Global Warming Mind Map

Saturday, 20 December 2008 · 0 comments

Children's view of global warming:

Global Warming Causes

Al Gore Global Warming Initiative



Global warming is the phenomenon in which there has been an increase in the average temperature of the earth's atmosphere and oceans in last few decades, and its predictable extension. The increase in the earth’s average temperature can further cause other alterations, including an increasing sea level and alterations in the quantity and model of precipitation. These alterations may raise the incidence and concentration of tremendous weather proceedings, such as floods, famines, heat waves, storms, and cyclones. Other costs can comprise of higher or lower farming yields, glacier withdrawals, lesser summer stream flows, genus extinctions and boosting in the ranges of sickness vectors.

Al Gore was one of the foremost U.S. politicians to heave an alarm about the hazards of global warming. He has produced a significantly acclaimed documentary movie called "An Inconvenient Truth," and written a book that archives his advice that Earth is dashing toward an immensely warmer future. Al Gore, the former vice president of United States has given various speeches to raise an awareness of global warming. He has warned people about the ill effects of Global warming and its remedies.

Al Gore has been studying climate of the globe for about thirty years. According to Al Gore, the climatic calamity is, indeed, tremendously hazardous. In fact it is a real earthly crisis. In more then hundred countries, two thousand scientists are working for more than twenty years in the most intricate and ordered scientific partnerships in the history of humanity to study the crisis. It is very important that proper heed is paid towards the global warming problem. Al Gore in his book and his documentary has warned that unless we get alert quickly to deal with the fundamental reasons of global warming, our world will experience a thread of awful calamities, including more and stronger hurricanes like the one Katrina, in both the Atlantic and the Pacific. Al Gore has insisted on the fact that it is due the global warming that the North Polar ice cap and all the mountain glaciers in world will finally melt down in a few decades from now.

Al Gore has illustrated the various reasons of global warming in his documentary and the book. The amount of carbon dioxide that is being dumped in the environment has literally changed the relationship between the earth and the sun. So much of that CO2 is being engrossed into the oceans that if we carry on at the present rate we will increase the saturation of calcium carbonate to levels that will stop formation of corals and impede with the making of shells by any sea creature.

Al Gore has insisted that it is a dire need that we take proper steps to cut down global warming. The growing of switch grass and saw grass should be encouraged. Switching to a greater extent on ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, butanol, and green diesel fuels can also reduce global warming pollution. On a universal basis, about more than two trillion tons of the 10 trillion tons of CO2 emitted each year comes from flaming the forests. So, improved organization of forests is one of the single most significant strategies for solving the climate disaster. Sources like wind energy, solar energy should be made in common use. Al Gore has warned the people that if proper steps are not taken today against global warming, it will get too late to do anything.


CO2 concentration causing global temperature increase


There is no doubt any more: In order to mitigate global warming, the emission of greenhouse gases must be reduced, the sooner the better. This will then lead to a stabilization of the greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere - and in the very long term hopefully to a decreasing concentration.

The level at which the greenhouse gas concentration gets stabilized does determine the warming effect, i.e. the temperature increase of the earth's surface and of the oceans.

The following graph shows the relation between the greenhouse gas concentration (expressed as CO2-equivalents) and the resulting average global temperature increase on the surface. The data are drawn from AR4 WGI, Chapter 10.8. [i.e. from the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Working Group I]". The graph has been taken from Wikipedia.

Temperature increase based on CO2 level

The above graphs represents the state of knwledge according to IPCC as per November 2007. The black line in the middle of the range is the most likely relationship, the red line on top and the blue line on the bottom indicate the uncertainty (95% confidence interval). A temperature increase of more than about 2° C will with high likelyhood lead to dramatic effects on the environment. This is the reason why the European community suggests to limit the global warming to max. 2° C. This means according to the above graph limiting the greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere to about 450 ppm CO2 equivalents. The current value is about 380 ppm CO2.


Global carbon cycle and climate change


Life processes are fuelled by carbon compounds which are oxidized to CO2 (carbon dioxide), the latter is exhaled by all animals and plants. Conversely, CO2 is assimilated by plants during photosynthesis to build new carbon compounds. See also this comment about photosynthesis and global warming.

CO2 is produced by the burning of fossil fuels, which derive from the preserved products of ancient photosynthesis. The atmosphere exchanges CO2 continuously with the oceans. Regions or processes that predominantly produce CO2 are called sources of atmospheric CO2, while those that absorb CO2 are called sinks.

The following graph shows the annual carbon flows and storage in billion metric tons (Source: NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, 2007)

Carbon cycle (global warming)

While CO2 is only a very small part of the atmosphere (0.04%), it plays an important role in the energy balance of our planet: CO2 in the atmosphere acts like a blanket over the planet by trapping long-wave radiation, which would otherwise radiate heat away from the planet (greenhouse effect). As the amount of CO2 increases, so will its warming effect. CO2 is the largest contributor (currently 63%) to this effect by long-lived gases and its role increases each year. The additional burden of CO2 in the atmosphere will remain for a very long time, of the order of thousands of years, if we have to rely on the natural mechanisms of erosion and sedimentation to process the added CO2.

Source and more details:

Global warming - it's about you


Slowly but surely the information about global warming seems to reach the most obstinate ignorants. Therefore let's sum up the current knowledge:

  • The global warming does indeed exist and it was mainly caused by humankind who is even still accelerating it.
  • From global warming we expect a rise of the average temperature leading to - among other things - melting of glaciers and melting of the polar ice, increase of the mean sea level as well as generally more of extreme weather events and nature disasters like droughts, floods, tornadoes, etc.
  • Only a drastic reduction of the waste gas emissions in the very near future can stop this trend.
  • CO2 (Carbon dioxide) emissions belong to the most important causes of global warming. CO2 is inevitably created by burning fossil fuels like e.g. oil, natural gas, diesel, organic-diesel, petrol, organic-petrol, ethanol.
  • Recent investigations have shown that inconceivable catastrophic changes in the environment will take place as soon as the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere reaches the level of about 450 ppm. Today's concentration is already at 380 ppm and it raises on average 2 - 3 ppm each year, so that the critical value will be reached in approximately 25 to 30 years from now. See here for some graphs.
Global warming causes: CO2 concentration

In the past, there was more or less a direct relation between the energy consumption (mainly fossil fuels) and the welfare of a country. This has so far prevented many countries from taking serious actions to reduce their consumption of fossil fuels. As of today however, this relation is not true any more. Germany is a good example of a country where the CO2 emissions have been decreasing for several years despite of a growth of the economy.

In the Kyoto conference many countries have agreed to reduce their CO2 output until the year 2012, on average to 5% below their respective emissions of the year 1990. The USA - as the largest CO2 producer world wide - and most developing countries refused to sign this agreement.

Global phenomena are difficult to reach consensus about

Already today it becomes apparent, that a lot of western countries will largely miss their promises concerning the CO2 reduction. Several signer countries have even increased their CO2 output since the conference.

With this background, discussions have recently started about potential scenarios after the end of the Kyoto agreement, that is after the year 2012. The goal is to move also the USA as well as the developing countries into some sort of obligations.

However, even if it should be possible to sign new, similar agreements for the time after 2012, it is doubtful whether they would be more respected than the ones from Kyoto. This would only be different if sanctions were automatically imposed on those countries, whose CO2 emissions per person still exceed a certain CO2 level after a given transitional period. In the negotiations, each country would of course claim to be qualified for a higher CO2 emission per person than the other countries. Almost any country would fight for an emission level as high as possible. This would of course defeat the original purpose of the reduction agreement.

We are now at the core of the problem: Global warming is a typical global phenomena, where the causer of the emission does not automatically suffer from it himself. Cause and effect are separated both in time as well as geographical.

For non-global phenomena, this is different. Let's for example take a chemical accident with poisons: The immediate environment of the plant will be contaminated, human beings, animals and plants in the close environment are harmed. The damage is almost immediate and clearly visible. For this reason, laws are legislated and strictly imposed for storing and handling of chemical poisons, .

