Tag Archives: Environment

Shark Attack! What terrifies you…?

25 Nov

I was trying to think of a suitable blog to write for Halloween and considered writing about my top ten scary films or something like that, but when I heard the news of a recent fatal shark attack off Surf Beach in California, I realised that for me, there is nothing more terrifying than the thought of being attacked by a shark, particularly the great white variety. The chances of this happening to anyone is of course remote, but for a truly terrifying look at the global shark attack situation, here’s my very late blog – dum dum…dum dum dum dum… dum dum dum dum dum dum…

Following the recent California shark attack, where unfortunate Mr Francisco Javier Solorio Jr. became the latest fatal shark attack victim, I decided to find out how many shark attacks occur worldwide, and was surprised by the answer. Below are the worst cases that have taken place just in the last 12 months, most recent first. Let’s see where the most risky places to swim or surf are, and who has ended up as a fatal statistic for the ocean’s apex predator….and also those that have had a very lucky escape…
4th November 2012 – Marcelino Riglos, had his right foot and ankle bitten by a Tiger Shark while spear fishing in Hawaii.

30th October 2012 – Scott Stephens, 25, is resting in fair condition after emergency surgery at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, Calif. after sustaining multiple mid-torso bites from a White shark estimated at 9-to-10 feet long.

27th October 2012 – 51-year-old woman from California was attacked over the weekend by a shark off Makena Landing Beach Park on Maui

23rd October 2012 – Mr Francisco Solorio Jr fatally wounded in California

25th September – Brandon Tyler had a lucky escape when out surfing in Florida when he had his left arm bitten

10th September 2012 – Lucky escape for Kylie Maguire, 29, was bitten on the thighs and buttocks by what is believed to have been a three-metre Bull shark.

6th September 2012 – Another lucky escape for James Fyfe while out surfing in Florida. He lost so much blood he may have lot consciousness

26th August 2012 – In the last week of August, the body of Tiago Jose de Oliveira da Silva, 18, was found in the sea just south of Recife, in north-eastern Brazil. An autopsy ruled he had been killed by sharks. His death was the 56th shark attack in Recife in 20 years.

6th August 2012 – Luck escape for Fabien Bujon attacked by a Bull shark in the Reunion Islands. Witnesses said the shark had severed a hand and a foot from the victim, but he made it back to the beach by himself.

30th July 2012 – Lucky escape for Chris Myers. Massachusetts officials confirm it was a great White shark that attacked a swimmer off Cape Cod last week. Click on the link to hear the 911 call.

23rd July 2012 – Alexandre Rassica was fatally attacked in the Reunion Islands while out surfing

14th July 2012 – Ben Linden – bit of  an unfortunate name – was fatally attacked by a massive White shark while out surfing in Western Australia.

If the above doesn’t scare you, these terrifying statistics from The SHARK ATTACK files will;

2011

119 incidents with 17 fatal attacks

16 male, 1 female

Most horrifying – Peter Clarkson in Australia, consumed by two white sharks as the boat captain looked on.

2010

98 incidents with 11 fatal

10 male, 1 female

Most horrifying – Henry Usimewa in Fiji, taken by a large shark in front of friends and family.

2009

112 incidents with 14 fatal

13 male, 1 female

Most horrifying – French citizen Katrina Tipio in Egypt, bitten on the leg when surfacing, shark still biting her when she was pulled onto the boat.

It’s difficult to imagine what must go through a person’s mind when being attacked by a shark, I get jittery enough when just looking out into the deep blue sea when swimming or scuba diving, especially in some of the more exotic locations of the world, which is a rare occasion. I remember vividly arriving in Hawaii – on honeymoon – and being desperate to get into the water. I did, and followed two turtles as they swam off the rocky reef close to the hotel. The sea was deep and i thought about sharks, but not enough to put me off searching for the two turtles I’d seen. Looking back, i’m note sure if i’d be able to go swimming in the deep ocean again, even though it was close to a rocky reef. I think I have become more afraid with age however, despite watching Jaws for the first time when aged only 9.

This blog is for all those brave souls who go to the aid of shark attack victims, swimming out to help someone, knowing the apex predator is still lurking about beneath the ocean, and of course all the survivors of shark attacks, families and friends of those unlucky people listed that have been killed by the ocean’s most feared creature. 

It’s not all bad news of course if you enjoy swimming, surfing and scuba diving. Despite the horrifying prospect of being attacked by a shark, according to Discovery News, the odds of you getting killed are of course not that great…

“Sharks always seem to be taking the rap as man-eating villains –- in the media, movies and books. So let’s get a little perspective. Your chances of being attacked by a shark are just one in 11.5 million, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File. On average, there are about 65 shark attacks worldwide each year; a handful are fatal. You are more likely to be killed by a dog, snake or in a car collision with a deer. You’re also 30 times more likely to be killed by lightning and three times more likely to drown at the beach than die from a shark attack, according to ISAF.

Even digging a sand hole is more dangerous…”

So, after reading this, what terrifies you?

Apart from being scared of sharks, Simon Rosser is the author of Kindle action-thrillers TIPPING POINT, IMPACT POINT, and the factual A-Z OF GLOBAL WARMING. Why not check them out today…?

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Mysterious Whale Deaths…

2 Aug

Crowds gathered to Newport Beach on Sydney’s northern coast in August 2012 to see a dead Humpback whale that had been washed into an ocean-side swimming pool. The thirty-foot long, twenty tonne juvenile whale will cause huge problems for the Sydney authorities not least because of the stench caused by the rotting blubber, but also because of the fact that the carcus is likely to attract packs of hungry sharks who’ll want to feed off it!

Read the story here – http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/baby-whale-washes-up-in-sydney-rockpool/story-e6frg6nf-1226440079835

The whale is likely to have died out at sea.

