Global Warming


Sustainable Biosphere

Obama & Renewable Energy

Solar & Wind Power

Carbon Emission Initiatives

Green Solutions

Alternative Renewable Fuels

Organic Agricultural Products

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors,
we borrow it from our children.
Native American Proverb

There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. 
We are all crew.
Marshall McLuhan, 1964

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.
Charles Darwin

ONE BIOSPHEREOne Biosphere, Environmental Forum

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We embrace Alternative Renewable Fuels, Organic & Fair Trade Products and Green Solutions for a Sustainable Biosphere

            One Biosphere is an alliance of people and organizations who are united to preserve the quality of our global environment through our forum and publications, education, advocacy, research and communications among our members and partners.

Global Warming and Climate Change

           Global warming means the increase in the average temperature of the Earth's surface air and oceans during the 20th century and its projected continuation.  Global surface temperature increased in the order of one degree Fahrenheit during the 100 year period ending in 2005.

           The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”) concludes that most of the temperature increase since the mid-twentieth century is likely due to the increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.  Natural phenomena such as solar variation and volcanoes may have had a small warming effect from pre-industrial times to 1950 and a small cooling effect from 1950 onward.  These basic conclusions have been approved by a number of scientific societies and academies, including the national academies of science of major industrialized countries.  While individual scientists have voiced disagreement with these findings, the overwhelming majority of scientists working on climate change agree with the IPCC's primary conclusions.

           Climate model projections indicate that global surface temperature may rise an additional 2 to 11°F (1.0 to 6 C) during the twenty-first century.  The uncertainty in this estimate arises from use of different estimates of future greenhouse gas emissions and from use of models with dissimilar climate sensitivity.  Also, warming and related changes may vary from region to region around the globe.  Although most studies focus on the period up to 2100, warming is expected to continue for more than a thousand years even if greenhouse gas levels are stabilized.  This results from the substantial heat capacity of the oceans.

           Increasing global temperature will cause sea levels to rise and change the amount and pattern of precipitation, thereby including the subtropical desert regions.  Other probable impacts include increases in the intensity of weather events, changes in agricultural yields, modifications of trade routes, glacier retreat, species extinctions and an increased range of disease vectors.

           Most national governments have signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Political and public debate continues regarding what actions should be taken to reduce or reverse future warming or to adapt to its expected consequences.

            Many prominent politicians and a variety of experts worldwide have stated that climate change is the globe’s largest environmental challenge.  Some have stated that it constitutes a more powerful global threat than international terrorism.  There is wide, but not universal, agreement from scientists.  It is conceivable that warming temperatures could take the globe into uncharted territory;  however, no scientist is able to predict how rapidly temperatures will rise and who will be most affected.  It should be kept in mind that all life on earth exists only because of the natural greenhouse effect which is the capability of the atmosphere to retain the balanced quantum of heat for species to thrive.

           Many scientists have studied this global phenomenon.  For example, Dr. Michael Mann is known for the "hockey stick graph," a plot of the past millennium's temperature that shows the drastic influence of humans in the 20th century. Specifically, temperature remains essentially flat until about 1900, then rises dramatically like the upturned blade of a hockey stick. The work was also the first to add error bars to the historical temperatures and allow for regional reconstructions of temperature.

         The conclusion of the work was clear: global mean temperature began to rise dramatically in the early 20th century. That rise coincided with the unprecedented release of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the earth's atmosphere, leading to the conclusion that industrial activity was boosting the world's mean temperature. Other researchers have subsequently confirmed the plot.  However, there is substantial ongoing debate about the details of the temperature record and the means of its reconstruction, centered on the Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998), "hockey stick" graph.

           Figure 1. Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley, and Malcolm Hughes's "hockey stick graph"-the multi temperature proxy reconstruction of the Northern Hemisphere for the past 1,000 years (blue line with gray shading depicting confidence bands). The red line is the temperature data from actual observations. (Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2001).

            The critical factors impacting global warming and climate change are:

(a) the increase in CO2 levels from emissions from burning fossil fuels; 

(b) presence of aerosols or particulate matter in the atmosphere which create a cooling effect;

(c) cement manufacture,  and

(d) other factors, such as land development, ozone depletion, animal farming and deforestation also have substantial impact on our climate.

            We can stabilize our climate by reducing the greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere.  Annual emissions of greenhouse gases can be balanced by biological and geological sequestration of greenhouse gases.  Scientists believe that our biosphere needs reduction of C02 from 390 parts per million (ppm) to under 280 ppm.  We believe that these challenges can be achieved using modern technology and practices.

            Experts recommend that humans adopt practices and a way of life that minimize greenhouse gas emissions.  In order to control emissions, carbon sinks constitute a way to offset the emissions by transforming C02 into soil organic matter.  For example, individuals, families, businesses and governments at all levels can take a variety of actions that will make them carbon neutral.

