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June 30th 2017
According to a recent Yale survey, 7 in 10 Americans believe global warming is real and happening. And 6 in 10 believe it is affecting U.S. weather. But only 1 in 3 say they’ve personally felt its effects. That disconnect stuck with Heidi Cullen. “You’re never going to think of it as an issue that’s urgent unless you recognize the fact that you’re already being impacted,” says Cullen, chief scientist for the nonprofit Climate Central. Now in its ninth year, Climate Central is part research hub and part journalism outfit—an unusual hybrid that tries to connect climate change to people’s lives.
The organization’s latest project, World Weather Attribution, identifies direct links between extreme weather events and global warming. Cullen and her team created the program after realizing that while the tools for attributing such events have evolved, the results were coming out too late to influence the conversation. Cullen also worried that media covering extreme weather operated off outdated information: They would say you couldn’t tie any specific event to climate change. “Now the techniques exist,” Cullen says. So she set out to provide objective answers, swiftly. Researchers from Climate Central and other institutions around the world combine information from climate models, on-the-ground observations, and a range of peer-reviewed research to supply evidence for their reports. Recently, her team determined that global warming made 2017’s exceptionally warm February in the U.S. at least three times more likely.
Connecting science to regular people’s lives is second nature to Cullen, but that wasn’t always the case. Back in 2002, when she was forecasting droughts at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, a producer from the Weather Channel called. They wanted to hire a climate expert to appear on air. It was four years before An Inconvenient Truth, and many Americans were just opening their eyes to global warming. “It seemed like a really important moment,” Cullen says. She packed up and headed for Atlanta.
“You’re never going to think of it as an issue that’s urgent unless you recognize the fact that you’re already being impacted."
Cullen arrived at the Weather Channel a complete communication novice, unsure of how to convey any scientific info succinctly, and clueless about makeup and other accoutrement of television personalities. She would submit scripts for short segments to the producers, “and they would shake their heads” at the overly complex, jargon-laden writing, she recalls. “I’d walk down the hallway, and they would start singing ‘She Blinded Me with Science.’” Eventually, though, Cullen became a pro, earning her own weekly show.
In 2008, Princeton ecologist Stephen Pacala contacted her about joining Climate Central. Her first project was a program to enable meteorologists to connect the dots between local weather and global warming. For World Weather Attribution, Cullen is as likely to do the research that will be used in reports as write up results based on others’ investigations.
For someone who’s been immersed in the scary realities of global warming for so long, Cullen is surprisingly optimistic. She credits two things. One, she’s found a proven method for staying upbeat: puppies, which she trains for the Seeing Eye, the nation’s oldest guide-dog training program. Her current charge is a Lab/golden cross named Earl. “It’s a counterpoint to climate change.” The other, she says, is that in her field, “you look with this long-term perspective.” That’s helping her ride out the current administration’s direct attacks on science. “Four years isn’t a long time.”
April 13th 2017
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is recognized as the biggest living structure on Earth. Unfortunately, it's dying--with many portions facing no hope for recovery--thanks to back to back mass bleaching events.
THE GREAT BARRIER REEF
Why care about reefs? In a word—biodiversity. The reef is home to 3,000 varieties of mollusks, over a hundred types of jellyfish, 1,625 species of fish, hundreds of shark and ray species, and over 30 kinds of whales and dolphins. These sea creatures call the soft and hard corals that make up the reef “home.” And without it, many of them will die.
If that’s not enough, it has the distinction of being the largest living structure on the planet.
The Great Barrier Reef is home to 3,000 individual coral reefs stretching across a staggering 2,575 kilometers (1,600 miles), covering an area of about 344,400 square kilometers (133,000 square miles.)
Unfortunately, because of back to back Mass bleaching events
scientists are telling us that the massive, impressive Australian Great Barrier Reef is now at a ‘terminal stage’—with large portions having no hope of recovery.
Mass bleaching, a phenomenon caused by global warming, is prompted when the water warms to a point that corals begin ejecting the symbiotic algae in their tissue, essential for their survival. Throughout history, there have only been four instances of this occurrence, and after such an event, it will take decades to recover.
