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Pedal Power solutions to petroleum dependence and polluting vehicles: Arcata Library Bikes, Pedal Power Produce, and more!

CAOE - Committee Against Oil Exploration - stop offshore oil drilling to protect sensitive habitats and cut petroleum dependence.

Culture Change through music! The Depavers eco-rock!

Take our Pledge for Climate Protection and learn about the Global Warming Crisis Council.

SEI hometown action!
Arcata city council's proclamation against war on Iraq and Kyoto Protocol proclamation.

Overpopulation has become a reality.  Overpopulation Resources and News Tidbits

Sail Transport Network

Fact Sheets
Press Releases

Long Distance

News on global warming and climate change 
How global warming works to change the climate
from the Global Warming Crisis Council

1979   Ice cap over northern hemisphere  2003
source: NASA study

The Global Warming Crisis Council was formed in July 2003 beginning with a proposal emailed around the world to over 6,000 people who were familiar with Culture Change.  To see the original document, go to Culture Change Letter #26.  Response was good, and those wanting to get involved are being contacted and put in touch with each other.  To get on the email list for the Global Warming Crisis Council, email Jan Lundberg.  


Methane burp?  Move over carbon dioxide, methane's the biggie in the Arctic.

Peat Bogs and Global Warming  (National Public Radio) Peat bogs soak up more carbon dioxide than all the world's rainforests. But as humans pump more pollutants into the atmosphere, scientists worry the bogs may vent carbon dioxide and add to global warming. Web Extra: The Global Warming Cycle

Oceans Are Absorbing A Lot of Greenhouse CO2.
What Happens to Sea Life?  See the Earthfiles website's interview

Global warming out of control already, say new data.
"Global Warming Spirals Upwards — Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have jumped abruptly, raising fears that global warming may be accelerating out of control. Measurements by US government scientists show that concentrations of the gas, the main cause of the climate exchange, rose by a record amount over the past 12 months. It is the third successive year in which they have increased sharply, marking an unprecedented triennial surge." See The Independent

'If the Land Gets Sick and Dies, So will the People'
Tania Branigan in Poplar River, Canada

Northern hemisphere cooling/Gulf Stream's perversion
January 25, 2004   A big, ugly global-warming cold age could hit suddenly, massively, and soon.  The current cold snap in the eastern U.S. may well be from human-caused climate change.   International mainstream press have covered the amazingly awful and depressing development regarding the Gulf Stream's possible failure.  For an explanation of the why's and wherefore's, see the New York Times story from Paul Epstein, a Harvard Medical School/nonprofit writer.

January 28, 2004   The Gulf Stream also warms the British Isles and surrounding areas, so as it seems to be failing an ice age has been announced as in waiting right up ahead.  " A study, which is being taken seriously by top government scientists, has uncovered a change "of remarkable amplitude" in the circulation of the waters of the North Atlantic.  Similar events in pre-history are known to have caused sudden "flips" of the climate, bringing ice ages to northern Europe within a few decades. The development - described as "the largest and most dramatic oceanic change ever measured in the era of modern instruments..."  Read more in London's The Independent.

The Pentagon believes climate change and global warming are a major threat, and top brass have gone public despite White House intransigence.  See Fortune Magazine's article by David Stipp.

