Tag Archives: Environment
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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…

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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.

         

Global Warming – A brief Introduction.

9 Sep

The term Global Warming has been in common usage for some time now and refers to recent warming of Earth’s atmosphere,which also implies a manmade or human influence.

Earth’s atmosphere comprises many gases: oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide (hereafter abbreviated to CO2) and water vapour, to name a few. These gases are collectively called greenhouse gases and they keep the Earth’s temperature at a comfortable 15°C. Without them Earth would be a chilly -18°C.

Since pre-industrial times, usually taken to be before 1750, we know from ice-core records that CO2 levels were about 280 ppm,that’s 280 parts of CO2 per million parts of air. As industrialisation got underway humankind started to farm the land more intensely than ever before, which included deforestation for agriculture and settlements. Later – since about 1850 or so – the burning of fossil fuels for energy and transport has added considerably to greenhouse gas levels, particularly CO2.

This has resulted in CO2 levels increasing to about 390 ppm, a rise of about thirty-nine per cent from pre-industrial levels – mainly as a result of burning fossil fuels.

How do we know this?

Well, data from ice-core records that go back at least 650,000 years now show us that CO2 levels have fluctuated naturally during this time between 280 and 300 ppm. CO2 levels have also been measured accurately from the top of Mauna Loa Volcano in Hawaii since 1958, and results show an increase in CO2 levels from 315 ppm to 390 ppm since that time.

Therefore CO2 is now at ninety ppm more than it has been for at least 650,000 years of Earth’s history, and increasing. It is a known scientific fact that higher levels of greenhouse gases will lead to higher temperatures, which appears to be happening now. The world has warmed by an average of 0.74 degrees during the last 100 years or so. As a result of this warming, polar ice has started to decrease and melt, and so have Earth’s land-based glaciers. This in turn is causing sea levels to rise, which is putting low-lying islands at risk of flooding or total submersion, and will eventually threaten more and more of the world’s coastal cities and regions.

Things may get worse, however, because once Earth’s atmosphere starts to warm, the warming itself may cause further positive feedback mechanisms to kick in. A warmer atmosphere holds more water vapour, which is itself a powerful greenhouse gas. This will in turn cause further warming, and so on.

Melting ice results in more sunlight being absorbed by the surrounding ‘darker’ water and land, and that results in further warming, and more melting ice. Methane deposits currently held in a frozen but stable state under the sea and under the permafrost may be released as the oceans warm and permafrost melts, which will cause further warming. This is very worrying as methane is a potent greenhouse gas and around twenty times more powerful than CO2 when talking about it’s ability to warm the Earth’s atmosphere.

This is global warming in a nut shell, however there are of course far more complex issues involved as global warming will not affect the whole planet in the same way at the same time. Some parts will experience more drought, some parts more rainfall, and some parts more extreme weather such as floods and heatwaves.

One thing is for sure,as the world warms, we will all know about it…

For more information on the subject check out THE A-Z OF GLOBAL WARMING. Or visit my website SIROSSERTHRILLERS.

Tipping Point – Facts Behind The Fiction.

23 Aug

Without giving away too many book spoilers, I thought I’d write a brief blog for anyone who may be wondering if there is any truth behind the themes in my action-adventure thrillerTIPPING POINT.

The Tipping Point of the title refers to the point at which an irreversible melting of the Arctic’s ice pack occurs. Other themes explored in the novel are geoengineering, peak oil, the ocean thermohaline circulation and the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet! Whilst Robert Spire is left to solve the deaths of the climatologists in the book, we look at whether these themes have any basis in science fact. Let’s have a look in more detail.

The Arctic

Tipping Point explores the underlying theme that the Arctic is melting from global warming. Each year the ice pack covering the Arctic melts and retreats during the summer and freezes over again in the winter, with its maximum melt each year in September. Data from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre reveals that Arctic ice cover is on a downward trend. 2007 was the lowest recorded level, but 2011 looks likely to set a new record low. Scientists predict the Arctic may be ice free during the summer between 2013 and 2019, a startling and worrying fact. This would mean the opening of the fabled Northwest Passage – a route between the Atlantic and the Pacific – and give more opportunities for countries and companies to plunder the riches the Arctic has to offer.

Geoengineering

In the book, French climatologist Francois Trimaud has developed a specialised form of iron sulphate to fertilise the Arctic Ocean, in order to slow down and reverse the Arctic’s melting ice by increasing Arctic albedo (reflectivity) levels. The experimental substance contains a whitening pigment called Blankoplankton.
Scientists are indeed looking at ways to geoengineer the Earth’s climate to solve, or reduce the effects of global warming. Iron fertilisation of the oceans is one method.

