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On Thin Ice:Global Warming and Earth’s Disappearing Future

January 31, 2008

On Thin Ice:

Global Warming and Earth’s Disappearing Future

January 27, 2008

By BETTINA BRANCATO

“If humankind continues to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, over one million species of plants and animals, one third of all life forms, will be extinct by 2050,” says Chris Thomas,

Professor of conservation biology at Britain’s Leeds University (qtd. in Brown). Research on anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the affect on global climate, indicates catastrophic consequences to all ecological, physical and human systems on the Earth.– The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes United States GHG emissions are higher than any other nation’s (Brown). In 1997, to expedite global participation in GHG emissions-reduction, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) incorporated the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act into its framework. The Protocol outlines specific emissions-reduction targets all nations must meet by 2009 (Blakeley). As of December 2007, the United States is the only industrialized nation that has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol (UNFCCC); United States legislators and industrialists maintain anthropogenic GHG emissions play a minor role in global warming. However, irrefutable, scientific evidence exists to the contrary. To reverse future consequences of global warming, the United States, the most significant GHG emissions offender, must immediately ratify the Protocol and implement its Mechanisms.

Warming twice as fast than any other region, the consequences of GHG emissions are most evident in the Arctic.

Recognized as the Earth’s most delicate ecosystem, the Arctic

Ice Cap is a living gauge environmental biologists use to

Fig. 1. “Hard to Bear.” photograph. March 2007.

Fig. 1. “Hard to Bear.” photograph. March 2007.

measure the rise in global temperature. Melting at a rate unprecedented in recorded history, Arctic sea-ice, the foundation from which Polar bears hunt seals, has become a death trap; many bears become hopelessly stranded on these disappearing platforms. Polar Bears International believes the Arctic bear is doomed to starvation, drowning, and extinction

(Climate Change). Figure 2 is a photograph of a sow and her cub searching for an ice platform. The bears eventually drowned, their bodies discovered two days after the photograph was taken.

Fig. 2. James Mason. “Polar Bears Drowning.” 2007.

Fig. 2. James Mason. “Polar Bears Drowning.” 2003.

Wildlife photographer, James Mason, says the bears swam alongside his canoe for approximately five miles and never exhibited any overt aggression. Sixty miles offshore, desperate to find a way out of the sea they swam as close as three feet from his vessel (Wind Star). Says marine biologist, Richard Steiner, “For anyone who has wondered how [GHG] will affect Polar bears . . . it’s simple . . . they die” (Daily Grist). To protect the Earth’s wildlife from extinction, Jennifer Morgan, director of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), says industrialized countries must cut emissions of CO2 now (Bhattacharya).

In response to growing concern in the scientific community, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In her article, “Beyond The Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change,” Naomi Oreskes writes the IPCC’s purpose is to evaluate the state of climate science through peer-reviewed research as a basis for government action. The unequivocal evidence presented by the IPCC’s most recent climate-change report, allays any doubts with respect to GHG emissions and the Earth’s rising temperature. The scientific opinion clearly states the climate is affected by human activities (1).

Scientific opinion includes the possibility to reverse future consequences of societal-induced global warming. Every nation must significantly reduce its GHG emissions to achieve this reversal, says environment correspondent, Paul Brown (1).

From deadly mosquitoes, to tropical storms that result in thousands of lost lives, the influences of global warming are evident in every ecosystem on the plant. Entomologists have determined a dangerous genetic adaptation in the Wyeomyia smithii, a mosquito indigenous to North America. Due to warmer temperatures, its lifespan and population growth is longer and greater than ever; larger mosquito populations increase the risk of transmitting disease to humans. Harvard University’s Dr. Paul Epstein says, higher elevations, previously too cold for vector insects, now host malaria-carrying mosquitoes (Global Warming: Early Warning Signs 102).

A 2005 climate-study on the relationship between Hurricane Katrina and the increase in ocean temperature maintains GHG emissions raises ocean temperature, and warmer oceans result in

Fig. 3. Mario Tama. photograph. Katrina Victim. September 2005.

