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Med to lose pull as Earth heats up

James Randerson, The Guardian
As the climate heats up, fewer of us will be flying south to the Mediterranean and beyond to find holiday sunshine, according to a computer model predicting the effects of global warming on tourism. Instead the south coasts of England, Wales and Ireland will see an influx of tourists put off by the Med’s searing temperatures.

The researchers have already used their model, which factors in changes in climate, population and economic conditions across the world, to predict that tourism demand will shift northwards and to higher altitude destinations. Now they have extended the model to include domestic tourists.

“More people will stay in their home country, particularly Germans and Brits,” said Richard Tol at Hamburg University. Germans are the most travelled nation with 72m international tourists and the UK is third with 53m. Both are rich with unreliable weather and close neighbours. But as the weather heats up, the model predicts more will stay within our borders.

The tourism losers in the next decades, are set to be Greece, Italy, Spain, and the Caribbean. Tourists will flock to the Baltic coast, southern Sweden, Ireland, the Alps, Croatia and southern Britain.
(9 Aug 2006)

Taller mountains a result of global warming

Ker Than, LiveScience via MSNBC
Earth’s crust, flexed inward from heavy glaciers, moves out when ice melts
The mountains in Europe are growing taller and global warming is partly responsible, scientists say.

Heavy glaciers cause the Earth’s crust to flex inward slightly. When glaciers disappear, the crust springs back and the overlaying mountains are thrust skyward, albeit slowly.

The European Alps have been growing since the end of the last little Ice Age in 1850 when glaciers began shrinking as temperatures warmed, but the rate of uplift has accelerated in recent decades because global warming has sped up the rate of glacier melt, the researchers say.
(4 Aug 2006)

Sea-bed plan to store carbon

Storing carbon dioxide under the sea-bed could help to reduce global warming, according to US scientists. The proposals involve pumping the gas miles underground then injecting it under the sea floor. There is enough space for almost unlimited carbon emissions, a US team reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Previous plans to store carbon under the sea have drawn criticism because of concerns over leakage and safety. Supporters of the latest idea say that it overcomes these drawbacks and can be done with existing technology.

…The latest idea involves pumping carbon dioxide gas down to a depth of 3,000m (1.86miles) and injecting it below the sea floor.

The high pressure and the low temperatures would turn the carbon gas into a liquid that is denser than the water around it, says a joint Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Columbia University team.
(8 Aug 2006)
Deep-sea sediments could safely store man-made carbon dioxide (MIT)

Time to put climate change on the national agenda

John Kerry, SF Chronicle
…Within the next decade, if we don’t take meaningful action to address global warming, our children and grandchildren will deal with global catastrophe.

It’s time to put Washington to the test. No more bite-sized ideas that tinker at the edges of outdated policy. It’s time to put global-climate change at the top of the national agenda.

There are three big steps that are imperative to addressing global warming.

  • First, we must establish a mandatory program to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
  • Second, we must provide the incentives and resources to transition to a low-carbon economy.
  • Third, we must recognize that climate change is a global problem requiring a global solution.

Under President Bush, efforts to reduce U.S. emissions have been limited almost exclusively to voluntary activities. It’s clear that the voluntary efforts are not getting the job done. The proof is in the numbers — over the past several years, overall U.S. emissions have been on the rise. While voluntary programs can contribute to a domestic-climate change program, they cannot stimulate the global action that we know is necessary. Each year since 1992, the science has become more certain and Al Gore’s summer movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” has brought the science home to Americans in a persuasive way.

So, what are we going to do about it? We need a plan that does what the science tells us we have to do. That’s why I am introducing legislation to stop and reverse U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases. My bill establishes a mandatory cap-and-trade program to reverse emissions growth, starting in 2010. After that, we will progress to more rapid reductions and end at 65 percent below 2000 emissions by the year 2050. We have lost too much time for voluntary measures to be put to the test. We can’t just set a mandate — we have to provide incentives to businesses and industry to make the mandate achievable.

My bill also encourages the development, deployment and diffusion of new climate-friendly technologies. We know that we cannot solve the problem of global-climate change without new technologies, but new technologies don’t just happen — the market needs a signal and that signal needs to come from government.

U.S. Sen. John Kerry is the junior senator from Massachusetts and was the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee.
(9 Aug 2006)

Britain can still lead the world – on climate change

Polly Toynbee, Guardian
Having been sidelined over the Middle East crisis, Tony Blair should focus on an area where he can make a difference
…. let [Blair] return to that greater global threat – climate change – about which he has been almost as rhetorically loud on the world stage. With Europe and America sweltering and drought parching southern Britain, he was in California striking a usefully symbolic carbon-trading deal with Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has upped Britain’s pledge in a tougher carbon trading regime for the second EU round. But since 1997 UK emissions are up 3%. In hard reality, we are middling in the EU emissions tables; no aspect of Britain’s climate-change policy leads the world, except rhetorically. But it is well within the politics of the possible to change that.

As it is, Germany has a 1m-homes-a-year insulation scheme: ours is in the thousands. We have the EU’s biggest wind capacity, but fall far behind in wind farms. We have the dirtiest cars and the most expensive public transport. Market leaders in biomass, wave power and solar energy are elsewhere.

However, at last it looks as if Labour’s younger generation of ministers are seizing the initiative.

…In the end fair rationing is the only way. Despite recent price rises, energy in Britain is almost the cheapest in the EU. Only huge energy taxes would change most people’s habits. But a system that allowed non-drivers (the poor) to sell their quota to gas-guzzlers and frequent flyers would be massively redistributive.

Since British politics of left and right still feels the need to talk presumptuously in terms of “leading the world”, there is no reason why Britain should not lead the world and show that a domestic carbon-trading scheme can work. It would make the public razor-sharp about how much energy they use. Suddenly cutting carbon would become a one-upmanship game that might, I suspect, particularly suit the British psyche.
(8 Aug 2006)
Related from the Guardian: Carbon accounting (editorial).