Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts tagged as “ocean”

IPCC Report: “We’re Almost Out of Time” by RL Miller


Special To Topanga Journal

“We’re almost out of time.” A few weeks ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report warning people about climate change. Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) would require “rapid, dramatic changes in how governments, industries and societies function.” 

By RL Miller

Doesn’t global warming mostly affect the polar bears? Well, no. Global warming affects people. Sea level rise is the most clear cut consequence of climate change, but many more impacts — some of which are better understood than others — will begin to make themselves felt. To bring this home, scientists have “high confidence” that 1.5°C of warming would result in a greater number of severe heat waves on land. In addition, climate change is making California’s droughts worse. Southern California’s wildfire season used to be limited to the Santa Ana wind season of October until the first rains of November; now wildfire season seems to start October 1 and end September 30. Climate activists talk about people on the frontlines of impact — those who are affected most. While you might think that “frontline communities” refers only to the people in coastal communities such as Florida and the Arctic — and, yes, Malibu — the term also refers to everyone in California living in or near a wildfire corridor. That’s Topanga, among many other places.

“The costs of doing nothing are incalculable. The tiny city of Imperial Beach in San Diego County, populated mostly by Latino renters, is weighing the estimated cost of $150 million to retreat from the ocean against its $19 million annual budget. Beach cities, such as Malibu, will need to determine what, if any, City services should be provided to protect private property — or leave the property to be abandoned to the rising seas.” RL Miller

And whether or not the hills burn this year or the next year, the actuaries who write insurance policies are calculating the increased risk of wildfires. Premiums will go up, policies will be non-renewed or dropped, and homeowners will have to resort to the FAIR plan. It’s already happening in Northern California neighborhoods damaged by the October 2017 fires.

The costs of doing nothing are incalculable. The tiny city of Imperial Beach in San Diego County, populated mostly by Latino renters, is weighing the estimated cost of $150 million to retreat from the ocean against its $19 million annual budget. Beach cities, such as Malibu, will need to determine what, if any, City services should be provided to protect private property — or leave the property to be abandoned to the rising seas.

In short: yes, global warming does affect people. Every week or two it seems there’s a new report on a different aspect of life climate change will mess up. Barley shortages mean less beer and higher beer prices. Fewer insects limit agriculture. Shorter winters mean tick-infested deer and trees killed by bark beetles.

What can one person do? Global warming is such a, well, global problem. Al Gore’s 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth suggested personal choices to reduce one’s carbon footprint. Plant a tree. Go vegan, or at least eat less meat. Fly less. Change a lightbulb, change the world. Yet carbon emissions continue to rise.

Science-oriented people look at the climate problem and imagine scientific solutions that generally fall into two categories: storing carbon and altering the planet’s chemistry. The technology for the first, commonly known as CCS (carbon capture and storage) is in its infancy; it’s expensive. The second involves the stuff of science fiction: giant mirrors in space reflecting the sun’s rays away from the atmosphere, equally giant hoses sucking the carbon and vacuuming it into space, vast deposits of iron filings into the ocean to changing the chemical composition of seawater.

Although climate change begins as a scientific problem, it becomes obvious to most people the solution is mired in politics. Solar and wind energy poll like Mom and Apple Pie, but their progress is being blocked for political reasons. Specifically, the Republican Party in the United States generally denies the scientific reality, while politicians of all stripes are not sufficiently visionary to make the drastic changes demanded by the science. One solution to climate change is to get political: vote deniers out. I’ve founded Climate Hawks Vote, an organization building grassroots political power for the climate movement, that aims to do just that.

This global problem requires more than voting every two years, and it requires a sudden drastic change. So it needs everyone to speak out with the talent they have. Artists: make art about climate change. Musicians: write and sing songs that will move the feet and the heart. Architects and contractors: design and build more dense housing closer to public transit. Actuaries: calculate the risks of an ever warming world. Run for office. Tell people who are running for office to do more — and ask them to sign the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, declining campaign contribution money from the fossil fuel industry. To change everything, we need everyone.

Most of all, the climate problem requires hope to solve it. Although it’s easy to ridicule the mindset of Denial on the Right, those on the Left are just as prone to despair. There’s plenty of reason to find despair in the IPCC report, but also reasons to hope.

Here are the top three things to do to fight global warming locally:

  1. Drive an electric vehicle or otherwise reduce the carbon footprint of your commute to zero. 
  2. Get politically involved with an organization such as Climate Hawks Vote; vote on November 6, but stay involved after the election.
  3. Every morning, find a reason to hope.

ON THE WEB:

http://climatehawksvote.com


Subscribe to our newsletter

Surfrider Foundation: Our Ocean and Coasts are at the Center of Climate Change


Array
  • Stefanie Sekich-Quinn, Coastal Preservation Manager, Surfrider Foundation

Special To Topanga Journal

Since the height of the industrial revolution, humans have been emitting pollution at unprecedented rates. Pollutants known as “greenhouse gases” (GHGs) are absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere and act like a “heating blanket.” The amount of GHGs in the Earth’s atmosphere is directly linked to how much, and how fast, the earth warms—and thus, how much our climate changes.  