Personal responsibility

If you increase your personal petrol or gas consumption for this year by say 1'000 litres because you use the car more often, will this lead to natural disasters? And if yes, where? Nobody will be able to take you to the court, because it is not possible to prove a direct relation between your increased yearly consumption of fuels and a drought in Africa. This does not change the fact, however, that the CO2 emission produced by your car does indeed contribute to the global warming. No doubt, you and I are responsible for the climate change, too.

The following testimonies are typical:

  • Me alone, I cannot change anything, why should I then change my personal behavior?
  • I respect the laws, I don't do anything illegal. I am not against your saving energy, but leave me in peace with your ideas.
  • My energy requirement is modest. I won't change before the big polluters have changed their behavior.

These declarations share a fundamentally wrong assumption that we are not fully responsible for what we do. But the contrary is true: We are indeed fully responsible for everything we do or do not do! The fact that we don't get fined or taken into prison for certain deeds does by far not mean that these deeds do not have a big impact on our personal future life.

Life is about you and your behaviour (and not about the behaviour of others)

The goal of all human beings is to live in joy and perpetual harmony with oneself and with the environment, to be able to enjoy life free of sorrows and fears. We approach this goal step by step over a series of incarnations. (see here ).

Let's compare this with classes in school or with a study at the university: Based on your performance within the current semester, you can either advance to the next higher level or you will have to repeat the current level until you meet a certain performance criteria. In a similar manner our behaviour in daily life decides whether we approach the above mentioned goal of perpetual harmony with ourselves and with our environment or not.

Hence it should become evident that harming or even destroying nature - i.e. our environment and basis of being - does at the very end hinder ourselves most: We harm or destroy exactly what we eventually wanted to get in unison and harmony with.

In regard of the common rude and thoughtless dealing with nature, the above may sound rather hopeless for our future. For your personal development however, only your personal behavior counts and not the behavior of "average people" or of a certain majority. It's only about you! Therefore it is possible to develop yourself when you limit your negative footprint of your life here on earth (e.g. consumption of resources, pollution of the environment) to an acceptable level. This is your contribution to solving the problem.

On the other hand, it is impossible to get in perpetual harmony with yourself and with your environment if you do not limit your negative footprint to an acceptable level. It is also a matter of respect towards nature and all its creatures.

There is absolutely no reason at all to wait for laws or incentives from the government before you start with your personal contribution. Who, he does this immediately and by free will, will automatically get better conditions for his or her personal future - be it in this or in next incarnations. For the personal development, only decisions made by free will really do count. There will be very little effect on your personal development if you buy a more economic car because you cannot afford the fuel for a larger car any more. However, if you decide to buy a more economic car of your own free will because you want to reduce your negative effects on the environment, as reverence for the nature, then this will certainly have positive effects on your personal future.

Swindling is impossible - personal responsibility cannot be escaped from

Above we mentioned the similarity to a school or university. There is a teacher or professor who judges the students and their exams. However, who does judge our behaviour in our daily life? Who or what does decide about our personal future, how happy and content we are, how secure we feel?

This is exactly that part in ourselves, which makes "life" in us, differentiate human beings from dead material and which shapes our individuality. It is sometimes called "higher self", "spirit", "mind", "soul", "God in us", etc. It is not important how we call this part of us, however it is very important to recognize that it is part of ourselves. Therefore it is impossible to swindle or to escape from the personal responsibility. For you cannot hide anything from yourself!

The analysis and judgement of our decisions is taking place permanently and leads to corrections on our way of life: In order to learn what we are still missing, "life" will in the future confront us with situations that will give us the chance to try again. And it will repeat either in this or in future incarnations until we indeed do learn what we need to learn. (for further information have a look here ).

Take your personal responsibility serious (also) regarding the pollution which your existence and behavior either directly or indirectly creates. You do not only help prevent the earth from collapsing, but you do help yourself, too. If you personally take responsibility, you won't loose anything. On the contrary, you and everybody else is just gaining advantages.

Deeds are more important than words - do start now!

CO2 - the major cause of global warming



Global warming is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases . 72% of the totally emitted greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide (CO2), 18% Methane and 9% Nitrous oxide (NOx). Carbon dioxide emissions therefore are the most important cause of global warming. CO2 is inevitably created by burning fuels like e.g. oil, natural gas, diesel, organic-diesel, petrol, organic-petrol, ethanol. The emissions of CO2 have been dramatically increased within the last 50 years and are still increasing by almost 3% each year, see graph below:

Word-wide CO2 emission are steadily increasing

Graph 1: CO2-emissions world-wide by year (data from

World-wide CO2 emissions and concentrations
Graph 2: CO2 emissions world-wide by year and CO2 concentration in the atmosphere by year

The carbon dioxide is released to the atmosphere where it remains for 100 to 200 years. This leads to an increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere (see above on the right hand side), which in turn causes the average temperature on Earth to raise (see graph below).

Increase of world temperature

Chart 3: Increase of global average temperature for the last 20 years (source:

Recent investigations have shown that inconceivable catastrophic changes in the environment will take place if the global temperatures increase by more than 2° C (3.6° F). A warming of 2° C (3.6° F) corresponds to a carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration of about 450 ppm (parts per million) in the atmosphere.

As of beginning of 2007, the CO2 concentration is already at 380 ppm and it raises on average 2 - 3 ppm each year, so that the critical value will be reached in approximately 20 to 30 years from now. See here for some graphs about the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases and the greenhouse gas emissions by sector.

Mitigation goals for the main cause of global warming: carbon dioxide emissions

As a result of the above mentioned findings, there seems to be a consensus among the leading developed countries that the temperature increase caused by global warming must not exceed 2° C (3.6° F). For example the European Union (EU) has committed itself to this threshold already in 2005.

To reach this target the annual global CO2 emissions have to be reduced from about 28 Gigatons in 2006 to 20 Gigatons of CO2 by the year 2050 and to 10 Gigatons of CO2 by the year 2100 according to IPCC. At the first glance, this does not look like a major reduction. However one should keep in mind that the world population will grow from 6.4 billion people in 2007 to about 9.5 billion people in 2050. At the same time more and more developing countries will progress their industrialisation and as a result they will want to copy our western life style causing high CO2 emissions.

The world-wide average CO2 emissions by capita was about 4 tons per year in 2005. For North America it was about 20 tons and for Europe about 10 tons per year per capita. By 2050, the world-wide average CO2 emission per capita needs to be reduced to 2 tons per year. In the following years, the emissions will need again to be cut by half. Download and use our Excel calculator to simulate cause and effects of global warming . Based on an average carbon footprint, you can test ways to mitigate global warming yourself. Alternatively, you can have a look at some simulation results how global warming can be stopped below 2 C.

Have a look at the CO2 emissions per capita by country to see how far away from this goal value of 2 tons per year our western life style is.

In a fair world, there is absolutely no justification for the western world to pollute the Earth more than others. So we should aim to reduce our carbon footprint to 2 tons per capita per year until 2050. This means people in industrialised nations will have to cut down their carbon dioxide emissions to values reaching 10% to 20% of the current values.

The above mentioned goal can only be reached if our life style becomes a sustainable one. The first and most efficient measure is a reduction of our energy consumption. In addition, it is inevitable to make thoughts about the true meaning of life and change our personal behaviour accordingly.

The main cause of global warming


Main cause of global warmingIt took more than 20 years to broadly accept that mankind is causing global warming with the emission of greenhouse gases. The drastic increase in the emission of CO2 (carbon dioxide) within the last 30 years caused by burning fossil fuels has been identified as the major reason for the change of temperature in the atmosphere (click the following link for a summary and graphs about the cause and effects of global warming ).

More than 80% of the world-wide energy demand is currently supplied by the fossil fuels coal, oil or gas. It will be impossible to find alternative sources, which could replace fossil fuels in the short or medium term. The energy demand is simply too high.

Another issue is the non-renewable characteristic of fossil fuels: It took nature millions of years to generate these resources, however we will have used them up within the next decades. Alone the shrinking supply will not make it possible to continue as usual for a longer time.

The main cause of global warming is our treatment of Nature

  • Why have warnings about climate change been ignored for more than 20 years?
  • Why were ever more scientific evidence demanded to find the coherence of man-made CO2 emissions as cause of global warming? Why wasn't common sense reason enough to act?
  • The true cause of global warming is our thoughtless attitude to Nature.

