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“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.We have created a society  that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift” – Albert Einstein.

United Nation’s panel on climate change (IPCC) recently confirmed that climate change is real, it is man-made and it is irreversible and if nations do not act now then they will have to face catastrophic climate events in the future. They were categorical and unequivocal in their statements this time. They have come to this conclusion because science has not demonstrated how to   capture carbon emission and sequester them under the earth using current technologies. Scientists neglected carbon emissions while generating power using fossil fuels for decades because they had no idea what would be the consequences of such emissions in the future. It is a clear example how a human mind has a limited capacity to conceive an idea “holistically” but has a capacity to satisfy human needs temporarily without knowing the unforeseeable consequences. When human beings interfere with Nature in the name of Science there are consequences to face and a price to pay because Nature is nothing but the manifestation of the highest intelligence. A real science can be no further than asserting this truth. Ignorance when combined with greed can be a deadly combination and the consequences will be costly and to be paid dearly by generations to come. Carbon emission and climate change is one such issue. Science has improved human life on earth in so many ways but at the same time they also have created many side effects which can be identified only after decades of their use. When they are identified it is often too late and causes irreversible damage to system or nature. Any irreversible change human beings cause in Nature will have its own consequences. Science has shown Carbon is the backbone of all organic matter on planet earth whether it is DNA of a human being or a glittering diamond from deep under the earth. The same Carbon reveals the age of a skeleton of a Dinosaur  buried millions of years ago. Science is a powerful tool but it also has two sides, benign and malign. The power to discriminate between the good and bad is the fundamental pre-requisite of science. Carbon plays an indispensible role in the natural world due to its unique atomic structure and ease with which it can build molecules especially with hydrogen. That is why hydrocarbon is playing such an important role in human civilization and it is not easy to substitute it with another candidate without a long term research and development work. But we have a very short time to discover a substitute for hydrocarbon which can serve our current purposes. Few nuclear power plants around the world can satisfy the growing demand for the electricity without any carbon emission but their long term consequences are unknown. The result of a thermo-nuclear explosion over Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the grim reminder of such consequences. When earth converts organic matter into a fossil over a period of millions of years deep under the earth, it gives us a clue why Nature has buried them and not left them on the surface of the earth. But that did not deter human beings from digging them out and burning them to generate heat to meet their temporary energy needs without realizing the long term consequences of such actions. Many technologies have become obsolete over a period of time for various reasons but some of them lingered long enough to create long lasting consequences and there are many evidences in history to emphasize this truth. Power generation using fossil fuel is one such clear example of a technological bungle. It only confirms the inadequacy of human knowledge.  It also reveals the temporary nature of such inventions stemming from temporary nature of human life. Science also has changed dramatically in the last few decades and it no longer serves the original purpose of unraveling and understanding the mysteries of Nature but caters and serves to the greed and dominance of selected rich and powerful people and the nations in the world. Science has become a tool to create material wealth and power rather than to understand nature and apply them into our lives in a compatible way and to enrich human life. These experiences have taught one important lesson. Any scientific discovery when applied in real life must be “holistic” and be compatible with Nature and should follow Natural laws. When science becomes a wealth creating tool then any knowledge born out of such science can only serve to create wealth often at the cost of Nature. That is why rich and powerful corporate and nations spend billions of dollars in such wealth creating discoveries rather than on discoveries that address human problems of the world that may not return their investment in time. The anomaly is more they invest on wealth creating science more damage they cause to earth and human life. Such discoveries serve only one purpose namely “the wealth creation “. Wealth and power has overtaken science and knowledge. Climate change has become a serious issue and it is absolutely clear that CO2 in the atmosphere has increased to the current level for the first time in millions of years and human beings have contributed greatly to this increase. Yet, nations around the world are unable to come to-gather and agree on how to reduce such emissions. The only way to solve this issue is to use Science as a tool which created this problem in the first place. When steam engine was invented it was considered as the dawn of industrial revolution: when electricity generation using electro-magnetism was invented it was hailed as a land mark in scientific development. When power was generated using fossil fuel to accelerate the industrial growth very little attention was paid to the carbon emission. When huge quantities of sea water was used to cool the cooling towers in fossil fuel powered or nuclear power plants very little attention was paid to the discharge of effluent in to the sea. When large desalination plants were set up to quench the thirst of oil rich countries very little attention was paid to the toxic discharge of effluent in to the sea. What was missing in all the above developments was the negligence of Nature by discharge of emissions or effluents into the Natural world. We have taken Nature for granted and treated her with great indignity and contempt. Few decades ago Scientists were able to make remarkable discoveries using only their mind as a tool and theorizing certain concepts. They were abstract in nature but were validated whenever applied in practice. There were no big investments by Governments or companies on scientific discoveries, no Intellectual property portfolios, no personal ownership, no disputes on infringement as to who owns and what. Today scientific inventions and intellectual properties are the biggest assets and monopolies of few corporate and nations.  