There is no dispute that this planet is undergoing climate change; indeed, throughout history, this planet has suffered much more serious climatic assaults on its surface and its inhabitants. The science, however, is confused by the allegation that there is GLOBAL warming.
Here at the Cat Survival Trust www.catsurvivaltrust.org we have studied the effects and causes of climate change for over 30 years and much of our £200,000 library contains references to every contributory aspect of this still much misunderstood world issue. We became interested in the subject for a number of reasons which could impact on the long term survival of the world’s cat species. One very good example of direct cause and effect is the loss of habitat to snow leopard following the receding snow line up the slopes of the Himalayas which has encouraged more human settlement in snow leopard habitat and an increase in human/snow leopard conflict. What has become very apparent throughout our research is the problem that this subject is increasingly being studied in ever increasing minute detail by many agencies who fail to see the bigger picture.
Historically, this planet has seen general increases and decreases in temperature, but these changes have happened over many tens of thousands of years. Some changes have almost certainly happened suddenly as a result of asteroid strike and pole shift and have been accelerated by the affects of excessive plate movements causing extensive earthquake and volcanic eruption activity. However, at the present time, over the past century, man-made climate change has accelerated almost to a point of no return. Man’s intervention and destruction of the planet’s climate control system is so pernicious and man so pertinacious in evaluation of the real causes of climate change, that unless action is taken very quickly, the floods, droughts, landslides and extremes of temperatures recorded over the past 20 years will continue to increase at the same compound rate each year.
Climate change has severe effects of food production, health of all flora and fauna (including man) and each year, causes damage to infrastructure and homes in increasing areas of our fragile man made planet. It is the very development of the surface of our planet and the pressures brought upon the surface through the uncontrolled breeding of the human animal that will seal our ultimate demise. There are so many examples of the problems of uncontrolled proliferate breeding of single species. Consider for example the devastation caused by swarms of locusts or the introduction of cane toadsto Australia.
There are many contributory causes of climate change and many detrimental effects. The one major cause of climate change and increase in CO2 to a record level of 400ppm is still not taken seriously.
Once upon a time, this planet had the most efficient climate control mechanism which had evolved over many tens of thousands of years. Then man started to dismantle it. Until the early 1900’s man had little effect on the worlds’ weather. Then came the industrial revolution and human population explosion which started the retrogression of our climate control mechanism. The accelerated pillage of the natural resources to fuel consumer demand for ever increasing short life consumable goods and the invention of credit by those controlling the world’s banks ensured an increased destruction of the natural world.
So how has this accelerated climate change? Destruction of increasing areas of the world’s forests.
The wonderful thing about forest is that forests are wonderful things. They bounce the water around us from earth to tree to cloud. But cut them down in the tropics and the heavily saturated ‘rainforest clouds’ rise up on warm air currents from the surface of newly cleared bare land absorbing greater solar energy from the sun, allowing these clouds to be carried away from the tropics to dump their load south and north of tropical areas where...surprise, surprise we have also cleared the majority of trees which used to cover the majority of the surface of our planet. Trees are natures’ natural dam....they can soak up their own weight in water and release this moisture during dry hot periods ensuring steady flows of potable water for fauna and flora and us in the drier seasons. The natural hydrological cycle in the tropics is being destroyed exponentially every year and yet we do not appear to have linked this simple fact to the changes in climate the planet is currently facing, CO2..... yes it is increasing. The mechanism to remove it....the world’s forests are decreasing. Eureka!
Look in front of you with your eyes and understand the facts with your brain before CO2 increases so much that it sends you to sleep (CO2 has been used as an anaesthetic in past times!). Yes...modern life, burning fossil fuels, increases in animal farming for food all produce more greenhouse gasses but wake up to the fact that the annual removal of vast areas of forest from our planet also remove the mechanism to clean up the air and sequester the CO2!
Loss of forest in the Tropics and Regional Climate Changes - a summary of main points from a CST ( www.catsurvivaltrust.org )climate change report.
Loss of forest in Tropics = break in hydrological cycle in tropics = cleared land heats up, forcing rainforest clouds higher into the atmosphere where winds enable the escape of dense tropical rain bearing clouds away from the tropics = less cloud cover around the tropics = tropical forest start to dry and are at more risk of spontaneous or accidental combustion and snow lines more exposed to heat of the sun = less cloud to replace the snow cover and greater warmth at higher altitudes as a result of reduced cloud cover. As cloud cover is lost/reduced in the tropics, cloud cover over oceans reduces increasing ocean temperatures and incidence of monsoon, hurricane, flooding and landslide activity, particularly in areas of forest loss or reduction. The latter effect IS NOT GLOBAL warming, it is regional warming or better described as regional climate change. (E.g. Lake Titicaca (South America) receiving less snow melt as a result of reduced cloud cover and reduced rain and snow fall.) Increases in cleared land in the tropics reduces the heat absorbed by the reduced forest cover allowing higher temperatures to ‘escape’ the tropics.
