Eminent Scientists Warn of Disastrous, Permanent Global Warming

SAN FRANCISCO – Leaders of the world’s largest general scientific society recently issued an imperative climate change warning. "The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, a critical greenhouse gas, is higher than it has been for at least 650,000 years. The average temperature of the Earth is heading for levels not experienced for millions of years."

Global warming is not a theory, it is a fact based on a "growing torrent of information," said the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in its first consensus statement on climate change. The statement was issued at the association’s annual meeting in San Francisco in February.

"Scientific predictions of the impacts of increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels and deforestation match observed changes. As expected, intensification of droughts, heat waves, floods, wildfires, and severe storms is occurring, with a mounting toll on vulnerable ecosystems and societies," the board said.

Approved by the board on December 9, 2006, nearly two months before a similar statement by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the AAAS statement warns, "Delaying action to address climate change will increase the environmental and societal consequences as well as the costs. The longer we wait to tackle climate change, the harder and more expensive the task will be."

"Accumulating data from across the globe reveal a wide array of effects: rapidly melting glaciers, destabilization of major ice sheets, increases in extreme weather, rising sea level, shifts in species’ ranges, and more," the board stated.

"The pace of change and the evidence of harm have increased markedly over the last five years. The time to control greenhouse gas emissions is now."

"These events are early warning signs of even more devastating damage to come, some of which will be irreversible," warned the board.

The 14 member board includes scientists from Harvard, Yale and Princeton, the University of Michigan, University of Utah, Ohio State, Lehigh, the California Institute of Technology, and the James S. McDonnell Foundation.

Global Warming Shock Wave Awakens World Leaders

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On February 2 in Paris, hundreds of scientists from around the world released a report showing that global warming is accelerating, that human activity is responsible for this warming, and that it is likely irreversible for centuries, even if greenhouse gas emissions are stabilized.

The report, entitled "The Physical Science Basis: a Summary for Policymakers," was adopted in a line-by-line review by the governments of 113 countries, including the United States,

Mid-range scenarios predict severe droughts and floods, more intense hurricanes and cyclones, pressure on fresh water and food supplies, increased spread of diseases, and rising sea levels that could displace hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

Reaction to the first report in six years from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has ranged across the spectrum.

Dr. Sharon Hays, leader of the U.S. delegation at the Paris meeting and chief science official in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said the IPCC report "reflects the sizeable and robust body of knowledge regarding the physical science of climate change, including the finding that the Earth is warming and that human activities have very likely caused most of the warming of the last 50 years."

U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said the United States embraces the findings of the IPCC report. "We agree with it, and the science behind it is something that our country has played a very important role in," he told journalists today in Washington.

The Bush administration continues to rely on technology to counter global warming rather than the limits on emissions adopted by other industrialized nations under the Kyoto Protocol. Bodman said the United States has invested nearly $29 billion since 2001 in climate-related science and technology programs.

"We estimate that the U.S. has invested more in climate change science than the rest of the world combined," Bodman said.

In Congress, Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat said, "This U.N. report is only the latest in a series of signals that increase the urgency of our efforts to deal with global warming," Bingaman said. "Today I am again urging the President to show leadership and work with Congress to implement a mandatory, market-based cap and trade program to address this challenge."

Bingaman said he and Senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, are developing bipartisan consensus on legislation that Congress can pass this year. "The consequences so clearly spelled out in this report, and many others, compel us to act now," he said.

Environmental groups generally welcomed the IPCC’s information in hopes that it may prompt swift action to limit global warming.

Virgin Offers $25 Million Prize to Defeat Global Warming

LONDON – Former Vice President Al Gore and Virgin Group Chairman Sir Richard Branson recently announced the Virgin Earth Challenge, a $25 million global science and technology prize to encourage a technology that will remove at least one billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere per year.

The Virgin Earth Challenge will award $25 million to the individual or group who demonstrate a commercially viable design which will result in the net removal of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases each year for at least 10 years without countervailing harmful effects.

This removal must have long term effects and contribute materially to the stability of the Earth’s climate.

