Newsletter #21 - October 2008 for the
Crisis Coalition at

What is a Footprint?

Comparison of US and Australian ecological footprints with African. Every Australian puts 26.5 tons of CO2-e into the atmosphere every year, every American puts 23.6 tons and most Africans a lot less than 1 ton each.

For earlier Footprints #13 (June), #14 (June), #15 (July), #16 (July), #17 (Aug), #18 (Sept) , #19 (Sept) and #20(Sept) and the archive.

The Crisis Coalition aims to raise awareness and to galvanise action.
For the latest information read this fully referenced report.

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A warning from the ghost of climate past - Andrew Glikson
Records of abrupt climate events in the recent history of Earth suggest current emission reduction targets fall short of preventing carbon and ice/melt feedback loops and consequent runaway greenhouse effects.
This is an important article with excellent graphs. Ice sheets can collapse in very short periods of time. We may not be looking at decades but at years to find our seashores rushing inland. It is not enough to think about this – we need to prepare too.

Permafrost May Survive Global Climate Change – Science
Possible good news is that the impact of warming on permafrost may not be as bad as forecast. The fear of this being an end-of-the-world tipping point may be unfounded, from a study of ice wedges that have survived successive melting periods.
Or maybe not – see the next story

The Methane Time Bomb - Steve Connor of The Independent
An extensive area of intense methane release was found in the East Siberian Sea and the Laptev Sea, covering several tens of thousands of square kilometres. "For the first time, we documented a field where the release was so intense that the methane did not have time to dissolve into the seawater but was rising as methane bubbles to the sea surface. At some locations, methane concentrations reached 100 times background levels.

On a planet 4C hotter, all we can prepare for is extinction - Oliver Tickell
The idea that we could adapt to a 4C rise is absurd and dangerous. Global warming on this scale would be a catastrophe that could mean the beginning of our extinction. The collapse of the polar ice caps would become inevitable, bringing long-term sea level rises of 70-80 metres. All the world's coastal plains would be lost, complete with ports, cities, transport and industrial infrastructure, and much of the world's most productive farmland. The world's geography would be transformed much as it was at the end of the last ice age, when sea levels rose by about 120 metres to create the Channel, the North Sea and Cardigan Bay out of dry land. Weather would become extreme and unpredictable, with more frequent and severe droughts, floods and hurricanes. The Earth's carrying capacity would be hugely reduced. Billions would undoubtedly die.
There's no 'adaptation' to such warming. We must stop pandering to special interests, and try a new, post-Kyoto strategy.

Lion Die-Off Shows How Climate Change Can Cause Epidemics – Discover
A research team studied data from two extreme die-offs of lions; a 1994 incident when almost one-third of lions in the Serengeti National Park died, and a similar incident in the nearby Ngorongoro Crater area in 2001. They found the lions were infected by two diseases that usually occur in isolation. In 1994 and 2001, however, a “perfect storm” of extreme drought followed by heavy seasonal rains set up the conditions for the two diseases to converge, the study said [National Geographic News].

Thawing Permafrost Holds Vast Carbon Pool - Science Daily
Permafrost blanketing the northern hemisphere contains more than twice the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, making it a potentially mammoth contributor to global climate change. New research expands the estimate to all the permafrost-covered northern latitudes of Russia, Europe, Greenland and North America. The estimated 1,672 billion metric tons of carbon locked up in the permafrost is more than double the 780 billion tons in the atmosphere today. "It's bigger than we thought."

Greenland icesheet could melt faster - Richard Ingham
Scientists said they could no longer rule out a fast melting of the Greenland icesheet — a prospect that would see much of the world's coastline drowned by rising seas. Researchers found that the great Laurentide icesheet that smothered much of North America during the last Ice Age melted far swifter than realised, dumping billions of tonnes of water into the ocean.

Norway pledges up to US$1B for Amazon preservation - By Marco Sibaja
Norway will give Brazil US$1 billion by 2015 to preserve the Amazon rain forest, as long as they try to stop deforestation, to persuade loggers and farmers to stop destroying trees and to finance scientific and technological projects. Amazon trees are felled by loggers or burned in bulk, releasing an estimated 400 million tons of carbon dioxide — 80% of Brazil's greenhouse gases, thus making the country one of the world's top sources of emissions.

Civilisation and the Carbon Credit Card – John James
There is now a real risk that the combination of rising oil and food prices will greatly increase the number of governments that fail. Lester Brown said “the number of failing states is the key indicator of whether civilization is going to succeed or fail.” 17 of the top 20 failing states have rapid rates of population growth. They are where most of the 70 million people added each year are being born. Brown asks “How many failing states do we need before we have a failing civilization?” No one knows the answer. Mankind has never been there before.

When Gaia gets angry  - Four stories on the strength of nature …

John James

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