    Why can one still today find people who stick their head in the sand and don't want to understand what's going on in the earth's atmosphere?
  • Why do most people refuse to change their personal behavior voluntary in order to reduce CO2 emissions caused by their activities?

The answer to all these questions is a rather simple one:

In our technology and scientific minded world, we seem to have forgotten that mankind is only a relatively minor part of Nature. We ignore being part of a larger whole.

We believe to be able to control Nature instead of trying to arrange ourselves with Nature. This haughtiness is the true main cause of global warming. As a matter of fact, some people still believe that technical solutions alone would be sufficient to fight global warming.

Although we are guests on Earth, we behave as if no further visitors would arrive after us. It's like having a wild party where we destroy beds, the kitchen as well as the living room of a hotel without ever thinking about our future staying in the hotel nor about other guests arriving later.

The lesson from global warming is to base all decisions on deep respect and consideration for Nature.

In addition, our unit of measure is more and more often money only. What has no price tag, seems to have no value to us any more. In doing so we mix up economic growth with general well-being and financial income with personal happiness, respectively.

There is a loss of value behind this attitudes. We got blind for the true reason of our incarnation on earth:

We live here to train those traits , which will finally lead to perpetual harmony with ourselves and with our environment as well as to inner calm and peace.

The ultimate global warming solutions is to behave as part of a larger whole

Many people between 20 and 65 years seem to live for the one and only purpose of earning as much money as possible in order to be able to buy as many things as possible. In this light, it is not surprising that discussions about potential solutions to fight global warming concentrate on technical measures instead of a fundamental change of our attitude to life in general and to Nature in particular.

Someone who respects Nature and regards mankind as a part of a larger whole would never dream about using up non-renewable resources in a short time nor would this person contaminate the environment with gigantic amounts of pollution. By contrary, someone who respects Nature and regards mankind as a part of a larger whole would in all decisions carefully evaluate any effects on Nature. The preservation of Nature would be given a very high priority. On this base, it wouldn't have been possible to deny and ignore global warming for more than 20 years!

It's your personal decision whether you want to be the cause of global warming

In this context the question is whether global warming and its effects will eventually wake up mankind and spark off a change of paradigm. Will we understand this hint of Nature to follow the true meaning of life or will we continue to let us manipulate by media and advertisement as sheer and willing consumers in the economic cycle? Will we continue to strive for power, prestige and possessions following the concept „the more the better "? Shall economic growth and an ever increasing personal income continue to be the reason for being here, beyond everything else?

These questions can and must be answered by everyone. It is not primarily a decision of politicians or of the government. Everyone has to make a personal decision.

It is in our very own interest to induce fundamental changes in our attitude and behavior towards Nature: Modesty and humility, admiration and respect for all life on Earth instead of arrogance and haughtiness.

Let's emphasize it again: Not the others need to change, we must change ourselves. There are no international treaties or additional national laws required to start changing. We can start to change our consciousness immediately. It is really only about our personal behaviour - independent of what others do or don't do.

It's time for change!

Causes of Global Warming by Communication Manager


As we go about our daily lives we seldom think how the way that we live affects the environment around us. While we may think for a few minutes that we need to be more environmentally conscious there are very few of us who actually take the time which is needed. The different reports about global warming need our consideration as some of the causes of global warming are caused by us.

You may ask how this is possible. The answers are all staring us in the face if we just choose to look at them. The first place to look for some of the causes of global warming is in our cities. Whenever you drive on the roads your car is sending out emissions of carbon monoxide. You just have to multiple this effect with that of the numerous other vehicles to understand that driving a fuel engine vehicle does contribute to global warming.

Another way that we contribute towards the causes of global warming is by deforestation. When we were younger we were taught that the trees in the forests, jungles and rainforests were the lungs of the world. By cutting down large amounts of trees the curative abilities of these areas are decreased.

This effect happens because trees need carbon dioxide to live. When large tracts of trees are cut down in one place the balance is lost. The remaining trees can't absorb all of the carbon which is floating in the atmosphere. Due to this fact the carbon rises in volume in the atmosphere. This is also why deforestation can be seen as one of the causes of global warming.

Besides these factors chemicals like methane and nitrous oxide are also causes of global warming. These chemicals while in small amounts are not enough to cause damage to the atmosphere and environment. They can be considered as causes of global warming when they are used for various man needed schemes.

These schemes include the rearing of domestic animals such as cows in a congregated mass. The growth of rice in flooded paddy fields is also one such cause. The other chemical reasons for global warming can be seen in the artificial fertilizers that we use.

When all of these actions are taken separately you think there must be a mistake in thinking that these are some of the causes of global warming. There is however lots of evidence which supports this case. In order to stop the disastrous effects of global warming you should look at the different global warming causes and see what steps you can take to prevent this fact.

The more people who realize these facts, the sooner we can halt the spread of global warming. We should not wait too long as nature will not wait for us to get our acts straightened out. Remember that the causes of global warming are warnings to us to change our ways of living.


Developing An Awareness Of The Causes Of Global Warming


How much time do we spend each day reflecting on the way our individual lives impact our environment? If the extent of your environmental awareness is sorting the recycled trash from the regular trash, you are not alone. In doing even this small thing, we become aware that what we do has an impact on the environment. Maybe it is time we took a few more minutes toward developing an awareness of global warming.

A glance at the cities of the earth provide a quick look into what is happening to the environment that could be a trigger of this global warming phenomenon we are now apparently experiencing. All of the cars packed on the roads are either using emission releasing energy sources or are themselves releasing pollutants. We all know about carbon monoxide, but there are many other pollutants that come out of our cars. How often have you looked over a city and seen thousands of cars packed together? Can you imagine how much carbon monoxide is released in just one second?

Another place we can look at the environment in relationship to global warming is to the forests of the world. This is an opposite extreme from the cities, but just as strikingly a place where environmental damage and global warming coincide. Our forests are quickly disappearing to both unscrupulous people and ordinary people trying to develop their land to live off of it. We need these trees to help us fight pollution. These trees can bring these pollutants into the soil and many can be broken down by microbes. In return the trees send us out rich oxygen so we can breathe deeply and freely. With less trees we have less reduction in pollutants. The pollutants we are putting out then simply multiply and condense.

Another rural location you can look to for environmental damage would be farms. Do you have any idea how many cattle there are in the world now or how much methane each cow produces? Yes, methane is a very harmful atmospheric pollutant that contributes to global warming and other environmental issues. Even crops produced with bad chemical fertilizers and pesticides can have far reaching environmental consequences.

All of these factors alone could probably be overcome by nature and put into nature's balance. But all of these factors together wipe out the balance of nature as we can see in global warming and pollutions over our skies and in our lungs. Each of these factors of global warming that we can take a part in reducing helps restore nature's ability to restore itself. The less we pollute the better chance nature has to overcome global warming before it is too late.

Mike H.

Climate Change - Celebrities Weigh In On Global Warming


Celebrities are using their fame to call attention to global warming. Famous people are using their knowledge of film-making to create documentaries on the subject. Others are simply using their influence try to slow down or stop global warming.

A project called Global Cool is designed to help people become more knowledgeable about how their actions can hurt or help Earth's climate. The venture's lofty goal is to get one billion people to lower the levels of carbon emissions they put into the environment. Orlando Bloom, Josh Hartnett, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Pink are several of the celebrities involved with this initiative. Some bands have also joined Global Cool.

Leonardo DiCaprio is another celebrity involved with the movement to stop global warming. He has a website devoted to the topic. On it, you can view two films on which DiCaprio has worked. One is called Water Planet, and the other simply Global Warming. DiCaprio has worked on another documentary addressing atmospheric heating and Earth's eleventh hour, which details the problems and puts forth innovative solutions. The actor also started the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 1998. Its purpose is to influence people to become involved in environmentally friendly organizations. The foundation also addresses the root causes of global warming such as fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions.

