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As indicated in the image, the sea level has increased almost 20cm over the last 100 years, and based on the observed rates, it is estimated that by the end of the 21st century, the increase could be almost 1 meter or possible more.
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Image courtesy of Jeff Vanuga, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
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Countries in green: Kyoto Protocol signed and ratified. Countries in red: not ratified.
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Make Oil Green, interactive multimedia installation. Centro Cultural Chacao, 2009-2010.
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Tindo: Public solar bus service in Adelaide, Australia.
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Atomic structure of Nitrous Oxide
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Atomic structure of methane
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Atomic structure of Carbon dioxide.
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Hurricane Katrina, hit the city of New Orleans in August 2005, and was one of the 6 strongest hurricanes in the history of the United States. The victims of Katrina are suing all the multinational corporations with high carbon emission rates for damges related to their contribution to global warming and the ensuing intense storms.
Video: Extreme climate and climate change. Cuarto Milenio.
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The Chikungunya virus is a tropical disease (India, tropical Africa) transmitted by the tiger mosquito (see image) and produces fever and muscle pain. Recently there have been reports of this disease in European countries like Italy and Spain. Image courtesy of PD/Agencies
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This illustration of the main factors that have provoked current climate change shows how industrial activity and the variations of solar activity are among the most important. Source: Drawn by Wricardoh for the article: Cambio climático.
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Average global temperature from 1900 – 2009. Black line: average yearly temperature. Red line: Average temperature per decade. Source: graph by Hannón from data published on the web in 2009 as "HadCRUT3". Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Change, UK. [http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/].
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As the Earth warms under the influence of the solar energy that passes through its atmosphere, some of this energy goes back to space in the form of infrared radiation.The "greenhouse gases" present in the atmosphere impede the caloric radiation from escaping directly into outer space, so this ratiation cannot pass through the air like visible sunlight. This is the natural greenhouse effect on our planet.
The main greenhouse gases (referred to from now as GG) are steam, carbon dioxide, ozone, methane, nitrous acid, halocarbons and other man made industrial gases. Even though these gases represent less than 1% of the atmosphere's composition, they have the vital function of producing this natural greenhouse effect necessary for our planet to sustain life as we know it. If this did not happen, the earth average temperature would be -14ºC.
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Fog in the Sequoia Forest
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1919 Image the Athbasca glacier in Jasper National Park, Canada, courtesy of the National Archives of Canada. The same glacier in 2005 © Gary Braasch.
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One of the mos convincing arguments is that, according to the 4th Report of Climate Evaluation prepared by the Panel of Experts in Climate Change of the United Nations, has proved that the average temperature of the planet in 2005, is 0.74 ºC warmer than in 1906.

The mathematical models have allowed for an estimate that — if the greenhouse gas emissions increase between 25% and 90% from 2000 to 2030 — the average world temperature will increase approximately 0.2 ºC each decade, and the world climate will go through a number of changes, greater than those observed in the 20th Century.

Projected temperature changes by the end of the 21st Century if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced. Variations refer to the average temperature 1980-1999.
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Coral reefs house as much life as a jungle. (Image courtesy of the California Academy of Science, USA).
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Ocean Acidificatión
Claudio Mendoza

Although the most notorious consequence of the continuous anthropogenic discharge of carbon into the Earth's atmosphere (estimated at 6 billion tons every year) is a progressive increase in temperature, there are other processes just as worrisome like acidification of the oceans. The carbon dioxide from the atmosphere reacts chemically with the seawater, producing carbonic acid, and resulting in a 30% increase in the oceans' acidity. The impact upon the marine ecosystems and the human communities that depend on them, though not yet calculated, could be devastating. For example, we are beginning to see how this process places the coral reefs in danger of extinction.

Since almost half teh fish we eat live around the reefs, hundreds of milliones of people, especially in Asia, will find themselves in a precarious situation if their main source of food disappears. Entire nations could be endangered. At least 19% of coral reefs have already died, including half those in the Caribbean. Another 20% is at risk ver the next 20 years, and if global warming continues unchecked, in less than 100 years there all the coral reefs could be extinct, and along with them, the marine ecosystem will have collapsed. The molluscs who bear shells made of calcium carbonate will also be in danger of extinction because their shells dissolve in this acid.

The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Experts of the United Nations predicts that the oceans' level of acidity could increase 150% by the year 2100.

Video: One third of the world's coral reefs are in danger of extinction from "stress".