Several hundred billions are spent on patents, trademarks and copy rights to stamp their authorities and ownerships. But where such knowledge came from? Who pays for the consequences of ill -conceived scientific discoveries that prove disastrous in the long run? Who can sue them when such technologies are passed on to several generations without knowing their long term consequences? Science is now suggesting methods to address carbon emission using various renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass etc. But these methods often use capital intensive equipments to use such energy even though Nature provides them free of cost. Such equipments also require large energy input to produce which again comes from fossil fuel maintaining the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. The investment on renewable energy has come down by nearly 70% according to latest news and many countries are gearing up to step up their fossil fuel production in the name of “energy security” simply because they have become “addicted “to old ways of living. In fact there is too much at stake for these countries and they are stubbornly sticking to old ideas. Science has become useless in addressing climate change because it is no longer about science but about nation’s security and maintaining material wealth of the citizens of a particular nation and the popularity of politicians among the ignorant masses and  winning their elections and holding to their power. Sun is the only source of energy on the planet earth and all other forms of energy such as wind and biomass etc are only by-products of sun.  Current power generating technologies heavily depends of conversion of thermal energy into electrical energy and the source of thermal energy is by fossil fuel or nuclear. Recently light energy from sun is converted directly into electrical energy using photovoltaics. They also use thermal energy of the sun using solar concentrators to generate power in conventional way using turbines. But high initial cost, lack of energy storage technologies and intermittent nature of renewable sources increases the cost of energy compared to conventional coal fired power and alternative energy has created an uncertainty in the power industry. Energy industry is now at the cross road and it has divided people into two categories; one group accepts science of global warming and climate change and advocate substituting fossil fuel with carbon free energy sources and another group express skepticism over climate science and support fossil fuel energy sources in order to continue and maintain the industrial growth and employment. If countries like US and Australia who have rich deposits of high grade coal and depend heavily on coal based power plants and industries then they have an option to increase the efficiency of coal utilization by way of emission reduction. For example they can reduce carbon emission substantially using gasification technologies. In fact, under certain special conditions it is possible to generate syngas from coal with highest Hydrogen content (even up to CO: H2 ratio of 20:80).This will increase not only the calorific value of syngas but also reduce carbon emission. Companies like GE, USA are developing special gas turbines for syngas with high hydrogen content. Alternatively conversion of coal into synthetic natural gas (SNG) can reduce the carbon emission without dispensing with coal completely. Renewable hydrogen is a potential long term substitute for fossil fuel both for power industry and transportation. But it requires special handling due to its high explosive nature and it is often easier to handle it with a mix of hydrocarbon such as Methane or Carbon monoxide. Fuel cell is an emerging technology that can use hydrogen for power generation as well as for transportation. However it requires expensive catalysts and they are currently confined to smaller applications in power industry. Fuel cell opens up a new way to generate electricity by simply stripping electrons from a hydrogen atom with Platinum and allowing the resulting proton exchange by special membranes in a cell converting chemical energy into an electrical energy. It is certainly a breakthrough in power generation but there is a long way to go before commercializing them on larger scale. It seems Carbon will continue to play an important role for years to come due to its unique nature in the natural world. But high carbon intensity fuel such as coal and current methods of direct combustion will have to be abandoned and substituted with SNG or Syn gas with high hydrogen content by gasifying coal. By this way hydrogen can be introduced into the current energy mix without substantial deviation from using coal while maintaining the carbon emission well within the limit. However a long term strategy will require complete substitution of fossil fuel with renewable hydrogen or with completely a new method of electricity generation such as Fuel cell without using a thermal energy.  Electricity is nothing but a flow of electrons and techniques that are currently used in Fuel cell such as proton exchange membrane should be developed using low cost catalyst and materials on a much larger scale to substitute fossil fuel completely. It is clear that power generation technology should be delinked with using carbon source or combustion for that matter. Combustion of hydrogen electrochemically is an elegant solution but lot of research and development is required. But the stark reality is climate is already changing and the climate change is irreversible and we have to use science to adopt our lives to the changing climate in the future. We cannot capture the carbon and bury them under the earth as Nature does because Nature has not taught us how to do it in a short span of time. The impact of climate change can be minimized or averted depending upon how fast carbon emission is reduced using new technologies. Climate change is an important lesson from which the scientific community should learn how not to interfere with Nature without a complete understanding of it. Sun shine and clean air are not just for rich and powerful but to the entire humanity on the planet. Any scientific discovery should be “holistic” and compatible with Nature and easily accessible to all human beings. Solar and biomass are emerging as alternative technologies to tackle climate change but these simple and holistic solutions were in fact practiced for decades in rural India. Farmers in India feed their cattle with cellulosic fibers (polysaccharides) as a feed and use their waste in the form of “solar” dried cakes (cow dung cakes) as a fuel that has a calorific value of 2100kj (Wikipedia). They also use the waste to generate Methane by anaerobic digestion. These technologies are not new but the challenge is they should to be built on large commercial scales to meet the demand of the growing population in a holistic way. Industrialized countries are now trying to convert the same cellulose (polysaccharides) into industrial alcohol instead of converting corn starch. When plants grow by photosynthesis using sun, it generates starch, lignin, cellulose as well as fatty acids in oil seeds.  It is important to understand that Nature provides them as food for human beings and animals and not as a raw material to generate fuel or energy and that is why “holistic solutions” are the key for the survival of science and technology as well as humanity in the future.

