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Friday, August 01, 2003

In Cars...

While I have survived the last year in Los Angeles without a car (gasp! my fellow angelenos say, "Is that right? No car!"), resorting to bicycle, bus, and feet to get around mostly, the time may be fast approaching where a car-oriented society demands of me that I either join or leave. As a young professor hawking his wares on the open market, which means adjunct work right now, I may very well be asked to be on the west side in the morning -- a 40 minute trip, as far south or north as Orange County or past the Santa Monica mountains, and back home in time for dinner. Unfortunately, no transport besides auto can accomplish this feat in the LA area that I know of right now.

So, I am thinking about hybrids. Until the end of 2003, there is a $2000 tax rebate and it become $1500 after that...the time to strike may be within the next couple months. The futuristic little Honda above gets almost 70 miles to the gallon on the highway! It also has an excellent crash rating. However, it is very tiny in space and has only a 1L, 3cyl engine despite offering manual transmission -- I think I may have more pickup and performance on my own? On the other hand, the Toyota Prius has a little more room, gets over 50 mpg in city driving (almost everything in LA classifies as city driving, even the packed freeways), and has the best air pollution scores of them all.

Here's a listing of all the best/worst by category.

Posted by Richard
8/01/2003 07:16:27 AM | PermaLink

Exposed: Britain's Worst Polluters

Via: Independent UK

They make billions in profits, and deliver millions in dividiends to their shareholders. They care a sight less about the environment. More than a dozen blue chip companies were revealed yesterday as serial polluters who simply shrug off the paltry fines for breaking the law. Even for Anglian Water Services, the worst of Britain's offenders last year, the financial penalties amounted to less than one-thousandth of its annual profit.

The consequences are stark: rivers where thousands of fish have died; dumping of thousands of tons of waste contaminating inner-city allotments; an entire town where the groundwater could be contaminated with petrol. That near catastrophe at Luton, Bedfordshire, was caused by a hole the size of a 10 pence coin in a BP storage tank. It could take more than a decade to clean up. BP, the guilty party, was fined just 60,000. The evidence, contained in the Environment Agency's fifth Spotlight report on companies' environmental behaviour in England and Wales, frustrated Barbara Young, its chief executive. She said: "Fines are still small change for big business."

Posted by Richard
8/01/2003 06:16:43 AM | PermaLink

 
Thursday, July 31, 2003

Bush, the Rainforest and a Gas Pipeline to Enrich his Friends

Independent UK

President George Bush is seeking funds for a controversial project to drive gas pipelines from pristine rainforests in the Peruvian Amazon to the coast. The plan will enrich some of Mr Bush's closest corporate campaign contributors while risking the destruction of rainforest, threatening its indigenous peoples and endangering rare species on the coast. Among the beneficiaries would be two Texas energy companies with close ties to the White House, Hunt Oil and Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), a subsidiary of Vice-President Dick Cheney's old company, Haliburton, which is rebuilding Iraq's oil infrastructure. The pipeline slices through some of the most biologically diverse places on earth. Their remoteness has preserved an extraordinarily rich ecosystem in the coastal Paracas reserve, which is home to such rare species as Humboldt penguins, sea lions and green sea turtles.

Posted by Richard
7/31/2003 11:55:16 AM | PermaLink

 
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Getting Over Organic: Many of our country's best farmers no longer even use the word

Via: Orion Magazine

As a consumer who generally tries to do the right thing, I've always thought the decision to buy organic was a no-brainer. But in recent years organic has grown to include paradoxes such as the organic factory farm and the organic TV dinner. And now, there is even organic high-fructose corn syrup. We are not far from organic Coca-Cola.

Now these aren't absolutely good or absolutely bad developments. As offensive a concept as organic high-fructose corn syrup may be, a product like organic Coke will sponsor a lot more organic acreage in this country. But this is certainly not what the founders of the organic movement had in mind.

It's worth remembering what they did have in mind. There were three legs to the original organic dream. One was growing food in harmony with nature -- a non-industrial way of farming that treated animals humanely and did not use chemical pesticides. The second leg was that our system of food distribution should be different; food co-ops, farmer's markets, and community supported agriculture could replace the national agricultural system. And the third leg was the food itself. We shouldn't be eating red delicious apples; we should be eating ten different kinds of apples because biodiversity in the apple tart means biodiversity in the orchard.