 

Alternative and renewable sources of energy
Claudio Mendoza

Alternative energy, or more precisely, an alternative source of energy, is one that can supply the existing sources of energy, either because they result in lower contamination, or fundamentally, have the possibility of renewal.
Energy consumption is one of the main measurements of the progress and well-being of society. The concept of "energy crisis" appears when the energy sources approach depletion. An economic model, like the one presently in place, is based on continuous growth, and naturally demands an increase in the supply of energy. Since supplies of fossil and nuclear fuels are finite, it is inevitable that the day will come when the demand cannot be met and the entire system will collapse, unless new sources of energy are found or developed: these would be "alternative" energy.
This goes hand in hand with the current abuse of conventional energy forms like oil, carbon combustion, and others, all with additional problems including increased pollution, greenhouse gases and perforation of the ozone layer.
The discussion of alternative vs conventional energy goes beyond the mere classification, and implies a change that must occur in this century. It is important to note that alternative energy is renewable, but still finite, and like any other natural resources has limited potential for exploitation. So even if society transitions gradually and smoothly to the new sources of energy, the economic model of perpetual growth remains unsustainable, and a new concept of sustainable growth must be developed.
This model would be based on the following premises:
• The use of renewable energy, since fossil fuels will run out, most likely at some point in the 21st century.
• These should be from clean sources, and the conventional processes of combustion and nuclear fission must be abandoned.
• Extensive exploitation of energy sources, with autoconsumption proposed as an alternative avoiding whenever possible the construction of large infrastructures of generation and distribution of electic energy.
• The dimishing of energy demand through better performance of electric appliances and components.
• Reduce or eliminate unnecessary energy consumption. This is not just more efficient consumption, but lower consumption by developing awareness and a culture of saving energy and avoiding waste.
The production of clean, alternative and renewable energy is not a culture or an intent to improve the atmosphere, but a real necessity to which mankind must be comitted, regardless of individual opinions, tastes or beliefs.
Among the sources of renewable non-contaminating energy we can name:
• Blue energy: fresh water to seawater
• Wind power
• Geothermal energy, from the earths warmth
• Hydrolic energy from rivers and currents of water
• Energy from the oceans and seas
• Solar energy from the sun
• Waves.
Source: Wikipedia

Video: Alternative energy

 

What can I do to reduce climate change?
Claudio Mendoza

To reduce climate change, we have to reduce the burning of combustible fossil fuels and avoid deforestation. Individuals can help by being more careful with their use of energy. Here are some recommendations:

1. Reduce, re-use, recycle. The means using products that can be re-used instead of being thrown away; acquiring products with a minumum of packaging to reduce trash; and whenever possible recycle paper, plastic, aluminum, glass and newspaper. If there are no programs in place in your home, community or workplace, find out how to start one.

2. Use less air conditioning. If you raise the temperature on the thermostat just 2 or 3 degrees, you will barely notice the difference, and if you turn it off when it is not really necessary, the energy you save can be considerable.

3. Replace incandescent bulbs for new energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). Thes last 10 times longer, using only 1/3 of the energy, and emit 70% less heat.

4. Drive less and more intelligently. If you drive less, you will reduce emissions into the atmospher and save gas. Try to use public transportation and organize carpools going to school or work. Walking or riding a bicycle are good forms of exercise. Maintain you car or motorcycle in good condition. If your tires are correctly inflated, you can get better mileage.

5. Buy products that are energy efficient. A new car should have good mileage, and all new appliances offer a wide rage of energy efficient models. We should try to transform our homes and workplaces into areas where energy is used carefully.

6. Use less hot water. In the shower, the washing machine and dishwasher, lowering the temperature of the water can get the same results.

7. Turn off lights and disconnect appliances that are not being used. Turn off lights when you leave a room or when you go out. Disconnect TVs, stereos, computers and telephones.

8. Plant a tree. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen in photosynthesis, so they are natural sources for fighting pollution. It is estimated that in the life of a tree, it absorbs 1 ton of carbon dioxide.

9. Use alternative energy sources. Many people are using solar energy in their homes to reduce the electric bills.

10. Help others conserve and be more efficient with energy. Share information about climate change and all the different ways each person can help with family, neighbors and colleagues.

Source: about.com

 

Climate Change
Juan Carlos Sánchez M.