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salinity of oceansuface salinity changeMeasurement of surface salinityGlobal conveyor beltNASA's aquariusDesalination capacity in GulfFuture desalination capacity-projectedDesalination processBrine characterstics from desal plantsThere is a growing evidence that shows increasing salinity of seawater affects the “water cycle” resulting in climate change. Apart from the natural cycle, the highly saline brine discharged from man-made “desalination” plants around the world also contributes to the increasing salinity of seawater. There are only few desalination plants suppliers world-wide who build such large-scale desalination plants and they use only decades old desalination technologies. They recover 35% of fresh water and discharge 65% highly concentrated, toxic effluent back into the sea. Their main focus of innovation is to cut the energy consumption because it is an energy intensive process. Such energy comes mainly from fossil fuels. The result is unabated Carbon emission, toxic brine discharge into the ocean, warm saline water discharge into the ocean from “once through cooling towers” from co-located power and desalination plants. Currently about 5000 million cubic meters of fresh water is generated  yearly from seawater desalination plants around the world; this capacity is expected to increase to 9000 million cubic meter per year by 2030.The brine outfall from desalination plants will amount to a staggering 30 billion cubic meters/yr. Such a huge volume of saline water with salinity ranging 70,000 ppm up to 95,000 ppm will certainly alter the water chemistry of the ocean. Desalination plant suppliers  are not interested in “innovation” that can recover fresh water without “polluting” the sea. They rather justify using “environmental impact study” which invariably concludes there is absolutely no impact on environment and any toxic discharge into the sea is “harmless”. This practice is going on for decades without any check. Dwindling fish population world–wide is a direct impact of such discharge. Financial institutions such as world bank, Asian development bank etc are willingly finance such projects without questioning such technologies and their impact on marine environment. Their focus is only “return on investment”–the only criteria that is required for funding and not the “cost and benefit analysis”. A detailed analysis will reveal  “handful of rich and powerful” Governments and individuals  can influence the world’s climate  intentionally or unintentionally. The same “rich and powerful” can shun any innovations “that might threaten their business model” and “ nip such innovations or inventions at their bud” because they simply do not believe in Research and Development or unwilling to direct their “cash flow” into R&D because they do not want any  threat for their existing technologies. There are very few financial professionals who can think “outside the box” or predict their financial impact due to innovative technologies of the future. Their financial decisions reflect the sentiments of the financial institutions, namely “the return on investment”.

“When you read about human-induced climate change it’s often about melting glaciers and sea ice, increasing frequency of heat waves and powerful storms. Occasionally you’ll hear about the acidification of the oceans too. What you don’t often hear about is the saltiness of the seas. But according to a new piece of research just published inGeophysical Research Letters that is changing too.The saltiness, or salinity, of the oceans is controlled by how much water is entering the oceans from rivers and rain versus how much is evaporating, known as ‘The Water Cycle’. The more sunshine and heat there is, the more water can evaporate, leaving the salts behind in higher concentrations in some places. Over time, those changes spread out as water moves, changing the salinity profiles of the oceans. Oceanographers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory fingerprinted salinity changes from 1955 to 2004 from 60 degrees south latitude to 60 degrees north latitude and down to the depth of 700 meters in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.

They found salinity changes that matched what they expected from such natural changes as El Niño or volcanic eruptions (the latter can lower evaporation by shading and cooling the atmosphere).

Next the ocean data was compared to 11,000 years of ocean data generated by simulations from 20 of the latest global climate models. When they did that they found that the changes seen in the oceans matched those that would be expected from human forcing of the climate. When they combined temperature changes with the salinity, the human imprint is even clearer, they reported.“These results add to the evidence that human forcing of the climate is already taking place, and already changing the climate in ways that will have a profound impact on people throughout the world in coming decades,” the oceanographers conclude.”

(Ref: Larry O’Hanlon, Discovery News)

Salinity

 

Although everyone knows that seawater is salty, few know that even small variations in ocean surface salinity (i.e., concentration of dissolved salts) can have dramatic effects on the water cycle and ocean circulation. Throughout Earth’s history, certain processes have served to make the ocean salty. The weathering of rocks delivers minerals, including salt, into the ocean. Evaporation of ocean water and formation of sea ice both increase the salinity of the ocean. However these “salinity raising” factors are continually counterbalanced by processes that decrease salinity such as the continuous input of fresh water from rivers, precipitation of rain and snow, and melting of ice.

 

Salinity & The Water Cycle 

Understanding why the sea is salty begins with knowing how water cycles among the ocean’s physical states: liquid, vapor, and ice. As a liquid, water dissolves rocks and sediments and reacts with emissions from volcanoes and hydrothermal vents. This creates a complex solution of mineral salts in our ocean basins. Conversely, in other states such as vapor and ice, water and salt are incompatible: water vapor and ice are essentially salt free.