Other actors are getting involved in movement to stop global warming, too. Brad Pitt is the narrator of a series on green architecture. The shows discuss ways to build in a way that is eco-friendly. Another documentary features Keanu Reeves and Alannis Morrisett as narrators. The film, entitled The Great Warming, is all about the climatic changes of the past half century. Earth Day has always been a magnet for celebrity attention. As more is known about global warming, the list of celebrities speaking out about it on Earth Day becomes even more impressive.

Al Gore, Clinton's former Vice President who had presidential aspirations of his own, has earned a certain amount of celebrity with the release of his movie, An Inconvenient Truth. With this popular film, Gore entered the limelight in a new way, using his status and fame to influence people to join the cause of planetary preservation.

Perhaps the most powerful environmental activist on the scene today is producer Laurie David. She is the wife of actor Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm. She has lobbied for governmental change, and she started organizing the Stop Global Warming Virtual March to rally support among everyday people. So far she has encouraged hundreds of thousands of people to join her.

When celebrities get involved in popular causes, it is difficult to know whether they are seeking attention for themselves or if they are truly concerned about the issue. Probably there are those whose motives are not quite pure. Celebrities who live by the environmental principles they advocate can be a good influence for others to follow their example.

Information is the key to dealing with the Global Warming and Climate Change situation. You can get more information at

Human Causes Global Warming


It is a known fact that humans have a big part in the extreme biodiversity loss and climate change being vastly experienced today. People must be more vigilant and understand that the measure of threat is not a matter of whether it is done for purpose or unintentionally, but how much danger and loss it may cause. It is an ancient habit of humans to put the blame to those that are perceived to be evil since these are sure to do harm. It is harder for humans to go after or in a simplistic term, to effectively educate and socialize to a vast number of fellow humans, who are not evil, but the behavior may in fact be much more destructive in the long run. So, to eliminate that wrong perception, mankind should focus on Human Causing Global Warming awareness.

According to newspapers in 2002, the United States government has admitted for the very first time that man-made pollution is primarily to be blamed for global warming. The booming of industries like motor, oil, and electricity and all other human activities, partake in the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Studies and researches further proved the strong link between global warming and the by-products of manufacturing. This is what causes global mean surface air temperatures and ocean temperatures to rise abnormally and in a very fast pace. The changes observed for over the last decades are pointed to Human Causing Global Warming major activities.

One of the major contributors of global warming is the carbon gases emission from automobiles. In U.S. alone, 33% of this gas comes from the burning of fuel in the internal combustion engine of vehicles. Just imagine the billions of cars running down the street and the gas emission they are producing every second. Another Human Causing Global Warming culprit is the carbon dioxide emitted by power plants. This stems from the burning of fossil fuel to generate electricity. Other carbon emissions caused by humans are rooted from airplanes, buildings, and agricultural fields.
Deforestation is the second major causes of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Burning and cutting of trees gradually kills acres of rainforests and tropical forests. This results to the throwing of millions of tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere each year. Apart from that, temperate forests are also fast diminishing. Looking all these threats, it is no wonder that Human Causing Global Warming is the one liable. Though it is already a fact, for now, what is important is to take action.

If not stopping the effects of global warming, mandating rehabilitation programs to aggressively provide solutions should be done. Today, among the first steps in aggressively fighting global warming is cutting energy use, mobilization of renewable resources, heat plants for cities, and strategies in agriculture. Public awareness programs are now being acted by the government and environmental groups. However, these are not enough to fully fight against global warming. Cooperation among all the citizens is needed for the utmost success of these programs.


Natural Causes of Global Warming


The world today is far comparable to the ancient times because both good and bad changes already exist. There have been technological advancements throughout the years and these changes have brought about both good and bad to our society. Such are the rewards of evolution; not only does the human race evolve technologically, the planet itself changes in the course of time. Although most of these changes occur as adaptation to the current environmental stature, other natural causes of global warming occur are no better than cancer. Little by little they make the world deteriorate and get weak defense against the sun's powerful heating effects.

Global warming has been one of our world's main problems for the past 20 years or more as it is slowly worsens due to changes that we cannot control. One such change is the greenhouse effect that is equally experienced throughout the world. The happening of this is mainly attributed on the most natural causes of global warming as it is due to the Earth's absorption of solar radiation and heat energy being emitted by the sun. This in turn will make temperature rise and get higher on the top surfaces of the earth. This is probably the most common cause and most known to the general populace but there are also other factors that occur that we generally are not aware of until they are reported in the news such as volcanic eruptions and changes on the planet itself as it's alignment with the sun and/orbit may also affect our climate.

These are factors that we cannot stop, change or control as they are happening all around us independently and naturally. Although we don't have the capacity to influence the natural causes of global warming, it does not mean that we will not feel responsible on the effects that it brought about to the environment and to the human race. We are still accountable for this because some human activities also contributed to the natural causes thus worsening our global warming condition even more. Now that we know that the world is facing these problems we should take our individual responsibility to develop and at the same time preserve mother earth by looking forward to global warming reduction.

Just like its cause, global warming is also natural meaning we cannot totally resolve or eradicate it and all that we can do is help on its reduction and management. When we talk about reduction of the natural causes of global warming, we should mainly focus our attention to our self especially on our discipline. We should avoid doing contributory factors to global warming instead help preserve the environment and try to restore it on its original and balanced condition.


The Causes Of Global Warming - Find Out How Our Daily Habits Have Disastrous Effects For The Planet


The two major greenhouse gases are the carbon dioxide that contributes to the greenhouse effect to a height of 60% and methane. While methane has only a weak life span in the atmosphere, the carbon dioxide there remains for more than a century. why we focus mostly on the reduction of the emission of carbon dioxide.

When we use fossil energies, such as coal, the oil or the gas, we burn carbon, adding thus carbon dioxide into the atmosphere: about 20 billion tons per year in the world. The oceans and the forests and the plants; do away with about the half of this excess of carbon dioxide. However, this concentration does not stop growing: from 0.028% fifty years ago to 0.0365% today.

An additional greenhouse gas is the methane (CH4), of which the concentration has doubled since the industrial revolution. The sources are the paddy fields, garbage dumps, bovine farms, and the exploitation of gas and coal. The nitrous oxide (N2O) is another greenhouse gas that comes from certain industries such as fertilizers.

As we go about our daily lives we rarely reflect how our lifestyles influence the environment. While we may consider for a few instants that we need to be more environmentally conscious, there are very few of us who truly take the time which is due. The environmental science has made dramatic breakthrough in determining the causes of global warming. The comprehensive information about global warming requires our mindfulness as many of the causes of global warming are due to us and that the global environmental outlook is getting worse.

How is this conceivable? The answers are all staring us in the face if we accept to look at them.

The first place to look for some of the causes of global warming is in our food choices. Livestock farming contributes more to global warming than all other factors combined. While it takes on average 24 of gallons of water to create one pound vegetable, 5,200 gallons of water are needed to create one pound of beef, which strains extremely the water resources as we hear more and more in the news. Comparably, it takes two calories of fuel to produce one calorie of soybean, 54 calories of fuel are necessary to generate one calorie from beef. Deforestation, is another biggie, the livestock growth has created seven times more deforestation than the one caused by all other human activities. Water pollution, heath issues, lost of biodiversity, the release of toxins, antibiotics, GMO, pesticides, sewage, air pollution... are other factors that make livestock farming so detrimental to the environment. Researchers evaluate that 2.5 acres of land can meet the food requirement of twenty two vegetarians, but only two people eating meet, chicken, eggs or dairy products. Marc Reisner author of the Cadillac Desert, sums it up in these words "The West's water crisis and many other environmental problems as well can be summed up by one word: livestock".

Another area to look into is in our cities. Each time you drive, your car is emitting carbon monoxide. Multiply that pollution with the hundreds of millions of other vehicles and you can clearly see that driving a fuel engine vehicle does add to global warming.

One more manner that we contribute towards the causes of global warming is by deforestation. The trees in the forests, jungles and rainforests are the lungs of the world. By cutting down a great amount of trees the restorative ability of these areas are lessened.

Trees need carbon dioxide to live. When big tracts of trees are cut down in one place the balance is gone astray. The left over trees can't take in all of the carbon which is in the atmosphere. Due to this reality, the carbon rises in large quantity in the atmosphere. This is also why deforestation can be seen as one of the main causes of global warming.