By Matthew Beard
The Independent
April 15, 2005
Climate change is playing havoc with the timing of the seasons and could
drastically alter the landscape, according to one of the most comprehensive
studies of its kind.
Frogs have begun spawning in Britain as early as October, oaks are coming
into leaf three weeks earlier than they were 50 years ago and there were an
unprecedented 4,000 sightings of bumblebees by the end of January this year.
Scientists, who also noted that people were mowing their lawns earlier, have concluded that spring now arrives ahead of schedule.
The findings were submitted to scientists at the UK Phenology Network by
hundreds of paid observers across the country and have been combined with environmental data over three centuries. The study is bound to intensify
calls for tighter controls on environmental pollution linked to climate
The report, published yesterday in the BBC Wildlife Magazine, provides
startling evidence of how nature is reacting to rising temperatures and
changing rainfall patterns. Authors of the report have calculated that
spring starts around six days earlier for every 1C temperature rise but not
all species are affected in the same way.
For example for every 1C temperature rise, oak trees come into leaf 10 days earlier compared to four days earlier for the ash, its main competitor for space.
In an example of the ecological balance being upset, these changes also
affect caterpillars, which are developing earlier to meet the need to feed
on the trees' young leaves. This may also have an effect on the migratory
patterns of birds that feed on the insects, which can more readily adapt to
climate change.
"The findings suggest that there won't be a smooth progression towards a
warmer climate, with all species advancing in unison, but rather that
different responses may disrupt the complex linkages in nature," said Tim
Sparks, one of the report's authors.
The authors predict more drastic changes if, as expected, global
temperatures rise between 2C and 6C.
It is now warmer than at any point in the past 1,000 years and nine of the
10 warmest years have occurred in the past decade.
England's beech woods may disappear along with animals such as Scotland's capercaillie and snow bunting -- both birds which prefer a cold environment.
The landscape may also change because of shifting rainfall patterns, more
extreme weather and rising sea levels, the report predicts. Arable farming
may migrate to the west as parts of East Anglia become too dry to cultivate.
"Climate change will affect our wildlife but nature is difficult to predict"
said Mr Sparks. "What is clear is that we need to act now if we are able to
help the natural world to survive and adapt to future change."

Under a warming climate, Britain may be invaded by new animals and plants.  Among birds, the candidates include the black kite, cattle egret and hoopoe.  There may also be new moths and butterflies, including the mazarine blue butterfly and the black-veined white butterfly.
The long-winged conehead, formerly restricted to the south coast, has moved 60 miles north.
A migrating species that is now spending the winter in the UK.
Spawning has occurred before Christmas for several years in milder parts of
Cornwall. Researchers have discovered dozens of cases in October and as far north as Northern Ireland.
Activity in winter is aided by exotic flowers but scientists have logged
4,000 reports of bees in January in what is called a "significant change" in
Flowering is no longer restricted to spring with it being spotted on
Christmas Day. There are similar changes with the white dead-nettle.
In the past 50 years the oak has come into leaf three weeks earlier. In
southern England leaves now emerge in late March.
Now grows all year with 7 per cent of respondents to the survey in Scotland cutting their grass in winter.


(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the above material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Culture Change has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Culture Change endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

Species Extinction from climate change  news:

January 8, 2004   "Climate change over the next 50 years is expected to drive a quarter of land animals and plants into extinction, according to the first comprehensive study into the effect of higher temperatures on the natural world.

"The sheer scale of the disaster facing the planet shocked those involved in the research.  They estimate that more than 1 million species will be lost by 2050.

"The results are described as "terrifying" by Chris Thomas, professor of conservation biology at Leeds University, who is lead author of the research from four continents published today in the magazine Nature.

"Much of that loss - more than one in 10 of all plants and animals - is already irreversible because of the extra global warming gases already discharged into the atmosphere.  But the scientists say that action to curb greenhouse gases now could save many more from the same fate."
Read entire article, "Unnatural Disaster," in The Guardian, London.

CHANGES IN WATER TEMPERATURE WILL CAUSE MASSIVE EXTINCTION OF ANIMALS (from OilWatch's March 2003 report, viewable on the webpage Fall of Petroleum Civilization - Resistance

Oceans are reservoirs and redistributory agents of many important constituents of the world's climatic system, among them: temperature, freshwater and carbon dioxide.

While these constituents are actively exchanged in the atmosphere, salt is a
composite that remains in the ocean in essence. 

The measurement of salt levels in sea water allows us to diagnose the flows of freshwater that pour into it.
In this investigation, the authors show us that the levels of salinity in the
Atlantic Ocean between the 1950s and 1990s have varied according to latitude.  Towards the poles the level of salinity has diminished, while at low latitudes it has increased.

These results are yet another consequence of climate change and show the changes in hydrological systems and cycles in the world.

