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Inconvenient Truths and Convenient Lies: the Global Climate Change Issue By Cynthia McMeans (and primarily from Al Gore s An Inconvenient Truth: A Global.

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Presentation on theme: "Inconvenient Truths and Convenient Lies: the Global Climate Change Issue By Cynthia McMeans (and primarily from Al Gore s An Inconvenient Truth: A Global."— Presentation transcript:

1 Inconvenient Truths and Convenient Lies: the Global Climate Change Issue By Cynthia McMeans (and primarily from Al Gore s An Inconvenient Truth: A Global Warning book, DVD, web site)

2 This is about our fight to save planet Earth from the disastrous political, social, and economic consequences of: human waste, apathy, and complacency; lack of vision on the part of world and national leadership; mismanagement of energy resources; superstitious and unreasonable fears about new economic paradigms and global realities; the failure and refusal to study or implement programs focused on renewable energy sources; partisan politics; and U.S. addiction to artificially cheap and nonrenewable fossil fuels. Al Gore takes his show on the road (in China)

3 What is Global Warming? Carbon dioxide and other gases warm the surface of the planet naturally by trapping atmospheric solar heat, keeping the Earth habitable; but when we burn fossil fuels such as coal, gas, and oil and clear forests, we dramatically increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and temperatures rise quickly. The vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is real, it is already happening, and that it is the result of human activities, and not some natural occurrence. The scientific evidence is now overwhelming and undeniable.

4 *The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled in the last thirty years. *At least 279 species of plants and animals are already responding by moving closer to the poles. *Malaria has spread to higher altitudes in places like the Colombian Andes, 7,000 feet above sea level. Left: Hurricane Katrina, 2005 Right: Malarial Mosquito

5 An Inconvenient Truth: A Global Warning Former Vice President AL GORE makes a strong and compelling case that global climate change is real, it has been happening for decades, and is beginning to spiral out of control: The ten hottest years on record have all occurred since 1990; the glaciers are in full retreat everywhere; the famed Snows of Kilimanjaro are almost gone; at current rates, the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free by 2050; if either the ice covering Greenland or the ice on the western side of Antarctica goes both very real possibilities the global sea level could rise by 20 feet; that rise would devastate coastal areas all over the world, leaving at least 100 million people homeless

6 Science Magazine s analysis of 928 peer-reviewed scientific articles discussing climate change All agreed (100%) with the scientific consensus that climate change is a real phenomenon There is no actual scientific dispute about the evidence Any controversy has been created or manufactured by companies with strong financial interests against recognizing and dealing with global climate change (i.e. Exxon-Mobil and other major polluters), just as the tobacco companies tried for decades to mislead the public about the link between smoking and lung cancer

7 Why have people been so slow to respond to the worldwide problems associated with global climate change? *There is a natural human tendency to avoid thinking about subjects that involve psychic pain, and the idea that human civilization is colliding with the Earth s environment and life as we know it, is a very painful reality and extremely difficult to face *The complexity of the issue can be an obstacle; it is easier to believe in some sort of conspiracy theory than to study the matter from a scientific perspective; it is also simpler to remain in denial about global climate change because to acknowledge it means you must change your behavior and take action

8 THE ARCTIC AND THE ANTARTIC The melting of the North Pole is one of the most urgent catastrophes facing us, as it is merely a thin ice cap. The Arctic (North Pole) is ocean surrounded by land, while the Antarctic is land surrounded by ocean. Antarctic ice is 10,000 feet thick, but Arctic ice is less than 10 feet thick.

9 We have lost 40% of the Arctic mass in the last 40 years; and as this ice melts, a dramatic change occurs in the relationship of the Earth s surface to the Sun. The ice reflects 90% of the incoming Sun s energy like a mirror; but after it melts, the open seawater absorbs 90% of the Sun s energy a significant alteration. An increasingly rapid feedback loop is then put in motion, that magnifies and speeds up the melting process. ARCTIC AND ANTARTIC

10 The North Polar ice cap is in grave danger now and the nearby great ice mound of Greenland is under increasing pressure from rising temperatures, also. If it were to melt or to break off into the sea, it would raise sea levels 20 feet worldwide.. The west Antarctic ice shelf at the South Pole is propped up against islands that allow it to be affected similarly by the warming ocean, such that melting or breaking off and sliding into the ocean here would also raise sea levels by 20 feet worldwide

11 The Greenland Ice Sheet dominates land ice in the Arctic. Over the past two decades the melt area has increased about 16% from 1979 to 2002, with the total surface area melt on the Greenland Ice Sheet breaking all past records in The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment models indicate regional warming will be much higher by the end of the 21 st century, putting us past the threshold for the long-term disintegration of that ice sheet.