Action-thriller IMPACT POINT starts off with a similar storyline as two dead blue whales are washed up on beaches in the UK and the Eastern Seaboard of the USA – see synopsis below.

MYSTERIOUS WHALE DEATHS…

When the World’s largest ever creature  – a blue whale – dies in front of Robert Spire on his local Welsh beach, the  UK’s Department of the Environment and local population are ill prepared. When a  second whale washes up dead on Myrtle Beach on the opposite side of the  Atlantic, the scientific community starts asking questions.

A QUEST  FOR METEORITE FRAGMENTS…

Environmental lawyer Robert Spire; newly  recruited to the UK’s Global Environmental Command Unit – GLENCOM, flies over to  South Carolina to investigate. Whilst there, he teams up with marine biologist  Dr Sally Rivea, also assigned to the case. Meanwhile, ex marine Travis Dexter is on the run in Nevada after he discovers the body of his employer – philanthropist Julian Smithies – murdered in his home. The only object missing;  a recently discovered, rare and valuable meteorite.

A FUTURE GLOBAL CATACLYSM…

On the island of Exuma In the Bahamas, four sport divers make a startling discovery at the bottom of Mystery Cave blue hole. Sixty miles offshore in the Caribbean Sea, drilling on the Proteus oil rig turns to disaster as the drill penetrates something hard on the ocean floor. Dr Rivea, at a loss to explain the high levels of the mineral olivine discovered in the whale’s tissue samples, accompanies Spire to the Caribbean in search of answers, but what they discover doesn’t bear thinking about…

After seeing the Sydney whale story, I wondered how many large wales are washed up on the world’s shores and was surprised by the answer…

The Sydney whale is the most recent, but here’s a list, with links to the news articles-

Vancouver June 2012 – Juvenile Humpback whale beaches itself and dies at White Rock Beach –  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/06/12/bc-beached-whale-vancouver.html

Skegness, UK March 2012 – A 50 foot long Sperm Whale with a large gash in its side beaches itself – the fourth whale to do so in recent years – a sad sight for the locals who came to view –  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-17260850

Kent, UK March 2011 a 45 foot long Sperm whale beached itself on Pegwell Bay off the Kent coast – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-13614855

Yorkshire, UK September 2011, a 30 foot long Sei whale was found beached in a field close to the Humber Esturary – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8796084/Mystery-as-beached-whale-found-in-field-in-Yorkshire.html

California, USA 2007 a spate of blue whale deaths causes alarm amongst scientists – http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/blue-whale986.html#cr

There are many reasons why such magnificent creatures end up dead on the world’s beaches. Disease is an obvious one, predator attack another or more commonly being hit by a large ship, causing the whale massive blunt trauma is quite often found to be the case. Military activity affecting the whales sonar capability is another factor. It has also been said that changes in the Earth’s magnetic fields or underwater earthquakes, or the advent of some other natural disaster causes the whales to flee or become confused…. whatever the cause, the sight of such a magnificent and majestic creature lying dead on a beach near you would be very sad sight indeed.

While a cause was found for most of the above whale deaths, the deaths of two blue whales on both sides of the Atlantic only days apart is not so clear. As marine biologist Dr Sally Rivea and Robert Spire struggle to search for the answers, why not try and solve the puzzle yourself? Download your copy of Kindle action-adveture thriller IMPACT POINT today, you won’t regret it…

USA readers click HERE

UK readers click HERE 

Summer’s On The Way: How’s Earth’s Temperature?

8 Apr

With Summer on the way – Yippy – and an unseasonally hot spell 

for March/April so far in the UK, I thought I’d post a blog on Temperature,

taken from Chapter T of THE A-Z OF GLOBAL WARMING.

Temperature is generally measured using the Celsius scale,

except in the USA, where the Fahrenheit scale is used. Zero degrees

Centigrade corresponds to the temperature at which water freezes,

and 100 degrees when it boils. These temperatures are represented

as 32 and 212°F respectively.

The Earth’s average temperature, assisted by its naturally

occurring greenhouse-gas blanket, is about 15°C (59°F). The

average temperature of the human body is about 37°C (98°F), and

if temperatures get too high harmful reactions and even death

may result.

Just like a human being, if Earth’s temperature increases too

much, the planet will start to get sick and serious consequences

will result, some of which are already becoming evident.

 

 

How much has the Earth’s temperature increased?

 

The Earth’s global mean surface temperature according the Fourth

Assessment Report of the IPCC puts the rise at 0.74°C (1.33°F)

over the period 1906 to 2006.

Global temperature is measured by taking the average near-surface

temperatures over air, sea and land.

This rise may not seem like much, but according to NASA,

this means that the Earth is now reaching and passing through

the warmest period in the current interglacial period, which has

lasted for nearly 12,000 years.

 

 

How fast is Earth’s temperature rising?

 

The Earth’s temperature has risen by about 0.2°C (0.36°F) each

decade over the last thirty years. The studies show that warming

is greatest at higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere, and

larger over land compared to the oceans, as the oceans have a

much higher heat capacity compared to the land.  Air temperatures

in the Arctic region for example have, on average, actually

increased by about 5°C (9°F) over the last 100 years.

 

 

What about historical warming?

 

We know from Chapter H that the Earth has had many periods

of warming and cooling, and historically these temperature

changes have had little to do with manmade greenhouse gases,

as mankind has been emitting greenhouse gases significantly only

since the Industrial Revolution, in and about the late nineteenth

century.

Two of the most recent temperature changes took place during

the Little Ice Age, in the years 1350–1850, or thereabouts, when

temperatures dipped, and the Medieval Warm Period between

years 1000–1300, or thereabouts, when temperatures got

comparatively warmer again. An explanation for the Little Ice

Age, or Maunder Minimum is the lack of sunspot activity and

solar irradiance that occurred during this time .

