The science of climate change in 2010

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[image-1]So today I'm going to talk about the science behind climate change thus far in 2010. Starting with this startling article from Scientific AmericanPhytoplankton populations drops 40% since 1950. Using global data gathered over the past 60 years, as well as from recent global satellite systems, scientists have mapped data points pointing to a severe drop in phytoplankton populations since the 1950s of  a nearly 1% population decline every year. Rising ocean temperatures and rising acidification of the oceans is causing them die off.


The ocean is responsible for 93% of the uptake of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere (NOAA) . When carbon dioxide mixes with the ocean water, carbonic acid is formed, causing the PH level of the ocean to drop making it more acidic. This acid releases free hydrogen atoms that then mess up the chemistry of living organisms.



For instance, in a biology lab at college we tested enzymes (living catalysts our cells create to lower the energy needed for chemical reactions) under different PH levels to determine the effects of PH on enzymes ability to preform chemical reactions. Enzymes are most effective when the PH is stable and doesn't become too acidic or too basic. Eventually, they begin to not work correctly as the free hydrogens block them from doing their work or bounce into them breaking them apart completely. Since we've begun recording the PH level of the ocean, it has lowered -.075 on the logarithm scale, equating to about an 18% increase in free hydrogen. By 2100 its predicted that there will be a nearly 30% increase in free hydrogens. Phytoplankton are the basis of the food web for our oceans, when they die, our oceans die. They are also one of the main producers of oxygen for our planet, nearly half of our oxygen on this planet is formed in our oceans by these microscopic organisms. Due to the chemical make up of the ocean and its vast surface area the heating of the oceans will continue for years to come as well as further killing off phytoplankton.


[image-2]This heating of the oceans is causing dramatic shifts in climate worldwide.  In Pakistan this year we saw flooding that covered a quarter of Pakistan and left nearly 21 million people homeless. The flooding caused nearly 2,000 deaths. This was one of the worst catastrophes in the past few years.


The flooding diverted troops away from fighting insurgents in northwest Pakistan. The flooding destroyed 10,000 power lines and brought down multiple hydroelectric dams. Millions of dollars of aid was sent for the victims of this tragedy. More floods like this are sure to continue with climate change occurring.


Just north of Pakistan, another major disaster unfolded this year. Russia was set ablaze by nearly 111 degree (F) temperatures as a heat and drought decimated the wheat fields of Midwest Russia. For over a month fires ravaged all across Russia and set ablaze forest fires and peat bogs. Wheat exports were stopped entirely out of Russia and the cost of grain rose over 20% worldwide. More events such as this wildfire event will test the resilience of our global food system as the years go on.


In California, a heat wave last month caused the temperature to rise to nearly 114 degrees, cutting power to nearly 42,000 residents as millions of AC units all turned on at nearly identical times causing the power grid to fail.


But if these events weren't enough for you to contemplate climate change, perhaps an ice island breaking off from the Petermann Glacier in Greenland that was over 4 times the size of Manhattan island will! The melting polar ice caps are dissolving at a much faster pace then scientist first predicted. They are some reports that by 2016 the Arctic could be entirely ice free. Glaciers and permafrost areas the world over are melting at unprecedented levels.


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Conclusion:  We are in a dramatic climatic shift that is unstoppable. Anthropogenic or not, it is occurring. As a species we need to unite and adapt. The world is catching a fever, if we don't act together with unity we could see great suffering and death of human beings. A global die-off of the human species should be avoided. We need to get to work now! Not only to reduce our carbon footprint, but to learn to adapt for the coming challenges of climate change. Even if we were to shut down every car, airplane, and power plant in the world today we would still have enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to effect our climate for decades to come. Climate change will be a multigenerational event. We need to evolve a new form of consciousness where later generations are thought of and our own personal egos set aside for the continuation of our species and life in general.


In the Tampa Bay area, I started a website and non-profit group called Code Green Community. Please check it out and connect with your fellow Tampa bay area citizens to transition your community away from fossil fuels. We get to work planting gardens, hosting meetings, raising awareness and setting up a online meeting community to help you find people to connect with in your own backyard. This website and organization is nonprofit and provided freely by community supported donations to continue the work of transitioning our society to a green and brighter future.


www.codegreencommunity.org


NASA's video about Arctic ice in 2010:


I often strictly write about peak oil in my blog posts. Today I'd like to shift gears and focus on climate change. Last year with the failure of Copenhagen and illegitimate claims of Climategate, climate change movement has been blown off the tracks in the political arena causing no significant change in government policies. The works of 350.org and the Transition movement have been raising awareness about our need for society to get to work on curbing climate change.

I had the great opportunity to come to St. Petersburg and help at the Permaculture Guild's permaculture garden project at the Faith House for their 10-10-10 initiative event.  Over 55 volunteers came to help out in an effort to beautify a community and to help tackle climate change. Food gardens mean less dependency on buying foods that have been shipped from across the country, thus less gas is used and less carbon emissions created.

The Faith House "permablitz" was a great success where several garden beds were set up for the residents of the house to tend to and reap the benefits of its harvest for both personal use and to sell at local farmers' markets. The Boley Center of St. Petersburg even came out to volunteer with their Pathways out of Poverty green jobs program. They give opportunities to young men and women to learn how to use the Earth to grow an abundance of food for local markets.

But why do so many care about the shift in climate change while some still do not? I think the lack of awareness about climate change is the factor. If more people understood how rapidly our planet is changing in climate they would be more apt to come and participate as well as lead these movements in their own towns.

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