Sonntag, 31. Dezember 2006

On Africa's Great Peaks, Glaciers Are In Retreat

Recent Report Blames Loss of Equatorial Ice On Post-'70s Warming

By Charles J. Hanley

Associated Press Sunday,
December 31, 2006; A18

//www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/29/AR2006122901946.html


Informant: binstock

Northwest forecast: dramatic change

Our warmer world - The debate over what to do about global warming remains divisive. But few scientists dispute we live on a planet where temperatures are higher than they were a century ago and will continue to climb. In the Pacific Northwest - a place defined by glacier-clad mountains, rivers and the sea - the effects are now seen and measurable. In this sixth report in an occasional series, The Oregonian examines how higher temperatures exert fundamental change on the Northwest's natural world and built environment.

Sunday, December 31, 2006
MICHAEL MILSTEIN
The Oregonian

//www.oregonlive.com/special/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1167375325141680.xml&coll=7

Fine wine, abundant electricity, wild salmon -- the things Oregonians take for granted. But keeping them will be harder than ever because we plan and build our lives in the belief that Northwest weather will always be Northwest weather.

It's not so, researchers are finding. We should expect hotter, drier heat waves, heavier rains and quicker snowmelt. The Northwest, a natural target of major storms, will feel it in ways other regions will not.

It particularly challenges public agencies and private businesses, which now must expect climate curveballs, such as the record-setting November deluge -- Portland's wettest month since 1938, Seattle's wettest in 115 years.

Warmer summers already have altered the taste of Oregon's signature pinot noir wines, and vintners are shifting their vines uphill to keep them cool. But that will not be enough. By the end of the century, the iconic grape of the state's $1 billion wine industry will grow better along Washington's Puget Sound than it does in the Willamette Valley.

Volcanic debris once locked in place by Mount Hood's ice, now exposed by melting glaciers, ripped away miles of Oregon 35 during the November storm. Crews hurriedly pieced it back together at a cost of $10 million, just in time for ski season, but only a far more costly fix will fortify the road against escalating floods bearing yet more boulders.

"We have to ask, 'Do we want to spend hundreds of millions rebuilding things the way they are?' " says Gail Achterman, a member of the state highway commission and director of the Institute for Natural Resources at Oregon State University. "These events are not going to stop happening, and every climate model suggests they're going to happen more often."

It's impossible to blame a single storm on global warming. But research shows the November blast was a preview of events we will see more often: heavier rain earlier in the winter; rain falling in place of snow, even in the mountains; all that extra rain rushing downstream in floods.

The trouble, scientists say, is that society does not view climate as something that substantially shifts.

"Our vulnerability to climate is based on the expectation that climate is predictable," says Nathan Mantua, a research scientist at the University of Washington's Climate Impacts Group. "We in our minds are driving on cruise control thinking the road's going to stay straight. We don't realize it can change drastically."

Wild extremes

Instruments track nearly every snowflake and raindrop falling across the West, all so federal forecasters can tell us how much water will flow to our farm fields and faucets each year. But their forecasts, vital to the region's farmers and water managers, are drifting off the mark.

"In the early '80s, the skill really began to drop off," says Tom Pagano, a water supply forecaster with the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service in Portland who documented the trend.

The climate's to blame. In a way forecasters had never seen, it's veering wildly between wet and dry and cool and hot.

Weather is so complex it's impossible to identify warming as the cause. But the swings complicate life in a region already changing as it warms.

Rising temperatures are a certainty for the Northwest and already have begun to shift snow and runoff patterns vital to salmon migration and hydroelectric power. It is less clear how mounting greenhouse gases will affect rainfall and other weather patterns.

But climate projections show higher temperatures intensifying droughts and storms in the Northwest -- a kind of climatic bull's-eye.

Here's how: Evaporation off a warmer ocean injects more water into the air, which absorbs ever more water as it warms. That fuels stronger storms that carry bigger buckets of rain and snow onto land, according to studies by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

Average annual precipitation has risen across much of the region since
1920, University of Washington studies show.

The storms are expected to collide more directly with the Cascade Range, which may wring yet more moisture from the clouds, says Eric Salathe, a Climate Impacts Group research scientist.

