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Environmental Pollution

Danger to Earth from warming

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A group of US scientists have warned that a UN panel on climate change underestimated the scale of sea-level increases this century resulting from global warming, the Independent reported on Tuesday.

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The six scientists cautioned that the Earth is in “imminent peril” in a 29-page article published in the July 15 issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A. “Recent greenhouse gas emissions place the Earth perilously close to dramatic climate change that could run out of control, with great dangers for humans and other creatures,” wrote the group led by James Hansen, the director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

They predict in their paper, “Climate change and trace gases” that sea levels may rise by several metres by 2100, according to the Independent. That compares to a forecast from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published in a February report that predicts sea levels increasing between 18 and 59 centimetres. They also implicitly criticise the UN IPCC for underestimating the scale of sea-level rises this century as a result of melting glaciers and polar ice sheets.

The other scientists involved in the paper were Makiko Sato, Pushker Kharecha and Gary Russell, also of the Goddard Institute, David Lea of the University of California at Santa Barbara and Mark Siddall of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York.

They say that the Earth today stands in imminent peril and nothing short of a planetary rescue will save it from the environmental cataclysm of dangerous climate change.

The six scientists from some of the leading scientific institutions in the United States have issued what amounts to an unambiguous warning to the world: civilisation itself is threatened by global warming.

They describe in detail why they believe that humanity can no longer afford to ignore the “gravest threat” of climate change.

Source:The Times Of India

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Environmental Pollution

After us, the deluge

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Imagine the City of Joy submerged in water. Don’t scoff  for environmentalists are seriously concerned. Calcutta submerged under the sea may now seem wildly far-fetched, but experts who feature in the Oscar-winning documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, are not so sure.

The fourth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, due to be released shortly, may be a harbinger of bad news for all. The IPCC, set up by the World Meteorological Organisation and the United Nations Environment Programme, works towards the assessment of scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. Already, there is bad news in its report, “Mitigation of Climate Change,” released in May in Bangkok. Based on 75 individual studies that looked into as many as 29,000 data sets, this unprecedented scientific effort has found that all continents have been affected by climate change.

The report warns that if we do not change our consumptive lifestyles soon, the drowning of several islands and cities within the next two decades is a very real possibility. The scientists predict extreme weather, heavy floods, typhoons and cyclones would be some of the ways in which humans would be affected.

With the mitigation report being released just ahead of World Environment Day, June 5, nothing could be a more appropriate topic of discussion than global warming. The West Bengal Pollution Control Board and the Indian Chamber of Commerce, in association with Jadavpur University, organised a day-long event, complete with technical sessions to mark the occasion. The participants agreed that if necessary steps are not taken to maintain the earth’s ecological balance, nature will strike back — a message the film highlights.

“We will ensure that auto-rickshaws start plying on gas. A control cell shall also be set up to check rules are implemented,” promised West Bengal environment minister Sailen Sarkar, who took part in the discussions.

Highlighting the prospective disasters threatening people all over the world, the American Center held a screening of Davis Guggenheim’s 2006 film, An Inconvenient Truth, on the same day. Presented by former US Vice President Al Gore, this Academy award-winning film about climate change — specifically global warming — was shown for the first time in the country.

The event was organised by the United States Information Service (USIS) and the Centre for Social Markets (CSM), an NGO working in the areas of sustainable development and human rights. “The aim of screening the film here is to draw attention to the problems Calcutta would face because of climate change,” said Malini Mehra, CSM director. According to the film, if the process of global warming continues, Calcutta would be submerged under the sea in the next 20 years and 14 million people would be drastically affected.

The film has already made an impact. The British government has announced that it will distribute a copy of the film and further reading material to every secondary school in the United Kingdom to create awareness on the issues raised in it.

The film mentions several potent examples of the effects of global warming, including the hastened extinction of species, the difficulties birds face in rearing their young in Eastern Europe due to “enforced” ecological changes, and the increased levels of carbon dioxide in ice in the Antarctica. No less alarming is the fact that the 10 hottest years ever measured on the planet have all occurred in the last 14 years. The film also criticises the US government’s refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The USIS-CSM conference was part of a special programme called Climate Challenge India, aimed at generating consciousness among Indians on these issues in the wake of the recent scientific findings. At a roundtable conference also, organised by CSM, Calcutta mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya and senior Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) officials discussed strategies for a greener and cleaner city.

“A plan is being drawn to identify and remove hazardous industries from the city, and the public works monitored towards adoption of pollution-free methodologies,” said Dipankar Sinha, Director General (town planning), KMC.

