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If the world warms up by 3°C

Planet Earth! Posted on Mon, May 15, 2017 23:03:21

What happens if the world warms up by 3°C?

A 3°C temperature rise may be the tipping point where
global warming could run out of control, leaving us powerless to intervene as
planetary temperatures soar. America’s most eminent climate scientist, James Hansen
says warming has brought us to the “precipice of a great tipping
point”. If we go over the edge, it will be a transition to a different
planet, an environment far outside the range that has been experienced by
humanity. There will be no return within the lifetime of any generation that
can be imagined, and the tip will exterminate a large fraction of species on
the planet.

In the Pliocene, three million years, temperatures
were 3°C higher than our pre-industrial levels, so it gives us an insight into
the 3°C world. The northern hemisphere was free of glaciers and icesheets,
beech trees grew in the Transantarctic mountains, sea levels were 25 metres
higher, and atmospherc carbon dioxide levels were 360-400 ppm, very similar to
today. There are also strong indications that during the Pliocene, permanent El
Nino conditions prevailed. Hansen says that rapid warming today is already
heating up the western Pacific Ocean, a basis for a coming period of
“super El Ninos”.

Between two and three degrees temperature rise the
Amazon rainforest, whose plants produce 10% of the world’s
photosynthesis and have no evolved resistance to fire, may turn to savannah, as
drought and mega fires first destroy the rainforest, turning trees back into
carbon dioxide as they burn or rot and decompose. The carbon released by the
forests destruction will be joined by still more from the world’s soils,
together boosting global temperatures by a further 1.5ºC. It is suggested than
in human terms the effect on the planet will be like cutting off oxygen during
an asthma attack.

A March 2007 conference at Oxford talked about “corridors of probability” with models predicting the risk of the Amazon passing a tipping point at between 10 to 40% over the next few decades. The UK’s Hadley Centre climate change model, best known for warning of catastrophic losses of Amazon forest, predicts that, under current levels of greenhouse gas emissions, the chances of such a drought would rise from 5% now (one every 20 years) to 50% by 2030, and to 90% by 2100.

The collapse of the Amazon is
part of the reversal of the carbon cycle projected to happen around 3°C, a view
confirmed by a range of researchers using carbon coupled climate models. Vast
amounts of dead vegetation stored in the soil (more than double the entire
carbon content of the atmosphere) will be broken down by bacteria as soil
warms. The generally accepted estimate is that the soil carbon reservoir
contains some 1600 gigatonnes, more than double the entire carbon content of the
atmosphere. The conversion will begin of the terestrial carbon sink to a carbon
source due to temperature-enhanced soil and plant respiration overcoming
CO2-enhanced photosynthesis, resulting in widespread desertification and
enhanced feedback.

And it’s already happening. A recent study found that the calculated increase
in carbon lost by UK soil each year since 1978 is more than the entire
reduction in emissions the UK has achieved between 1990 and 2002 as part of its
commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. New research published in “Science”
in May 2007 suggests that the earth’s ability to soak up the gases causing
global warming is beginning to fail because of rising temperatures, in a
long-feared sign of “positive feedback”.

Three degrees would likely see increasing areas of the planet being rendered
essentially uninhabitable by drought and heat. Rainfall in Mexico and central
America is projected to fall 50%. Southern Africa would be exposed
to perennial drought, a huge expanse centred on Botswana could see a
remobilisation of old sand dunes, much as is projected to happen earlier in the
US west. The Rockies would be snowless and the Colorado river will fail half
the time. Drought intensity in Australia could triple, according to the CSIRO,
which also predicts days in New South Wales above 35°C will increase 2 to 7

– Read also “If the world warms up by 2°C”:

100 Million Sharks Killed Each Year

Planet Earth! Posted on Thu, March 23, 2017 22:10:38

We are eradicating the apex predators of the oceans

Shark finning is the practice of slicing off the shark’s fins while the shark is still alive and throwing the rest of its body back into the ocean where it can take days to die what must be an agonising death. Some sharks starve to death, others are slowly eaten by other fish, and some drown, because sharks need to keep moving to force water through their gills for oxygen. Shark fins are used as the principal ingredient of shark fin soup, an Asian dish. Demand for shark fin soup has rocketed in recent years due to the increased prosperity of China and other countries in the Far East. Shark fin soup, which can easily cost $100 a bowl, is often served at wedding celebrations so that the hosts can impress their guests with their affluence.

Because there is such a high demand for shark fins, traders can make a lot of money from shark fin, but it is the restaurant owners who really make a killing in this foul trade. Fishermen are only interested in the fins because shark meat is of low economical value and takes up too much space in the hold. It also contains urea, which turns to ammonia once the shark has died and contaminates other fish. Shark fin itself is tasteless, it just provides a gelatinous bulk for the soup which is flavoured with chicken or other stock. Many people, especially the consumers, are unaware of the sufferring that finning causes.