Source:  Nature Magazine 426, 18 December 2003


The ozone layer is critical for Earth's climate as well.  For one thing, excess Ultraviolet Radiation getting through to hit the ocean kills phytoplankton, and it then becomes a carbon source for the atmosphere instead of a sink.  President Bush wants to allow U.S. industry to use more of an ozone-depleting chemical applied to your non-organic strawberries, for example.  See

Amazing 2002 weather record: From Worldwatch Institute's Vital Signs 2003 - "In 2002, the world experienced about 700 natural disasters-nearly 600 of which were weather-related events. Economic losses from weather disasters worldwide approached $53 billion, a 93 percent increase over 2001. The year also set numerous local and regional records for windstorms, rain intensities, floods, droughts, and temperatures..."


How to feed people under a regime of Climate Change, by Edward Goldsmith, founder of The Ecologist magazine.  This new paper has been sent by the author to contribute to the knowledge of the Global Warming Crisis Council.   


The Science of Global Warming, courtesy Environmental Defense, Inc.

What is global warming?
ï Global warming refers to a rise in average global temperature due to human activities: namely, the emissions of greenhouse gases produced by the burning of fossil fuels, and land-use changes like deforestation.
ï Scientists predict that higher temperatures will probably be accompanied by an increase in extreme weather events, such as flooding and drought, as well as global sea-level rise. While the first signs of global warming are apparent now, a sharp reduction of greenhouse gas emissions can significantly slow global warming.
How does global warming function?
ï Heat from the sun passes through our atmosphere where it is absorbed by the Earth's surface. Some of that heat is reflected back to space. Greenhouse gases in our atmosphere trap a portion of this reflected heat, preventing it from escaping, thus keeping Earth warmer than it otherwise would be. A majority of this greenhouse effect is natural, maintaining Earth's average temperature at about 60ƒF (15ƒC). Without the natural greenhouse effect, Earth's average temperature would be closer to 0ƒF (-18ƒC).
ï The atmospheric concentrations of several greenhouse gases are rising as a result of human activity. Carbon dioxide, the most important human-made greenhouse gas, is released primarily by the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas; CO2 concentration has risen by 30% over its value in pre-industrial times. Concentrations of other greenhouse gases have also risen; methane levels have more than doubled and nitrous oxide (NOx) levels are increasing as well.
ï There is a worldwide consensus among climate scientists that global average temperature has risen about 1ƒF (0.4ƒC-0.8ƒC) in the past 140 years. Assessments by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) find that most of the warming of the past 50 years is likely due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases.
What is the future of global warming?
ï According to the IPCC, Earth may warm by 2.5ƒF to 10.4ƒF (1.4-5.8ƒC) by the end of this century, potentially making our planet warmer than at any time since dinosaurs were dominant.
ï Scientists project that Earth could experience the fastest warming in the history of civilization during the 21st century. Such a global temperature rise would be associated with significant climate change impacts. The difference in global average temperature between modern times and the last ice age ñ when much of Canada and the northern United States were covered with a thick ice sheet ñ was only about 9ƒF (5ƒC). A temperature rise of similar magnitude could have serious, potentially devastating effects on society and ecosystems.
How are governments addressing this problem?
ï International agreements have called for a reduction in the emissions of greenhouse gases to reduce the effects of future global warming. While the pace and magnitude of future climate change are still uncertain, there is widespread agreement among scientists and government officials on the key aspects of global warming. This consensus led to negotiation and signing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at the 1992 Earth Summit held at Rio de Janiero. The treaty embodied a voluntary commitment by industrial countries to return their emissions to 1990 levels by year 2000. The treaty was strengthened in 1997 by addition of the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for mandatory reductions of emissions by industrial countries (e.g., 7% below 1990 levels for the U.S. based on average emissions for the period 2008-2012).
ï Over 100 countries, including the European Union, Canada and Japan, have ratified the Kyoto Protocol. It is expected to go into effect in early 2003.
ï The United States, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.