 

 

What about more recently?

 

Well, temperatures have been measured accurately with scientific

instruments for about only 150 years or so. Prior to this a range

of proxy data is used, such as tree rings, ice cores, lake and sea

sediments, corals and historical records.

Researchers from NASA, Dr James Hanson and his colleague

Mark Imhoff, analysed records from 7,500 global weather stations

and used satellite observations of night-time weather stations to

identify minimal human influence, such as urban heat island effects.

The team concluded that from 1900 to 1940 it was possible the

Earth warmed partly as a result of increased levels of greenhouse

gases and partly due to natural climate variability.

Between 1940 and 1965 the Earth cooled by about 0.1°C (0.18°F),

which some scientists attribute to the increased use of aerosols

and other airborne pollutants from the burning of fossil fuels.

This was especially so in the northern hemisphere, where cooling

occurred most during this period, which can lead to increased

cloud cover, which in turn blocks and reflects incoming solar

radiation. This is a phenomenon that has been termed ‘global

dimming’. Aerosols, certainly in the northern hemisphere, have

been slowly phased out however, which may have helped reveal

the true extent of greenhouse-gas-induced warming.

The period from 1965 to 2000 showed large and widespread

warming around the world.

 

Indeed the IPCC concluded in 2001 that there is new and stronger

evidence that most of the warming observed at least over the past fifty

years is attributable to human activities.

 

 

Link between global warming and human activities?

 

There has been much debate between scientists over attribution

of climate change and global warming, and much of this discussion

has focused on a temperature graph produced in 1999 for the IPCC,

by climatologist Michael Mann and his colleagues, which showed

temperatures extending back 1,000 years. The debate became

known as the ‘hockey stick’ debate.

This name came from the graph itself, as it shows temperatures

for about 1,000 years remaining more or less constant, then from

about 1800 a sharp upward trend occurs that resembles the end

of a hockey stick.6 The reconstructions showed the 1990s to be

the warmest decade, with 1998 the warmest year ever.

The graph seems to support the warming influence human

beings have had on climate over the last 150 years or so, as

evidenced by the sudden upward trend in temperatures recorded.

Certain criticism was made of the fact that accurate temperature

records go back only 150 years, and that the data and methods

used to recreate the temperature prior to about 1850 cannot be

reliable as it comes from proxy sources such as tree rings, corals

and ice cores, etc.

It would appear however that much of the debate as to who

is responsible for global warming is now settled. While solar

intensity and even volcanoes and other natural factors can explain

variations in global temperatures in the early nineteenth century,

rising greenhouse gas levels can provide the only plausible

explanation for the warming trend over the past fifty years.7

In response to the controversy over the Mann temperature

graph, in 2006 the US Congress requested the National Research

Council prepare a report. They concluded that there was a high

level of confidence that the global mean surface temperature

during the past few decades is higher now than at any time over

the preceding 400 years. There is less confidence prior to the year

1600 to support temperature reconstructions, as there is less data

available from whatever source. There was even less confidence

about the conclusions reached that the 1990s were the warmest

decade and 1998 the warmest year. The committee did indicate,

however, that none of the reconstructions showed that

temperatures were warmer during medieval times than during

the last few decades.

The main conclusion, however, is that the build-up of

greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will cause several degrees

of warming, and this is based on the laws of physics and chemistry.

The link between greenhouse gases and temperature is well

established, as we know from Chapter G, so when additional

CO2 is added to the atmosphere, by burning fossil fuels, the

temperature is going to increase. This has been confirmed by

reliable scientific instruments over the last 150 years.

 

 

How high will temperatures go?

 

For the last three decades temperatures have been rising by about

0.2°C (0.36°F) per decade. There is evidence however that the

warming may accelerate as positive feedback mechanisms come

into play. Examples would be the release of methane from the

ground as the permafrost starts to melt, thus accelerating the

warming. Studies already indicate that warming is greater over

the northern hemisphere. As the snow and ice melt in the Arctic

regions, darker surfaces are uncovered, which reduces the albedo

effect of the ice/snow-covered areas, which allows more sunlight

to be absorbed, thus increasing warming. Likewise as the

atmosphere warms it is able to hold more water vapour (itself a

greenhouse gas), which allows it to trap more heat. These are two

examples of positive feedback mechanisms.

It is not yet possible however to determine what temperature

will result from a certain level of greenhouse gas.

It is estimated that if greenhouse gas could be stabilised at

today’s level of about 430 ppm CO2 equivalent, the Earth would

be committed to an eventual temperature increase of about 1–

3°C (1.8–5.4°F) above pre-industrial levels.

 

 

Projected CO2/temperature level scenarios

 

The amount the Earth’s temperature goes up depends on

greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere.

Projections of future warming depend on projections of global

emissions. If emissions were to remain at today’s levels, then

greenhouse gas would reach about 550 ppm CO2e by about 2050,

based on the current annual increase of 2.5 ppmv CO2e. This would

commit the world to a temperature rise of about 2–5°C (3.6–9°F).

The IPCC however projects that without intervention

greenhouse gas levels will rise to 550–700 ppm CO2e by 2050,

and 650–1,200 ppm CO2e by 2100! This would cause temperature

rises of between 1.5–4.4°C (2.7–7.9°F) and 1.8–5.5°C (3.2–9.9°F)

respectively, just on the lower forecasts of 550 and 650 ppm CO2e

levels alone!

‘A temperature rise of 2–3°C (3.6–5.4°F) above present

levels would put the Earth at a temperature not

experienced for three million years and far outside the

experience of human civilisation.’