Aside from these factors, chemicals like methane and nitrous oxide are as well causes of global warming. These chemicals while in small amounts are not enough to cause deterioration to the atmosphere and environment. They can be considered as causes of global warming when they are used for an array of man needed activities. These activities include the raising of domestic animals such as cows. Other chemical contributing to the global warming are artificial fertilizers.

When all of these events are taken independently you may believe they cannot cause global warming. There is however lots of scientific substantiation which supports this case. In order to impede the dreadful aftermath of global warming you should look at the different global warming causes and see what steps you can take to circumvent them.

The more we appreciate these facts, the faster we can halt the escalation of global warming. We should not continue too long as nature will not wait for us to get our acts straightened out. The effects of global warming are warnings to us to adjust our ways of living.


The Prime Reasons and Causes Of Global Warming


Global warming is a phenomenon that has been discussed widely nowadays and global warming causes are one of the most studied subjects presently in the world. Through out the world many governments, institutes and universities are trying to find out what are the causes for global warming. As the effects of global warming is becoming more and more evident, many of us have started to realize that steps have to be taken to control Global warming at the earliest and various countries and people have started working towards it.

The earth, the 3rd planet of our solar system, the planet brimming with life and beautiful landscape, is on the verge of getting destroyed. The main reason is global warming. Global warming is the slow and steady increase in the temperature of earth and its atmosphere. The increase in the temperature of earth has caused many effects like the melting of ice in Polar Regions, increase in disease occurrences, drastic climatic changes including rainfall and dry periods.

One of the major causes for global warming can be attributed to the activities of man. The man which thinks of himself as the most intelligent thing on earth is knowingly or unknowingly destroying its own habitat. The activities of man has lead to an increase in the so called greenhouse gases which include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxide etc. the gases have created an effect of green house on the earths surface which prevents the reflection of the rays from sun and thus causes the increase in temperature. Carbon dioxide concentration in the air has increased due to the emissions from cars, airplanes, power plants, industries etc. another reason for it is the deforestation. Forests have been cut down paying way for agriculture, industries and cities. The trees were natural regulators of carbon dioxide which used to control its level’s in the atmosphere.

Another is the CFC which is used in refrigerators, in fire extinguisher’s which destroys the natural ozone layer. The ozone layer was a natural barrier which used to prevent the harmful ultra violet rays of the sun. Without this layer, the rays fall on the earth and cause the temperature to increase. Researchers have found an ozone hole in our atmosphere, which they say is the main reason for the melting of glacier’s in the Polar Regions. Earth which mainly consists of developing or underdeveloped countries, which holds a major population needs electricity for the day to day activities. The electricity supply is mainly satisfied by burning fossil fuels. The fossil fuel on burning releases carbon dioxide which causes global warming.

The causes of the global warming have been in work for a long time and slowly it has caused the increase in the temperature. The satisfactory fact is that at least now the governments of various countries and its people have started to understand that they are one of the causes for the global warming. Therefore combined efforts by the different countries have started to control the global warming and thereby prevent our habitat from destruction. Awareness, alternative forms of energy, conservation of energy, and reforestation can help.

These are the major causes of global warming and hopefully by taking measures we can bring this grave situation under control. If people are educated about the global warming causes, they can do what they can to control global warming in their everyday life.

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Green House Gases and Global Warming


Greenhouse gases are the ingredients of the atmosphere that add to the greenhouse effect. Some greenhouse gases are present naturally in the atmosphere, whereas few green house gases a consequence of human activity. The greenhouse gases that are present in the atmosphere naturally include water vapor, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and ozone. There are a few human activities, which increase the levels of most of these naturally occurring gases. The concentration of various green house effect gases has substantially increased in the recent times.

Greenhouse gases, which are the major cause of global warming, trap heat in the earth's atmosphere. Since the middle of the 19th century, human agriculture and industrialization have dispensed an enormous quantity of these green house gases into the atmosphere, where these have trapped enough heat to begin climate change. According to the United Nations, there has been a rise of about 0.6 degrees Celsius during the past century. More warming is expected to occur in the coming decades

The main reasons for the emission of gases that are a cause of green house effect are burning of fossil fuel like coal in the power plants for the purpose of generation of electricity. Fossil fuel burning leads to high emissions of carbon dioxide gas. Another green house gas is methane. Methane is more than 20 times as effectual as CO2 at entrapping heat in the atmosphere. Methane is obtained from resources such as rice paddies, bovine flatulence, bacteria in bogs and fossil fuel manufacture. Almost in all parts of the world, rice is grown on flooded fields. When fields are flooded, anaerobic situation build up and the organic matter in the soil decays, releasing methane to the atmosphere. Nitrous oxide, which is a colorless gas with a sweet odor, is also a green house gas. The main sources of nitrous oxide include nylon and nitric acid production, cars with catalytic converters, the use of fertilizers in agriculture and the burning of organic matter. A greater emission of nitrous oxides in the recent decades is leading global warming. Another jump in the category of green house gases is in the name of hydroflourocarbons and perflourocarbons, man made chemicals initiated as a substitute to other chemicals that deplete the atmosphere's protective ozone layer.

The speedy increase in greenhouse gases over the past century is a matter of worry in at least 800,000 years, according to a study of the oldest Antarctic ice core. Scientists at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in Cambridge have established the fact that there have been eight cycles of atmospheric alterations in the past 800,000 years when green house gases like carbon dioxide and methane have risen to high levels. Each time, the earth also had a comparatively high temperatures linked with warm; inter glacial periods, which were most certainly associated with levels of carbon dioxide and probably methane in the atmosphere. However, present levels of green house gases are much higher than everything seen during those previous warm periods.

Although much is being done to reduce the emission of these green house gases, but the efforts are still not enough. An international agreement called the Kyoto Protocol has been made among the various nations to cut down the emission of these gases. There is a dire need that each one understands the ill effects of these green house gases and does the need full.


Causes of Global Warming


Global Warming is increasing the earth’s average temperature. The Green house gases are the main culprits of the global warming. The green house gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are playing hazards in the present times. These green house gases trap heat in earth’s atmosphere and thus result in increasing the temperature of earth. The excessive emission of these gases is the major cause of global warming.

The major source of carbon dioxide is the power plants. These power plants emit large amounts of carbon dioxide produced from burning of fossil fuels for the purpose of electricity generation. Coal is the major fuel that is burnt in these power plants. Coal produces around 1.7 times as much carbon dioxide per unit of energy when flamed as does natural gas and 1.25 times as much as oil. The coal gives out eighty percent more carbon per unit of energy it produces as compared to natural gas. Another major source of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the emission from the cars and other vehicles. About twenty percent of carbon dioxide emitted in the atmosphere comes from burning of gasoline in the engines of the vehicles. This is true for most of the developed countries. Moreover if sports bike and vehicles that are essentially designed for rough terrain, emit more carbon dioxide when used for general purpose on roads. It is always better to use vehicles designed for city driving on the city roads.

Buildings, both commercial and residential represent a larger source of global warming pollution than cars and trucks. Building of these structures require a lot of fuel to be burnt which emits a large amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The second major greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide, which causes global warming, is Methane. Methane is more than 20 times as effectual as CO2 at entrapping heat in the atmosphere. Methane is obtained from resources such as rice paddies, bovine flatulence, bacteria in bogs and fossil fuel manufacture. Almost in all parts of the world, rice is grown on flooded fields. When fields are flooded, anaerobic situation build up and the organic matter in the soil decays, releasing methane to the atmosphere. Nitrous oxide, which is a colorless gas with a sweet odour, is another green house gas. The main sources of nitrous oxide include nylon and nitric acid production, cars with catalytic converters, the use of fertilizers in agriculture and the burning of organic matter. Greater emissions of nitrous oxides in the recent decades is leading global warming

Another major cause of global warming is deforestation. Deforestation is to be blamed for 25% of all carbon dioxide release entering the atmosphere, by the cutting and burning of about 34 million acres of trees each year. Trees collect the CO2 that we breathe out and give away from various other sources, and they give back oxygen that we breathe in. Thus, cutting of trees is leading to greater concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Greater urbanization, requirement of land for factories and buildings, requirement of timber are all reasons that are leading to deforestation, which in turn is leading to global warming.