What you may have already known:
by Jan Lundberg, Sustainable Energy Institute

Greenhouse gases are building up due to human activity. The result is a measurable rise in average global temperature of one degree Fahrenheit from one hundred years ago. That is amazing in geohistory, and the trend is accelerating. The hottest seven years since record keeping began have been in the 1990s. The resultant distortion of the planet’s sensitive climate system is now bringing on sea-level rise and new patterns of drought, affecting crops and fisheries. More intense storms are part of rapid global warming; this phase has begun. Four-fifths of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, is from fossil fuels combustion. Meanwhile, industry propagandists (fossil-fuel lobbyists and corporate news-media commentators) spin myths that more carbon is good for plant growth, and that there is scientific debate on global warming. The grains of truth in those concepts are more than offset by the reality of deforestation and loss of fertile soils that are drying and eroding as never before. Desertification has accelerated, but is nothing new as a by-product of civilization.

What you may NOT have known:
Current climate change from global warming is happening more rapidly than expected by scientists and their computer climate-change models, because the models do not incorporate the effects of humans’ actions such as deforesting the Amazon rainforest. Climatologists warn that if the Earth loses much more precipitation-regulating forests, then warming and droughts could rapidly intensify. Ice caps are melting, most glaciers are in retreat, and huge chunks of Antarctic ice shelves are breaking off, promising to boost ocean temperature and sea-level rise several times more than the models forecast. The U.S. had its warmest spring on record this year, which followed the warmest winter on record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said this year the climate is warming at “an unprecedented rate.” If cooling sulphur emissions and aerosols—which may cease in production, and do not linger long in the atmosphere—are taken into account, global warming is significantly greater than calculated.

What we are putting into the atmosphere today will not be felt or detected in terms of global warming for another 50 years or more. The discernible warming today due to fossil fuel burning comes from prior to 1950. Not to slow global warming now is madness.

Positive feedback loops mean that carbon or methane “sinks” become greenhouse gas sources (emitters), and rising temperatures cause more release of the gases, causing quicker global warming which releases more gases more quickly, and so on—the runaway greenhouse effect. The Arctic’s permafrost is melting, releasing CO2 and methane contained there; ocean temperatures are rising which kills phytoplankton that soak up carbon; ocean water expands when heated and would engulf more land, killing vegetation that releases CO2. Meanwhile, bodies of water hold heat while ice reflects it away. Vast amounts of frozen methane on sea bottoms can be released, contributing to oceanic and atmospheric warming. Species are being driven extinct at a rate of perhaps over one hundred a day, before much global warming has even hit.

Individual and mass action is clearly required now; we must not wait to see what Al Gore would do. He supports more highway building, which increases motor vehicle use. U.S. automobiles are the single biggest contributor to greenhouse-gas emissions. If non-petroleum fuels were the new propulsion for vehicles, the amount of CO2 emissions would increase with electric vehicles charged up on a fossil-fuel electric utility grid. But most emissions from cars are from the mining and manufacturing of the cars and components.

The Kyoto Protocol, a United Nations-spawned proposed treaty adopted in 1997, calls for the U.S. to cut greenhouse gases by 7% of 1990 levels. The Senate has not yet ratified it. Meanwhile, emissions have risen, to over 11% beyond 1990 levels. So, emissions are supposed to go down by 18% between 2008-2012, assuming they stopped going up now. The revised goal for arithmetic accuracy by then may have to be 25%, although that is less than half of what the climate needs—assuming other nations came through too. Unless this happens, the result may be the runaway greenhouse effect. Scientists with the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated in 1995 that the world’s fossil-fuels emissions reduction must be 60-80%. In Kyoto, Fossil Fuels Policy Action was advised that transport is the sector accounting for the rise in greenhouse gas emissions in the 1990s. To offset this means no new roads globally. It means retiring cars as Cuba did upon losing its Soviet oil. It means massive birth control. It means neighbors sharing the use of ovens to cook meals, and more.

