The way we are most likely treating Planet Earth is almost beyond comprehension.
I have mentioned before the Earth Policy Institute and Lester Brown’s latest book, World on the Edge. Details of the book are here.
At the time of writing this Post (10am US Mountain Time on the 4th Feb.) I have read through to the end of Chapter 5 of the book and will have it completed soon. It’s opening my eyes hugely!
I have decided over the next week or so to summarise each chapter, hoping that this encourages many readers of Learning from Dogs to reflect, go to the EPI website, buy the book or think about making a difference in any way that you can.
Chapter One, On the Edge, sets the background:
- Summer of 2010 sees record-high temperates in Moscow, Russia’s grain harvest shrank by 40 million tons (40%) to 60 million tons.
- Record high temperatures in south-central Pakistan were recorded. Snow and glaciers in the Himalayas melted fast, 20 million Pakistanis were affected by the resultant flooding, 2,000 died, 6 million acres of crops damaged.
- A 2002 study by Mathis Wackernagel concluded that, “humanity’s collective demands first surpassed the earth’s regenerative capacity around 1980. By 1999, global demand’s on the earth’s natural systems exceeded sustainable yields by 20 percent. Ongoing calculations show it at 50 percent in 2007. Stated otherwise, it would take 1.5 Earths to sustain our current consumption.” [my emphasis]
- “No previous civilisation has survived the ongoing destruction of its natural supports. Nor will ours.”
Let’s turn to NOAA. A few salient points from there State of the Climate – Global Review for 2010.
- For 2010, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature tied with 2005 as the warmest such period on record, at 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F). 1998 is the third warmest year-to-date on record, at 0.60°C (1.08°F) above the 20th century average.
- The 2010 Northern Hemisphere combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the warmest year on record, at 0.73°C (1.31°F) above the 20th century average. The 2010 Southern Hemisphere combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the sixth warmest year on record, at 0.51°C (0.92°F) above the 20th century average.
- The global land surface temperature for 2010 tied with 2005 as the second warmest on record, at 0.96°C (1.73°F) above the 20th century average. The warmest such period on record occurred in 2007, at 0.99°C (1.78°F) above the 20th century average.
From the UK Guardian newspaper.
2010 is becoming the year of the heatwave, with record temperatures set in 17 countries.
Record highs have occurred in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine – the three nations at the centre of the eastern European heatwave which has lasted for more than three weeks – but also African, Middle Eastern and Latin American countries.
Temperatures in Moscow, which have been consistently 20C above normal, today fell to 31C (86F), and President Dmitry Medvedev cancelled a state of emergency in three out of seven Russian regions affected by forest fires.
Thousand of hectares of forest burned in the fires, killing 54 people and leaving thousands homeless. For days, Moscow was shrouded in smog, and environmentalists raised fears that the blaze could release radioactive particles from areas contaminated in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
Wildfires have also swept through northern Portugal, killing two firefighters and destroying 18,000 hectares (44,500 acres) of forests and bushland since late July. Some 600 firefighters were today struggling to contain 29 separate fires.
But the extreme heat experienced in Europe would barely have registered in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Niger, Pakistan and Sudan, all of which have recorded temperatures of more than 47C (115F) since June. The number of record highs is itself a record – the previous record was for 14 new high temperatures in 2007.
The freak weather conditions, which have devastated crops and wildlife, are believed to have killed thousands of elderly people, especially in Russia and northern India. The 2003 European heatwave killed about 15,000 people.
Be worried, be concerned but don’t panic – you and I, all of us, have the collective power to sort this all out. More about this soon.