Center for Disease Control: Climate Change is Largest Looming Health Threat.

By Christine Dell’Amore, United Press International, December 5, 2006.

“The rising scientific certainty of climate change should mobilize environmental health professionals to take aggressive action, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director said at a meeting in Atlanta on Monday. ‘Climate change is perhaps the largest looming public health challenge we face, certainly in the environmental health field,’ said Dr. Howard Frumkin, director of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health… Even if carbon dioxide emissions were to stop completely today, the effects would reverberate for decades to come, leaving health experts with a formidable obstacle — how to protect populations from the harm of climate change today and in the future… [Frumkin said that] perhaps the most potent effect of climate change is heat waves; a 2003 heat wave in Europe took up to 30,000 lives, and that’s only an estimate. Among other health impacts: –Storms and coastal flooding from sea level rise could contribute to mortality and dislocation of residents. –Infectious diseases, especially vector-borne illnesses such as malaria, are expected to spike as tropical ecosystems expand with the changing climate. –Hotter air will create more air pollutants, particularly ozone, which can create respiratory problems in people. –Food insecurity from shifting agricultural zones could lead to civil strife and conflict. Frumkin also worries about mental health, particularly of children: What is the impact this gloomy news will have on kids growing up in such a precarious world?”

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 http://www.upi.com/ConsumerHealthDaily/view.php?StoryID=20061204-040933-3830r

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Little Harm Reported from Offshore Wind Farms in Denmark.

By Jack Coleman, Cape Cod Today, December 4, 2006. “A major report just released in Denmark finds negligible impacts to birds, fish and mammals from the two largest offshore wind farms in the world at Horns Rev and Nysted. “Danish experience for the past 15 years shows that offshore wind farms, if placed right, can be engineered and operated without significant damage to the marine environment and vulnerable species,” state the executive summary of the report, titled Danish Offshore Wind — Key Environmental Issues (PDF, 144 pages), released over the weekend at a conference in Copenhagen on the results of an eight-year long monitoring program. The report’s findings could provide an important boost to the Cape Wind project proposed for Nantucket Sound, now in its sixth year of a rigorous regulatory review.”

Virgin Atlantic to Save Fuel by Towing Planes to Take-Off Areas.

BBC News, December 3, 2006. “Virgin Atlantic is to conduct a trial using 13 of its planes which could cut aviation fuel use and slash carbon dioxide emissions. By towing its Boeing 747-400 aircraft to take-off areas at London airports during December it said it could save up to two tonnes of fuel per flight. Aircraft will be towed to Heathrow and Gatwick runways… Virgin said a reduction of 120,000 tonnes in carbon emissions a year could be made if extended across its fleet… Teams from Virgin Atlantic are also holding talks with the international airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles… and New York, about the timing of similar trials.”

Congress Takes Up Offshore Drilling Bill.

By H. Josef Herbert, The Associated Press, December 5, 2006. “Congress is making a final push to open a large area of the eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling, aware the Democratic majority next year is less likely to embrace new offshore energy development. The House was to vote Tuesday on a Senate plan to open 8.3 million acres of the Gulf that is now off limits to drilling and also steer hundreds of millions of dollars of federal royalty payments to four Gulf coast states — a windfall for Louisiana, which would get about half the money… Environmentalists have lined up against the bill and some Republicans are cool toward the measure, favoring a more expansive offshore energy development plan that passed the House in June that would have lifted drilling bans along both the East and West coasts. Senate leaders said the House bill had no chance in the Senate. The Senate-passed bill covers an area 125 miles south of the Florida Panhandle and is up to 300 miles from Florida’s Gulf coast… House leaders have been bombarded by calls from a wide range of business groups — from chemical companies to pulp and paper industries as well as electric utilities and manufacturers — for the House to accept the Senate-passed bill and send it to President Bush for his signature.”

Center for Disease Control: Climate Change is Largest Looming Health Threat.

By Christine Dell’Amore, United Press International, December 5, 2006. “The rising scientific certainty of climate change should mobilize environmental health professionals to take aggressive action, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director said at a meeting in Atlanta on Monday. ‘Climate change is perhaps the largest looming public health challenge we face, certainly in the environmental health field,’ said Dr. Howard Frumkin, director of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health… Even if carbon dioxide emissions were to stop completely today, the effects would reverberate for decades to come, leaving health experts with a formidable obstacle — how to protect populations from the harm of climate change today and in the future… [Frumkin said that] perhaps the most potent effect of climate change is heat waves; a 2003 heat wave in Europe took up to 30,000 lives, and that’s only an estimate. Among other health impacts: –Storms and coastal flooding from sea level rise could contribute to mortality and dislocation of residents. –Infectious diseases, especially vector-borne illnesses such as malaria, are expected to spike as tropical ecosystems expand with the changing climate. –Hotter air will create more air pollutants, particularly ozone, which can create respiratory problems in people. –Food insecurity from shifting agricultural zones could lead to civil strife and conflict. Frumkin also worries about mental health, particularly of children: What is the impact this gloomy news will have on kids growing up in such a precarious world?”

