Nearly twenty years since international leaders accepted that earth’s temperature is on the rise, and that human industrial activity is to blame.
New projections by leading researchers show climate change will affect every aspect of modern life. Agricultural production will plunge as erratic weather
shifts sowing seasons and monsoon rains. The melting of Himalayan glaciers — which many say is already taking place at double the rate elsewhere, will lead
to challenges in water supply. Rising sea levels, glacier melt, could submerge islands and coastal towns
Melting Himalayan Glaciers by Global warming
Global warming is diminishing the Chhota Shigri glacier
Global warming is diminishing the Chhota Shigri glacier in the
Pir Panjal ranges of Himachal at 0.67 metres a year, report French and Indian researchers June 10, 2012. The study, jointly
supported by the department of science and
technology, India's space agency ISRO and the Indo-French Centre for
Promotion of Advanced Research, concluded that the glacier mass was thinning more rapidly this century.
The researchers, including those from New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University
and glaciologists from France, said that the glacier was losing ice due
to rising atmospheric temperatures. The decrease is measured in terms of the ice flux, or the volume of ice
passing a point per year.
"Our data suggests that the ice fluxes have diminished by 24 per cent to
37 per cent below 4,750 metres above sea level between 2003 and 2010," said Pottakkal George Jose from the JNU School of Environmental Studies
and a member of the research team. Team leader A L Ramanathan said the thinning of Chhota Sigri glacier,
located about 100 km from the hill resort of Manali, had picked up speed
65 percent Himalayan glaciers melting: Scientist
Himalayan glaciers are retreating due to global warming. The foundation for a thorough
scientific study and monitoring has been laid, with the release of three key reports on the sidelines of the Durban climate change summit in December 2011.
Prepared by scientists working with the Kathmandu-based International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) the reports have for
the first time identified over 54,000 glaciers spread over 64,000 square kilometres of the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) region, home to some
of the world's highest peaks and the biggest storehouse of freshwater outside of the North and South Poles.
The reports clearly say that not enough study has been done on the snow and ice systems of this vast ecologically fragile system.
But it provides a snapshot of kind of changes that global warming is likely to cause in the coming decades.
In a startling comparison between the state of glaciers in the Himalayan ranges in the last 50 years, glaciologists say nearly 65
percent glaciers are melting due to global warming. "Almost 65 percent of the glaciers are depleting in the Himalayan region
in a comparison between 1955 and 2007. There are many recently formed lakes in the region, resulting to changing
weather pattern," said scientist Alton Byer, who is studying melting glaciers, in a documentary
screened by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) here July 20,2011.
The film examines the shrinking glaciers of the Himalayas and the
effects they have on the lives and livelihood of people in Asia. Glaciologists from the Mountain Studies Institute and the International
Centre for Integrated Mountain Development ( ICIMOD )) have stated the ice melting poses a huge risk of disasters in the regions surrounding
the mountain range. "There is a huge risk of avalanches and high magnitude earthquakes in
the region. The meltdown poses threat to millions across Asia," said Byer in the documentary.
The UNDP also awarded Chhewang Norphel, popularly known as the 'Ice Man'
of Leh, for preventing glacier melting in the Leh mountains.
Scientists have warned that due to global warming
the North Pole might be free of ice soon, turning into a vast expanse of water.
World climate summits
Some 15,000 people, including 103 government leaders and thousands of negotiators, pressure groups and journalists from
more than 190 nations headed at Copenhagen
climate summit for 12 days of negotiations aimed at stopping global warming. The Accord that is meant to be a first
step towards fighting the climate change that is affecting millions worldwide was still held up for hours by four countries.
Earlier the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali concluded on December 15, 2007 with an agreement between nearly 190 countries to
take "active" measures against global warming. This view
was also expressed in The
UN Climate Change Conference in Bali
The World Bank sought to push billions of dollars onto the global environmental agenda,
yet, it remains a big financier of gas and oil undertakings, which benefit the rich
countries while putting an additional environmental burden on the the poor countries. Scientists have warned that due to global warming the North Pole might be free of ice in 2008, turning into a vast expanse of
Global warming will send Asia's
social and economic progress into reverse unless immediate action is taken to tackle climate change, according to report released on November
2007. Wealthy countries should slash greenhouse gas emissions and help Asian countries reduce their reliance on fossil fuels by promoting and investing in sustainable
and renewable energy across the region, according to the report. The paper, published by the Working Group on Climate Change and Development, a
group of environmental and development organisations, says more than 60% of the world's population live in Asia, many in coastal areas and on small farms where
they are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. R.K. Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said
in the report: "It has become clear that Asia would see some major changes as a result of the impacts of climate change, and several of these are
becoming evident already."
Study from the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
a global warming report issued on April 6, 2007 by the United Nations also paints a near- apocalyptic vision
of Earth's future: more than a billion people in need of water, extreme food shortages in Africa,
a planetary landscape ravaged by floods and millions of species sentenced to extinction.