Already, he says, winter storms arrive earlier. December once was the rainiest month in much of the Northwest, now it's November, data show. Last month, almost 50 inches fell in Oregon's Coast Range west of Salem, beating a December 1996 record that was thought to be unbreakable.

Even without wetter storms, the Northwest still will see more rain. That's because the predicted warming of one quarter to 1 degree per decade this century will turn much of the Northwest's snow to rain. Snow accumulation in the mountains at the end of each winter has declined about 25 percent since about 1920, according to Phil Mote, Washington state's official climatologist.

It'll get worse: By the 2090s, the Northwest's mountain snows will melt almost three months sooner than they do now, UW projections show.

Problem: As more rain falls, the same rivers and streams are left to drain an overwhelming amount of runoff.

Outcome: flooding.

The west side of the Cascades, where a slight rise in winter temperatures will turn a lot of snow to rain, is especially vulnerable, says Alan Hamlet, a UW research scientist.

"That's the area we should really worry about, where risks have already gone up and where they will probably continue to go up," he says.

Complicating the picture is that shrinking snows expose more ground, which absorbs heat and warms the air more, according to studies by Purdue University's Climate Change Research Center.

The unlikely flip side of this waterlogged scenario is an increasingly parched summer. That's because rainwater vanishes quickly compared with snowmelt, which will be in shorter supply. Hotter days will only accelerate the drying.

Already, 10 percent of the Columbia River's flow at Bonneville Dam has shifted from spring and summer months to fall and winter months since
1929, says Kyle Dittmer, a hydrologist and meteorologist with the Columbia Intertribal Fish Commission.

That leaves less water in hotter months, when it's needed to cool streams for salmon and to spin turbines for electricity.

The number of extremely hot days in the Northwest will double by the end of this century, the Purdue studies found. The trend has already appeared: Examination of temperature records from 1960 to 1996 by the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University showed increases in extremely hot days across the Northwest.

From pinot noir to syrah

That's a challenge if you grow a certain grape for a certain kind of wine.

Oregon vineyards made their reputation with pinot noir, sensitive to heat. The weather must match the grape's preferences precisely for an award-winning wine to emerge.

"The cool climate is what we've hung our hat on here," says Harry Peterson-Nedry, founder and managing partner of Chehalem, a leading winery based in Newberg.

But growing seasons have turned warmer in only the 30 or so years since Oregon wines took off. So far that has been good, producing superior vintages grown in the ideal window of temperatures for pinot noir.

"We have moved to the middle of the window," Peterson-Nedry says. "But the problem is, we're not going to stop there. If we could stop it there, we would."

When researchers plotted places that will remain cool enough for Oregon's iconic grape by the end of this century, they were left mainly with a narrow strip along the coast and land to the north around Puget Sound.

The shift may present other opportunities, however: The Willamette Valley could become more hospitable to grapes California is known for today. Some wineries already are experimenting with warmer-weather grapes such as syrah, staple of France's hot Rhone Valley and abundant in California.

"That's with the anticipation they're going to be planting and harvesting those varieties here someday," Peterson-Nedry says.

Planning for uncertainty

On the east slope of Mount Hood, highway engineers expect more destructive floods to tear into Oregon 35. It's happened five times in the past eight years. Glaciers are melting faster, exposing even more unstable debris to future, wetter storms.

The same thing happened at Mount Rainier National Park, shut down by the record November rains. Geologists say the retreating glaciers have released so much extra sediment into river channels that streams flow dangerously high -- dooming roads tourists have driven for nearly a century.

Crews on Mount Hood installed larger culverts to shunt more water under Oregon 35 in a furious push to reopen the road, vital to the ski industry. But the Oregon Department of Transportation admits they will not withstand another deluge.

The agency lacks the money for a bigger fix, which could involve larger bridges over the unpredictable White River and cost more than $70 million. The state hopes to persuade federal authorities to foot the bill, arguing that such a big price tag will save money in the long run by avoiding repeated repairs.

The rule of thumb for the Federal Highway Administration is to balance those costs over the next 20 years, says David Cox, division administrator for Oregon. "We look at a much shorter horizon than you would think," he says.