Stefanie Sekich-Quinn

By Stefanie Sekich-Quinn

The world is already witnessing climate change impacts such as record-setting temperatures, catastrophic hurricanes, melting ice sheets and glaciers, flooding, drought, increased forest fires and other extreme weather. Climate change is predicted to bring more intense storms and increased sea levels.1 Our local coastlines are being impacted in several ways: 

“The ocean is 30% more acidic than it was in 1750. Drastic changes in ocean chemistry are detrimental to marine life, including the impairment of crustaceans’ abilities to form protective shells.”                                Stefanie Sekich-Quinn

Photos Copyright 2018 Jeff Herrera

  • Shrinking beaches: Scientists predict sea levels could rise up to six feet by 2100.  An increase this large will swallow beaches—impacting public access, recreation, healthy ecosystems, and community infrastructure. In addition to sea level rise, increased storms will also chip away at our beaches. 2
  • Pollution: More rain can result in sewage overflows and urban runoff cascading into the ocean. In addition, sea level rise and coastal inundation can overload and undermine wastewater infrastructure—causing malfunctions that result in more pollution. 
  • Ocean Acidification: Over 25% of carbon dioxide emitted by burning fossil fuels is absorbed by ocean water.3 As a result, high concentrations of carbon dioxide are causing the oceans to acidify at rapid rates. In fact, the ocean is 30% more acidic than it was in 1750.4 Drastic changes in ocean chemistry are detrimental to marine life, including the impairment of crustaceans’ abilities to form protective shells.
  • Surfing and other recreation: Rising seas will contribute to extreme tides that will impact how waves break. In areas where the seafloor is sandy and flat (a beach break), the wave may break further inshore, thus changing the size and shape of the wave. In areas where the seafloor is uneven and rocky (a point break), higher sea levels will inundate the break, leaving less area for the wave to form and increasing the possibility that the wave might not break at all.5  In addition, ocean temperatures and ocean acidification are killing corals around the world; and in places where surfing is formed by coral reefs those surf spots will go away. Of course, diving experiences will certainly be impacted as reefs die and biodiversity is compromised.  
  • Damaged infrastructure: Sea level rise and increased storm activity will damage community infrastructure (homes, roads, municipal buildings, etc.).  As communities become more aware of the impacts of climate change on their beaches, they may choose to employ reactionary response measures, such as building seawalls, which can greatly impact beaches, ecosystems and actually exacerbate erosion.  

Just last week, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report concluding that drastic climate change impacts are now expected to occur much faster than previously predicted – as soon as 2040. Even if humans manage to keep the Earth’s temperature from increasing by 2 degrees C (the magic number assigned by scientists to avert dire consequences), major impacts will happen regardless. 6

While predictions about climate change are daunting, there are several actions we can all take to mitigate and adapt to climate change. For example, the Surfrider Foundation is encouraging local communities to support renewable energy efforts such as “Community Choice Energy” where citizens can dictate what type of energy they want to fuel their community—purposefully weaning off fossil fuels.  

Other mitigation efforts include installing “Ocean Friendly Gardens” to trap greenhouse gases in the soil. In addition, we encourage local communities to improve coastal resiliency by restoring dunes and wetland—building a stronger buffer against storms and rising seas. However, one of the most effective measures communities can take is to proactively plan for sea level rise and extreme weather events by improving local land use plans, zoning regulations, and rebuilding standards. We no longer have the luxury of continuing to rebuild in areas that have repetitive flood and storm damage at the expense of nature and taxpayers. 

Communities should also call upon their elected officials to implement meaningful climate change policies at the local and federal levels. For example, Surfrider has an action alert asking the Trump Administration to honor the Paris Agreement which aims to curb climate change. We also have an action alert urging elected officials to reform the National Flood Insurance Program so taxpayers are not spending money on rebuilding in harm’s way and communities are incentivized to rebuild in “climate-smart” ways.  

Finally, there are many actions people can do on a personal level to curb climate change, such as to carpooling, using mass transit, walking or biking to destinations and buying a low carbon vehicle. In addition, people should limit or stop purchasing plastic—plastics are made from petroleum products (i.e. fossil fuels) and take a tremendous amount of energy to create and dispose of. It is estimated 29 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions result from the manufacturing and final disposal of plastic goods. Upgrade your light bulbs by replacing incandescent light bulbs with more efficient fluorescent or LED lights. Weatherproof your home to reduce drafts and air leaks by caulking, using insulation and weather stripping to save energy. 

Another fun way people can help bring awareness to climate change is to ride a Smartfin. The Smartfin is a surfboard fin with sensors that measure multiple ocean parameters including temperature, location, and wave characteristics (and in the future, it will read pH levels related to ocean acidification). Using the data collected with Smartfin will help scientists to better understand trends in ocean warming, acidification and mobilize our communities to act and combat problems caused by climate change. 