The lesson to be learned is that consumers of all kinds, but especially eaters, are producers in the most important sense. With every food purchasing decision, we are helping to create the world we want to live in, one bite at a time. [...]

Posted by Richard
7/30/2003 08:20:35 AM | PermaLink

Rule Blocking Development in National Forests Could Hit Supreme Court

Reposting this: The public comment period ends Aug. 14 -- there is only a short window of opportunity to mobilize mass resistance to opening the Alaskan wilderness to roads: and hence, oil, logging, and other mining operations. Take a moment and follow this link which will direct you to info about how to send your comment in. Thanks.

Via: ENN

The roadless rule in national forests may be at a dead end.

The often-challenged Clinton-era policy, which blocks development of nearly one-third of national forests, has been struck down again by a federal judge and could wind up before the Supreme Court.

First, however, it must survive changes proposed by the Bush administration, which has never fully embraced the rule even as officials pledge to keep it on the books.

Imposed in the final days of the Clinton administration, the rule blocks road construction in 58.5 million acres of remote forest as a way to stop logging and other commercial activity.

Environmentalists praise the rule as important protection for dwindling public lands. The timber industry and Republican lawmakers criticize it as overly intrusive and even dangerous, saying it could leave millions of acres exposed to catastrophic fire.

Mark Rey, the Agriculture Department undersecretary who oversees the Forest Service, said the Bush administration wants to protect roadless values while ensuring that the rule will not be subject to the repeated court challenges that have marked the policy.

"We wanted to amend it, not end it," Rey said. "That's still our desire."

Environmentalists and some Democrats insist the administration is trying to kill the policy without appearing to do so.

"I think they recognize that there's overwhelming public sentiment in favor of protecting these forests, and they know they are in trouble (politically) in the environmental area, so they are searching for ways to do these clear-cuts but not take a cut to their political future," said Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., a leading supporter of the roadless rule.

Since its adoption in January 2001, the rule has faced a series of legal challenges by Western states and the timber industry. Twice, it has been struck down by federal judges, most recently in a Wyoming case decided this month.

The first ruling, in May 2001, was overturned in December by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The current case is before the more conservative 10th Circuit, based in Denver. If the 10th Circuit ruling differs from the 9th Circuit's, the case could wind up before the Supreme Court.

The July 14 ruling by U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer was the most serious of several recent setbacks for the rule.

A day after the decision, the administration proposed exempting the two largest federal forests from the roadless policy. The plan would settle a lawsuit brought by Alaska and allow logging and other development in nearly a half-million acres of the vast Tongass and Chugach forests, considered by many the crown jewels of the National Forest System.

Two days later, the Republican-controlled House defeated an amendment that would have blocked the Alaska settlement and prevented the administration from allowing governors to request exemptions to the roadless rule.

The timber industry and Republican lawmakers said common sense appeared to be prevailing over what they called the environmental extremism of former President Clinton's administration.

"The roadless rule would arbitrarily fence off land and throw away the keys," said Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., chairman of the House Resources Committee, which oversees land-use questions.

Pombo called the roadless rule a "don't touch" management plan that would block recreational activities and prohibit needed forest maintenance to prevent catastrophic wildfires.

Environmentalists said attacks on the rule could threaten major changes to forests and contended the Tongass proposal was proof the administration is not living up to its public statements to maintain roadless protections for national forests.

"The timber industry is getting what they paid for," said Tiernan Sittenfeld of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. "Thanks to the Bush administration, the places where Americans hike, hunt and fish are on track to be destroyed."

The Agriculture Department's Rey, a former timber industry lobbyist, said critics were overreacting.

The Tongass settlement would maintain existing protections on 95 percent of the 17 million-acre forest, he said, and open about 300,000 acres to development.

Allowing governors to exclude some national forests from the roadless rule is part of an effort to engage states as partners in managing forests, Rey said. As a practical matter, most states probably would leave the rule intact. Governors of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho have said they intend to seek waivers.