Scientists urge caution in ocean-CO2 capture schemes


By David Fogarty, Climate Change Correspondent, Asia

SINGAPORE, Dec 15 (Reuters) - To some entrepreneurs, the wild and icy seas between Australia and Antarctica could become a money spinner by engineering nature to soak up carbon dioxide and then selling carbon credits worth millions of dollars.

To some scientists and many nations, though, the concept of using nature to mop up mankind's excess CO2 to fight global warming is fraught with risk and uncertainty.

An analysis by a leading Australian research body has urged caution and says more research is crucial before commercial ventures are allowed to fertilise oceans on a large scale and over many years to capture CO2.

"I don't think the scientific community has even sat down and made a list of the things we need to check before we feel comfortable that this would be a low-risk endeavour," said one of the Australian report's authors, Tom Trull.

"We never even designed measurement programmes to look at ecological change and the risks," said Trull, Ocean Control of Carbon Dioxide programme leader at the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC) in Hobart.

Scientists say sprinkling the ocean surface with trace amounts of iron or releasing other nutrients over many thousands of square kilometres promotes blooms of tiny phytoplankton, which soak up carbon dioxide in the marine plants. When the phytoplankton die, they drift to the ocean depths, along with the carbon locked inside their cells where it is potentially stored for decades or centuries in sediments on the ocean floor.

Firms eyeing this natural carbon sink hope to commercialise it to yield carbon credits to help industries offset their emissions.

The problem is no one knows exactly how much carbon can be captured and stored in this way, for how long, or the risks to ocean ecosystems from such large-scale geo-engineering.

Some scientists fear such schemes could change species composition in the oceans, increase acidity or cause oxygen depletion in some areas, even promote the release of another powerful greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide.


"Ocean fertilisation may cause changes in marine ecosystem structure and biodiversity, and may have other undesirable effects," says the ACE CRC position analysis on ocean fertilisation science and policy, soon to be publicly released.

"While controlled iron fertilisation experiments have shown an increase in phytoplankton growth, and a temporary increase in drawdown of atmospheric CO2, it is uncertain whether this would increase carbon transfer into the deep ocean over the longer-term," it says.

It also says the potential for negative impacts is expected to increase with the scale and duration of fertilisation. There are doubts that any damaging effects could be detected in time.

"It is very important to recognise that if deleterious effects increase with scale and duration of fertilization, detection of these cumulative effects may not be possible until the damage is already done," said John Cullen, professor of oceanography at Dalhousie University at Nova Scotia in Canada.

"It is extremely important to look at the ecological risks of this kind of activity," he said.

Oceans soak up vast amounts of CO2 emitted by nature or through burning of fossil fuels and deforestation and the Southern Ocean plays the greatest role of all the oceans.

But much of the Southern Ocean is depleted of iron and experiments have shown even small amounts of the nutrient can trigger phytoplankton blooms that can last for up to two months.

Companies such as California-based Climos and Australia's Ocean Nourishment Corp are planning small-scale experiments to test their ocean carbon capture and sequestration projects.

Ocean Nourishment uses ammonia and urea, delivered via a marine pipeline to a region deficient in nitrogen, to boost phytoplankton growth and boost fish stocks. Climos uses iron and plans experiments in the Southern Ocean in 2010.

"Iron fertilization is no silver bullet for climate change -- which underscores the severity of the problem we have, and the urgency for immediate emissions reductions worldwide," Climos founder and CEO Dan Whaley told Reuters in an email interview.

But he said it was premature to judge iron fertilisation as dangerous.

"Phytoplankton are nature's way of sequestering CO2 to the deep ocean, where nearly 90 percent of earth's carbon lies. Further, most everything we put up in the air is going to the deep ocean eventually. The only question is how long it takes," he said.

Many nations, though, remain cautious and member states of two treaties that govern dumping of wastes at sea passed a non-binding resolution in October calling for ocean fertilisation operations to be allowed only for research.

Parties to the London Convention and related London Protocol, part of the International Maritime Organisation, signed the resolution that said member states were urged to use "utmost caution" to evaluate research proposals to ensure protection of marine life.


Trull, who participated in the first ocean fertilisation experiment in 1999, one of a dozen since conducted globally, said commercial ventures would need to operate over huge areas of ocean for many years.

The ACE CRC report also says ocean fertilisation just using iron would likely hit an absorption limit of about 1 billion tonnes of carbon (3.7 billion tonnes of CO2) annually, or about 15 percent of mankind's total carbon emissions.

"That really puts the risk in context. We're talking about altering ecosystems of planetary scale for a benefit that won't actually relieve us from dealing with all the other issues, such as conservation or alternative energy generation."

Cullen of Dalhousie University said studies suggested that to sequester large amounts of carbon would require fertilisation of most of the Southern Ocean for long periods of time.

"The question is can we assess those large-scale and long-term effects on the basis of experiments 100 by 200 km (60 by 120 miles) in size. I have not seen evidence it can be done."

(Editing by Megan Goldin)

Interviews - The Global Warming Debate: Who Turned Up the Heat?



Sir Crispin Tickell, a former British ambassador to the UN who has a strong interest in the environment, presented some thoughts on global warming in this interview with managing editor John Meakin. Tickell is currently chancellor of the University of Kent as well as director of Oxford’s Green College Centre for Environmental Policy, whose stated purpose is “to help bridge the gap between science and policy making in matters of the environment.” Author of Climate Change and World Affairs (1977, 1986), he is frequently invited to speak on environmental issues.

JM What led you into the area of concern for the environment?

CT I had the opportunity during time off from the diplomatic service to do something completely different. I spent my year off as a fellow at what is now the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard. I deliberately chose a subject that bridged science and politics, and that was climate change. That was my first major foray into it, although, of course, I had been interested in the subject for many years.

JM Some people feel the attention given to environmental causes is more a political issue than anything else. Are these environmental concerns real?

CT I think the concerns are very real. I do not think that the alarm is exaggerated, because what is required if things aren’t going to go from bad to worse is a fundamental change of mind. The “business as usual” option—in other words, carrying on as we are—is not really viable. If you take the environment as a whole, you can say the human species has gone out of control. We have created for ourselves an untenable situation, and the question is, what are we going to do about it?

JM Let’s take one example: global warming. There’s a great deal of controversy as to where the hand of man is in this and how much of it is due to other factors, such as natural weather cycles or even sunspot activity.

CT Well, the first thing to say is that this subject has been very thoroughly examined by the world’s scientists. There’s no question that the prime characteristic of climate is its variability: it’s always changing. And in the last ten thousand years, which are the years we know best, there have been many variations and many changes. There have been warm periods, cold periods, wet periods and dry periods. So we must accept variability as part of the system.

JM This is before any real human influence?

CT Yes, when humans weren’t making any real difference. Since the Industrial Revolution, the two principal greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, have both increased enormously in the atmosphere. There is a clear relationship between the quantities of these gases in the atmosphere and average global surface temperature. With carbon dioxide, quantities are now the highest in 420,000 years, which is a long time. In the case of methane, it has also doubled and more than doubled, but at the moment we know less about what is happening with methane. The prime factor for this purpose seems to be carbon dioxide.

JM Has the human element caused this change?

CT The world’s scientists came together in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC), and their latest assessment is that human activity is the prime cause of current warming. The surface of the earth has warmed up by about 0.6 degrees in the last 50 years. The human contribution to that is very hard to assess, but most scientists think it is substantial. Because of the immense complexities of climate, it’s very difficult to say what’s going to happen next. One hypothesis is that because you are warming up the atmosphere and causing melting of the ice caps, a great deal of freshwater is being added to the oceans, which has the effect of changing the ocean current systems. There is some evidence to suggest that this may already be beginning—that some of the flows in the North Atlantic conveyor [which includes the Gulf Stream] may be diminishing. The result could be a sudden relapse into cooling.

JM Have we reached a critical stage? Are we at a sort of environmental “tipping point”?