In June 2000 the San Francisco Chronicle referred to the “Global Warming Debate” in a headline. This adds to confusion and prevents needed action. The reality of climate-change is not getting through, despite the alternative media. The U.S. government demands cheaper gasoline from the oil companies and more oil from OPEC. With that kind of leadership, when it knows full well what global warming is doing, our choosing lifestyle change on the individual level is what the Earth demands. In the process of a mass movement we will save money and improve health and sociability.

Due to heatwaves at present, perhaps due to global warming, energy shortages exist for electric power. This seems like the best reason and time to implement Kyoto-type cuts in consumption to cut emissions.

The “technofix” hope, pinned on renewable energy, can be a misleading dead-end when we consider dwindling oil’s unique applications, and we face existing overpopulation propped up by cheap petroleum. The technofix is well supported in the environmental movement’s literature because the industrial approach gets well funded. The inefficient, overbuilt infrastructure that the technofix would attempt to preserve relies on oil’s non-energy uses: e.g., asphalt, tires and plastic.

This document’s list of steps to take is limited. Be creative! Eventually, a natural balance can be restored, and we will along the way achieve local food-supply security through non-petroleum farming and non-oil transport and trade. The steps in the Pledge for Climate Stabilization would aid the grassroots movement to fight climate destabilization.

Legislation and court decisions limiting secondhand smoke was possible through active respect for individual and public health. To pass and enforce laws against motor-vehicle exhaust is harder than fighting tobacco companies, because the national and global economy would collapse without ongoing sales of new motor vehicles. Some would welcome collapse, but society is already challenged to adequately care for stockpiles of nuclear weapons and radioactive waste.

There is hope in grassroots, nonviolent direct action. It is peaceful when people in the opposition—those in denial—are thought of as lacking information or in experience in using courage. Shutting down the WTO meeting peacefully in Seattle last fall proves people can be motivated to turn off the televisions and computers, get out of their cars, and make a long-term difference.

Ticking Time Bomb: the Methane Burp

John Atcheson
Baltimore Sun
15 Dec 2004

The Arctic Council's recent report on the effects of global warming in the far north paints a grim picture: global floods, extinction of polar bears and other marine mammals, collapsed fisheries. But it ignored a ticking time bomb buried in the Arctic tundra.

There are enormous quantities of naturally occurring greenhouse gasses trapped in ice-like structures in the cold northern muds and at the bottom of the seas. These ices, called clathrates, contain 3,000 times as much methane as is in the atmosphere. Methane is more than 20 times as strong a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.

Now here's the scary part. A temperature increase of merely a few degrees would cause these gases to volatilize and "burp" into the atmosphere, which would further raise temperatures, which would release yet more methane, heating the Earth and seas further, and so on. There's 400 gigatons of methane locked in the frozen arctic tundra - enough to start this chain reaction - and the kind of warming the Arctic Council predicts is sufficient to melt the clathrates and release these greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Once triggered, this cycle could result in runaway global warming the likes of which even the most pessimistic doomsayers aren't talking about.

An apocalyptic fantasy concocted by hysterical environmentalists? Unfortunately, no. Strong geologic evidence suggests something similar has happened at least twice before.

The most recent of these catastrophes occurred about 55 million years ago in what geologists call the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), when methane burps caused rapid warming and massive die-offs, disrupting the climate for more than 100,000 years.

The granddaddy of these catastrophes occurred 251 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, when a series of methane burps came close to wiping out all life on Earth.

More than 94 percent of the marine species present in the fossil record disappeared suddenly as oxygen levels plummeted and life teetered on the verge of extinction. Over the ensuing 500,000 years, a few species struggled to gain a foothold in the hostile environment. It took 20 million to 30 million years for even rudimentary coral reefs to re-establish themselves and for forests to regrow. In some areas, it took more than 100 million years for ecosystems to reach their former healthy diversity.

Geologist Michael J. Benton lays out the scientific evidence for this epochal tragedy in a recent book, When Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time. As with the PETM, greenhouse gases, mostly carbon dioxide from increased volcanic activity, warmed the earth and seas enough to release massive amounts of methane from these sensitive clathrates, setting off a runaway greenhouse effect.

The cause of all this havoc?

