As the eagle was killed by the arrow winged with
his own feather, so the hand of the world is wounded by its own skill. -Helen Keller
Deaths due to climate change (updated May 15, 2007)
Storms and Floods
Weather-Related Natural Disasters
Killer Heat Waves
Islands are Endangered by Rising
The Trend to Dead Zones in Oceans updated March 1, 2008
Decline in Antarctic Krill
Severe Diseases Caused by Climate Change
Forest's Enemy, Beetles updated June 28, 2009
Warming Ocean Waters Kills Plankton
Australia may be facing a permanent drought
Besides global warming, here's what fossil fuel dependency
Deaths Due to Climate Change
A study, by scientists at the World Health Organization (WHO) determined that 154,000 people
die every year from the effects of global warming, from malaria to malnutrition, children in developing nations seemingly
the most vulnerable. These numbers could almost double by 2020.
"We estimate that climate change may already be causing in the region of 154,000 deaths...a year,"
Professor Andrew Haines of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told a climate change conference in Moscow.
Haines said the study suggested climate change could "bring some health benefits, such as lower cold-related mortality
and greater crop yields in temperate zones, but these will be greatly outweighed by increased rates of other diseases."
Haines mentioned that small shifts in temperatures, for instance, could extend the range of mosquitoes that spread malaria.
Water supplies could be contaminated by floods, for instance, which could also wash away crops. (The World Health Report 2002:
Reducing Risks and Promoting Healthy Life, Chapter 4, Identifying Major Risks to Health, p.26) (Also See Planet Ark
Story) Also Killer Heat Waves & WHO Website: Climate Change and Human Health - Risks and Responses
Storms and Floods
Dr. Thomas Karl,
director of the National Climatic Data Center (NOAA), says that global warming has produced an increase in precipitation during
the 20th century, mostly in the form of heavy rainstorms, little in moderate, beneficial rainstorms. Thomas Karl also reports
that recent decades have produced a 20% increase in blizzards and heavy rainstorms in the U.S. "Hundred-year events are
become more frequent now," notes Karl. In a report issued in November, 1999 the Britain's Meteorological Office warned
that flooding in Asia and Southeast Asia would increase more than ninefold over the coming decades. Floods are already increasing
worldwide. The year 1998 was the worst on record, with 96 floods in 55 countries.
Scientists are saying that global warming is causing early snowmelts. During the month of December
1996 and the first week of January 1997 unusually warm weather caused an early snowmelt that resulted in record flooding in
parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada and Montana. These floods forced about 500,000 people to leave their
homes. In California alone state officials estimated flood damage to homes and businesses at $1.6 billion. 
Weather-Related Natural Disasters
On November 28, 1998 the San Francisco Chronicle ran an Associated
Press article reporting that dollar damages from weather-related natural disasters (floods, storms, droughts, fires) worldwide
for 1998 totaled $89 billion. (The final figure for 1998 was to be $93 billion.) Total damages for the entire decade of the
1980's were $83 billion (this is the inflation-adjusted figure; actual figure was $54 billion). Damage totals for the
1990's soared above $340 billion, a 300% increase over the 1980's.
Killer Heat Waves
In June, 2003, 1700 people died during a heat wave that hit India, while 35,000 Europeans died in a
heat wave the following August.
In July, 1999 more than 250 people died from an unrelenting heat wave that seared the
eastern U.S. Temperatures climbed above 110 degrees Fahrenheit across the Midwest, with Chicago recording a record 119
It was July, 1995 when more than
1000 people died from heat-related causes in a heat wave in the midwest, over 700 of whom died in Chicago, 85 died in Milwaukee.
"High temperatures are likely to become
more extreme, and because night temperatures will increase by at least as much as daytime temperatures, heat waves will become
more serious," says Dr. Thomas Karl, at the National Climatic Data Center. 
Islands are Endangered by Rising Seas
An article in the fall, 1996 issue of the Earth Island Journal reported
that rising seas are about to inundate Pate and Ndau, two small islands near the Indian Ocean resort island of Lamu. Kenya
has announced plans to spend $517,000 to build walls shielding these islands from the rising surf.