But the implications of global warming do not end in 20 years. By then, the climate may be changing even faster and in more unexpected ways, researchers say.

Although scientists are a conservative bunch, some worry we have underestimated how sensitive the climate is. Change feeds on itself. This month, new findings showed the Arctic may lose its summer ice by 2040.

That exposes more water, which absorbs more sunlight, which warms an ocean already heating rapidly.

"Things are happening now almost faster than we can predict them," says Richard Gammon, a UW chemistry and oceanography professor. "Right now, the scientists are more alarmed than the general public."

Michael Milstein: 503-294-7689; michaelmilstein @news.oregonian.com

©2006 The Oregonian


Informant: binstock

SAVE ROMANIAN CHILDREN

//www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/733307731

NGO Reveals Abuse Of Disabled Children
//www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/05/0e8ad265-7eda-453b-a30f-2c8722a152db.html


From Sophia D.

Review of the year: The Middle East

Pray for little countries that believe in empty promises of a superpower.
//tinyurl.com/y7t9bb



//freepage.twoday.net/search?q=Robert+Fisk

Federal Bureau of Intimidation

By Howard Zinn

They don’t like social movements. They work for the establishment and the corporations and the politicos to keep things as they are. And they want to frighten and chill the people who are trying to change things. So the best defense against them and resistance against them is simply to keep on fighting back, to keep on exposing them.

//tinyurl.com/ycbwue



//freepage.twoday.net/search?q=Howard+Zinn

2006: Ein Jahr der Wetterextreme

Taifun in Asien, starke Regenfälle im Süden Afrikas, Hitzewellen in Australien und Nordamerika - die Bilanz für das vergangene Jahr zeigt in vielen Teilen der Welt extreme Wettersituationen.

//sonnenseite.kjm4.de/ref.php?id=d874168738ms26



2006 - Ein Jahr vertaner Chancen für den Umweltschutz

2006 war für den Umwelt- und Verbraucherschutz in Deutschland ein Jahr des Stillstands.

//sonnenseite.kjm4.de/ref.php?id=d874168749ms26



Politische Konflikte 2006

Heidelberger Institut zählt 118 gewaltsame Auseinandersetzungen, davon 35 mit hoher Intensität.

//sonnenseite.kjm4.de/ref.php?id=d874168739ms26



Heute leben 6.589.115.982 Menschen auf der Erde

In der Nacht zum 1. Januar 2007 wird die Weltbevölkerung mit voraussichtlich 6.589.115.982 Menschen einen neuen Höchststand erreichen.

//sonnenseite.kjm4.de/ref.php?id=d874168740ms26

The One World Order: The Theocrat in Washington

by Deanna Spingola

The concept that “God installed Bush” was disseminated by naïve pastors to numerous congregations. Consequently, prior to the Iraqi invasion, James Merritt, a former Southern Baptist Convention president, confirmed Bush’s self-proclaimed status as “God’s man for this hour” particularly because of the events of 9/11. So God installed Bush as a defender, someone to lead Americans into an immoral war? Yet this concept was disseminated throughout Christendom and Bush became the new leader of the religious right in America......

//www.newswithviews.com/Spingola/deanna62.htm



//freepage.twoday.net/search?q=com/Spingola

WHO IS THE US CONGRESS LISTENING TO?

//www.whatreallyhappened.com/whoiscongresslisteningto.html


Informant: ranger116

Psychiatrist says Bush needs to be impeached for the good of "we the people"

//www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_carol_wo_061230_psychiatrist_says_bu.htm


Informant: ranger116



//freepage.twoday.net/search?q=impeach
//omega.twoday.net/search?q=impeach

Humankind must reintegrate with the rest of the living Earth or face dire consequences

The Toronto Star
December 24, 2006

//www.thestar.com/opinion/article/164832

The risks of too much city in a crowded world

We are heading for a world of 100-storey office buildings and landscapes of glass and cement that will take humankind to a watershed: the disappearance of the wild

By JEREMY RIFKIN

The coming year marks a great milestone in the human saga, a development similar in magnitude to the agricultural era and the Industrial Revolution. For the first time in history, a majority of human beings will be living in vast urban areas, many in megacities and suburban extensions with populations of 10 million or more, according to the United Nations.