Climate changes is the seasonal variation of the average climate over decades or centuries. Climate change can occur due to natural processes, or be induced through human activity which emits gases that alterates the composition of the atmosphere. In recent decades, there have been numerous scientific reports of physical differences in the atmosphere, including a generalized melting of snow and ice, an increase in the global levels of the sea, and changes in behaviour of the flora and fauna in different parts of the world, showing there is an change of climate in process.
If, after 2030 the emissions of greenhouse gases continue to increase, the average temperature of the planet could increase up to 6,5 ºC. This would mean a drastic change in the ecosystems with important adverse economico and social effects.
At the same time, we are subject to a certain amount of climate change from the emissions already accumulated in the atmosphere. The climate does not responde immediately to the emissions, so it continues to change over hundres of years, even if the greenhouse gas emissions are reduced and the levels of pollution in the atmosphere are lowered.
Some important effects of climate change, like the higher level of the seas, will also take longer to manifest affect the complete extension of the world's shorelines.
Climate does vary, so it is difficult to identify and separate the effects of greenhouse gases. But the increasing availability of data allows for a clearer vision of global warming. For example, the tendencies of increase in temperature over the last few decades is exactly in line with the projected warming from greenhouse gas emissions as per the mathematical models, making it unlikely that the increase comes from natural variability in the climate itself.
Climate change will have a significant effect on the global atmosphere. In general, the quicker the climate changes, the greater the risk of damage. It is estimated that the average level of the seas could increase 21-48 cm by the end of this century, but this projection does not include addition increases from the melting of the polar icecaps. This would include an increase in global precipitation, changes in the intensity and frequency of extreme climatic eventos (rainstorms, windstorms and heat waves). Certain climate zones could extend toward the poles, and thus upset woodlands, deserts, prairies and other ecosystems and the species that inhabit them, some of which would become extinct. The effect on the pattern of precipitation and evaporation would have repercussions on the world's water resources.
All these negative phenomena will affect economic activity, human society and health. The poor are more vulnerable to the adverse consequences of climate change and will be the sector who will suffer most if the greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced.

 

Saving the Amazon
Claudio Mendoza

The Amazon River basin, the largest in the world, with its many ecosystems of tropical jungle, covers 7 million km2 , is considered to be one of the earth's lungs and one of the richest and most diverse biological reserves we have. It regulates a great part of the climate for South America, and therefore plays an important role in the control of global warming, by processing CO2 through photosynthesis to emit oxygen. However this giant equatorial jungle is being deforested rapidly, above all in Brazil, with the goal of exploiting its lumber potential as well as for industrial cattle ranching on a grand scale.
To offset the resulting climate changes, deforestation must be seriously regulated and the reforestation on a global level should be increased, especially through agreements among the involved countries (Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) to preserve this irreplaceable sanctuary.
Video: Deforestation of the Amazon.
Presentation: The Amazon River Basin.

 

Melting of the glaciers
Claudio Mendoza

Glaciers are perennial rivers of ice, moving little by little over the surface of the planet, contributing to its formation. They are the Earth's most important freshwater reserves, covering large areas of the polar regions and the highest mountains of the five continents.
In recent decades, these have begun to melt at an accelerated rate, attributed to global warming, which will eventually expose millions of the Earth's inhabitants and wildlife to dangerous flooding, drought, water shortages and the elevation of sea levels.
An increase of 4 to 5 ºC in the average temperature of the Earth could have an irreversable impact on all glaciers, especially those in Greenland and in the Antarctic. Other regions at risk are the Andes and the Himalayas where the glaciers feed the source of the rivers upon which much of the population depend.
Small nation islands like Tonga, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia in the Pacific Ocean, could find themselves completely covered by the sea, or at least could lose a large part of their territory as well as their vital sources of freshwater. The melting of the permafrost, the permanent icecap that covers the northernmost areas of Canada and Siberia, could increase the liberation of an excess of methane gas, making all of these tendencies, that much worse.
Permafrost in northern Canada.
Video: The Melting of Glaciers and Polar Icecaps.

 

Destabilization of local climates
Claudio Mendoza

Most of the Earth's communities are well adapted to their local climate conditions, in other words, the weather, and to the neighboring subsisting ecosystems.
Among the effects of global warming that will be directly felt by these communities, is the destabilization of their local climate, rain cycles and ecosystems.
For example, the northernmost communities of Alaska, Canada and Russia, have experienced temperature increases of 1 a 3 ºC over the last 50 years, and have begun to observer the early melting of permanent ice caps (permafrost) which increases the emission of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
This phenomenon causes feedback from the greenhouse effect: increased emission of carbon dioxide causes an increase in temperature, melting the northern permafrost, which at the same time frees methane, therby worsening the greenhouse effect. Scientists in California predict that decreasing coastal fog from increased temepratures, will affect the famous Sequoia Forest. But the worst part will be the intermittency of the ecosystems making species migrate away, leaving a marked loss of biological diversity. It ies estimated that one million species will be in danger of extinction by 2050, among them the emblematic case of the polar bear.

 

Greenhouse effect and climate change
Juan Carlos Sánchez M.

