Abrupt Warming Imminent?

Don’t worry about global “warming,” rapid climate change is all the buzz
now.

——– Original Message ——–
** Experts warn of ‘abrupt’ warming **
A UN panel agrees a landmark report on tackling climate change, warning
of “abrupt and irreversible” impacts.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/science/nature/7098902.stm

The Democratic Party, brought to you by Big Coal

By Skyler Simmons

Yep, for any of you who were still under the illusion that the Democrats might actually do something useful in regards to climate change, don’t get your hopes up. The most recent Democratic presidential debate on Nov 15 was sponsored by, among other climate criminals, our wonderful friends in the coal industry. Americas Power a new front group for the dirty coal industry had its logo prominently displayed on a full page ad in the New York Times for the most recent round of Democratic debates.

Using the slogan “Clean Coal, Americas Power” this corporate greenwash group counts among it members a laundry list of the worst polluters in the US including Duke Energy, Peabody Coal, and American Electric Power, all of whom are currently attempting to build new coal plants using old dirty technology. Not to mention Arch Coal and Massey Energy two of the largest coal companies responsible for the destructive practice known as mountaintop removal mining. Americas Power’s goals appear to be:

– Expand coal production by using government-funded technology to convert coal to vehicle fuels, thereby producing twice as much global warming pollution as gas production, and consuming huge amounts of water to boot.
– Crank out as many new power plants as possible before limits on greenhouse gas pollution take effect. Nearly 150 coal-fired power plants are already on the drawing board.
– Delay and weaken any limits on CO2 pollution, even though scientists tell us we need a 90% reduction by 2050.
– Maintain the destructive practice of mountaintop removal coal mining.

Once again the coal industry is trying to paint itself as a clean industry, while continuing business as usual. Clean coal is an oxymoron. From mining to burning the coal industry is responsible for countless environmental and human rights atrocities. In the meantime the Democratic Party appears to be embracing the coal industry, which if not curtailed will surely push us passed the tipping point of catastrophic climate change.

The sponsorship of the Democratic Party by the coal industry is yet another reason why we must look beyond electoral politics to solve the climate crisis. It is clear that both parties are in the pockets of corporations and only a grassroots movement organizing for people’s power, not corrupt political organizations, will be effective in bringing about the changes we need in the face of climate change.

Hurricane Turns Forest From Sink to Source for Carbon

EurekAlert! AAAS

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Public release date: 15-Nov-2007

Contact: Lynn Chandler
lynn.chandler-1@nasa.gov
301-286-2806

Forests damaged by Hurricane Katrina become major carbon source

With the help of NASA satellite data, a research team has estimated that Hurricane Katrina killed or severely damaged 320 million large trees in Gulf Coast forests, which weakened the role the forests play in storing carbon from the atmosphere. The damage has led to these forests releasing large quantities of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

The August 2005 hurricane affected five million acres of forest across Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, with damage ranging from downed trees, snapped trunks and broken limbs to stripped leaves.

Young growing forests play a vital role in removing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere by photosynthesis, and are thus important in slowing a warming climate. An event that kills a great number of trees can temporarily reduce photosynthesis, the process by which carbon is stored in plants. More importantly, all the dead wood will be consumed by decomposers, resulting in a large carbon dioxide release to the atmosphere as the ecosystem exhales it as forest waste product. The team’s findings were published Nov. 15 in the journal Science.

“The loss of so many trees will cause these forests to be a net source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere for years to come,” said the study’s lead author Jeffrey Chambers, a biologist at Tulane University in New Orleans, La. “If, as many believe, a warming climate causes a rise in the intensity of extreme events like Hurricane Katrina, we’re likely to see an increase in tree mortality, resulting in an elevated release of carbon by impacted forest ecosystems.”

Young forests are valued as carbon sinks, which remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in growing vegetation and soils. In the aftermath of a storm as intense as Katrina, vegetation killed by the storm decomposes over time, reversing the carbon storage process, making the forest a carbon source.

“The carbon cycle is intimately linked to just about everything we do, from energy use to food and timber production and consumption,” said Chambers. “As more and more carbon is released to the atmosphere by human activities, the climate warms, triggering an intensification of the global water cycle that produces more powerful storms, leading to destruction of more trees, which then act to amplify climate warming.”

Chambers and colleagues from the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H., studied Landsat 5 satellite data captured before and after Hurricane Katrina to pull together a reliable field sampling of tree deaths across the entire range of forests affected by Katrina. They found that some forests were heavily damaged while others like the cypress-tupelo swamp forests fared remarkably well.