CT Nobody knows where the thresholds are, and no one knows whether there is a point at which you might have a cooling followed by a rapid warming. Because the complexities of climate are past human ability to model, all we can say at the present is that both global warming and global ice ages have happened before.

JM What, then, is the link between science and politics in this period of uncertainty?

CT This is what I studied when I was at Harvard; I think I was one of the first to look into the relationship between climate change and politics. And to my astonishment, what I suggested should happen—an international treaty on climate—actually happened less than 20 years afterwards. The science in many respects is more interesting than the politics, but politics must get into it, because how we manage our societies is a series of political issues.

JM Are you saying, then, that an aspect of such management is that all of us have to adjust our aspirations, our collective appetites so that they become environmentally sustainable?

CT In general terms I believe the first thing we have to do is give priority to changing economics, because the economics of the marketplace are incomplete. They work short-term and can produce bizarre results. And so, I think the first step toward solving the environmental crisis is to look at economic values—how we value things; how we price things correctly.

JM So are we approaching a crisis in capitalism as well?

CT Yes, capitalism in its present form could collapse, because it doesn’t take proper account of ecology. Capitalism has obvious built-in limits. Where we can take a more communal approach to things—whereby we all recognize we have responsibilities to the community as well as to ourselves—we get a different result. Valuing things means looking again at economics, but also looking again at morality. What is the morality of it?

JM When you consider that human nature usually manifests itself as naturally selfish, competitive and seeking its own advantage, are you optimistic or pessimistic about humanity’s ability to live in harmony with the environment?

CT I don’t think anyone should assume that human beings are naturally selfish and greedy. They’re not unless it becomes part of the culture that they should be, so we have to change the culture. Humanity lurches along on a series of intellectual assumptions that change as time goes on. If we found ourselves talking to our grandparents about the state of the environment, they would find it very hard to understand what we were saying. So you constantly have the problems of how you are going to relate current understanding of the world and its resources to how people conduct their lives.

In a lot of human societies until relatively recently, people felt the need to look after each other and to husband resources, so that you could get a community living in a particular area, growing food, and everyone would help the other. They’d see it as maintaining society, not just the individual. But when you bring in market economics, the famous “invisible hand” that is going to solve all problems, it patently doesn’t work.

In a way, we have to go back to seeing things much more as members of a living community, living with the rest of nature. That’s quite a tricky thing to do, but it’s been so in human history before.

Biofuels Deemed a Greenhouse Threat

Friday, 19 December 2008 · 0 comments

Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these “green” fuels are taken into account, two studies being published Thursday have concluded.

The benefits of biofuels have come under increasing attack in recent months, as scientists took a closer look at the global environmental cost of their production. These latest studies, published in the prestigious journal Science, are likely to add to the controversy.

These studies for the first time take a detailed, comprehensive look at the emissions effects of the huge amount of natural land that is being converted to cropland globally to support biofuels development.

The destruction of natural ecosystems — whether rain forest in the tropics or grasslands in South America — not only releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when they are burned and plowed, but also deprives the planet of natural sponges to absorb carbon emissions. Cropland also absorbs far less carbon than the rain forests or even scrubland that it replaces.

Together the two studies offer sweeping conclusions: It does not matter if it is rain forest or scrubland that is cleared, the greenhouse gas contribution is significant. More important, they discovered that, taken globally, the production of almost all biofuels resulted, directly or indirectly, intentionally or not, in new lands being cleared, either for food or fuel.

“When you take this into account, most of the biofuel that people are using or planning to use would probably increase greenhouse gasses substantially,” said Timothy Searchinger, lead author of one of the studies and a researcher in environment and economics at Princeton University. “Previously there’s been an accounting error: land use change has been left out of prior analysis.”

These plant-based fuels were originally billed as better than fossil fuels because the carbon released when they were burned was balanced by the carbon absorbed when the plants grew. But even that equation proved overly simplistic because the process of turning plants into fuels causes its own emissions — for refining and transport, for example.

The clearance of grassland releases 93 times the amount of greenhouse gas that would be saved by the fuel made annually on that land, said Joseph Fargione, lead author of the second paper, and a scientist at the Nature Conservancy. “So for the next 93 years you’re making climate change worse, just at the time when we need to be bringing down carbon emissions.”

The Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change has said that the world has to reverse the increase of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to avert disastrous environment consequences.

In the wake of the new studies, a group of 10 of the United States’s most eminent ecologists and environmental biologists today sent a letter to President Bush and the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, urging a reform of biofuels policies. “We write to call your attention to recent research indicating that many anticipated biofuels will actually exacerbate global warming,” the letter said.

The European Union and a number of European countries have recently tried to address the land use issue with proposals stipulating that imported biofuels cannot come from land that was previously rain forest.

But even with such restrictions in place, Dr. Searchinger’s study shows, the purchase of biofuels in Europe and the United States leads indirectly to the destruction of natural habitats far afield.

For instance, if vegetable oil prices go up globally, as they have because of increased demand for biofuel crops, more new land is inevitably cleared as farmers in developing countries try to get in on the profits. So crops from old plantations go to Europe for biofuels, while new fields are cleared to feed people at home.

Likewise, Dr. Fargione said that the dedication of so much cropland in the United States to growing corn for bioethanol had caused indirect land use changes far away. Previously, Midwestern farmers had alternated corn with soy in their fields, one year to the next. Now many grow only corn, meaning that soy has to be grown elsewhere.

Increasingly, that elsewhere, Dr. Fargione said, is Brazil, on land that was previously forest or savanna. “Brazilian farmers are planting more of the world’s soybeans — and they’re deforesting the Amazon to do it,” he said.
International environmental groups, including the United Nations, responded cautiously to the studies, saying that biofuels could still be useful. “We don’t want a total public backlash that would prevent us from getting the potential benefits,” said Nicholas Nuttall, spokesman for the United Nations Environment Program, who said the United Nations had recently created a new panel to study the evidence.

“There was an unfortunate effort to dress up biofuels as the silver bullet of climate change,” he said. “We fully believe that if biofuels are to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, there urgently needs to be better sustainability criterion.”

The European Union has set a target that countries use 5.75 percent biofuel for transport by the end of 2008. Proposals in the United States energy package would require that 15 percent of all transport fuels be made from biofuel by 2022. To reach these goals, biofuels production is heavily subsidized at many levels on both continents, supporting a burgeoning global industry.

Syngenta, the Swiss agricultural giant, announced Thursday that its annual profits had risen 75 percent in the last year, in part because of rising demand for biofuels.

Industry groups, like the Renewable Fuels Association, immediately attacked the new studies as “simplistic,” failing “to put the issue into context.”

“While it is important to analyze the climate change consequences of differing energy strategies, we must all remember where we are today, how world demand for liquid fuels is growing, and what the realistic alternatives are to meet those growing demands,” said Bob Dineen, the group’s director, in a statement following the Science reports’ release.

“Biofuels like ethanol are the only tool readily available that can begin to address the challenges of energy security and environmental protection,” he said.

The European Biodiesel Board says that biodiesel reduces greenhouse gasses by 50 to 95 percent compared to conventional fuel, and has other advantages as well, like providing new income for farmers and energy security for Europe in the face of rising global oil prices and shrinking supply.

But the papers published Thursday suggested that, if land use is taken into account, biofuels may not provide all the benefits once anticipated.

Dr. Searchinger said the only possible exception he could see for now was sugar cane grown in Brazil, which take relatively little energy to grow and is readily refined into fuel. He added that governments should quickly turn their attention to developing biofuels that did not require cropping, such as those from agricultural waste products.

“This land use problem is not just a secondary effect — it was often just a footnote in prior papers,”. “It is major. The comparison with fossil fuels is going to be adverse for virtually all biofuels on cropland.”


Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links to Global Warming


A White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents.

In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved. In many cases, the changes appeared in the final reports.

The dozens of changes, while sometimes as subtle as the insertion of the phrase "significant and fundamental" before the word "uncertainties," tend to produce an air of doubt about findings that most climate experts say are robust.

Mr. Cooney is chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the office that helps devise and promote administration policies on environmental issues.

Before going to the White House in 2001, he was the "climate team leader" and a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade group representing the interests of the oil industry. A lawyer with a bachelor's degree in economics, he has no scientific training.