If we all work together and proactively plan ahead we can help avert climate change impacts and protect our wallets. According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, every dollar invested in preparedness and resiliency saves six dollars in costs down the road.7  We owe it to future generations to be proactive with climate change so they don’t suffer our consequences.  The time to act is now!

  1. Environmental Protection Agency http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/basics/facts.html 
  1. The Physical Science Basis. Final Draft Underlying Scientific-Technical Assessment. http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/

3       IPCC Climate Change Report https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/AR5_SYR_FINAL_SPM.pdf

4 Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170127112942.htm

5       Climate Change May Flatten Surf Spots https://phys.org/news/2015-02-climate-flatten-famed-surfing.html 

6 UNIPCC https://www.thenation.com/article/1-5-to-stay-alive-says-landmark-un-climate-report/ 

7 Pew Charitable Trust: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2018/01/11/every-$1-invested-in-disaster-mitigation-saves-$6 

ON THE WEB:

https://www.surfrider.org


Subscribe to our newsletter

Why Ocean Acidification Matters To California

Surfrider Beach

The environmental organization National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) states Ocean Acidification (OA) is the “quiet tsunami of environmental degradation.” Within a few decades OA may devastate some important marine ecosystems, says the organization.

“OA is the result of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels accumulating in the atmosphere, where it causes climate change. It is then absorbed into the ocean through wet and dry deposition,” according to the NRDC, and a recent Scripps Institute study titled, Is Global Warming Changing The California Current?

As the ocean absorbs CO2, it reacts with sea water to form carbonic acid.

“Securing clean water in a heavily urbanized environment such as Los Angeles doesn’t happen overnight. It requires resources. And regional waterbodies are well-worth protecting,” said Heal The Bay in a statement regarding the Los Angeles County Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure. “Locals and tourists alike frequent Los Angeles County’s beaches, yet 7 out of 10 of California’s most polluted beaches are right in our own backyard. This means that a day at the beach could make you or your family sick. Pollution that runs off our streets can be toxic to fish and other species. As a result, some fish species in our Bay are unsafe to eat. Trash pollution is so extreme in some areas of the County that our rivers look more like trash dumps. The current paradigm needs to shift.”

California has between the eighth and eleventh largest economy in the world, according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) World Factbook. That economy depends on tourism to its ocean and beaches, use of its coastline for the marine industries and other industries and even the nation’s national security depends on California’s coastal waters for military exercises. The state’s approximate 2011 gross state product (GSP) was $1.96 trillion, the largest in the United States, reports the organization Greyhill Advisors.

“Coastal counties in California, as well as the rest of the nation, represent a disproportionate size of the overall economy. While many of the nation’s largest cities are located along the coast and account for some of this value, coastal location draws increasing numbers of people and a broad range of activities that represent vast sums of revenue, which no state can afford to overlook. The natural resources of the coast and coastal ocean are a solid foundation for California’s economy and must be sustained to support the growth in the Coastal Economy,” according to the California Resources Agency (CRA).

Increases in concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) in the ocean coincided with the start of the Industrial Revolution in about 1750. Measurements from Antarctic ice cores combined with direct atmospheric measurements show the increase of both gases over time, writes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Paleoclimatology and Earth System Research Laboratory.

Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, about 150-years ago, approximately one-third of all CO2 from fossil fuels, or 127-billion megatons, has been absorbed by the world’s seas, increasing the average ocean acidity by 30-percent, reports the NRDC; that is the equivalent of 500-billion VW Beetle bugs dumped into the sea.

“The oceans are both source and sink for our consumption,” Dr. Orton of the Tapia Water Reclamation Facility (TWRF) tells Malibu Arts Journal. “The pace of sustainability is waiting advances in resource recycling. It’s not the only answer, but recycling is a two for one solution, slowing both our use of natural resources on the production side, and reducing the volume of waste streams on the consumption side.”

Recycling generally conjures up taking aluminum cans, glass bottles and newspapers to the recyclers. Yet water recycling is far more common than thought.

“Water recycling is reusing treated wastewater for beneficial purposes such as agricultural and landscape irrigation, industrial processes, toilet flushing, and replenishing a ground water basin, often referred to as ground water recharge,” according the EPA. “Water recycling offers resource and financial savings. Wastewater treatment can be tailored to meet the water quality requirements of a planned reuse. Recycled water for landscape irrigation requires less treatment than recycled water for drinking water”
The EPA also cites no documented cases of human health problems due to contact with recycled water that has been treated to standards, criteria and regulations.

The International Pacific Research Center (IPRC), based out of the University of Hawaii, conducted a study and found, “Unprecedented, man-made trends in the ocean’s acidity. Combining computer modeling with observations, an international team of scientists concluded that anthropogenic CO2 emissions over the last 100 to 200 years have already raised ocean acidity far beyond the range of natural variations.”