In both cases, a temperature increase of about 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit, about the upper range for the average global increase today's models predict can be expected from burning fossil fuels by 2100. But these models could be the tail wagging the dog since they don't add in the effect of burps from warming gas hydrates. Worse, as the Arctic Council found, the highest temperature increases from human greenhouse gas emissions will occur in the arctic regions - an area rich in these unstable clathrates.

If we trigger this runaway release of methane, there's no turning back. No do-overs. Once it starts, it's likely to play out all the way.

Humans appear to be capable of emitting carbon dioxide in quantities comparable to the volcanic activity that started these chain reactions. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, burning fossil fuels releases more than 150 times the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by volcanoes - the equivalent of nearly 17,000 additional volcanoes the size of Hawaii's Kilauea.

And that is the time bomb the Arctic Council ignored.

How likely is it that humans will cause methane burps by burning fossil fuels? No one knows. But it is somewhere between possible and likely at this point, and it becomes more likely with each passing year that we fail to act.

So forget rising sea levels, melting ice caps, more intense storms, more floods, destruction of habitats and the extinction of polar bears. Forget warnings that global warming might turn some of the world's major agricultural areas into deserts and increase the range of tropical diseases, even though this is the stuff we're pretty sure will happen.

Instead, let's just get with the Bush administration's policy of pre-emption. We can't afford to have the first sign of a failed energy policy be the mass extinction of life on Earth. We have to act now.

John Atcheson, a geologist, has held a variety of policy positions in several federal government agencies.

© 2004 Baltimore Sun

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the above material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Culture Change has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Culture Change endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

'If the Land Gets Sick and Dies, So will the People'
Tania Branigan in Poplar River, Canada

May 12, 2004

  The Climate Group, a new body bringing together big business and government, meets in Toronto to find ways to save the environment. (while pushing an unrealistic technofix that keeps consumers and polluters comfortable - Culture Change ed.)

  'Look at the water; it's glistening like diamonds. This is beautiful, beautiful country," said Frances Valiquette, gazing across the wilderness surrounding the Poplar River reserve in the province of Manitoba. "We have 10 kids and we raised them all off the land. We lived off the land and lived good. Marcel, my husband, fished and trapped and we sold the pelts for money. We never saw welfare," she added.

  The 70-year-old First Nation elder and her husband have spent their lives among these creeks and paper birch thickets. Two hundred and fifty miles north of Winnipeg, and accessible only by air, snow road in winter and boat in summer, the reserve has proved a generous home to 1,000 indigenous Canadians.

  Yet the couple believe the land is dying. Its wildlife is vanishing; its weather freakish; its waters dangerously unpredictable.

  The last few years have seen intense storms, fierce gales and scorching summers. Their beloved river runs suddenly high, too risky to canoe; then Lake Winnipeg drops so low that boat motors break on the rocks. "In the past, if we set 12 traps we would probably get 10 rabbits. But we only got two or three this whole winter," Ms Valiquette said, shaking her head.

  "There was a time when you couldn't step anywhere without treading on frogs, but even they've disappeared. You just can't live off the land."

  She is convinced the cause of these devastating changes is simple: global warming. And if she is right, the problems are only beginning. Scientists warn that by 2080, winter temperatures in the central Canadian province of Manitoba will be 5C to 15C higher than at present.

  Internationally, the average surface temperature will rise 1-3C over the next few decades and extreme weather could create 150 million environmental refugees by 2050. Tony Blair last month described global warming as the planet's most serious long-term threat.

  It was Canada which put the issue on the world agenda by hosting the first international climate change conference 15 years ago. Today, experts will convene in the same city, Toronto, to lobby for rapid cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and find the best ways of achieving them.

  The conference is the work of the Climate Group, a new body bringing together leading firms, governments and non-governmental organisations from around the world. But while the goals have not changed, the tactics and rhetoric have.

