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Amazon suffers extreme drought, raises fear of a critical tipping point being reached.

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posted on Nov, 26 2010 @ 12:21 PM

The world’s largest rain forest has long been a bulwark of hope for a planet troubled by climate change. Covering an area the size of the continental United States, the Amazon holds 20 percent of Earth’s fresh water and generates a fifth of its oxygen. With the planet’s climate increasingly threatened by surging carbon emissions, the Amazon has been one of the few forces keeping them in check. But the latest scientific evidence suggests the forest may be unable to shield us from a hotter world.

“Every ecosystem has some point beyond which it can’t go,” said Oliver Phillips, a tropical ecology professor at the University of Leeds who has spent decades studying how forests react to changing weather. “The concern now is that parts of the Amazon may be approaching that threshold.”

Apparently the drought of 2010 is one of those rare "once-every-hundred-years" occurrences. There's one problem though: the same thing happened only 5 years ago, and this one appears to be even worse.

We know from simple on-the-ground knowledge that the 2010 drought was extreme, leading to record lows on some major rivers in the Amazon region and an upsurge in the number of forest fires. Preliminary analyses suggest that the 2010 drought was more widespread and severe than the 2005 event. The 2005 drought was identified as a 1-in-100 year type event.

The world’s largest rain forest was dangerously dry, and may well be drying out.

October marked the end of one of the worst Amazon droughts on record — a period of tinder-dry forests, dusty cropland and rivers falling to unprecedented lows. Streams are the highways of the deep jungle and they’re also graveyards for dead trees, usually hidden safely under fathoms of navigable water.

But not this year, and the drought’s significance extends far beyond impeded boats.

While the region has seen dry spells before, locals and experts say droughts have grown more frequent and severe. Scientists say there’s mounting evidence the Amazon’s shifting weather may be caused by global climate change.

This is also creating a very dangerous feedback cycle. Because as the Amazon dries out, the natural mechanism that protects it against deeply penetrating effects is now actually turning against itself:

In past decades, fires kindled on the jungle’s edges burned themselves out once they advanced a few yards into permanently damp virgin forest.

But that changed with the 2005 drought, said Foster Brown, an environmental scientist at the federal university in the Brazilian state of Acre….

“The ecosystems here have become so dry that instead of a being a barrier to fire, the forest became kindling,” he said. “We’ve changed from a situation where a relatively small part of the region would be susceptible to fire to the entire region being susceptible to fire.”

This in itself creates a dangerous feedback loop because the forest as a whole goes from being an important carbon sink to a net source:

Phillips led a team of dozens of researchers who studied the damage caused by a severe 2005 drought to trees and undergrowth at more than 100 sites across the Amazon. His findings, published in the journal Science, are troubling.

Through photosynthesis, the rain forest absorbs 2 billion tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide each year. But the 2005 drought caused a massive die-off of trees and inverted the process. Like a vacuum cleaner expelling its dust, the Amazon released 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2005. All told, the drought caused an extra 5 billion tons of heat-trapping gases to end up in the atmosphere — more than the combined annual emissions of Europe and Japan.

Read the full story here

So once again, as most people continue sitting around obsessing over the politics instead of the actual issues, as the too-cool-for-school crowd continues laughing off the supposed fearmongering of environmental alarmists - nature continues to back their story up, and even surprise the alarmists themselves.

It is issues like this, combined with growing fears over others like accelerating methane feedback in the arctic, that has many scientists now gravely concerned the IPCC has in fact completely underestimated the problem. That "the models are wrong" because they are too conservative.

See for yourselves:

'Copenhagen Diagnosis' offers a grim update to the IPCC's climate science
The Copenhagen Diagnosis: Climate Science Report
The IPCC messed up over 'Amazongate' – the threat to the Amazon is far worse
Climate change: Drought may threaten much of globe within decades
Svalbard readings show increased methane emissions
MIT News: Climate change odds much worse than thought - New analysis shows warming could be double previous estimates
Arctic death spiral: Naval Postgrad School’s Maslowski “projects ice-free* fall by 2016 (+/- 3 yrs)”
As Glaciers Melt, Science Seeks Data on Rising Seas
Sea levels rising faster than expected: scientists
Journal of Climate: New cloud feedback results “provide support for the high end of current estimates of global climate sensitivity”

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 01:21 AM
To be honest I didn't check every link yet, but I missed something in your thread.

Which is not a very pleasant one, I must add...

What I understand is that the Amazon forest is so big it creates its own rainfall.
When enough trees have disappeared , so did the water that was supposed to form new rain. Making it harder and harder for the forest to remain as moist as it needs to be to exists.

The water that falls in the Andes is water that for a big part came from the forest.

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 03:38 AM
I am still sifting through this, but this seems horrible. The sad part is, I have not even heard this on any of the media sources really..I just happened to click on page 2 of the recent posts.

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 04:29 AM
The cause of this drought is not global warming.

The cause is deforestation.
The forest that were there held massive ammounts of water in the ground, trees and plant life this keep the ground soggy wet.
During the heat of the day this water wound keep the humidiy very high and the heat would cause thermals forming thunderstorms.
When the area was deforested the ground dried out. less water, less clouds. less thunderstorms.

the Amazon will get drier and its the people that live there's fault.

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 05:15 AM

Originally posted by ANNED

the Amazon will get drier and its the people that live there's fault.

While I'm miles from arguing that the Amazon is getting drier as a result of deforestation - you cross a threshold of vegatation cover and insufficient rainfall is generated to maintain existing vegetation, and natural recovery becomes a lot slower and assisted recovery a lot more expensive - I would like to point out that a major reason for deforestation is agriculture for export, not least the culture of vast amounts of soya and other grain to feed animals - whether free-ranging or confined - being produced for food in 'developed' countries where human demand for meat is greater than the potential of the area to produce meat. So while it is the people living there who are responding to capitalist temptations and destroying one of the most incredible areas of the planet, the capitalist temptations are created by people all over the 'developed' world. So it's the fault of people who eat more than they need to, in particular people who eat more meat (or other animal products) than they need to, what with meat requiring larger areas for its production than vegetable matter of equal nutritional value.

I really should be vegan so that I don't have to get off my high horse after rants like that, but tea just isn't the same without milk in it.

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 06:35 AM
Okay, that is bad, but what about the other large forests in the world, like Russia's? Also, back to CO2, its 383 parts per million, that just over one third of one percent, just how can so little do so much to the rest of the atmosphere? I keep asking, never get an answer.

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 10:34 AM
Recycled denial:

Originally posted by pikestaff
Okay, that is bad, but what about the other large forests in the world, like Russia's? Also, back to CO2, its 383 parts per million, that just over one third of one percent, just how can so little do so much to the rest of the atmosphere? I keep asking, never get an answer.

You probably ask the question but then ignore the answer, then come back the next day and ask the question again.

False. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen from around 280 ppm (parts per million) at the start of the industrial revolution in about 1750 to around 388 ppm today – a 39% increase. Nevertheless, 388 ppm constitutes just 0.0388% of the atmosphere by volume and it is sometimes asserted that the increase in concentration can’t possibly have any significant effect – simply because it is such a low concentration. This assertion is simply an error of logic, since it presumes that, by definition, a small cause cannot have a large impact, which is demonstrably false. To take just one example, a drop of the nerve agent VX around the size of a grain of sand is enough to kill an adult.[86] It cannot be asserted that just because the concentration of a substance is low, it therefore cannot have major effects on the system it is interacting with. The potential impact of the substance on the system must be examined and understood before any comment can be made on the likely effects of different concentrations.

Why then do scientists believe that CO2 and other greenhouse gases could be warming the planet? Isn’t water vapour the most important greenhouse gas? Yes it is, by a long way. But direct human influence on the concentration of water vapour in the atmosphere is negligible – it is largely a feedback response to temperature changes, since warmer air can hold more moisture. The warm tropics therefore already experience a strong greenhouse effect, so adding more greenhouse gases impacts the drier polar regions more than the humid tropics. At the poles, the warmer air can hold significantly more water vapour than before, which acts to reinforce the warming due to the addition of other greenhouse gases such as CO2.[87]

If water vapour is the main greenhouse gas, then what role does CO2 play? To answer this question, a brief discussion of the basic physics of the greenhouse effect is needed. The sun emits most of its radiation, including the ultraviolet, visible light and near-infrared light, with wavelengths of around 0.2-4 μm (micro-metres). The longwave radiation that is reflected back from Earth as heat is emitted at wavelengths of 4-100 μm. [88] Our atmosphere consists overwhelmingly of simple gas molecules in the proportions: Nitrogen, N2, (78.08%), Oxygen, O2, (20.95%) and Argon, Ar, (0.93%). The greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – water vapour (H2O), carbon-dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), ozone (O3) and others – absorb some of the radiation from the surface, emitting some of it back to the surface, which causes more warming, and emitting the rest back to space. If it were not for the greenhouse effect of these gases, the average temperature of the Earth would be around -18ºC, rather than 15ºC.[89]

Adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere increases the altitude from which heat radiation escapes back into space. At the higher altitude, temperatures are cooler and so emission temperatures and rates of radiation emission to space will be lower than they would have been without the additional greenhouse gas. To restore thermal equilibrium, temperatures in the lower atmosphere (troposphere) and the Earth’s surface increase until the incoming solar radiation is once again balanced with the outgoing heat radiation.[90]

The effectiveness of a greenhouse gas depends on a number of factors, including the wavelength at which the gas absorbs radiation, the gas concentration, the strength of the absorption per molecule and also whether other gases are already strongly absorbing at that particular wavelength. These factors are important because it means that different gases absorb radiation at different wavelengths, as Figure 5 shows.

edit on 27/11/10 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)
edit on 27/11/10 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 10:47 AM
reply to post by C0bzz

that explination is reaching alot to try to connect .0380% of the atmoshpere killing us all.

Although this is the perfect example of fear mongering ignorance.... comparing carbon to a deadly poison is stupid. Maybe everyone should research the many OTHER changes planets within the solar system are "suffering" at the same time.

Hey if you want to die.. thats your choice.. but just because everyone here doesnt compare every possible variable of an eviromental equation to a neuro toxin doesnt mean they dont see the REAL possiblitys of things that can effect global climate.

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 10:51 AM
reply to post by Sinter Klaas

Hi Sinter - yeah you might be interested in this article:
An undamaged Amazon produces its own clouds and rain

I think the majority of the reason for Amazon rainfall still starts with traditional weather patterns, but regardless, all these factors add up. And I think the biggest lesson here - and with all of climate change really - is that nature functions in a very delicate balance. So even something as massive and seemingly impenetrable as the Amazon is vulnerable to the slightest nudge, the slightest shift.

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 10:58 AM

Originally posted by hyperion.martin
I am still sifting through this, but this seems horrible. The sad part is, I have not even heard this on any of the media sources really..I just happened to click on page 2 of the recent posts.

Yup and it's funny because most conspiracy theorists will try to tell you that the climate change issue is being blown out of proportion so TPTB can scare you into paying taxes and giving up your freedoms and all that junk. I contend the complete opposite: the majority of this issue is being swept under the rug, or at least deliberately shrouded in BS politics, to keep everyone asleep.

I'll give you a perfect example. A lot of people seem to think that a few years ago "they" started calling it climate change instead of global warming because it was getting colder or something. First of all this isn't true, it's not getting colder and the scientists were calling it climate change right from the start anyway.

But it is true that the media adopted this "new" terminology. And apparently the rebranding order came directly from the Bush-led White House. Except it wasn't to cover up for some potential cooling or anything like that. It was actually done to appease and pacify the general public. Because the term climate change sounds more gradual and less threatening than global warming. Have a look at this video and meet political pollster and language strategist Frank Luntz. He was responsible for this lingo shift and explains why it was done around the 2:30 mark below:

So it is my belief that "alarmism" in this case is a good thing. Because alarmism wakes people up and springs them into proper action. And as long as that threat is something we can all do something about, this scares TPTB much more than it should scare us. Because if they want to enslave us - the way they're gonna do that is by focusing on threats we need their protection from. And in general the best thing they can do is keep us all appeased and asleep instead, so we just consume and produce and generate as much wealth as possible that they are then free to leach off of.

I've been trying to tell people on ATS this for a good calendar year now. But usually I just get labeled some brainwashed eco-nazi fearmongerer for doing it - by the same people that then proceed to tell me it's all a big hoax because "they used to call it global warming but now they call it climate change".

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 11:03 AM
reply to post by TheWill

Great post.

I totally know what you're saying. The way I preach enviro-responsibility I should be a vegan by now too, but hey - I'm still an omnivore and meat is tasty lol.

But it's the little things: cutting down our portions and just forming good habits. Being more conscientious of where our food comes from and how it is produced. I've managed to go this far and it's made adopting changes in my life pretty seamless and effective. It also makes taking bigger leaps that much easier to do in the long run. So this in itself can have a huge impact if everyone just starts changing their mentality.

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 11:07 AM

Originally posted by pikestaff
Okay, that is bad, but what about the other large forests in the world, like Russia's? Also, back to CO2, its 383 parts per million, that just over one third of one percent, just how can so little do so much to the rest of the atmosphere? I keep asking, never get an answer.

