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What A Week It Was: Apocadocuments from
View By Scenario:
Species Collapse:(6)
Plague/Virus:(3)
Climate Chaos:(12)
Resource Depletion: (8)
Biology Breach:(7)
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This Week's Top Ten Very Scary Tags:
climate impacts  ~ global warming  ~ contamination  ~ ecosystem interrelationships  ~ water issues  ~ unintended consequences  ~ superbugs  ~ massive die-off  ~ arctic meltdown  ~ pandemic  ~ stupid humans  



ApocaDocuments (12) for the "Climate Chaos" scenario from this week
[see full week] ~ [see full Climate Chaos scenario and stories]
Sun, Mar 22, 2009
from Palm Beach Daily News:
Rubber ducks dropped into Greenland's Jakobshavn Glacier to track ice flow
To keep track of climate change, scientists around the world employ some of the most sophisticated devices and machines found in the 21st century. Advanced theoretical models run on huge number-crunching computers, while thousands of miles up in space complex satellites examine every nook and cranny of our atmosphere. Still, sometimes scientists just need a rubber ducky. At least, that's what Alberto Behar, a researcher from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, used recently to try to figure out what's going on inside the world's fastest-moving glacier. Behar dropped 90 rubber ducks inside the Jakobshavn Glacier, not far from Greenland, last September to try to determine why glaciers speed up in the summer months during their annual march to the sea. Behar says the Jakobshavn Glacier discharges around 7 percent of all the ice that comes off of Greenland each year. Thanks to global warming, scientists believe its melting ice sheet could help raise ocean levels in the coming years. ...


This idea was hatched at the Ernie Institute.

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Sat, Mar 21, 2009
from iAfrica:
A terrifying profession
Being a climate scientist these days is not for the faint of heart. Arguably no other area of research yields a sharper contrast between a steady stream of "eureka!" moments, and the sometimes terrifying implications of those discoveries for the future of the planet. "Science is exciting when you make such findings," said Konrad Steffen, who heads the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) in Boulder, Colorado. "But if you stop and look at the implications of what is coming down the road for humanity, it is rather scary. I have kids in college -- what do they have to look forward to in 50 years?" ...


Konrad -- we can so relate.

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Fri, Mar 20, 2009
from Yale Environment 360:
With Temperatures Rising, Here Comes 'Global Weirding'
The concept of "global weirding" is emerging as a notable complement to its cause, global warming. Coined by Hunter Lovins, a founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, it describes the consequences of the rise in average global temperatures, which are expected to amplify the abnormal: hotter heat spells, longer and sharper droughts, more violent storms, and more intense flooding. Given anticipated warming trajectories, many of these physical changes are statistically predictable and can be fairly accurately modeled. But as an ecologist, I fear it is the alterations to the living realm where "weirdness" will be a most apropos, if not downright tepid, label. This is certainly the case in my area of study -- the aquatic realm -- where global weirding is already well underway. ...


If we can just find the right catchphrase... we just might beat climate change yet!

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Fri, Mar 20, 2009
from New York Times:
Increased frequency of landslides remains largely ignored despite risks
When a series of powerful January storms dumped huge volumes of rain across the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Washington's top geologist, Dave Norman, knew to expect landslides. During the first two weeks of the month, the intense storms pelted the already saturated ground in western Washington, triggering at least 1,500 landslides that damaged or destroyed an estimated 200 homes, buried sections of 150 roadways and contributed to thousands of people seeking safety in emergency shelters....The destruction highlights the often overlooked danger posed by landslides, one of the nation's most costly natural disasters, responsible for as much as $3.5 billion in damages and 50 deaths each year. And, experts say, changing climatic conditions could make landslide risks worse, especially along the West Coast. ...


Great... something else I gotta worry about!

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Wed, Mar 18, 2009
from Reuters:
Vatican defends pope's stand on condoms as criticism mounts
The Vatican on Wednesday defended Pope Benedict's opposition to the use of condoms to stop the spread of AIDS as scientists and countries including his native Germany criticized it as unrealistic and dangerous. Benedict, arriving in Africa, said on Tuesday that condoms "increase the problem" of AIDS. The comment, made to reporters aboard his plane, caused a worldwide storm of criticism. "My reaction is that this represents a major step backwards in terms of global health education, is entirely counter-productive, and is likely to lead to increases in HIV infection in Africa and elsewhere," said Prof Quentin Sattentau, Professor of Immunology at Britain's Oxford University. "There is a large body of published evidence demonstrating that condom use reduces the risk of acquiring HIV infection, but does not lead to increased sexual activity," he said. The Church teaches that fidelity within heterosexual marriage and abstinence are the best ways to stop AIDS. ...


Aw... the pope's just being a dick again.

