A very worthwhile DotEarth (@DotEarth) blog piece by Andrew Revkin (@revkin) on climate thresholds or "Tipping Points" beyond which climate change "suddenly becomes unstoppable," and the impact this idea is having on clear assessment of what we know and don't know about climate change.
"....A TSUNAMI HAS BEEN GENERATED THAT COULD CAUSE DAMAGE ALONG COASTLINES OF ALL ISLANDS IN THE STATE OF HAWAII. URGENT ACTION SHOULD BE TAKEN TO PROTECT LIVES AND PROPERTY.
"A TSUNAMI IS A SERIES OF LONG OCEAN WAVES. EACH INDIVIDUAL WAVE CREST CAN LAST 5 TO 15 MINUTES OR MORE AND EXTENSIVELY FLOOD COASTAL AREAS. THE DANGER CAN CONTINUE FOR MANY HOURS AFTER THE INITIAL WAVE AS SUBSEQUENT WAVES ARRIVE. TSUNAMI WAVE HEIGHTS CANNOT BE PREDICTED AND THE FIRST WAVE MAY NOT BE THE LARGEST. TSUNAMI WAVES EFFICIENTLY WRAP AROUND ISLANDS. ALL SHORES ARE AT RISK NO MATTER WHICH DIRECTION THEY FACE. THE TROUGH OF A TSUNAMI WAVE MAY TEMPORARILY EXPOSE THE SEAFLOOR BUT THE AREA WILL QUICKLY FLOOD AGAIN. EXTREMELY STRONG AND UNUSUAL NEARSHORE CURRENTS CAN ACCOMPANY A TSUNAMI. DEBRIS PICKED UP AND CARRIED BY A TSUNAMI AMPLIFIES ITS DESTRUCTIVE POWER. SIMULTANEOUS HIGH TIDES OR HIGH SURF CAN SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE THE TSUNAMI HAZARD.
THE ESTIMATED ARRIVAL TIME IN HAWAII OF THE FIRST TSUNAMI WAVE IS
"The quake in Chile was 1,000 times more powerful than the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that caused widespread damage in Haiti on Jan 12, killing at least 230,000, earthquake experts reported on CNN International...."
"A massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake capable of tremendous damage struck central Chile early Saturday, shaking the capital for a minute and half and setting off a tsunami. Buildings collapsed and phone lines and electricity were down, making the extent of the damage difficult to determine...."
"A century-old fight about water from Oregon's Klamath Basin ended Thursday with signed agreements that assure farmers water and power to keep their crops green, and lay out the removal of dams that have blocked salmon from hundreds of miles of spawning grounds.
For decades, American Indian tribes, farmers, salmon fishermen and conservation groups have fought in courts and centers of power about who gets the scarce water in the basin -- the farms and ranches through irrigation or the salmon and suckers in rivers and lakes..."
NYTimes via @greeninc: Agreement Reached on Klamath Dams
"A drought in the Philippines has destroyed millions of dollars worth of crops, reduced the country's water supply and is threatening widespread blackouts as power companies contend with low water levels in hydroelectric dams, officials said Friday.
"It is such a difficult situation because we have just survived the typhoons in October that destroyed 1.5 million metric tons of rice and countless basic infrastructure," Joel Rudinas, an under secretary at the Department of Agriculture, said Friday. "We are bracing for the worst."
"...The damage to crops is now estimated at more than $61 million, and Mr. Rudinas said the Philippines, already the world's largest importer of rice, has imported an additional 2.4 million tons because of the drought...."
TED: "At TED2010, Bill Gates unveils his vision for the world's energy future, describing the need for "miracles" to avoid planetary catastrophe and explaining why he's backing a dramatically different type of nuclear reactor. The necessary goal? Zero carbon emissions globally by 2050."
WorldChanging: Bill Gates: Most Important Climate Talk of the Year
Alex Steffen: "On Friday, the world's most successful businessperson and most powerful philanthropist did something outstandingly bold, that went almost unremarked: Bill Gates announced that his top priority is getting the world to zero climate emissions...
"..That moment was the most important thing that has happened at TED.
"Gates spoke about his commitment to using his massive philanthropic resources (the Gates Foundation is the world's largest) to make life better for people through public health and poverty alleviation ("vaccines and seeds" as he put it). Then he said something he's never said before: that is it because he's committed to improving life for the world's vulnerable people that he now believes that climate change is the most important challenge on the planet.
"Even more importantly, he acknowledged the only sensible goal, when it comes to climate emissions, is to eliminate them: we should be aiming for a civilization that produces no net emissions, and we should be aiming to live in that civilization here in the developed world by 2050...."
Arthur H. Westing: "...Population is a double-barreled environmental problem -- not only is population increasing; so are emissions per capita.
"...inexplicably and inexcusably, recommendations by the United States, the United Nations and independent research groups essentially never include -- and certainly never stress -- population as a contribution to global warming...."
John Vidal, The Guardian: "...A report released today by Oxfam details fast-rising temperatures, melting glaciers in the Pamir mountains, increased disease, drought, landslides and food shortages. Temperatures plummeted to -20C for more than a month in 2008-09 - unheard of in what is, in places, a subtropical region - and temperatures in the south of the country near Afghanistan have risen several degrees above normal, said the report...."
Carl Zimmer: "A new study says the seas are acidifying ten times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred. And, the study concludes, current changes in ocean chemistry due to the burning of fossil fuels may portend a new wave of die-offs."
"...The financial decline of traditional journalism organizations has stifled investigative and foreign news. While online news and social media are spreading more information more widely and rapidly, the growing lack of explanatory journalism may nonetheless result in a less informed public. The trend should be a concern for anyone dedicated to environmental sustainability. Journalism's economic adversity not only diminishes the ability of newsrooms to generate insightful, balanced reports on science-related topics such as climate change, it also limits our understanding of how governments and industry are responding to our global environmental crisis...."
"...Although there remains a mountain of research from multiple institutions about the reality of climate change, the public has grown uneasy. What's real? In my view, the climate-science community should convene its top experts -- from places like NASA, America's national laboratories, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, the California Institute of Technology and the U.K. Met Office Hadley Centre -- and produce a simple 50-page report. They could call it "What We Know," summarizing everything we already know about climate change in language that a sixth grader could understand, with unimpeachable peer-reviewed footnotes...."
Christopher Joyce: "...Most don't see a contradiction between a warming world and lots of snow. That includes Kevin Trenberth, a prominent climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado.
"The fact that the oceans are warmer now than they were, say, 30 years ago means there's about on average 4 percent more water vapor lurking around over the oceans than there was, say, in the 1970s," he says.
"Warmer water means more water vapor rises up into the air, and what goes up must come down.
"So one of the consequences of a warming ocean near a coastline like the East Coast and Washington, D.C., for instance, is that you can get dumped on with more snow partly as a consequence of global warming," he says.
"And Trenberth notes that you don't need very cold temperatures to get big snow. In fact, when the mercury drops too low, it may be too cold to snow...."