In June, 1997, Jacob Nena, president of Micronesia said some of
his country's smaller atolls have been abandoned due to rising seas. In addition to rising sea levels, the highly populated
atoll of Nuduoro has been victimized by floods due to increasing storm activity, a symptom of global warming.
The Maldives environmental minister, Abdul Rasheed Hussain, said
that his country's tourism industry is threatened by constant erosion of its beaches. Noted in the San Francisco Chronicle
(June 25, 1997).
Government officials of
the islands, Antigua and Bermuda, in the Caribbean, are convinced that global warming is the cause of a number of recent hurricanes
including a 1994 storm that wiped out virtually the entire economy. Noted in San Francisco Chronicle article of February 11,
The island state of Kiribati (population,
75,000) is being threatened with rising seas, engulfing homes and crops. These are rising sea levels, surges during sunny
weather. Says one islander, "It's nice weather, and all of a sudden water is pouring into your living room."
Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, where islets are in
some places only as wide as the two-lane road that traverses each of them, a single wave often sprays the country from coast
to coast. The cost of protecting the capital alone with a seawall would be insurmountable, costing up to three times the total
national economic output.
In November, 2000
Teleke P. Lauti, assistant minister of natural resources and environment of Tuvalu, traveled to The Hague, Netherlands to
plead to those negotiating the final draft of the Kyoto Protocol. Tuvalu is an island state, comprising a number of low-lying
islands, altogether about 1/7th the size of Washington D.C.and located directly west of Australia and north of New Zealand.
He told negotiators that his country faces the threat of storm surges that wash directly across the entire island. It is happening
now. As the fate of Tuvalu and its 10,000 inhabitants seems hopeless against the encroaching waters, the government of Tuvalu
is weighing whether or not to purchase land in another country. Mr. Lauti says, "When a cyclone hits us, there is no
place to escape. We cannot climb any mountains or move away to take refuge. It is hard to describe the effects of a cyclonic
storm surge when it washes right across our islands. I would not want to wish this experience anyone." (67) ..........
Among the small islands of Tuvalu, rising seas have already endangered sacred sites. Rising seas have seeped into some islands'
croplands, making it too salty to grow vegetables. Tuvalu farmers are now beginning to grow their taro crops not in traditional
pits, but in tin containers filled with compost.............. Whose responsible for the needs of future climate change refugees,
such as Tuvalu citizens, and who should be paying for new land purchases? See Sea Level Rise and the Refugee Problem
Although coral reefs cover less than 0.2% of the ocean's area, they contain 25% of marine
fish species (Roberts et al., 1998). See State Department Web Site. An example of coral reef biodiversity are the reefs
of the Florida Keys, which sustain 500 species of fish, more than 1700 species of mollusks, five species of sea turtles, and
hundreds of species of sponges. 
Devastating loss of coral in the Caribbean - March,
In March, 2006 researchers
discovered devastating loss of coral in the Caribbean off Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. "It's an unprecedented
die-off," said National Park Service fisheries biologist Jeff Miller, who last week checked 40 official monitoring stations
in the Virgin Islands. "The mortality that we're seeing now is of the extremely slow-growing reef-building corals.
These are corals that are the foundation of the reef ... We're talking colonies that were here when Columbus came by have
died in the past three to four months."...............Miller noted that some of the devastated coral can never be replaced
because it only grows the width of one dime each year.
If coral reefs die "you lose the goose with golden
eggs" that are key parts of small island economies, said Edwin Hernandez-Delgado, a University of Puerto Rico biology
researcher. While investigating the widespread loss of Caribbean coral, Hernandez-Delgado found a colony of 800-year-old star
coral — more than 13 feet high — that had just died in the waters off Puerto Rico.........."We did lose entire
colonies," he said. "This is something we have never seen before."
"We haven't seen an
event of this magnitude in the Caribbean before," said Mark Eakin, coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration's Coral Reef Watch.
Tom Goreau of the Global Coral Reef Alliance says that compared to coral
areas in the Indian and Pacific ocean, where warming waters have brought about a 90% mortality rate, the Caribbean is healthier.
The Caribbean is actually better off than areas of the Indian and Pacific ocean where mortality rates —
mostly from warming waters — have been in the 90 percent range in past years, said Tom Goreau of the Global Coral Reef
Alliance. Goreau called what's happening worldwide "an underwater holocaust."
is not good," said biochemistry professor M. James Crabbe of the University of Luton near London. "If you want to
see a coral reef, go now, because they just won't survive in their current state."
Read more in AP Science
Writer Seth Borenstein's article in the San Francisco Chronicle
is happening all over the world in many countries. Whenever coral is stressed by higher water temperatures, even only 2 or
3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer, it may expel the algae that nourishes it and gives the coral its color, thus coral bleaching.
Coral usually recovers from bleaching, but it cannot survive the stress of constant warming waters. Second to rainforests
in biodiversity of species, coral reefs have been called the rainforests of the sea. An example of coral reef biodiversity
are the reefs of the Florida Keys, which sustain 500 species of fish, more than 1700 species of mollusks, five species of
sea turtles, and hundreds of species of sponges. Lose the algae that sustains the coral, we lose the fisheries that depend
on the coral. John Ogden, a marine biologist and director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography says that coral reefs provide
about 10% of global fisheries, “fish going directly into the mouths of the people who need the protein the most, the
coastal populations of Third World countries.”
In a report released at the 9th Int’l Coral Reef Symposium
in Bali, Indonesia (October 2000), Indonesian researchers noted that about 27% of the world's coral reefs have been
destroyed. Most of the remaining coral could be dead in 20 years, if global warming and pollution continue. 
“Reefs are tough,” says Clive Wilkinson, a biologist
at the Australian Institute of Marine Science. “You can hammer them with cyclones, and they’ll bounce right back.
What they can’t bounce back from is chronic, constant stress.” Coral is being stressed by human activity
from every direction: Cyanide fishing, harbor dredging, coral mining, deforestation, coastal development, agricultural runoff,
careless divers, and now global warming.
the latter half of the 1990's surface sea temperatures set new records for temperature highs, climbing above 86 degrees,
producing widespread bleaching, especially in the Indian Ocean. Over a vast stretch of the Indian Ocean, from the African
coast to southern India, 70% of the coral appears to have died. 
Thomas Goreau, president of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, says that of the 207 coral reef sites
his organization tracks worldwide, almost 75% experienced surface temperatures high enough to bring about bleaching in 1998.
More than half of these corals were killed by the bleaching.
The Trend to Dead Zones in Oceans
In a study released February 15, 2008 researchers noted that coastal waters are showing dead
zones, extending from the state of Washington down to California. The reason for the areas of depleted oxygen is the persistent,
strong winds that are pushing surface waters. The unusually strong winds promote the growth of plankton and hold low-oxygen
water on the continental shelf for longer periods. <>
“There have always been unusual weather events, such
as hurricanes, droughts, and changes in wind patterns,” said Jack Barth, an OSU professor of physical oceanography and
a scientist with PISCO. “So it’s difficult to prove that any one event is caused by global warming. Having said
that, we expect global warming to generally cause stronger and more persistent winds. “At this point,” Barth added,
“I’d be surprised if this trend towards hypoxic events didn’t continue.” <>On
viewing video footage of ocean areas off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, Jane Lubchenco, marine biologist at Oregon State
University, said, "We seem to have crossed a tipping point….Low-oxygen zones off the Northwest coast appear to
be the new normal…..We couldn't believe our eyes. It was so overwhelming and depressing. It appeared that everything
that couldn't swim or scuttle away had died…….Levels of oxygen in the summertime have suddenly become much
lower than levels in the previous 50 years……..And 2006 broke all records, with parts of the shallow shelf actually
becoming anoxic, meaning that they lacked oxygen altogether. We’ve never seen that before.”
“People keep asking us, ‘Is this situation really
all that different or not?’” Lubchenco said. “Now we have the answer to that question, and it’s an
unequivocal ‘yes.’ The low oxygen levels we’ve measured in the last six years are abnormally low for our
system. We haven’t seen conditions like this in many, many decades, and now with varying intensity we’ve seen
them in each of the last six summers.” See Dead Zone Video Footage
Decline in Populations of
Because of increasing
temperatures, areas of sea ice in the Antarctic Peninsula region have diminished significantly. And the algae that grows on
the underside of the shrinking sea ice is therefore also diminishing. The algae is a food source of krill, which is also disappearing
in antarctic waters. Scientists report a tenfold decline in krill populations during the past 10 years. The British Antarctic
Survey (BAS) completed a study in November 2004 saying that there has been an 80 percent decline in krill since the 1970's.
