Rising sea levels may force inhabitants of Tarawa to abandon the island by the end of century. The island is home to over 45,000 people. Photo by: NASA.
This week, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear II, the head of U.S. military forces in the Pacific, told The Boston Globe that climate change was the gravest threat in the region. While such an assessment may be surprising, given North Korea’s recent nuclear tests, the U.S. military has long viewed climate change as a massive destabilizing force on global security.
“You have the real potential here in the not-too-distant future of nations displaced by rising sea level,” Locklear said. “Certainly weather patterns are more severe than they have been in the past. We are on super typhoon 27 or 28 this year in the Western Pacific. The average is about 17.”
Locklear pointed to plans for Tarawa Island in Kiribati to possibly move the entire population as rising sea levels continues to swamp the low-lying island.
Already some people have been relocated from the Carteret Islands due to rising sea levels, and a larger relocation effort is planned.
Burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and industrialized agriculture has raised global temperatures about 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.4 degrees Celsius) in the last century. While the world’s nations have committed to keep temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, this will likely still mean that many low-lying islands and coastal areas will become uninhabitable. Worse still, nations are far from keeping their pledge with most scientists now believing temperatures this century will rise far above the 2 degree target with devastating global impacts.
(03/11/2013) Tropical forests may be less sensitive to global warming than previously thought, argues a new study published in Nature Geoscience.
(03/08/2013) Average global temperatures are now higher than any point during the past 4,000 years despite being in the midst of what should be a cooling interval, reports a new study published in the journal Science.
(03/08/2013) An increasing number of Americans believe there is evidence for climate change, reveals a new poll conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan.
(03/06/2013) Carbon dioxide now makes up around 395 parts per million in the atmosphere, according to new data from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Measuring atmospheric carbon in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, the NOAA notes that last year saw a jump of 2.67 parts per million, second only to a record jump in carbon concentrations in 1998—2.93 parts per million. The news further dampens hopes that nations will stick to their goal of keeping global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
(03/05/2013) Rapidly melting sea ice in the Arctic due to global warming will open new shipping lanes that will speed transit between northern Asia, Europe, Canada and Alaska but unleash new safety, environmental and legal issues, according to scientists writing in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
(03/02/2013) The tiny territory of Tokelau is today leading a call by 14 Pacific island nations for the world to take action to stop climate change.
(02/27/2013) Climate change, biodiversity loss, resource depletion, water scarcity, and land issues: almost all of the world’s environmental problems are underpinned by too many people inhabiting a finite planet. A new study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B warns that overpopulation—combined with over-consumption—is threatening to push the entire globe into “a collapse of global civilization.” But cultural changes, especially more empowerment of women and access to contraceptives, may hold the key to reducing population growth and eventual sustainability.
(02/26/2013) In the wake of the hottest and driest summer in memory throughout much of North America, and Super-storm Sandy that flooded cities and ravaged large swaths of the Mid-Atlantic coast, many now recognize that the climate change isn’t just real, but that it is already at our doorstep. As this realization continues to sink in, the political will may ripen to take more aggressive action to put a brake CO2 emissions. Already, President Obama, who had remained mostly silent on the issue during his reelection campaign, has made it clear that tackling climate change will be among his top second-term priorities. But the fact remains that even if the entire world switched magically to 100 percent solar and other non-polluting power sources tomorrow, it’s too late to roll back some of the impacts of climate change.
(02/25/2013) While nations around the world have committed to keeping temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial era, new research published in Science suggests that the global climate could hit a tipping point at just 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.5 degrees Fahrenheit). Studying cave stalactites and stalagmites in Siberia, scientists found that at about 1.5 degrees Celsius the Siberian permafrost melts, potentially releasing a greenhouse gas bomb of 1,000 giga-tonnes, according to some experts.