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World Reports

Temperature Gauge

Trouble Brewing

 

Caffeine addicts beware: Climate change may end up making it harder to get your morning fix. A new study warns that temperature increases could wipe out the entire coffee crop in Uganda, an African nation that depends on coffee exports for half of its revenues. If average temperatures were to increase 3.6°F, Uganda would be unsuitable for coffee growing; the International Panel on Climate Change predicts global temperatures to rise between 2.5°F and 10°F by the end of the century. Coffee harvests in neighboring Kenya and Tanzania would also be affected.

Coffee producers say droughts are starting to reduce yields. “Climate change has affected coffee production already,” Philip Gitao, executive director of the East African Fine Coffees Association, told National Geographic News.

Body Count

Shifting global temperatures are beginning to take a deadly toll. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), climate change has already directly or indirectly killed more than a million people globally since 2000.

More than half of those deaths occurred in Asia, where rising temperatures have contributed to dengue fever outbreaks in Indonesia and Singapore, flooding in India, and more landslides in Nepal. Mountainous regions of Bhutan and some areas of New Guinea are experiencing cases of malaria for the first time as carrier mosquitoes’ ranges follow warmer temperatures upslope.

The WHO predicts that the climate casualties will mount as more dust storms and wildfires exacerbate respiratory illnesses; lower crop yields worsen malnutrition; and saltwater intrusion in low-lying areas makes it harder to get clean water.

photo of glacier national park, thin snow in the backgroundCourtesy Glacier National ParkWithout the ice, what would you call it?

What’s In a Name?

In 1850, the Montana wilderness that today forms Glacier National Park had some 150 glaciers. Today it has 27. By 2030, if present warming trends continue, there will be zero. This is something of a dilemma. Do you still call it Glacier National Park if there are none?

To draw attention to the park’s condition and to the larger problem of climate change, the National Environmental Trust sponsored a contest this summer to rename the park. Contest participants were asked to suggest a new park name, and also to contact their legislators to demand action on reducing carbon emissions.

The contest winner? “Lost Glacier National Park.”

Surf’s Up

Giant ocean waves, some spanning hundreds of miles from crest to crest, are speeding up due to rising temperatures.

Scientists at the University of Victoria in British Columbia recently built a computer model to look at how these so-called planetary waves will respond to more heat. According to the model, the speed of ocean waves is already increasing, but no one has noticed because satellites have not measured wave speeds for long enough.

The computer model estimates that by the end of the century, ocean waves will be 20 to 40 percent faster than in the pre-industrial age, and that their increasing velocity will have an impact on global weather patterns.

No Comment

Long after the rest of the world has agreed that human actions are, in fact, affecting the Earth’s atmosphere, the US House of Representatives has come to the groundbreaking conclusion that climate change is real. In June, the House voted for an environmental spending measure to increase federal research on global warming and to create a new commission to review the evolving science about atmospheric changes. Included in the bill is a declaration that climate change is a “reality.”

Perhaps the most disconcerting news is that 155 representatives voted against the measure. What were they thinking? You can find out who they are at clerk.house.gov/evs/2007/roll579.xml.

   

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