The team of climate modelers, marine conservationists, ocean chemists, biologists and ecologists at the IPRC, led by Tobias Friedrich and Axel Timmermann, studied changes in saturation levels of aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate and a substance typically used to measure OA , writes the IPRC.

“As acidity of seawater rises, the saturation level of aragonite drops. Their models captured well the current observed seasonal and annual variations in this quantity in several key coral reef regions. Today’s levels of aragonite saturation in these locations have already dropped five times below the pre-industrial range of natural variability. For example, if the yearly cycle in aragonite saturation varied between 4.7 and 4.8, it varies now between 4.2 and 4.3, which – based on a separate study – may translate into a decrease in overall calcification rates of corals and other aragonite shell-forming organisms by 15-percent. Given the continued human use of fossil fuels, the saturation levels will drop further, potentially reducing calcification rates of some marine organisms by more than 40-percent of their pre-industrial values within the next 90-years. Any significant drop below the minimum level of aragonite to which the organisms have been exposed to for thousands of years and have successfully adapted will very likely stress them and their associated ecosystems,” says lead author Postdoctoral Fellow Tobias Friedrich.

The NRDC too finds the same conclusion.

“Changes in acidity are undeniably linked to human activities,” reports the NRDC. “The United States is the world’s top oil consumer, and thus the primary driver behind the development of new forms of dirty transportation fuels in North America. These fuels are derived from lower-grade, difficult-to-access raw materials, including tar sands, oil shale and coal. Moving down this road has enormous consequences for the air we breathe, the water we drink, our climate, our wildlands and wildlife.”

High carbon intensity crude oils (HCICOs) include those produced using energy intensive production methods, or those involving practices that result in higher emissions, states the NRDC in its recent report.

“Typically, HCICOs can include unconventional sources, such tar sands, coal, oil shale, or heavy oils, as well as conventional sources that require additional energy for crude oil recovery or use practices that result in larger emissions, such as Nigerian crudes with flaring, or Middle East and California thermal enhanced oil recovery,” writes the NRDC.

According to a recent Stanford study, evidence in California of these chemical changes brought about by such human activity is already apparent.

“The primary concern about acidity is that it reduces the availability of carbonate, a substance used by tens of thousands of species to form shells and skeletons. If acidity gets high enough,” reports the study, “Ocean water becomes corrosive and literally dissolves the organisms shells, which may lead to extinction.”

As atmospheric CO2 increases, ocean PH decreases accordingly, says a separate Stanford study titled, Ocean Acidification: The Other CO2 Problem, published in 2009 in the Annual Review Of Marine Sciences.

The primary causes of acidification are CO2, nutrient runoff and Sulfur Oxide (SOx) and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) deposition, according to a 2012 Center for Ocean Solutions study titled, Why Ocean Acidification Matters to California, and What California Can Do About It: A Report on the Power of California’s State Government to Address Ocean Acidification in State Waters, produced by the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University.

“We cannot attribute a particular fraction of the observed change in coastal waters among atmospheric CO2, nutrient runoff or other factors,” says Ryan P. Kelley, J.D., PhD and Margaret R. Caldwell. J.D., the authors of the Center for Ocean Solutions study. “While CO2 is the primary driver of the change in ocean PH, non-CO2 inputs may be more influential in specific coastal regions. SOx and NOx are gases that form acids when dissolved in seawater, lowering the pH of receiving waters. Because of short residence times in the atmosphere, these compounds are most likely to contribute to OA near where they are produced as byproducts of human industrial processes. As such, tighter ambient air quality standards for these compounds would have the greatest impact on OA near heavy industrial sources such as petroleum refineries.”

The contribution of the coastal zone to the global carbon cycle both during pristine times and at present is difficult to assess due to limited metabolic data available, as well as to major uncertainties concerning the magnitude of processes, such as respiration, exchanges at the open ocean boundary and air-sea fluxes of biogasses, according to the Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics article titled Carbon & Carbonate.

As scientists explore links to climate change, models suggest more low-oxygen zones due to rising water temperatures and changes in mixing patterns, according to the California Currents article. A recent University of British Columbia (UBC) study found ocean acidity is adversely affecting the abalone, a popular gourmet food. This specie’s range extends along the Northern American West Coast from Baja California to Alaska. To better understand the impact of climate change, and specifically the increasing affect OA has on this in endangered species, UBC researchers exposed Northern Abalone larvae to water containing increased levels of CO2. Increases from 400 to 1800 parts per million (ppm) killed 40-percent of larvae, decreased the size of larvae that did survive and increased the rate of shell abnormalities, the UBC research found.

“This is quite bad news, not only in terms of the endangered populations of Abalone in the wild, but also the impact it might have on the prospects for aquaculture and o economics,” says Christopher Harley, Associate Professor with UBC’s Department of Zoology, and one of the authors of the study.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) finds such conclusions on CO2 and OA to be accurate in what they term the enhanced greenhouse effect.

“What has scientists concerned now is that over the past 250 years, humans have been artificially raising the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at an ever-increasing rate, mostly by burning fossil fuels, but also from cutting down carbon-absorbing forests,” reports NASA. “Since the Industrial Revolution began in about 1750, carbon dioxide levels have increased nearly 38-percent as of 2009 and methane levels have increased 148-percent.”

Increased atmospheric CO2 is the largest contributor to the anthropogenic Greenhouse Effect (Solomon et al., 2007), note researchers at biogeosciences.net.

“Given the importance of CO2 to climate, it is crucial to understand the global carbon cycle. The ocean plays an important role in the global carbon cycle, modulating atmospheric CO2 concentrations and climate. The global ocean has taken up 20 to 35-percent of CO2 released by human activities since the industrial revolution (Khatiwala et al., 2009; Sabine et al., 2004; Houghton, 2007),” writes biogeosciences.net. “Some studies have suggested the oceanic carbon sink may have changed during the past few decades (Wang and Moore, 2012; Lovenduski et al., 2007; LeQu´er´e et al., 2007; Wetzel et al., 2005; Perez et al., 2010b), though significant uncertainties remain (e.g. ‘McKinley et al., 2011).”

 

Climate Change: Through The Ocean Darkly

Special To Topanga Journal

Climate Change. Likely by now most have at least heard these two words, if not taken action to reduce their carbon footprint.

 

Carbon footprint, these may be two words less accessible. A person’s carbon footprint is a representation of the effect an individual, or business, has on climate in terms of the total amount of greenhouse gases that person, or business, produces measured in units of carbon dioxide (CO2). 

Kriss Perras headshot by Alan Weissman

By Kriss Perras

A carbon footprint, unlike the print left by a physical foot, is changeable based on what actions taken by the individual, or business. A city, region or country too can have a carbon footprint and thus effect climate change. Of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, 87-percent come from energy production and use. Yet it is easier to see the impacts of climate change on a region, such as the record number and strength of tornadoes, tsunamies, droughts, floods and wildfires in 2011 to the present across various parts of the U.S. and around the globe.

 

 

What is climate change?

 

 

Climate change is a long term shift in the statistics of weather, including its averages. According to the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in their “What is Climate Change?” description, this could show up as a change in expected values for temperatures and/or precipitation for a given place and time of year from one decade to the next. And the global climate is currently changing. The last decade of the 20th century, and the beginning of the 21st, have been the warmest period in the entire global instrumental temperature record, starting in the mid-19th century, reports NOAA. All of these factors have an affect on future water sustainability.

“Climate change is a long term shift in the statistics of weather, including its averages.”

According to the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) on water sustainability, more than 1,100 counties, one-third of all counties in the lower 48, will face a higher risk of water shortages by mid-century as a result of climate change. More than 400 of these counties will face a high risk of water shortage, says the NRDC. California is among the 14 states with the greatest risk, along with: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma and Texas, says the Council. These states are viewed to be facing an extreme or high risk for water sustainability and are likely to see water limitations on water availability as demand exceeds supply by 2050, this in particular of the Great Plains of the Southwest region of the US where the risk is extreme, the NRDC reports. These numbers are a staggering estimate. Compared to previous estimates, this report by both the NRDC and Tetra Tech reflects a 14-times increase.

 

“This analysis shows climate change will take a serious toll on water supplies throughout the country in the coming decades with over one out of every three U.S. counties facing greater risk of water shortages,” said Dan Lashof, director of the Climate Center at the NRDC in a statement. “Water shortages can strangle economic development and agricultural production in affected communities.”

 

The value of crops produced in the at risk counties is estimated by the Council at $105-billion. All of these factors affect America and the region’s food security, in addition to those to whom America exports food.

 

The first decade of the 21st century brought several harbingers of a troubled future for global food security. The food price spike of 2008 and food riots both brought to light the re-emergence of this threat to human well being and social harmony, a governmental report states. Food production is critically dependent on local temperature and precipitation conditions. Any changes require farmers to adapt their practices, which requires resources that could be used for other purposes, states the report. Using a comprehensive empirical analysis, the authors of the report, entitled “Food Security, Climate Change to 2050,” suggest policymakers should take into account: 1.) The value of broad-based sustainable development; 2.) The power of investments to enhance agricultural productivity; 3.) The importance of an open world trade system; 4.) The need for early action on both adaptation and mitigation. To up the stakes of human survival even more, experts estimate by 2050 the world’s population is likely to reach 9-billion.

 

“As a result, cities and states will bear the real and significant cost if Congress fails to take the steps necessary to slow down and reverse the warming trend. Water management and climate change adaptation plans will be essential to lessen the impacts, but they cannot be expected to counter the effects of a warming climate,” said Dan Lashof in a statement to Congress. “The only way to truly manage the risks exposed by this report is for Congress to pass meaningful legislation that cuts global warming pollution and allows the U.S. to exercise Global Leadership on the issue.”

