Monthly Archives: February 2017

Amazonian deforestation still going on.

Ten years ago a movement to save the rain forest seemed to have succeeded, stopping the devastation. But now it seems that food giants are pushing back and pushing hard into the Amazon forest. It seems that an appetite for soy products and other crops is raising the specter of a slide back. Food giants like the American Cargill are on the forefront of things.

2015 was the first year in a decade where deforestation rose compared to previous years. The culprit it seems is farmers cutting down the forest to supply Cargill with agricultural products. The other big giant in food is the other American called Bunge. These two giants seems to be responsible for the large-scale clearing of the forest that is seen now.

The loss of forest is detrimental to the climate as it is a contributor to climate change. The clearing of woodlands generates one-tenth of all global warming emissions as well. Only 15% of the world’s forest cover remains intact the rest having been cleared or degraded, wiping out ecosystems and displacing people in the process.

Most of the rain forest is in Brazil but a part of it is in Bolivia. In that country it is clear that securing food is more important than preserving the rain forest. And why not, as Bolivia is a poor country and the clearing of land means that people can work and eat.

If one adds to that the fact that companies seem to interpret legal texts that they have signed in a liberal way, most notably Cargill, one can see how the rain forest is still in danger. If the countries themselves are not careful in monitoring how the forest is exploited then it will be the end of the rain forest, and of course we will all suffer as climate change affects people globally, not only locally.

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Refreezing the Arctic?

If there is one good thing about a crisis, it is that it will spur people to think outside the box in a quest for novel solutions. The problem is in selecting the ones that make economic sense and won’t harm more in the long run if they are adopted. Due to the concern that the Arctic may be free of ice by 2030 some scientists have begun to advocate the refreezing of the Arctic using wind-powered pumps. It would involve 10 million devices deployed over ten percent of the Arctic costing at least 500 billion dollars.

With less ice in the Arctic to reflect the sun heat continues to be concentrated which in turn causes further warming. In other words, a negative feedback loop harmful to the planet.

In theory the pumps would work as the ice thickness could be increased by one meter per decade. But, would the pumps work in the harsh conditions of the Arctic? And what about the impact of these pumps on the environment? A lot of questions but no real answers.

Most people agree that something must be done, but these technological solutions are really good for last-ditch efforts, if all fails. The biggest question of all is of course who would pay for such a solution? But it is better now to start thinking about these outlandish solutions so that a real cost can be estimated and better solutions can be found. I am glad to see that some people are thinking about the problem.

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A crack in the ice shelf!

Due to warming temperatures a crack in Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf is about to break up. As a result of this the break will create one of the largest icebergs ever recorded. An ice shelf is created when runoff from glaciers float in water and provide support to the glaciers. When they collapse the glaciers behind them can accelerate towards the ocean.

This ice shelf called Larsen C would not add much water to the global sea level. But the problem is that with collapsing ice shelves glaciers will flow more quickly towards the ocean and that could cause higher levels of ocean rise.

As the climate becomes warmer it is a safe bet that other ice shelves in Antarctica will be more vulnerable to collapse, with the result that more water would be added to the oceans, with unpredictable results. Coastal settlements would surely be affected in the long run.

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The rains are coming!

It seems that thanks to global warming the volume of rain produced by individual storms will rise. A global climate model at the University of California was used to make that prediction. Up to now, scientists knew that rainfall was expected to increase with global warming but how this would affect individual storms was unclear.

What was found with those models was that an increase of 3 degrees would result in the probability of large events occurring ten times more often in most regions. According to the model, this increase of rain could severely affect societies capacity to adapt. Naturally, the poorer the society is the harder the effects will be. No doubt that Asia and possibly Africa could face serious problems with such an increase of precipitation and once again poorer areas of the world would suffer. I have no doubt that rich countries would adapt

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