“This is the fourth time the Great Barrier Reef has bleached severely – in 1998, 2002, 2016, and now in 2017. Bleached corals are not necessarily dead corals, but in the severe central region we anticipate high levels of coral loss,” said researcher James Kerry from James Cook University’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. He clarifies why the 2017 bleaching is significant: “It takes at least a decade for a full recovery of even the fastest growing corals, so mass bleaching events 12 months apart offers zero prospect of recovery for reefs that were damaged in 2016.”
The newest aerial surveys covered over 8,000 kilometers (5,000) miles, which includes 800 individual coral reefs.
According to the surveys, 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) of the Great Barrier Reef is now bleached. These new statistics come less than a year after 93 percent of the reef suffered severe damage, with reports adding that the effects have also spread further south.
Combined with the mass bleaching event, the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Debbie added to the devastation, as it struck a section of the reef that managed to escape the worst of the bleaching.
“We’ve given up,” said Jon Brodie, a James Cook University water quality expert, who was referring to inaction on the part of the Australian government. “It’s been my life managing water quality, we’ve failed.”
Unfortunately, in this age of global warming, temperatures are expected to continue rising, which means more of these bleaching events will happen, and they will cause even more damage. And the reality is, this could be the last generation who will get to see the grand beauty of this reef.
Fortunately, it’s not too late for us to save the rest of the planet from the worst effects of climate change. But we must act now.
This is James Hansen and a video of his TED talk.
June 5th 2016
The Arctic is on track to be free of sea ice this year or next for the first time in more than 100,000 years, a leading scientist has claimed.
Provisional satellite data produced by the US National Snow & Ice Data Centre shows there were just over 11.1 million square kilometres of sea ice on 1 June this year, compared to the average for the last 30 years of nearly 12.7 million square kilometres.
This difference – more than 1.5 million square kilometres – is about the same size as about six United Kingdoms.
Professor Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University, told The Independent that the latest figures largely bore out a controversial prediction he made four years ago.
“My prediction remains that the Arctic ice may well disappear, that is, have an area of less than one million square kilometres for September of this year,” he said.
“Even if the ice doesn’t completely disappear, it is very likely that this will be a record low year. I’m convinced it will be less than 3.4 million square kilometres [the current record low].
“I think there’s a reasonable chance it could get down to a million this year and if it doesn’t do it this year, it will do it next year.
“Ice free means the central part of the Arctic and the North Pole is ice free.”
Most of the remaining ice within the Arctic Circle would be trapped among the myriad of islands along Canada’s north coast.
The last time the Arctic was clear of ice is believed to be about 100,000 to 120,000 years ago.
The rapid warming of the polar region has been linked with extreme weather events such as “bomb cyclones”, flooding in the UK and out-of-season tornadoes in the United States.
And the sea ice off the north coast of Russia, which normally insulates the water below to keep it cool, is no longer present for much of the year, allowing the sea to get significantly warmer than before.
Scientists have monitored greenhouse gas methane – once frozen on the sea bed – bubbling up to the surface at an alarming rate.
According to one study published in the journal Nature by Professor Wadhams and others, this could produce an average rise in global temperature of 0.6 degrees Celsius in just five years.
“That would be a very, very serious upward jerk to global warming,” Professor Wadhams said, saying the prospect was “frightening”.
Less sea ice also means the surface of the Earth is darker, so it absorbs more of the sun’s energy.
“When the sea ice retreats, it changes the whole situation. People are right to be concerned about the sea ice retreat and disappearance mainly because of all these other feedbacks,” Professor Wadhams added.
Sea ice is usually at its lowest in September and starts to build again when the winter sets in.
Dr Peter Gleick, a leading climatologist, said he had “no idea” if Professor Wadhams’ prediction was correct.
And he added: “If it's wrong, this kind of projection leads to climate sceptics and deniers to criticize the entire community.”
However Dr Gleick said Professor Wadhams was right to sound a warning about the rising temperatures in the region, saying it was “extraordinarily disturbing even in a world of disturbing news about accelerating climate change”.
“An ice-free - and even an ice-reduced - Arctic is leading to global impacts on weather and ecosystems, and most importantly, that the changes in the Arctic presage dramatic fundamental changes in climate throughout the globe,” he said.
“We're on a runaway train, scientists are blowing the whistle, but politicians are still shovelling coal into the engine.”
Professor Jennifer Francis, of Rutgers University in the US, who has studied the effect of the Arctic on the weather in the rest of the northern hemisphere, was also sceptical about Professor Wadhams' prediction, saying it was “highly unlikely” to come true this year.
