News Stories

Paving Over What Can Save Our Climate

...and the ocean isn't helping anymore - The West is experiencing global warming due to the greenhouse gasses spewed out by cars and power plants. Less developed countries are heating up because they are PAVING OVER so much of their greenery as they modernize. Meanwhile the Atlantic Ocean, which is one of the main places that excess greenhouse gases are absorbed, are sucking in less CO2 than they used to?and nobody knows why.

The North Atlantic Ocean is one of the earth?s tools to offset natural carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, the "carbon sink" in the North Atlantic is the primary location for carbon dioxide (CO2) entering the global ocean and stores it for about 1500 years. The oceans have removed nearly 30% of man-made emissions over the last 250 years. However, several recent studies show a dramatic decline in the North Atlantic Ocean's carbon sink. The North Atlantic carbon uptake has decreased by 50% over the last ten years?just when we need it the MOST.

Concerned by this decline, a group of international scientists have spent the last two years investigating the world's largest carbon sink. They weren't sure what was causing the decrease, whether it was man-made or natural reasons. Oceanographer Helmuth Thomas says, "There were massive changes in the coastal carbon cycle, and it was similar throughout the ocean." He believes the decrease is a natural phenomenon as a result of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which causes weather patterns to change. He says, "The next phase should once again increase in carbon uptake." Let's hope he?s right!

Meanwhile, nights are getting hotter in Nairobi and other African cities as growing populations change sensitive local weather patterns. Night time low temperatures over cities and towns in Kenya and Northern Tanzania climbed about one degree Fahrenheit over the past 35 years while daytime high temperatures were stable, according to Earth scientist John Christy, who is a former teacher at a high school in Kenya.

Christy says, "That's a clear signal that human development is changing temperatures at the surface by changing the natural surface. If this change was caused by increases in greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide you would expect to see both day and night time temperatures rising.

"We see the greatest warming in the past 50 years," Christy says. "That's when you see the nighttime trend start upward. That's when the population boomed. Just since I was there in 1973 to 1975 the population has jumped from 14 million to about 38 million people.

"When I taught in Nyeri, it was a town about 10,000 people with dirt (or mud) streets leading down to the market. Now it?s a city of about 100,000 people. It?s easy to see how the local thermometer would be influenced by that growth."

Art credit: istockphoto.com

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