Dude CObzz is right - I just answered this to you in another thread.

Also - I'm not sure what you were implying with "what about other large forests like Russia's"? Do you mean those same forests that burned like crazy this summer in record heatwaves and drought, killed thousands and cost $15 billion in damages?
2010 Russian wildfires

edit on 27-11-2010 by mc_squared because: those forests?

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 11:12 AM
The same thing is hapenning in the south western US but it is a regular cycle.
As it turns out the place was built up at the recent peak of that cycle and is now faced with becoming unlivable for the people that are there now as they enter the down side of the graph...
the reservoirs can't extend the boat launch ramps fast enough to keep them in the water.

here is an example of a cycle for the global warmists:

A growing body of research indicates that 20th century droughts paled in severity, extent and duration to
droughts that occurred centuries ago. ...

...the last 400 years have occurred on a scale of seasons to years, while droughts fromA.D. 1 to A.D. 1600 appear to have occurred on a scale of one or more decades, a scale that is difficult to imagine.
Some suggest this may portend future droughts that may last longer and be more severe than those experienced
since 1600, which could resultin natural disasters on a scale unknown during the last century. “Thesemegadroughts will eventually return, but we don’t knowwhen,” says Cleaveland.
In fact, one megadrought in the 16th century appears to have been the most widespread and severe of the last
500 years. New research by Cleaveland indicates that “for portions of the Southwest, the 16th century drought lasted a minimum of 20 years to a maximum of 50 years.

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 11:13 AM
reply to post by TheWill

Darn that time limit on editing posts... I meant I was miles from denying that the amazon was drying, not miles from arguing it.

I don't really think it's likely to be a huge conspiracy - more that they have looked at the costs of acting within their term of government, versus the costs of not acting, which are marginally more delayed and won't cost them nearly so many votes, and decide to do nothing. With all the paperwork these days it's always easier to do nothing and pretend that nothing needs doing (until, of course, we get Sahara mark II in the amazon basin).

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 11:22 AM
reply to post by Danbones

That entire period is after the rise of agriculture, which marked the point when humans started having a major impact on their own climates through widespread deforestation. While I'm not saying definitively that deforestation for agriculture is the root cause of these droughts, deforestation for agriculture certainly played a part in the desertification of the Sahara (formerly, according to my Natural Systems lecturer, laurel forest. Anyone saying that the Sahara is completely the wrong climate for laurel, well, that's sort of the point, isn't it?)

Although if confined to US, I'm not sure when the period of prehistoric land-clearing would have begun, so the rise of Eurasian agriculture and associated climatic instability may be irrelevant
edit on 27-11-2010 by TheWill because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 11:43 AM
reply to post by TheWill

...the capitalist temptations are created by people all over the 'developed' world. So it's the fault of people who eat more than they need to, in particular people who eat more meat (or other animal products) than they need to, what with meat requiring larger areas for its production than vegetable matter of equal nutritional value.....

If you are really concerned then go after the likes of the Food Cartel and the US grain subsidies that end up in their pockets!

Livestock SHOULD be fed grass NOT grain. Too much grain is BAD for their health. The only reason grain is fed and we have livestock raised in confinement is because of farm subsidies for grains. Grass pasture is cheaper and puts un-tillable land to good use - raising food. Livestock and grass grazing also builds back top soil on wornout land. Grass acts as a filter strip to clean run off from crop farming and does a much better job than trees. However the grain cartels make a lot more money when they sell you grain instead of the farmer. ( $14/100 lbs for feed corn, about $400/100 lbs for corn tortillas wholesale - follow the money)

This gives you a more realistic view of farming:

Naylor's experience is typical of most U.S. farmers who have been sold down the river by a calculated U.S. farm policy that directly benefits large agribusiness companies and factory-style farming at the expense of family farms. The farm crisis has hit home literally, with plunging farm prices -- the bane of family farmers for centuries -- forcing most farm families to work off the farm to survive. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, almost 90 percent of the total income of rancher or farmer households now comes from outside earnings....

For nearly 50 years, agribusiness and grain traders who thrive on the volatility of the market and low crop prices...

Who's making the bread?
Freedom to Farm's lower commodity prices have not translated into consumer benefits. Since 1984, the real price of a USDA market basket of food has increased 2.8 percent while the farm value of that food has fallen by 35.7 percent, according to C. Robert Taylor, professor of agriculture and public policy at Auburn University. Taylor says there is a "widening gap" between retail price and farm value for numerous components of the market basket, including meat products, poultry, eggs, dairy products, cereal and bakery products, fresh fruit and vegetables, and processed fruit and vegetables.