The Earth is already committed to a 1–3°C rise (1.8–5.4°F) on

current greenhouse gas levels. If the Earth warms by a further

1°C (1.8°F), NASA scientists point out that this will be the warmest

Earth has been for the past 1,000,000 years. At 2 or 3°C higher

(3.6–5.5°F), the Earth would become a different world from that

we know. As mentioned above, the last time this occurred was

about 3,000,000 years ago, and sea levels are estimated to have

been twenty-five metres higher (eighty feet) than present!

There seems to be no alternative therefore other than

humankind reduce greenhouse gas emissions, significantly, and

fast, in order to prevent disastrous consequences. The big

problem is that like a huge oil tanker trying to make a U-turn,

even if emissions could be halted now, the effects of current

levels will continue to cause temperatures to rise for a long time

to come.

 

 

Any evidence of increasing temperatures currently

affecting Earth?

 

According to the WWF, evidence comes from the bleaching and

degradation of coral reefs (discussed further in Chapter V), due

to increasing sea temperatures, which could degrade Australia’s

Great Barrier Reef in a single human lifetime. Alpine forests

struggle to spread to higher, cooler locations, and glaciers are

melting all over the world.

The Caribbean saw its warmest ever ocean temperature in 2005.

Scotland in the UK saw its hottest year on record in 2003, which

caused hundreds of adult salmon to die, as the water became too

warm for the fish to extract oxygen from it.

New modelling work by the UK’s Hadley Centre shows that

the summer of 2003 was Europe’s hottest for 500 years.

In the Arctic, sea ice measurements in 2007 recorded the smallest

sea-ice cover ever at the end of the summer melt season.

In 2003, the world’s major cities sweltered under heatwaves.

In France, during the summer of 2003, the heatwave killed about

14,800 people in Paris alone, according to official figures released

in September 2003.

Summer temperatures have been analysed in sixteen of Europe’s

cities, which show that the continents’ capitals have warmed by

up to 2°C (3.6°F) in the last thirty years.

London is the city where average maximum summer

temperatures increased the most, up 2°C (3.6°F) over the last

thirty years, followed by Athens and Lisbon (1.9°C or 3.4°F),

Warsaw (1.3°C or 2.3°F) and Berlin (1.2°C or 2.1°F).16

Between 2000 and 2005, average summer temperatures in

thirteen out of sixteen cities looked at were at least 1°C (1.8°F)

higher than during the period 1970–1975.

 

 

Earth’s warmest years

 

According to climatologists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space

Studies the five warmest years since the 1880s have been;

 

1 2005/2010

2 1998

3 2002

4 2003

5 2006

 

The year 2005 and 2010 therefore have been the hottest so far, though they

share this accolade with 1998, which was virtually as hot. Year

1998 temperatures were enhanced however by the strongest

tropical El Niño for almost a century, which boosted temperatures

above the level they otherwise would have been. As the El Niño

gets underway in the topical Pacific Ocean, 2007 could be even

hotter, bringing with it increased warmth. 

 

 

A 2°C (3.6°F) increase limit

 

The WWF is advocating that temperatures cannot be allowed to

rise by more than 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels, otherwise

dangerous climate change may occur. The Earth has already

warmed by 0.74°C (1.33°F), which means another 1.3°C rise (2.34°F)

could be too much.

The 2°C (3.6°F) threshold is based on the best available science

and is accepted by many governments including the prime

ministers and presidents of all twenty-five EU member states.

The only way to prevent temperatures staying below this level

is for CO2 concentrations to stay below about 400 ppmv, the

equivalent to greenhouse gas levels of around 450co2e. If this were

possible, staying below 2°C (3.6°F) is likely, according to climate

models.  Levels of CO2 however are already at 395 ppmv, which

means the chance of stabilisation below 400 ppmv is therefore

very unlikely.

 

 

What would a 2°C (3.6°F) rise in temperature

mean?

 

The WWF has looked at three regions to see what a 2°C (3.6°F)

temperature rise would mean for those regions.

 

 

The Mediterranean

 

Everyone enjoys going on holiday to the ‘Med’, with its beautiful

warm climate. However, as temperatures rise in the region, water

shortages could become common as annual rainfall could decrease

by twenty per cent, and more heat-waves cause all-year-round risk

from serious forest fires, as maximum temperatures could rise

by up to 5°C (9°F).

 

 

The Arctic

 

Temperatures would rise by about 3.2°C (5.7°F) here, maybe even

double that if temperatures rose by 2°C (3.6°F) elsewhere. Less

ice means more heat absorption as the darker water absorbs the

sun’s energy. Arctic summer ice could totally disappear, leaving

wildlife habitats, such as the polar bears, deteriorating or

destroyed.

 

 

Eastern Canada

 

Important species of trees, including the sugar maple, Canada’s

national symbol, will be forced to move northwards, which could

cause problems if the trees cannot adapt. Canadian fisheries will

also struggle, which could be the final straw for the already

endangered Atlantic salmon.

These are just examples of three regions and the effects of a

2°C (3.6°F) rise in temperature. Of course, many other regions

would also suffer similar consequences.

 

According to the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change,

some climate models suggest that a global 2°C (3.6°F) rise above preindustrial

levels would mean that there is potential for the Greenland

ice sheet to begin melting irreversibly, a rising risk of the collapse of

the West Antarctic ice sheet, and a rising risk of the collapse of the

ocean thermohaline circulation.

 

If temperatures rose more than 5°C (9°F), which is possible if

emissions continue to grow, and positive feedback mechanisms

kick in, such as the release of CO2 from carbon sinks and methane

from permafrost, then the rise in temperatures would be equivalent

to the amount of warming that took place between the end of

the last Ice Age and today.

Such a rise in temperature would be far outside human

experience. A very sobering thought!

The Earth, like a sick human being, is already beginning to

show the effects of higher temperatures. A 2°C (3.6°F) global

temperature rise appears to be the limit recognised as causing

catastrophic climate change.