The documents were obtained by The New York Times from the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit legal-assistance group for government whistle-blowers.

The project is representing Rick S. Piltz, who resigned in March as a senior associate in the office that coordinates government climate research. That office, now called the Climate Change Science Program, issued the documents that Mr. Cooney edited.

A White House spokeswoman, Michele St. Martin, said yesterday that Mr. Cooney would not be available to comment. "We don't put Phil Cooney on the record," Ms. St. Martin said. "He's not a cleared spokesman."

In one instance in an October 2002 draft of a regularly published summary of government climate research, "Our Changing Planet," Mr. Cooney amplified the sense of uncertainty by adding the word "extremely" to this sentence: "The attribution of the causes of biological and ecological changes to climate change or variability is extremely difficult."

In a section on the need for research into how warming might change water availability and flooding, he crossed out a paragraph describing the projected reduction of mountain glaciers and snowpack. His note in the margins explained that this was "straying from research strategy into speculative findings/musings."

Other White House officials said the changes made by Mr. Cooney were part of the normal interagency review that takes place on all documents related to global environmental change. Robert Hopkins, a spokesman for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, noted that one of the reports Mr. Cooney worked on, the administration's 10-year plan for climate research, was endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences. And Myron Ebell, who has long campaigned against limits on greenhouse gases as director of climate policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian group, said such editing was necessary for "consistency" in meshing programs with policy.

But critics said that while all administrations routinely vetted government reports, scientific content in such reports should be reviewed by scientists. Climate experts and representatives of environmental groups, when shown examples of the revisions, said they illustrated the significant if largely invisible influence of Mr. Cooney and other White House officials with ties to energy industries that have long fought greenhouse-gas restrictions.

In a memorandum sent last week to the top officials dealing with climate change at a dozen agencies, Mr. Piltz said the White House editing and other actions threatened to taint the government's $1.8 billion-a-year effort to clarify the causes and consequences of climate change.

"Each administration has a policy position on climate change," Mr. Piltz wrote. "But I have not seen a situation like the one that has developed under this administration during the past four years, in which politicization by the White House has fed back directly into the science program in such a way as to undermine the credibility and integrity of the program."

A senior Environmental Protection Agency scientist who works on climate questions said the White House environmental council, where Mr. Cooney works, had offered valuable suggestions on reports from time to time. But the scientist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because all agency employees are forbidden to speak with reporters without clearance, said the kinds of changes made by Mr. Cooney had damaged morale. "I have colleagues in other agencies who express the same view, that it has somewhat of a chilling effect and has created a sense of frustration," he said.

Efforts by the Bush administration to highlight uncertainties in science pointing to human-caused warming have put the United States at odds with other nations and with scientific groups at home.

Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, who met with President Bush at the White House yesterday, has been trying to persuade him to intensify United States efforts to curb greenhouse gases. Mr. Bush has called only for voluntary measures to slow growth in emissions through 2012.

Yesterday, saying their goal was to influence that meeting, the scientific academies of 11 countries, including those of the United States and Britain, released a joint letter saying, "The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action."

The American Petroleum Institute, where Mr. Cooney worked before going to the White House, has long taken a sharply different view. Starting with the negotiations leading to the Kyoto Protocol climate treaty in 1997, it has promoted the idea that lingering uncertainties in climate science justify delaying restrictions on emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping smokestack and tailpipe gases.

On learning of the White House revisions, representatives of some environmental groups said the effort to amplify uncertainties in the science was clearly intended to delay consideration of curbs on the gases, which remain an unavoidable byproduct of burning oil and coal.

"They've got three more years, and the only way to control this issue and do nothing about it is to muddy the science," said Eileen Claussen, the president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, a private group that has enlisted businesses in programs cutting emissions.

Mr. Cooney's alterations can cause clear shifts in meaning. For example, a sentence in the October 2002 draft of "Our Changing Planet" originally read, "Many scientific observations indicate that the Earth is undergoing a period of relatively rapid change." In a neat, compact hand, Mr. Cooney modified the sentence to read, "Many scientific observations point to the conclusion that the Earth may be undergoing a period of relatively rapid change."

A document showing a similar pattern of changes is the 2003 "Strategic Plan for the United States Climate Change Science Program," a thick report describing the reorganization of government climate research that was requested by Mr. Bush in his first speech on the issue, in June 2001. The document was reviewed by an expert panel assembled in 2003 by the National Academy of Sciences. The scientists largely endorsed the administration's research plan, but they warned that the administration's procedures for vetting reports on climate could result in excessive political interference with science.

Another political appointee who has played an influential role in adjusting language in government reports on climate science is Dr. Harlan L. Watson, the chief climate negotiator for the State Department, who has a doctorate in solid-state physics but has not done climate research.

In an Oct. 4, 2002 memo to James R. Mahoney, the head of the United States Climate Change Science Program and an appointee of Mr. Bush, Mr. Watson "strongly" recommended cutting boxes of text referring to the findings of a National Academy of Sciences panel on climate and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body that periodically reviews research on human-caused climate change.

The boxes, he wrote, "do not include an appropriate recognition of the underlying uncertainties and the tentative nature of a number of the assertions."

While those changes were made nearly two years ago, recent statements by Dr. Watson indicate that the admnistration's position has not changed.

"We are still not convinced of the need to move forward quite so quickly," he told the BBC in London last month. "There is general agreement that there is a lot known, but also there is a lot to be known."


2 Studies Link Global Warming to Greater Power of Hurricanes


Climate researchers at Purdue University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology separately reported new evidence yesterday supporting the idea that global warming is causing stronger hurricanes.

That claim is the subject of a long-running scientific dispute. And while the new research supports one side, neither the authors nor other climate experts say it is conclusive.

In one new paper, to appear in a coming issue of Geophysical Research Letters, Matthew Huber of the Purdue department of earth and atmospheric sciences and Ryan L. Sriver, a graduate student there, calculate the total damage that could be caused by storms worldwide, using data normally applied to reconciling weather forecast models with observed weather events.

The Purdue scientists found that their results matched earlier work by Kerry A. Emanuel, a hurricane expert at M.I.T. Dr. Emanuel has argued that global warming, specifically the warming of the tropical oceans, is already increasing the power expended by hurricanes.

The approach used by the Purdue researchers, concentrating on what is called reanalysis data, has never been tried for this purpose before, Dr. Huber said in an interview, adding, "We were surprised that it did as well as it did."

In a statement accompanying the release of the study, Dr. Huber said the results were important because the overall measure of cyclone activity, whether through more intense storms or more frequent storms, had doubled with a one-quarter-degree increase in average global temperature.

In the other new study, Dr. Emanuel and Michael E. Mann, a meteorologist at Pennsylvania State University, compared records of global sea surface temperatures with those of the tropical Atlantic and said the recent strengthening of hurricanes was attributable largely to the rise in ocean surface temperature.

Some researchers say long-term cycles unrelated to global warming are the major cause of hurricane strengthening in recent decades. But Dr. Emanuel and Dr. Mann, whose work is to be published in Eos, a publication of the American Geophysical Union, maintained that the cycles, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, had little if any effect.

In fact, they reported that the most recent cooling cycle could just as well be attributed to the presence of particle pollutants in the atmosphere that block sunlight and, they said, could have temporarily counteracted some of the influence of warming from accumulating greenhouse gases. Dr. Mann said the new findings also suggested that as efforts to cut pollution by particles and aerosols continued to intensify, their cooling effects would diminish while the heating effects of greenhouse gases would remain unconstrained.

As a result, he said, "we could be in for much larger increases in Atlantic sea surface temperatures, and tropical cyclone activities, in the decades ahead." He joked that some might urge an increase in pollution, but called it "a Faustian bargain."

Stanley B. Goldenberg, a meteorologist with the Hurricane Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who has expressed skepticism about any connection between global warming and hurricane intensity, said he had not seen the new papers but had read nothing in other recent research to change his view.

"There's going to be an endless series of articles from this circle that is embracing this new theology built on very flimsy interpretation" of hurricane data, Mr. Goldenberg said. "If global warming is having an effect on hurricanes, I certainly wouldn't base it on the articles I've seen."