Archive | Climate Change

World’s Oceans in Peril

Climate change is causing our oceans to become increasingly acidic, threatening to alter life as we know it.

The MV Rena, stuck on Astrolabe Reef in Tauranga, New Zealand has spilled 350 tonnes of oil, and many of its shipping containers, severely polluting and damaging the surrounding marine environment (GALLO/GETTY)

“From a climate change/fisheries/pollution/habitat destruction point of view, our nightmare is here, it’s the world we live in.”

This bleak statement about the current status of the world’s oceans comes from Dr Wallace Nichols, a Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences. Al Jazeera asked Dr Nichols, along with several other ocean experts, how they see the effects climate change, pollution and seafood harvesting are having on the oceans.

Their prognosis is not good.

Dr Nancy Knowlton is a marine biologist at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. Her research has focused on the impact of climate change on coral reefs around the world, specifically how increasing warming and acidification from carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have affected oceans.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Extreme Weather: The New Normal

Climate experts link current droughts, heat waves, and extreme weather events to climate change.

The heat is on. Flood victims make their way along a major road in the Punjab region of Pakistan, August 27, 2010. (Paula Bronstein/Getty)

Climate experts warn that setting weather records, be they for high or low temperatures, or record amounts of rain or snow as well as record drought, will likely be the new normal.

According to a UN report released July 5, humanity is close to breaching the sustainability of Earth, and needs a technological revolution greater and faster than the industrial revolution in order to avoid “a major planetary catastrophe”.

The report said that major investments need to be made in developing, and scaling up, clean energy technologies, sustainable farming and forestry techniques, the climate-proofing of infrastructure, and technologies aimed at waste reduction, in order to shift civilization away from dependence on oil.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

The Decline of Agriculture?

Climate change induced extreme weather events and shifting weather patterns are challenging farmer’s ability to feed us.

Flooding ravaged farms in the midwest United States this June, causing many crops to be lost (GALLO/GETTY)

Wendy Johnston with Oakwyn Farms in Athens, West Virginia, is deeply concerned about how shifting weather patterns are impacting farmers’ ability to feed the global population.

“This year we’re off to a slow start,” Johnston, who farms 40 hectares, told Al Jazeera. “Last year in April we were able to plant, but this year we even had rain, cold and snow a few days in April. The weather has become very unpredictable, and that’s the real problem.”

Climate change is making farming more difficult for her, and she wonders how much worse things will become.

On March 31, The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned of “potentially catastrophic” impacts on food production from slow-onset climate changes that are expected to increasingly hit the developing world.

The report filed with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, warned that food production systems and the ecosystems they depend on are highly sensitive to climate variability and change.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Climate Change: It’s Bad and Getting Worse

Severe weather events are wracking the planet, and experts warn of even greater consequences to come.

Flooding in China is currently affecting approximately five million people (GALLO/GETTY)

The rate of ice loss in two of Greenland’s largest glaciers has increased so much in the last 10 years that the amount of melted water would be enough to completely fill Lake Erie, one of the five Great Lakes in North America.

West Texas is currently undergoing its worst drought since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, leaving wheat and cotton crops in the state in an extremely dire situation due to lack of soil moisture, as wildfires continue to burn.

Central China recently experienced its worst drought in more than 50 years. Regional authorities have declared more than 1,300 lakes “dead”, meaning they are out of use for both irrigation and drinking water supply.

Floods have struck Eastern and Southern China, killing at least 52 and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of thousands, followed by severe flooding that again hit Eastern China, displacing or otherwise affecting five million people.

Meanwhile in Europe, crops in the northwest are suffering the driest weather in decades.

Scientific research confirms that, so far, humankind has raised the Earth’s temperature, and the aforementioned events are a sign of what is to come.

“If you had a satellite view of the planet in the summer, there is about 40 per cent less ice in the Arctic than when Apollo 8 [in 1968] first sent back those photos [of Earth],” Bill McKibben, world renowned environmentalist and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences told Al Jazeera, “Oceans are 30 per cent more acidic than they were 40 years ago. The atmosphere is four per cent more wet than 40 years ago because warm air holds more water than cold air. That means more deluge and downpour in wet areas and more dryness in dry areas. So we’re seeing more destructive mega floods and storms, increasing thunderstorms, and increasing lightning strikes.”
Continue Reading →

Continue Reading