Global Warming: Right Here, Right Now

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Global warming is not a distant prospect that might affect our grandchildren at the end of the century. The damage has already started …

Anyone who opens a newspaper has read about the devastating heat wave and fires in Australia. And you’ve probably seen news of several studies that conclude that global warming and CO2 emissions have already exceeded the worst case scenarios in the IPCC’s 2007 reports.

But those big stories are just the tip of the (rapidly melting) iceberg. The following items from various news sources are just a sampling of many I gathered in January and February. Most are based on peer-reviewed reports by climate scientists.

It’s here, and it’s very real.

  • Canada’s forests, stressed by global warming, insect infestations and persistent fires,  are now pumping out more carbon dioxide than they absorb. Chicago Tribune, Jan. 2
  • Ten million people are facing hunger in Kenya after harvests failed because of drought. The government has declared a national emergency. Associated Press, Jan. 9
  • Some regions of Antarctica, particularly the peninsula that stretches toward South America, have warmed rapidly in recent years, contributing to the disintegration of ice shelves and accelerating the sliding of glaciers. New York Times, Jan. 22
  • There has been a “sudden and dramatic collapse” in the amount of CO2 absorbed by the Sea of Japan. Absorption from 1999 to 2007 was half the level of 1992 to 1999. Guardian (UK) Jan. 12
  • A study of past heat waves of the past predicts severe food shortages and rising malnutrition, especially in places where people are already poor and hungry. Crop yields may fall 20, 30, or 40 percent in some cases., Jan. 21
  • The U.S. Geological Survey says the death rates of trees in western U.S. forests have doubled over the past two to three decades, driven in large part by warmer temperatures and water scarcity linked to climate change. Washington Post, Jan. 22
  • If CO2 concentrations reach 450 to 600 parts per million, up from about 385 p.p.m. today, problems like inexorable sea level rise and massive droughts will last for at least a thousand years. New York Times, Jan. 27
  • The world’s marine ecosystems risk being severely damaged by ocean acidification. PH levels are changing 100 times faster than natural variability., Feb. 1
  • The Earth’s seasons have shifted back in the calendar year, with the hottest and coldest days of the years now occurring almost two days earlier. LiveScience, Feb. 3
  • 33 countries, including Malawi, Guinea, Senegal, Uganda; Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, Peru and Colombia are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change because of their heavy reliance on fisheries and limited alternative sources of protein. Agence France-Presse, Feb. 5
  • U.S. energy secretary Steven Chu says water shortages could eliminate all agriculture in California by the end of the century. Los Angeles Times, Feb. 4
  • The ice caps are melting so fast that the world’s oceans are rising more than twice as fast as they were in the 1970s. Times (UK), Feb. 8
  • Since October, drought has killed 1.5 million cattle in Argentina. Washington Post, Feb. 9
  • The Audubon Society says more than half of 305 bird species in North America, are spending the winter about 35 miles farther north than they did 40 years ago. Associated Press, Feb. 10
  • One of the largest penguin colonies in the world is under threat because the birds are being forced to swim 25 miles further from their nesting sites than they did only a decade ago, to find food. The colony has already declined by a fifth in the past 22 years. Independent (UK). 9
  • Researchers in Norway report that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide rose to 392 parts per million (ppm) in December, up 2-3 ppm from the same time a year earlier. Reuters, Feb. 12
  • Warmer temperatures are at least partly to blame for a surge in malaria cases in the highlands of East Africa and the increasing development of drug-resistant strains of the disease. Daily Climate, Feb. 16
  • Indonesia’s outermost islands face the risk of disappearing altogether because of human-induced climate change. Jakarta Post, Feb. 17
  • The U.N. Environment Program says that up to a quarter of global food production could be lost by 2050 due to the combined impact of climate change, land degradation and loss, water scarcity and species infestation. Cereal yields have already stagnated worldwide and fish catches are declining. Reuters, Feb. 17
  • Global climate change threatens the complete disappearance of the Andes’ tropical glaciers within the next 20 years, putting water, energy and food sources at risk, the World Bank says. Glacial retreat has already reduced by 12 percent the water supply to Peru’s dry coastline, where 60 percent of the country’s population lives. Associated Press, Feb. 18
  • Russia will likely see more forest fires, droughts and floods in the coming century due to global warming, and policy makers need to prepare for large-scale change. Over the past 100 years, air temperatures in Russia warmed by around 1.29 degrees C., compared with 0.74 degrees C. globally. Associated Press, Feb. 18
  • Nearly one quarter of Papua New Guinea’s rainforests were damaged or destroyed between 1972 and 2002. Mongobay, Feb. 23
  • Glaciers in Pyrenees, which covered 3300 hectares a century ago, now cover 390 hectares. Worldwide, in 1996-2005, glaciers melted twice as fast as in the previous 10 years. Guardian, Feb. 23
  • As a result of drought in Northern China, about 4.7 million people and 2.5 million head of livestock now lack adequate drinking water. New York Times, Feb. 26
  • California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency because of a severe drought., Feb. 28

And by the way: poor countries have received less than 10% of the money promised by rich countries to help them adapt to global warming. The world’s richest countries have together pledged nearly $18bn (£12.5bn) in the last seven years, but less than $0.9bn has been delivered. (Guardian, Feb. 20)



  • Thanks — and I apologize if my previous response was excessively terse.

    Yes I wrote that article — I hope you find it useful.

  • I compile links (mainly on the Delicious online system). Sometimes I then include the links in blog posts.

    When I tried looking elsewhere, I didn’t see this piece anywhere else online, but articles are re-posted here at times, so I wasn’t sure what to make of this one.