 

“In many places in the U.S. water supply is already used in quantities that exceed supply,” said Sujoy Roy, principal engineer and lead Tetra Tech and NRDC report author.

 

MALIBU’S LEGACY PARK

 

So where does all of this very dark picture leave Malibu? That’s where sustainable projects like Malibu’s Legacy Park, and the Tapia Water reclamation Project come into the picture. Malibu’s Legacy Park is 15-acres set aside in the center of the city that is at once a stormwater and urban runoff project, a state of the art environmental cleaning machine and a central park for the city. It is capable of capturing up to 2.6-million gallons per day of stormwater and urban runoff for treatment and disinfection. The clean storm water is used to irrigate the park. The park’s creation also restored and developed important native coastal habitats. It offers a living learning center, information kiosks, an outdoor classroom, a cultural interpretive center and other information features to educate about Southern California’s coastal flora and fauna.

 

“This is a very unique park, one of the most ambitious and innovative storm water and urban runoff projects in the state of California,” said Olivia Damavandi, Media Information Officer with the City of Malibu. ” Parks that double as water detention basins exist in the rest of the state and country, but none of them have the educational and environmental benefits that Legacy Park offers, or the recycling ability for stormwater and urban runoff. The park helps improve water quality at Malibu Creek, Malibu Lagoon, Surfrider Beach, nearby beaches and is one of the main reasons the city created Legacy Park. Using the captured and treated stormwater offsets potable water usage.”

 

The park has now its ninth commendation, this one from the Water Reliability 2020 Award, which recognizes extraordinary projects and efforts related to water conservation and education by governments, businesses and individuals. The Water Reliability Program itself seeks to reduce dependence on water imported to coastal Los Angeles from 66-percent to 33-percent by the year 2020.

 

“In addition to symbolizing the City’s commitment to environmental stewardship and public health, Legacy Park teaches the value of water,” said Mayor Lou La Monte in a statement.

 

The project is a $35-million environmental work. The city received $2.5-million from the state water board to help acquire the property, $3.1-million in private individual donations, $2-million in donations from the Annenberg Foundation, $1-million from a county park grant, $1-million from Santa Monica College and the balance from City special funds and the issuance of Certificate of Participations (COPs), something similar to bonds, that the city issued, reports Damavandi.

 

“The Mayor and City Manager, Jim Thorsen, recently went to New Orleans for the prestigious and informative Water Environment Federation (WEF) Conference. The travel and conference were paid by the city. This was a three-day water conference attended by over 10,000 individuals to learn about the latest technology and trends in the water world,” Damavandi said. “The keynote speaker was Ms. Lisa Jackson, the former Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) Administrator. The conference helped the Mayor prepare for the Regional Water Board meeting he attended the next day after his return. On Tuesday of the conference, the city received the 2012 Water Quality Improvement award from the WEF. The total estimated cost of the airline and three nights hotel is $1,000.

 

Another feature of Legacy Park is it prevents recycled water from reaching the ground water.

 

“Legacy Park was constructed to divert storm water and run off for disinfection to improve water quality at Malibu Creek, Malibu Lagoon, Surfrider Beach and nearby beaches. With the ability to capture 2.6-million gallons per day of storm water and urban runoff for treatment and disinfection, and as the detention basin was constructed with an impervious liner underneath to prevent infiltration,” said Damavandi. “Any recycled water used for irrigation would be limited to levels that do not allow seepage to the ground water table.”

 

“The detention pond is clay lined and will not allow any substantial interaction with groundwater,” states the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR). “Any stormwater released is treated to meet Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). In addition, hardscape within Legacy Park is permeable, and therefore does not substantially increase runoff.”

 

The unique park prevents untreated waters from reaching the fragile ecosystems of the Creek, Lagoon and Surfrider Beach.

 

“The water collected within the pond is initially stored, then sent to the City’s storm water treatment plant. It is cleaned and sent back to the park for reuse as irrigation,” said Damavandi. “At this time, we have not sent any untreated water to Malibu Creek. However during large rainstorms, it is possible for the pond to become full, and it would then feed diverted water to the creek without treatment.”

 

Legacy Park is located at the terminus of the Malibu Creek watershed where the creek drains into Malibu Lagoon, which periodically discharges to Surfrider Beach when the berm separating the Lagoon from the ocean is breached. As a result, Malibu Creek, Malibu Lagoon and Surfrider Beach are included in the Clean Water Act’s 303(d) list of impaired water bodies for bacteria and nutrients. The percolation capacity of Legacy is limited to between 17,000 to 50,000 gallons per day. The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) states this is more than adequate to provide percolation and dispersal for the treated wastewater effluent that comes from the Malibu Lumber Yard project.

 

“The 3-4 acre detention pond size yields a performance more than five times than required by the bacteria total maximum daily load (TMDL),” states the EIR. “This reduces the number of excedences of bacteria TMDLs per year on average to three. By storing dry weather runoff for irrigation reuse, the city can avoid discharge and the need to percolate this flow into the groundwater.”

