Today the IPCC will be issuing the Fifth Assessment Report on climate change. There promises to be some ominous warnings on the threat of our continued addiction to fossil fuels, but they are going to provide suggestions on the best possible ways to mitigate climate change. There are fears though that the climate deniers are going to put up every effort to dilute the seriousness of the findings and to do their usual doubt casting. Guardian Report
It goes without saying that the natural environment plays an important role in mitigating climate change and keeping Earth as the hospitable place that it is for us humans. It's hard to know for sure the effect that one species can have on the environment, but the rapid removal of one species from the ecosystem can have complex and unpredictable effects on its ecosystem counterparts. The Rhino (Ceratotherium species) is a keystone species - this means that the activities of the Rhino and the mere presence of the Rhino in the ecosystem is important for the survival of other species and the balance of the ecosystem. If the Rhino is suddenly removed, it will have far reaching consequences for other species in the environment, and could disrupt the delicate balance of the ecosystems where these animals exist. As an example, White Rhinos are responsible for maintaining "grazing lawns", which is beneficial to grazers like wildebees, zebra, and impala. and therefore they also assist in maintaining the balance between trees and grasses which is what makes a savannah a savannah. This year alone, 688 Rhinos have already been poached in South Africa. Please lend your voice, or just a tweet, to WWF South Africa http://www.wwf.org.za/, to support their initiative to raise one million tweets in support of saving the Rhino in South Africa. Tweet #iam4rhinos!
The amount of Arctic sea ice has reached its lowest point for the year, and reached an all time low last year. The scary thing is that scientists only predicted these levels of sea ice to be reached in 2050. This means that the effects of global warming are happening faster than anticipated, and it also means that models predicting the sequence of global change are still a long way from being exact. There are important climate feedbacks and components in the climate system that we still don't fully understand. WWF article on Black Carbon
One of the causes being attributed to the rapid melt in Arctic sea ice is black carbon. This is basically particulate carbon, or soot, which is released when wood is burned or in other types of fuel burning. But technologies do exist to reduce the amount of black carbon emissions, which can particularly reduce the amount of black carbon emitted in shipping, which has a direct effect on the Arctic sea ice, as black carbon emitted from shipping falls onto the snow, which absorbs heat, thereby increasing the rate of sea ice melt. Reducing black carbon could have just as great an impact on reduction of global warming as the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. And this is an easier goal to achieve. Paper on the effects of Black Carbon reduction
Here's a video from NOAA explaining how black carbon accelerates Arctic sea ice melt, and could therefore accelerate the effects of climate change: