Climate Change

Australia’s sponge effect caused global sea levels to drop, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 19, 2013   View Article

A serendipitous convergence of weather patterns funneled so much water over Australia that normally rising global sea levels actually fell in 2011, according to a new study.

In other words, the rain in Australia stays mainly … out of the ocean.

Unlike other land masses, the soils and topography of Australia are such that the continent acts like a giant sponge, preventing most of the rainfall it receives from quickly running off into the sea.

Increased flooding may cost the world $1 trillion by 2050

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 18, 2013   View Article

Flood damage in the world’s major coastal cities may top $1 trillion a year by 2050 due to rising seas and subsiding land, according to a new study.

The startling figure is “not a forecast or a prediction,” but rather a means to “show that not to adapt and not to improve protection is impossible,” Stéphane Hallegatte, a senior economist with the World Bank in Washington, D.C., and the study’s lead author, told NBC News. “We have to do something.”

Extreme heat waves to quadruple by 2040, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 14, 2013   View Article

The type of heat waves that wilt crops, torch forests — and kill people — are expected to become more frequent and severe over the next 30 years regardless of whether humans curb emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, according to a new study.

These are heat waves akin to those that baked many regions of the U.S. in 2012 and devastated crops in Russia in 2010. Such bouts of extreme heat are so-called “three-sigma events,” meaning they are three standard deviations warmer than the normal climate of a specific region for weeks in a row. In the Russia event, for example, July temperatures in Moscow were about 12 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal.

Cutting soot, methane, not much of a fix for climate change, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 12, 2013   View Article

Cutting short-lived emissions such as soot spewed from trucks and methane belched from cattle will do little as a short-term fix for global warming, a new study says.

Previous modeling work indicated that such cuts could shave about 1 degree Fahrenheit from human-caused warming by 2050, enough to buy the world time to wrench the energy economy away from oil, coal and natural gas — major sources of the long-term heat-trapping gas carbon dioxide.

Scientists declare: ‘Human activities are changing Earth’s climate’

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 5, 2013   View Article

With more confidence than ever before, a prominent scientific body put the blame for global climate change squarely at the feet of humanity’s insatiable appetite for fossil fuels, which release heat-trapping gases when burned.

“There is only one thing that is going straight up … that is the greenhouse gases that we are just pumping at an exponential rate,” Gerald North, an atmospheric scientist at Texas A&M University who chaired the committee responsible for the statement, told NBC News.

Fracking and energy exploration connected to earthquakes, say studies

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 11, 2013   View Article

The rivers of water pumped into and out of the ground during the production of natural gas, oil and geothermal energy are causing the Earth to shake more frequently in areas where these industrial activities are soaring, according to a series of studies published today.

While the gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”) causes some small quakes, it’s the disposal of wastewater following that process — and many others relating to energy production — that lead to the largest tremors.

“Fortunately, there have been no deaths and damage has been limited to date, but it is obviously of concern to people as we think about the future of the energy economy,” William Ellsworth, a seismologist with the United States Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., told NBC News.

Hot and bothered: Climate change amplifies violence, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 1, 2013   View Article

As the planet’s climate changes, humans everywhere should brace for a spike in violence, a new study suggests. Civilization as we know it may even be at risk.

The dramatic finding comes from a synthesis of several dozen studies that examine the relationship between climate and conflict. The studies cover most regions of the world and points in time over the past 10,000 years. Across all, the findings are consistent: changes in temperature or rainfall amplify violence.

“As long as future populations continue to respond to climatic events the same way … we should probably expect an amplification of interpersonal and intergroup conflict moving forward,” Solomon Hsiang, a public policy researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, told NBC News.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach