As we talk with our clients we frequently find ourselves in discussions revolving around the cause and effect of Climate Change.
Vice President Al Gore has released a new video and hosted the program, 24 Hours of Reality on September 14th, 2011. The simulcast was broadcast across 150 nations in over 100 languages and on thousands of websites. This program set the record as the single most watched broadcast in human history.
Below are links to a short list of documentary DVD's which address the history, causes and projections of world climate change. Readers may wish to pay particular attention to information pertaining to the temperature change of our oceans which has 1,100 times the influence over the earth's weather events than our atmospheric climate.
If you reside in the southern Nevada area or are planning to visit the area and would like to discuss or debate Climate Change issues, we are happy to host such a debate around our conference table. You will find our approach uses accepted scientific methodologies and our arguments are based only on peer reviewed data. We have had the pleasure to host research scientists, engineers, legislators and others who leave the discussions with a more informed perspective.
Climate Change DVD's:
The Fuel Film - 2008 Documentary - Benefits of Biodiesel
An Inconvenient Truth - 2006 Academy Award: Best Documentary - Climate Change
Crude - The Incredible Journey of Oil - 2007 Documentary
Little Ice Age: Big Chlll - 2005 (Nov.) Documentary - Climate History and Projections
Mega Freeze - 2006 (Nov.) Documentary on Climate Change
A Global Warning
Great Climate Warming Swindle then watch Great Climate Warming Swindle Debate
The following document is reprinted with permission from the History Channel website.
What is Global Warming?
The Earth is heating up fast. Since the beginning of time, our planet has experienced warming and cooling cycles that happen naturally over thousands of years. What's remarkable about the current warming trend is the speed at which it's occurring. In the last 50 years, the average global temperature has risen at the fastest rate in recorded history, according to the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC). Since 1900, the Earth's average surface temperature has climbed by over 1 degree Fahrenheit. At first glance, an increase of that size might not seem like a big deal. However, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, "Even a modest rise of 2-3 degrees F (1.1-1.7 degrees C) could have dramatic effects. In the last 10,000 years, the Earth's average temperature hasn't varied by more than 1.8 degrees F (1.0 degree C). Temperatures only 5-9 degrees F cooler than those today prevailed at the end of the last Ice Age, in which the Northeast United States was covered by more than 3,000 feet of ice."
Global warming results from an increase in heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, is a naturally occurring substance that helps keep the Earth at a temperature comfortable enough for people, plants and animals to survive. Through a process known as the greenhouse effect, CO2 and other greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, allow sunlight to enter the atmosphere and then, like a thick blanket, trap much of the radiant solar heat. Without enough CO2, the Earth would be frozen like Mars. With too much CO2, it would be as scorching hot and uninhabitable as Venus.
For years, scientists, politicians and others debated what role, if any, people played in global warming, but today there is consensus among the majority of the scientific community that humans are to blame for the accelerated rise in greenhouse gases. In February 2007, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report calling human activity "very likely" (greater than 90% certain) the cause of climate change in the last half century and found the warming pattern "unequivocal."
The biggest man-made contributors to global warming are the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas), vehicle emissions and deforestation. Main culprits such as coal-burning power plants create 2.5 billion tons of CO2 annually, while automobiles produce approximately 1.5 billion tons of CO2 every year, according to the NRDC. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1700s, CO2 concentrations have increased by one-third. "If no action is taken to reduce emissions, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could reach double its pre-industrial level as early as 2035, virtually committing us to a global average temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius [3.6 degrees Fahrenheit]," according to a report from former World Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas Stern. "In the longer term, there would be more than a 50% chance that the temperature rise would exceed 5 degrees Celsius [9 degrees Fahrenheit]. This rise would be very dangerous indeed; it is the equivalent to the change in average temperatures from the last ice age to today. Such a radical change in the physical geography of the world must lead to major changes in human geography—where people live and how they live their lives."
The Impact of Global Warming
Signs of climate change are everywhere. Nineteen of the planet's 20 hottest years on record took place in the 1980s or after. Rivers and lakes are thawing earlier each spring. Animals and plants are moving to higher elevations. The Arctic is heating up twice as fast as anyplace else in the world and polar bears are going hungry. Pacific islands such as Tuvalu are in danger of being swallowed by the sea and becoming a modern-day Atlantis. If people don't slash the amount of greenhouse gas emissions being pumped into the atmosphere , experts predict the planet's average temperatures could rise anywhere from 3 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century, with devastating results. According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), "Sea levels will rise, flooding coastal areas. Heat waves will be more frequent and more intense. Droughts and wildfires will occur more often. Disease-carrying mosquitoes will expand their range. And species will be pushed to extinction."
