospheric clouds during late March. These clouds, common in January and February but rare in late March, helped convert certain forms of stratospheric chlorine into forms which are highly reactive to ozone destruction. The combination of reactive chlorine compounds and sunlight from the March rising sun at polar latitudes leads to destruction of ozone.
The most recent observations indicate that temperatures had become too warm by March 30 for polar stratospheric clouds to form. In addition, the minimum ozone amounts in the Arctic have begun to slowly increase from the unusually low March amounts, and the area covered by the low has begun to decrease.
“The appearance of this well-defined region of low ozone is consistent with our expectations following detailed chemical analyses of the Arctic winter stratosphere in early 1989 and 1992,” said Dr. Michael Kurylo, manager of NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Program, which organized those airborne experiments. “The persistence of such cold temperatures within the Arctic vortex well into the sunlit period is an essential ingredient for driving many of the chemical cycles for ozone destruction. We will now be examining these low ozone air masses into their recovery period using our best satellite and airborne instruments.”
An international treaty on ozone-depleting substances is leading to reductions in their concentrations in the atmosphere and hence to reduced chlorine levels in the stratosphere. As we move into the next century, chlorine-catalyzed ozone losses resulting from CFCs and other chlorine-containing species will be reduced.
Ozone, a molecule made up of three atoms of oxygen, absorbs harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. Most atmospheric ozone is found in a thin layer between 6-18 miles. A Dobson unit is related to the physical thickness of the ozone layer if it could be brought down to the Earth’s surface. The global average ozone layer thickness is 300 Dobson units, which equals 1/8th of an inch, approximately the thickness of two stacked pennies. In contrast, the ozone layer thickness in the Antarctic ozone hole is about 100 Dobson units (1/25th of an inch), approximately the thickness of a single dime.
TOMS ozone data and pictures from March 1997 are available on the Internet at the following link: Goddard Space Flight Center
TOMS-EP, ADEOS, and UARS, and the aircraft, balloons and ground-based ozone-measurement programs are key parts of a global environmental effort which includes NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth, a long-term, coordinated research effort to study the Earth as a global environmental system.
The TOMS instruments are managed by Goddard. The HALOE instrument is managed by NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA. NOAA-9 and NOAA-14 are managed by the NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, Suitland, MD.
SURFACE ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION LEVELS HAVE INCREASED FROM 1979 TO 1992
Douglas Isbell Headquarters, Washington, DC August 1, 1996 (Phone: 202/358-1753)
Allen Kenitzer Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (Phone: 301/286-8955)
Solar ultraviolet radiation reaching the Earth’s surface has increased over large regions of the planet during the past 15 years, as the amount of total ozone in the atmosphere has decreased, according to a scientific paper published in the August 1 issue of Geophysical Research Letters.
Scientists and others have a keen interest in ozone depletion, given that the increased amounts of ultraviolet radiation that reach the Earth’s surface because of the ozone loss, have the potential to increase the incidence of skin cancer and cataracts in humans, cause harm to some food crops, and interfere with marine life.
Ozone, a molecule made up of three atoms of oxygen, is found in the atmosphere between the ground and about 37 miles in altitude. Ozone absorbs ultraviolet radiation from the Sun and shields life on Earth from its harmful effects.
Because the risks of further increases in ultraviolet radiation are serious, scientists around the world are working to improve our current understanding of how much of the ozone-related change in the atmosphere is caused by humans and how much is attributable to natural processes, such as shifts in atmospheric dynamics, variable volcanic activity or long-term cyclical changes in solar radiation.
The finding, derived from extensive analysis of data from the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) instrument flown aboard NASA’s Nimbus-7 satellite, is based on the known relationship between atmospheric ozone depletion and the resulting decrease in protection from ultraviolet radiation (UV-B, 290 nanometers to 320 nanometers). The accuracy of the TOMS-derived surface UV-B values has been validated by comparison with several ground-based spectrometers in Canada, New Zealand, and South America.
“The increases are largest in the middle and high latitudes, where most people live, and where the majority of the world’s agricultural activity occurs,” said Dr. Jay R. Herman, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, and the lead author of the paper, “UV-B increases (1979-1992) from decreases in total ozone.”
In the paper, Herman finds that annual average UV-B exposure has increased by 6.8 percent per decade at 55 degrees north latitude, where major populations in countries such as England, Germany, Russia and Scandinavia reside. At 55 degrees south latitude, which includes the southern portions of Argentina and Chile, the increase has been 9.9 percent per decade. In North America, the changes are smaller since most of theĘpopulation lives below 55 degrees. The UV-B changes for regions near the Canadian border show about a 4 percent increase per decade.