12 Projected Arctic Sea Ice Melt During the 21 st Century The Arctic s climate is changing more rapidly and persistently than at any time since the beginning of civilization. Careful investigations of the strength and patterns of change indicate human influences are responsible for most of the changes since the mid-20 th century.

13 Disappearing sea ice and warmer temperatures around the Antarctic Peninsula are causing an 80% drop in the numbers of Krill, leading to a devastating food chain crash. This affects fish, penguins, sea birds, whales, and other animals, as well as the commercial fishing industry. The breakup of the Larsen B ice shelf in 2002 also released several glaciers, increasing their speed up to eight fold, and dumping their loads into the Weddell Sea contributing significantly to rising sea level. Larsen B ice shelf breakup, Antarctic Peninsula, March 7, 2002

14 The Arctic (left) and Antarctic (right) Ice Caps on 2 January, The Arctic Ice is mainly on ocean surrounded by continents. Conversely, the Antarctic Ice is largely on a continent surrounded by ocean. We live on a planet whose surface is dominated by water in solid, liquid, and gas phases.

15 Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania (East Central Coast of Africa) Top: Mount Kilimanjaro, 1975 Below: Mount Kilimanjaro, 2005 Within 10 years there will be no more Snows of Kilimanjaro

16 Left: Political Map of African countries Right: Africa and political divisions, highlighting Tanzania and its location within Africa

17 Almost all the mountain glaciers in the world are now melting, many quite rapidly Changes in Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park, Montana; arrows indicate the previous extent of ice Valdez Glacier in Alaska has thinned by 300 feet over the last century. The unvegetated regions along its margins have been exposed primarily due to melting since 1980

18 Map of changes in the thickness of mountain glaciers since Orange and brown colors indicate thinning, blue colors indicate thickening of ice.

19 Below, left: Comparison photos of Muir and Riggs Glaciers in Alaska between During this time, the Muir glacier, which was >70 meters thick, has retreated out of the frame. Below, right: Comparison photos of the McCarty Glacier in Alaska. The glacier is no longer visible in the recent image.

20 Below, Left: Satellite image of Gangotri Glacier, India, showing its decline since maximum size during the Little Ice Age. The glacier is receding or melting at the rate of 23m (75ft) per year. Below, Right: (Top: Patagonia glacier on the tip of South America, 1928) (Bottom: That vast expanse of ice in the Upsala Glacier, Argentina-2004-is now gone)

21 Himalayan Glaciers Global warming is causing Himalayan glaciers to rapidly retreat (10 to 15 meters or 33 feet per year), threatening water shortages for hundreds of millions of people who rely on glacier- dependent rivers in China, India, and Nepal. The rapid melting first increases the volume of water in rivers and causes widespread flooding; then in a few decades, the water levels of rivers decline significantly. This means massive economic and environmental problems for people in western China, Nepal, and northern India.

22 These glaciers feed into 7 of Asia s greatest rivers the Ganges, Indus, Salween, Mekong, Brahmaputra, Yangtze, and Yellow ensuring a year- round water supply to hundreds of millions of people. Glacier water flows dwindle and energy potential of hydroelectric power decreases output for industry, as well as agriculture, resulting in dramatically lower crop yields. Himalayan Glaciers (continued)

23 Ice Core Drilling (to extract, measure, and study long cylinders filled with ice, formed year by year over many centuries) Left: Scientist Lonnie Thompson and his team; Above: Ice core drilling in the Himalayas (Nepal)

24 Ice core drilling has produced dramatic evidence of abrupt climate change. Researchers first became intrigued when they discovered striking evidence of large, abrupt, and widespread changes preserved in paleoclimatic archives the history of Earth s climate recorded in tree rings, ice cores, and sediments. For example, tree rings indicate the frequency of droughts, sediments the number and type of organisms present, and gas bubbles trapped in ice cores reveal information for scientists to study past atmospheric conditions. Below: Five-step process, drilling for ice cores in Greenland, 2005

25 A polar bear walks across rocky ground near Wager Bay, Canada. Perhaps the Arctic s most charismatic megafauna, polar bears face serious threats from global warming. The bears depend on sea ice as a platform from which they can hunt seals, their main prey. As more sea ice melts and polar bears are left with rocky ground like that shown in the picture, hunting for food becomes increasingly difficult for these large mammals.

