This is part of a trial series

Glacier melt - proof of climate change


Exit Glacier in Alaska is said to be steadily melting, shrinking two miles over the past 200 years as it tries to strike a new balance with rising temperatures.

The great amounts of water stored in glaciers play crucial roles in river flows, hydropower generation and agricultural production, contributing to steady run-off for Ganges, Yangtze, Mekong and Indus rivers in Asia and elsewhere. But many are melting rapidly, with the pace picking up over the past decade, giving glaciers a central role in the debate over causes and impacts of climate change.

The "wrong" estimates made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that Himalayan glaciers could all melt by 2035, an apparent typographical error that stemmed from using literature not published in a scientific journal, are coming back into focus. But now there is strong and overwhelming evidence that the glaciers actually are melting away very quickly. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said last month the government would establish a National Institute of Himalayan Glaciology in Dehra Dun in the north in order to more accurately study the changes of the Himalayan glaciers.

The science is there - climate change is in fact human-induced...

The Independent reports that climate scientists have delivered a powerful response to their sceptical critics with a study that strengthens the case for saying global warming is largely the result of man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.

The researchers found that no other possible natural phenomenon, such as volcanic eruptions or variations in the activity of the sun, could explain the significant warming of the planet over the past half century as recorded on every continent including Antarctica. It is only when the warming effect of emitting millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from human activity is considered that it is possible to explain why global average temperatures have risen so significantly since the middle of the 20th century.

The Guardian also reports that 100 studies of sea ice, rainfall and temperature changes have been reviewed by the Met Office. The research findings strengthen the case of human-induced climate change and will help the public to make up their own mind about the observed changes in the earth's climate.

...and it is us that will pay the costs

Reuters reports that a report released last Friday says that Arctic ice melting could cost global agriculture, real estate and insurance anywhere from $2.4 trillion to $24 trillion by 2050 in damage from rising sea levels, floods and heat waves. The report called "Arctic Treasure, Global Assets Melting Away" was reviewed by more than a dozen scientists and economists and funded by the Pew Environment Group, an arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts, provides a first attempt to monetize the cost of the loss of the Arctic ice.

GE, or no GE, how long until we don't have a choice?!

DPA reports that German agro-chemical company BASF has planned to ask the European Commission for approval of two more GE potatoes later this year. While the recently approved GE potato Amflora is said to only be used for industrial purposes, the other two, now awaiting approval will be used for human consumption. The company has yet to disclose the name and details of the potatoes.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports, that Greenpeace wants the federal government, which is reviewing food labelling laws at the moment, to become stricter about food labelling laws. Despite requirements that GE food be labelled, exemptions mean too many Australians are kept in the dark about what is really on their plate. This regards especially key GM food - canola oil which currently does not require any labelling. "The reality is that we are eating GM all the time without our knowledge," Greenpeace campaigner Laura Kelly told AAP.

Earth is feeling gassy

Reuters - Biodiesel and other "green" fuels that Europeans put in their cars can have unintended consequences for tropical forests and wetlands, European Union reports show - the first evidence of EU misgivings. The EU aims for its 500 million citizens to get about a tenth of their road fuels from renewable sources such as biofuels by 2020, but some EU officials want the target reduced in a review in four years time. Environmentalists are warning that promoting bio-fuels will have devastating effect on tropical forests, wetlands and savannah as those will have to be cleared for growing palm oil. An agriculture official warns that taking account of the full carbon footprint of biofuels could "kill" an EU industry worth about 5 billion euros a year ($6.8 billion).

Large amounts of a powerful greenhouse gas are bubbling up from a long-frozen seabed north of Siberia, raising fears of far bigger leaks that could stoke global warming, scientists said. The study said about 8 million tonnes of methane a year, equivalent to the annual total previously estimated from all of the world's oceans, were seeping from vast stores long trapped under permafrost below the seabed north of Russia. Natalia Shakhova, a scientist at the University of Fairbanks, Alaska, said current methane concentrations in the Arctic are the highest in 400,000 years.

Japan in the hot seat

Swiss paper Basler Zeitung features an article about the story of the Tokyo Two also saying that Greenpeace have been trying to uncover the many illegalities behind the whaling activities. It also mentioned that Greenpeace received a UN Human Rights resolution which Japan had violated. The trials will continue next week.

AFP in the West Australian reports, on the meetings taking place in Florida, where Japan, Norway and Iceland are trying to reach a compromise on commercial whaling under the supervision of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Phil Kline of Greenpeace, which strongly opposes the compromise and said of the talks: "There are clear divisions, but they are willing to talk about it some more." Japan uses a loophole in the 1986 moratorium that allows "lethal research" on whales, with the meat winding up on dinner plates. Norway and Iceland defy the moratorium altogether by lodging objections with the IWC.

AP reports that Japan will not comply if a ban is imposed on international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna, prized by Japanese for sushi, a senior official said after the United States threw its support behind the move ahead of a crucial vote. At a March 13-25 meeting in Qatar, 175 member countries of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, will vote on a proposal by Monaco to list the species under Appendix 1 of the convention. If the measure wins support from two-thirds of member nations, trade of the fish would be banned.

Q: What do companies do to extract oil from the tar sands? A: Dig, Pollute and Destroy!


The New York Times reports that environmentalists have drawn parallels between the film Avatar and the tar sands in Alberta, Canada. "Part of it is to reach out to a new audience that have seen the movie" said Mike Hudema, a Greenpeace campaigner. "A lot of the themes that where dealt with in Avatar do parallel a lot with what we're seeing in the tar sands". The oil industry has countered that by saying that environmentalists have tried to blur the line between fact and fiction in the past and that this move is bizarre and irresponsible, this statement coming from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

(Picture Credit: © Greenpeace / Nick Cobbing, 07/14/2009, An ice penetrating radar is deployed from a string of kayaks to survey a section of the Petermann glacier in Greenland)

(Picture Credit: © Greenpeace / Jiri Rezac, 09/30/2009, Athabasca river between a Suncor upgrader and mining site in the heart of the Canadian tar sands)