GLOBAL WARMING: TIME TO ACT Reminder of a major global warming cause: In 2006, the United Nations reported that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined.
Senior UN Food and Agriculture Organization official Henning Steinfeld reported that the meat industry is "one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems." WARNING SIGNS The Antarctic has been found to experience ice melts as dramatic as the Arctic in this past summer.
After he visited Antarctica's melting ice sheets in January 2008, Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg stated, "Alarm bells are ringing. It is irresponsible for decision-makers to ignore these signals."
Findings from a study by Hans von Storch, head of the GKSS Institute for Coastal Research in Germany, indicate an unusually high warming trend in the Baltic Sea due to climate change. The world's largest society of Earth and space scientists, the American Geophysical Union (AGU), has released a statement that identifies human activity as the sure cause of global warming.
Scientists are finding that forests and seas are reaching overload, unable to absorb more emissions, which means even more rapid temperature rises. With global temperatures up 1.4 degrees and still rising, John Holdren, a Harvard University policy scientist, said that a total increase of 3.6 -4.5 degrees would present the danger of the world facing "intolerable and unmanageable impacts of climate change."
In 20-year study conducted by the University of Helsinki,progressively shorter winters are now weakening the ability of northern forests to soak up greenhouse gas emissions.
Lead researcher Timo Vesala commented, "This means a bigger warming effect."
Global warming makes China's glaciers shrink by 7% every year, which could have devastating effects on the 300 million who depend on them for water. Ponds in the Arctic that have been part of the landscape for 6,000 years have dried up with the lengthening of the Arctic summer. Rising sea levels and bigger storms caused by global warming at Ireland's UNESCO World Heritage site may wash some of the great columns away. Meteorologists at Norway's Troll research station in Antarctica say that atmospheric carbon has reached record levels.
The effects of global warming on the sea's temperatures have lead to the occurrence of "dead zones" in the ocean.
British geologists at the University of Leicester say that the changes to the environment due to increased human population and industrialization are so great that the planet's pre-industrial Holocene era is now over and it has entered a new age called the Anthropocene era.
NATURAL DISASTERS A United Nations report on 2007's natural disasters says nine of the ten worst resulted from climatic disturbances. SINKING LANDS, EROSION & SEA LEVELS RISING Australian oceanographer Steve Rintoul estimates that the rapid rate of ice melting means that 100 million people living within 1 meter of sea level "will need to go somewhere" to escape rising sea levels. Officials relocated 20,000 islanders in the year 2000 from the lowest area of Duke of York Island, one of the islands off Papua New Guinea.
India's Lohachara Island disappeared under water due to global warming leaving 70,000 people to take refuge on neighboring islands.
The coastline in West African countries like Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Guinea,and Nigeria is retreating at an average of 10 meters per year, and sea water levels on the West African coast could continue to rise.
According to Richard Lochhead, Secretary of Rural Affairs in the United Kingdom, "Our winters are getting wetter and warmer, sea levels are rising and coastal erosion is increasing.
These are happening now and we must take action."
Scientists warn that if water levels continue to rise, over 80,000 hectares in Greece could be 1.6 meters under water by 2100, with the country's western coastline also at risk. The Maldives could be the first country to become uninhabitable because of rising sea levels due to global warming. Rising sea levels threaten beachfront towns along the coast of North Carolina, USA, say geologists. Scientists measuring rising sea levels say that the island state of Tuvalu will be one of the first nations to sink into the ocean. Some areas of Vietnam southernmost province, Cà Mau, show evidence of up to 6 meters of land covered up by the sea. Benin is slowly losing its commercial capital, Cotonou, to the rising ocean waters. Carteret Islanders consider leaving their home as rising sea levels damage food crops and leaves the island uninhabitable.
Environmental Coastal Regions published by the Wessex Institute of Technology reports risk assessment of coastal land use due to the rising water level of the Caspian Sea.
US Geological Survey shows that Alaska's coast is eroding at a faster rate as coastal cliffs are collapsing due to global warming's melting of the permafrost which anchors the earth.
Residents from Papua New Guinea islands, at risk for submersion due to global warming, asked for help at last year's climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia. TOXIC GASES A report first published in 2005 describes how poisonous gas bubbling up from the deep ocean could have suddenly caused the loss of the ozone layer 250 million years ago. The UN Environmental Program reports the emergence of over 200 oxygen-depleted "dead zones" in the ocean.
New bacteria emerge, producing hydrogen sulfide gas, which is lethal to most marine and terrestrial life.
The two known causes include run-off from factories, agricultural fertilizer and waste, as well as disrupted water currents and weather, all of which are related to global warming.
"Dead zones" in the ocean caused by global warming result in no life due to a loss of oxygen and the release of hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas.
One such dead zone is in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Oregon, USA, which has quadrupled in size over the past year. Another is off the coast of Namibia, Africa,where millions of fish die whenever the hydrogen sulfide gas erupts from the ocean floor. Due to overfishing and the loss of tens of millions of vital sardines, waters off the coast of southwest Africa are filled with a toxic gas that is bubbling up from the ocean floor, to date killing marine life over an area equivalent to the US state of New Jersey and worsening the greenhouse effect. HUMAN HEALTH United Nations Secretary-General Ban urges world leaders to prioritize water security, saying that climate change and related water scarcity has caused discord in the past.
