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Archive for December, 2009

Shrinking World, Shrinking Ecosystems

Posted by edro on December 27, 2009

Temperature velocity for the 21st century is 0.42 kilometers (0.26 miles) per year: Study

Climate Change Puts Ecosystems on the Run

Global warming is causing climate belts to shift toward the poles and to higher elevations. To keep pace with these changes, the average ecosystem will need to shift about a quarter mile each year, says a new study led by scientists at the Carnegie Institution. For some habitats, such as low-lying areas, climate belts are moving even faster, putting many species in jeopardy, especially where human development has blocked migration paths.

“Expressed as velocities, climate-change projections connect directly to survival prospects for plants and animals. These are the conditions that will set the stage, whether species move or cope in place,” says study co-author Chris Field, director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology. Field is also a professor of biology and of environmental Earth system science at Stanford University and a senior fellow at Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment.

The research team, which included researchers from the Carnegie Institution, Stanford University, the California Academy of Sciences, and the University of California, Berkeley, combined data on current climate and temperature gradients worldwide with climate model projections for the next century to calculate the “temperature velocity” for different regions of the world. This velocity is a measure of how fast temperature zones are moving across the landscape as the planet warms―and how fast plants and animals will need to migrate to keep up.

EDRO Comments:

What the paper doesn’t mention, however, is the fact that the species “climbing a nearby mountain” in search of cooler temperatures would be climbing into an acid rain trap.

Forests and plants in mountain regions are heavily affected by “acid fog,” in addition to acid  rain. At higher altitudes, the lingering fog, which is more acidic than rainfall, surrounds the plants, affecting the leaves ability to carry out photosynthesis and produce photosynthetic products.

The acid fog does causes slower growth, disease and death of the plants and forests. Examples of this include the many areas of the eastern U.S., especially high altitude forests of the Appalachian Mountains.

The researchers found that as a global average, the expected temperature velocity for the 21st century is 0.42 kilometers (0.26 miles) per year. But this figure varies widely according to topography and habitat. In areas of high topographic relief, where species can find cooler temperatures by climbing a nearby mountain, velocities are relatively low. In flatter regions, such as deserts, grasslands, and coastal areas, species will have to travel farther to stay in their comfort zone and velocities may exceed a kilometer per year.

EDRO Comments:

The other factor is scarcity of food for many species due to the soil profiles of mountainous areas. Upland areas often have thin soils and glaciated bedrock, profiles that make it extremely difficult for plant growth.

Can the planet’s ecosystems keep up? Plants and animals that can tolerate a wide range of temperatures may not need to move. But for the others, survival becomes a race. After the glaciers of the last Ice Age retreated, forests may have spread northward as quickly as a kilometer a year. But current ecosystems are unlikely to match that feat, the researchers say. Nearly a third of the habitats in the study have velocities higher than even the most optimistic plant migration estimates. Even more problematic is the extensive fragmentation of natural habitats by human development, which will leave many species with “nowhere to go,” regardless of their migration rates.

Protected areas such as nature reserves are generally too small to accommodate the expected habitat shifts. According to the study, less than 10% of protected areas globally will maintain current climate conditions within their boundaries 100 years from now. This will present a challenge for many species adapted to highly specific conditions, especially if migration to new habitats is blocked.

Scott Loarie, a postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Institution and lead author of the paper, points out that an appreciation of climate velocities could stimulate discussions about sound management for climate change, from the design of nature reserves to the planning of assisted migrations for affected species. He adds that it should also stimulate discussion about strategies for minimizing the amount of warming and thereby help slow climate velocity.

The paper was published in the 24 December, 2009, Nature. Contact: Chris Field  cfield@ciw.edu

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Posted in 286W, acid fog, acid rain, air pollution, climate change | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What Florida Might Look Like in 2014

Posted by edro on December 7, 2009

The World Is Rapidly Collapsing

To fathom the reasons for world’s rapid collapse, the following basic premises should first be understood:

  • The sum total of human activities on the planet is exponentially INCREASING.
  • Humans consumptions of energy and resources continue to increase in parallel to its activities.
  • Pollution including  greenhouse gas emissions resulting from increased energy consumption is accumulating.
  • The increase in the consumption of energy and resources is enlarging humans ecological footprint.
  • The impacts of humans’ ever-enlarging ecological footprint and the accumulating pollution have driven most of the planetary-scale ecosystems to the verge of collapse.
  • In the absence of any intervention by the forces of nature, the large-scale ecosystem such as the atmosphere, climate, oceans, soil … will completely collapse, rendering the planet unable to support large species.
  • We can say with the maximum degree of certainty that in the absence of any ‘remedial action’ by natural forces the state of our planet would progressively worsen [NOT improve] with time.
  • Based on the evidence, including enhanced seismic and volcanic activity, WE BELIEVE, the earth is trying to maintain planetary “homeostasis.”
  • However, there is a high price to pay for the nature’s balancing act functions.
  • Planet earth is effectively becoming “smaller,” less hospitable. The quality of nature’s services are generally deteriorating, becoming more rudimentary
  • The effect of Nature’s balancing act functions, as harsh as they may be, should be viewed as desperate last measures: Survival of some, or extinction of all.