The problem of climate change is not due to the existence and behaviour of these life-essential gases, but to the concentration in the atmosphere of the main GGs (except steam) in the atmosphere that is increasing as a direct result of human activity, and especially the emissions of CO2 (from the burning of carbon derivatives of oil and natural gas for the generation of electricity in factories and for transportation), methane and nitrous oxide (from agriculture, decomposition of organic matter and soil changes), ozone (generated by automobiles and other emissions), and the industrial gases like clorofluorocarbons (CFC), hidrocloroflurocarbons (HFC) and perfluorated hydrocarbons (PFC). In this way, the natural greenhouse effect is increased through the impact of human activity generating emission of those gases, and om this way, the amplified greenhouse effect is changing the climate of this planet.
Carbon dioxide is responsible for more than 60% of the "enhanced greenhouse effect". This gas occurs naturally in the atmosphere, but the combustion of carbon derived from oil and natural gas, is releasing the carbon from these fossil fuels at an unprecedented rate.
Deforestation frees the carbon stored in trees. The annual emissions are on the rise: more than 23 billion metric tons of CO2, in other words, almost 1% of the total volume carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. According to measurements by the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the largest concentration of CO2 has already reached a level of 380 ppm. At this concentration, which is the highest in hundresds of thousands of years, it is 100 ppm over the level it would be if there was no human intervention in the atmosphere. In the opposite sense, forests, when conserved, act like a carbon drain, by absorbing the element through photosynthesis.
Methane levels are 2½ times higher than they were before the Industrial Revolution. The main sources of this powerful greenhouse gas are agriculture, especially flooded rice paddies, and the expansion of cattle farming. Also contributing are the emissions coming from waste, both organic and also the emissions coming from the extraction of carbon and the production of petroleum-based hydrocarbons. Methane emissions are now 20% of the wider greenhouse effect. The rapid increase of methane is more recent than that of CO2, but methane is catching up quickly. However, methane only lives in the atmosphere for 12 years, though carbon dioxide stays for a much longer period.
Nitrous oxide, a series of industrial gases and ozone, contribute to the remaining 20% of the wider greenhouse effect. The CFC are stabilizing due to emissions controls imposed in the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer of the stratosphere. The levels of long-life gases like HFC, PFC and sulphur hexafluoride are increasing. If indeed the ozone layer is diminishing, the levels of this gas are rising in some regions of the lower level of the atmosphere due to pollution of the air.
Man-made aerosols have an effect of general cooling. The emissions of sulphur coming from the thermoelectric plants fueled by carbon or fuel oil, and the combustion of organic materials, produce microscopic particles of aerosol that can reflect the light of the Sun toward outer space and also affect the formation and activity of clouds. The resulting cooling counteracts the greenhouse warming. However these aerosols remain in the atmosphere for a relatively short time, compared to the longer lasting greenhouse gases, so the effect of cooling is mainly localized.

 

Effects of Global Warming
Claudio Mendoza

Video: Consequences of climate change.

Presentation: Impact adaptation and vulnerability.

 

Anthropogenic Emissions
Claudio Mendoza

Over time, the Earth's climate has gone through important climate changes, as consequences of natural processes such as variations in solar radiation, the content of volcanic dust in the atmosphere, desviations of terrestrial orbit (small changes in the earth's orbit that produce natural variations in climate), continental shifts, and changes in the greenhouse gases.
A typical example are the Ice Ages during which the Earth's temperature and atmosphere were much lower for long periods of time, allowing for expansion of the continental glaciers and polar icecaps. The last Ice Age ocurred about 20,000 years ago.
As seen in the graph, during the 20th century, there was a sustained rise in the average temperature of the Earth of about 0,74 ºC. According to the latest report by the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), there is more than a 90% chance that human activity is the main reason for climate change in our lifetime. The main cause in the use of fossil fuel: carbon, petroleum and gas. The combustion of these three means an increment of the CO2 naturally present in the atmosphere, acting as a layer that traps solar energy and warms the Earth's surface. Deforestation and other processes that emit greenhouse gases like methane, also contribute to this warming.
Why do scientists believe human activity is the principal reason for global warming?
Scientists developed computer models to simulate the Earth's climate over the last 100 years, including natural effects of volcanic erruptions as well as anthropogenic, or the effects of human activity. As shown in figures (a) and (b), these models can only reproduce the observed global warming, when anthropogenic activity is included.
The global temperature has increased about 0.7 ºC since the preindustrial era. In some parts of the world, this has already had an impact because greenhouse gases like CO2 remain in the atmosphere for decades. This means that where the concentrations are high enough, warming is almost inevitable. Many analysts suggest the earth's temperature is 1,5 ºC higher than before the Industrial Revolution.

