California's farms and vineyards could vanish by the end of the century, and its major cities could be in jeopardy, if Americans do not act to slow the advance of global warming, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said Tuesday.He is a "Dr" so we should listen to him, right?
In a worst case, Chu said, up to 90% of the Sierra snowpack could disappear, all but eliminating a natural storage system for water vital to agriculture.
"I don't think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen," he said. "We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California." And, he added, "I don't actually see how they can keep their cities going" either.
A pair of recent studies raise similar warnings. One, published in January in the journal Science, raised the specter of worldwide crop shortages as temperatures rise. Another, penned by UC Berkeley researchers last year, estimated California has about $2.5 trillion in real estate assets -- including agriculture -- endangered by warming.
Chu is not a climate scientist. He won his Nobel for work trapping atoms with laser light. He taught at Stanford University and directed the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he reoriented researchers to pursue "clean energy" technologies to help reduce the use of greenhouse-gas-emitting fossil fuels in the U.S., before Obama tapped him to head the Energy Department.Another reason to keep your kids out of guv'munt schools.
Chu made clear that he sees public education as a key part of the administration's strategy to fight global warming -- along with billions of dollars for alternative energy research and infrastructure, a national standard for electricity from renewable sources and cap-and-trade legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions.Right now they are trying to figure out how to pay the electric bill if they lose their job - and their heating bill this ....brrrrr... winter.
He said the threat of warming is keeping policymakers focused on alternatives to fossil fuel, even though gasoline prices have fallen over the last six months from historic highs. But he said public awareness needs to catch up. He compared the situation to a family buying an old house and being told by an inspector that it must pay a hefty sum to rewire it or risk an electrical fire that could burn everything down.
"I'm hoping that the American people will wake up," Chu said, and pay the cost of rewiring.
Now for the fun part. How oh how did this happen without evil Americans and their SUVs?
Stunned scientists have found the fossilized remains of the world's greatest snake -- a record-busting serpent that was as long as a bus and snacked on crocodiles.Jennifer Lopez in Anaconda.
The boa-like behemoth, dubbed Titanoboa, ruled the tropical rainforests of what is now Colombia some 60 million years ago, at a time when the world was far hotter than now, they report in a study .
The size of the snake's vertebrae suggest the beast weighed some 1.135 tonnes, in a range of 730 kilos (1,600 pounds) to 2.03 tonnes.
And it measured 13 metres (42.7 feet) from nose to tail, in a range of 10.64-15 metres (34.6-48.75 feet), they estimate.
"The discovery of Titanoboa challenges our understanding of past climates and environments, as well as the biological limitations on the evolution of giant snakes," said Jason Head, member of the Panama-based research institute and lead author of the study to be published in Nature magazine.
"This shows how much more information about the history of Earth there is to glean from a resource like the reptile fossil record," said the assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Toronto Mississauga.
From the size of the 1.14-tonne Titanoboa, scientists have estimated the average annual temperature in the tropical jungle it inhabited 60 million years ago at 30-34 degrees Celsius (86-93 degrees Farenheit).
"This temperature estimate is much hotter than modern temperatures in tropical rainforests anywhere in the world," said Carlos Jaramillo, Smithsonian staff scientist and co-organizer of the excavations in Colombia.
"That means that tropical rainforests could exist at temperatures 3-4 degrees Celsius hotter than modern tropical rainforests experience," he added, alluding to scientific theories that would have tropical forests disappear if global warming boosts temperatures by that measure in the future.
"The snake that tried to eat Jennifer Lopez in the movie 'Anaconda' is not as big as the one we found."