Even in its softened form, the report outlined a range of devastating effects that will strike all regions of the world and all levels of society.
Those without resources to adapt to the changes will suffer the greatest impact, according to the study from the U.N.'s
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
"It's the poorest of the poor
in the world, and this includes poor people even in prosperous societies, who are going to be the worst hit," said Rajendra
Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, which released the report in Brussels, Belgium, on Friday. The report is the second issued this year by the United
Nations, which marshaled more than 2,500 scientists to give their best predictions of the consequences of a few degrees increase in temperature.
The report, in a sense, is a more focused indictment of the world's biggest polluters - the industrialized nations - and a more specific identification of the victims.
The report paints a bleak picture of the future, noting that the early signs of warming already are here:
* Spring is arriving earlier, with plants blooming weeks ahead of schedule.
* In North America, snow pack in the West will decline, causing more floods in the winter and reduced flows in the summer, increasing competition for water for
agriculture and municipal use. Water will come more often around the world in its least welcome forms: storms and floods.
* In the mountains, the runoff begins earlier in the year, shrinking glaciers in the Alps, the Himalayas and the Andes.
* Habitats for plants and animals, both on land and in the oceans, are shifting toward the poles.
* Nineteen of the 20 hottest years on record have occurred since
1980, according to previous studies. The report said more frequent and more intense heat waves are "very likely" in the future.
In some places, warming might seem like a good thing, at first. But at a certain point, as drought conditions spread, crops everywhere will suffer.
* By mid-century, temperature rise and drying soil will replace tropical forests with savannas in Brazil's eastern Amazonia, the report predicts.
* Rising temperature will reconfigure coastlines around the world, as the oceans rise and seawater surges over land. The tiny islands of the South Pacific and the Asian deltas will be overwhelmed by storm surges as sea levels rise.
* In the Andes and the Himalayas, melting glaciers will unleash floods and rock avalanches. But within a few decades, as the glaciers and
snow pack decline, streams will dwindle, cutting off the main water supply to more than one-sixth of the world's population.
* Africa will suffer the most extreme effects, with a quarter of a billion people losing most of their water supplies, the report said. Food production will fall by half in many countries and governments will have to spend 10 percent of their budgets or more to adapt to climate changes, the report said.
* At least 30 percent of the world's species will disappear if temperatures rise 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above the average levels of the 1980s and 1990s, the report said.
* Environmental damage - such as overgrazed rangeland, deforested mountainsides, and denuded agricultural soils
- means that nature will be more vulnerable than previously to changes in climate. In any case, when climate shifts occurred thousands and tens of thousands of years ago, they generally took place more gradually.
* Similarly, the world's vast human population, much of it poor, is vulnerable to climate stress. Millions live in dangerous places - on floodplains or in shantytowns on exposed hillsides around the enormous cities of the developing world. Often there is nowhere else for them to go.
* Global warming almost certainly will be unfair. The industrialized countries of North America and Western Europe, along with a few other states, such as Japan,
are responsible for the vast bulk of past and current greenhouse-gas emissions. These emissions are a debt unwittingly incurred for the high standards of living enjoyed by a minority of the world's population.
Yet those to suffer most from climate change will be in the developing world. They have fewer resources for coping with storms, with floods, with droughts, with disease outbreaks, and with disruptions to food and water supplies. They are eager for economic
development themselves, but may find that this already difficult process has become more difficult because of climate
change. The poorer nations of the world have done almost nothing to cause global warming yet are most exposed to its effects.
Black Soot Choking Tibetan Glaciers:
NASA and Chinese scientists
On the Tibetan Plateau, temperatures are rising and glaciers are melting faster
than climate scientists would expect based on global warming alone. A recent
study of ice cores from five Tibetan glaciers by NASA and Chinese scientists in December 2009
confirmed the likely culprit: rapid increases in black soot concentrations since the 1990s, mostly from air pollution sources over Asia, especially the Indian
subcontinent. Soot-darkened snow and glaciers absorb sunlight, which hastens melting, adding to the impact of global warming.
NASA climate scientists combine satellite and ground-based observations of soot and other particles in the air with weather and air chemistry models to study
how the atmosphere moves pollution from one place to another. This image is from a computer simulation of the spread of black soot (“black carbon” to climate
scientists) over the Tibetan Plateau from August through November 2009. It shows black carbon aerosol optical thickness on September 26, 2009. (Aerosol optical
thickness is scale that describes how much pollution was in the air based on how much of the incoming sunlight the particles absorbed.) Places where the air was
thick with soot are white, while lower concentrations are transparent purple.
The highest concentrations of black soot are in the right-hand side of the
image, over the densely populated coastal plain of China. But high concentrations occur over India, as well, and the black soot spreads across the
southern arc of the Tibetan Plateau, which is defined by the towering peaks of the Himalaya Mountains.