The NASA-built Landsat 5, part of the Landsat series of Earth-observing satellites, takes detailed images of the Earth’s surface. Chambers combined results from the Landsat image sampling with data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite to estimate the size of the entire forested area affected by Katrina. The instrument can detect minute changes in the color spectrum on the land below, enabling it to measure differences in the percentage of live and dead vegetation. This helps researchers improve their estimates of changes in carbon storage and improves their ability to track the location of carbon sinks and sources.

The field samples and satellite images, along with results from computer models that simulate the kind of vegetation and other traits that make up the forests, were used to measure the total tree loss the hurricane inflicted. The scientists then calculated total carbon losses to be equivalent to 60-100 percent of the net annual carbon sink in U.S. forest trees.

“It is surprising to learn that one extreme event can release nearly as much carbon to the atmosphere as all U.S. forests can store in an average year,” said Diane Wickland, manager of the Terrestrial Ecology Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Satellite data enabled Chambers’ research team to pin down the extent of tree damage so that we now know how these kinds of severe storms affect the carbon cycle and our atmosphere. Satellite technology has really proven its worth in helping researchers like Chambers assess important changes in our planet’s carbon cycle.”

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http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hurricanes/archives/2007/katrina_carbon.html

Written by:
Gretchen Cook-Anderson
Goddard Space Flight Center
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Primary Rainforests Irreplaceable And Necessary

13/11/2007

Primary rain forest is irreplaceable

As world leaders prepare to discuss conservation-friendly carbon credits in Bali and a regional initiative threatens a new wave of deforestation in the South American tropics, new research from the University of East Anglia and Brazil’s Goeldi Museum highlights once again the irreplaceable importance of primary rain forest.

Working in the north-eastern Brazilian Amazon the international team of scientists undertook the single-largest assessment of the biodiversity conservation value of primary, secondary and plantation forests ever conducted in the humid tropics. The study was partly funded by the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative and their findings are reported in the latest edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Over an area larger than Wales, the UEA and museum researchers surveyed five primary rain forest sites, five areas of natural secondary forest and five areas planted with fast-growing exotic trees (Eucalyptus), to evaluate patterns of biodiversity.

Following an intensive effort of more than 20,000 scientist hours in the field and laboratory, they collected data on the distribution of 15 different groups of animals (vertebrates and invertebrates) and woody plants, including well-studied groups such as monkeys, butterflies and amphibians and also more obscure species such as fruit flies, orchid bees and grasshoppers.

“We know that different species often exhibit different responses to deforestation and so we sought to understand the consequences of land-use change for as many species as possible,” said Dr Jos Barlow, a former post-doctoral researcher at UEA.

At least a quarter of all species were never found outside native primary forest habitat – and the team acknowledges that this is an underestimate. “Our study should be seen as a best-case scenario, as all our forests were relatively close to large areas of primary forests, providing ample sources for recolonisation,” said Dr Barlow.

“Many plantations and regenerating forests along the deforestation frontiers in South America and south-east Asia are much further from primary forests, and wildlife may be unable to recolonise in these areas.

“Furthermore, the percentage of species restricted to primary forest habitat was much higher (40-60%) for groups such as birds and trees, where we were able to sample the canopy species as well as those that live in the forest under-storey.”

These results clearly demonstrate the unique value of undisturbed tropical forests for wildlife conservation. However, they also show that secondary forests and plantations offer some wildlife benefits and can host many species that would be unable to survive in intensive agricultural landscapes such as cattle ranching or soybean plantations.

“Although the protection of large areas of primary forest is vital for native biodiversity conservation, reforestation projects can play an important supplementary role in efforts to boost population sizes of forest species and manage vast working landscapes that have already been heavily modified by human-use” explained Dr Carlos Peres, who leads the UEA team.

But, when carbon-credits from Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDDS) are tabled for the first time at the Bali meeting next month, decision makers should beware of seeing fast-growing exotics such as eucalyptus as a carbon sink solution to the world’s emissions problems. If agreed upon by world leaders REDDs offer an extraordinary opportunity to generate funds to support the long-term protection of large areas of intact forest habitat

Pristine forests are home to over half of all terrestrial species in the world and their loss would impoverish the planet. Far better to save primary forest from deforestation in the first place,” added Dr Peres. “That way we maximize both the biodiversity and carbon value of whole landscapes.”