To put it bluntly, shark populations have been decimated. Globally. At least 8,000 tonnes of shark fins are shipped to restaurants around the world. Fishermen report that sharks are getting smaller because they are not being given time to mature. Shark populations take a long time to recover as they can take over seven years to reach maturity and they only raise one or two pups a year. Twenty species of sharks are listed as endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). In a few years many species of shark could become extinct if action is not taken immediately. Populations of many shark species have fallen by over 90%. Since 1972 the number of blacktip sharks has fallen by 93%, tiger sharks by 97% and bull sharks, dusky sharks and smooth hammerheads by 99%.

The consequences of the decline in shark populations on ocean life are immense. The large shark species are apex predators, they are ecological stablisers. For example along the US East Coast where large sharks such as black tip and tiger sharks have been virtually elimated, there have been declines in shellfish numbers and a reduction in water quality since shellfish filter sea water. Populations of small sharks, rays and skates have increased rapidly, consuming shellfish at an unsustainable rate. If you remove apex predators from an ecosystem the result is the same as removing the foundations from a building – total collapse.

– Read more about how we are emptying the oceans:

“We Must Act On Climate Change”

Planet Earth! Posted on Mon, November 21, 2016 22:45:15

Former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres: We must act on climate change

Karen Christiana Figueres Olsen is a Costa Rican diplomat with 35 years of experience in high level national and international policy and multilateral negotiations. She was appointed Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention in Climate Change (UNFCCC) in July 2010, six months after the failed COP15 in Copenhagen.

During the next six years she dedicated herself to rebuilding the global climate change negotiating process based on fairness, transparency and collaboration, leading to the 2015 Paris Agreement, widely recognized as a historical achievement. Over the years she has worked in the fields of climate change, sustainable development, energy, land use, technical and financial cooperation. She is a frequent public speaker and widely published author.

COP21/CMP11 held in Paris in December 2015 has been widely heralded as a historic achievement. With the leadership of the United Nations Secretary-General and President Hollande of France, and beating all previous records of Head of State gatherings on one day, 155 Heads of State came together under one roof to send a strong political signal of support for an ambitious and effective agreement.

On the final day under the presidency of Laurent Fabius the 195 governments which are Parties to the Climate Change Convention unanimously adopted Paris Agreement, accelerating the intentional transformation of the global economy toward low carbon and high resilience.

Unfortunatly Donald Trump, the President-elect of USA, has promised to cancel this historical climate deal. But is he crazy enough to do it? Read more about it here:

Alberta’s Oil Sands

Planet Earth! Posted on Thu, November 17, 2016 21:45:15

This Changes Everything – Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein didn’t think climate change was her issue but when she realised the close link between environmental destruction and inequality, everything changed.

In Naomi’s home country, the Canadian government granted virtual free rein to companies seeking oil in Alberta’s tar sands, creating a boom town in Fort McMurray. Like large numbers of activists across the world, the indigenous population in Alberta protested the environmental damage. How can we connect the dots among movements around the world to tackle climate change and inequality at the same time?

Alberta’s oil sands are the third-largest proven crude oil reserve in the
world, next to Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The Government of Alberta seeks to enhance Alberta’s role as a world leading energy supplier as Oil sands production is expected to increase from 2.3 million barrels per day
in 2014 to 4 million barrels per day in 2024.

Read more on how much of earth’s wilderness is destroyed by humans here:

If the world warms up by 2°C

Planet Earth! Posted on Sat, October 22, 2016 19:49:59

What happens if the world warms up by 2°C?

Climate change, also called global warming, refers to the rise in average surface temperatures on earth. An overwhelming scientific consensus maintains that climate change is due primarily to the human use of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air. The gases trap heat within the atmosphere, which can have a range of effects on ecosystems, including rising sea levels, severe weather events, and droughts that render landscapes more susceptible to wildfires.

The primary cause of climate change is the burning of fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, which emits greenhouse gases into the atmosphere – primarily carbon dioxide. Other human activities, such as agriculture and deforestation, also contribute to the proliferation of greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

While some quantities of these gases are a naturally occurring and critical part of earth’s temperature control system, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 did not rise above 300 parts per million between the advent of human civilization roughly 10,000 years ago and 1900. Today it is at about 400 ppm, a level not reached in more than 400,000 years.

Even small increases in earth’s temperature caused by climate change can have severe effects. The earth’s average temperature has gone up almost 0.8°C over the past century and is expected to rise as much as 6.4°C over the next. That might not seem like a lot, but the average temperature during the last Ice Age was more than 2ºC lower than it is today.