 

Secondary effects: the spread of vectorial disease
Claudio Mendoza

Vectorial diseases are transmitted by insects like mosquitos, flies, fleas and tics, and are a grave threat to humankind. We can cite as examples, well-known diseases like malaria, leishmaniasis, chagas, dengue, yellow fever and the bubonic plague. Both the vectors as well as the pathogens they carry are highly sensitive to temperature change, and these can affect development, reproductive cycles, behaviour and survival. Climate change can increase the surface size of susceptibility, and higher temperatures can mean higher rates of reproduction and longer periods of growth.
Although the effect of global warming on vectorial diseases has not been calculated, it certainly will impact the cycles of infection, possibly triggering new epidemics.
Extreme climate conditions like inundations and drought tend to set off epidemics that are difficult to control, especially in the more populated areas. There are computerized models that predict a temperture increae of 3 ºC over 100 years, that could increase cases of malaria by over 50 million, extending to geographies that until now have been free of the disease. These diseases have begun to be reported in the higher altitudes of Asia, Central Africa and Latin America, due to the increase in global temperatures.
Sources: Early Warning Signs of Global Warming: Spreading Disease
Presentation: Impact on human health.

 

Video and Images of Make Oil Green

Petróleo Verde - Make Oil Green (Video)

Petróleo Verde - Make Oil Green (Video of the Exhibition)

Green Sound Art (Sound Performance)

Instalación Multimedia Interactiva (Photos of the Exhibition)

 

Extreme climates
Claudio Mendoza

Recent studies indicate that global warming is bringing with it and increased frequency and intensity of extreme climate like hurricanes, heat waves, drought and floods. These events have always happened, but in the past, they were more predictable. For example, we are surprised to see a region affected by a drought far surpassing historic levels, while in a nearby region, there is a case of extreme flooding.
The air is warmer, and and has a higher capacity for absorbing more water from the surface at a faster rate, causing drought. And when the atmosphere can no longer hold the water, the saturation quickly unleashes heavy rainfall. Hurricanes are powered by warmer ocean waters, so the warmer the ocean, the more intense the hurricane. The rate of global warming is estimated at almost 0.2 ºC per decade, and warmer climates become hotter climates, and give rise to lethal heat waves. As the climate becomes more intense, and the weather will be a threat to the most vulnerable sectors: the smaller and poorer developing nations.

 

Greenhouse gases
Jorge A. Renaud y Claudio Mendoza

The greenhouse effect is caused by several gases in the earth's atmosphere. Steam coming from water (H2O) is one that contributes the most, followed by carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), ozone (O3), nitrogen oxides (NxOy) and the halocarbons and fluorides (gases containing fluorine, chlorine or bromine).
Greenhouse gases are able to absorb the caloric energy emitted by the Earth, which, when it unable to escape into outer space, is partially retained, producing on a planetary scale, and effect similar to a greenhouse; raising the temperature of the atmospher, and thus changing the climate.
The current average temperature of the earth is 15 ºC (59 ºF). If there were no natural greenhouse effect, the average temperature would be -19 ºC (-2,2 ºF), in other words, the Earth would be frozen. So this effect is essential for the planet. However, human activity over the years, and particularly in the 20th and 21st centuries have apparently modified these natural processes quite significantly, increasing the emissions of greenhouse gases, and resulting in global climate changes that are of great concern.
According to the Kyoto Protocol, the principal greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere by human activity are:
• Carbon dioxide (CO2). Produced by the combustion of fossil fuels (oil, gasoline, diesel, natural gas, wood) in industry (thermoelectric plants), domestically (stoves, water heaters, home heaters) and in transportation (ships, cars, trucks, trains) contributing 57% to the inventory of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Another 17% comes from deforestation and reduction of biomass. The concentration of carbon dioxide has increased from 280 parts per million (ppm) in 1750, to 390 ppm in 2009, and if this tendency continues, it should increase to between 540 and 970 ppm by 2100.
• Methane (CH4). This gas is found in the anaerobic decomposition of waste, in the production and transport of natural gas, in the cultivation of some foods (rice), in the decomposition of cattle excrement, and in the combustion of fossil fuels. It is present in about 14% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
• Nitrous oxide (N2O). Derived from agriculture, treatment of liquid waste in sewers, high temperature combustion in vehicles, and other industrial processes like the production of nitric acid and nylon. It makes up about 8% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
• Halocarbons y fluors. Make up about 1%, and include a series of decompositions like: hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in the refrigeration industry and the production of semiconductors; perfluorocarbons (PFCs) emitted during the production of aluminum (foundry) and uranium enrichment; and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) used in heavy industry.
Video: Greenhouse gases.
Image courtesy of the Institue of Natural Resources-United Nations Environmental Program UNEP.
The content of greenhouse gases in the atrmosphere, mainly CO2, has increased considerably over the past 250 years, and as indicated in the graph, the last 50 years have been notable. The analyses of the air contained in the antarctic polar icecap shows mucho more CO2 in the air today than at any other time over the past 650,000 years, and probably, the past 20 million years.
Due to the quantity of emissions, CO2 is the gas that has most contributed to the wider greenhouse effect. In 2000, Latin America and the Caribbean contributed l 5,5% of the world's total CO2 (excluding the change in soil use).
It is calculated that the earth's total emissions were 24 billion tons.
According to the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in 2004, the sectors that most contributed to the emission of greenhouse gases were: energy (26%); industry (19%); deforestation (17%); agriculture (14%); transportation (13%); and residencial/commercial (8%).
The analysis of a list of the 20 largest emitors of greenhouse gases, including soil change, sylviculture and taking into account only the following gases:
• CO2 (carbon dioxide)
• CH4 (methane)
• N2O (nitrous oxide)
• PFCs (Perfluorocompounds)
• HFCs (Hydrofluorocompounds)
• SF6 (Sulfuric Hexafluoride),
We can see that the USA, China and the European Union contribute almost 60% of total emissions. Venezuela, an oil producing country, with territory in the Amazon rainforest is also in the list of the top 30, although its quota is less than 1%.
Source: United Nations Panel on Climate Change, Inventory of Greenhouse Gases, 2006. Data available (compilación geodata.grid.unep.ch).