Sir Richard will adjudicate the prize with a panel of five judges – all world authorities in their respective fields – Gore; British diplomat and environmentalist Sir Crispin Tickell; Tim Flannery, author of The Weather Makers; Dr. James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies; and Dr. James Lovelock, an independent scientist, most famous for his Gaia theory that the planet functions as a superorganism.

The panel of judges will be assisted in their deliberations by The Climate Group and Special Advisor to The Virgin Earth Prize Judges, Steve Howard.

The timing of the announcement of the Virgin Earth Challenge follows the recent announcement by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that temperatures on Earth could increase by as much as 6.4 degrees C by the end of this century. If this were to occur, said Sir Richard, it would result in "most of life on our planet being exterminated."

Gore said, "Carbon dioxide levels already are far above anything measured in the prior 650,000 year record, and just last week in Paris scientists gave us their strongest warning yet of the consequences of inaction. So the dangers are clear. But the opportunities, if we take action now, are innumerable, and Sir Richard’s initiative to stimulate exploration of this new approach to the climate crisis is important and welcome."

Dr. Hansen said, "I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change … no longer than a decade, at the most. This is why I am supporting the Virgin Earth Challenge as a judge – we must explore all means, both known and unknown, to help alleviate this crisis."

The creation of the Virgin Earth Prize is one of a number of initiatives including investment in renewable energy research, development and production as part of Virgin Group’s Gaia Capitalism project, and $3 billion Clinton Initiative pledge of September 2006.

To find out more visit, www.virginearth.com

Australia Screws in Compact Fluorescent Lights Nationwide

Trumpeting it as a "world first," the Australian government is mandating a nationwide phase out of inefficient, old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs in favor of compact fluorescent bulbs by 2010. The new policy, announced Tuesday by Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull should reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by four million tonnes two years later. Household lighting costs could be reduced by up to 66 percent, the minister said.

"The most effective and immediate way we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions is by using energy more efficiently," Turnbull said. The reduction in emissions will increase as the phaseout progresses and the annual average reduction between 2008-2012 is estimated at around 800,000 tonnes. By 2015, Turnbull says, the annual cut in emissions will be an estimated four million tonnes per year. But Australian Greens and environmentalists said much more progress in cutting greenhouse gas emissions could be made if Australian industry reduced its reliance on coal-fired power and coal exports. Turnbull said that working with its state and territory counterparts, the Australian government will gradually phase out all incandescent light bulbs and is aiming for full enforcement of the new light bulb standards legislation by 2009 to 2010. Exceptions will be made for special needs, such as medical lighting and oven lights.

"Electric lighting is a vital part of our lives," Turnbull said. "Globally it generates emissions equal to 70 percent of those from all the world’s passenger vehicles, but it is still very inefficient. We have been using incandescent light bulbs for 125 years and up to 90 percent of the energy each light bulb uses is wasted, mainly as heat."

Global Wind Power Generated Record Year in 2006

BRUSSELS, Belgium – Booming wind energy markets around the world exceeded expectations in 2006, with the sector experiencing a second consecutive record year.

Covering wind energy developments in more than 70 countries, figures released by the Global Wind Energy Council, GWEC, show the installation of 15,197 megawatts last year, an increase of 32 percent over 2005 – another record year in which the market grew by 41 percent.

These installations take the total global wind energy capacity to 74,223 megawatts, up from 59,091 megawatts in 2005.

A megawatt of wind produces about as much electricity as up to 300 typical North American households use in a year, according to American wind power developer enXco.

The GWEC said this level of development shows that the global wind energy industry is responding quickly to the challenge of manufacturing at the required level, despite constraints facing supply chains for wind turbines.

In terms of economic value, the wind energy sector has now become firmly installed as one of the important players in the energy markets, with the total value of new generating equipment installed in 2006 reaching US$23 billion or 18 billion.

The country with the highest total installed capacity is Germany with 20,621 megawatts. Spain and the United States are in second and third place, each with a little more than 11,603 megawatts installed. India is in fourth place with 6,270 megawatts total, and Denmark ranks fifth with 3,136 megawatts installed. – Environmental News Service [www.ens-newswire.com]

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