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Wed, Mar 18, 2009
from Associated Press:
US births break record; 40 pct out-of-wedlock
Remember the baby boom? No, not the one after World War II. More babies were born in the United States in 2007 than any other year in the nation's history and a wedding band made increasingly little difference in the matter. The 4,317,119 births, reported by federal researchers Wednesday, topped a record first set in 1957 at the height of the baby boom. Behind the number is both good and bad news. While it shows the U.S. population is more than replacing itself, a healthy trend, the teen birth rate was up for a second year in a row. The birth rate rose slightly for women of all ages, and births to unwed mothers reached an all-time high of about 40 percent, continuing a trend that started years ago. More than three-quarters of these women were 20 or older. ...


Remind me: why would population growth be good news?

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Wed, Mar 18, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
James Hansen: 'democratic process isn't working'
Protest and direct action could be the only way to tackle soaring carbon emissions, a leading climate scientist has said. James Hansen, a climate modeller with NASA, told the Guardian today that corporate lobbying has undermined democratic attempts to curb carbon pollution. "The democratic process doesn't quite seem to be working," he said. ... "The first action that people should take is to use the democratic process. What is frustrating people, me included, is that democratic action affects elections but what we get then from political leaders is greenwash. ...


"Greenwash" is such a nicer term than bullgreenshit.

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Wed, Mar 18, 2009
from NSF, via EurekAlert:
Andrill demonstrates climate warming affects Antarctic ice sheet stability
"The sedimentary record indicates that under global warming conditions that were similar to those projected to occur over the next century, protective ice shelves could shrink or even disappear and the [West Antarctic Ice Sheet] would become vulnerable to melting," Powell said. "If the current warm period persists, the ice sheet could diminish substantially or even disappear over time. This would result in a potentially significant rise in sea levels." ... "It also appears that when atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations reached 400 parts per million around four million years ago, the associated global warming amplified the effect of the Earth's axial tilt on the stability of the ice sheet," he said. ...


... gliding down the highway
When the sheets are slip slidin' away.


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Tue, Mar 17, 2009
from Associated Press:
8 Dems oppose quick debate on global warming bill
Eight Senate Democrats are opposing speedy action on President Barack Obama's bill to combat global warming, complicating prospects for the legislation and creating problems for their party's leaders. The eight Democrats disapprove of using the annual budget debate to pass Obama's "cap and trade" bill to fight greenhouse gas emissions, a measure that divides lawmakers, environmentalists and businesses. The lawmakers' opposition makes it more difficult for Democratic leaders to move the bill without a threat of a Republican filibuster. The budget debate is the only way to circumvent Senate rules that allow a unified GOP to stop a bill through filibusters. ...


By all means let's fiddle around while the earth burns!

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Tue, Mar 17, 2009
from PNAS, via Mongabay:
Experts forecast high probability of global warming tipping points
The probability of Earth's climate passing a "tipping point" that could result in large impacts within the next two centuries is greater than 50 percent, according to research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.... [T]he authors calculate a 16 percent chance that climate change will trigger at least one of the events for a 2-4 degree C rise in temperature, and a 56 percent change for a 4 degree C or higher rise.... Of the events, the experts pegged melting of the Greenland ice sheet as the most likely to occur (60 percent for a 4-8 degree C rise in temperature). An ice-free Greenland would raise sea levels by more than 23 feet (7 meters). The likelihood of a permanent el Nino -- which would trigger changes in rainfall and temperature around the global -- or a catastrophic die-off (more than 50 percent) of the Amazon rainforest was estimated at about 50 percent under a high warming scenario. ...


Two centuries?
Lucky for me, I'll be long dead!

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Mon, Mar 16, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Taxes must rise to pay for climate change, MPs warn
But in their report, the MPs expose the timidity of the Government's response to the crisis, revealing that the 535 million package for low carbon measures announced in the PBR was made up of money brought forward from future budgets. That means that the Government will either have to cut spending or raise taxes to pay for future measures to "green" the economic recovery. Tim Yeo, chairman of the committee, said: "The Treasury has announced very little new money for green investments. "Yet meeting our climate change targets will require a step-change in funding for the low carbon energy sector, especially when the financial crisis has led to a shortage of capital." ...


It's called "paying it backward."

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Mon, Mar 16, 2009
from Nature:
A sleeping giant?
In 2007, scientists scouting the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean began to notice some troubling signs. In about half of their seawater chemistry samples, the concentration of dissolved methane was two to ten times higher than in samples taken during previous years from the same locations. Then, last summer, they observed large rings of gas sometimes as wide as 30 centimetres in diameter trapped in ice, as well as methane plumes bubbling to the surface over hundreds of square kilometres of the shallow waters along the Siberian Shelf.... large quantities of methane are becoming destabilized as the planet and the ocean heat up. Researchers have long speculated that warming could unleash vast stores of the greenhouse gas from where it lies frozen beneath the sea floor and locked up in Arctic soils. If those deposits were to melt, it would almost certainly trigger abrupt climate change. Methane heats the atmosphere with an efficiency 25 times that of carbon dioxide, and its release could put in motion a positive feedback loop in which warming releases methane, causing further warming, which liberates even more of the gas. Whether that's already happening is anyone's guess. ...


Call it the Great Gaia Fart.

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