EDRO Moderators believe that the impact of global climate change, including extreme rain events, storm tides, and rising sea levels caused by both melting ice and slowing down [or disappearance ] of Gulf Stream could flood large swaths of eastern United States, especially the coastal areas of Florida.

Cities and population centers both on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts could experience complete or partial inundation for some of the year, most of the year, or permanently.

About 40 percent of Florida’s more densely inhabited areas, home to more than 65 percent of the population, could be impacted by the climatic events, rendering most of the existing cities effectively uninhabitable and affecting up to 90 percent of Florida’s population.

USGS Digital Elevation Map of The United States

Click on image to get map

The elevations correspond to the following legend:


Plotted on these maps are:

  • White – State, country, coast outlines
  • Gray – County outlines
  • Black – Rivers and major streams
  • Red – US Highways
  • Light red – Interstate Highways
  • Magenta – National Parks and Monuments

USGS Digital Elevation Map of Florida


Some of the areas most prone to flooding are marked on the map. The markings are meant as an indication only. They do not represent exact locations. Source of images: Unisys Weather. Images may be subject to copyright.

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Posted in civilization, climate change, Collapse, collapse mechanisms, collapsing ecosystems | Tagged: , , , , | 25 Comments »

Why Dubai Developments Failed

Posted by edro on December 1, 2009

Camel Through the Eye of a Needle

Dubai Developments: A Major Ecological Disaster caused by Poor Judgment All Around

Let’s for a moment not mention the sea-level rises and just talk about herding 1.7 million mostly wealthy people into “an area of empty desert and sea.”


Nakheel’s Dubai Coast developments: (L to R): The artificial island of Palm Jebel Ali “under construction.”   The Palm Jumeirah, located about 14km  east of the Palm Jebel Ali. Immediately to the east of Palm Jumeirah, are The World and The Universe Tourist/ Leisure areas. Extreme Right: Palm Deira, the largest of the three palm-shaped artificial islands/ island sites that are located off the coast of Dubai.

Nakheel Property of Dubai says on its website:

The Palm Jebel Ali is a landmark commercial, residential, and tourism development for Dubai, which, along with the Waterfront project, will transform an area of empty desert and sea into a bustling international community, with an estimated population of 1.7 million people by 2020.

Bomber Pilot to Navigator: “I can see the 15 pyramid-sized mountains of garbage produced by Palm Island residents that they wanted us to incinerate!”


Navigator to Pilot: “No, we’re still in Egypt air space, and that’s the great pyramid of Giza to the left.”

Holy Camel, 1.7 million people?

Could you even imagine an additional 1.7 million people living in one of the most fragile ecosystem in the world?

What would their environmental impact be like? Where would they get their food and water from? How about traveling, commuting, shopping,  entertainment… ENERGY?

Here’s the infrastructure needed for the [luxury] housing of an international community with 1.7 million people:

IN:

  • 50 Gigawatts of power [Remember this is a leisure community]
  • 400 billion liters of water annually
  • 6 billion liters of drinking water [flown in from Europe and trucked into the Palm Islands, no doubt!]
  • 20 MMT of food  [161,000 jumbo loads per year, or 442 landing per day for food imports alone!]
  • A minimum of 1.5 million tons of clothing and consumer goods
  • An estimated 1.5 million cars, trucks and other vehicles
  • 500,000 sailing boats, powerboats, yachts, ski jets …

Out:

  • Sewage: How will they dispose an estimated 2 million tons of domestic sewage each year?
  • Trash: And 4 million tons of garbage (MSW). [In volume, that amount is the equivalent of 15  Great Pyramid of Giza each year. ]
  • Gray water: How about 400 billion tons of gray water annually? (MSW).
  • Co2 pollution: 250 MMT of Co2 per year
  • Damage to the marine environment: Have you ever visited Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong? The Dubai stench in the Persian Gulf would be several orders of magnitude worse.

A few back of the envelope calculations could have saved tremendous amount of material and time waste, not to mention tens of billions of dollars of other people’s money. But hey, the banks aren’t there to make sensible lending decisions.

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Posted in coast of Dubai, Palm Deira, Palm Jebel Ali, Palm Jumeirah, persian gulf ecosystems | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »