Climate change is a very serious issue and all of us have to do our bit...

Posted by Tandarin Nike Tuesday, December 8, 2009 12:02 PM

Climate change has long-since ceased to be a scientific curiosity, and is no longer just one of many environmental and regulatory concerns.

As the United Nations Secretary General has said, it is the major, overriding environmental issue of our time, and the single greatest challenge facing environmental regulators.

It is a growing crisis with economic, health and safety, food production, security, and other dimensions.

Shifting weather patterns, for example, threaten food production through increased unpredictability of precipitation, rising sea levels contaminate coastal freshwater reserves and increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, and a warming atmosphere aids the pole-ward spread of pests and diseases once limited to the tropics.

The news to date is bad and getting worse. Ice-loss from glaciers and ice sheets has continued, leading, for example, to the second straight year with an ice-free passage through Canada’s Arctic islands, and accelerating rates of ice-loss from ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. Combined with thermal expansion—warm water occupies more volume than cold—the melting of ice sheets and glaciers around the world is contributing to rates and an ultimate extent of sea-level rise that could far outstrip those anticipated in the most recent global scientific assessment.

There is alarming evidence that important tipping points, leading to irreversible changes in major ecosystems and the planetary climate system, may already have been reached or passed. Ecosystems as diverse as the Amazon rainforest and the Arctic tundra, for example, may be approaching thresholds of dramatic change through warming and drying.

Mountain glaciers are in alarming retreat and the downstream effects of reduced water supply in the driest months will have repercussions that transcend generations. Climate feedback systems and environmental cumulative effects are building across Earth systems demonstrating behaviours we cannot anticipate.

The potential for runaway greenhouse warming is real and has never been more present. The most dangerous climate changes may still be avoided if we transform our hydrocarbon based energy systems and if we initiate rational and adequately financed adaptation programmes to forestall disasters and migrations at unprecedented scales. The tools are available, but they must be applied immediately and aggressively.

If you've ever imagined or tried to imagine a tonne of CO2 in the atmosphere, now's your chance to see a visual depiction.

As the UN Climate Change Conference kicked off in Copenhagen this week, a giant multi-media art installation, intended to show what one metric tonne of carbon dioxide looks like, was unveiled on a lake in the Danish Capital.

Measured and stored at standard atmospheric pressure, one tonne of CO2 occupies a cube the size of a three-story building: 8.2m x 8.2m x 8.2m (27ft x 27ft x 27ft). This is the amount of CO2 the average person in an industrialized country emits each month.

The cube is constructed of 12 shipping containers stacked in an interlocking pattern on a custom engineered floatation barge. Two sides are covered with an architectural mesh fabric for video projection, while the other sides remain as open exposed shipping container surfaces and red, green, and blue (RGB) LED lighting system.

The use of shipping containers as the building blocks of the CO2 Cube reflects the idea of long term sustainability and recycling and re-use.

Mia Hanak, Executive Director, Millennium ART, which built the installation, explained that the project was twofold. "Carbon emissions are invisible to the human eye," she said. "On average a person in industrialized countries emits one metric tonne of CO2 per month. When people see what it means, it opens their minds," she said.

Every day 80 million tonnes (cubes) of CO2 are emitted worldwide. In one year, the average American releases 22.9 tonnes of CO2, the average European releases 10.6 tonnes of CO2, the average Sub-Saharan releases 4.5 tonnes of CO2 and the average Indian releases 1.8 tonnes of CO2.

The UN Climate Change Conference kicked off today in Copenhagen with a very strong sense of confidence that countries can seal this time around a comprehensive, ambitious and effective international climate change deal in Denmark.

Hope and pray an earnest effort is made by our representatives to seal a deal which will in course of time, reverse the greenhouse effect. This is the least we can do to ensure our survival for times to come.

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