Since 86% of global evaporation and 78% of global precipitation occur over the ocean, ocean surface salinity is the key variable for understanding how fresh water input and output affects ocean dynamics. By tracking ocean surface salinity we can directly monitor variations in the water cycle: land runoff, sea ice freezing and melting, and evaporation and precipitation over the oceans. 

Salinity, Ocean Circulation & Climate

Surface winds drive currents in the upper ocean. Deep below the surface, however, ocean circulation is primarily driven by changes in seawater density, which is determined by salinity and temperature. In some regions such as the North Atlantic near Greenland, cooled high-salinity surface waters can become dense enough to sink to great depths. The ‘Global Conveyor Belt’ visualization (below) shows a simplified model of how this type of circulation would work as an interconnected system.
The ocean stores more heat in the uppermost three (3) meters than the entire atmosphere. Thus density-controlled circulation is key to transporting heat in the ocean and maintaining Earth’s climate. Excess heat associated with the increase in global temperature during the last century is being absorbed and moved by the ocean. In addition, studies suggest that seawater is becoming fresher in high latitudes and tropical areas dominated by rain, while in sub-tropical high evaporation regions, waters are getting saltier. Such changes in the water cycle could significantly impact not only ocean circulation but also the climate in which we live.

(Ref: NASA earth science)

The four main forces that control the earth’s climate are “Sea, Sun, Moon and earth’s rotation”  and  interference by human beings will alter the equilibrium of the system. In order to keep up its equilibrium, Nature is forced to change the climate unpredictably with devastating effects. We cannot underestimate the pollution caused by human beings because they are capable of altering the Nature’s equilibrium over a period no matter how “miniscule” (parts per millions or billions) the pollution may be. Any future investment on large-scale infrastructures should take into account the “human induced climate change” in their model and projections, failing which “climate change” will prove them wrong and the consequences will be dire.

Reference :  Environmental Impacts of Seawater Desalination: Arabian Gulf Case Study

Mohamed A. Dawoud1 and Mohamed M. Al Mulla

1 Water Resources Department, Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi, United Arab

Emirates

2Ministry of Environment and Water, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The climate is changing with increasing global warming caused by man-made Carbon emission. The economic impact of global warming can no longer be ignored by Governments around the world because it is impacting their budget bottom lines. Weather is becoming unpredictable. Even if Meteorological department predicts a disaster 24 hrs in advance, there is nothing Governments can do to prevent human and economic losses within a short span of time but evacuate people to safety leaving behind all their properties. Governments are forced to allocate funds for disaster management every year caused by severe draughts, unprecedented snow falls, and coastal erosion by rising sea levels, flash flooding, inundation and power black outs. We often hear people saying,” we were completely taken by surprise by this event and we have never seen anything like this in the last 50 years” after every naturals disasters explaining the nature and scale of disasters. Nature is forcing Governments to allocate more funds for disaster managements and such allocations have reached unprecedented levels. The cost of natural disasters around the world in 2011 was estimated at $ 400 billion and in 2012 it was estimated at $160 billion. The only way to fund these disasters is to tax Carbon pollution which causes global warming. Countries should take long-term decisions that will save their current and future generations to come.  They should understand how Carbon is emitted and what the best way to curb such emissions is. It is a global issue and its requires a collective solution.  There is no use of pricing Carbon when economic recession can jeopardize the pricing mechanism? Global warming is a moral and social issue and not just an economic issue.

Developed countries have emitted bulk of the Carbon since industrial revolution while developing countries such as India and China were emitting less carbon in spite of their vast population due to their lowest per capita consumption. But that trend has now changed with rapid industrialization and economic growth of India and China and other developing economies. Australia is still a leading emitter of Carbon in the world in spite of their low population because of their high energy consumption, availability of cheap and high quality Coal and increasing mining, industrial and agricultural activities. That is why Australia is one of the first few countries who introduced Carbon tax while rest of the countries is still debating about it. Now it is clear that Carbon emission is directly proportional to industrial, economic and population growth of a country and it can be easily quantified based on the growth rate of each country. It is time countries agree to cut their Carbon emissions to sustainable levels with a realistic Carbon pricing mechanism and sign a world-wide treaty through UN.