Posted by Richard
7/30/2003 07:50:10 AM | PermaLink

 
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

House Chooses Nuclear Space Flight Over Superfund

This is an absolute crime -- so-called Representatives proving that the only people they represent have large bank accounts and corporate scandal attached to their names. Here was an opportunity, amidst the general insanity, to divert a (small but helpful, as regards the Superfund clean-up program) sum of money from nuclear space research towards cleaning up the mess that has been made here on Earth from prior industrial research...something that the Feds and industries are suppossed to be undertaking regularly, but which remains vastly underfunded and, in some cases, stalled altogether. Instead, couched in the most nonsensical of "for the good of future humanity" terms, the Representatives of powerful interests once again towed the line by voting for letting the toxic waste stand where it lies, while backing more capital-venture sci-tech/energy space program expansion. The writing is on the wall -- your "leaders" are telling you that the desecration of the Earth is either an acceptable loss or is otherwise unstoppable: to the contrary, they have their imperial sites set on Jupiter and Mars...new territory to tame, control, and eventually crap all over in the name of their beloved cash accumulation.

Via: ENS

The House turned back an effort Friday to fully fund the Bush administration's 2004 request for the Superfund program, opting not to divert $115 million from an initiative to develop nuclear powered space flight in order to fund additional efforts to clean up hazardous waste sites.

The move comes amid rising concerns that the Superfund program is being undermined by a lack of funding - cleanup of existing sites has fallen by some 50 percent in the last two years.

The provision was offered by Representatives Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Charles Bass, a New Hampshire Republican, as an amendment to the House spending bill for several federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

It was easily defeated with 309 members voting against and only 114 in favor.

"It is very disappointing to see so many members place the health of their communities so low on their list of political priorities, and is impossible to justify as a matter of environmental justice or wise allocation of scarce federal funding," Markey commented on the vote.

Posted by Richard
7/29/2003 08:34:04 AM | PermaLink

The War at Home and Abroad: The environmental and social justice effects of war from Iraq to the homefront

Friends,

On October 4, Environmentalists Against War and other groups will host a Teach-In/Activist Convergence in San Francisco.

Please join us for a planning meeting on Thursday, July 31 from 4 - 6pm at St. Boniface Church, 133 Golden Gate Ave., between Leavenworth and Jones (nearest BART is Civic Center) in San Francisco. And please forward this invitation to others who might be interested in helping to shape and organize this event.

OVERVIEW

Working Title - The War at Home and Abroad: The environmental and social justice effects of war from Iraq to the homefront.

The general idea is to organize an all-day event on October 4 focusing on a number of related subjects and providing an opportunity for real time organizing.

Moderated, information-rich panel discussions will alternate with individual speakers who will present alternatives to and avenues for addressing current militaristic policies.

Then the assembled will participate in break-out sessions organized and facilitated by participating groups. These sessions will then send representatives back to the assembled group to report back on their ideas/projects/proposals.

Activist groups will also set up tables to help participants plug into organizations and on-going actions. We will work closely with the coalitions that formed to oppose the war to use the infrastructure and interest generated before and during the war.

Proposed Topics:

- Activist skills, organizing, networking, proposed actions.
- Military exemptions from environmental laws under the guise of national security, and the war on the environment at home.
- Erosion of civil liberties at home targeting immigrants, labor and people of color.
- Analysis of the military budget and what social services are suffering as a result (social justice implications of military expenditures).
- Proposed new US nuclear and conventional weapons and the resultant arms race.
- Public health impacts of depleted uranium and other war related toxins.
- Oil dependency and the Bush administration's energy policy.
- Enhancing international protocols to oppose war. US refusal to sign treaties that ban weapons.
- The next presidential election.
- Exposing WMD lies and the propoganda campaign for war.

Proposed Format:

- One full day teach-in and activist convergence to provide information
about relevant issues and an opportunity for organizing.
- Moderated panel discussions.
- Keynote speakers.
- Break-out sessions for organizing purposes.
- Sharing an evening meal and entertainment.

For more information email info@envirosagainstwar.org or call (650) 223-3333.

Posted by Richard
7/29/2003 08:20:48 AM | PermaLink

The Bane in Spain

Barbarism in the Afternoon: Spain, Bullfighting and the Challenge to Human Identity
By Dr. Steve Best - sbest1@elp.rr.com

"We have enslaved the rest of animal creation and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form." ~ William Ralph Inge

Spain is the third largest of the European countries and, without question, one of the most beautiful on the vast continent. From the surreal architecture of Antonio Gaudi in Barcelona to the stunning Moorish palaces of Granada, from the snowcapped mountaintops of the Sierra Nevada to the hilltop towns of Pueblos Blancos, from the gorgeous beaches of Costa del Sol to the marvel of the Balearic Islands, from the frantic metropolis of Madrid to the peaceful mountains of Ordesa National Park, Spain offers a treasure trove of beauty sure to steal your breath away.

