1. Sea-Level Rise and its Worldwide Effects
It is not only the small, island states that need to worry about sea-level rise. More than 70 percent of the world’s population lives on coastal plains, and 11 of the world’s 15 largest cities are on the coastal estuaries. Over the 20th century, sea levels rose between 10 and 20 centimeters (4-8 inches).
The IPCC puts predictions of 21st century sea-level rise at nine to 88 cm. Even this comparatively modest projected sea-level rise will wreak havoc. Coastal flooding and storm damage, eroding shorelines, salt water contamination of fresh water supplies, flooding of coastal wetlands and barrier islands, and an increase in the salinity of estuaries are all realities of even a small amount of sea-level rise.
One frighteningly real possibility is the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet. According to the IPCC, “Climate models indicate that the local warming over Greenland is likely to be one to three times the global average. Ice-sheet models project that a local warming of larger than 3°C [5.4°F], if sustained for millennia, would lead to virtually a complete melting of the Greenland ice sheet with a resulting sea-level rise of about 7 m” ( IPCC 3rd Assessment, Synthesis Report, Summary for Policy Makers).
Between the Greenland ice sheet and the Western Antarctic ice sheet the world could well be facing a 13-meter (43-foot) rise in sea level if we do not drastically curb our greenhouse gas emissions. Even a small fraction of this much sea-level rise would be an economic and humanitarian disaster. The following are possible consequences of rising sea levels:
• Billions spent on adaptation—if you can afford it. A recent study estimated the costs of adapting to even a one-meter sea-level rise in the US would amount to US$156 billion (3% of the GNP).
• With only a one-meter sea-level rise some island nations, such as the Maldives, would be submerged. Already, two of the islands that make up Kiribati (a Pacific island nation) have gone under the waves. If current warming trends continue, cities like London, Bangkok and New York will end up below sea level, displacing millions and causing massive economic damage.
• Rising oceans will contaminate both surface and underground fresh water supplies, worsening the world's existing fresh water shortage.
• Rural populations and farmland (especially rice) on some coasts will be wiped out. (Source: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/climate-change/ impacts/sea_level_rise/)
2. More Global Glacial Retreat
• The snow pack from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, U.S.A., which provides irrigation water to California’s Central Valley, the world’s fruit and vegetable basket, is already melting earlier in the spring and is projected to decrease by 30-70 percent by the end of the century. (Source: http://www.sierranevadaalliance.org/programs/ db/pics/1133215435_14399.f_pdf.pdf Sierra Climate Change Toolkit, 2nd edition, Sierra Nevada Alliance)
• Ice fields on Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, shrank by 80% over the past century, with a 33% decrease from 1989 to 2000 alone. (Source: Thompson LG, Mosley-Thompson E, Davis ME, Henderson KA, Brecher HH, Zagorodnov VS, Mashiotta TA, Lin PN, Mikhalenko VN, Hardy DR, Beer J. 2002. “Kilimanjaro ice core records: evidence of Holocene climate change in tropical Africa.” Science 298: 589—593.http://bprc.osu.edu/Icecore/589.pdf )
• Global warming makes China’s glaciers shrink by 7% a year, which could have devastating effects on the 300 million who depend on them for water. (Source: “Ice-capped Roof Of World Turns To Desert” By Geoffrey Lean 08 May 2006, The Independent, http://www.countercurrents.org/cc-lean080506.htm)
• Since the 1930s glacial areas in the mountains of Central Asia have shrunk 35-50 percent and hundreds of small glaciers have already vanished. (Source: http:// www.unep.org/pdf/ABCSummaryFinal.pdf UNEP Atmospheric Brown Clouds: Regional Assessment Report With Focus on Asia, 2008)
3. Extreme Global Weather Conditions
2010 is the hottest year on record thus far:
This year is on track to being the hottest in recorded history, according to climate scientists at the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
With July temperatures being the second highest in history, those during the months of March, April, May and June were the highest on record.
In June 2010 David Easterling of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center also noted the unusual finding that land masses across the entire globe were warm.
Moreover, 17 countries, comprising 19% of the Earth’s total land area and including northern nations such as Finland and Russia, have set new records for most oppressive heat.
This is the largest surface area on the planet to have experienced such unprecedented high temperatures in the same year. Regarding these alarming figures, Dr. Mark Serreze, Director of the US National Snow and Ice Data Center states, “The point of the matter is that global warming has not stopped.”
Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate analysis section at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), further warned that in such conditions we should prepare for increased tropical storms, saying, “The last time it was this warm was when we had the record-breaking hurricane season that led to Katrina and Rita, and we ran out of alphabet (characters). This year the temperatures in the Atlantic are higher than they were in 2005.”
(Source: http://solveclimate.com/blog/20100816/most-ever¬heat-record-temperatures-19-percent-earths-surface http://news.discovery.com/earth/heat-record-climate-change.html http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/ article/2010/08/13/AR2010081306090.html http://www.accuweather.com/blogs/news/story/35632/hottest-year-on-record-so-far.asp http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/17 weather-extremes-and-climate-change)
In 2010, the extreme heat in Russia led to 14,340 deaths in Moscow in July alone. The heat also caused the worst drought conditions in European Russia in a half century, prompting the Russian government to suspend wheat exports. The heat, in turn, caused extreme fire danger over most of European Russia.
4. Major Wildfire Disasters
Eastern Australia braced for more fires and floods, as the south faced extreme heat and heavy rains threatened to swell floodwaters ravaging the north. A once-in-a-century heat wave was forecast to intensify over the weekend with high temperatures and dry winds producing the worst wildfire conditions in 25 years.
(Source: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ ALeqM5gyUztdckUqzd_SFg9jClfRmHlWEg)
In August 2010, Russian forest and peat fires burned out of control, continuing to rage in much of the country’s European territory, with seven Russian regions declaring states of emergency. In total, 520 fires are blazing across Russia, over a total area of 188,525 hectares (465,000 acres). Close to 650,000 hectares had been burned
(Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274 8704017904575408833952872038.html)
5. Major Global Flood Disasters
Flooding alone this year killed more than 6,300 people in 59 nations through September, according to the World Health Organization.
According to Swiss Re, through November 30, nearly 260,000 people died in natural
disasters in 2010. Also, disasters caused $222 billion in economic losses in 2010—more than Hong Kong’s economy.
In 2010 large swathes of China were hit by summer rains that triggered the worst floods in a decade, caused countless deadly landslides and caused many large rivers to swell to dangerous levels. 1.4-million homes were destroyed by the flooding, which also caused 275-billion yuan (41-billion dollars) in direct economic losses.
China’s northeast was the worst-hit area, with entire towns flooded and rivers bordering North Korea swollen to critical levels, prompting fears of inundations in both countries.
(Source: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ ALeqM5juX85JVgP2tsnqUSZxNgLuXejxDw)
The 2010 Pakistan floods began in July following heavy monsoon rains. Over 2,000 people have died, and over a million homes have been destroyed. And an estimated 20-million people are injured or homeless.
6. Major Global Earthquake Disasters
• A magnitude 8 quake in May 2008 in Sichuan province devastated a huge area of
southwestern China, leaving at least 87,000 people dead or missing.
• A 6.2 magnitude quake rattled Golmud in August 2009, triggering landslides and
the collapse of about 30 homes.
• In April, 2010, at least 589 people were killed and more than 10,000 injured after a
magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck Western China.
(Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/ china/7588401/China-earthquake-kills-hundreds.html)
Around the World
In early January 2010 three strong earthquakes struck the Solomon Islands, followed only weeks later by the 7.0 quake that leveled part of Haiti, leaving more than a million people homeless, killing more than 230,000 and injuring 300,000. Korea and Japan were also rocked. Then Chile was hit by an 8.8 earthquake, one of the strongest ever measured. More seismic events followed in Japan, Mexico, Sumatra and most recently western China. As of April (2010) the combined death toll from these natural disasters is almost 250,000.
(Source: http:// www.businessweek.com/news/2010-04-15/killer-quakes-on-rise-with-cities-on-fault-lines¬roger-bilham.html)
7. World Food Shortage
Unpredictable weather threatens stability of food supplies:
On Tuesday, September 7, 2010, the Sri Lankan-based International Water Management Institute (IWMI) presented a report to an international gathering of scientists at World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. Warning that climate change is bringing more erratic rainfall, the report stated that the unreliable timing and variable amounts of rain are having increasingly noticeable effects on food security and economic growth.
This is due in part to the fact that approximately 66% of crops in Asia are fed only by rain rather than irrigated, while in Africa a full 94% are rain-fed. Highlighting these recent examples of extremely dry conditions leading to this summer’s devastating Russian fires and the opposite in the calamitous Pakistani floods, Sunita Narain, head of India’s Center for Science and Environment (CSE) stated, “We are getting to a point where we are getting more water, more rainy days, but it’s more variable, so it leads to droughts and it leads to floods.”
8. Global Warming: Degree-by-Degree Guide
If global warming continues at the current rate, we could be facing extinction. So what exactly is going to happen as the Earth heats up? Here is a degree-by-degree guide, excepted from Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, by Mark Lynas, in National Geographic, January 22, 2008 (Lynus, M, 2007)
1º C Increase
Ice-free sea absorbs more heat and accelerates global warming; fresh water lost from a third of the world’s surface; low-lying coastlines flooded. Chance of avoiding one degree of global warming: zero.
2º C Increase
Europeans dying of heatstroke; forests ravaged by fire; stressed plants beginning to emit carbon rather than absorbing it; a third of all species face extinction. Chance of avoiding two degrees of global warming: 93%, but only if emissions of greenhouse gases are reduced by 60% over the next 10 years.
3º C Increase
Carbon release from vegetation and soils speeds global warming; death of the Amazon rainforest; super-hurricanes hit coastal cities; starvation in Africa. Chance of avoiding three degrees of global warming: poor, if the rise reaches two degrees and triggers carbon-cycle feedbacks from soils and plants.
4º C Increase
Runaway thaw of permafrost makes global warming unstoppable; much of Britain made uninhabitable by severe flooding; Mediterranean region abandoned. Chance of avoiding four degrees of global warming: poor, if the rise reaches three degrees and triggers a runaway thaw of permafrost.
5º C Increase
Methane from ocean floor accelerates global warming; ice gone from both poles; humans migrate in search of food and try vainly to live like animals off the land. Chance of avoiding five degrees of global warming: negligible, if the rise reaches four degrees and releases trapped methane from the seabed.
6º C Increase
Life on Earth ends with apocalyptic storms, flash floods, hydrogen sulphide gas and methane fireballs racing across the globe with the power of atomic bombs; only fungi survive. Chance of avoiding six degrees of global warming: zero, if the rise passes five degrees, by which time all feedbacks will be running out of control.
9. Pollution from Livestock Waste
In the United States
• About 13 percent of the domestic drinking-water wells in the Midwest contain unsafe levels of nitrates from fertilizers and manure lagoon spills or leaks.
• In 2001, the EPA forced five hog-factory farms to supply bottled water for local residents because activities at the farms had contaminated the local drinking water.
• A 1997 study found that 82 percent of animal-farming operations were producing nitrogen in excess of land capacity and 64 percent with excess phosphorus were poultry operations.
• A recent report by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation identified chicken manure as the primary cause of pollution in the bay.
10. The Noble Quality (NQ) of Animals and Humans
“Through meditation I have discovered that the Noble Quality (NQ) of different species can be measured as a percentage to show how they embody the qualities of compassion and selflessness.
Dogs and pigs, for example, each have an impressive NQ of 30%. Cows have an NQ of 40%. In contrast, animals with more violent or flesh-eating tendencies have lower NQs. Lions, for example, have an NQ of 3% and tigers, 4%.
And as for humans, while some of us have—you know, general break down—some of us have NQs of 10%, many of us have just a 3% Noble Quality. Humans can learn from these examples of Noble Quality in our co-inhabitants.” —Supreme Master Ching Hai
The Loving Quality (LQ) of Animals and Humans
“It is the unconditional, loving quality beyond the love of husband and wife, mother and son, the love we have for all beings. We are ready to sacrifice and help, be it our benefactor, stranger or enemy.” —Supreme Master Ching Hai
Below are the Loving Quality (LQ) percentages of some representative animals and of humans that Master Ching Hai has shared from Her heavenly insights:
• Domestic Animals: Range from 80% to 300% Dog 110% Pig 120% Chicken 90% Buffalo 110% Horse 180%
• Wild Animals: Range from 30% to 300% Wild monkey 100% Bear 110% Elephant 100% Whale 300% Cows 300% Dolphin 110% Tiger 20% Lion 21%
• Humans: Average is 20% The highest on this planet: 90% The lowest on this planet: 5% Saints/sages: Thousands % and they are not human!
“NQ and LQ are both important while IQ may or may not! We should cultivate this LQ. Humans should retrospect [on] how we spend our precious time (short time) in this planet.” —Supreme Master Ching Hai