“THE EUROPEAN UNION carbon emissions trading scheme—the biggest in the world and the heart of Europe’s climate- change program—is in dire straits. The scheme’s carbon price has collapsed. The primary reason: The economic recession has suppressed manufacturing, thereby reducing emissions and creating a huge over- supply of carbon emissions allowances. Carbon trading is a market approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in which each facility involved is given an emissions cap for the year, and each year that cap is reduced. A firm must record and report its facilities’ emissions and must obtain allowances for its total emissions. An allowance permits a facility to emit 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide or its carbon equal; some allowances are given for free by the government, others can be bought at auction or from other firms. If a facility exceeds its cap, the company operating it has options: It can cut emissions, buy allowances from other companies, or get allowance offsets by reducing emissions at another pollution source. The cost of an allowance is referred to as the car-bon price and is driven by market conditions such as supply and demand. If the low-carbon price continues, the region’s ability to meet long-term reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions will be severely hampered because the trading scheme will fail to provide money for clean-tech programs and incentive for manfacturers to adopt cleaner technologies. The trading scheme is a key component of the EU’s climate-change strategy because about 40% of all greenhouse gases emit-ted in the region fall under EU’s control. The mandatory scheme applies to 11,000 industrial installations, including power plants and major chemical facilities, across all 27 member states, as well as in Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. The aviation sector has been included in the scheme, but its active participation has been deferred to allow for an international agreement on aviation emissions, which is expected to be concluded in the fall. The goal of the European Commission, the EU’s administrative body and the architect of the emissions trading scheme, is to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020. To contribute toward this goal, the trading scheme has targeted a 21% cut in the emissions of participating sectors by 2020 from a 2005 baseline. In recent weeks, however, the EU carbon price dropped to a new low of $5.20 for each metric ton allowance of CO2, down from a high of $23 in 2011. This is despite an annual reduction of the EU emissions cap of 1.74% through 2020 and the introduction on Jan. 1 of a new phase of the scheme requiring companies to purchase allowances. AT ITS CURRENT carbon price, the EU emission scheme’s role in encouraging chemical firms to ditch fossil fuels and adopt greener technologies “is meaningless,” says André Veneman, director of sustainability at AkzoNobel. Many of the industry’s investments in low-carbon technologies that are marginally financially viable also will likely be delayed, he says. Without a strong carbon price, the underlying push to clean-tech in the EU will come only from the price of oil, Veneman adds. Veneman and other experts say that a carbon price of between $68 and $135 is required if industry as a whole is to be forced to shift onto a new low-carbon footing. Yvo de Boer, special global adviser for climate change and sustainability for KPMG—an audit, tax, and advisory firm—and form EUROPEAN SCHEME IS IN FREE FALL Record-low CARBON PRICE threatens to derail transition away from fossil fuels and ability to meet climate-change targets.” Source: EUROPEAN SCHEME IS IN FREE FALL Record-low CARBON PRICE threatens to derail transition away from fossil fuels and ability to meet climate-change targets ALEX SCOTT, C&EN LONDO

The burden of Carbon tax should be borne by both power generators as well as consumers. Even if the Carbon tax is imposed on emitters it will eventually be passed on to consumers. Either way the cost of energy will increase steeply or there is no way to avoid such escalation if we want to keep up our power consumption levels or our current life style. In other words people will have to pay penalty for polluting the air either by generating or consuming power that causes Carbon pollution. All developed countries that have polluted the atmosphere with Carbon emission should be taxed retrospectively from the time of industrial revolution so that emerging countries need not bear the full cost of global warming. Such a fund should be used for developing renewable and clean energy technologies or to purchase Carbon allowances. Current mechanism of Carbon pricing does not penalize countries who caused the global warming in the first place for hundreds of years but penalizes only countries who now accelerate the rate of Carbon emission. Such an approach is a gross injustice on the emerging economies and not at all pragmatic. Most of the developed countries are currently facing economic recession resulting in plummeted Carbon price. This will only encourage existing Carbon emitters to emit Carbon cheaply and penalize Renewable energy and clean energy technologies with higher tariffs and drive them to extinction. In spite of Carbon level in the atmosphere exceeding 400 ppm according to the latest report, the world is helpless to cut the Carbon emission anytime sooner making our planet vulnerable to catastrophic natural disasters. Countries that are reluctant to pay Carbon tax will pay for Natural disasters which may be many times costlier than Carbon tax. Countries like US, European Union, Japan, Australia the largest power consumers and countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, Libya the largest oil producers should bear the cost of Carbon pollution that caused the globe to warm sine industrial revolution. Such a fund should be used in developing innovative Renewable energy and clean energy technologies of the future. More than anything else the rich and powerful countries should declare global warming as a moral issue of the twenty-first century and take some bold and hard economic decisions to save the planet earth..Allowance overloadCarbon pricing downward trendcost of Natural disatersEU carbon trading

 

The arctic ice cover is steadily shrinking over a period opening new polar shipping routes. Recently a Norwegian ship was carrying a LNG Carrierto Japan through Russia, marking the beginning of new polar shipping route. There was a short documentary film on disappearance of an entire Aral Sea from the map, due to evaporation, caused by construction of dams by Russian authorities restricting the flow of rivers into Aral Sea. These dramatic events are happening right in front of our eyes. Yet, there are many Governments and people around the world are still questioning whether Global warming is real and is it man-made? Well, people do not accept science when it come to global warming because it causes them much inconvenience and embarrassment for Governments. They do not want to face the reality but prefer to postpone it for another day. This is what happening with super powers and industrialized countries in the world. But how long can they sustain such skepticism and postpone urgent actions that are necessary to save the future generation of mankind?