The Spanish people have a beautiful language, a rich and varied culture, and a fascinating history established by Phoenicians, Africans, Celts, Carthaginians, Greeks, Visigoths, Arabs, and other peoples. Unfortunately, like nearly every other nation and culture, Spain has "traditions" of extreme animal cruelty that are central to their cultural identity. Like Italians who behead geese, Pakistanis who attack bears with dogs, English who hunt foxes, Canadians who kill baby seals, and Americans who fight cocks, many Spaniards are horribly cruel to animals. At their worst, Spaniards - and the moronic tourists who flock to their bloody rites -- can be bloodthirsty barbarians, Dionysian devotees who succumb to mystical rapture at the torture and killing of animals.

Bullfighting is as pervasive in Spain as baseball is in the US, and bullfighters claim the same celebrity status as do sports stars here. But Spain honors unique cruelties that are unthinkable in the US.

Spain seems to be at a crossroads of change, however, as their blood sports have come under fire both domestically and internationally. Spain is a critical test of whether or not human beings can overcome their violent traditions and construct new identities no longer rooted in violence toward other species.

As I write this, thousands of revelers from around the globe swell the streets of Pamplona for the Encierros -- the annual "running of the bulls." By their own estimation, these moral misfits are having the time of their lives while helping to torture and kill bulls during the eight days of the San Fermin festival.

As this dark cloud hovers over northern Spain, where cruelty to animals is a cause for celebration and joy, I shudder in horror over the sad spectacle of human cretinism as I brood over the possibility of a viable future for such a disturbed and demented species. I contemplate how much the future of humanity depends on its ability to end wicked traditions, to stop hating animals and the natural world, and to adopt an ethics of reverence for life. Of course humans are cruel to one another and need to bring peace to interpersonal relations, but their war against nature is far more costly and arguably lies at the root of the current evolutionary impasse. In so many ways, the "animal question" is central to the human question.

Nothing less is at stake than the future of humanity and biodiversity. With its deep-seated traditions that tie the Eros of joy to the Thanatos of death and violence, Spain is a flashpoint for human transformation.

Blood Fiestas: Spectacles of Cruelty

"Of all animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it." ~ Mark Twain

"Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character; and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man." ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

One automatically associates animal abuse in Spain with bullfighting, but bullfighting is only one form of animal cruelty featured in national "fiestas." Throughout the year, there are ten to twenty thousand fiestas, and every town and village has their own patron saint they honor with prolonged celebrations. Fiestas can be secular or religious in nature, but they always involve animal torture. Perversely, fiestas are most popular during religious holidays and particularly during Easter Week - with nary a word of objection from the Catholic Church. Spaniards also delight in rituals of animal cruelty on October 4, St Francis of Assisi's day, and they mark January 17, the day honoring San Antonio Abad, Spain's patron saint of animals, with chicken beheading competitions.

Animal rights activists in the US are rightly horrified by the animal abuse inherent in circuses and rodeos, but it pales in comparison to the catalogue of evils showcased in Spanish fiestas. Spaniards light the horns of a bull on fire and laugh at his torment while exploding firecrackers. They wrestle ponies to the ground and cut off their manes and tails. They put pigeons and squirrels into suspended pots that they pelt with stones until the animals fall. They beat donkeys and force them to carry enormous weights until they collapse in agony. They bury birds with their heads sticking up in order to decapitate them with swords. They throw ducks with clipped wings into the river or sea so that swimmers can rip them apart in tug-of-war contests. They grease pigs for catching contests that badly maul the animals. They string geese up by their feet and wrench their heads off.

Some fiestas are particularly infamous, such as the goat fiesta of Manganeses de la Polyorosa where villagers throw a goat from a church (!) tower. If the goat survives, it is drowned in the town fountain. Every year in the village of Villanueve de la Vera, drunken revelers drag a donkey into the streets and beat it to a bloody pulp. The "running of the bulls" in Pamplona is held every July. Each day for a week, six terrified fighting bulls are set loose in the cobbled streets as thousands of mindless daredevils try to dodge their deadly horns. The party ends with the brutal killing of the bulls. In the annual Fiesta of San Juan in Coria, Spain, tourists and locals armed with blowpipes shoot bulls with darts until their bodies are a bloody mess. This great game ends when they castrate and kill the bulls in the street.