Greater cloud cover away from the Tropics = reduced regional temperature as daily sunlight hours are reduced. Trade winds bringing higher temperatures are retained under the increased cloud cover, travelling further north and south causing regional temperature increases to mountains, Arctic and Antarctic regions = regional warming as warmer trade winds travel further north and south under the ‘greenhouse effect’ created by the increase in cloud cover escaping the Tropics. This regional climate change permits regional increases in rain and snow fall; however, the warmer winds from the Tropics enable existing snow and ice cover to melt and reduces deposition of snow and ice on mountain tops and in the Arctic and Antarctic.
So are Global Warming and (Global) Climate Change scams, invented to frighten everyone and enable worldwide additional tax collection for ‘Cap and Trade’ and ‘Carbon Credit taxation’? Where is the evidence?
It is now agreed that climate change and the El Niño effect are not random phenomena, but are self generated through the effects of natural changes in ocean currents, other climatic effects and man’s intervention. The close cumulative correlation between the appearance of the El Niño effect and climate change and the huge areas of forest burning on either side of the equator, are almost certainly a contributory cause. It is now essential for mankind not only to preserve the remaining forests of the world, particularly within the tropics, but also to assist the regeneration of vast areas of natural forest in damaged areas, if we have any chance of survival in the future.
As more and more forest is destroyed around the tropics, the natural hydrological cycle and weather stability is being lost. Forest absorbs the intense heat radiation from the sun to create growth, seeding continuous evaporation and precipitation between forest and cloud. Forest absorbs tropical rainstorms during the rainy season and releases this moisture as a continuous flow throughout the dry season into streams and rivers, providing clean portable water for the farmland and its inhabitants during the hot dry crop ripening season. Forests are nature’s natural dams. Each tree absorbs its own weight in water and releases this moisture as the tree dries and shrinks under the intense heat it receives from the sun during hot dry summers.
As forest is cut and burnt, more bare land absorbs the heat of the sun. This creates greater air temperature, a major additional cause of global warming during the day and the increased differential in temperature during the night, creates wind eddies which can then go on to create regional hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts. This all helps to fuel the development of unnatural weather conditions, including excessive winds and rains. These unnatural weather conditions help to remove the remaining thin layout of soil, preventing the regeneration of forest and laying bare the land, which adds to the increasing desertification of otherwise productive land. Man, not nature, causes this process. The more forest cleared in the tropics, the greater the air temperature. The greater the temperature, the greater the carrying capacity of the air for more moisture. As this hot humid air and dense heavily laden cloud cover has less forest on which it can drop its moisture each year, the increased winds above the new cleared the land have carried tropical weather conditions further north and south of the tropics. This creates the increased incidence of storms and floods we now experience around the world and carries warmer air to the poles, where increasing quantities of ice continue to melt. This process will increase unless and until the remaining forests is protected and damaged forest areas are allowed to regenerate. The tropical rain is simply following the stolen tropical hardwood to the developed temperate countries where the timber has been converted into window frames and toilet seats!
The compound annual loss and reduction of forest in the tropics reduces the natural extraction of carbon dioxide and other gases which are produced by man and in particular some rather more damaging and poisonous gases. By far the greatest effect of forest loss in the tropics is the escape of moisture laden clouds which have a greater greenhouse effect on northern and southern latitudes. Earth generated heat cannot escape and the heat normally provided by the sun’s radiation is reduced. In addition, climate distribution changes cause localised floods and droughts as the normal weather patterns are altered as a result of the escalation of annual forest loss.
Loss of forest cover is a greater threat than car exhausts! As more and more forest is lost from the tropics, the planet’s unique weather control systems will collapse.
COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE
Tropical forests cover about 15% of the world’s land surface and contain about 25% of the carbon in the terrestrial biosphere. But they are being rapidly degraded and deforested resulting in the emission of additional heat-trapping carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. However, this increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere makes little difference to climate change. Roughly 13 million hectares – an area the size of Nicaragua – are converted to other land uses each year. This loss accounts for a fifth of global carbon emissions, making land cover change the second largest contributor to carbon dioxide increases.
