“World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) 2007 Greenhouse
Gas Bulletin, GENEVA, 25 NOVEMBER 2008
“The latest numbers show that carbon dioxide reached 383.1 parts
per million (ppm), an increase of .5 percent from 2006. Concentrations
of nitrous oxide also reached record highs in 2007, up 0.25 er cent
from the year before, while methane increased 0.34 per cent, exceeding
the highest value so far, which was recorded in 2003. Using the NOAA
Annual greenhouse gas index, the total warming effect of all longlived
greenhouse gases was calculated to have increased by 1.06 per cent from
the previous year and by 24.2 per cent since 1990. In the meanwhile,
levels of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) continue to slowly decrease, a
result of emission reductions under the Montreal Protocol on Substances
that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
“Since the mid18th Century, carbon dioxide concentrations in
the atmosphere have risen an unfettered 37 per cent. Population growth
and urban development worldwide continue to increase the use of fossil
fuels, such as oil, coal and natural gas, which emit carbon dioxide
and other gases into the atmosphere. At the same time, the clearing
of land for agriculture, including deforestation, is releasing carbon
dioxide into the air and reducing carbon uptake by the biosphere.
“While the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and N2O are increasing
steadily, the growth rate of methane concentrations has slowed over
the past decade with some variations from one year to the next. The
6 ppb rise from 2006 to 2007 is the highest annual methane increase
observed since 1998. It is still too early to state with certainty,
however, that this latest increase is the start of a new upward trend
in methane levels. Human activities, such as fossil fuel exploitation,
rice agriculture, biomass burning, landfills and ruminant farm animals,
account for some 60 per cent of atmospheric methane, with natural sources,
for example wetlands and termites, responsible for the remaining 40
“Downs, who lives on the edge of farmland near Chichester, West
Sussex, launched her campaign in 2001. The judge described how she was
first exposed to pesticide spraying at the age of 11 "and began
to suffer from ill health, in particular flu-like symptoms, a sore throat,
blistering and other problems".
“Downs said the government had failed to address the concerns
of people living in the countryside "who are repeatedly exposed
to mixtures of pesticides and other chemicals throughout every year,
and in many cases, like mine, for decades". People were not given
prior notification about what was to be sprayed near their homes and
gardens, she said.
“In his ruling, Mr Justice Collins highlighted that the 1986
Control of Pesticides Regulations states that beekeepers must be given
48 hours notice if pesticides harmful to bees are to be used. The judge
said: "It is difficult to see why residents should be in a worse
“Speaking after the ruling, Downs said her seven-year battle
was over "one of the biggest public health scandals of our time".
She called on Gordon Brown to block any Defra appeal. "The government
"should now just admit that it got it wrong, apologise and actually
get on with protecting the health and citizens of this country".
finally admits the cause of gulf war syndrome
“Gulf War illness, dismissed by some as a psychosomatic disorder,
is a very real illness that affects at least 25 percent of the 700,000
U.S. veterans who took part in the 1991 Gulf War.
“It's likely cause was exposure to toxic chemicals that included
pesticides that were often overused during the war, as well as a drug
given to U.S. troops to protect them from nerve gas, a frequent weapon
of choice of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
“And no effective treatments have been devised for the disorder.
“Those are three key conclusions of a Congressionally mandated
landmark report released Monday by a federal panel of scientific experts
and veterans.” [washingtonpost.com]
Scared to Death: From BSE to
Global Warming: Why Scares are Costing Us the Earth
by Christopher Booker and Richard North
A rather hysterical book about public, media and political hysteria. Don’t
take it too seriously and you may find it useful. there are chapters on
asbestos, mad cow disease, speeding, and a variety of other items popular
in the press.
A short (2:50 minutes) video on water and agricultural mismanagement.
A bit bizarrely, the vidoe is made by Al Jazeera (the English version).
“It used to be regarded as one of Turkey's best growing regions.
However, vast sinkholes are now appearing across what was once the country's
agricultural heartland. Drought, shrinking water levels and more thirsty
crops, mean the rich arable land is literally turning to dust. Al Jazeera's
Hoda Abdel-Hamid reports from Konya, one of the region's where desertification
of arable land is most evident.”