• Arctic sea ice is projected to decline dramatically over the 21st century, with little late summer sea ice remaining by the year 2100.

• The simulated 21st century Arctic sea ice decline is not smooth, but has periods of large and small changes.

• The Arctic region responds sensitively to past and future global climate forcing, such as changes in atmospheric greenhouse gas levels. Its surface air temperature is projected to warm at a rate about twice as fast as the global average.

Attached  Sea ice concentrations simulated by GFDL’s CM2.1 global coupled climate model averaged over August, September and October (the months when Arctic sea ice concentrations generally are at a minimum). Three years (1885, 1985 & 2085) are shown to illustrate the model-simulated trend. A dramatic reduction of summertime sea ice is projected, with the rate of decrease being greatest during the 21st century part. The colors range from dark blue (ice-free) to white (100% sea ice covered).

“Satellite observations show that Arctic sea ice extent has declined over the past three decades [e.g., NOAA magazine, 2006]. Global climate model experiments, such as those conducted at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), project this downward trend to continue and perhaps accelerate during the 21st century.

The Arctic is a region that is projected to warm at about twice the rate of the global average [Winton, 2006a] – a phenomenon sometimes called “Arctic amplification”. As Arctic temperatures rise, sea ice melts—a change that in turn affects other aspects of global climate.

While beyond the scope of GFDL’s climate model simulations, other research suggests that Arctic sea ice changes can impact a broad range of factors — from altering key elements of the Arctic biosphere (plants and animals, marine and terrestrial, including polar bears and fish), to opening polar shipping routes, to shifting commercial fishing patterns, etc.

An Ice-Free Arctic in Summer

The three panel’s attachments are snapshots of how late summer Northern Hemisphere sea ice concentrations vary in time in a GFDL CM2.1 climate model simulation. The figures depict

Sea ice concentration – a measure of how much of the ocean area is covered by sea ice, and the climate model variable that is most similar to what a satellite observes.

By the late 21st century, the GFDL computer model experiments project that the Arctic becomes almost ice-free during the late summer. But during the long Arctic winters (not shown) the sea ice grows back, though thinner than is simulated for the 20th century. The rate at which the modeled 21st century Arctic warming and sea ice melting occurs is rapid compared to that seen in historical observations. Abrupt Arctic changes are of particular concern for human and ecosystem adaptations and are a subject of much current research (Winton 2006B).

The modeled summertime Arctic sea ice extent (the size of the area covered by sea ice) does not very smoothly in time, as a good deal of year-to-year variability superimposed on the downward trend. This can be seen in the graph to the right and also in animations found at www.gfdl.noaa.gov/research/climate/highlights.

By the end of the 21st century, the modeled summer sea ice extent usually is less than 20% of the simulated for 1981 to 2000. The Arctic sea ice results shown here are not unique to the GFDL climate model. Generally similar results are produced by computer models developed at several other international climate modeling centers. Though some uncertainties in model projections of future climate remain, results such as these, taken together with observations that document late 20th century Arctic sea ice shrinkage, make the Arctic a region that will continue to be studied and watched closely, as atmospheric greenhouse gas levels increase.

Climate implications of shrinking summer sea ice Melting sea ice can influence the climate through a process known as the ice-albedo feedback. Much of the sunlight reflected by sea ice returns to space and is unavailable to heat the climate system. As the sea ice melts, the surface darkens and absorbs more of this energy. This, in turn, can lead to greater melting. This is referred to as a “positive feedback loop” because an initial change (sea ice melting) triggers other responses in the system that eventually acts to enhance the original change (inducing more sea ice melting).

At GFDL, research has focused on the role of the ice-albedo feedback in the enhancing simulated Arctic warming and on the potential for this positive feedback loop to lead to abrupt changes [Winton, 2006a]. A somewhat complex picture has emerged that shows the ice-albedo feedback as a contributor, but not necessarily the dominant factor in determining why modeled Arctic surface air temperatures warm roughly twice as fast as the global average. It also has been found that, for the range of temperature increases likely to occur in the 21st century, the Arctic ice-albedo feedback adjusts smoothly as the model’s ice declines, by reducing the ice cover at progressively earlier times in the sunlit season. This smooth adjustment maintains a fairly constant amplification of Arctic temperature change on global average warming.

The details of how Arctic feedback processes act in climate models at various modeling centers differ, and so analysis and computer model development work continues to better understand and to cut uncertainties in Arctic climate change simulations.”

While many scientists are alarmed by the widening expanse of open water in the Arctic, blaming it on global warming, shippers see a new international route. The MV Nordic Barents is lugging 40,000 tonnes of iron ore from Norway to China on a shortcut through melting ice – and is making a little history in the process. It is the first non-Russian commercial vessel to attempt a non-stop crossing of a route that skirts the receding Arctic ice cap.

Business Times, Singapore report (6 September 2010):

The MV Nordic Barents is lugging 40,000 tonnes of iron ore from Norway to China on an Arctic Ocean shortcut through melting ice – and is making a little history in the process.