Coming back to Guggenheim’s film, although it has been generally well received, some of its findings have been challenged. “A general characteristic of Gore’s approach is to assiduously ignore the fact that the earth and its climate are dynamic; they are always changing even without any external forcing,” said Richard S. Lindzen, an atmospheric physicist and the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “To treat all change as something to fear is bad enough; to do so in order to exploit that fear is much worse.

But Malini Mehra differed. She stressed that the critics of global warming have had their day, and it was imperative that politicians — especially those in India — gave the issue the importance it deserved. “The overwhelming consensus of scientific opinion shows that the dangers of global warming are in the here and now, as is evident in the retreat of many glaciers since 1850,” she said.

Source:The Telegraph (Kolkata,India)

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Environmental Pollution

Our Oceans are Turning Into Plastic

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Plastic   waste  that’s twice the size of Texas is swirling through the Pacific Ocean. Scientists have dubbed the mass of plastic bags, jugs, bottles, nets and other plastic junk the  Eastern Garbage Patch, and its volume is growing at an alarming pace.

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The plastic pollution is now inevitably entering the food chain, with the most obvious casualties seabirds and other marine animals who ingest the various junk bottle caps, cigarette lighters and more, or become entangled or strangled by plastic bands and bags. The plastic causes more than 1 million seabirds, 100,000 marine mammals, and even more fish to die in the North Pacific alone every year.

Disturbing as those statistics may sound, the following finding is even more chilling: When the researchers tested the ocean water, they found that it contained miniscule pieces of plastic, and, by weight, actually contained six times as much plastic as plankton.

Of course, it’s not just marine animals that are subject to this plastic burden. People, too, are ingesting plastics every day, and being exposed to a potentially deadly mix of plastic chemicals and additives, including:

Cancer-causing PFOAs
PBDEs, which cause reproductive problems
The reproductive toxins, phthalates
BPA, which disrupts the endocrine system by mimicking the female hormone estrogen
What is the result of mankind breathing, eating, drinking and absorbing all of this plastic? Obesity, declining fertility rates and other reproductive problems, cancer and more.

If you’re still looking for a reason to adopt a more natural, healthy lifestyle, this one is as good as any. Avoid these dangerous plastic chemicals in your life as much as possible by:

Storing your food in glass, not plastic
Avoiding processed foods (which are stored in bags with chemicals)
Giving up on plastic shopping bags
Not drinking bottled water

Click to read Best Life Magazine February 20, 2007

Yes, it is a fact that every conscious person should always accept and admire technological advancement and the benefits we are getting out of it.The development and introduction of plastic goods in our day to day life has become very convenient , but we should not forget that today’s little convenience should never kill our tomorrow’s existence.

Source: Mercola.com

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Environmental Pollution

Tree planting, worm farming on World Environment Day

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Worldwide Pollution
Every day, earth becomes more and more polluted. Air pollution fills our lungs with deadly substances. Water pollution is rapidly eradicating what little freshwater we have left. Land pollution is causing once-fertile lands to become little more than deserts. While many solutions have been offered, NONE are successful. But there is hope! A REAL solution exists   overlooked by environmentalists, government agencies and scientists!

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This AND SEVERAL OTHER EMISSIONS HAVE POLLUTED THE EARTH

– Worries about global warming have increased around the world this year and many people want more government action to slow climate change, a survey showed on Tuesday.

Sixteen percent of more than 26,000 Internet users in 47 nations surveyed in March said climate change was a “major concern” against just 7 percent in a survey in October, according to the report by the Nielsen Company and Oxford University.

U.N. reports blaming human emissions from burning fossil fuels for warming that could lead to more heatwaves, desertification, floods and rising sea levels had apparently spurred concerns and far more media coverage

In the survey, about 40 percent of those expressing concern wanted governments to restrict companies’ emissions of greenhouse gases and wanted more investment in low-emission cars, houses and renewable energy.

Thirty-one percent thought people should recycle more. But only 3 percent said people should reduce air travel.

People in Switzerland, France, Australia and Canada were most worried about climate change, with more than 30 percent rating it among their top two concerns alongside issues such as the economy, health and job security.

The Group of Eight industrialized nations will meet in Germany for a summit from June 6-8. Among G8 nations, people in Russia and the United States were least concerned by warming.

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Australian protesters held a “picnic rally” against the logging of native forests while hundreds of Indian policemen swapped guns for spades to plant trees on Tuesday to highlight World Environment Day.

Across Asia, people learned about worm farming and composting, listened to lectures about renewable energy and cutting carbon emissions, while school children took part in plays and painting competitions.

Catholic nuns plant trees in a field, symbolising a deforested area, during a program to mark the World Environment Day in Manila June 5, 2007.

