Sea levels set to rise faster than expected

November 27, 2008 by  
Filed under Global Warming

Geneva, Switzerland: Even warming of less than 2°C might be enough to trigger the loss of Arctic sea ice and the meltdown of the Greenland Ice Sheet, causing global sea levels to rise by several metres.

Ahead of next week’s meeting of governments in Poznan, Poland for UN climate talks WWF analysis of the latest climate science comes to the dire conclusion that humanity is approaching the last chance to keep global warming below the danger threshold of 2°C.

”The latest science confirms that we are now seeing devastating consequences of warming that were not expected to hit for decades,” said Kim Carstensen, WWF Global Climate Initiative leader.

“The early meltdown of ice in the Arctic and Greenland may soon prompt further dangerous climate feedbacks, accelerating warming faster and stronger than forecast.

“Responsible politicians cannot dare to waste another second on delaying tactics in the face of these urgent warnings from nature.

“The planet is now facing a new quality of change, increasingly difficult to adapt to and soon impossible to reverse.

“Governments in Poznan must agree to peak and decline global emissions well before 2020 to give people reasonable hope that global warming can still be kept within limits that prevent the worst.

“In addition to constructive discussions in Poznan we need to see signals for immediate action.”

The CO2 storage capacity of oceans and land surface – the Earth’s natural sinks – has been decreasing by 5 per cent over the last 50 years. At the same time, manmade CO2 emissions from fossil fuels have been increasing – four times faster in this decade than in the previous decade.

WWF is urging governments to use the Poznan talks for an immediate U-turn away from the fatal direction the world is heading in.

“We are at the point where our climate system is starting to spin out of control,” said Carstensen. “A single year is left to agree a new global treaty that can protect the climate, but the UN talks next year in Copenhagen can only deliver this treaty if the meeting in Poznan this year develops a strong negotiation text.”

Article copyright WWF

The Sensual Beauty of the Beach

November 26, 2008 by  
Filed under Ocean Beauty

The beach is a wonderous place where the sheer beauty and sensuality of the environment can reclaim even the most harried minds.

It can take you to a time where there was only mankind and nature — No cell phones, work left undone, cluttered minds and desks, financial problems or job worries…just you and nature in a simple yet intense relationship. The beach can be that side of nature that soothes, stimulates, invigorates and heals. One day at the beach and you are rejuvenated for a time….it stays with you…and that is worth protecting.

Commerce and Interior Departments Announce Launch of National System of Marine Protected Areas

November 19, 2008 by  
Filed under Protecting Habitats

The U.S. departments of Interior and Commerce today jointly announced the availability of the final Framework for the National System of Marine Protected Areas of the United States, completing a cooperative, multi-year effort to provide a comprehensive approach to the protection of the nation’s natural and cultural marine treasures.

The National System of Marine Protected Areas is the first formal mechanism for coordinating MPAs across all levels of government. The agencies also announced the nomination process for federal, state, territorial, tribal and local sites to join the National System of Marine Protected Areas.

MPAs are defined areas where natural or cultural resources are given greater protection than the surrounding waters. In the U.S., these areas may span a range of habitats including the open ocean, coastal areas, inter-tidal zones, estuaries, and the Great Lakes.

“Today’s announcement highlights a new focus on working together across jurisdictions to conserve our common ocean heritage,” said Timothy Keeney, deputy assistant secretary for oceans and atmosphere. “Through the national system of MPAs, we will have a more efficient, effective approach to conservation of the nation’s important natural and cultural marine resources.”

Marine Protected Area

Marine Protected Area

The publication of the Framework for the National System of Marine Protected Areas of the United States of America provides a blueprint for building the national system of MPAs. The framework outlines key components of the national system, including overarching national system goals and priority conservation objectives; MPA eligibility criteria; a nomination process for existing MPAs to be included in the national system; and a science-based, public process for identifying conservation gaps in existing protection efforts where new MPAs may be needed.

“This lays the groundwork for a national system of MPAs that will ensure that our ocean’s resources are conserved for future generations,” said Kaush Arha, deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks. “Our nation as a whole will benefit from this comprehensive and representative system that not only enhances conservation and collaboration, but also will identify biologically or culturally important areas that are currently not adequately protected to ensure their long-term viability.”

In addition to public comments, extensive advice on the development of the national system and the Framework came from the 30-member MPA Federal Advisory Committee (MPA FAC) – a group composed of natural and social scientists, state and tribal resource managers, commercial fishermen, anglers, energy and tourism industry representatives, divers, and environmentalists. The MPA FAC was created in 2003 and has been working since then to develop recommendations for designing and implementing the national system.

Mark Hixon, MPA FAC Chair and Professor of Zoology at Oregon State University, notes that “Marine Protected Areas can be a controversial topic, yet the process we announce today is evidence that people with different views and interests can collaborate on the management of our valuable ocean resources.”

MPA FAC Vice-Chair Bob Zales II, owner of Bob Zales Charters in Panama City, Fla., and President of the National Association of Charterboat Operators, added, “The national system provides a science-based and transparent process for identifying areas where new protection efforts may be needed. This is the type of open process that ocean users want to see.”

Presidential Executive Order 13158 of May 2000, calls for a scientifically based, comprehensive national system of MPAs that represents the nation’s diverse marine ecosystems and natural and cultural resources. NOAA’s National Marine Protected Areas Center led its development on behalf of the departments of Commerce and Interior, and in consultation with federal agencies, coastal states and territories, tribes, federal Fishery Management Councils, and the public. The national system does not establish any new legal authorities to designate MPAs, but provides a mechanism for MPAs across all levels of government to work together more effectively to achieve common goals.

The Department of Commerce, through NOAA, and the Department of the Interior will build the national system gradually over time. Priority conservation objectives, identified in the Framework document, will guide the development of the national system and identify existing MPAs to be included, as well as conservation gaps which might be addressed through the establishment of new MPAs.

Today also marks the start of the nomination process for sites to join the national system.  MPAs meeting the eligibility criteria defined in the Framework are invited to nominate themselves through their federal or state managing agency. All nominated sites will be available for public comment.

MPAs that are accepted into the national system will be the focus of cooperative efforts to address common resource management challenges and will be placed on the official List of National System MPAs, which will be available to the public via the Federal Register and on the Marine Protected Areas Web site.

NOAA expects the final Framework document to be published in the Federal Register on Nov. 19. The Framework document is available for download.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.

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