“This confirmation that we can use a space-based sensor like TOMS to measure long-term global surface ultraviolet radiation levels represents a very powerful new tool for Earth scientists and others to use both now and in the future,” said Dr. Robert Harriss, director of the science division of NASA’s Office of Mission to Planet Earth, Washington, DC.
Studies have shown that ozone depletion is caused by complex, coupled chemical reactions. Emissions of human- manufactured chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which break down into ozone-depleting forms of chlorine, have led to reduced levels of atmospheric ozone. If unchecked, the continued build-up of CFCs, historically used in refrigeration, electronics, and insulating materials, could lead to additional ozone loss worldwide. However, international agreements signed in recent years have led to sharply reduced usage of CFCs, which should lead to the slow recovery of the ozone layer. Already there are initial indications that the reduced CFC usage is effective in slowing the build-up of tropospheric chlorine.
During its lifetime on the Nimbus-7 satellite, the TOMS helped make “ozone” a household word through its false-color images of the Antarctic “ozone hole,” which forms from September through November each year. The NASA-developed instrument, which measures ozone indirectly by monitoring ultraviolet light scattered by the atmosphere, produces daily maps of the global distribution of ozone in Earth’s atmosphere and of the surface UV.
Another Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer was launched on July 2, 1996, aboard a dedicated NASA Earth Probe satellite called TOMS/EP. To ensure that such global ozone data will be available throughout the next decade, NASA plans to continue the TOMS program using both U.S. and international spacecraft. Japan’s Advanced Earth Observing Satellite will carry a TOMS into orbit during its scheduled launch on August 16, and a fifth TOMS instrument is being prepared for flight in 2000 aboard a Russian spacecraft.
TOMS is part of NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth, a long- term, coordinated research effort to study the Earth as a global system. The TOMS instruments are managed by Goddard for the Office of Mission to Planet Earth.
CDC Media Advisory – May 3, 1996
CDC Office of Public Affairs (404) 639-3286; or Louise Galaska, Deputy Director Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (770) 488-4226
CDC’s National Skin Cancer Prevention Education Program
Why is skin cancer an important public health problem?
Skin cancer is the most common and most rapidly increasing form of cancer in the United States. An estimated one million new cases of skin cancers occur each year. The most serious form of skin cancer, melanoma, will account for about 38,300 new cases in 1996, and will claim 7,300 lives. Skin cancer, if detected early, has an excellent chance of cure. According to a recent survey by the American Academy of Dermatology, most Americans do not know what melanoma skin cancer is, and are not aware of the risk factors associated with the disease.
Risk factors associated with melanoma skin cancer are a history of severe sunburn, particularly when it occurs early in life; light skin color; a family history of melanoma; a personal history of melanoma; and the presence of moles and freckles. Risk factors for squamous and basal cell carcinomas include chronic exposure to the sun, family history of skin cancer, personal history of skin cancer, and light color skin.
What recommendations do health professionals provide to reduce the occurrence of skin cancer?
The occurrence of skin cancers and death associated with skin cancer can be reduced by changing behaviors associated with sun exposure. Educational programs for both adults and children are important; parents and caregivers may be particularly receptive to educational messages that aim to protect children from excessive sun exposure. No scientific evidence currently exists to support mass screening for skin cancer. Although skin self-examination is not scientifically proven as effective, it is prudent for persons at high risk. Any individual with a suspicious or changing mole or other growing or unusual skin lesion should be examined by a physician.
What are the important educational messages regarding sun exposure?
Health messages should suggest wearing a broad brimmed hat and protective clothing when outdoors; seeking shade; staying indoors when the sun is most intense – whenever possible, usually between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm; and wearing a broad-spectrum sun screen of SPF 15 or greater.
What role is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) playing in skin cancer prevention activities?
Since 1994, CDC has developed partnerships and conducted activities supporting the growth of CDC’s National Skin Cancer Prevention Education Program. The Program’s aim is to increase public awareness about skin cancer and to help the nation achieve skin cancer prevention objectives established by Healthy People 2000. Elements of this program include developing and disseminating of educational messages that target children and their parents or other caregivers; developing school education curricula guidelines; evaluating the utility and value of the Ultraviolet (UV) Index; and developing educational messages for the health care provider.
CDC will join with the American Academy of Dermatology to issue a national call to action to enhance skin cancer prevention awareness during May National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month and to strengthen efforts to prevent skin cancer.
For more information: CDC Office of Public Affairs (404) 639-3286; or Louise Galaska, Deputy Director, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (770) 488-4226
[See also: Stratospheric Ozone and Human Health World Wide Web Site
THE MILLENNIUM INSTITUTE: Ozone Depletion
WMO ANTARCTIC OZONE BULLETINS
The Ozone Depletion Story
GLOBAL CHANGE HOME PAGE
WORLD CLIMATE PANEL CHARTS PATH FOR ACTION
Antarctica is melting
SCIENCE NEWS, Vol 148, Page 293, Nov. 4, 1995:
“An international panel of scientists and economists has shifted the threat of climate change from the future squarely into the present.
“The United Nations-sponsored committee, which carries the authority of over 2,000 investigators, has concluded that humankind is now altering climate in an identifiable way. It also states for the first time that the expected economic disruptions caused by climate change are large enough to warrant taking action to stem the problem, even if such steps cost money.”
“According to the impacts committee, the rise in sea level expected by 2100 will put 92 million people at risk of flooding each year, a doubling of the current number. Climate change will also threaten human health and cause significant loss of life by fostering the spread of malaria and other vector-borne diseases, according to the panel.
“Warming and changes in rainfall will disrupt agriculture in developing countries, reduce Earth’s biological diversity, melt one-third to one-half of existing mountain glaciers, and cause one-third of all ecosystems to shift to another type, such as from forest to grassland.”
SCIENCE NEWS, Vol 147, Page 362, June 10, 1995:
“In recent months an iceberg nearly as large as Rhode Island broke off an Antarctic ice shelf, apparently because of rising temperatures there. A statistician declared that the seasons had slipped sync with the calendar, perhaps because of greenhouse gas pollution. And just in time for a climate summit in Berlin 2 months ago, a German research team reported finding an abnormal pattern of change in climate records that does not correspond to any natural causes.
“Although the annual average global temperature has risen by about 0.5 degrees C since the late 19th century, investigators have had difficulty determining whether natural forces or human actions deserve the blame. But in late February, Klaus Hasselmann, director of the prestigious Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, stepped forward to point a finger.
“The Max-Planck researchers find it highly improbable—only 1 chance in 20—that natural forces caused the temperature rise during the last century.”
SCIENCE NEWS is published by Science Service Inc., 1719 N. St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036. Phone: 202-785-255
IPCC Second Assessment Report
The challenge for science and society in the 21st Century by Steve Morgan
From GREENHOUSE ISSUES #24—May 1996:
The forthcoming publication of the widely discussed IPCC Second Assessment Report (SAR) is a timely reminder of the enormous scientific, environmental and economic challenges facing mankind in the next millennium. The Report was produced by three Working Groups in collaboration with hundreds of scientists worldwide. Working Group I (WGI) looked at the science of climate change, including the scale and effect of greenhouse gases on the radiation budget of the Earth, and warming trends observed and predicted in various climate change models. Working Group II looked at potential impacts of climate change and assessed various adaptation and mitigation options. Working Group III was tasked with reviewing the state of socio-economic knowledge relating to climate change. This latter Group caused controversy on the economic front, but their report does contain an important recognition of issues relating to inter- and intra-generational equity and the role of perceptions, attitudes and ethics.
The key findings of the Report are as follows:
The balance of evidence suggests there is a discernible human influence on global climate.
Global mean surface temperatures show increases of between 0.3 and 0.6C since the late 19th century.
Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N20) have grown significantly since pre-industrial times, and concentrations of other greenhouse gases have also increased. These increases are largely the result of human activities, such as fossil fuel use, agriculture and biomass burning.
Aerosols produced by human activities have a cooling effect on global temperatures; however their impacts are heterogeneous, short term and close to point source.
Many greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere for long periods, with both CO2 and N2O having life spans from many decades to centuries.
In the absence of mitigation policies or significant technological advances, greenhouse gas concentrations will continue to rise.
Global mean temperature is forecast to rise by between 1 C and 4.5řC by 2100, with best estimates somewhere between 2 and 3 degrees. All projections produce rates of warming greater than those experienced in the last 10,000 years.
Sea level is projected to rise by about 50 cms by 2100 (with a range of 15cms to 95 ems), due to thermal expansion of the oceans and melting glaciers and ice sheets.
Temperature and sea level changes will not be globally uniform. Land areas, particularly at high latitudes, will warm faster than the oceans, with a more vigorous hydrological cycle potentially affecting the rate and scale of various extreme events such as drought, flood and rainfall.
Perhaps most worrying of all; responses of the climate to greenhouse forcing may be nonlinear, making surprises possible, e.g. weakening of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation.
Impacts on natural and semi natural ecosystems, agriculture, water resources, human infrastructure and human health are subject to many uncertainties, but all will be subject to stresses which will exacerbate stresses from other sources such as land degradation, pollution, population growth and migration, and rising per capita exploitation of natural resources.