            For the present as well as future generations, we have a compelling need to reduce the weight of greenhouse gases.  There are many people with the means to invest in carbon sinks in order to reduce atmospheric concentrations of CO2.  This makes it possible to achieve the essential effort of becoming carbon positive.

            The U.S. generates almost 1/4 of all global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  However, to present, federal restrictions have not yet been placed on GHG emissions.  There have been initiatives introduced for embryonic carbon trading markets.  The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is an obligatory system for reducing carbon emissions from U.S. power plants in the states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maine, Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Vermont.  Caps will go in effect in 2009 and emissions trading will be a key component of the structure.

            In California, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 mandates the creation of a multi-industry structure to reduce GHG emissions in California to 1990 levels by 2020.  It appears that emissions trading will be a component of the system that may be linked with the European Union Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS).  In January 2005, the EU ETS commenced operation as the largest multi nation, multi-industry greenhouse gas emission trading system in the world.

            In the U.S., which lacks a binding federal carbon trading system, the private Chicago Climate Exchange that is owned by Climate Exchange plc is attempting to create a voluntary carbon exchange for North American and Brazil by utilizing independent verification to allow institutions and individuals to trade carbon reduction credits.

Energy, Climate Change and Biodiversity

   Energy demand is projected to grow at least 50 per cent by 2030.  Energy generated by biomass and waste is estimated to supply 10 per cent of global demand by 2030.  This assumes that fossil fuels will be available to cover most of the demand increase.  Unfortunately, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are projected to increase faster than energy use by 2030.

            Energy use has impacts at all levels.  Pollution from burning fossil fuels and the related impact of acid rain constitute serious problems for Asia, North American and European forests, lakes and soils.  Stringent emission controls may reverse acidification trends.  Thermal and nuclear power and solar cells generate waste disposal problems that may result in heavy metal soil contamination.  Desertification in North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa is caused partly by biomass fuel demand.  Natural resources are overtaxed by increasing energy usage and invasive alien species are entering many regions through global trade due to relatively available transportation fuels.

            However, climate change remains by far the most deleterious impact of increasing energy usage.  Species ranges and behaviors are shifting and impacting human well-being, including spreading human disease and invasion by alien species.  Rare and threatened species will be affected seriously, including migratory species, polar species, genetically weak species, marginal populations and specialized species, especially those in alpine areas and islands.  Amphibian species extinctions are linked with climate change.  Recently, scientists have estimated that 1/4 to 1/3 of endemic species in various regions may become extinct by 2050 due to climate change.

            Climate change is impacting ecosystems.  By 2000, 1/4 of the globe's coral reefs were degraded by increased water temperatures.  Ecosystems in California, the Mediterranean, Chile, South Africa and Western Australia will be heavily impacted by climate change.

Environmental Disasters

          Environmental degradation, together with broader exposure and vulnerability of settlements, make humans vulnerable to disasters.  2 billion people were impacted by environmental disasters in the 1990's, primarily floods and droughts.  Droughts that were associated with the El Niño phenomenon contributed to forest fires in the Amazon, Indonesia and Central America.  In Indonesia, approximately 45,000 square kilometers of forest were destroyed.  In Central America, the destruction of 15 000 km2 of forests by wildfires reduced the capability of natural forests to buffer heavy rainfall and hurricanes and was a factor in the impact of several destructive hurricanes.  These ecological disasters spread globally and contributed to widespread forest fires in California, Spain and Mediterranean countries in 2005.  Coral reefs have been degraded and negatively impacted coastal communities.

            These climate and biological risks give rise to human suffering through events such as heat waves and crop failures.

Global Warming and Biodiversity

         Global warming may reduce biodiversity as the distribution of species and their populations may shift towards the poles and higher altitudes, leaving those endemic to arctic and high mountain regions vulnerable.  In addition, changes in the ranges of disease spreading species (aka vector species) may exacerbate the spread of disease among humans and other species such as malaria.

            Actions to address the impacts of climate change may be beneficial or harmful to biodiversity.  Carbon sequestration initiatives designed to mitigate impacts of greenhouse gases may lead to adverse impacts on biodiversity by creating monoculture forestry.  Avoiding deforestation through forest conservation projects may be beneficial for climate change mitigation, forest biodiversity conservation, reducing desertification and improving economic functions.  Climate change will also affect biodiversity conservation strategies.  One half of the protected areas will shift from one climate zone to another and the effects will be very pronounced at higher latitudes and altitudes.  Adjustment of protected area boundaries will need to occur to achieve stated conservation goals.

            The relationship between energy production and biodiversity has been affected by policy responses in recent decades such as the promotion of organic farming and the reduction in agricultural nitrogen use.  Obtaining governmental commitments has been challenging due to problems in securing financing and lack of political will or vision.  Ensuring access to energy while maintaining biodiversity and vital ecosystem services will require an integrated multi-sector approach.


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