In this post I have included a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. It doesn’t preclude treating any of these topics in a separate post.
It can also serve as an open thread.
The “Big Freeze”, the Younger Dryas, happened in the space of a few months
In case you have been feeling hot I thought we’d start with a story about the cold.
William Patterson of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, and colleagues have developed a technique where they use a scalpel to slice off layers of mud 0.5 to 1 millimetre thick, each representing up to three months of time.
The group studied a mud core from an ancient lake, Lough Monreagh, in western Ireland and found that the Younger Dryas over 12,000 years ago which plunged Europe into Siberian-type weather for about 1300 years, took hold in the space of a few months.
Now Patterson’s mob have built a robot able to shave 0.05 micrometre slivers along the growth lines of fossilised clam shells, giving a resolution of less than a day. “We can get you mid-July temperatures from 400 million years ago,” he says. You just have to work out where in the world the clam was 400 million years ago, and that could just about be anywhere.
Global temperatures could rise 6C by end of century
‘Fraid so. Here’s another scary one.
While it is just possible that a new Younger Dryas type event will occur, the smart money seems to be on the place getting hotter. Now a team led by Corinne Le Quéré of the University of East Anglia (I’ve heard of that place somewhere recently!) thinks that temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100. The problem is that carbon sinks are failing leaving a greater “airborne fraction”.
But shock, horror, another team from Bristol University disagrees.
Le Quéré, however, is sticking to her guns saying that they worked on monthly data, and so screened out the noise, compared to the other lot who were working on annual data.
Le Quéré is part of the Global Carbon Project, which our CSIRO sponsors, amongst others.
Fossil fuel emissions keep on rising in 2008
Indeed they did, by 2pc in fact.
That’s less than the 3.3% average in 2000-2006, probably because of the onset of the GFC.
In case Uncle Rupert cuts off that link, here’s the one that our farmers read.
The Great Barrier Reef has only a 50 per cent chance of survival if global CO2 emissions are not reduced at least 25 per cent by 2020
That’s what a coalition of Australia’s top reef and climate scientists said recently.
And in case that link gets cut off you can read about it at the splendid Climate Shifts blog where some of our reef specialists hang out.
See Rupert, we don’t need you after all.
Birth control: an effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions
If you are wondering what you can do about all this, a new report suggests birth control. The report says:
that 215 million women, mainly in developing countries, want contraception but have no access to it. Funding from donor countries for the UN’s birth control programme has fallen from $723 million (£431 million) at its peak in 1995 to $338 million in 2007.
The report also says that the longer women remain in education, the fewer babies they have. Women who have never gone to school have an average of 4.5 children. Those who complete one or two years of university have 1.7.
“Dollar for dollar, investments in voluntary family planning and girls’ education would, in the long run, reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least as much as investments in nuclear or wind energy,” the report says.
Women are most likely to be affected by climate change
There’s been a stream of items coming through my feeds suggesting that women in poorer countries will be amongst the hardest hit.
Funny, this article suggests that the issue was not framed in terms of birth control, but both this item and the one immediately above are referring to the same report.
It’s the United Nations Population Fund’s report State of the world population 2009 where you can follow it up if you wish.
It’s all in the mind
Finally while I was busy doing something else I heard the ABC RN program Climate change and the psyche.
It sounded really deep and meaningful, about myths and similar matters, which would truly lead to a “aha” experience, if only I could concentrate on what they were saying. I’ll just have to wait for the transcript, due after Wednesday.
There’s heaps more going on of course, but that will have to do for this edition (I’m not promising weekly). Please feel free to cotribute your choice links.