Response options for adaptation and/or mitigation are numerous, focussing on either reducing emissions or enhancing sinks of greenhouse gases. The optimum solution depends on various political, social, economic, environmental and scientific criteria.
For both science and society the implications of the Report are great.
Overall the organisation and completion of the Report has been a great achievement. However, the entire process has not been without criticism, surrounding both the degree and significance of climate change, and also notion of scientific consensus. This debate has at times been acrimonious and has not gone unnoticed in the public domain. Those critics who have attacked the scientific basis of the report have done so largely by focussing on one or two specific sub components and highlighting the specific uncertainties surrounding those subcomponents.
There is little doubt that scientific uncertainties remain, and these must be addressed (see below). However, when all of the pieces of evidence are viewed together, the composite picture is far more revealing than the individual pieces alone. This is the strength of the IPCC Second Assessment Report. Based on known physics and chemistry there are clear signs of change, and evidence to support the theory of anthropogenic influence.
As the forthcoming UK National Strategy for Global Environmental Research makes clear, this is an evolving and maturing area of science with a sound foundation on which to build. However, this evolution includes consolidation and continued efforts in many single disciplinary areas as a springboard to address the more complex integrated questions. Funding agencies and scientists need to be mindful of this when considering the future research directions. Evolving scientific issues which the scientific community must address include: improvements to General Circulation Models; better integration of physical, biogeochemical and socio-economic parameters; better understanding of natural variability to recognise signals of anthropogenic change; improved predictive capacity at the regional (or finer) scale; the relationship between climate change and extreme events; integrated assessments of impacts and appropriate technological and policy responses.
Continuing commitments to scientific research are required at a time when science budgets around the world are under increasing pressure and scrutiny. Budgets for global change science are either stable or decreasing. However, large though global and climate change science budgets may seem, the potential economic costs and benefits of response options are many magnitudes greater. Hence, political and public accountability are paramount. The critical challenge for society is to decide what is an acceptable balance between economic development and environmental security. There are examples where the international community has responded quickly and decisively to major threats, perhaps the most notable example being stratospheric ozone depletion, where a clear and unambiguous scientific message allied with clear dangers for man and the biosphere led to a rapid agreement to phase out CFCs. However, climate change does not have the same immediacy of impact, either in terms of time frames or in terms of perceived gravity of impact. The closest that public perception comes to acknowledging the threat is during, or immediately following, an extreme event. The irony is that at the moment there is little hard evidence to link extreme events to long term climate change. Scientific research provides the understanding and knowledge that is essential for rational decision making in the face of such uncertainty.
The IPCC SAR makes a compelling case for continuation, and perhaps even enhancement, of funding for scientific research in this area. However, as the International Group of Funding Agencies for global change research has noted, funding for large and complex international research comes primarily from national funding agencies, and these agencies invariably have multiple criteria for assessing national funding priorities. This means that future scientific approaches, such as improvements in regional/national predictions of change, integrated impact assessment, and feasible options for adaptation and/or mitigation must be developed in the context of national perspectives and concerns. These may include economic and environmental sustainability, industrial potential, and the implementation of international commitments.
It is clear that a vast array of technological and policy options are available both to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and enhance sinks. However, it is important when assessing individual options to take into account the full range of scientific, economic, environmental and social implications. For instance, the deep sea storage of carbon may provoke political questioning, whatever the scientific and environmental assessment. Or, in considering the potential role of biomass/biofuel as a potential renewable energy source, any assessment of the feasibility of this option must also address the question of available land under growing pressures for other purposes, such as food production and urban development. These examples illustrate the challenge for society. The IPCC Scientific Assessment now goes to the next Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change. That body, and the national entities of which it is composed, must agree, implement, monitor and enforce any agreements covering reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Whether the international community is yet prepared to accept this challenge remains to be seen.
Steve Morgan is Head of the UK’s Joint Research Council ‘Global Environmental Research Office ‘ and Secretary to the UK Inter-Agency Committee on Global Environmental Change.
Greenhouse Issues is the newsletter of the IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme and aims to keep readers informed on worldwide developments in the field of greenhouse gases and fossil fuels. It is published six times a year and is free of charge. For further information about the Programme, requests for copies and suggestions for articles, please write to:
Miss Andrea Smith, IEA Greenhouse Gas Programme, CRE Group Ltd., Stoke Orchard, Cheltenham, Glos. GL52 4RZ, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (0)1242 680753 Fax: +44 (0) 1242 680758
NASA/MARSHALL EARTH SCIENCE HEADLINE: EARTH’S TEMPERATURE
Is Earth’s Temperature Up or Down or Both?