See BAS Press Release
Besides a decline in its foods source, part of the problem of disappearing krill is the growth
in numbers of other tiny marine animals called salps. Warming antarctic waters have brought about a population explosion of
the salp, a jellyfish-like creature, which feeds on another krill food-source, phytoplankton. And as krill is a food source
of the Adelie penguin, the latter is also disappearing. University of Montana ecologist William Fraser has studied the Adelie
penguins for 22 years and has seen their numbers drop 40%. Besides the lack of krill, Fraser believes that warmth could be
causing problems for the penguin by bringing spring snowfall that buries the Adelie's eggs under snowbanks. See
on this page Whales-Blue Whale - Antarctica under Danger to Animals
Severe Diseases Caused by Climate Change
A recent study by New Zealand doctors, researchers at the Wellington School of Medicine's
public health department said outbreaks of dengue fever in South Pacific islands are directly related to global warming.
According to a report from World Wildlife Fund, dengue, or breakbone fever has now resurged in the Americas
infecting over 200,000 people in 1995.
In a San Francisco Chronicle article (September 28, 1996) Paul
Epstein of Harvard's School of Public Health noted during a conference on Climate Change and Human Health in the Asian
Pacific, that insects are bringing illnesses like malaria and dengue to higher altitudes in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
It was also reported at this conference that continued global warming will cause the spread of these diseases and also encephalitis
and yellow fever to higher latitudes.
"Many of the most important diseases in poor countries,
from malaria to diarrhoea and malnutrition are highly sensitive to climate," said Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, of the World
Health Organization (WHO), and a co-author of a report published in the science journal Nature on November 17, 2005. The report
says that climate change is the driving force behind an increase in debilitating illnesses such as malaria, malnutrition and
"Those least able to cope
and least responsible for the greenhouse gases that cause global warming are most affected," says lead author Jonathan
Patz, a professor at University of Wisconsin at Madison's Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. "Herein
lies an enormous global ethical challenge."...."Our energy-consumptive lifestyles are having lethal impacts on other
people around the world, especially the poor."says Dr. Patz. The parts of the globe most vulnerable are the Asian and
South American Pacific coasts, the Indian Ocean coast and sub-Saharan Africa. Patz and his colleagues point to the moral responsibility
of the industrial countries, such as the United States to take a leadership role in curbing emissions.
to the UW-Madison and WHO team, other model-based forecasts of health risks from global climate change project that:
Climate-related disease risks of the various health outcomes assessed
by WHO will more than double by 2030.
as a result of coastal storm surges will affect the lives of up to 200 million people by the 2080s.
Heat related deaths in California could more than double by 2100.
Hazardous ozone pollution days in the Eastern U.S. could increase 60 percent
See Planet Ark Article Also See Washington Post Article and University of
Wisconsin at Madison Article
Forests' Enemy, Beetles
The threat of forest beetles could be one of the worst global warming impacts
yet to come. As increasing temperatures enable bark beetles to survive winters in greater numbers, their growing presence
will lead to a greater capacity to kill more trees. This threatens to be a severe positive feedback scenario: warmer temperatures
increases winter survival rates of bark beetles; more beetles leads to killing more trees, in turn bringing on more fires
from dead trees, leading to more carbon dioxide from fires and less uptake of CO2, leading to more CO2 in the atmosphere and
consequently higher temperatures. As of June 2009 there are now more than 7 million acres ( the size of Massachusetts) of
dead trees in the U.S. Read this San Francisco Chronicle article printed June 28, 2009
Higher temperatures on
Alaska's Kenai Peninsula favor the survival rate of beetle larvae of the spruce bark beetle during the winter months,
while speeding their maturing process. As a result, there are greater populations of this beetle that have destroyed
about three million acres of white spruce on the peninsula, notwithstanding the spruce's naturally occurring insecticide
found in their resin. Kenneth Raffa, an entomologist who has studied the problem, says that the spruce's defenses are
ineffective against the onslaught of large populations of these beetles. 