Staying below 2°C (3.6°F) requires CO2 levels to be stabilised

at 400 ppmv, and this appears unlikely as CO2 levels are already

at 395 ppmv and increasing annually. Greenhouse gas levels are

already at 430 ppm CO2e, ( 2008 level ) and rising at 2.5 ppm CO2e annually.

If this continues, the Earth may well be 2–5°C (3.6–9°F) warmer

by 2050, when greenhouse gas levels would reach about 550 ppm

CO2e.

It seems the only answer will be for all nations and all

individuals to do their bit as far as possible to prevent, or at least

reduce, greenhouse gas emissions. The science appears clear. While

it may not be possible to prevent a 2°C (3.6°F) temperature rise,

it seems everything must be done to prevent rises over and above

this level, and the window of opportunity to do so is rapidly

disappearing.

 

Key points

 

➢ Earth’s global mean surface temperature has

increased by 0.74°C (1.33°F) over a hundred-year

period, 1906–2006.

➢ Temperatures in the Arctic however have increased

by about 5°C (9°F) over a similar period.

➢ If greenhouse gases could be halted at present

levels, the Earth would still warm by about 1–3°C

(1.8–5.4°F) above pre-industrial levels (possibly

2.26°C more than present).

➢ The last time Earth was 2–3°C (3.6–5.5°F) higher

than present was 3,000,000 years ago, when sea

levels may have been twenty-five metres (eighty

feet) higher than present.

➢ The warmest year since 1880 was 2005 and 2010, virtually

on a par with 1998, when temperatures were

boosted by an exceptional El Niño year, while 2007

has become Earth’s second warmest year jointly

with 1998.

Image    

‘Point’ Action-Thriller: Two Novel Compilation

4 Apr

Get TIPPING POINT and IMPACT POINT  in one great Kindle double novel pack. Download both Robert Spire eco-action thrillers at the same time and save ££/$$! Treat your Kindle to some eco-environmental action adventure thrills today and save money. What a great deal!

I can’t guarantee the books will be twice as good however!

Melting Arctic; Geoengineering; Tipping Point Kindle Thriller.

18 Mar

An eminent UK engineer is suggesting building cloud-whitening towers in the Faroe Islands as a “technical fix” for warming across the Arctic.

Scientists told UK MPs this week that the possibility of a major methane release triggered by melting Arctic ice constitutes a “planetary emergency”.

The Arctic could be sea-ice free each September within a few years.

Wave energy pioneer Stephen Salter has shown that pumping seawater sprays into the atmosphere could cool the planet.

The Edinburgh University academic has previously suggested whitening clouds using specially-built ships.

At a meeting in Westminster organised by the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (Ameg), Prof Salter told MPs that the situation in the Arctic was so serious that ships might take too long.

Credit – BBC news. Read the full article here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17400804

Interested? Try Kindle Eco-thriller TIPPING POINT, a Robert Spire thriller, which involves a race by French climatologist Francois Trimaud to get to the Arctic to test a geoengineering theory to seed the Arctic Ocean in order to prevent global warming in the area before the Earth is plunged into environmental disaster.

A-Z of Global Warming – Free Saturday 4th February

4 Feb

Interested in climate change? Global Warming? The environment? If so, get your hands on a free copy of A-Z of Global Warming today! Educate your Kindle with an A-Z guide on the complex subject for FREE!

The Amazon and Global Warming

23 Jan

THE AMAZON

 

We start our A–Z journey on global warming with the Amazon Rainforest, which has an incredibly important role to play in maintaining balance in the Earth’s climate, in ways that are only just being understood. The Amazon is inextricably linked to the issue of global warming and therefore a very good place to start our inquiry into what may be the biggest threat to our existence on this planet.                              

 

AMAZON FACTS

 

The Amazon river basin contains the largest rainforest on Earth and covers approximately forty per cent of the South American continent. The rainforest is located in eight countries. Brazil has sixty per cent, with Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana between them containing the rest. The Amazon forest is a natural reservoir of genetic diversity, containing the largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforest that exists. The Amazon contains an amazing thirty per cent of Earth’s species. One square kilometre can sustain about 90,000 tons of living plants! It’s also amazing to consider that one in five of all the birds in the world make the rainforest their home. The Amazon basin is drained by the Amazon River, the world’s second longest after the Nile. The river is essentially the lifeline of the forest. It is the most voluminous on Earth and its daily freshwater discharge into the Atlantic is enough to supply New York City’s freshwater needs for nine years! New measurements recently taken by scientists, however, suggest that the Amazon may actually be the longest river in the world. No doubt this will be confirmed if true, at some point in the future!

A few thousand years ago tropical rainforests covered as much as twelve per cent of the Earth’s land surface, but today the figure is below five per cent. The largest stretch of rainforest can be found in the Amazon river basin, over half of which is situated in Brazil.

 

Why is the Amazon so important in the context of global warming?

The rainforest acts as a major store of carbon and produces enormous amounts of oxygen. The Amazon has been referred to as ‘the lungs of the Earth’ because of its affect on the climate. The way this is achieved is of course through photosynthesis, the process by which green plants and trees use the energy from sunlight to produce food by taking CO2 from the air and water and converting it to carbon. The by-product of this is oxygen. The Amazon therefore helps recycle CO2 by turning it into oxygen, and it is estimated that the Amazon produces about twenty per cent of this essential gas for Earth’s atmosphere.