  The Climate Group's focus is on tackling major polluters - rather than individuals - and it promises that cutting emis sions means instant gains, not painful sacrifices. They cite the example of BP, which spent £11m cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 10% in three years, and saved £365m. "You don't have to go and live in a teepee in Wales. A lot could be done without having any noticeable impact on people's quality of life," said Steve Howard, the group's chief executive.

  The keys, they believe, are to tap into clean energy sources, such as hydroelectricity and wind power, while improving the efficiency of buildings and equipment.

  "Canada is so richly endowed with resources that we tend to focus on solutions on the supply side. In the EU you don't have the same resources so there's more emphasis on the demand or efficiency side. Neither is the complete solution; it's about finding a balance," says Ken Klassen, of the government's natural resources agency. The group does not suggest other countries copy Canadian strategies; rather, they adopt its zeal and find solutions which exploit their own strengths. In Mr Howard's words, "There are good examples everywhere - but different good examples."

  In London, for instance, the congestion charge has cut carbon dioxide emissions in the charging zone by 19%.

  Nicky Gavron, Labour's candidate for deputy mayor and the assembly member leading on environmental issues for Mayor Ken Livingstone, describes the task of further cuts as "daunting" but achievable with boldness.

  The alternative, believes the Climate Group, is unthinkable. Countries such as Canada, with substantial Arctic tracts, are disproportionately affected by the rising temperatures that result from the massive use of fossil fuels, and the resulting rise in gases which trap heat in the atmosphere.

  "If there's a canary in terms of global warming, I believe it's the north," said Gary Doer, Manitoba's premier. "The cost of doing nothing is too great for Canada."

  The effects are already visible at Poplar River. Moose; martens; lynx; all have dwindled or vanished from the region. Wild rice, once abundant, is scarce. The sun scorches berries before they can ripen. When algae blooms spread across Lake Winnipeg in summer, the fish vanish and the empty nets become so thick with the plant that they look like green blankets.

  "You see how beautiful this land is? That didn't happen by mistake," said Ray Rabliauskas, the reserve's land management coordinator. "Elders like Frances have worked hard to keep it that way, and it should be intact for our children and grandchildren. If the land gets sick and dies, then so will the people."

  A Region to Make Others Green With Envy

  … Manitoba authorities are building a 10,000-household estate in which every new home will be heated and cooled by a geothermal heat pump, tapping into the energy produced by the earth and eliminating the need for gas pipes

  … It will introduce 10% ethanol to petrol by 2007, cutting emissions by the equivalent of 10,000 vehicles

  … Its new generation hydros will reduce the impact of dam-building and produce 0.5% of the greenhouse gases emitted by a coal-fired plant generating the same amount of power

  … It is pressing for the creation of a national grid so it can export clean energy across Canada. Wind and water sources together could produce enough power to replace 10 nuclear plants

  … Toronto is the only city in the world with an agency exclusively devoted to tackling climate change. It has already saved £8m on an initial outlay of £6m, while slashing carbon dioxide emissions in its own buildings by 42%. Ken Livingstone wants London to launch a similar body if he wins a second term as mayor

  … Pioneering projects in the city include the introduction of water cooling for buildings - circulating waters drawn from Lake Ontario - in place of energy-hungry air conditioning

  … The Canadian federal government gives owners cash rewards for improving their home's energy efficiency

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the above material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Culture Change has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Culture Change endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

World's land turning to desert at alarming speed, United Nations warns
- CHRIS HAWLEY, Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The world is turning to dust, with lands the size of Rhode Island becoming desert wasteland every year and the problem threatening to send millions of people fleeing to greener countries, the United Nations says.

One-third of the Earth's surface is at risk, driving people into cities and destroying agriculture in vast swaths of Africa. Thirty-one percent of Spain is threatened, while China has lost 36,000 square miles to desert -- an area the size of Indiana -- since the 1950s.

This week the United Nations marks the 10th anniversary of the Convention to Combat Desertification, a plan aimed at stopping the phenomenon. Despite the efforts, the trend seems to be picking up speed -- doubling its pace since the 1970s.

"It's a creeping catastrophe," said Michel Smitall, a spokesman for the U.N. secretariat that oversees the 1994 accord. "Entire parts of the world might become uninhabitable."