 

The History of Global Warming
Juan Carlos Sánchez M.

The history of climate change is a set of interconnected histories originating from the time of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, when scientists and engineers began to understand the physics of heat and the energy transferance between the Earth and the Sun, the physiochemistry of the Earth's atmosphere, the origin of the glaciers and meteorology. World War II (1939-1945) demonstrated many aspects of the power of science and technology, and in particular, the possibility of predicting the weather. In the last 2 decades of the 20th century, the climate data that was collected, began to indicate a surprising and pronounced increase in the carbon dioxide levels of the atmospher, and this began to be related directly to the increase in pollution.

 

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Secondary effects: adaptation of local economies
Claudio Mendoza

Motivated by the serious direct consequences produced by climate change, specifically the melting of glaciers, rising levels and acidification of the oceans, and the increased risk of drought, flooding, and forest fires, the first actions have been taken to mitigate these effects, by trying to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.
However, due to the impact this will have on local communities, there have already been discussions about how to adapt new processes , especially those that will have to be managed by local authorities.
Though most are meant to avoid natural castastrophes, others are in the areas of planning, for example new urban regulations of the use of water, less contaminating methods of public transport, energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources. In this manner, the leadership role of local government will be important, especially when they can take economic advantage of new opportunities. On the other hand, rural communities in the developing nations, who depend much more on the land, the ocean, sources of water and other natural resources, could be much more vulnerable to the changes that will take place.
Source: Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Local Economies

 

Make oil green
Juan Carlos Sánchez M.

At the beginning of 2007, the world reacted to an unprecedented growth in demand for goods and services. The price of oil began to increase as did the price of food, to the point of becoming a threat to the supply to several poor countries completely dependent upon importations. This was mainly due to accelerated growth in the economy of emerging nations. Then the world fell into the serious financial and economic crisis, which, to now, has resulted in the loss of 20% de of the global BPI. Demand decreased, and the prices of oil, food and other raw materials increased.
At the same time, scientists declared that the global environmental crisis resulting from climate change: the use of fuels mainly derived from oil, releases gas into the atmosphere destabilizanding the climate and warming the planet.
This will have extremely adverse consquences on ecosystems in the near future, and if people do not stop the emissions of these greenhouse gases, water will become scarce, and we will all be subject to drought, heat waves, extreme rainstorms and inundations, resulting in loss of human lives, infrastructure and business.
This time, the developed world seems to be taking seriously the need for energy independence from imported oil. The economic crisis is still very much with us, and if resolved should not lead to a scenario with the same demand for, and high prices of goods and services as in 2007. There are just not enough resources for everyone. So there has been a shift toward the "green", a search for a growth model that can respond to the challenge of climate change with new ways of production and consumer responsibility toward preserving natural resources.