26 Over the last year or two, biologists acknowledged that, because sea ice was critical to the life cycle of the polar bear and to the survival of the polar bear as a species, the ongoing and projected loss of sea ice in the Arctic poses a significant threat of extinction to the polar bear.

27 Polar Bears and Arctic Warming (continued) In the Arctic, evidence from satellite data, submarine data, and oceanic field observations reveal the diminished areal extent, shorter seasonal duration, and extensive thinning of sea ice. Summer sea ice cover in the Arctic has already been reduced in areal extent by percent over the last 30 years.

28 The Arctic region is especially sensitive to global warming because of cloud cover and ice reflectivity. Records show that average annual temperatures are 3.5 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer in Alaska and Siberia. Winters and temperatures in the western Canadian Arctic and Siberia, meanwhile, are 7 degrees warmer.

29 Many species are seriously threatened by climate change and some are becoming extinct because of it and also as the result of human encroachment into the places where they once thrived. For example, the destruction of the Amazon rain forest drives many species to extinction and simultaneously adds more CO2 to the atmosphere. Golden Toad Greater Mouse Lemur Grey-Headed Albatross Leopard Seal White- Fronted Goose Red- Breasted Goose

30 Due in significant part to global climate change, we are facing what biologists are beginning to describe as a mass extinction crisis Macaroni Penguin Bowhead Whale Ring Tail Lemur Giant Glass Frog Wattled Crane Antarctic Fur Seal

31 Coral reefs, which are as important to ocean species as rainforests are to land species, are being killed in large numbers by global warming. Contributing factors are: pollution from nearby shores, destructive dynamite fishing, and more acidic ocean waters. However, the most deadly cause of the recent, rapid, and unprecedented deterioration of coral reefs is higher ocean temperatures due to global warming. CORAL REEFS

32 There has long been a belief that the sea was inviolate and beyond man s ability to change and despoil. But this belief, unfortunately, has proved to be na ï ve. ---Rachael Carson Pollution, overfishing, and overuse have put many of our unique reefs at risk. Disappearance would destroy the habitat of countless species and unravel the web of marine life that has the potential for new medicines and for unlocking new mysteries. The effect on our coastal communities would be devastating. --President Bill Clinton

33 Brightly colored mounds of coral grow in the warm ocean waters. They add seasonal layers which appear as bands in their hard calcium- carbonate shells. Corals respond to small changes in water clarity, temperature, and rainfall in mere months, making them a uniquely sensitive climate record. CORAL (continued)

34 From just a small core in the coral scientists can put together a very detailed picture of climate in the tropics. This is significant because much of the Earth s weather is controlled by conditions in the tropics. Bands in the coral s shell change in thickness according to changes in temperature, water clarity, and nutrient availability.

35 CORAL REEFS (continued) One of the most significant clues to climate in coral comes from the chemistry of the bands. The chemicals in each layer reflect conditions in the oceans when the layer formed. The ratio of heavy and light oxygen in coral growth bands provides a record of current and past weather. Scientists can determine how alterations in climate are then affected by coral skeletons due to ocean salinity, temperature, rainfall, or a combination of these.

36 CORAL BLEACHING --is the process that turns healthy, multicolored coral reefs into white or gray skeletons; it occurs when tiny organisms living in the transparent membrane covering the skeleton are stressed by heat and other factors and evacuate; after they escape the colorless calcium carbonate skeleton is revealed; the bleached appearance is the prelude to the death of the coral

37 March of the Emperor Penguins Scientists studying Emperor penguins at the colony featured in the recent film March of the Penguins found that their numbers have dropped by 70% since the 1960s and the most likely reason is global climate change. Warmer temperatures and stronger winds produce thinner sea ice, the frozen ocean water on which penguins nest. Weakened ice breaks apart and drifts out to sea, taking the penguins eggs and chicks with it.

