Archive for December, 2013


The White House delayed several regulations until after the 2012 election (Washington Post).

Earthquakes keep shaking Oklahoma (NY Times).

Some companies try to increase electronics recycling (NY Times).

Weather (not just chemicals) explains some of the ozone layer hole’s recent changes (BBC).

Antarctica continues losing ice (BBC).

As the international community does what it does best — negotiate a hard-fought framework for the next meetings, so they can simply kick the can down the road then — there was an interesting warning that serves as a reminder to just how fluid all of these projections and statistics about future trouble from climate change are.

Tuesday’s report states that there’s a high risk of increased extinctions of land and sea life and the disappearance of the Arctic icecap in summers within this century. There’s a moderate risk of increased heat waves, a decline in ocean oxygen levels and rapid changes to ecosystems that would threaten food and water supplies, the scientists note. Watching for those symptoms would give communities that depend on those ecosystems the ability to adapt.

For example, there’s been a lot of warning about how wildfires could double by 2050, but what if it’s accelerating as the problems of this year show? How much will the drastic melt of the Arctic sea ice affect the projected sea-level rise? Some say, instead of seas rising 1 meter by 2100, it could be 3 meters. That means a lot of coastal cities will be turning into Venice. If you had cameras or measurements that were widely circulated, you might be able to track these problems — even at a very local level, such as on Plum Island.

“A lot of these things require not only monitoring what’s going on out there in the natural world as well as monitoring what we do in the human-built environment as well; how much dollar-wise do we have at risk?” said Jim White, who led the committee that produced Tuesday’s report.
The committee didn’t calculate the cost of establishing an early climate warning network. But even in a time of tight budgets, White said, the cost would be “trivial compared to the cost of the assets at risk.”

Not only would monitoring allow humans and cities to adapt, but it would also allow those leading the charge to stop climate change to properly adjust the warnings, estimates that our consumption is causing. Any real-life evidence is all the more valuable in convincing the population to conserve more and get behind energy-efficient ideas.