Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet


The reason some popular posts are tagged ‘no title’ is not because they have no title—they all do—but because the old Blogger embedded the title at the top of text, and the new software does not see that. You can see the titles in capitals at the start of each snippet. (It would be nice if Blogger introduced an upgrade program that could fix this little problem.)

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Friday 30 October 2009


ScienceDaily reports that an Arctic expert who recently surveyed the region says that the thick, hard multi-year ice in the Arctic has in effect all vanished, leaving only 'rotten' ice that can easily be sailed through.

Monday 26 October 2009


Sediment at the bottom of a remote Artctic lake shows that the warming in the late twentieth century was unlike anything caused by natural events during the last 200,000 years, reports ScienceDaily.

Saturday 10 October 2009


New research, reported in ScienceDaily shows that the last time carbon-dioxide was at its present 387 parts per million was 15 million years ago. The research uses a new method of calculating carbon-dioxide levels that enables data to be extracted back to about 20 million years. It checks against data extracted from ice-cores going back 800,000 years, which was the previous limit.

15 million years ago the planet was radically different, which suggests that we have put it on an inelectable path to an environment inimical to our civilisation.

Thursday 1 October 2009


ScienceDaily News reports that experts have told a climate conferene at Oxford University that a rise of at least two metres in the world's sea levels is now almost unstoppable.

'The crux of the sea level issue is that it starts very slowly but once it gets going it is practically unstoppable,' said Stefan Rahmstorf, a scientist at Germany's Potsdam Institute and a widely recognised sea level expert. 'There is no way I can see to stop this rise, even if we have gone to zero emissions.'

He said the best outcome was that after temperatures stabilised, sea-levels would only rise at a steady rate 'for centuries to come,' and not accelerate.

Most scientists expect at least 2 degrees Celsius warming as a result of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, and probably more. The world warmed 0.7-0.8 degrees last century.

Rahmstorf estimated that if the world limited warming to 1.5 degrees then it would still see a two-metre rise in sea-levels over a period of centuries, causing some island nations to disappear. His best guess was a one-metre rise this century, assuming three degrees warming, and up to five metres over the next 300 years.

'There is nothing we can do to stop this unless we manage to cool the planet. That would require extracting the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. There is no way of doing this on the sufficient scale known today' he said.

Scientists say that ice melt acquires a momentum of its own--for example warming the air as less ice reflects less heat, warming the local area.

'Once the ice is on the move, it's like a tipping point which reinforces itself,' said Wageningen University's Pier Vellinga, citing various research.

He thinks that above a two-degree rise in global average temperature there is a 50% chance that the Greenland ice-sheet will disintegrate, which 'will result in about a seven-metre sea-level rise, and the time frame is about 300-1000 years.'

Speakers in Oxford used history to back up their arguments on rising seas. They said that three million years ago the planet was 2-3 degrees warmer and the sea 25-35 metres higher, and 122,000 years ago 2 degrees warmer and 10 metres higher.