Slash-and-burn agriculture, sloppy conservation, overtaxed water supplies and soaring populations are mostly to blame. But global warming is taking its toll, too.

The United Nations is holding a ceremony in Bonn, Germany, on Thursday to mark World Day to Combat Desertification, and will hold a meeting in Brazil this month to take stock of the problem.

The warning comes as a controversial movie, "The Day After Tomorrow" is whipping up interest in climate change, and as rivers and lakes dry up in the American West, giving Americans a taste of what's to come elsewhere.

The United Nations says:

* From the mid-1990s to 2000, 1,374 square miles have turned into deserts each year -- an area about the size of Rhode Island. That's up from 840 square miles in the 1980s, and 624 square miles during the 1970s.

* By 2025, two-thirds of arable land in Africa will disappear, along with one-third of Asia's and one-fifth of South America's.

* Some 135 million people -- equivalent to the populations of France and Germany combined -- are at risk of being displaced.

Most at risk are dry regions on the edges of deserts -- places like sub-Saharan Africa or the Gobi Desert in China, where people are already struggling to eke out a living from the land.

As populations expand, those regions have become more stressed. Trees are cut for firewood, grasslands are overgrazed, fields are over-farmed and lose their nutrients, water becomes scarcer and dirtier.

Technology can make the problem worse. In parts of Australia, irrigation systems are pumping up salty water and slowly poisoning farms. In Saudi Arabia, herdsmen can use water trucks instead of taking their animals from oasis to oasis -- but by staying in one place, the herds are getting bigger and eating all the grass.

In Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, coastal resorts are swallowing up water that once moistened the wilderness. Many farmers in those countries still flood their fields instead of using more miserly "drip irrigation," and the resulting shortages are slowly baking the life out of the land.

The result is a patchy "rash" of dead areas, rather than an easy-to-see expansion of existing deserts, scientists say. These areas have their good times and bad times as the weather changes. But in general, they are getting bigger and worse-off.

"It's not as dramatic as a flood or a big disaster like an earthquake," said Richard Thomas of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas in Aleppo, Syria. "There are some bright spots and hot spots. But overall, there is a trend toward increasing degradation."

The trend is speeding up, but it has been going on for centuries, scientists say. Fossilized pollen and seeds, along with ancient tools like grinding stones, show that much of the Middle East, the Mediterranean and North Africa were once green. The Sahara itself was a savanna, and rock paintings show giraffes, elephants and cows once lived there.

Global warming contributes to the problem, making many dry areas drier, scientists say. In the last century, average temperatures have risen over 1 degree Fahrenheit worldwide, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

As for the American Southwest, it is too early to tell whether its six-year drought could turn to something more permanent. But scientists note that reservoir levels are dropping as cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas expand.

"In some respects you may have greener vegetation showing up in people's yards, but you may be using water that was destined for the natural environment," said Stuart Marsh of the University of Arizona's Office of Arid Lands Studies. "That might have an effect on the biodiversity surrounding that city."

The Global Change Research Program says global warming could eventually make the Southwest wetter -- but it will also cause more extreme weather, meaning harsher droughts that could kill vegetation. Now, the Southwest drought has become so severe that even the sagebrush is dying.

"The lack of water and the overuse of water, that is going to be a threat to the United States," Thomas said. "In other parts of the world, the problem is poverty that causes people to overuse the land. Most of these ecological systems have tipping points, and once you go past them, things go downhill."

On the Web:

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification:

International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas :

University of Arizona Office of Arid Lands Studies:

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the above material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Culture Change has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Culture Change endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)


Check out the website of the Campaign against Climate Change/Rising Tide  
and The Independent's report on the alarming findings of the World Meterological Organisation
Climate change could be next legal battlefield: Climate Justice Programme 
The ABC's of global warming from Environmental Defense, Inc.
See Food Not Lawns
Hear Have a Global Warming Day
See City of Arcata's adoption of Kyoto Protocol's goals  
See SEI's/Culture Change's Donate page 

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