 

A woman dances in a field, symbolising a deforested area, during a program to mark the World Environment Day in Manila June 5, 2007.

More than 50 people halted logging operations in the southern Australian state of Victoria, calling for an end to native forest logging, the Wilderness Society said.

“Trees are giant carbon pumps, sucking carbon from the air and pumping it into the ground, trunks and branches. To protect us from the impacts of dangerous climate change, this destruction must stop,” said Luke Chamberlain, a campaigner for the society.

Hundreds of policemen India’s western state of Gujarat pledged to turn barren areas into fruit orchards by planting mango and guava trees.

“We will keep our gun and baton aside and pick up a spade to plant trees all around our offices,” said Sujata Solanki Majumdar, a senior police officer in Gandhinagar, the state capital. “If the cops go green, then the people will follow too.

In Vadodara in central Gujarat, housewife Savita Dabhi sat outside her home, cooking a four-course meal for her family and friends on a solar cooker to promote the benefits of renewable energy.

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Global concern about climate change has risen dramatically over the last six months and consumers increasingly expect their governments to act, according to a survey published on Tuesday.

The survey by the Nielsen Company and Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, found 42 percent of global online consumers believe governments should restrict companies’ emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants.

A G8 summit of rich nations this week could pave the way for a world deal on how to tackle global warming.

Rich nations and major developing nations such as China, India and Brazil are under pressure to agree targets to cut emissions and to start talks on shaping the next phase of the U.N. Kyoto Protocol climate pact, which runs out in 2012.

This year’s World Environment Day focuses on the theme “Melting Ice — a Hot Topic?” to complement International Polar Year 2007.

The United Nations said subtropical Vietnam, which has a 3,200-km (2,000-mile) coastline, could be one of the worst-hit countries if sea levels continue to rise at current rates.

In the central coastal city of Danang, members of the Youth Union planted trees and picked up rubbish from beaches. The government chose the city for the day’s events because of an increase in the frequency of typhoons and floods in the region.

The United Nations Development Programme said on Tuesday that if global sea levels rose by one meter, Vietnam would face losses of $17 billion per year, one-fifth of the population would lose their homes, 12.2 percent of the most fertile land could be lost and the southern Mekong Delta would have unprecedented flooding.

China, one of the biggest polluters and facing public anger over foul air and water, said on Tuesday it had slowed, but not reversed, a rising tide of pollution from frenetic industrialization. China is the world’s largest emitter of sulphur dioxide, which is released from burning fossil fuels and smelting and causes acid rain.

About 100 environmentalists gathered in a city park of Banda Aceh, capital of Indonesia’s Aceh province, to show their support for a logging moratorium that will be announced on Wednesday by the provincial governor

Wearing T-shirts saying “Save the forest with your hands, support the logging moratorium”, the activists formed a human chain around 500 tree stumps made of papier-mache and held a minute’s silence.

Source:http://today.reuters.com/news

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Environmental Pollution Health Alert

Sound Pollution

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No one on earth can escape the sounds of noise- an unwanted, disturbing sound that causes a nuisance in the eye of the beholder. Noise is a disturbance to the human environment that is escalating at such a high rate that it will become a major threat to the quality of human lives. In the past thirty years, noise in all areas, especially in urban areas, have been increasing rapidly. There are numerous effects on the human environment due to the increase in noise pollution.Although we attempt to set standards for some of the most major sources of noise, we often are unable to monitor them. Major sources of noise can be airplanes at takeoff and landing, and a truck just off the assembly line, yet we seem accept and enjoy countless other sounds, from hard rock music to loud Harley Davidson motor cycles. The following areas will be investigated in some detail; adolescent education, neural-effects, sleep, hearing damage, occupational environment, transportation, and physiological effects.

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Most of society is now aware that noise can damage hearing. However, short of a threat that disaster would overtake the human race if nothing is done about noise, it is unlikely that many people today would become strongly motivated to do something about the problem. Yet, the evidence about the ill effects of noise does not allow for complacency or neglect. For instance, researchers working with children with hearing disorders are constantly reminded of the crucial importance of hearing to children. In the early years the child cannot learn to speak without special training if he has enough hearing loss to interfere effectively with the hearing of words in context (Bugliarello, et al., 1976). In this respect, there is a clear need for parents to protect their childrens’ hearing as they try to protect their eyesight. If no steps are taken to lessen the effects of noise, we may expect a significant percentage of future generations to have hearing damage. It would be difficult to predict the total outcome if total population would suffer hearing loss. Conceivably, the loss could even be detrimental to our survival if it were ever necessary for us to be able to hear high frequencies.