38 Recent NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) studies using satellite mapping technology found that Antarctica is losing land ice at a rate of 31 billion tons of water per year.

39 A growing number of scientific studies confirm that warmer water in the top layer of the ocean drives convection energy and fuels more powerful hurricanes. As water temperature goes up, wind velocity and storm moisture condensation go up. The United States experienced record-breaking seasons in 2004 and LEFT: IVAN, 2004 RIGHT: KATRINA, 2005 HURRICANES

40 HURRICANES (continued) An important MIT study in 2005 confirmed that major storms in both the Atlantic and the Pacific since the 1970s have increased in duration and intensity by about fifty percent,

41 The fundamental relationship between our civilization and the ecological system of the Earth has been utterly and radically transformed due, in part, to the stresses of a global population explosion

42 It took more than 10,000 generations for the human population to reach 2 billion. Then it began to rocket upward from 2 billion to 9 billion in the course of a single lifetime: ours. Most of the increase in population is occurring in developing nations, exactly where the bulk of the world s poverty is concentrated; and the majority of this increase is in cities.

43 This rapid population rise drives demand for food, water, and energy and for all our natural resources. It puts enormous pressure on vulnerable areas like forests particularly the rain forests of the tropics. Left: Logging road leading out of a Brazilian national forest, 2004 Above: Stumps and slash after clearcutting in Washington, 1999

44 Irrigation has long worked wonders for humankind; but we now have the power to divert giant rivers according to our design instead of nature s and this has caused major problems

45 The former Soviet Union diverted water from two mighty rivers in central Asia that fed the Aral Sea (the Amu Darya and Syr Darya) to irrigate cotton fields. Above: This dry, sandy land used to be part of the Aral Sea

46 An enormous fishing fleet marooned in the sand, with no water in sight. The entire Aral Sea is now essentially gone.

47 The United States is responsible for the contribution of more greenhouse gas pollution (30.3%) than South America (3.8%), Africa (2.5%), the Middle East (2.6%), Australia (1.1%), Japan (3.7%), and Southern Asia (12.2%) all put together.

48 HOORAY, HOORAY for the USA--WE RE #1 * *in percentage output of worldwide carbon emissions

49 Carbon Emissions Per Person, Per Country, Per Year: a Graphic Comparison

50 We can t just relax and ignore the problem of global climate change … And we certainly can t afford to stick our heads in the sand …

51 REMEMBER: Denial is not just a river in Egypt …

52 Sources/References: Gore, Al, An Inconvenient Truth: (The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming (RODALE, 2006). AIT in the Classroom, An Inconvenient Truth: Global Warning, Paramount Classics/Pictures, 2006). Hot Planet – Cold Comfort, Scientific American Frontiers, Alan Alda Greenhouse Gases, Climate Change, and Energy, U.S. Government, Energy Information house. Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, Univ. of Alaska, Fairbanks, by Dr. Robert W. Correll, Chair (March 3, 2004). Nicholson, N., Chemistry, Ecology & Society (Miami University of Ohio, 2007). Climate Close-up: Coral Reefs, Earth Observatory, The National Academies of Science, Evidence and Triggers of Abrupt Climate Change Discovery News, Human-Caused Warming, 2006 Warmest on Record (2007) Henter, Heather, It s the End of the World as We Know It, Univ. California San Diego,

53 National Geographic News, Climate Change: A Warming World (2004) Climate Scientists Spotlight Arctic Warming, Plight of Polar Bears in SCIENCE DAILY (6/19/06). Snows of Kilimanjaro Disappearing with Glacial Ice in PHYSORG The Effects of Global Warming, Thinning Ice, Hotter Times, Wild Weather, Nature s Pain, and Rising Sea Levels, (2001) Himalayan Glaciers Threaten Water Crisis in IRAN DAILY, 3/15/05. Oreskes, Naomi, Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Concensus on Climate Change in Science Magazine, (12/3/04) Global Warming: Signs and Sources: Permafrost Thawing, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, and the Carbon Cycle -- DISCOVERY Channel, Climate Change and Thermal Sensitivity of Commercial Marine Species: The Winners and (climate change), Project Number A515. Patz, Jonathan A., Global Climate Change and Ozone Black, Richard, An Engaging Dissection of Disaster in BBC NEWS (9/15/06)

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