Fig. 3. Mario Tama. photograph. Katrina Victim. September 2005.

hurricanes of unprecedented force (World Science). Kerry Emmanuel, professor of meteorology at MIT warns:

As the hurricane season gets underway, the influence of climate change on hurricane activity is receiving renewed attention. . . . The main hurricane problem facing the United States . . . is population in coastal regions. . . . Another Katrina-like hurricane, or worse, is inevitable. We call upon . . . government and industry to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of . . . land-use practices. (Statement on the U.S. Hurricane Problem 1)

In 1997, the UNFCCC appended the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act into its framework. Authored by Pablo Rodriguez, a member of the Canadian Parliament’s liberal party, the Protocol, unprecedented with respect to its, “binding commitment,” outlines specific emissions-reduction targets all nations must meet by 2009. The first, in a series of necessary steps toward reaching these targets, the Protocol’s commitment time-line expires in 2012. The IPCC’s guidelines, more stringent than the Protocol’s, must then be incorporated into the current UNFCCC framework (Blakeley). To make allowances for developing countries, the Kyoto Protocol obligates developed nations to meet stricter targets than developing nations. Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, says the reason for this allowance is two-fold: research indicates developed nations emit greater GHG emissions than their developing counterparts do, and the financial cost of reducing emissions, inordinately burdensome to Third World economies, can be more easily paid by developed nations (UNFCCC). The Climate Action Network (CAN) explains Kyoto offers “flexible” strategies such as Emissions Trading, Joint Implementation (JI), and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) (Introduction: CDM & JI) Incentive-based, Kyoto’s mechanisms assist developed nations in reaching their

GHG reduction-targets by encouraging them to participate in Emissions Trading with Third World countries. Upon incorporation into the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act sparked a decade-long debate among America’s environmental research-scientists. Climatologists argued there

Fig. 4. Kyoto Map. Earth Trends. December 2007.

Fig. 4. Kyoto Map. Earth Trends. December 2007.

was insufficient scientific evidence to support the theory human-induced GHG emissions directly affect global climate. In 2007, the IPCC’s research-panel of climatologists and research scientists, representing every nation on the planet, published their annual assessment report on climate-change. The report “put an end,” to the debate; the IPCC panelists, based on the results of their research, unanimously agree anthropogenic GHG emissions have increased the Earth’s temperature to near-catastrophic levels. The report includes statistics with respect to the record-breaking melt in 2005 and 2007, of Arctic sea-ice and the Greenland ice-sheet. In September 2007, the Arctic Ocean had 23 percent less sea ice than the previous record low and Greenland’s ice-sheet melted 19 billion tons more than its previous record (SciTech). So compelling was the climate-assessment report, nations that previously declined to ratify the Protocol, citing its implementation economically and logistically burdensome, have since put legislation and policies in place to meet their GHG emissions-reduction commitments (UNFCCC). Figure 4 is a map that defines every nation’s status as of December 2007, with respect to ratification.

Before restructuring the world’s most powerful economy, United States legislators argue ratification of the Kyoto Protocol must be based on extensive scientific research, conducted by reputable climatologists and biologists. The research-results must provide irrefutable proof a causal relationship between anthropogenic GHG emissions and the rise in global temperature exists. Stating it did not provide sufficient scientific evidence, the IPCC’s 2007 climate-assessment report was rejected by United States. Professor Joseph D’Aleo, executive director of the International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project, and several colleagues, believe the research conducted on global warming, neglects to address key factors such as solar dynamics. D’Aleo insists, “Greenhouse warming is real, but [industry-induced emissions are] a relatively minor player [in global warming].” Albeit in the minority, views comparable to D’Aleo’s are the basis for the United States declining to ratify the Kyoto Protocol (Stoddard).

Notwithstanding overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, the United States government, commercial industries and a relatively minor faction of the scientific community insist global warming is not the result of human-induced GHG emissions. Paul Hawken, author of, The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability, explains this dogged persistence is a psychological defense mechanism:

“Denial will always prevent us from coming to terms with our actions as they affect the natural world but denial is an understandable reaction in the face of
commercial reality and ecological reality.” (Hawken)

The Sierra Club notes governments on the state and county level are moving forward with their own GHG emissions-reduction programs. Americans are tired of stalling and excuses from the United States Federal Government; individuals throughout the nation are taking the responsibility of securing a healthy, safe, ecologically sustainable future into their own hands (Cool Cities: Solving Global Warming One City at a Time). Paul Hawken, during his tour to promote his latest book, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw it Coming, explains this social movement to save the planet is not limited to the United States, it exists globally in one form or another. Hawken describes it as humankind’s immune response against the disease inflicted on our planet (Blessed Unrest and Wiser Earth).

Because the United States is the most significant offender of GHG emissions, its government’s refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol constitutes a criminal act against every ecological system on Earth. Prompted by the IPCC’s 2007 assessment report on climate-change, many of America’s commercial industries are reducing their GHG emissions without government prompting. Developing nations look to the United States government for political and financial assistance. With so much influence, imagine the positive affect America’s government could wield on the planet’s environment if it ratified the Protocol. In Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau wrote, “If a plant cannot live according to nature, it dies; and so a man” (1).

Works Cited

Bhattacharya, Shaoni. “Arctic Warming at Twice Global Rate.”

Blakeley, John. “Kyoto Faces Major World Opposition.” 29 Aug.

2007.

26 Dec. 2007.The New Zealand Herald.

Blessed Unrest and Wiser Earth Narr. Paul Hawken

Brown, Paul. “An Unnatural Disaster: Global Warming to Kill Off
1 Million Species.” 8 January 2004. Common Dreams. 23 Dec.

“Climate Change.” Polar Bears International. 2007. 20 Dec. 2007.

“Cool Cities: Solving Global Warming One City at a Time.” Sierra Club. 2007. 3 Jan. 2008.

“Global Warming: Early Warning Signs.” Climate Hot Map

“Hard to Bear.” Photograph. Climate Truth

Hawken, Paul. The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability. New York: Harper Business, 1993.

Climate Action Network. 18 Dec. 2007.

Kyoto Map. December 2007 Earth Trends. 2 Jan. 2008.

Mason, James “Polar Bears Drowning.”
2003. 20 Dec.

Oreskes, Naomi. “Beyond The Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.” December 3, 2004. ScienceMag.

SciTech. “Study: Arctic Warming Partly Due To Natural Causes.”

Associated Press. January 3, 2008. Fox News. 3 Jan. 2008.

“Statement on the U.S. Hurricane Problem.” Wind MIT. July 2006.

Stoddard, Ed. “Global Warming Dissenters Few at US Weather”

UNFCCC. “Kyoto Protocol: Negotiating the Protocol.”

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Copyright 2008 Bettina Brancato. All rights reserved. Permission to use, copy, modify and distribute this article for any purpose and without fee or royalty is hereby granted, provided that you agree to comply with the following: that no modification be made to the original article, whether in format or otherwise. That on ALL copies of this article, there shall appear this copyright notice in its entirety.

For detailed information on Emissions Trading, JI, and CDM. Keyword: Mechanisms

(Editor’s Note: BETTINA BRANCATO is a longtime friend, writer, and producer of many exotic film, TV media, and currently a full time student at CalTech she is the perfect combination of brains and beauty… But mainly it’s her heart that sets her apart. )

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2008 6:01 pm

    The root cause of the environmental declines we are facing throughout the world is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Once one-fourth part of the earth is destroyed (Re.6:7-8) we will move forward to the next Seal events, followed by Trumpet events, followed by Plague events. The earth is on a downhill slid; it will not recover. The first four Trumpet events will destroy an additional one-third part (Re.8:7-12).

    Patricia (ndbpsa ©) Bible Prophecy on the Web
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BibleProphecy

  2. Johnnyb permalink
    February 2, 2008 3:39 pm

    BS

  3. Rhiannon permalink
    March 26, 2008 1:51 am

    You couldn’t be more correct.

  4. March 29, 2008 7:05 am

    Hi Rhiannon nice of you to stop in… I see you’re from CalPoly. I suppose that as we watch the Arctic and Antarctic regions practically disintegrate before our eyes, it is rather surreal… I’m not sure if you would call it scriptural as in Biblical terms but it does appear as if the days of mankind upon this tiny planet are certainly numbered.

    Lights out at 8:00 O’Clock… Story at 11.
    Thanks for the love.

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