She said she thought this would not happen until sometime between 2030 and 2050.
But Professor Francis stressed: “We are definitely looking at a very unusual situation up in the Arctic.
“The ice is very low and there have been record-breaking low amounts of ice in January, February, March, April and now May, so this is very worrisome.
“I think we are going to see perhaps a new record [in September], that’s very possible.”
The following is a video about research into ice loss at the poles.
An inconvenient truth
SEA LEVEL RISE
Global warming is probably responsible for more tidal surges this is how we describe a situation where the normal tide is much higher than expected due to the wind and weather conditions in the catchment area.
Low atmospheric pressure will cause the surface of the sea to be higher than normal, this is a normal fact of nature but if it coincides with strong onshore winds then the breaking waves can be much higher than normal.
This situation is being made worse by the rising sea levels caused by global warming and in many places it is necessary to strengthen the sea defenses to meet modern conditions safely.
I refer you to our Air pollution page
If you live in a coastal area you can protect yourself and your family by carefully watching the weather forecasts and listening to the local news, you may get warnings from the local police or civil defense issued by radio or television.
Human beings are not doing this planet any good, we are slowly destroying its ability to support life, atmospheric pollution is making life difficult for many people and in lots of cases scarce species are driven into extinction.
The only thing we can be proud of is that there are scientists collecting and storing DNA.
There are some examples where a species has been brought back from the brink of extinction and better communication is making the general public more aware of the problem so maybe we can have more hope for the future.
Global air pollution
Air pollution is most keenly felt in cities that are positioned where there is little wind, a dense population and many motor vehicles, with dozens of factories on the city outskirts air pollution sometimes forces people to wear breathing masks.
Having taken steps to protect the ozone layer by banning some chemicals that used to be freely used in spray cans and refrigerators we can now see steps that we’re winning this battle with the ozone holes over the poles gradually closing up.
The main task now seem to be to reduce the amount of carbon that we discharge into the atmosphere, some of this is absorbed by the forests and other green plants and more disappears into the ocean, but we are a long, long way from achieving a carbon balance.
There is hope as measures intensify to attack the problem on all fronts, that one day, hopefully before it is too late, that we can turn our attention to the next problem.
Our seas and oceans are getting more and more polluted every year and not everything that we put into the sea is biodegradable the main problem is plastic materials of all sorts it stays in the sea for a very long time.
Although it may get battered into small pieces it is still there being more of a danger to the smaller creatures who swallow it and cannot just digest such plastic.
Then there's the new problem of the microscopic plastic balls that they put in some toothpastes.
There are islands of floating plastic garbage concentrated in one place by the ocean currents, those plastic items that do not float sink to the bottom of the ocean.
They litter the ocean floor, as they sink the larger sea creatures will swallow these plastic items and not being able to digest them they remain in the stomachs slowly killing the animal.
There is a lot of concern these days about what we put into the atmosphere in the form of exhaust emissions, factories and transport as well as animals including humans all emit gas which goes into the atmosphere.
We all have what is called a carbon foot print, this is a measure of the amount of carbon each entity is responsible for putting into the atmosphere. We should all try to reduce our carbon footprint by reducing the amount of energy that we are responsible for burning.
We can do this turn down our thermostat, turn off lights we don’t need, go for a walk instead of taking a joy ride in the car there are a multitude of ways that everyone of us can help and we’re encouraged to do it because it is for the good of every living thing.
We have had droughts recorded going back hundreds of years so they’re not a new event, but the evidence suggests that they are more severe and more common than they used to be and global warming is thought to be the cause.
Unfortunately humans are little better able to cope with droughts than they used to be all those years ago, we have bioengineered some crops that are more drought resistant.
We have had some improvements in irrigation but none of this is really significant if we get a lasting drought everything dies and the fields turn to dust so long as the wind is not too strong, the dust won’t blow away.
Global warming is with us, it’s going to get worse, it’s going to last a long time, we must all do everything we can to slow the progress as much as possible.
We can argue that it is natural or that it is man made, that is not going to change the situation it is here and we have got to do our best to live with it.
Please do all you can to reduce your carbon footprint.
Then there is the sceptics view. This film is seven years old, but I think it's still relevant in its information.
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