Steaming east along Russia’s desolate northern coast, the ship departed on Saturday as the first non-Russian commercial vessel to attempt a non-stop crossing of a route that skirts the receding Arctic ice cap.

‘We’re pretty much going over the top,’ said John Sanderson, the Australian CEO of the Norwegian mine where the iron ore comes from.

By using the northern route from Europe to Asia, the Nordic Barents could save eight days and 5,000 nautical miles of travel thought to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to the owners of its cargo.

While many scientists are alarmed by the widening expanse of open water that the ship will traverse, blaming it on global warming, shippers see a new international route.

Sanderson’s ASX-listed Northern Iron Ltd has sent 15 ships to China since it began mining in the northern Norwegian town of Kirkenes last October. All steamed south, then east through the Suez Canal or around the Cape of Good Hope.

To reach Chinese steel mills hungry for ore, they had to brave pirates in the Indian Ocean.

The Arctic route is no picnic either. On Saturday the polar ice sheet remained almost as big as the US mainland. But over the summer it has shrunk about as far from the Russian coast as it did during the biggest Arctic melt on record, in 2007, according to the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center.

And the Russians are waking up to the business potential of a route that was mostly reserved for domestic commercial vessels in the past.

‘Suddenly there is an opening that gives this part of the world an advantage,’ said Felix H Tschudi, whose shipping company is Northern Iron’s largest shareholder.

Willy Oestreng, chairman of research group Ocean Futures, called the trip of the Nordic Barents ‘historic’.

‘The western world is starting to show an interest and a capability to use that route,’ he said.

Two days after Russia and Norway agreed last April to settle a 40-year-old dispute over economic zones in the Barents Sea, government and business leaders of the two countries met in Kirkenes to sweep away hurdles to international shipping.

Russian law still requires icebreaker escort even where ice danger is small, due to a lack of onshore mechanical or medical support. But fees and rules are starting to loosen.

‘Russian companies and Russian authorities are now ready to assist,’ said Mikhail Belkin, assistant general manager of the state-owned Rosatomflot ice breaking fleet.

Lots of Russian vessels have plied the passage, and two German ships traversed it last year with small cargos delivered to Russian ports. But the Nordic Barents, an ice-class Danish bulk carrier chartered by Tschudi, is the first non-Russian ship with permission to pass without stopping.

Rosatomflot has assigned two 75,000-horsepower icebreakers to the vessel for about 10 days of the three-week voyage.

Tschudi won’t say how much Rosatomflot is charging but praised it as ‘cooperative, service-minded and pragmatic.’

‘Today the route is basically competitive with the Suez Canal, and we can subtract the piracy risk,’ he said.

Excluding icebreaking fees, a bulk ship that takes the Arctic route from Hamburg to Yokohama can save more than US$200,000 in fuel and canal expenses, Mr. Oestreng said. — Reuter.

Disappearance of Aral Sea from he map.

“In the 1960s, the Soviet Union undertook a major water diversion project on the arid plains of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. The region’s two major rivers, fed by snowmelt and precipitation in faraway mountains, were used to transform the desert into farms for cotton and other crops. Before the project, the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya rivers flowed down from the mountains, cut northwest through the Kyzylkum Desert, and finally pooled together in the lowest part of the basin. The lake they made, the Aral Sea, was once the fourth largest in the world.

Although irrigation made the desert bloom, it devastated the Aral Sea. This series of images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite documents the changes. At the start of the series in 2000, the lake was already a fraction of its 1960 extent (black line). The Northern Aral Sea (sometimes called the Small Aral Sea) had separated from the Southern (Large) Aral Sea. The Southern Aral Sea had split into eastern and western lobes that remained tenuously connected at both ends.

By 2001, the southern connection had been severed, and the shallower eastern part retreated rapidly over the next several years. Especially large retreats in the eastern lobe of the Southern Sea appear to have occurred between 2005 and 2009, when drought limited and then cut off the flow of the Amu Darya. Water levels then fluctuated annually between 2009 and 2012 in alternately dry and wet years.

As the lake dried up, fisheries and the communities that depended on them collapsed. The increasingly salty water became polluted with fertilizer and pesticides. The blowing dust from the exposed lakebed, contaminated with agricultural chemicals, became a public health hazard. The salty dust blew off the lakebed and settled onto fields, degrading the soil. Croplands had to be flushed with larger and larger volumes of river water. The loss of the moderating influence of such a large body of water made winters colder and summers hotter and drier.

In a last-ditch effort to save some of the lake, Kazakhstan built a dam between the northern and southern parts of the Aral Sea. Completed in 2005, the dam was basically a death sentence for the southern Aral Sea, which was judged to be beyond saving. All of the water flowing into the desert basin from the Syr Darya now stays in the Northern Aral Sea. Between 2005 and 2006, the water levels in that part of the lake rebounded significantly and very small increases are visible throughout the rest of the time period. The differences in water color are due to changes in sediment.”