Study by United Nations Environment Programme
A team sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP) has found signs that the landscape of Mount Everest has changed significantly since Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay first conquered the peak in 1953. A
primary cause is the warming global climate. But the growing impact of tourism is also taxing the world's highest mountain.
The team found that the glacier that once came close to Hillary and Norgay's first camp has retreated three miles (five kilometers). A series of ponds that used to be near Island Peak,
so-called because it was then an island in a sea of ice ;had merged into a long lake. It's hardly news that the world's
glaciers are melting a phenomenon widely attributed to gradually rising global temperatures. It was conducted by scientists from the United Nations Environment Program
(UNEP), headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, along with remote-sensing experts from the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development
(ICIMOD) in Katmandu, Nepal. They predict that in the next half a decade or so, the Himalayas could experience intense flooding as mountain lakes overflow with
water from melting glaciers and snowfields. The lives of tens of thousands of people who live high in the
mountains and in downstream communities could be at severe risk as the mud walls of the lakes collapse under the pressure of the extra
water. Major loss of land and other property would aggravate poverty and hardship in the region.
Studies done by the Geological Survey of India have revealed that, on average, glaciers in India have been receding at the rate of
about 15 meters (about 50 feet) every year. More revealing and detailed findings are expected to be published by the UNEP group this year, which the United Nations has designated
the "International Year of the Mountains."
Albert Einstein once Link Doom of Human Race to
Once Albert Einstein predicted this: "If the bee disappears from
the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live"?
Albert Einstein with Rabindra Nath Tagoor
The unnerving question is "How true is this statement?" Isn't it? We can brag relentlessly about our knowledge on the advancement of science and
technology today, but how much do we really know about the world we live? Sometime in 2007, the sudden, mysterious disappearance of honeybees in
the United States, Europe and Brazil was a reminder of the quote attributed to Albert Einstein
The bee is a fragile part of our system and an important indicator of our out of balance world. Their weird
disappearing act has far-reaching implications for our agricultural food
supply and is definitely not an issue to be overseen. Until now, some of the possible causes of this strange phenomenon
postulated by scientists include:
1. Global warming accelerates the growth rates of pathogens such as the
mites, viruses and fungi that affect the health of bee colonies. The unusual hot-cold weather fluctuations wreak havoc on bee populations
which are accustomed to consistent seasonal weather patterns.
2. Increasing use of chemical pesticides and herbicides, which honeybees
ingest during their daily pollination rounds have weakened or killed them
3. Increase in atmospheric electromagnetic radiation as a result of growing
numbers of cell phones and wireless communication towers. Cell phone radiation interferes with bees' ability to navigate through the air.
Ultimately, whether Albert Einstein did ever discuss about the bees becomes an irrelevant concern in the light of a much graver question,
"What should we do to encourage the return of the bees?"
Global warming could unleash more violent storms
Global warming could unleash more violent thunderstorms, flash floods and
forest fires in the coming years, according to an Israeli researcher. The Tel Aviv University (TAU) researcher has predicted that for every
one degree Celsius of warming, there will be approximately a 10 percent
increase in lightning activity.This could have negative consequences in the form of flash floods, wild
fires, or damage to power lines and other infrastructure, says Colin
Price, TAU professor and head of geophysics, atmospheric and planetary Sciences.
Under an ongoing project on the impact of climate change on lightning
and thunderstorm patterns, he and his colleagues have run computer climate models and studied real life examples of climate change, such as
the El Nino cycle in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, to determine how changing weather conditions impact storms, the Journal of Geophysical
Research and Atmospheric Research reports.
An increase in lightning activity will have particular impact in areas
that become warmer and drier as global warming progresses, including the
Mediterranean and the southern United States, according to the 2007 United Nations report on climate change, a TAU statement said.
Study by 'global warming godfather'
The relentless, weather-gone-crazy type of heat that has blistered the United States and other parts of the world in recent years
is so rare that it can't be anything but man-made global warming, says a
new statistical analysis from a government scientist.
The research by a man often called the "godfather of global warming"
says that the likelihood of such temperatures occurring from 1950s
through the 1980s was rarer than 1 in 300. Now, the odds are closer to 1
in 10, according to the study by NASA scientist James Hansen. He says
that statistically what's happening is not random or normal, but pure
and simple climate change.
Dams play a role in global warming
Researchers have documented the role dams play in global
warming and the surges of greenhouse gases as water levels go up and down.
Bridget Deemer, doctoral student at Washington State University
(WSU)- Vancouver, Canada, measured dissolved gases in the water column
of Lacamas Lake in Clark County and found methane emissions jumped
20- fold when the water level was drawn down. A fellow WSU-Vancouver
student, Maria Glavin, sampled bubbles rising from the lake mud and measured a 36-fold increase in
methane during a drawdown, according to a university statement.
Methane is 25 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat
in the atmosphere. And while dams and the water behind them cover only a
small portion of the earth's surface, they harbour biological activity
that can produce large amounts of greenhouse gases.