 

 

WEATHER PATTERNS

 

Already human-induced climate change has shifted weather patterns.

 

“The atmosphere warms or cools the ocean. It receives vapors through evaporation, leaving most of the salt in the sea and so increasing the salinity of the water,” stated Rachel Carson in her 1950 work The Sea Around Us. “With the changing weight of that whole mass of air that envelopes the Earth, the atmosphere brings variable pressure to bear on the surface of the sea, which is depressed under areas of high pressure and springs up in compensation under the atmospheric lows…But even more does the ocean dominate the air. Its effect on the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere is far greater then the small transfer of heat between ocean and air…The transfer of heat between ocean and air therefore alters the belts of high and low pressure. This profoundly affects the directions and strength of the winds and directs the storms on their paths.”

 

Evidence suggests that climate change has led to changes in climate extremes such as heat waves, record high temperatures and, in many regions, heavy precipitation in the past half century, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in March 2012.


The Panel is moving to a new stage in the preparation of its next major report, the Fifth Assessment Report (AR), with the first of three government and expert reviews to take place between October 2012 and May 2013. The AR5 will be released in a multi-stage process between 2013 to 2014. Compared with previous reports, the AR5 will emphasize assessing socio-economic aspects of climate change and implications for sustainable development, risk management and the framing of a response through both adaptation and mitigation, states the IPCC.

 

HURRICANE SANDY

 

According to Rutgers University, “Hurricane Sandy is expected to be only a modest preview of the dangers to come. Multiple studies were released this summer indicating that sea level is expected to rise dramatically over the coming centuries, even if extreme cuts are made to greenhouse gas emissions. Those living near sea level are increasingly in danger of being flooded by storm surges from storms such as Sandy. In order to protect coastal communities we must pursue a strategy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, building resiliency and defenses, and retreating from certain high risk areas.”

 

Sandy’s stallout contributed significantly to its destructive power.

 

“Sandy could not spin out to sea because of a high pressure system from the arctic circle–where the ice cap has melted to its smallest size in years,” said Anthony Broccoli, director of the Center for Environmental Prediction at Rutgers. “The ice melt warms arctic sea water, and that radiated heat is making the jet stream wavier, producing variations in barometric pressure like the one that stalled Sandy.
This is the theory proposed by his Rutgers colleague, Jennifer Francis, and it’s a controversial one, says Rutgers. Is she right?

 

The jury is out, says her colleague, Broccoli. More research is needed, he acknowledged during a 90-minute talk in the borough Community Center, site of the Great Horizons lecture series.

 

GLOBAL CARBON CYCLE: THE WORLD’S BIOLOGICAL PUMP

 

Global carbon cycle. These words are likely even less accessible to the average person than the term carbon footprint. Yet it is so important, we devote numerous resources to understand it.

 

The global carbon cycle has to do with things called producers and consumers. Producers create carbon dioxide (CO2). A producer could be a human, or animal, who exhales out carbon dioxide after inhaling oxygen. Bigger carbon dioxide produces are things like coal-fired plants or car exhaust. All of these are anthropogenic CO2 producers. Consumers, on the other hand, are considered sinks, or things that that absorb CO2. They would be things such as forests, the land and the ocean. Producers and consumers habitually interact. That is, an economy exists between the two.

 

A Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) http://www1.whoi.edu/ was launched in the 1980s to study the ocean carbon cycle.

 

“Most of the carbon in the ocean is stored in the deep waters and sediments of the sea floor,” said the JGOFS team. “How much and how many carbon can be transferred from the atmosphere to the ocean depths is therefore important to the global carbon cycle. One route carbon can take to the ocean depths is via what scientist call the biological pump.”

 

“This process begins as phytoplankton pick up CO2 and nutrients through the process of photosynthesis to then form organic matter,” said the JGOFS team. “The organisms and zooplankton that feed on them produce particles as they die, molt and excrete material. The particles containing organic matter sink through the water column carrying carbon into the ocean depths. During the days to weeks it takes the particles to reach the seafloor, many are decomposed by bacteria or are consumed by zooplankton and fish in the deep waters. Its efficiency is very low with an average for every 1,000 carbon atoms taken up to primary productivity in open ocean surface waters, only 50 to 100 sink below. 100-meters, and only 10 are exported to depths below 1,000-meters where carbon is stored in the ocean for millennia. Of these 10, only one carbon atom is buried in the deep ocean sediments where it can be sequestered for eons. The biological pump’s efficiency varies considerably from season to season, and so too its strength. Thus, the amount of carbon transferred into the depths varies from one ecosystem to another.”

 

However, the producers can sometimes oversupply the consumers with CO2. This is called human-induced climate change.

 

“The additional burden of human-induced CO2 into the natural climate change in the atmosphere will remain for a very long time, on the order of thousands of years, if we have to rely on the natural mechanisms of erosion and sediment to process the added CO2,” said N.K. Taylor in The Role Of The Ocean In The Global Carbon Cycle published in the Weather Journal.