Global warming will bring more extreme weather. Drought-prone areas will become drier and desertification will spread as higher temperatures squeeze more moisture from the soil. A 2007 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report predicts that by 2020, between 75 and 250 million Africans will be vulnerable to water shortages caused by global warming. Additionally, as the world's glaciers—such as the Himalayas in Asia and the Andes in South America--melt more rapidly, the hundreds of millions of people who depend on the ice melt for drinking water, irrigation and electricity will be at risk.
Conversely, the world's wetter places will likely experience more precipitation. Delta regions in Bangladesh and India could see increased periods of intense rainfall and flooding, putting the livelihoods (often subsistence farming) and homes of millions of people in jeopardy. Scientists have predicted that sea levels could rise between 7 and 23 inches by 2100, seriously impacting island nations and low-lying coastal regions around the world. Additionally, warmer ocean temperatures could lead to more powerful and frequent storms. "Scientists have found that the destructive potential of hurricanes has greatly increased along with ocean temperature over the past 35 years," according to the NRDC.
In regions both warm and cold, animals and plants will be affected. Scientists have predicted that over a million species could become extinct by the middle of this century as climate change wreaks havoc on their habitats. Already, the Arctic's polar bears are in decline because melting ice has made it more difficult to reach food sources such as seals. In Costa Rica, the golden toad and harlequin frog have vanished completely due to global warming.
Climate change also poses a big threat to human health. Warmer temperatures could lead to an increase in heat exhaustion, respiratory problems and lung damage from higher concentrations of ground-level ozone, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Higher temperatures will also put people at greater risk for certain infectious diseases, especially those that occur in warm regions and are transmitted by mosquitoes and other insects. "These 'vector-borne' diseases include malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and encephalitis. Also, algal blooms could occur more frequently as temperatures warm—-particularly in areas with polluted waters—in which case diseases (such as cholera) that tend to accompany algal blooms could become more frequent," reports the EPA. Climate change could also negatively impact food and water supplies, which in turn would be detrimental to human health.
The United States represents approximately 5% of the Earth's population, but is responsible for 25% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. The people most vulnerable to global warming are the citizens of the planet's poorest, less industrialized nations. They've contributed the least to climate change but are likely to suffer the most because they don't have the resources to adapt, like wealthier countries. According to a New York Times report, "The United States, where agriculture represents just 4 percent of the economy, can endure a climatic setback far more easily than a country like Malawi, where 90 percent of the population lives in rural areas and about 40 percent of the economy is driven by rain-fed agriculture."
The Future: Global Warming's Socio-Economic Impact
On October 12, 2007, environmental leader Al Gore and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the Nobel Peace Prize for "their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change." The award was an acknowledgment that human-created global warming could lead to social and economic upheaval on a massive scale. As the Nobel Committee stated: "Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind. They may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth's resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world's most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states."
The impact of global warming can already be seen in trouble spots in Africa. According to the New York Times, "A recent United Nations report concluded that land degradation and desertification in the Darfur region of Sudan helped set the stage for the devastating tribal and ethnic conflicts of the last few years as poor people increasingly competed for depleted resources." The report continues: "Large-scale migrations from Africa to Europe are already on the increase at least in part because climate change has made traditional livelihoods, from farming to fishing less viable, experts say."
Global warming could also have a serious impact on the world's economy. According to a report by former World Bank chief Nicholas Stern: "If we don't act, the overall costs and risks of climate change will be the equivalent of losing at least 5% of GDP each year, now and forever. If a wider range of risks and impacts is taken into account, the estimates of damage could rise to 20% of GDP or more." In comparison, taking the required actions to cut greenhouse gas emissions could be limited to approximately 1% of GDP annually, says the report.
Time is of the essence when it comes to combating climate change. "The investment that takes place in the next 10-20 years will have a profound effect on the climate in the second half of this century and in the next. Our actions now and over the coming decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century. And it will be difficult or impossible to reverse these changes," according to the Stern report.