We have become "Homo Urbanus." Two hundred years ago, the average person on Earth might meet 200 to 300 people in a lifetime. Today a resident of New York City can live and work among 220,000 people within a 10-minute radius of his home or office in midtown Manhattan.

Only one city in all of history - ancient Rome - boasted a population of more than a million before the 19th century. London became the first modern city with a population over 1 million in 1820.

Today, 414 cities boast populations of a million or more, and there's no end in sight. As long as the human race had to rely on solar flow, the winds and currents and animal and human power to sustain life, the human population remained relatively low to accommodate nature's carrying capacity: the biosphere's ability to recycle waste and replenish resources.

The tipping point was the exhuming of large amounts of stored sun, first in the form of coal deposits, then oil and natural gas. Harnessed by the steam engine and later the internal combustion engine, and converted to electricity and distributed across power lines, fossil fuels allowed humanity to create new technologies that dramatically increased food production and manufactured goods and services.

The unprecedented increase in productivity led to runaway population growth and the urbanization of the world. No one is really sure whether this turning point in human living arrangements ought to be celebrated, lamented or merely acknowledged.

That's because our burgeoning population and urban way of life have been purchased at the expense of vast ecosystems and habitats.

Cultural historian Elias Canetti once remarked that each of us is a king in a field of corpses.

If we were to stop for a moment and reflect on the number of creatures and the amount of Earth's resources and materials we have expropriated and consumed in our lifetime, we would be appalled at the carnage and depletion used to secure our existence. Large populations living in megacities consume massive amounts of the Earth's energy to maintain their infrastructures and daily flow of human activity.

The Sears Tower alone uses more electricity in a single day than the city of Rockford, Ill., with 152,000 people. Even more amazing, our species now consumes nearly 40 per cent of the net primary production on Earth - the amount of solar energy converted to plant organic matter through photosynthesis - even though we make up only one half of 1 per cent of the animal biomass of the planet. This means less for other species to use.

The flip side of urbanization is what we are leaving behind on our way to a world of 100-storey office buildings and high-rise residences and landscapes of glass, cement, artificial light and electronic interconnectivity.

It's no accident that as we celebrate the urbanization of the world, we are quickly approaching another historic watershed: the disappearance of the wild.

Rising population; growing consumption of food, water and building materials; expanding road and rail transport and urban sprawl continue to encroach on the remaining wild, pushing it to extinction. Scientists tell us that within the lifetime of today's children, the wild will disappear from the face of the Earth.

The Trans-Amazon Highway, which cuts across the entire expanse of the Amazon rain forest, is hastening the obliteration of the last great wild habitat. Other remaining wild regions, from Borneo to the Congo Basin, are fast diminishing with each passing day, making way for growing human populations in search of living space and resources. It's no wonder that (according to Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson) we are experiencing the greatest wave of mass extinction of animal species in 65 million years. We are losing 50 to 150 species to extinction per day, or between 18,000 and 55,000 species a year.

By 2100, two-thirds of the Earth's remaining species are likely to be extinct. Where does this leave us? Try to imagine 1,000 cities of a million or more just 35 years from now. It boggles the mind and is unsustainable for Earth. I don't want to spoil the party, but perhaps the commemoration of the urbanization of the human race in 2007 might be an opportunity to rethink the way we live. Certainly there is much to applaud about urban life: its rich cultural diversity and social intercourse and its dense commercial activity.

But the question is one of magnitude and scale.

We need to ponder how best to lower our population and develop sustainable urban environments that use energy and resources more efficiently, are less polluting and better designed to foster human-scale living arrangements.

In the great era of urbanization we have increasingly shut off the human race from the rest of the natural world in the belief that we could conquer, colonize and utilize the riches of the planet to ensure our autonomy without dire consequences to us and future generations.

In the next phase of human history, we will need to find a way to reintegrate ourselves into the rest of the living Earth if we are to preserve our own species and conserve the planet for our fellow creatures.

- Jeremy Rifkin is the author of The Age of Access: The New Culture of Hypercapitalism Where All of Life is a Paid-For Experience and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends.


Informant: Scott Munson

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