Scientists Investigate Reasons for Temperature Trend “Disagreements” Between Layers of the Atmosphere
February 6, 1997
Thermometers on the ground, measuring the near-surface air temperature, demonstrate a marked increase in globally-averaged temperature over the past two decades. Computer models of global warming predict that the temperature trend in the Earth’s thick lower atmosphere, called the lower troposphere, should be experiencing an even more pronounced warming that increases smoothly with altitude. And yet, satellite observations of the temperature of the Earth’s lower troposphere do not reveal any overall warming trend. Although interpreted by some as a controversy, research from NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center and the Global Hydrology and Climate Center now suggests that the temperature structure of the atmosphere is more complex than we (and our computer models) originally thought.
These results will be presented today (February 6) at the 77th meeting of the American Metorological Society in Long Beach, California in a special session dedicated to the scientific study of global warming.
Dr. Roy Spencer , a scientist at NASA/Marshall and principal author on the paper, has been monitoring the temperature of layers in the Earth’s atmosphere from space. Along with Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville , Spencer has produced a temperature record spanning 18 years. Acquired from Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) instruments flying aboard the TIROS series of weather satellites. Their data show temperature variations in the lower troposphere, a region from the surface to about 5 miles into the atmosphere.
“The temperatures we measure from space are actually on a very slight downward trend since 1979 in the lower troposphere. We see major excursions due to volcanic eruptions like Pinatubo, and ocean current phenomena like El Nino, but overall the trend is about 0.05 degrees Celsius per decade cooling,” Spencer remarked.
However, temperature measurements on land and ocean are up. “Thermometers taking the temperature at the surface show a warming trend of about +0.10 to +0.15 degrees Celsius per decade,” Spencer continued. “Current computer models of global warming always predict that the temperature variations at the surface should increase smoothly with height as you go up through the lowest 8 miles of the atmosphere.” This should make the temperature trend in the troposphere not only upward, but more pronounced than on the surface.
But the space-based measurements show a more complex vertical structure , with cooling in the lower portion of this deep layer and warming in the upper portion. Spencer and co-author Dr. William Braswell of Nichols Research Corporation have great confidence in the quality of their satellite data. “We’ve concluded there isn’t a problem with the measurements,” Spencer explained. “In fact, balloon measurements of the temperature in the same regions of the atmosphere we measure from space are in excellent agreement with the satellite results.”
“Instead, we believe the problem resides in the computer models and in our past assumptions that the atmosphere is so well behaved. These models just don’t handle processes like clouds, water vapor, and precipitation systems well enough to accurately predict how strong global warming will be, or how it will manifest itself at different heights in the atmosphere,” remarked Spencer.
These poorly modeled processes are all related to convection. This is the continual overturning of the atmosphere that occurs as water, evaporated from the Earth’s surface, carries excess heat energy into the upper atmosphere where it can be more efficiently radiated to outer space. This convective redistribution, the scientists theorize, may be part of what causes the interesting height-dependent structure in the temperature variations seen in the MSU data. Spencer says that the models also suffer from “numerical diffusion,” wherein water vapor in the lower atmosphere is allowed to unrealistically diffuse into the upper atmosphere, where it acts as a greenhouse blanket. “All of these effects together make the computer-modeled atmosphere look much more vertically uniform than it probably is,” Spencer concluded.
For more information on measuring temperatures from space contact:
Dr. Roy Spencer
Mail Code ES-41
Space Sciences Laboratory
Huntsville, Alabama 35812
ECONOMISTS’ STATEMENT ON CLIMATE CHANGE
No sooner was it announced that the US would pursue legally binding commitments to reduce heat-trapping gas emissions at the international climate change talks last July, than the Administration’s position was attacked by industry and science skeptics who benefit from the status quo. One of the critics’ main arguments is that taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is too costly — our economy will be seriously harmed, they argue; the American standard of living will be lowered; and untold numbers of people will be thrown out of work.
In the face of this unrelenting mantra of a ruined economy, several prominent US economists — including Nobel Laureates Kenneth Arrow of Stanford University and Robert M. Solow of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — developed a mechanism to counter these negative — and unfounded — assertions. Thus, they crafted and circulated the “Economists’ Statement on Climate Change” to rally professional economists in support of the IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) conclusions and to publicly assert the economic viability of climate change mitigation strategies. The recruitment letter soliciting signers explains: “As the climate debate unfolds, it is imperative that public policy be guided by sound economics rather than misleading claims put forward by special interest groups.”
