For more than a decade, scientists have been predicting that the loss of Arctic sea ice due to global warming will lead to a change in the paths storms take, and contribute to worsening droughts in some regions. So if global warming is really happening, do we see any evidence that these predictions are becoming reality?
In a word: yes. In fact, loss of Arctic sea ice appears to have caused a complete shift in the jet stream. The jet stream is a current of very fast-moving air about ten kilometres above the ground. In recent years it has become “wavier” in its contour with steeper troughs and higher peaks.
A new study published in IOP Science has shown how much precipitation patterns have changed in Europe. Do six straight years of wet summers that are well above average in Great Britain and northern Europe and six straight years of the lowest amount of Arctic sea ice ever recorded have any relationship with each other, or is it just an incredible coincidence? Continue reading →
“The frequency of heavy pollution will be significantly reduced by 2017. The air quality will better meet residents’ expectations as well as the general qualifications of building an international metropolis.”
—Wu Qizhou, deputy director of the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau
A few blog posts back, I applauded the provincial government of Ontario for shutting one of its coal-fired power plants in Lambton. As an environmentalist and a physician, I see nothing but good to come from moving away from coal, the worst of the fossil fuels when it comes to greenhouse gases.
One of my followers pointed out that pollution has in fact been decreasing in Canada and that since Ontario has opened up other power plants using different fossil fuels, it’s really not the big news I portrayed it to be.
My answer to that is that any coal plant that gets shut down is a victory. And just because Canada has been improving in its pollution index doesn’t mean we stop trying to make it even better. Global warming is global; our country may be moving in the right direction when it comes to pollution, but many other countries are not.
Case in point: China. I’ve was there back in 2009 and when I was on the mainland I never once saw blue sky. On my excursion to the Great Wall, our guide said it had been 43 days since he had seen blue sky. Continue reading →
“Ontario’s coal phase-out is the largest carbon reduction project in North America.”
—Gillian McEachern of Environmental Defence
Last week, my province of Ontario closed the Lambton coal-fired electricity-generating power plant. In 2005 that plant produced nine million tonnes of carbon pollution, an equivalent to that produced by 1.8 million cars. It’s been a major contributor to smog in southern Ontario and it’s estimated that dealing with the health impacts of burning coal in our province costs $3 billion per year.
Gillian McEachern is from Environmental Defence. According to their website they are Canada’s most effective environmental action organization, challenging and inspiring change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all. As one can imagine, McEachern had nothing but applause for the plant closure. In her words: Continue reading →
“Sometimes a few mouse clicks is all it takes to start an avalanche.”
Greg Craven is a high school science teacher who hails from Oregon. In 2007 he created a video on YouTube that went viral. His video offers a simplified way to look at risk management with respect to anthropogenic global warming (AGW). He uses a 2×2 grid to create four possible scenarios based on: a) whether we as a a civilization choose to take action or not, and b) whether AGW turns out to be a real threat or not. Craven concludes that taking action to combat climate change is clearly the better choice, given the relative risks involved.
I like his video, although I think his point can be taken even further. His presentation doesn’t make any reference to the actual likelihood about whether AGW is real or not, perhaps even giving the impression that it’s a 50:50 decision. But if you consider that 97 percent of the smartest scientists who actively publish on climate change believe it’s real, it gives even greater weight to his ultimate conclusion.
I urge you to watch this video. In less than ten minutes, Craven makes a very compelling argument.
“This study really says the warming we are seeing is outside any kind of known natural variability, and it has to be due to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” — University of Colorado Boulder geological sciences professor Gifford Miller
One common argument against global warming being our fault as human beings is that our planet has been hot before. On occasion, some knowledgeable people who remain skeptical will point out that the early Holocene period was quite hot without any human contributions whatsoever, thank you very much.
For your reference, we’re still in the Holocene period: it started about 11,700 years ago and continues to this day. It references the time period from when civilization truly started to progress since the last ice age ended. Global warming existed in the early Holocene long before we started to add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere through activities such as the combustion of fossil fuels. Many like to reference this as proof that we’re not the culprit for contemporary global warming.
But a new study from the University of Colorado has shed some light on that epoch in our planet’s history. It shows that summers in the eastern Canadian Arctic—remember that the poles are more sensitive to global warming than other parts of our planet—are hotter than they’ve been throughout the entire Holocene. In fact, they’re hotter than they’ve been in at least 44,000 years, and maybe as long as 120,000 years. Continue reading →