Earth’s Climate on the ‘Tipping Point’

February 5th, 2006 - by admin

Juliet Eilperin / The Washington Post – 2006-02-05 08:40:50

As most of you already know, Project Earth has been warning of catastrophic changes in the Earth’s climate for over a quarter of a century. We have never been politically correct.

We have never understood how it can be correct to lie to the People of this Planet about the inevitable effects of our collective activity.

During the first Bush Administration during the nineteen eighties we saw the same kind of culture of fear, that is cited in the article below, spread through taxpayer-funded scientific, governmental organizations such as NOAA, NASA, NCAR — all of which were created to protect us all.

Scientists who work for the American People should not be afraid to speak the truth any more than lawyers in the White House or Special Agents for the FBI or any other public servants who took up their careers in the hopes of bettering all of our lives. We have warned the entire planet for many, many years against the lies told by those enslaved by the culture of fear.

Those of us, who have been at the core of Project Earth, have said again and again that we are all collectively creating a Global Auschwitz. We are marching to the tune of our own executioners while our “leaders” beat the drums of war in the name of peace and security.

Some of us have been marginalized, anathematized and called “melodramatic” by certain truly mediocre individuals who dare to call themselves “scientists” but who refuse to alert humanity to the utter stupidity of the policies of this and many former Administrations in Washington. May those who speak out against this tyranny, this terracide, be blessed and find support from the public everywhere on Earth.

Now, finally, the majority of the scientific community is sounding the alarm. Now the majority of scientists realize that silence in these matters contributes to the ultimate form of terrorism ever asserted against humanity. We must all act now to exorcise the evil which now possesses our Nation’s Capital and the Capitals of many other Nations on Earth.

Ninety thousand square miles of Louisiana and Mississippi are still in ruins while this US Administration and this President say that the $500 billion already spent on the “War on Terror”, most of which they can not account for, has been spent to secure our freedom. Who are they trying to kid?

Warming Debate Shifts to ‘Tipping Point’
Some Scientists Worry It’s Too Late to Reverse Climate Change

Juliet Eilperin / The Washington Post

(Jan. 28, 2006) — Now that most scientists agree human activity is causing Earth to warm, the central debate has shifted to whether climate change is progressing so rapidly that, within decades, humans may be helpless to slow or reverse the trend.

This “tipping point” scenario has begun to consume many prominent researchers in the United States and abroad, because the answer could determine how drastically countries need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years.

While scientists remain uncertain when such a point might occur, many say it is urgent that policymakers cut global carbon dioxide emissions in half over the next 50 years or risk the triggering of changes that would be irreversible.

There are three specific events that these scientists describe as especially worrisome and potentially imminent, although the time frames are a matter of dispute: widespread coral bleaching that could damage the world’s fisheries within three decades; dramatic sea level rise by the end of the century that would take tens of thousands of years to reverse; and, within 200 years, a shutdown of the ocean current that moderates temperatures in northern Europe.

‘We’ve got to do something’
The debate has been intensifying because Earth is warming much faster than some researchers had predicted. James E. Hansen, who directs NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, last week confirmed that 2005 was the warmest year on record, surpassing 1998. Earth’s average temperature has risen nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past 30 years, he noted, and another increase of about 4 degrees over the next century would “imply changes that constitute practically a different planet.”

“It’s not something you can adapt to,” Hansen said in an interview. “We can’t let it go on another 10 years like this. We’ve got to do something.”

Princeton University geosciences and international affairs professor Michael Oppenheimer, who also advises the advocacy group Environmental Defense, said one of the greatest dangers lies in the disintegration of the Greenland or West Antarctic ice sheets, which together hold about 20 percent of the fresh water on the planet. If either of the two sheets disintegrates, sea level could rise nearly 20 feet in the course of a couple of centuries, swamping the southern third of Florida and Manhattan up to the middle of Greenwich Village.

While both the Greenland and the Antarctic ice sheets as a whole are gaining some mass in their cold interiors because of increasing snowfall, they are losing ice along their peripheries. That indicates that scientists may have underestimated the rate of disintegration they face in the future, Oppenheimer said. Greenland’s current net ice loss is equivalent to an annual 0.008 inch sea level rise.

The effects of the collapse of either ice sheet would be “huge,” Oppenheimer said. “Once you lost one of these ice sheets, there’s really no putting it back for thousands of years, if ever.”

Small Shift May Key Big Changes
The report concludes that a temperature rise of just 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit “is likely to lead to extensive coral bleaching,” destroying critical fish nurseries in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. Too-warm sea temperatures stress corals, causing them to expel symbiotic micro-algae that live in their tissues and provide them with food, and thus making the reefs appear bleached. Bleaching that lasts longer than a week can kill corals.

This fall there was widespread bleaching from Texas to Trinidad that killed broad swaths of corals, in part because ocean temperatures were 2 degrees Fahrenheit above average monthly maximums.

Many scientists are also worried about a possible collapse of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation, a current that brings warm surface water to northern Europe and returns cold, deep-ocean water south. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, who directs Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, has run multiple computer models to determine when climate change could disrupt this “conveyor belt,” which, according to one study, is already slower than it was 30 years ago. According to these simulations, there is a 50 percent chance the current will collapse within 200 years.

Some scientists, including President Bush’s chief science adviser, John H. Marburger III, emphasize there is still much uncertainty about when abrupt global warming might occur.

“There’s no agreement on what it is that constitutes a dangerous climate change,” said Marburger, adding that the U.S. government spends $2 billion a year on researching this and other climate change questions. “We know things like this are possible, but we don’t have enough information to quantify the level of risk.”

Scientists under Scrutiny
This tipping point debate has stirred controversy within the administration; Hansen said senior political appointees are trying to block him from sharing his views publicly.

When Hansen posted data on the Internet in the fall suggesting that 2005 could be the warmest year on record, NASA officials ordered Hansen to withdraw the information because he had not had it screened by the administration in advance, according to a Goddard scientist who did not want to be identified.

More recently, NASA officials tried to discourage a reporter from interviewing Hansen for this article and later insisted he could speak on the record only if an agency spokeswoman listened in on the conversation.

“They’re trying to control what’s getting out to the public,” Hansen said, adding that many of his colleagues are afraid to talk about the issue. “They’re not willing to say much, because they’ve been pressured and they’re afraid they’ll get into trouble.”

But Mary L. Cleave, deputy associate administrator for NASA’s Office of Earth Science, said the agency insists on monitoring interviews with scientists to ensure they are not misquoted.

“People could see it as a constraint,” Cleave said. “As a manager, I might see it as protection.”

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