Peak Oil

A theme explored in Tipping Point is the possibility that the World’s oil resources are running out, that supplies have reached a peak and are now on a downward curve. This theory was proposed by M King Hubbert, and he successfully predicted that the USA would reach its peak oil production in the early 1970s. Has this now happened with Saudi Arabia’s oil supplies?

Ocean Thermohaline Circulation

In Tipping Point, the book opens with UK climatologist Dr Dale Stanton’s untimely death, preventing him delivering a talk on the Atlantic Ocean’s thermohaline circulation. The OTC or great ocean conveyor as it is known, is an important ocean current which brings warm water up from the Equator to the east coast of the USA and Europe in the form of the North Atlantic Drift and Gulf Stream. The film ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ is based on the premise of the current suddenly failing, heralding in a new ice-age.
The UKs RAPID-WATCH project measures the rate or flow of the ocean current to assess whether its strength is changing. This project runs until 2014.

During a period called the Younger Dryas, a significant shutdown of the current is thought to have caused a rapid decline from relatively warmer conditions back to ice-age conditions in a blink of an eye in climactic terms. A huge influx of fresh water from Lake Agassiz is thought to have been the possible cause. The fresh water flowing into the Atlantic would have disrupted the ocean flow by interfering with its thermohaline conveyor system. 
Scientists are concerned that an increase in fresh water flowing into the Atlantic from Greenland’s melting ice sheets could once again disrupt the Thermo (heat) and haline (salt) engine that drives this essential current. 

Greenland Melting?

A back story in Tipping Point is the fact that a huge glacier on Greenland is melting, which causes isotactic adjustment of the Greenland continent underneath. Research does indeed show that Greenland glacier ice-melt is accelerating.

These are the facts. Now if you fancy a thrilling action-adventure, why don’t YOU read TIPPING POINT?

Saving Planet Earth

23 Aug

My new business cards arrived last week – the ones which have “Tipping Point, A Robert Spire Thriller,” printed on them. I put a few in my wallet, thinking, you never know, they might come in handy.

Coming to the end of another weekend in the middle of July, I’m looking out of the window and I ask myself, where is our summer? It’s the middle of July, but the weather is lousy. Mind you, in the UK it’s supposed to be a scorching 27 degrees Celsius today…wow! Not bad for the middle of summer. Mid-summer’s day was like mid-winter. So what’s going on I wondered?

Are we just having another bad summer? Have we already had our summer? The weather in April and May was fantastic, but now it’s lousy. Could something more sinister be going on? Could it be the dreaded G.W word, I’m talking about global warming, you know, climate change.

I recall years ago…I’m thinking back to the 1970s and early 1980s when we used to have long hot summers and cold, snowy winters here in the UK, but no more. Summer is usually wet, what we have of it usually appears in April and May, and at Christmas time, well now you can wear a T-shirt and not catch a chill – apart from last year, snow did actually fall…in October!

Not only that, but there’s not a day that goes by without a story in the news about global warming causing melting ice caps, rising sea levels, Arctic methane release, melting the Arctic, ocean acidification, increasing Co2 levels – yes they measure these from Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii, and deforestation. These are just some of the consequences. 

The planet appears to be doomed. Not only that, but today I found out that a NEO or Near Earth Object – an asteroid in this case passed within 7500 miles of the Earth on Monday 27th June! This thing was only discovered recently, and passed within Earth’s geosynchronous satellite population before accelerating back out to space, pretty close eh? And that’s not the only one. These things are zipping by all the time. What about all the others that haven’t been discovered yet?

So, with this all in mind, I decided I needed a drink. I went out to a local bar and was enjoying a few drinks when an attractive red-head came up to me. She asked, “Have you got a light please?”

I looked into her green eyes and thought, damn, would have been a good time to have a pack of cigarettes, or at least a lighter with me, even though I don’t smoke. I said, “sorry, no,” but quickly remembered an old booklet of matches I had in my pocket. “Actually, I have,” I said, handing her the booklet. “But you shouldn’t smoke you know, It’s bad for you, and bad for the planet.”

“What do you mean?” She asked, looking amused.

“Global warming,” I joked.

“I used to think that was rubbish,” she said, “but now I really do think something is going on, I mean look at the weather, middle of summer and it’s terrible!”

I couldn’t help joining her for a cigarette, wanting to chat more about the topic, so followed her outside. After two cigarettes – which I felt a little guilty about – and a depressing chat about saving planet Earth from the perils of global warming and asteroid collision, she said to me;

“So, if the is Earth doomed, who can save us? The X-Men, The Green Lantern, Transformers?”

I said, “They are all comic book heroes, but Robert Spire would certainly have a go.”

“Robert  Spire?” She said. “Who’s he?”

I pulled out my wallet and handed her my card.