The other results of deforestation however which allow more moisture to escape the tropics are far more damaging and are the major contributor to climate change, some of which is producing extreme climate events of biblical proportions. Forests therefore play a vital role in any initiative to combat climate change. The annual compound loss of tropical forest has a greater effect on climate change....there is less tropical forest each year to absorb not only the increases in carbon dioxide but also all the other pollutant gases produced by man. As more moisture escapes the hydrological cycle of the tropics, extreme weather events will become more frequent and intense. The economic cost will bankrupt most nations and then human cost will create misery through increased floods, droughts, crop losses, home and transport infrastructure destruction.
A HOME TO LOCAL COMMUNITIES
Forest resources directly support the livelihoods of 90% of the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty and are home to nearly 90% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity. Local communities depend on forests as a source of fuel, food, medicines and shelter. The loss of forests jeopardises poverty alleviation. Indigenous and forest-dependent peoples are stewards of their forests, providing the rest of humanity with vital ecosystem services (ES). Climate change will hit the poorest hardest and so reducing deforestation will help build their resilience to climate impacts.
MORE THAN JUST CARBON
At local to global scales, forests provide essential ecosystem services beyond carbon storage – such as watershed protection, water flow regulation, nutrient, mineral and trace element generation and recycling, rainfall generation and disease regulation. Old growth forests also soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – offsetting anthropogenic emissions. Protecting tropical forests has a double-cooling effect, by reducing carbon emissions and maintaining high levels of evaporation from the canopy.
Not only do tropical forests hold 90% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, but many of the original genetic plants are the sources for current hybrids of plants providing food for mankind or natural medicines. Many new food and medicines are yet to be discovered. The action of microorganisms and other fauna and flora within tropical forest, release beneficial minerals and trace elements, which are absorbed within the forest and carried by rivers and streams to farmland, fauna, flora and humans downstream.
THE CAUSES OF DEFORESTATION
The causes of deforestation are multiple and complex and vary from country to country. On a small scale with little impact are local pressures which arise from communities using forests to provide sources of food, fuel and farmland. Poverty and population pressure can lead inexorably to the loss of forest cover, trapping people in perpetual poverty. Whilst millions of people still cut down trees to make a living for their families, a major cause of deforestation is now large-scale agriculture and the unregulated timber trade which are driven by consumer demand. In recent decades deforestation rates and areas have shifted. The economic cost of global deforestation far outstrips the money being lost from the current financial crisis, according to the findings of a study commissioned by the European Union.
"It's not only greater but it's also continuous, it's been happening every year, year after year," said study leader Pavan Sukhdev, an economist from Deutsche Bank. "So whereas Wall Street by various calculations has to date lost, within the financial sector, $1 to $1.5 trillion, the reality is that at today's rate we are losing natural capital at least between $2 to $5 trillion every year."
Giving another perspective to the sheer scale of this loss, the report notes that deforestation alone may be costing the world 7 percent of its GDP each year.
According to the study, only the first part of a review titled "The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB)," the bulk of this cost comes from the loss of formerly free services that are provided by intact forests, such as the absorption of carbon dioxide, water filtration and purification, and food production etc.
Poor people are disproportionately affected by these costs, especially in the tropics, where people tend to depend more directly on forests for survival, however failure to address this real problem of forest loss, particularly in the tropics, will make this planet uninhabitable for the rest of us.
The TEEB review is part of a new effort by many conservationists to gain support for environmental preservation by the numerator in its economic benefits. According to Sukhdev, these arguments are already starting to reach many politicians and business executives.
"Times have changed," Sukhdev said. "Almost three years ago, even two years ago, their eyes would glaze over. Today, when I say this, they listen. In fact I get questions asked -- so how do you calculate this, how can we monetize it, what can we do about it, why don't you speak with so and so politician or such and such business."
What can be done? Existing carbon trading and carbon offsetting schemes fail since too many schemes collect vast amounts of money and spend most of it on offices, salaries and running costs. With good schemes, the amount pledged buys and saves tropical forest and typically only 4% is used for administration. Each acre saved (average worldwide cost of £30 per acre) saves an average of 500 trees, millions of insects and plants and hundreds of animals, birds, reptiles and fish (where water runs through a particular acre). Many schemes allow substantial donors to name the area saved after the name of the participating person or company. More information is available from [email protected]
* Dr Terry Moore is Hon Director, The Cat Survival Trust, www.catsurvivaltrust.org; facebook: Cat Survival Trust
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