Dr. Hugh Montgomery, Director of the Institute for Human Health and Performance at London's University College states,"We are already witnessing the effects of climate change on health." An Australian scientist, Professor Kevin Parton of Charles Sturt University in New South Wales, Australia, has stated that conditions caused by global warming such as mosquito-borne diseases may have much more impact on indigenous people due to their insufficient access to health services.
British scientists express concern about the detrimental effects of climate change on human health such as heat waves, wild fires and floods. Australian researcher Dr. Tony McMichael reports in the British Medical Journal, "Infectious diseases cannot be stabilized in circumstances of climatic instability, refugee flows, and impoverishment."
SPECIES EXTINCTION In the Arctic, polar bears are starving due to the warming change in habitat.
Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity, said, "We've observed massive melting of the sea ice in the Arctic in recent years, and they can't survive without it."
A quarter of US birds are facing extinction due to global warming, and 75% of European birds are expected to see their ranges shrink. Scientists say that if global warming continues at its current pace, at least 20% of the world's species are likely to become extinct. What world leaders are saying: "The good news is, we have everything we need now to respond to the challenge of global warming. But we should not wait, we cannot wait, we must not wait."
Al Gore, 45th Vice President of the United States "We know the science, we see the threat, and we know the time for action is now."
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger,R-California, USA "I think the science is clear that these changes are occurring.They're serious and we must act."
Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada "We need to expand the concept of sustainable development to all the aspects of social and economic development of society."
Chi-Beom Lee, Minister of Environment, Republic of Korea "We are on the historic threshold of the irreversible. A new industrial revolution, that of sustainable development, lies before us."
Jacques Chirac, Former President of France "Australia's official declaration today that we will become a member of the Kyoto Protocol is a significant step forward in our country's efforts to fight climate change domestically - and with the international community."
Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia Saying that climate change and water scarcity has been the source of discord in the past, the secretary general stated, "There is still enough water for all of us - but only so long as we can keep it clean, use it more wisely, and share it fairly."
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon "We are now beyond a critical turning point in the debate; those who continue to ignore the threat and its causes, or invoke half-baked arguments to confuse and obstruct, will be doing the greatest disservice imaginable to current and future generations. "
Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, South Africa's Environment Minister
How you can help 1. Save lives and the planet by not eating meat
The 2006 United Nations report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, documents the livestock industry’s 18% contribution to global warming, which is more than the warming effect of all transportation throughout the world. A 2007 report from the Earth Institute affirms that a plant-based diet consumes only 25% of a meat-based diet.And changing from a meat-based to a vegetarian diet is at least 50% more effective in counteracting climate change as switching from a Suburban SUV to a Toyota hybrid car.
“Please eat less meat ? meat is a very carbon intensive commodity. Don't eat meat, ride a bike, and be a frugal shopper ? that's how you can help brake global warming.” - Rajendra Pachauri, Chief of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
International environmental organization EarthSave features VEGPLEDGE!TM at www.vegpledge.com, a program dedicated to helping anyone who wants to benefit the planet with a Go Veg! pledge.
Research by University of Chicago geophysics professors Gordan Eishel Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin concludes that going vegan for one year saves 1.5 tons of emissions relative to the standard American diet, 50% more than switching from an SUV to a Toyota Prius. New York Times article written by Mark Bittman, a non-vegetarian, explains the detrimental cost of meat consumption to our planet, our health, and to the poor. If each person in the Netherlands goes meat-free one day per week, the lowered emissions would equal the Dutch government’s goals for emission reductions for all households for one year. A vegetarian driving a Hummer SUV is more environmentally friendly than a meat-eater on a bicycle. In South America, where 400 million hectares of soya crops are fed to animals for human consumption, only 25 million hectares would be needed be needed to directly feed all the humans in the world.
2. Recycling does make a difference
California estimates that state-wide recycling saves energy to power 1.4 million homes, reduces 27,047 tons of water pollution, saves 14 million trees and reduces greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 3.8 million cars. The Technical University of Denmark found that recycled aluminum uses 95% less energy than non-recycled aluminum, 70% less energy for plastics, and 40% less for paper.
3. Planting trees benefits our Earth
Two years after planting hardwood saplings in the wettest areas of Catahoula Parish, Louisiana Tech University scientists find each acre of reforested land sequesters sufficient carbon to offset driving a car for a year. A US Forest Service Study showed that planting 95,000 trees in two counties in metropolitan Chicago provides cleaner air and will saves $38 million over 30 years due to lower heating and cooling costs.
4. Reduce carbon emissions with alternative energy transportation
A University of Chicago study indicates that driving a Toyota Prius electric-gas hybrid car will save 1 ton of emissions per year.
Locally-grown food is deemed to have a lower carbon footprint, as demonstrated by an 2003 Iowa State University study, which found non-local food had traveled an average of 1,494 miles, versus 56 miles for local food. “I try to save energy by using my bicycle to travel to work as often as I can.” - Margot Wallstrom, Vice-President of the European Commission
5. Energy efficiency and renewable energy can help renew our Earth
The American Council for Energy Efficient Economy recommends actions to reduce energy usage such as
turning off equipment when not in use.
installing Energy Star-rated appliances and programmable thermostats
insulating hot water pipes and using energy efficient bulbs.
Install solar panels as an alternative energy source.