Ed Holsten, an Anchorage-based entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service, has studied for 22
years the white spruce bark beetle, which prefers to lay its eggs in old growth trees. He says, "On the southern Kenai
Peninsula, it's killed 80% or more of the large spruce trees, and beetles don't do well with the small trees."
Holsten has estimated that since the 1980's, most of the white spruce has been killed on about 3 million to 3 1/2 million
acres.  The continuing trend of higher temperatures is contributing to the weakening of forests, raising the potential
for fire, landslides and a reduction in the yield of forests, and a loss of wildlife.
British Columbia Infestation
The following is taken from an article that appeared in the Planet Ark newsletter of November
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -
An epidemic of tree-killing beetles is spreading rapidly through the forests in Canada's largest lumber exporting province,
with the deadly insects now found in a area nearly three-quarters the size of Sweden, officials said.
The tiny pine beetles, which have been spreading almost unchecked
through British Columbia for several years because of unusually warm winters, have seriously infested 9 million acres (3.6
million hectares) of forests and have now destroyed up 108 million cubic metres of lodgepole pine timber.
Provincial officials tracking the beetle infestation warned in a
report that the amount of destroyed trees could reach 150 million cubic metres next year unless the weather turns cold enough
to kill larvae before they hatch.
winter in the Cariboo Region where the bugs have hit the hardest is not expected to be particularly cold. Officials
said the number of trees killed in the infested area varies from area to area, but the critical infestation is considered
to cover 9 million acres in the province's Interior region, up from 8 million acres last year.
"This is clearly an epidemic of catastrophic proportion,"
said Larry Pedersen, British Columbia's chief forester.
San Bernardino National Forest
As of 2003 the conifers of the San Bernardino National Forest have spent the last four years struggling
with drought. During that time the beetle population has grown in numbers, bolstered by drought-weakened trees, their
ever-expanding food supply. In October, 2002 about 66,000 of the San Bernardino National Forest’s 652,000 acres was
hit by the bark beetle. Today that trend stands at 354,000 acres of dead trees and still increasing. Now the deadfall poses
the danger of wildfire, that threatens See San Francisco Chronicle August 11, 2003 article by Glen Martin
Threat to Animals
Caribou-Warmer temperatures and more snow, as a result of more moisture in the atmosphere, are
the reasons for the steep decline in caribou numbers in the Canadian Arctic, says Greenpeace. During the pasts 30 years, the
total caribou population of Canada's western arctic islands has dropped from 24,000 to 3,000. Ann Gunn, a scientist with
the Bathurst Island Research Station in Canada, says, Caribou are expending valuable energy trying to dig through deeper levels
of snow to eat, and eventually run out of energy and starve to death." 
Moose- Back in January, 1999, 100 Alaskan moose faced starvation because of heavy snowfall
in their winter feeding area, which is known as the Portage Flats, and located near Anchorage. The threatened animals were
searching for food, belly-deep in snow. The heavy snow, the same as the plight of the caribou, was the result of global
warming putting more moisture into the atmosphere. The animals head for Portage Flats when snow forces them out of nearby
higher valleys. At this writing we have no idea what happened to the 100 moose. 
Gray Wolf and Woodland Buffalo-According to a recent World Wildlife Fund
study, forest ecosystems in Canada, Alaska and northern Russia are vulnerable to global warming. The species inhabiting these
regions - such as the gray wolf and woodland buffalo - may not be able to migrate fast enough to cooler climates to escape
the effects of increasing temperatures. 
Polar Bear-Temperatures in the Antarctic and Arctic has increased significantly to the point that sea ice has diminished
in the both regions. In the Arctic this has meant a decreased habitat for the polar bear.  The polar bear depends heavily
on the capture of ringed seal, because this seal has a very heavy lipid layer. This fatty tissue is especially needed by the
female, who banks on the energy stores for the winter when she gives birth to a couple of cubs. The decreasing Arctic ice
will vastly diminish the chances of polar bears capturing these seals, because the bears stalks seals using the seal's
breathing hole in the ice.