“A three-kilometre thick cloud of brown soot and other pollutants
hanging over Asia is darkening cities, killing thousands and damaging
crops but may be holding off the worst effects of global warming, the
UN said on Thursday.”
“The amount of sunlight reaching earth through the murk has fallen
by up to a quarter in the worst-affected areas and if the brown cloud
disperses, global temperatures could rise by up to 2 degrees Celsius.”
“Since the 1970s, semi-arid pasture land in Almeria, south-eastern
Spain, has been replaced by greenhouse horticulture. Today, Almeria
has the largest expanse of greenhouses in the world - around 26,000
“In the greenhouse region, air temperature has cooled by an average
of 0.3 °C per decade since 1983. In the rest of Spain it has risen
by around 0.5 °C. The satellite data revealed that the white greenhouses
were much more reflective than farmland. (Journal of Geophysical Research,
“The fact that 2008 is forecast to be cooler than any of the
last seven years does not mean that global warming has gone away,"
said Phil Jones, director of climate research at UEA.”
“2008 will be slightly cooler than recent years globally but will
still be among the top 10 warmest years on record since 1850 and should
not be seen as a sign global warming was on the wane, British forecasters
“This year is on track to be about the 10th warmest globally
since records began in 1850 but gaps in Arctic data mean the world may
be slightly underestimating global warming, a leading scientist said
“Emissions of greenhouse gases-such as the carbon dioxide,
or CO2, that comes from power plants and cars-are heating the atmosphere
to such an extent that the next ice age, predicted to be the deepest
in millions of years, may be postponed indefinitely.”
Seawater Greenhouse [...] provide[s] a low-cost solution to one of the
world's greatest needs – fresh water. The Seawater Greenhouse
is a new development that offers sustainable solution to the problem
of providing water for agriculture in arid, coastal regions.
“The process uses seawater to cool and humidify the air that
ventilates the greenhouse and sunlight to distil fresh water from seawater.
This enables the year round cultivation of high value crops that would
otherwise be difficult or impossible to grow in hot, arid regions.”
“There were 154 oil spills reported after Hurricane Ike, killing
uncounted wildlife, but none of the spills appeared to be major, the
US Coast Guard said Friday.
“The spills were scattered across about 100 miles of the coast
from Houston to Lake Charles, Louisiana, and although responders were
working to mitigate some, others were still being assessed, the Coast
“Also gone: most of the oyster industry. Ben Nelson and his
wife, Jeri, who own Jeri's Seafood in Smith Point, say the storm may
have wiped out most of the oyster beds in Galveston Bay, which accounts
for 80% of the oyster harvest in Texas. They blame oil runoff, chemical
spills and storm surge churning up the bottom of the bay for ruining
most of this year's harvest.”
“The Interior Department says at least 49 offshore oil or natural
gas production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico were destroyed by Hurricane
Ike, and some may not be rebuilt.
“It said in an assessment Thursday that the platforms accounted
for 13,000 barrels of oil and 84 million cubic feet of natural gas a
day. There are more than 3,800 production platforms in the Gulf producing
1.3 million barrels of oil a day and 7 billion cubic feet of gas a day.
Most remain shut down.
“The department also said five gas transmission pipeline systems
sustained damage, [...]. ”
“The evidence is clear – the long-term trend is that global
temperatures are rising, and humans are largely responsible for this
rise. Global warming does not mean that each year will be warmer than
the last. Natural phenomena will mean that some years will be much warmer
and others cooler.
“You only need to look at 1998 to see a record-breaking warm
year caused by a very strong El Niño. In the last couple of years,
the underlying warming is partially masked caused by a strong La Niña.
Despite this, 11 of the last 13 years were the warmest ever recorded.”
This report is well-summarised by the graph below:
Global average temperature anomaly from 1975 to 2007.
Image: HadCRUT3 (Brohan et al.2006)
“This graph shows global average temperature anomaly from 1975–2007,
relative to the 1961–1990 average.
The black line shows the annual figure.
The red line shows the trend over the full 33 years.
