The increasing risk of coastal flooding from rising sea levels and storm surges is being tackled in the south of England through a “managed realignment” coastal plan. The plan is to move flood defences inland and gradually let the sea ingress inland. This will actually provide a better form of protection of the shoreline against flooding than man-made sea defences can. The plan is being implemented by the Environment Agency and is the biggest managed coastal realignment scheme of its kind in the country. There will be 7 kilometres of new coastal defences built inland and the existing sea defences will be breached. The sea will be allowed to gradually move inland to claim 183 hectares of land that will become saltwater. The area will become a nature reserve.
Carbon Dioxide Levels Continue To Rise
In 2012 the levels of carbon dioxide continued to rise at an increasing rate. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) noted that atmospheric Carbon Dioxide (CO2) grew more rapidly last year than its average rise over the past decade. The warming effect on our climate has increased by almost a third since 1990 due to the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other gases.
Since 1750, global average levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased to 141% of the pre-industrial concentration of 278 parts per million (ppm). The current levels are around almost 400 parts per million. The increase during the year 2012 was 2.2ppm which exceeds the yearly 10 year average which is an increase of 2.02ppm. The daily measurement of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded the 400ppm point in May 2013 but the global annual average CO2 concentration will pass this level in the next few years, most likely in 2015 or 2016.
The WMO also provisionally note that 2013 is going to be one of the ten warmest years on record since records began in 1850. It notes that the warm years are even warmer than a few decades ago: “the coldest years now are warmer than the hottest years before 1998”. The report reports record land temperatures around the world and the on-going precipitation changes especially the more intense local events. There is also a pattern of drought, often in areas that cannot cope so well with drought conditions such as part of South African continent: examples include Angola and Namibia.
The Arctic sea ice continues to show record low coverage: during 2001−2010 there has been the greatest average annual melting of Arctic sea ice on record. All seven of the lowest Arctic sea ice extents have occurred since 2007, which illustrate the impact of climate change.
Full details of the WMO summary report can be read on the WMO web site. This development is alarming as the rate of increase in carbon dioxide levels speeds up. There is a corresponding need to rapidly increase the rate of truly sustainable development: that does not seem to be happening.
Round the Hyperloop?
The Hyperloop is an efficient and low energy transport concept that aims to provide an alternative transport system over medium to long distances to replace flying. This is an amazing idea uses passenger capsules in a reduced pressure tube. The capsules could travel at speeds of up to 760 miles per hour. A proposed route has been outline between Los Angeles to San Francisco for this pioneering “open source transportation concept”. For more details see this Spacex web page. This solution is intended to use much less energy than existing transport systems. It aims to be fast and inexpensive, costing much less than a high speed conventional rail option. Hyperloop has been designed by Elon Musk.
Flood Maps: If the polar ice melts
The National Geographic has produced some interesting flood maps which show what the world could look like if the polar ice caps were to melt and if the entire stock of fossil fuels were used (burnt). Temperatures could have risen by more than 20 degrees and 5 trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide could have been added to the atmosphere. View these maps on this Yahoo article link. The melting ice would have to be land based: ocean based ice would not effect the global sea levels.
1.3 Million Refugees And Rising
Over 1 million people have left Syria over the last few years. This has increased pressure on bordering regions as thousands of people want to leave. The continuing civil war has become extremely complicated with many varied international dimensions, terrorist links, historical social and religious aspects too. One thing is for sure: human rights have been abused or ignored and many thousands of innocent people have suffered in this conflict. Those trying to help have to smuggle themselves in at great personal risk: an example is a doctor helping out in the north of the country. When they arrive the conditions are appalling and basic medical supplies thin on the ground or non-existent.
The civil war is stretching neighbouring countries and causing friction on borders. One quarter of Lebanon’s population is now made up from Syrian refugees. There have been more violent incidents there and there is a strong risk of trouble spreading. The international community is doing little although has made progress in terms of clearing up chemical weapon stockpiles. Cities that were vibrant living places are reduced to ruins on the battle line. Many houses are just shells and ruins.
Ukraine: Stuck in The Middle?
Ukraine is in a strategic location between the EU and Russia. There have been much political wrangling over which direction it should face or follow. Recently the president, Viktor Yanukovich, has sided with Russia. There has been great pressure from Moscow on the country not joining a free trade deal with the European Union (EU). The former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, has been imprisoned and favoured a western trade agreement with the EU. Russia would like Kiev to join a Moscow-led trade bloc based upon the former USSR states. Yanukovich may have to keep both parties on-side given the difficult economic situation within the country.
There are more details on this Guardian news article.