Legislation is appearing, like the American Clean Energy and Security Act in the US, and the EEC Order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020, as well as vigorous policies supporting the "greening" of services, including renewable energy, smart electric grids, green buildings, eco-urbanism, biofuel, electric and hybrid vehicles, stepping up recycling programs, and projects for capturing CO2. The clock is ticking for oil, the hourglass has been turned and with each grain of sand that falls, the window of opportunity closes a bit more, there is not much time to turn Venezuela into a prosperous country of the future. Rolando Peña shows this to us, by transmuting a barrel of crude oil into ice; ice that melts inexorabley into water, source of all life, whose manifestations can be observed in the hundres of images projected around that barrel, ever-transmuting, and subject to natural design.
The fusion of the barrel is an anguished, yet hopeful call from Rolando Peña, inviting us to realize what is happening at the moment when we are most dependent upon oil, and still placing all the eggs of the future in just one basket: the Orinoco Belt, with its deposits of extra-heavy crude, full of sulpher and toxic metals, and whose explotation generates more greenhouse gas than any other oil. We must open our eyes says Rolando, because the color of the future is another: green like our rainforests that hold amazing wealth we neither know nor protect, just like the potential for renewable energy, recycled products and all the environmentally friendly goods and services ready to be developed in our ecosystems and biodiversity, with the promise of global acceptance. Our resources of natural gas, a relatively cleaner fuel than oil, could give offer us entrance to a greener world, but do not forget that the clock keeps ticking, and the barrel continues to melt.

 

Reduction of climate change: actions by the United Nations
Claudio Mendoza

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (CMNUCC)
One of the most convincing arguments es, according to the 4th Report on Climate Evaluation, written by the United Nations Panel of Experts on Climate Change, has proven that the average temperature of the planet has risen 0,74 ºC between 1906 and 2005. The mathematical climate models have permitted an estimate that, if greenhouse gas emission increase 25% - 90% between 2000 and 2030 the average temperature of the earth should rise about 0,2 ºC per decade, and the global climate will experience serious changes, probably much greater than those observed in the 20th century.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted in New York on May 9, 1992, and came into effect on March 21, 1994. It allows, among other things, for reinforcing public conscience, on a worldwide basis, about the problems related to climate change. In 1997, 194 govenments agreed to incorporate an addition to the treaty, known as the Kyoto Protocol, with more vigorous, and legally enforceable measures. In Nairobi, in 2006, this protocol was ammended and again in Copenhagen in 2009, and in Mexico en 2010.
The UNFCCC's objective is to achieve stabilization of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to a level that will impede dangerous anthropogenic interference on climate systems in a reasonable time frame that will permit ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, ensuring the production of food is not threatened, and permitting economic development in a reasonable sustained manner.
To date, there have been 15 meetings:
- COP1 Berlin 1995: The Berlin Mandate.
- COP2 Ginebra 1996: Approved the second report and evaluation by the IPCC published in 1995.
- COP3 Kyoto 1997: The Kyoto Protocol brought intense negociations. For the first time this protocol introduced legally binding objectives regarding greenhouse gas emissions in 37 industrialized nations between 2008 and 2012. Several years of uncertainty ensued regarding the number of countries who would ratifiy the protocol, but on Feb 16, 2005 it entered in effect.
- COP4 Buenos Aires 1998: The Kyoto Protocol had several pending issues.
- COP5 Bonn 1999: Mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol.
- COP6 The Hague 2000: Uncertainty, negotiations were suspended.
- COP6 bis Bonn 2001: Exraordinary Conference.
- COP7 Marrakesh 2001: Marrakeshh Agreement.
- COP8 Delhi 2002: Countries of the EEC – More actions by the CMCC.
- COP9 Milan 2003: Technical details of the Kyoto Protocol.
- COP10 Buenos Aires 2004: The Kyoto Protocol to end in 2012.
- COP11/CRP1 Montreal 2005: The first since the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.
- COP12/CRP2 Nairobi 2006: Negotiations for a post Kyoto Protocol agreement.
- COP13/CRP3 Bali 2007: Global Warming. Bali Action Plan
- COP14/CRP4 Poznan – Polonia
- COP15 Copenhaguen
Source: Wikipedia
Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol on climate change is an international agreement whose objective is to reduce the emissions of six gases that cause global warming: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), as well as three industrical fluorides: Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), Perfluorocarbons (PFC) and Sulfuric Hexafluoride (SF6), by at least 5%, between 2008 and 2012, in comparison with the 1990 level of emissions. For example, if the contamination of thos gases in 1990 were 100%, by the end of 2012 this should be reduced to 95% at least. It must be said that not every country should reduce its gas emissions by 5%, but that this should be a global percentage, and each country subscribed to Kyoto has its own percentages of reduction. The instrument is within the 1992 agreement by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Climático (UNFCCC), known as the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit. The protocol came to give legal strength to what the UNFCCC was unable to do.
Source: Wikipedia