 

Trees, plants and CO2

Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have been measured since 1958, from a monitoring station located on Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii. They show sharp annual increases and decreases in CO2 levels, similar to the tooth on a saw. The readings seem to mimic a breath of air being taken in and out, almost as if the Earth is breathing. They correspond to the amount of vegetation on the planet (most of which is in the northern hemisphere, as the landmass there is greater), taking in CO2, and giving out oxygen. During summer in the northern hemisphere, when the Earth is tilted towards the sun, Earth’s vegetation is able to photosynthesise, resulting in an uptake of CO2, causing worldwide CO2 levels to drop. In winter in the northern hemisphere, when Earth’s axis is tilted away from the sun, the opposite happens, causing CO2 levels to rise again. When one becomes aware of the correlation between the Earth’s vegetation and CO2 levels, it is easy to understand why the Amazon, and rainforests in general, are such an important part of Earth’s ecosystem.

The problem is, however, that although the measurements taken at the volcano in Hawaii show sharp up and down annual readings, the measurements also show a simultaneous steady upward trend in CO2 levels. The importance of CO2 in relation to global warming will be a recurring theme throughout this book, and will be looked at further in Chapter C.

What has been happening in the Amazon?

A worrying trend is the Amazon having experienced two consecutive years of drought, in 2005 and 2006. The drought in 2006, which left rivers dry, stranded thousands of villagers, and put regional commerce at a standstill, was the worst on record. A second year of drought is of great concern to researchers studying the Amazon ecosystem. Field studies by the Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Research Centre in the USA, suggest that Amazon forest ecosystems may not withstand more than two consecutive years of drought without starting to break down. Severe drought weakens forest trees and dries leaf litter leaving forests susceptible to land-clearing fires set during the July-October period each year. According to the Woods Hole Research Centre, it also puts forest ecosystems at risk of shifting into a savannah-like state.

A recent experiment carried out by a team of researchers suspended 5,600 large plastic panels between 1 and 4 metres (3.2– 13.1 feet) above the ground to mimic severe drought conditions, where as much as eighty per cent of a one-hectare plot is deprived of eighty per cent of rainfall. Measuring rainfall, soil moisture, leaf and canopy characteristics over time, it was found that after four years the rainforest trees began to die while leaf litter dried and became tinder for wild fires.

Another factor is the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event, a climatic phenomenon that influences much of the climate in the region, particularly Northeast Brazil, and the northern Amazon. ENSO brings with it dry conditions in the above areas, and manmade climate change is thought to increase this naturally occurring phenomenon in the future. ENSO is further looked at in Chapter W. Some climate models have suggested that temperatures in the Amazon may increase by 2 to 3°C (3.6–5.4°F) by the year 2050, together with a decrease in rainfall during the dry period. If the drought continues, based on the results of the aforementioned experiment, 2007/8 could be a turning point for the forest, which may mean that a tipping point will be reached where the forest will start to die, with catastrophic consequences for Earth’s climate. If this trend continues, according to the WWF, between thirty and sixty per cent of the Amazon rainforest could become dry savannah, rendering the forest a source of CO2 instead of a sink/store of it, which it currently is.

There are ways in which we can all help try and sustain this vast and ecologically important expanse of rainforest, and these will be discussed in Chapter Y. The Amazon will be further considered in Chapter D, where the problem of deforestation is looked at.

Key points

The Amazon rainforest contains about thirty per cent of Earth’s species.

World rainforest cover has over thousands of years decreased from twelve per cent to five per cent.

The Amazon helps to recycle CO2, a gas which contributes to global warming and while doing so produces about twenty per cent of Earth’s oxygen.

CO2 levels rise and fall with the seasons. There is greater landmass and hence vegetation in the northern hemisphere, which means that when Earth is tilted towards the sun during northern summertime, CO2 levels drop as a result of there being greater uptake of CO2 from photosynthesis. During the winter, the opposite happens and CO2 levels rise again.

Enjoy this excerpt? If so, download your copy of THE A-Z OF GLOBAL WARMING(US) (UK) now on Kindle or available on paperback.

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Impact Point: Action-Adventure Thriller. 2012; End Of The World?

21 Dec

Impact Point: Action-Adventure Thriller. 2012, the end of the world?

MYSTERIOUS WHALE DEATHS…

When the World’s largest ever creature – a blue whale – dies in front of Robert Spire on his local Welsh beach, the UKs Department of the Environment and local population are ill prepared. When a second whale washes up dead on Myrtle Beach on the opposite side of the Atlantic, the scientific community starts asking questions.

A QUEST FOR METEORITE FRAGMENTS…

Environmental lawyer Robert Spire; newly recruited to the UKs Global Environmental Command Unit – GLENCOM, flies over to South Carolina to investigate. Whilst there, he meets marine biologist Dr Sally Rivea, also assigned to the case. Meanwhile, ex-marine Travis Dexter is on the run in Nevada after he discovers the body of his employer – philanthropist Julian Smithies- murdered in his home. The only object missing is a recently discovered, rare and valuable meteorite.

A FUTURE GLOBAL CATACLYSM…

On the island of Andros In the Bahamas, four sport divers make a startling discovery at the bottom of Mystery Cave blue hole. Sixty miles offshore in the Caribbean Sea, drilling on the Proteus oil rig turns to disaster as the drill penetrates something hard on the ocean floor. Dr Rivea, at a loss to explain the high levels of the mineral olivine in the whale’s tissue samples, accompanies Spire to the Caribbean in search of answers, but what they discover doesn’t bear thinking about…

Eco-Thrillers: A New Genre?

29 Oct

Perhaps it’s time to treat your Kindle to a new thriller? How about an Eco-thriller? This blog is devoted to the books currently out there which combine action, adventure and thrills, with a threat – either natural or man-made – to the environment, which causes local or even global disaster and destruction. Sound like a good recipe? Read on…

You don’t have to be a ‘Tree-hugger’ – no offence to trees or hugging intended – to enjoy these types of books. In fact, although these titles are all fictional, not only do you get a decent story and fast-paced read, but the books are quite often very informative and laced with science, so the reader also usually learns something in the process…What could be better?

Eco-thrillers have actually been around for a good while. The 1950s and 1960s were filled with “Our planet is getting mad” themes, which were told through the numerous science fiction films that came out during that period.

The Day The Earth Stood Still,” based on author Harry Bates’ short 1940s story, “Farewell To The Master,” which came with a message from outer space that Earth needed to be saved from mankind, is probably one of the most well-known of those films, but I dare say, not many people have heard of the book, or even the author.

More recently, movies such as  “The Day After Tomorrow,” about the sudden halting of the Atlantic Ocean Thermohaline Circulation, based on the 1999 book, “The Coming Global Superstorm,” by Whitley Strieber and Art Bell,  and Richard Matheson’s  last man on the planet, “I am Legend,” based on a book of the same title, actually written in 1954, brought environmental disaster movies to the masses.

These are great examples of the eco-thriller disaster genre, which are based on books from decades ago. We also have British authors like JG Ballard who, in 1962 wrote “The Drowned World,” a story about solar radiation melting the poles, causing soaring temperatures which leave Europe and North America submerged in tropical lagoons.

Another British author, Charles Eric Maine was writing eco-thrillers back in 1958 with “The Tide Went Out,” about mankind’s nuclear tests busting open the Earth’s crust which causes all the oceans to run into the planet’s interior, and you guessed it, environmental disaster ensues…great stuff!

So, it seems the eco-thriller genre is really a sub-genre which has been around for decades, just more usually dressed up as science fiction it would seem.

I have read a decent selection of eco-thrillers and have also written one myself. Below is a little information on my favorites in the genre. You can make your own minds up as to whether you think this genre is for you. There is also a list of the books that I haven’t yet read, but ones that are certainly on my Kindle download list!

I’m actually surprised that the eco-thriller genre doesn’t have its own niche on Amazon, but maybe that will change soon, as there’s plenty of great books out there. Whilst the world doesn’t face the same kind of threats as it did in the 1950s, one hopes, it does face mounting environmental ones, which should mean that the eco-thriller genre will be around for a long time to come.

Let’s just hope we’re all around long enough to read them…!

So, in no particular order then, here’s my list;

The Rapture by Liz Jenson.

The Rapture

When a wheel-bound psychologist is assigned to help a young girl locked up in an asylum to decipher her seemingly crazy rants and random scribbling’s of natural disasters, her first thoughts, naturally is that the girl is crazy. When certain events appear to come true however, it soon appears that the girl might not be deranged after all but have the ability to foresee a future global environmental catastrophe.

A well written, pacey novel with an interesting subject matter – 3.5 eco-stars

Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd.

Ordinary Thunderstorms


Not so much an eco-thriller, but included on the basis that the main protagonist is a climate scientist.  This book is about Adam Kindred who, following a fleeting meeting with a man in a restaurant has his life turned upside down after he has to go off radar in London whilst all the while trying to prove his innocence following a murder he didn’t commit.

A vividly written novel with simmering drama – 3 eco-stars

Arctic Drift by Clive Cussler.

Arctic Drift: A Dirk Pitt Novel, #20 (Dirk Pitt Novels)

The master of adventure novels pulls off another great adventure-thriller with a global warming/environmental theme. Dirk Pitt becomes involved with a search for a mineral which may be capable of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Expect science, thrills, adventure, action and good story-telling – 4.5 eco-stars

Tipping Point by Si Rosser – yes me!

Tipping Point: Action-Adventure Thriller

An action-adventure thriller with an environmental twist is the best way I could describe my book.  Robert Spire, the main character is an environmental lawyer, but little time is devoted in the book to any legal back-story, this is no legal thriller. Instead Spire is immersed in a global adventure following the mysterious deaths of two climatologists. Action and thrills take place in Wales, London, Paris, San Francisco and the Arctic as Spire goes on a quest in search of answers. Meanwhile global environmental disaster looms…

I won’t rate my own book, but here’s what the readers are saying;

“Tip top global adventure”

“Enjoyable action-thriller”

“Great yarn, couldn’t put it down”

“Well-crafted environmental thriller”

“Simmering suspense”

Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child.

Terminal Freeze

This book I thought was a great read. Again, you could argue that this is a techno-thriller, but in my view it has all the elements of an eco-thriller. A team of scientists monitoring climate change near an old disused Artic base discover something – a prehistoric creature frozen solid in an ice cave. The sponsors of a nature programme funding the project fly in to film the creature as it is thawed from its ancient resting place. Needless to say, all hell breaks loose!

Fast-paced, scary, vividly written Arctic thriller – 4.5 eco-stars

IMPACT POINT by Si Rosser – Yep, mine again!

Robert Spire’s second adventure, takes him from Wales, London, the USA and the Bahamas in search of the cause of multiple blue whale deaths. When traces of the mineral olivine are found in the mammals blood, the mystery deepens. Meanwhile, a rare and valuable meteorite gets stolen from slain philanthropist Julian Smithies’ Californian mansion. Is there a connection? The more Spire finds out, the closer he comes to revealing a future cataclysm that may end all life on planet Earth.

Robert Spire’s latest adventure, might be the World’s last…

Here’s another bunch of great sounding eco-thrillers that are on my to read list; Enjoy!

Freezing Point and Boiling Point

I Am Legend

The Tide Went Out

Drowned World

Wet Desert

Thaw

The Wave

Wildfire

Vapor Trails

Melting Down

Ultimatum

Cold Earth

Flood

No More Ice!

12 Sep

News is just out that Arctic ice levels may now be at their lowest ever level, following the 2011 summer melt season, beating the 2007 record. NSIDC will be confirming this sometime in October 2011. 

So, with this in mind, let’s take a look at how global warming is affecting the Earth’s coldest regions and ice sheets, collectively called the cryosphere, derived from a Greek word meaning frost or cold. It is used to describe the areas of the Earth’s surface where water is in a solid form, usually snow or ice. These areas include sea ice, freshwater ice, glaciers, permafrost and snow. 

The Earth’s polar icecaps, found at the North and South poles, contain the largest concentrations of ice on Earth. The North pole is home to the Arctic, and the South pole the Antarctic. Also in the north is the massive Greenland ice sheet. Both the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets sit on top of continents or landmasses, whereas the Arctic is a frozen ocean. Sea ice however is found in both the North and South polar regions, and in total it covers an area about twenty times the size of Canada.

WHAT IS SEA ICE ?

Well, it is simply frozen ocean water. It forms and melts in the ocean. Icebergs, glaciers, ice sheets/shelves, however, all originate on land, and are formed with fresh not saltwater. Sea ice grows in the winter months and melts during the summer. Some ice remains all year round, and about fifteen per cent of the world’s oceans are covered during part of the year.

 WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT ?

 

Ice has a bright reflective surface, so as sunlight strikes it most of it is reflected back into space. As such, areas covered by ice don’t absorb much of the sun’s energy, allowing temperatures in the polar regions to remain cool. If higher temperatures melt the ice over time, as is beginning to happen, then more of the sun’s energy can be absorbed by the ice-free sea or land, allowing temperatures to rise further.

The term ‘albedo’ is used to determine how well a surface reflects solar energy. A surface with an albedo of zero means that it is a perfect absorber of the sun’s energy, such as a black surface. An albedo of one means that the surface is a perfect reflector, such as a white surface. Sea ice will reflect about fifty to seventy per cent of the sun’s energy. Open sea reflects about six per cent, whereas snow-covered ice about ninety per cent, simply because it’s white and therefore has a higher reflective surface.

Just as the Amazon regulates climate by absorbing and storing huge amounts of CO2, the ice-covered regions of Earth act much in the same way, by regulating temperature and reflecting large amounts of solar energy back into space. If these regions melt, then not only will ocean levels rise but temperatures will also increase.

HOW IS THE ARCTIC RESPONDING TO GLOBAL WARMING ?

 

The North pole sits right in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, which is fenced in by eight different countries. During the winter the ice extends over the entire ocean and onto the fringes of the land. During the summer, the ice retreats back into the ocean. Air temperatures in the region have, on average, increased by about 5°C (9°F) over the last 100 years, which is higher than anywhere else on the planet. This has caused Arctic sea ice to decrease by about fourteen per cent since the 1970s.

The local Inuit population have started to notice the warmer summers, the earlier break-up of the ice in spring, and extensive areas of melting permafrost in places like Alaska and Siberia. This in turn is affecting their hunting season, foundations of properties and other infrastructure in the region. Arctic sea ice has been measured by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) and NASA, using satellite data, and the findings are that massive reductions in sea ice are occurring at the end of the northern summer.

The sea ice extends to about 15,000,000 square kilometres (5,792,000 square miles) during winter, and down to an average 7,000,000 square kilometres (2,703,000 square miles) during the summer. It therefore loses just over fifty per cent of ice cover after the summer melt season. The annual average extent of Arctic sea ice has decreased by about three per cent per decade since about 1980, which is the equivalent of an area of about 750,000 square kilometres (289,575 square miles). The amount of ice left after the summer melt is also decreasing by about 7.7 per cent each decade.

NSIDC measures Arctic sea-ice extent, or the area of ocean that is covered by at least fifteen per cent ice, which typically reaches its minimum in September, at the end of the summer melt season. 

In 2007, NSIDC data reveals that Arctic sea ice during the 2007 melt season plummeted to the lowest levels since satellite measurements began in 1979. The September sea-ice minimum went down to 4,130,000 square kilometres (1,594,000 square miles), the lowest September on record, shattering the previous record for the month, set in 2005, by twenty-three per cent. Computer models however have predicted the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer months from 2080 if the overall warming trend continues.

In March 2007, a fire onboard the British nuclear submarine HMS Tireless forced it to the surface. Two sailors died in the explosion. The Navy had been conducting tests under the Arctic and the data retrieved indicated that the summer Arctic sea ice may actually be gone by as soon as 2020. This however appears to be a worst-case scenario.

Arctic sea ice is about 2 to 3 metres (6.5 to 9.8 feet) thick on average, so a loss of 7,000,000 square kilometres (2,703,000 square miles) times 2.5 metres (8.2 feet) (thickness) is a considerable amount of water. Melting sea ice however does not necessarily add much to sea-level rise when it melts, much like melting ice cubes in a glass do not cause the glass to overflow. Melting glaciers and ice-covered continents however are a different matter and when they melt, sea levels will rise.

A new NASA-led study found a twenty-three per cent loss in the extent of the Arctic’s thick year-round sea ice cover during the past two winters. The scientists discovered less perennial sea ice in March 2007 than ever before. This drastic reduction is the primary cause of this summer’s fastest-ever sea-ice retreat on record and subsequent smallest-ever extent of total Arctic coverage.

Record summer melting has also meant that the usually frozen Northwest Passage waterway, which connects the Atlantic to the Pacific, has become fully navigable, a fact that may raise tensions between Canada, which maintains that the waterway lies in its territorial waters, and other countries in the region. The race is now on to exploit the Arctic’s natural resources as oil companies drill for oil there. A disaster along the lines of the Deepwater-Horizon spill, would be cataclysmic.

For a recent news article showing stark photographic differences over time between Himalayan glaciers, click here.

For more information, check out THE A-Z OF GLOBAL WARMING, the above article is taken from chapter N – No More Ice!

Alternatively for a fast paced eco-thriller, involving a race to prevent the Arctic from melting, try TIPPING POINT.