At a major farm rally in Washington, D.C. in March, farmers served legislators a "farmers" lunch. The lunch included what would typically be an $8 lunch -- barbecued beef on a bun, baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, milk and a cookie. The farmers charged only 39 cents for the meal, reflecting what farmers and ranchers receive to grow the food for such a meal.

I write a lot more about exactly what is going on with farming and the threat of Corporate takeover of the US and world food supply HERE Please visit and comment.

If you believe what you say then Al Gore of Global Warming fame is no friend of yours. (I know someone who was actually present when he said this)

This comes from the Ag Journal, Billings, Montana: "At a recent ceremony at the White House, Vice President and presidential candidate Al Gore let slip what many have long believed was his real intention as regards to U.S. agriculture.

"While presenting a national award to a Colorado FFA member, Gore asked the student what his/her life plans were. Upon hearing that the FFA member wanted to continue on in production agriculture, Gore reportedly replied that the young person should develop other plans because our production agriculture is being shifted out of the U.S. to the Third World."

Countries should have food grown as close to home as possible not shipped all over so Monsanto and Cargill can make record earnings like they did in 2008 while world food riots break out.

"The World Bank says that 100 million more people are facing severe hunger. Yet some of the world's richest food companies are making record profits. Monsanto last month reported that its net income for the three months up to the end of February this year had more than doubled over the same period in 2007, from $543m (£275m) to $1.12bn. Its profits increased from $1.44bn to $2.22bn....

A look at the figures for 2007, when the world food crisis began, shows that corporations such as Monsanto and Cargill, which control the cereals market, saw their profits increase by 45 and 60 per cent, respectively; the leading chemical fertilizer companies such as Mosaic Corporation, a subsidiary of Cargill, doubled their profits in a single year" Monsanto and the World Food Crisis

WWF and Greenpeace are funded by the Rockefellers and the other ultra rich So you MUST follow the money before you swallow the propaganda.

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 11:50 AM
Originally posted by Wertdagf

comparing carbon to a deadly poison is stupid.

Agreed. If a person is given to big an increase in morphine dose in one go that person will go into respiratory distress/failure. However CO2 does not work the same as morphine and after the concentration has reached approximately 20ppm every increase has little effect.

I will say though, this news is very alarming. It appears we are approaching the irreversible tipping-point if we do not act expeditiously and curb our emissions. Personally, I am very scared. So far human CO2 is responsible for global warming, global climate disruption, an increase in extreme weather, ocean acidification and droughts (though to be fair that falls under extreme weather).

The all-encompassing destructive power of CO2 is truly amazing.
edit on 27-11-2010 by Nathan-D because: I AM SCARED!

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 12:52 PM
Really makes you wonder if deforestation correlates to increased CO2 in the atmosphere.

Maybe our burning of fuels is far more insignificant than our cutting down of trees?

Wouldn't that be a good joke...using renewable resources with disregard is worse than using non renewable resources as we see fit.

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 01:15 PM
reply to post by crimvelvet

After the whole Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis to-do, I haven't dared to hope that farmers are feeding their stock what's good for them - one of the classes I could be taking this year (to avoid taking ANOTHER genetics module) basically turns out to be how much of what do you feed to a cow to get the biggest, cheapest steak fastest?

But farming practice wasn't really my point. My point was that - as an uncontested feature of food-chains - if you eat organisms higher up the food chain, more energy has to go in at the bottom to sustain you --> the reason that a lot of agriculture (especially here in the UK - I mean, 60-something million people on an island this size?) is done away from the point of consumption is that the amount of land (usually proportional to the amount of energy you can get into the system) required to sustain current dietary practices would be extremely expensive relative to transport costs. By changing dietary practice to focus more on food from a lower trophic level (i.e. reduce - even without eliminating - meat), we can reduce the area required for food production.

The whole capitalism in agriculture, poor farming practice, over-inflated profit margins based on increased need for food, while underlining that human society is little better than a barnful of rats tearing each other apart because they've eaten all the grain, were not really what I was trying to get

posted on Nov, 27 2010 @ 01:17 PM
reply to post by peck420

I think bio-fuels are one of the biggest cons in human history. The only way that they would trap carbon as advertised is if they were produced in areas previously barren, which they are not, for the large part.

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