The polar bears
around Hudson Bay number about 1200. In late fall they wait for the formation of sea ice to allow them to hunt seals. Nowadays
ice melts off the Hudson Bay three weeks earlier, which means that much less time to pursue and feed on seal pups. It also
means they have that much less time to gorge on seals and increase their bodies' fat stores. Compared to polar bears 20
years ago, the bears around Hudson Bay are 10% thinner and have 10% fewer cubs. According to a climate model developed by
Canada's equivalent of the EPA, Environment Canada, this sub-Arctic area of tundra within 30 years could become New England-like
with a temperate leafy forest. No place for polar bears. 
Melting sea ice is leaving greater and greater distances for polar bears to travel in their hunts for
food. In December, 2005, marine biologists from the US Minerals Management Service attending the sixteenth biennial conference
on the biology of sea mammals in San Diego, California, reported that they found 4 polar bears drowned off the northern
coast of Alaska last fall. They also described seeing more polar bears in the open sea, some as far as 60 miles offshore.
They noted that 20% of bears seen in the area in September, 2005 were in the water, while in previous years, records show
that 4% of sighted bears were swimming. Read Report by Tim Simonite found in BioEd Online
Whales-Blue Whale - (Antarctica)
Melting polar ice is threatening the main food source for Antarctic blue
whales and could lead to their extinction, an international environmental group said Thursday. The whales feed on small
sea creatures known as krill, which in turn eat microscopic marine algae. The algae live in sea ice and are released in the
summer when the ice melts. The environmental group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said studies had shown that as the temperature
has increased in recent decades because of climate change, sea ice had diminished rapidly and food supplies for blue whales
were getting scarce. "If this decline continues, it will seriously affect the entire ecosystem of the Southern Ocean
and could lead to the extinction of the Antarctic blue whale," WWF said in a statement ahead of a meeting in London next
week of the International Whaling Commission. The blue whale population in the Antarctic was drastically reduced by commercial
whaling from 250,000 a century ago to probably below 1,000 today, WWF said. The population has shown no signs of recovery
since blue whales were protected from whaling more than 35 years ago. The blue whale, which weighs 160 tons and measures up
to 30 yards long, is the largest animal ever to live on Earth. WWF said that apart from the effects of climate change, krill
were also threatened by an increase in commercial fishing. WWF whale specialist Stuart Chapman said, "It would
be a catastrophe for the natural world if the decline of the blue whale was accelerated by new commercial pressures. It would
be the final nail in the coffin." (Thursday, July 19, 2001 By Reuters). 
Minke Whales (Antarctica)
There has been an unexpected collapse of in the numbers of the world’s
most hunted whale, the minke. Scientists are saying that a sharp contraction in sea ice in Antarctica is the reason. The latest
findings say that fallen by nearly half in less than a decade. A count of minke whales in the Southern Ocean around the Antarctic,
between 1985 and 1991, were estimated at about 760,000. The latest counts, during the 1990’s, suggest there are now
only about 380,000 left. No one knows why their numbers are dropping. Global warming is the main suspect, since krill
on which they feed live at the edge of the sea ice. 
Global warming is melting ice to the tune of 50 billion tons of water a year from the Greenland ice sheet. A NASA high-tech
aerial survey shows that more than 11 cubic miles of ice is disappearing from the ice sheet annually. "We see a
significant trend (in loss of ice mass)," said William B. Krabill, NASA scientist and lead author of a study on Greenland
ice melting. "When we can go back after five years and see 10 meters of glacier gone, there is something happening."
This is increasing the likelihood of coastal flooding around the world, if this meltdown trend continues. 
The rising sea level has led to salt water encroachment producing the "Ghost forests" of South Florida and
Louisiana. Since about 1970, the invading salt water has killed hundreds of acres of southern baldcypress trees in Louisiana
coastal parishes and sabal palm in Florida. 
forests of Canada, Alaska and the former Soviet Union including Siberia are apparently burning like never before, experts
said at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco (Dec.18, 2000). The likely reason: Global warming is drying
out northern timber and brush. As a result, lightning bolts spark infernos of colossal extent. In Alaska and Canada's
boreal forests, fire consumed an average of more than 7 million acres a year in the 1990s. That's a sharp rise from the
average of 3 million acres per year in the 1960s, scientists said on the third day of the conference. See Source Article
The year 2000 was the worst U.S. wildfire season in 50 years. A replay is proving that
the year 2001 is producing scorching summer weather, again turning the Western United States into a tinderbox, where a few
sparks could easily ignite a new inferno. Officials at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, say bone-dry
conditions coupled with thick underbrush make for another potential record-breaking fire season in 2001. Firestorms in 2000
scorched some 7.5 million acres — an area roughly the size of Maryland — and cost some $1.7 billion to fight.