California Agriculture Could Plunge Due to Global Warming.

Mongabay.com, December 4, 2006. “Higher temperatures could cause a 40 percent drop in some of California’s most popular crops by mid-century according to new research in the journal Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. Almonds, walnuts, oranges, avocados and table grape could be especially affected.”

Europe’s Warmest Autumn in 500 Years.

By Quirin Schiermeier,  news@nature.com, December 4, 2006. “Finding data to support seasonal trends can be tricky, however. The instrumental record doesn’t date back much further than the onset of the twentieth century. To get around this, Elena Xoplaki, a climate historian at the University of Bern in Switzerland, has looked at historic sources in Europe going back to the 1500s, such as weather observations recorded by monks, doctors and scholars. She has now updated her reconstruction with the latest temperature data from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The unpublished study reveals that the past three months have been uniquely warm in the context of the past half millennium, even when the uncertainties related to the historic data are taken into account… The change matches a trend. Autumn temperatures in Europe have been rising by about 0.45 °C per decade over the past three decades. The new data show that the past 30 years has been the warmest such period on record, and the past 10 years has been the warmest decade.”

Nepal’s Farmers on Front Line of Global Climate Change.

By John Vidal, The London Guardian, December 2, 2006. “Nepal is on the front line of climate change and variations… are now being recorded in communities from the freezing Himalayas of the north to the hot lowland plains of the south. For some people the changes are catastrophic… The floods are coming more severely more frequently. Not only is the rainfall far heavier these days than anyone has ever experienced, it is also coming at different times of the year… Anecdotal observations are backed by scientists who are recording in Nepal some of the fastest long-term increases in temperatures and rainfall anywhere in the world. At least 44 of Nepal’s and neighbouring Bhutan’s Himalayan lakes, which collect glacier meltwater, are said by the UN to be growing so rapidly that they could burst their banks within a decade. Any climate change in Nepal is reflected throughout the region. Nearly 400 million people in northern India and Bangladesh also depend on rainfall and rivers that rise there.”

Ongoing Collapse Of Coral Reef Shark Populations.

Press Release, Cell Press, December 5, 2006. “Investigators have revealed that coral reef shark populations are in the midst of rapid decline, and that ‘no-take zones’ — reefs where fishing is prohibited — do protect sharks, but only when compliance with no-take regulations is high. The findings, reported by … James Cook University (Australia)… appear in the December 5th issue of Current Biology. Reef sharks are so-called apex predators on tropical coral reefs and are therefore of significant potential importance to the functioning of coral reef ecosystems… The new work focused on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, which is widely considered to be one of the world’s least degraded, and best managed, reef systems… Rapid declines in population size in fished areas, lead the authors to conclude that reef sharks are approaching ‘ecological extinction’–that is, becoming so rare that they can no longer perform their natural role in the functioning of coral reef ecosystems.”

Climate Change Unites Religions in Australia.

By Liz Minchin, The Age, Victoria, December 5, 2006. “Australia’s religious leaders have united to demand stronger action on climate change, with at least one major Christian lobby group urging churchgoers to compare the parties’ environmental policies before voting at the next federal election. In an unprecedented show of support for the environment, 16 faith communities — including Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews and Aboriginal Australians — will warn today that not enough is being done to prevent dire consequences from global warming. Together the groups represent more than 12.5 million Australians, meaning their strongly worded statements are guaranteed to be heeded by politicians from all parties… The religious groups’ statements were compiled by not-for-profit group the Climate Institute and will be released today as a report, Common Belief: Australia’s Faith Communities on Climate Change (PDF, 40 pages).”

Saving the Earth Can’t be Left up to God, Australian Faithful Warned.

By Linda Morris, The Sydney Morning Herald, December 5, 2006. “The leaders of 16 religious faiths today said that their beliefs ask Australians to become responsible stewards of God’s creation and immediately tackle climate change… The Anglican Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, George Browning, said: ‘If Christians believe in Jesus they must recognise that concern for climate change is not an optional extra but a core matter of faith.’ The church’s commitment to eradicate poverty was an ‘empty dream’ without addressing the role of climate change. He called for discussions to take all nations beyond the Kyoto Protocol. At a local level he called for Australians to reduce heating and air-conditioning, install energy-saving light bulbs and take advantage of rain tanks and grey water systems. ‘It was no coincidence that the colour of Islam was green,’ said the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. It urged Muslims, where possible, to dump the car in favour of public transport, restrict the use of disposable items and adopt alternative technologies.”