News Archive August 2018: Environmental News that matters
July brought many weather related disasters around the world. Two major crisis, both related to rising waters, were covered internationally.
“Global warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening.” James Hansen
The Power of Water
This video of the flooding in Japan demonstrates the striking brutal strength and destructive power of moving water. Japan suffered massive unprecedented flooding and landslides, wrecking havoc across the nation.
In Thailand, the story of the boys trapped in a cave grabbed everyone’s attention. As the story unfolded the boy’s were found alive after 8 days trapped in the cave, but their rescue was perilous and difficult. The worry of renewed heavy rains and more flooding added further complications to an already risky rescue operation. A true story of determination and heroism.
Yet little was said of how the cave boys got into the predicament to begin with. Were early, unusually heavy monsoon rains the reason the boy’s were trapped?
Not in My Lifetime
When you read projections of consequences of global warming, it is always down some distant road, not going to happen in our lifetime. Our grandkids might feel it, maybe. After all, sea rise sounds like a slow steady rise in sea level, which it may be, but we are already seeing the impacts of it today. How bad will it be when we actually get to the end of that road?
It is not people that keep the world going round, it is the extraordinary way nature finds balance. And we, the people have altered our environmental conditions so drastically, nature must now contend with finding a new balance.
While the causes of global warming are complex, the impact is predictable. Increased heat is melting the glaciers, which contributes to a rising sea level. The rising oceans are also absorbing excess carbon, which heats up the waters.
One of the reactions to heat in the atmosphere is it holds more moisture, sucking up evaporation of the oceans, lakes, and rivers. This increased amount of water impacts the rainfall, providing the power behind storms. End result is more flooding, more extreme storms. It is not a mystery, that is just the way nature operates.
Global Warming is also impacting weather patterns. During the month of July heat became a main issue for many around the world, including Japan where they are still recovering from the massive flooding. The change affects the Jet Stream, which is the drive behind our normal weather patterns.
Drought to Follow
While drought and flooding may seem like problems on opposite sides, they are actually closely related. When the land is heated it dries out, and when the rains do come, they are becoming torrential, and the dry soil is not able to absorb the water, so it flows off, creating floods.
Parched, dry land and plants lead to the next disaster that we are seeing an increase of, and that is raging forest fires. Our forests are extremely important because they provide a carbon sink, when they die and burn they release the stored carbon into our atmosphere.
And now we are back to the original problem, too much carbon has created the green house effect, the smoke from forest fires contributes to our global warming problem.
“If wildfire trends continue, at least initially, this biomass burning will result in carbon release, suggesting that the forests of the western United States may become a source of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide,” a study by researchers at Oregon State University noted.
Coral reefs across the globe are being killed off by a combination of increasing temperatures and ocean acidification caused by rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels.
But that is not the only consequence the high concentration of CO2 is having in our oceans. The high amount of CO2 in the water is affecting the sense of smell in fish, leaving them more vulnerable. Like humans, fish rely on their sense of smell to detect suitable food and habitats, avoid danger, and find potential mates.
Impact on Food Supply
Climate change is very likely to affect food security at the global, regional, and local level. Climate change can disrupt food availability, reduce access to food, and affect food quality.
For example, projected increases in temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, changes in extreme weather events, and reductions in water availability may all result in reduced agricultural productivity. (Source)
Loss of Internet?
A recent study led by Paul Barford, a UW–Madison professor of computer science, suggests buried internet infrastructure at risk as sea levels rise.
In the report Barfor states “Most of the damage that’s going to be done in the next 100 years will be done sooner than later. That surprised us. The expectation was that we’d have 50 years to plan for it. We don’t have 50 years”.
Rising waters also poses a threat to many coastal utility infrastructures.
The List Goes On
These are just a few examples of how global warming is having an effect on us now, in the near future, and what we can look forward to if we do nothing.
It is time to wake up, take a stand, and acknowledge that Global Warming is a real threat to the inhabitants of this planet and insist it be addressed.
The earth will survive, mother nature will see to that. But whether humans will be able to continue to live and thrive is becoming questionable.
In next month’s Environmental News issue, we will be taking a look at what we steps we need to take to really address the issue.
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