The “Economists’ Statement on Climate Change” will be released at a press conference this Thursday, February 13, 1997. 2000 economists have signed on to the statement, including six Nobel Laureates. The statement (text below) champions the conclusions of the IPCC report, asserts the economic feasibility of greenhouse gas reductions without harming the American economy, and recommends market-based policies:
ECONOMISTS’ STATEMENT ON CLIMATE CHANGE
We the undersigned agree that:
I. The review conducted by a distinguished international panel of scientists under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has determined that “the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.” As economists, we believe that global climate change carries with it significant environmental, economic, social, and geopolitical risks, and that preventive steps are justified.
II. Economics studies have found that there are many potential policies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions for which the total benefits outweigh the total costs. For the United States in particular, sound economic analysis shows that there are policy options that would slow climate change without harming American living standards, and these measures may in fact improve U.S. productivity in the longer run.
III. The most efficient approach to slowing climate change is through market-based policies. In order for the world to achieve its climatic objectives at minimum cost, a cooperative approach among nations is required — such as an international emissions trading agreement. The United States and other nations can most efficiently implement their climate policies through market mechanisms, such as carbon taxes or the auction of emissions permits. The revenues generated from such policies can effectively be used to reduce the deficit or to lower existing taxes.”
*** SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION ***
— The six Nobel Laureates are: Kenneth J. Arrow, Stanford University; Gerard Debreu, University of California at Berkeley; John C. Harsanyi, University of California at Berkeley; Lawrence R. Klein, University of Pennsylvania; Robert M. Solow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and James Tobin, Yale University. The project’s five organizers are: Arrow and Solow, plus Dale W. Jorgenson, Harvard University; Paul R. Krugman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and William D. Nordhaus, Yale University.
— The organizational impetus behind the economists’ effort comes from Redefining Progress, a non-partisan, non-profit public policy organization based in San Francisco. For information about “Redefining Progress” or how to sign onto the statement, contact: “Redefining Progress” at 1 Kearny Street, 4th floor, San Francisco, CA 94108 (415)781-1191.
GLOBAL CLIMATE SYSTEM MIGHT BE MORE SENSITIVE TO THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT THAN …
CONTACT: Patricia Viets FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Barbara McGehan 2/20/97
GLOBAL CLIMATE SYSTEM MIGHT BE MORE SENSITIVE TO THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT THAN
The global climate system might be more sensitive to the greenhouse effect than many scientists think, according to a paleoclimatologist at the National Geophysical Data Center, who reports his findings in the February 20 issue of Nature magazine.
Robert S. Webb, of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and a team of scientists performed a series of global climate simulations. They found that incorporating near-modern ocean heat transports, reduced glacial atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and large terrestrial ice sheets, together with feedback mechanisms, are sufficient to lower annual average global surface temperature by 8 degrees Centigrade (14.4 degrees Fahrenheit) and tropical sea surface temperatures by 5.5 degrees Centigrade (9.9 degrees Fahrenheit) at the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM).
“While debate continues on the role of the tropics and the ocean in climate change, our results suggest greater climate sensitivity and cooling in the past,” Webb concluded. “Furthermore, the greater global cooling shown in our simulations implies a much greater climate sensitivity than previous estimates. This suggests that the expected warming from carbon dioxide doubling may be closer to 4 degrees centigrade warming, rather than more modest estimates of 2.5 degrees Centigrade.”
Webb’s results indicate that the new cooler tropical LGM temperatures inferred from coral material and noble gases in fossil ground waters could have resulted from the combined impacts of greenhouse effects and of ocean heat maintained at near-modern levels during the Last Glacial Maximum. The coral and ground water evidence and mechanism for tropical cooling described by Webb undercut previously posed arguments that tropical sea surface temperatures have changed little throughout the Cenozoic and that such stability will persist in the future.
In addition to Webb, the team consists of: David H. Rind and Richard J. Healy, both of NASA; Scott J. Lehman, University of Colorado; and Daniel Sigman of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Dow Jones Business News — April 10, 1997
Antarctica Water Study Provides New Proof Of Global Warming
AP-Dow Jones News Service
SYDNEY (AP)-Rising temperatures in the ocean depths off Antarctica provide new evidence that pollution and gas emissions from the Industrial Age are causing global warming, researchers said Thursday.
Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels and other gas emissions from industry have built up for more than a century and trap heat in the atmosphere, said Professor Bill Budd of the Antarctic Cooperative Research Center.
Most measurements of global warming have been made at or near the Earth’s surface, and though they show a general trend toward warming, there is also wide local inconsistency in measurements, he said.
But new data from deep ocean probes in the Southern Ocean, Indian Ocean, and South Pacific show the same warming trend.
‘The deep changes have occurred in waters which originate from surface waters in the Southern Ocean,’ said Dr. Nathan Bindoff, also from the Antarctic Research Center, based in Hobart, Tasmania.
