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Small Oregon papers – big series on climate change

Daily Astorian
Today The Daily Astorian begins the third installment of its series on climate change. 2006 ends with the controversial issue much more at the forefront of the national agenda, thanks in part to more publicity from newspapers like ours and the release of Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

The Daily Astorian combined resources with sister newspapers in the East Oregonian Publishing Group, drawing on writers and photographers in four states, to create three packages of stories examining the issue. The first two ran in March and September. The third package begins today and will conclude this week. By Friday, all our stories will be available on the newspaper’s Web site at www.daily

The series, the largest joint news effort undertaken by the newspaper group, has attracted national attention and plaudits. Coverage of the theme, accompanied by our distinctive logo, will continue in 2007 and beyond with stories revisiting the topic.

Steve Forrester, editor and publisher of The Daily Astorian, describes climate change as “the biggest, most significant challenge of the 21st century.” He has labeled this project as “an extraordinary commitment for a newspaper group of our size.” Turn to Page 8A to see how you can get involved in the dialogue about how serious the issue is, and what we can – and should – do about it.
– Patrick Webb
Managing Editor
The Daily Astorian Project Coordinator
(Dec 2006)
Many recent articles in the series are listed at the site. They have made the big story local by interviewing local people and examining how climate change will affect the local region. The Cleveland Plain Dealer took a similar approach with their energy series, “Crude Awakening.” -BA

Disappearing world: Global warming claims tropical island

Geoffrey Lean, Independent (UK)
For the first time, an inhabited island has disappeared beneath rising seas.
Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India’s part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true.

As the seas continue to swell, they will swallow whole island nations, from the Maldives to the Marshall Islands, inundate vast areas of countries from Bangladesh to Egypt, and submerge parts of scores of coastal cities.

Eight years ago, as exclusively reported in The Independent on Sunday, the first uninhabited islands – in the Pacific atoll nation of Kiribati – vanished beneath the waves. The people of low-lying islands in Vanuatu, also in the Pacific, have been evacuated as a precaution, but the land still juts above the sea. The disappearance of Lohachara, once home to 10,000 people, is unprecedented.
(24 Dec 2006)

Global Climate Change: A Series of 7 Lectures
(video and audio)
Various, University of Arizona
According to Andrew Dessler at Gristmill:

The U. of Arizona put together an impressive seminar series on climate change this past fall. There were seven talks by different U of A professors, covering almost all important aspects of the “climate change problem.” The talks are now online.

I have a video iPod, and I downloaded the seminars and watched them during my recent trip to the AGU meeting. It’s a worthwhile way to pass a 4-hour plane trip. If you want to learn more about climate change, I recommend you check them out. (They also have audio-only versions.)

(Oct-Nov 2006)

Dire Warnings from China’s First Climate Change Report

Agence France Presse via Common Dreams
Temperatures in China will rise significantly in coming decades and water shortages will worsen, state media has reported, citing the government’s first national assessment of global climate change.

…In just over a decade, global warming will start to be felt in the world’s most populous country, and it will get warmer yet over the next two or three generations.

Compared with 2000, the average temperatures will increase by between 1.3 and 2.1 degrees Celsius by 2020, the China News Service reported, citing the assessment. By the middle of the century, the annual average temperature in China will rise by as much as 3.3 degrees Celsius (more than five degrees fahrenheit), and by 2100 it could soar by as much as six degrees Celsius, according to the news service.

…The report predicted that precipitation will also increase drastically in the coming decades, rising up to 17 percent by the turn of the next century, according to the news service.

However, this will bring little or no relief to China’s frequently drought-stricken farmers, the report noted. Although parched north China is expected to have more rain, water shortages will increase because of faster evaporation caused by higher temperatures. Drought, heat waves and other extreme weather will also hit China more often, according to the report.

…”The report will serve as the country’s scientific and technical reference in policy making and international cooperation,” said Li Xueyong, vice minister of the science ministry.

The report notes that China has already started seeing the effects of global warming, the China News Service said. Glaciers in the nation’s northwest have decreased by 21 percent since the 1950s, the report says, according to the news agency. It also says all China’s major rivers have shrunk over the past five decades, although it provides no figures for the actual decrease.
(27 Dec 2006)