Thursday, 20 August 2009

O2 Dropping Faster than CO2 Rising

ISIS Report 19/08/09
Implications for Climate Change Policies

New research shows oxygen depletion in the atmosphere
accelerating since 2003, coinciding with the biofuels boom; climate policies that focus exclusively on carbon sequestration could be disastrous for all oxygen-breathing organisms including humans Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

Threat of oxygen depletion

Mention climate change and everyone thinks of CO2 increasing in the atmosphere, the greenhouse effect heating the earth, glaciers melting, rising sea levels, floods, hurricanes, droughts, and a host of other environmental catastrophes. Climate mitigating policies are almost all aimed at reducing CO2, by whatever means. Within the past several years, however, scientists have found that oxygen (O2) in the atmosphere has been dropping, and at higher rates than just the amount that goes into the increase of CO2 from burning fossil fuels, some 2 to 4-times as much, and accelerating since 2002-2003 [1-3].

Simultaneously, oxygen levels in the world’s oceans have also been falling [4] (see Warming Oceans Starved of Oxygen, SiS 44). It is becoming clear that getting rid of CO2 is not enough; oxygen has its own dynamic and the rapid decline in atmospheric O2 must also be addressed. Although there is much more O2 than CO2 in the atmosphere - 20.95 percent or 209 460 ppm of O2 compared with around 380 ppm of CO2 – humans, all mammals, birds, frogs, butterfly, bees, and other air-breathing life-forms depend on this high level of oxygen for their well being [5] Living with Oxygen (SiS 43).

In humans, failure of oxygen energy metabolism is the single
most important risk factor for chronic diseases including cancer and death. ‘Oxygen deficiency’ is currently set at 19.5 percent in enclosed spaces for health and safety [6], below that, fainting and death may result. The simultaneous decrease in ocean oxygen not only threatens the survival of aerobic marine organisms, but is symptomatic of the slow-down in the ocean’s thermohaline ‘conveyor belt’ circulation system that transports heat from the tropics to the poles, overturns surface layers of into the deep and vice versa, redistributing nutrients and gases for the ocean biosphere, and regulating rainfall and temperatures on the landmasses.

This dynamical system is highly nonlinear, and
small changes could make it fail altogether, with disastrous runaway effects on the climate [7] (Global Warming & then the Big Freeze, SiS 20). More importantly, it could wipe out the ocean’s phytoplankton that’s ultimately responsible for splitting water to regenerate oxygen for the entire biosphere, on land and in the sea [4]. Read the rest of this article here Or read other articles about climate change here


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Scientists Uncover New Ocean Threat From Plastics

By Steve Connor, Science Editor - the Independent - Thursday, 20 August 2009.
Plastic pollution is not just unsightly but it could be to toxic to humans and animals.

The North Pacific Gyre, which traps untold
amounts of plastic particles in its eddies.

(Credit: Algalita Marine Research Foundation)

A Cleanup Begins - but Concerns Remain Over the Massive Straw-Bale Piles at Elie, Manitoba

by Larry Powell - (Please also note comments at bottom.)

A resident of Elie, Manitoba, Linda Aquin, says she worries that the massive backlog of straw-bales stored near the town will catch fire, resulting in the release of toxic chemicals. Aquin and her husband operate a bed-&-breakfast in the small town on the Trans Canada Highway, west of Winnipeg. She says Dow Bio Products which owns the now defunct strawboard plant, has hired exterminators to control the rodents living in the straw.

She believes they used a poison
possibly containing arsenic for this purpose. If a fire breaks out, she adds, she doesn't know what could happen. But, it could be like a chemical fire and if the wind is in the wrong direction, results could be serious. She says a fire at the Elie school some time ago produced toxic smoke when some plastic chairs burned. "We couldn't breath and had to get out of there," she remarked. She fears a similar incident, only on a larger scale, could still happen with the bales.

Aquin says there have already been fires that smoldered for a long time in the bales and even ones inside the plant, when it was still operating.
There have been rumours that the bales will be removed, she adds. These include a deal with a Hutterite band (to bury them) and with the Trans Alaskan pipeline, who would use the straw to cover some of its equipment. But this has not happened, so far. *

Aquin adds, the failure of the plant, which has been dismantled and the machinery shipped to new owners in Brazil, means area farmers, who once had a market for their straw at the plant, are burning it, once again.
She believes the owners set money aside to clean up the site. Yet the bales "just sit and sit and sit." The question becomes, is it now even safe, given the chemicals used to control the rodents, to attempt to destroy the bales even in a controlled burn, because of the possible toxins they would produce?
* Dow has now begun a cleanup program on the west side of the straw bale piles, nearest the town.
Please also read
"A Testament to Failure." Click here.
=====COMMENTS; That rat breeding grounds on the #1 is owned by Dow Ind. and is backed by our government. A gov'nt article stated it was now tarped and just ignore the tumbled piles. Very responsible, don't u think? Anon.
=====Apparently Dow Industries was using the straw piles (and piles and piles and...) to manufacture building supplies. They have tarped some, according to a government article, but we're told to ignore all the tumbled over piles-probably the rat infested piles. Every year I drive down the #1, I see the same eyesore too, and you know it's not the farmers. Anon.