‘These surface waters sink and are carried northward by the ocean currents into the Indian and Southern Pacific Oceans where the observations were taken. The Southern Ocean is an important source of deep water and is one of the keys to understanding global climate change,’ he said.
Indian Ocean waters they tested down to 900 meters have warmed up to 0.5 degrees Celsius between 1962 and 1987, based on comparison of measurements, Bindoff said.
The Indian Ocean has risen by 3.5 centimeters in those 25 years just from thermal expansion.
If this warming were being driven by the ‘greenhouse gas effect’ of heat trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere, Budd said, you would also expect a dilution of the salty oceans in southern latitudes approaching Antarctica.
That is because a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, and drops more rain and snow to mix with the oceans.
Bindoff’s research found exactly that – waters of the Indian Ocean between 500 and 1,500 meters deep ‘contain more fresh water than in the past.
‘By comparing the salinity pattern of the surface waters with the pattern of deep water salinity, this extra fresh water has been found to come from surface waters in the Southern Ocean,’ Bindoff said.
This discovery validated computer models that predicted increased precipitation near Antarctica from manmade global warming.
It also added more weight to Antarctic studies which found in 1995 that about 40% more snow is falling on the Lambert Glacier than is being drained away, amounting to about 1.2 centimeters in extra depth.
That effect was ascribed to global warming, but researchers were unsure whether it was manmade or part of a longer-term climatic trend toward warming after the last Ice Age.
More deepsea temperature measurements will be taken from instruments brought into Hobart this week by the Melville, a research ship from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego, California.
The ship recovered 50 deepsea probes from the Southern Ocean as part of a US$1 billion multi-year study.
They measured temperature, current flow and movement for two years at depths of up to four kilometers.
It is all part of the World Ocean Circulation Experiment, a study sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation, Australia’s federal science agency, and science agencies from 23 other nations.
The data from the probes will be compared with satellite measurements and other information collected over the last six years of studying the Antarctic circumpolar current, which has a volume of water equal to 150 times that of all the world’s rivers.
Copyright Š 1997 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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BETRAYAL OF SCIENCE AND REASON
by Paul Ehrlich
“The earth’s atmosphere has actually cooled . . . since 1979, according to highly accurate satellite-based atmospheric temperature measurements.” (Ronald Bailey, 1995) #25 “[T]he atmosphere is not warming—nor has it warmed in the past 16 years, ever since precise global data have become available for the first time from weather satellites.” (S. Fred Singer, 1995) #26
The erroneous notion that Earth is not warming (and may actually be cooling), here promulgated by Ronald Bailey and S. Fred Singer, has been rejected by the most recent report of the IPCC. #27 It originated in 1993 when a Washington Post reporter misunderstood a scientific paper on satellite measurements and drew wrong conclusions about its implications for global warming. #28 Unfortunately, the error has been widely disseminated by the brownlash. #29 Written by journalist Boyce Rensberger, the Post article emphasized that surface and satellite temperature readings had shown opposite trends. In fact, the satellite data #30 were only marginally different from those gathered by the surface temperature network of thermometers and actually validated surface measurements that showed about a 1°F (0.5°C) warming over the past century.
The satellite measurements had two important drawbacks. First, the satellite record is too short to show the general century-long warming trend. It goes back only to 1979, and over only a fifteen-year record, “noise” (random variation) would be expected to obscure any long-term trend. Second, satellites measure not the surface temperature (which is the critical one for life) but some sort of weighted average of mid-atmospheric temperatures. The exact mix is a matter of some dispute, so Singer’s use of the word “precise” in his statement is itself imprecise.
Notable, too, is that in the same fifteen-year period the surface temperature record also did not show any significant warming. At the start, 1979 was a very, very warm year. Then the 1980s were the hottest decade of the century. #31 Finally, an unpredictable event, the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo, caused a transient cooling in 1992-1994, at the end of the sequence. A partial analogy would be if your friends denied that you had a fever if your temperature was 102°F one day, climbed to 103° for the next week, and then dropped back to 101 after two weeks.
