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Scientific American Special Report: Climate Change
How can we cope with global warming and the challenges it poses? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just completed its fourth assessment of the science of climate change, its impacts and possible solutions. The panel of 2,500 scientists and other experts declared manmade warming “unequivocal” and wrote that it could lead to climate changes that are “abrupt and irreversible.”
Next week the world’s governments are set to gather in Bali to begin negotiating an international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that will succeed the much-debated Kyoto Protocol. The science is clear that the earth is heating up and will continue to do so-with potentially catastrophic consequences-unless we change our ways. What is unclear is how best to go about reining in our globe-warming pollution. Some argue for a fund for future clean technology while others prefer to focus on reducing pollution from present sources.
This special report explores the latest findings on the impact of human activity on Earth’s climate-from the melting of Arctic ice to the potential spread of disease. It also explores the more pertinent question of where we can go from here.-The Editors
State of the Science: Beyond the Worst Case Climate Change Scenario
Earth in Heat: 10 Views of a Warming World [Slideshow] Climate Change Impacts [Interactive map] Clash: What Will Climate Change Cost Us? [Q&A] 10 Solutions for Climate Change
Scientific American’s Climate Change Coverage
(26 November 2007)
Top 100 Ways Global Warming Will Change Your Life
Center for American Progress, AlterNet
Say Goodbye to French Wines. Wacky temperatures and rain cycles brought on by global warming are threatening something very important: Wine. Scientists believe global warming will “shift viticultural regions toward the poles, cooler coastal zones and higher elevations.” What that means in regular language: Get ready to say bye-bye to French Bordeaux and hello to British champagne. [LA Times]
Say Goodbye to Light and Dry Wines. Warmer temperatures mean grapes in California and France develop their sugars too quickly, well before their other flavors. As a result, growers are forced to either a) leave the grapes on the vines longer, which dramatically raises the alcoholic content of the fruit or b) pick the grapes too soon and make overly sweet wine that tastes like jam. [Washington Post]
Say Goodbye to Pinot Noir. The reason you adore pinot noir is that it comes from a notoriously temperamental thin-skinned grape that thrives in cool climates. Warmer temperatures are already damaging the pinots from Oregon, “baking away” the grape’s berry flavors. [Bloomberg]
Say Goodbye to Baseball. The future of the ash tree — from which all baseball bats are made — is in danger of disappearing, thanks to a combination of killer beetles and global warming. [NY Times]
Say Goodbye to Christmas Trees. The Pine Bark Beetle, which feeds on and kills pine trees, used to be held in control by cold winter temperatures. Now the species is thriving and killing off entire forests in British Columbia, unchecked. [Seattle Post Intelligencer]
Say Goodbye to the Beautiful Alaska Vacation. Warmer weather allowed Spruce Bark Beetles to live longer, hardier lives in the forests of Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, where they killed off a section of spruce forest the size of Connecticut . [Alaska Science Forum]
Say Goodbye to Fly Fishing. As water temperatures continue to rise, researchers say rainbow trout, “already at the southern limits” of their temperature ranges in the Appalachian mountains, could disappear there over the next century. [Softpedia] (29 September 2007)
And so on for 100 entries. Links to sources for the information are given in square brackets at the original.
Rural Australians to pay price for climate change
Royce Millar, The Age
DROUGHT-STRICKEN rural communities are among those to bear the biggest brunt of an estimated annual $17 billion bill for climate change in Australia.
A study of the costs of climate change has found rural communities will pay almost twice as much as city dwellers for the effects of environmental degradation.
The average weekly cost to rural households will be $60, compared with $32 for city families, according to the study by consultants National Economics for the Australian Local Government Association.
Among the hardest hit will be outback Queensland and NSW and the diverse rural and industrial area of south-west South Australia.
(27 November 2007)
NOAA: Drought hinders CO2 uptake
Rebecca Cole, Boulder Camera
Study finds 2002 dry weather left extra carbon in atmosphere
A new study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder shows that millions of extra tons of carbon dioxide were left in the Earth’s atmosphere as a result of the 2002 drought across North America.
The findings, the first from NOAA’s atmospheric monitoring and modeling system called CarbonTracker, show that the amount of carbon dioxide absorbedby vegetation and soil dropped from an annual average of 650 million metric tons to 330 million metric tons. The excess amount of the heat-trapping greenhouse gas remaining in the atmosphere that year was equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 200 million U.S. automobiles.
“Everyone here has been surprised about how big an impact the drought had on the variability of the carbon cycle,” said Andy Jacobson, a University of Colorado research scientist working with NOAA and a co-author of the study. “This is the first time we’ve been able to get a picture of year-to-year variability and also spatial variability within the continent.”
(27 November 2007)