These are dramatic examples of what author Jim Mason (An Unnatural Order: Uncovering the Roots of our Domination of Nature and Each Other) describes as "misothery" - human hatred and contempt for animals. Beginning at least with the emergence of agricultural society ten thousands years ago, human beings constructed their cultural and personal identities to a large degree as species identities, premised upon a sharp line of opposition between their animality and that of all other species. They thereby endowed themselves with special privileges by virtue of their powers of reason, speech, technology, or, in the Christian tradition, their alleged likeness to God. The result is what Mason calls the "dominionist" worldview whereby human beings arrogate to themselves supreme authority over the Earth and its living inhabitants.

A steady decline in reverence for animals is present in the transition from the Egyptian deification of bulls to the Greek naturalization of hierarchy to the bloodletting of the Roman Colosseum where sometimes thousands of animals a day were slaughtered for "entertainment." Once a rigid opposition between human and nonhuman animal is made in theory, it is constantly and rigorously established in practice through rituals of domination. Animals become objects onto and through which human beings release and generate aggression. In endless "contests" ranging from bullfighting to rodeos to alligator wrestling, "civilized man" asserts, affirms, and celebrates his superiority over "wild nature."

The tragic flaw in the human species is its historical need to define itself not only as radically different from all other species, but also as infinitely greater and more advanced. This schizophrenia is a general human phenomenon, but Spaniards have elevated cruelty to an "art form," which in fact is how they view bullfighting.

******Editor's Note: To read the full article, please go to the following webpage.

Posted by Richard
7/29/2003 07:26:57 AM | PermaLink

 
Monday, July 28, 2003

Ohrid Fate Awaits Ancient Trout in the Balkans

Guardian UK

A "living fossil", a trout weighing 17kg (37lb), which is found only in Europe's oldest and fabled Ohrid lake, faces extinction unless it is protected from commercial fishing, experts have warned.

The 3m-year-old Ohrid Lake, which lies between Albania and Macedonia, was declared a world heritage site in 1979 because its depth of 289 metres (948ft) provides a micro-climate that prevented it freezing in the ice age and allowed ancient fish to survive.

The World Bank has spent five years on a project to save the species. But pollution and illegal fishing, some using dynamite, has prompted Albanian and Macedonian environment ministers to consider a five-year ban on trout fishing, despite the effects on the Macedonian tourist trade and on fishermen's incomes.

Posted by Richard
7/28/2003 01:23:18 PM | PermaLink

Global Warming is Now a Weapon of Mass Destruction

Guardian UK

If political leaders have one duty above all others, it is to protect the security of their people. Thus it was, according to the prime minister, to protect Britain's security against Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction that this country went to war in Iraq. And yet our long-term security is threatened by a problem at least as dangerous as chemical, nuclear or biological weapons, or indeed international terrorism: human-induced climate change.

As a climate scientist who has worked on this issue for several decades, first as head of the Met Office, and then as co-chair of scientific assessment for the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change, the impacts of global warming are such that I have no hesitation in describing it as a "weapon of mass destruction".

Posted by Richard
7/28/2003 01:19:09 PM | PermaLink

Staples Launches 'Recycle for Education' Program

Via: GreenBiz

At a time when public education is facing massive budget cuts, Staples has introduced "Staples Recycle for Education," a new program that raises money for U.S. public schools by recycling used inkjet and laser toner cartridges.

Staples will donate $1 for every eligible cartridge recycled in its stores, with a nationwide goal to raise $5 million for public education. All funds generated in each U.S. state will be distributed by the NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education (NFIE) to educators in that state.

"This program is an easy way for Staples to join forces with our customers and educators to help public education and the environment," said Joe Vassalluzzo, Staples vice chairman.

"Public schools are hurting," said Robert Ganem, senior program manager for The NEA Foundation. "'Staples Recycle for Education' will raise millions of dollars for classrooms and help defray the costs that teachers spend out of their own pockets on school supplies."

An inkjet printer can be found in nearly every home in America that has a computer -- a number that is growing daily. According to industry statistics, 80% of inkjet cartridges are thrown in the trash, where it is expected they would remain in the waste stream for centuries, instead of simply recycling them for reuse. The "Staples Recycle for Education" program makes it easy to recycle used inkjet and laser toner cartridges in clearly marked recycling bins at all 1,100 Staples store nationwide.

