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Logging Boreal Forest Could Detonate Massive ‘Carbon Bomb,’ Says Report

Steve Rennie, Canadian Press via Common Dreams
Canada’s boreal forest is a ticking “carbon bomb” and its continued logging could trigger a massive release of greenhouse gases, says a new report.

A Greenpeace study released Thursday says cutting down trees in the boreal forest is exacerbating climate change by releasing stores of greenhouse gases trapped in soil and vegetation.

It also found that logging makes the forest more susceptible to insect outbreaks and wildfires which, if widespread, could cause a spike in greenhouse-gas emissions – the so-called “carbon bomb.”

And the report says a warmer climate melts permafrost, releasing methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
(10 April 2008)

Teaching climate change
A big shake up in the [UK] geography curriculum has meant that climate change will now be taught in all secondary schools. But with climate change encompassing so many topics, what is the best way to teach it?

David Lambert from the Geographical Association and climate change expert Ed Gillespie from Futerra meet with geography teacher Dave Dixon from Hampstead School in London to discuss the most effective ways of teaching climate change.

Broken down into digestible parts, David and Ed explain various ways of organising the curriculum around the key concepts of interdependence, physical and human processes that cause change, place and space and diversity.

Dave devises a lesson plan where he calculates the carbon footprint of a celebrity and then compares it to a teacher at the school, engaging students and promoting debate about whose responsibility climate change is.
(9 April 2008)

Jim Hansen, the Big Ice Melt and the Mainstream Media

Bill Henderson, truthout
Imagine you have a choice between two scenarios on the future impact of climate change:

Scenario A: Climate change is real and human-caused, a gradual increase in global temperature that we have a long time to do something about (2050 targets) before drought, sea level rise, etc. get too severe; climate change can be effectively mitigated within continuing political and economic business as usual with carbon taxes and more efficient green technology.

Scenario B: Climate change is an emergency where we must make Draconian cuts to our use of fossil fuels immediately and globally in order to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere this decade so that we don’t continue over a tipping point where both polar ice caps melt completely, sea level rises by 75 meters, and conditions become fiercely inhospitable to humanity and most of the species with which we share this small blue planet. Political and economic business as usual is far too slow and path dependent for mitigation of this scale, so we must innovate a World War II-style government mobilization so that a systemic reconfiguration of the global economy is possible.

Thousands of mainstream media articles and commentaries on TV, in newspapers and magazines, inform about climate change Scenario A, but there has been minimal, almost nonexistent mainstream coverage of Scenario B even though its main proponents – James Hansen and his NASA climate science team – have released several papers explaining this nonlinear vision of climate change focusing upon the unpredicted rapid melting of the polar ice caps.

Very few people outside of climate scientists and climate activists even know about Hansen’s polar ice melt hypothesis and what it means to each of our distant and more immediate futures. There is probably a scientific debate raging in labs and symposia about this new and compelling vision of climate change, but since publics globally remain, surrealistically, almost completely uninformed, how would we know?.
(9 April 2008)
Author Bill Henderson is an Energy Bulletin contributor. In an email, he adds:

The difference between calm optimistic Dr. Hansen and me, Romm, Sutton/Spratt, etc. is that Dr. Hansen just focuses on coal in a continuing regular economy, but we POers know that

  • the economy needs energy expansion

  • just as cheap oil gets scarce
  • before alternative energy sources can be scaled up so as to take part of the load
  • with CCS still in its infancy, 20 years away.

Keeping coal in the ground will require WW2-style mobilization: a Manhattan Project for CCS, alternative energy, relocalizing, and reconfiguration of the global economy. Mobilization is needed to overcome policy and technological path dependence and the difficulties of making systemic change in our service sector dominated economies.

Mobilization doesn’t have to be ‘Big Gov’t’ or ecofascism. Romm makes the key point that unlike facing Hitler and the Japanese, mobilization without a definite enemy won’t fly with right wingers in the States so the challenge is innovating science and scientific access to gov’t so that if Hansen is right the emergency nature of CC is undeniable, a much more robust consensus about the future then we can build now with virtually all Americans (first) on the same page. In a recent op-ed Suzuki makes the point that FORESIGHT is the human genius which has allowed us to prosper as a species. We need to innovate foresight big time and not only for CC. And to do that we need an informed public – about PO and ecosystem destruction as well.