 

The natural climate cycle is very different from human-induced climate change. The human kind causes melting of polar ice caps, severe weather patterns, droughts, wildfires and water supply shortages, all on a far more severe scale than the natural climate cycle. The carbon cycle naturally consists of two parts, the terrestrial and the aquatic carbon cycles. It is based on an average flowing exchange of CO2.

 

Plants and other consumers, in the ocean and on land, transfer carbon dioxide and water into complex carbohydrates, such as glucose, under the influence of sunlight in a process known as photosynthesis. This process produces oxygen. The ocean, playing its role in the global carbon cycle, is by far the largest consumer, or sink, of the world’s mobile carbon.

 

“The atmosphere continuously exchanges CO2 with the oceans, which controls atmospheric CO2 concentration and its variations with time, said the JGOFS team.

 

With all the talk about too much CO2 in the atmosphere, it’s gotten a bad name for itself. CO2 is not necessarily bad, per say. This idea goes back to the existent economy between producers and consumers. Plus, CO2 is a small yet natural part of Earth’s atmosphere.

 

“While CO2 is only a small part of the atmosphere, 0.4-percent, it plays an important role in the energy balance of our planet. CO2 in the atmosphere acts like a blanket over the planet by trapping longwave radiation which would otherwise radiate heat away from the planet, something known as the greenhouse effect,” says N.K. Taylor in http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/j.1477-8696.1992.tb07145.x  The Role Of The Ocean In The Global Carbon Cycle. “As the amount of CO2 increases, so will the warming effect.”

 

CO2 is the largest contributor to this effect of long-lived gases, currently at 63-percent, and its role increases every year, said co2now.org.

 

As a result, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising worldwide, said the NRDC in testimony before Congress (Lashof) and co2now.org. “The average CO2 concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere is now over 380 ppm by volume, which is higher than it has been for at least 650,000 years. In 2005, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increased by 25 ppm the third largest increase ever recorded. Although there is considerable variation from year to year in the rate of increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, the rise has been more than 2 ppm in three of the last four years. Because CO2 traps heat in the Earth’s atmosphere preventing it from escaping back out into space, this imbalance in the global carbon cycle has also thrown the Earth’s energy balance out of whack. This also means that each year the earth absorbs more energy from the Sun than it radiates back out into space. Global warming is the inevitable result, and the human fingerprint on Earth’s climate is now clearly visible. To keep things from falling even further out of balance, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and other global warming gases must be kept from exceeding 450-ppm.”

 

Atmospheric CO2 for September 2012 was recorded at 391.07-ppm, according to the site co2now.org. Climate scientists say we have years, not decades to stabilize CO2 and other greenhouse gases, said co2now.org. The upper safety limit for atmospheric CO2 is 350-ppm. Atmospheric CO2 levels have stayed higher than 350-ppm since 1988, according to co2now.org. So as the producers of CO2 keep producing, the sinks remain stable, only able to only absorb so much. This results in a net increase in atmospheric CO2 levels.

 

“For the globe as a whole the ocean is the great regulator, the great stabilizer of temperatures. It has been described as ‘a savings bank for solar energy, receiving deposits in seasons of excessive insolation and paying them back in seasons of want,’” states Rachel Carson in The Sea Arond Us. “Without the ocean, our world would be visited by harsh extremes of temperature…For the water that covers three-fourths of the Earth’s surface with an enveloping mantle is a substance of remarkable qualities….It is an excellent absorber and radiator of heat…Because of its normal capacity, the ocean can absorb a great deal of heat from the sun without becoming what we would consider hot, or it can lose much of its heat without becoming cold.”

 

The nutrients that fuel growth and reproduction of phytoplankton cells are also important factors. Scientist have observed a long term shift in the ratio of nitrogen and phosphorus in suspended particulate matter.

 

“They suggest this is linked to the higher frequency of El Niño episodes during the 1990s, which brings warmer, calmer conditions to the oligotrophic, or low nutrient regions, around Hawaii and Bermuda,” said the JGOFS team. “These conditions lead to nitrogen fixing bacteria shifting the limitations on plankton growth to phosphorus, resulting in plankton that are rich in nitrogen, which is seen in the elevated ratio of particulate nitrogen to phosphorus. The global models that come from JGOFS shows as the atmosphere warms, so does the surface ocean. Thus the predicted temperature changes would affect the solubility of CO2 in ocean water. In addition, changes in temperature and wind could lead to alterations in ocean circulation patterns and the upwelling of nutrients to surface waters. These changes could affect the structure and function of ocean ecosystems, and thus the way the biological pump operates in different regions of the ocean. Changes in the oceans capacity to take up and store carbon could in turn affect the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere.”

 

In other words, excess in one creates excess and the other.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Topanga Journal
This site uses cookies. Close

Contact