The similarity in trends of mid-atmospheric (satellite) and surface measurements is revealed by the year-to-year temperature fluctuations seen in each record. In both cases, the fluctuations are generally much larger than the expected overall trend of slowly increasing global temperatures over many decades. Adjacent years may differ in average temperature by several tenths of a degree Celsius, whereas the average surface warming trend per decade over the past thirty years has been only about 0.1°C. (To make this difference clear, a person might well have gained about half a pound in weight each year for a decade, since many people slowly gain weight as they age. At the same time, his or her weight may change by several pounds during a single day or from week to week, fluctuating around a gradually rising average.) Between 1979 and 1994, when yearly fluctuations in both satellite and ground temperatures are compared, the ups and downs of the satellite data for atmospheric temperatures actually tracked those of the surface temperature data quite closely. #32
As University of Michigan geophysicist Henry Pollack put it in a letter to the Washington Post (which the newspaper declined to publish) attempting to correct Rensberger’s error, “the two data sets are remarkably coherent, each showing departures from the average consistent with each other. Far from telling conflicting stories, the data are telling the same story about temperature fluctuations in the 1980, and should build rather than undermine confidence in the ground-based temperatures measured in the century preceding the satellite era.” #33 This strongly suggests that had there been satellite coverage during the past century, it would show a warming trend similar to that detected by conventional surface temperature measurements. When the story that 1995 had been the hottest year in history broke, the New York Times reported: “In the past, skeptics about global warming have cited the satellite data. But Dr. [John R.] Christy [of the University of Alabama and coauthor of the original satellite paper] said that even the rate of warming measured from the satellites has begun to move into the range scientists expect to result from human-caused warming.” #34 So the data cited by Singer as showing there has been no global warming actually supported, and still supports, the opposite view when a fair examination of the records is made. #35 [p.p. 131-132]
Arctic Tundra Now Pumping More Carbon Into Atmosphere, Says U-M Scientist
Contact: Sally Pobojewski
University of Michigan
Arctic Tundra Now Pumping More Carbon Into Atmosphere, Says U-M Scientist. Lakes And Streams Are Major Carbon Transfer Point.
EDITORS: Color slides and prints of scientists working in Alaska’s Kuparuk River basin during the Summer of 1996 are available on request.
FOR RELEASE AT 1:30 p.m. (PST) on SUNDAY, DECEMBER 15, 1996.
SAN FRANCISCO—The arctic tundra’s vast carbon reservoir has sprung a leak. Recent experiments on Alaska’s North Slope show that carbon molecules have started moving out of the tundra and into the atmosphere via a network of lakes, streams and rivers in larger amounts than ever before.
“Our latest data show that the arctic is no longer a strong sink for carbon,” said George W. Kling, University of Michigan assistant professor of biology. “In some years, the tundra is adding as much or more carbon to the atmosphere than it removes, although the total amount of carbon released to the atmosphere is still quite small.
“However, the amount of carbon stored in arctic tundra equals almost one-third of the total carbon in Earth’s atmosphere,” Kling added. “The concern is what will happen in the future as global warming increases and melting permafrost exposes more of this buried carbon to be respired and released into the atmosphere.”
Kling is one of several scientists working on the Gas Flux Study, part of the National Science Foundation’s Arctic System Science (ARCSS) Program. Kling’s research team studies how carbon dioxide and methane move between land, water and the atmosphere in the Kuparuk River Basin—an 8,100-square-kilometer area of Alaska’s North Slope extending from the Brooks Range to the Arctic Ocean. Kling and other scientists involved in the ARCSS Program presented data from this summer’s field research during a special session of the American Geophysical Union meeting held here today.
“We have known for some time that arctic lakes and streams are supersaturated with carbon dioxide and methane, and that this excess gas diffuses into the atmosphere,” Kling said. “What we didn’t know is just how much carbon is entering the atmosphere through contact with surface waters.”
Using new field measurements and computer models developed at the Ecosystems Center in Woods Hole, Mass., ARCSS scientists have been able to quantify for the first time the amount of carbon flux from the arctic tundra into the global ecosystem.
Kling’s data show that for each square meter of tundra five grams of carbon are being lost from surface waters annually in the Kuparuk watershed. Of that amount, almost half of the carbon leaching out of the tundra into lakes and rivers is released directly to the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide or methane. Rivers carry the other half to the Arctic Ocean.
“Arctic plants are still taking in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during photosynthesis,” Kling explained. “But instead of much of that carbon remaining locked up in soil, more of it is being respired back to the atmosphere.”
Kling added that scientists still have a great deal to learn about the complex biogeochemistry of the arctic ecosystem. For example, how will rising temperatures affect respiration rates in arctic soils? If the tundra starts to dry out, will that increase the amount of carbon dioxide released to surface waters or the atmosphere? What impact will increasing amounts of carbon dioxide and methane from arctic tundra have on global warming?
“As average global temperatures continue to increase, we expect to see the most dramatic changes occurring in the arctic. To prepare for these changes, we need to know a lot more about controls on the exchange of carbon between land, water and the atmosphere than we do now.”
Other scientists working with Kling on his part of the NSF Gas Flux Study include John Hobbie and Ed Rastetter of the Ecosystems Center in Woods Hole, Mass., Terry Chapin of the University of California at Berkeley, and Walter Oechel of San Diego State University.