"By turning trash into cash, Staples is helping to educate the public on the value of recycling," said Heather Cowley of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. "These products are more of an environmental problem than most people realize and Staples' program will both raise environmental awareness and boost education budgets."

More information about the program is available online.

Posted by Richard
7/28/2003 11:31:52 AM | PermaLink

Incredibly Delicious: Recipes for a New Paradigm by Gentle World

A beautifully presented collection of over 500 plant-based, cholesterol-free recipes from quick and easy meals to gourmet banquets. It includes holiday dishes, international cuisine, an extensive chapter on raw food preparation, breads/muffins, breakfast, soups, salads, gravies and sauces, dressings, dips, side dishes, appetizers, entrees, desserts. Plus, a resource section with non-vegan ingredient listing and vegan alternatives, cruelty-free companies, healthy hints, feeding pets, vegan-organic gardening and composting, sprouting, growing wheatgrass, vegan baking guide, how to cook whole grains and beans, vegan sources of vitamins and minerals, etc. Almost every page has a quote from medical or environmental authorities affirming the benefits of the vegan diet and lifestyle or inspiring words from some of the great thinkers of all time such as Einstein, Gandhi, Tolstoy, Thoreau, Socrates, The Buddha, Da Vinci, etc. Endorsements on the back cover are from: Neal Barnard, M.D., (president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and author of Turn off the Fat Genes and Eat Right; Live Longer), Casey Kasem (host of the American top 40 radio show), John Robbins, (best selling author of: The Food Revolution and Diet for a New America), Howard Lyman (author of Mad Cowboy, ex-cattle rancher turned vegan) and Ingrid Newkirk, (president and director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Reviews have been saying if you only purchase one vegan recipe book, this one has it all! Howard Lyman said "Our lives have improved because of this book." One we just received from a customer at Powells' Bookstore in Portland Oregon wrote, "Your book is truly the best collection of practical and delicious vegetarian recipes, wisdom, and inspiration that I have found anywhere."

The book was written by the member-volunteers of Gentle World, a non-profit organization in existence since 1979. Its purpose is to enhance the quality of life, by educating the public as to the health, spiritual and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Gentle World has offered hundreds of free seminars with food, free cooking classes to those interested, published books including: the classic, The Cookbook for People Who Love Animals, published in 1981. They created and catered two celebrity vegetarian banquets in Hollywood, California to inspire those who are an inspiration to others. In Hawaii, they established The Vegan Restaurant. Presently, Gentle World is developing two Vegan Paradigm Centers, one on the big island of Hawaii and the other on the north island of New Zealand. Please visit www.gentleworld.org to learn more about the authors.

Posted by Richard
7/28/2003 08:40:39 AM | PermaLink

 
Sunday, July 27, 2003

Study Finds Atmosphere Boundary Rising, Humans Responsible

Via: ENS

Human related emissions are largely responsible for an increase in the height of the tropopause - the boundary between the two lowest of the atmosphere, according to research published today in the journal Science.

The researchers note that their study provides additional evidence that emissions from power plants, automobiles, and other human-related sources are having profound impacts on the atmosphere and global climate.

"Although not conclusive in itself, this research is an important piece in the jigsaw puzzle," explained Tom Wigley, a senior scientist with National Center for Atmospheric Research and co-author of the article. "Determining why the height of the tropopause is increasing gives us insights into the causes of the overall warming of the lower atmosphere."

Although numerous past studies have pointed to human activities as a leading cause of global warming, this is the first to evaluate impacts on the tropopause. It also provides evidence that temperatures are rising in the troposphere, the lowest layer in the atmosphere.

The tropopause is situated at the upper boundary of the troposphere, where temperatures cool with increased altitude, and at the lower boundary of the stratosphere, where temperatures warm with increased altitude.

Observations and climate models both show that the tropopause, which is about five to 10 miles (eight to 16 kilometers) above Earth's surface depending on latitude and season, has risen by several hundred feet since 1979.

This height increase does not directly affect Earth, the scientists say, but is important as an indication that the troposphere is becoming warmer and the stratosphere is becoming cooler.

The results showed that the depletion of stratospheric ozone combined with human emissions of greenhouse gases accounted for more than 80 percent of the rise in the tropopause.

Posted by Richard
7/27/2003 08:10:57 AM | PermaLink