See Article or 106
<>With wildfires come the prospect of flooding and mudslides. The record
California wildfires of October - November 2003 that destroyed 100s of thousands of forest acreage, together with thousands
of homes and businesses, promise more destruction from floods and landslides, say forest officials. See Planet Ark Story
Also See ENN Article
The wildfires burning in the late summer of 2001 across the Western United States were releasing
tons of mercury into the atmosphere, say researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Hans Friedli and colleague
Lawrence Radke conducted laboratory tests to find out how much mercury a fire could release. About half the atmospheric mercury
got there from natural sources in soil, oceans and volcanoes, and the other half through human activity. Mercury is transformed
in the atmosphere through chemical processes and then rains or falls out as wet or dry deposition to the surface. For trees,
"wet deposition is most important," said Friedli. "Mercury is picked up by the surfaces - the leaves or needles
- and it stays there." At least until those trees burn.
For the experiment, forest samples from across the continental U.S. were set alight at the U.S. Forest
Service Fire Science Laboratory's burn facility in Missoula, Montana. The team's sensors immediately detected
mercury. All samples released almost all of the mercury they had stored - from 94 percent to 99 percent. All the samples contained
mercury at levels ranging from 14 to 71 nanograms per gram of fuel.A nanogram is one trillionth of a gram; about 28 grams
make an ounce. The team extrapolated their findings to global biomass burning from wildfires and from human activities, such
as clearing land for agriculture. They estimated the contribution at up to 800 tons per year, or 25 percent of all manmade
sources of airborne mercury. See Source Article or 
Warming Ocean Waters Kills Plankton - Bottom of Food Chain
Warming ocean waters off the Seychelles (600 miles NE of Madagascar)
are killing extensive areas of plankton. The dead plankton is depleting the surrounding waters of oxygen, harming ocean life
nearby. Fish and sea cucumbers are expected to be the first casualties. See Planet Ark Story
Danger to Birds
The Sooty Shearwater.
This U.S west coast bird at one time numbered 5 million, now numbers about 450,000. "Warmer water has reduced upwellings
in the Pacific Ocean, which bring the Shearwaters' main source of food, squid and plankton to the surface," says
Barnaby Briggs, official with Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.Quoting from an EPA website: "Populations
of sooty shearwaters off the coast of California and Washington declined by 90 percent between 1987 and 1994, a period when
sea surface temperatures increased. The decline represents a potential loss of more than 4 million birds. The warmer water
triggers a reduction in upwelling, a circulatory process that brings nutrient-rich water to the ocean’s surface. Over
the past two decades, reduced upwelling apparently has caused a 70 percent decrease in zooplankton, a key food source for
shearwaters and the small fish that the shearwaters eat." (See EPA website)
Birds and animals are stressed by rising temperatures in areas to which they migrate. They are
now heading north and south away from equatorial regions that have become too hot. The problem is will the food and shelter
resources be as valuable to the birds as what they left behind? Already about 11% of all birds are threatened with extinction,
while two-thirds of the planet's 9600 bird species are in a state of decline, says the IUCN. Are we hastening more bird
species to the endangered list?
birds, while flying nonstop hundreds or even thousands of miles, depend on a relatively stable weather scenario, expecting
their food resources to be in place. Timing is everything, especially to migrating birds. Sea level rise is likely to threaten
prime feeding and breeding grounds for millions of birds throughout the world, including mallards, red knots, pintails, plovers,
warblers and orioles. 
A constant warming
of the Arctic is now threatening populations of birds of the region, according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund. In
their study the WWF showed that rising temperatures would push wooded areas northward, eventually replacing the tundra, that
is host to millions of birds. Arctic warming, as much as 4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer, would be responsible for the extinction
of several bird species.