Globe is warming at an unprecedented rate since industrial revolution due to the effect of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere; according to a panel of scientists in IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).Thousands of scientists from 30 countries formed IPCC under United Nation to study the problem of global warming and reported to the world. IPCC published a detailed report and it gave an apocalyptic scenario about global warming. They warned that the carbon dioxide level in the atmospheres has increased from 316ppm in 1959 (13% higher than preindustrial level) to current level of 380ppm in 2005, which is 35% above preindustrial level. This dramatic increase in the level of CO2 is due to the human activities. The major contributing gases are Carbon dioxide, Methane, Oxides of Nitrogen, CFC (Chlorofluorocarbons) and Ozone present in the atmosphere. Bulk of the emissions is from power plants and automobiles using fossil fuels. Other process industries like cement plants are also major contributors of greenhouse gases. The enhanced effect of global warming is due to the absorption of invisible infrared radiation coming from the warm surface of the earth. On an average, sun’s light reaches the earth at the rate of 343W/m2 and about 30% of this value is reflected and about 70% is absorbed. The amount of invisible infrared radiation absorbed depends on the concentration of greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere.

According to IPCC their findings on global warming are unequivocal, and if the world does not act now, then, we will be facing dire consequences in the near future. Doubling CO2 emission will increase the global temperature from 2-4.5C. But many skeptics say the IPCC report is apocryphal and they have their own theories to support their skepticism. Many climate models proposed by various international institutions projects an average temperature rise  of 3.4C above  year 2000 level if we do nothing and carry on the “business as usual”. The consequences of global warming are far-reaching. An increase of 3C rise in temperature will result in sea level rise up to 4 to 6 mts in the next few thousand years.

About 10% of the world population lives in less than 10 mts above sea level and majority of population lives within 10km of sea level. We have already witnessed few islands in pacific (example, Bougainvillea, Sulawesi) inundated with seawater. Maldives and Bangladesh are good examples.

They predict shortage of fresh water in many parts of the world and severe draught and flooding in other parts of the world. We have already witnessed these incidents in Northern Queensland in Australia and in Europe, and prolonged draught in Texas, bushfires in Australia and in Russia. Majority of Indian subcontinent is suffering from lack of drinking water. Unscrupulous exploitation of ground water for agriculture purpose has made the situation worse. Many plants, animals and species will face greater risk of extinction. An increasing acidity in seawater due to excess absorption of carbon dioxide will affect aquatic organisms such as shell, coral and shellfish. We are already witnessing bleaching of corals at Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Global warming will displace millions of people due to draught and flooding and consequently leave millions of children malnourished. Water borne diseases and infectious diseases will affect many people. Tropical diseases such as dengue and malaria will be widespread.

These consequences are real, if the world does not act on greenhouse emissions. One need not be a rocket scientist to understand that human behavior and activity has caused irreversible damage to the plant earth for several decades. We unearthed fossil fuels and converted them into plastics and dumped them in every water ways, parks and beaches. The exponential growth in population and industries has driven many animals, tropical forests into extinction. Each and every one of us who are 50 years and above would have witnessed the unfolding consequences of environmental degradation in our life time. What kind of plant earth we will be leaving behind for our future generations?

Every religion on earth has predicted the future of humanity and the last days and hours with deadly consequences for their actions. All native people whether they are Indians from Americas, Aborigines of Australia or Shamans of Indonesia or Natives of Alaska, have time and again raised their voice against indiscriminate destruction of land, water and air in the name of science and industrial growth. But no Government listened to their voice and we are here still struggling with unemployment and poverty.

Mayan civilization is a well-known civilization in ancient world and their seven prophesies are matters of great debate in the recent past. Their prophecy is ominously similar to what IPCC panel predicts except the “end of the world in Dec 2012”. I quote third, fourth and fifth prophesy out of seven Mayan prophecies here, which are relevant to global warming:

“The third prophecy states that there will be change in temperature, producing climatic, geological and social changes in magnitude without patterns and at astonishing speed. One of them will be generated by man in his lack of conscience to care for and protect natural resources of the planet and other generated by sun, which will increase its activity due to increasing vibrations.”

“The fourth prophecy says that anti-ecological conduct of man and greater activity by sun will cause melting of ice in the poles. It will allow the earth to clean itself and green itself again, producing changes in the physical composition of the continents of the planet. The Mayans left a register in the Desdre codices that for every 117 spins of Venus, the Sun suffers new alterations and huge spots or solar eruption appears”.

“The fifth prophecy says that all systems based on fear, on which the civilization based on, will suffer simultaneously with the planet and man will make a transformation to give way to new harmonic reality. The system will fail and man will face himself and in this need to recognize society and continue down the path of evolution that will bring him to understand creation. Only one common spiritual world for all humanity that will end all limits established among many ways to look at God will emerge”.

Perhaps, Jesus too expressed his displeasure with human behavior according to the Gospel of Thomas:

 Jesus said, “Perhaps people think that I have come to cast peace upon the world. They do not know that I have come to cast conflicts upon the earth: fire, sword, war.  For there will be five in a house: there’ll be three against two and two against three, father against son and son against father, and they will stand alone.”

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