Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Greek Fires and Global Warming

with 5 comments

athens_on_fire.jpg

I finally came across some background behind the current terrible rash of fires in Greece. They have had a tinder dry summer, and the last two weeks there have been high winds. So there’s no mystery how this happened, and there’s no coincidence to explain. Speculation about terrorism is premature, but I’m sure politics in Greece is more or less the same as in the rest of the west, so it’s not surprising. The opposition for its part is  blaming the government. With an election in Greece a few weeks away, this could get interesting. I will follow how this ongoing story develops, and of course I can only hope they get the fires under control soon.

Smoke from fires has a short term global cooling effect, though not as much as a nice volcanic irruption I would guess. On the other hand fires produce a lot of CO2, which will remain the atmosphere a lot longer than the particulates from the fires. Basically fires are not a good thing when it comes to global warming, though I suspect these fires are dwarfed by the fires still being set with monotonous regularity in the tropics to clear land.

On the topic of fires though, it’s been pointed put that uncontrolled coal mine fires, particularly in China, are an enormous CO2 contributor. India has problems too, but they are a distant second. This immediately suggests that controlling these fires might a good idea, it’s not really all that expensive and it’s off the shelf technology. This news will lead to more China bashing I suppose, but to some extent it’s deserved. When it comes to global warming, no one is innocent. (Well, maybe a few select bloggers, hehe.) At least putting out these fires is a simple way to fight global warming that’s hard to find fault with.

On the subject of extreme weather events, I came across this article: This is the Face of Global Warming. While scientifically this summers rash of floods can’t be linked to global warming, the author makes the point that is the sort of thing that can be expected if global warming continues to progress. Food for thought, and not happy thought either. I certainly hope this sort of extreme weather doesn’t get any more common.

An artist’s plan to mark the projected sea level if Greenland melts in the City of Santa Barbara has been shelved. People felt that it might lower the property values of people living on “the wrong side of the line.” Good point actually, if you want to know if your house will be submerged if Greenland melts just check out this site, no need to upset your neighbours. As far as Greenland goes, scientists sent this summer installing more sophisticated sensors there so we can get better data on just what the Greenland Ice Cap is doing. Stay tuned.

In bad global warming news, the European bloodsucking leech is apparently in big trouble due to its habitat drying up. Most land going leeches live in tropical forests, this is one of the few that lives in temperate regions. It’s just a tiny little thing that mostly feeds on amphibians. Hot dry summers have reduced the amount of moist leaf litter it needed to live in, and scientists have only been able to find one in recent years. They have been feeding it earthworms to keep it alive while they studied it. How they tracked and studied a tiny little leech in the wild for four years is a mystery to me, really dedicated scientists spent a lot of time crawling around the forest floor I guess.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. Credit: BBC/Konstantinos Topalidis)

Written by unitedcats

August 28, 2007 at 7:20 am

5 Responses

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  1. 7m sealevel rise makes Baton Rouge coastal.

    whig

    August 28, 2007 at 10:58 am

  2. Thanks for the link to those maps, Doug.

    They make me glad that I live on a hill. And that London is increasing the height of the Thames Flood Barrier. Urgently.

    Roads

    August 29, 2007 at 6:11 am

  3. Hey, aren’t they fighting over who will get the oil when the ice melts.

    What about all the flooding we have had this year and unnaturally high temperatures in other parts of the world. I suspect global warming has a huge role there.

    archanaraghuram

    August 29, 2007 at 6:20 am

  4. Well, local extreme weather events have always happened, so one has to be careful about attributing them to global warming. There’s always flooding somewhere, I don’t know how to judge what a “normal” year for flooding is. Still, this report just came out: Climate flooding risk ‘misjudged’

    unitedcats

    August 29, 2007 at 6:33 pm

  5. Putting aside the accelerating effect on global warming by industry, there is a natural balance between the respiration of plants and animals, as plants intake CO2 and output oxygen, animals convert the oxygen back into CO2. More CO2 means a better environment for plants, but a worse environment for animals. Of course there may be exceptional adaptations that will thrive in adversity.

    whig

    August 29, 2007 at 11:24 pm


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