The blue lines show the varying rate of the trend over 10 year periods.”
“Guillemots have begun killing their neighbours' chicks by pecking
them to death and pushing them off cliff edges in a desperate reaction
to collapsing fish stocks in the North Sea.
“The sudden rise of infanticide in a colony in the Firth of Forth
marks an unprecedented breakdown in the social behaviour of the birds,
described by experts as a "catastrophe" that could eventually
see the whole colony die out.”
“In many places — the atolls of the Pacific, the shrimp
beds of the Eastern Seaboard, the fiords of Norway — some of the
most advanced forms of ocean life are struggling to survive while the
most primitive are thriving and spreading. Fish, corals and marine mammals
are dying while algae, bacteria and jellyfish are growing unchecked.
Where this pattern is most pronounced, scientists evoke a scenario of
evolution running in reverse, returning to the primeval seas of hundreds
of millions of years ago”.
“For many years, it was assumed that the oceans were too vast
for humanity to damage in any lasting way. "Man marks the Earth
with ruin," wrote the 19th century poet Lord Byron. "His control
stops with the shore."
“Even in modern times, when oil spills, chemical discharges and
other industrial accidents heightened awareness of man's capacity to
injure sea life, the damage was often regarded as temporary.
“But over time, the accumulation of environmental pressures has
altered the basic chemistry of the seas.”
— jellyfish and microbes taking over
Jellyfish on the French west coast, near Spain
“There and in many other places, bacteria and algae run wild
in the absence of the many mouths that once ate them. As the depletion
of fish allows the lowest forms of life to run rampant, said Pauly,
it is "transforming the oceans into a microbial soup."
“Jellyfish are flourishing in the soup, demonstrating their ability
to adapt to wholesale changes — including the growing human appetite
for them. Jellyfish have been around, after all, at least 500 million
years, longer than most marine animals.
“In the Black Sea, an Atlantic comb jelly carried in the ballast
water of a ship from the East Coast of the United States took over waters
saturated with farm runoff. Free of predators, the jellies gorged on
plankton and fish larvae, depleting the fisheries on which the Russian
and Turkish fleets depend. The plague subsided only with the accidental
importation of another predatory jellyfish that ate the comb jellies.
“Federal scientists tallied a tenfold increase in jellies in
the Bering Sea in the 1990s. They were so thick off the Alaskan Peninsula
that fishermen nicknamed it the Slime Bank. Researchers have found teeming
swarms of jellyfish off Georges Bank in New England and the coast of
Namibia, in the fiords of Norway and in the Gulf of Mexico. Also proliferating
is the giant nomurai found off Japan, a jellyfish the size of a washing
“Their first step is to discover the greenhouse gas emissions
produced through all aspects of their activities. They start by assessing
the emissions directly produced through their home and business energy
use, travel, and waste. They then identify the emissions they create
indirectly, including those generated throughout the entire life cycle
of the goods and services, including food, purchased or used.
“Discovery is often a life-changing experience. People become
aware of the profound impacts of their activities on the climate and
“Albuquerque, N.M., and Portland, Ore., have completed greenhouse-gas
"inventories" of the amount and sources of emissions generated
directly through internal city operations and by the broader community.
Some cities have begun to assess the emissions from products manufactured
elsewhere that are used locally.”
“ In Portland, more than 40 high-performance green buildings have
been constructed and more than 10,000 multifamily units and 800 homes
have been weatherized. Albuquerque now gets 20 percent of its energy
“Thinking sustainably produces impressive results. Emissions
from city operations in Albuquerque have been reduced by 58 percent;
Portland's have dropped 16 percent since 1990, Xerox's by 18 percent
through 2006, and DuPont's by 67 percent. Climate Masters has slashed
emissions by an average of two tons per person.
“Hundreds of other organizations are beginning to think sustainably.
The State of Florida, for example, recently completed a statewide emissions
assessment. More than 850 mayors have signed the US Mayors Climate Protection
Agreement that, among other actions, commits cities to inventory their
emissions. IBM and Bayer have each reduced emissions by at least 60
percent since the early 1990s, collectively saving more than $4 billion.”