Associate Professor William Fraser of Montana State University has been studying the Adelie Penguin on King George Island
in the Antarctic. Since 1989 the Adelie penguin has declined by 40% on King George Island. Associate professor Wayne Trivelpiece,
also of Montana State University, notes the drop in penguin populations is related to declines in Antarctic krill, the
primary food source of the birds. 
Emperor Penguins. Between 1950 and 2001 Antarctica's emperor penguin population has decreased by 50%. "We
knew since the 1980s that emperor penguins had declined, but it is only today, because of the improvements of our knowledge
in the climate-ocean processes, that we have been able to understand why they have decreased," said Henri Weimerskirch
of the French National Center for Scientific Research in Villers en Bois, France. Weimerskirch believes that climate change
is responsible for this penguin's decline. A staple of the emperor's diet is krill. Sea ice is decreasing in the Southern
Ocean, and with less sea ice there is less algae underneath the sea ice that krill eat. Less sea ice, less algae, less krill,
less penguins and other animals. See Threat to Krill - Food Source for Fish, Seabirds, Squids, Whales, Seals, Penguins and
See Report By John Roach National Geographic News
Canadian Geese. The migration of Canada geese is being affected now by climate change. In response to increasing
temperatures, these geese are arriving in Hudson Bay, during the summer, several weeks earlier than their food supply allows.
Their primary food is marsh plants, which grow in response to the length of days, not to changes in temperature, and sprout
after the geese arrive. But the birds are hungry and cannot wait for the plants to sprout. The geese eat the plants' roots,
decimating their own future food supply, while threatening this habitat used by other bird species. 
Ducks. According to one study, global warming could cause
breeding populations of ducks in the north-central United States to decline by more than half—from 5 million birds today
to between 2.1 and 2.7 million by the year 2060. (See EPA Website)
Australia may be facing a permanent
Because of an accelerating
vortex of winds whipping around the Antarctic, Australia is experiencing a phenomenon that threatens to disrupt rainfall.
Spinning faster and tighter, the 100 mile an hour jetstream is pulling climate bands south and dragging rain from Australia
into the Southern Ocean. Scientists attribute the phenomenon to global warming and loss of the ozone layer over Antarctica.
See September 24, 2003 Planet Ark Story
scientists from the Bureau of Meteorology, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and Monash
University are working with the U.S. Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and the British Antarctic Division on the
Antarctic vortex. Focusing on the vortex for only the past few years, they have quantified increased velocity of the wind
spin by measuring pressure differences between high latitudes over the Antarctic continent and mid latitudes in the Southern
Ocean near Australia.
Australia's 2002/03 drought, the worst in 100 years and the cause of shortages of a wide variety
of some of the world's largest supplies of bulk farm foods, was too extensive to blame on the Antarctic vortex. Scientists
say a long-standing drought in the southwest corner of Western Australia state could be a foretaste of more extensive drought
yet to come in Australia, and perhaps permanent.
Besides global warming, here's what fossil fuel dependency gives us
- Long-term exposure to
the air pollution in some of America's biggest metropolitan areas significantly raises the risk of dying from lung
cancer. A study of a half-million people found major risks in urban areas from fine particulate matter, derived from soot
emitted by cars and trucks, from coal-fired power plants, and factories. See Environmental News Network Story
- About 50,000 people die prematurely of air-pollution related illnesses
in the U.S. annually.
- Oil tanker spills.Acid rain that makes lakes and streams acidic, while also damaging trees.
- Air pollution that produces respiratory illnesses such as asthma.
- OPEC’s influence on economy.
- Pipeline projects and their attendant environmental degradation and human rights abuses in developing
- Projects such as the pursuit of oil deposits
in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the inevitable environmental debasement of pristine regions.
- Strip mining that contaminates rivers and streams and destroys forests
- Power plants that are the biggest source
of mercury emissions.
- Manipulation of oil supplies
to drive up prices.
- Coal dust that, according to
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, kills 2,000 U.S. miners annually, and that has cost taxpayers about
$35 billion in monetary and medical benefits to former mineworkers since 1973.