Rising sea levels due to the melting of the polar ice caps, caused by climate change, contribute to greater storm damage: warming ocean temperatures are associated with stronger and more frequent storms, additional rainfall, particularly during severe weather events, leads to flooding and other damage. Also, an increase in the incidence and severity of wildfires threatens habitats, homes, and lives, and heat waves contribute to human deaths and other consequences.

– Read more about climate change here:

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Planet Earth! Posted on Wed, September 14, 2016 20:14:28

Plastic pollution in our oceans

The name Pacific Garbage Patch, also called the Pacific Trash Vortex, has led many to believe that this area is a large and continuous patch of easily visible marine debris items such as bottles and other litter, much like an island of trash that should be visible with satellite or aerial photographs. While higher concentrations of litter items can be found in this area, along with other debris such as derelict fishing nets, much of the debris is actually small pieces of floating plastic that are not immediately evident to the naked eye.

The debris is continuously mixed by wind and wave action and widely dispersed both over huge surface areas and throughout the top portion of the water column. It is possible to sail through the “garbage patch” area and see very little or no debris on the water’s surface. It is also difficult to estimate the size of these patches, because the borders and content constantly change with ocean currents and winds.

The size of the patch is unknown, because large items readily visible from a boat deck are uncommon. Most debris consists of small plastic particles suspended at or just below the surface, making it impossible to detect by aircraft or satellite. Instead, the size of the patch is determined by sampling. Estimates of size range from 700,000 square kilometers (about the size of Texas, USA) to more than 15,000,000 square kilometres (0.4% to 8% of the size of the Pacific Ocean).

Some of these long-lasting plastics end up in the stomachs of marine animals, and their young, including sea turtels and the black-footed albatross. The Midway Atoll receives substantial amounts of marine debris from the patch. Of the 1.5 million Laysan albatrosses that inhabit Midway, nearly all are found to have plastic in their digestive system. Approximately one-third of their chicks die, and many of those deaths are due to being fed plastic from their parents. Twenty tons of plastic debris washes up on Midway every year with five tons of that debris being fed to albatross chicks.

Besides the particle’s danger to wildlife, on the microscopic level the floating debris can absorb organic pollutants from seawater, including PCBs, DDT and PAHs. Aside from toxic effects when ingested, some of these can cause hormone disruption in the affected animal. These toxin-containing plastic pieces are also eaten by jellyfish, which are then eaten by larger fish. Many of these fishes are then consumed by humans, resulting in their ingestion of toxic chemicals.

Here’s an article from The Guardian worth reading:

Planet Earth!

Planet Earth! Posted on Sat, September 10, 2016 13:19:33

The first post in the new categorie – Planet Earth!

I found it necessary to add a new categorie to Ad Astra that will focus on our planet and what we are doing with it as human beings. It could be a wake-up call for those who still don’t believe that humans are fueling (in its literal meaning) Global Warming, and eradicating life on our planet in an industrial scale.

The sixth mass extinction is probably going to be triggered by humans and the signs are found all around us, on every continent, in the air, in the seas and on land, as post here at Ad Astra will show. Huge financial profits are made by a few by rapidly changing and destroying for all life on earth. As a consumer one might not always be aware of what the products are made of, and the impact one could have by using Gillette products, L’oreal cosmetiques, baby food from Nestlé, having a bar of chocolate or a bowl of noodles containing palm tree oil.

I have been to Malaysian Borneo, and I saw only two wild Orangutans along the Kinabatangang river, but far more in the Orangutan sactuary in Sandakan where the traumaised red apes where being looked after. The palm tree plantations sometimes reached all the way to the Kinabatangang river itself, isolating animals in patches of forest. And when flying across Borneo one can really see what humans have done to what once was a vast tropical rain forest – turned it into a plantation, and killing all of its unique flora and fauna in the process.

The full-length film pictured here is made by filmmaker Patrick Rouxel and was released in 2012. He once stated in an interview: “As a species we are the biggest criminals on the planet. Every day we rape the planet, shed blood and cause suffering.”

Editorial Review:

“Her name is GREEN, she
is alone in a world that doesn’t belong to her. She is a female orangutan,
victim of deforestation and resource exploitation. This film is an emotional
journey with GREEN’s final days. With no narration, it is a visual ride
presenting the devastating impacts of logging and land clearing for palm oil
plantations, the choking haze created by rainforest fires and the tragic end of
rainforest biodiversity. We watch the effects of consumerism and are faced with
our personal accountability in the loss of the world’s rainforest treasures.
Multi award winning. Copyright free for all screenings at no charge.”

– While adding the new categorie Planet Earth!, I removed the categorie Art with all posts.