Grupo Intergubernamental de Expertos sobre el Cambio Climático

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), was established in 1988 by the WMO, (World Meteorological Organization) and UNEP, (United Nations Environment Programme).
The IPCC analyzes scientific, technical and socieconomic infomation relevant to the understanding of the scientific elements of climate change caused by human activity and its possible repercussions and risks, as well as the possibilities of adherence and adaptation to them.
The IPCC does not do research nor does it control data relevant to climate or other pertinent parameters, it just bases its evaluation on published scientific and technical literature.
One of the main functions of the IPCC is to publish reports on relevant subjects and to take measures applying to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). (The UNFCCC is an international treaty recognizing the possibilities of damage from climate change; the measures taken by the UNFCCC lead eventually, to the Kyoto Protocol. The IPCC bases its evaluations on publications revised by colleagues. The IPCC is open only to the member states of the WMO and the UNEP. The IPCC report is widely cited in the majority of debates related to climate change. National and international reports on climate change generally refer to the United Nations Panel as an autority. Its president is Rajendra K. Pachauri. Among its lines of action are the diferent scenarios of global climate change, the same as the Kyoto Protocol.
The evaluation reports are made up of several volumes, and offer all kinds of scientific, technical and socioeconomic information about climate change, its cause and posible effects, as well as the corresponding responses.
1. The First evaluation report (FAR) of the IPCC was published in 1990, and confirmed the scientific elements that are of concern regarding climate change. Next, the General Assembly of the United Nations decided to prepare a Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). This convention entered in effect in March 1994.
2. The Second evaluation report (SAR), "Climate change 1995", gave information for the negotiations of the Kyoto Protocol derived from that convention. It is made up of three reports from work groups and a synthesis of scientific and technical information iseful for the interpreation of Article 2 (the objective) of the FCCC.
3. The Third Report (TAR), "Climate change 2001", also has 3 reports from work groups: "Scientific basis", "Effects, adaptation and vulnerability", and "Mitigation", as well as a report of synthesis in which several scientific and technical issues useful for policy design are included.
4. The Fourth evaluation Report (AR4) in November 2003, in which the group approved, in large lines, the contribution of the work groups to this report. The information was to be completed by 2007, and was finally published in February of that year.
The last evaluation of the IPCC, divulged in the 4th report, showed a growing tendency of the extreme events observed over the last 50 years, and consider probable that the higher temperatures, heat waves and strong precipitations will continue with more frequency in the future, and that the coming years could be disastrous for humanity.
On Friday Oct 12, 2007, the ex Vice President of the US, Al Gore, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presided by Rajendra Pachauri, became Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, for their work on public conscience of global warming.
Source: Wikipedia

 

Secondary effects: migration y species extinctions
Claudio Mendoza

The increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the terrestrial atmosphere will produce important changes in regional climate patterns. These changes will have a significant impact of the diversity and distribution of the species, affecting ecosystems and biodiversity to the point that some specties will become extinct. Using projections of the distribution of species in scenarios of future climatic conditions, it is estimaeted that extinction will occur over a good part of the earth's surface. Assuming, for example, moderate increases in temperature by 2050, between 15% and 37% of the earth's species will be in danger of extinction, thus illustrating the current state of emergency and the need for a quick and drastic reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions
Climate change affects distribution, population size and migration of the species. Particularly susceptible are those species with intrinsically small population, those who inhabit restricted or segmented regions, and those adapted to limited variations in temperature, like coral reefs, mangroves, and rainforests. Species accustomed to migration will also be at risk due to multiple variations of risk to their nesting habitats, migratory routes, temporary and seasonal resting places and the population of predators. An important aspect is the adaptability of the species to changes in the ecosystems: some will be able to do so better than others, but the changes that are expected are so pronounced that a large number of species will find themselves in serious trouble.
Video: Victins most unfairly placed in danger.
Video: Report on the Effects of Global Warming upon Animals.
Sources:
• C. D. Thomas et al., "Extinction risk from climate change", 2004, Nature, 427, 145.
• "Migratory species and climate change: impacts of a changing environment on wild animals", 2006, UNEP/CMS Secretariat, Bonn, Germany.

 

Mitigation y adaptacion
Juan Carlos Sánchez M.

In order to reduce the vulnerability of our country to climate change, we must develop strategies for adaptation to its effects and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases (mitigation). During the first stages of climate change, the adaptation could reduce the consequences of lowered availability of water resources, loss of agricultural productivity, increased sea levels, and adverse economic effects. However the adaptation alone is not enough to thwart the medium and long term impact on society, the atmosphere, and the economy. Mitigation will also be required.
Presentation: The impact of mitigation and adaptation.

 

Climate change: vulnerability in Venezuela
Juan Carlos Sánchez M.

Although we can think that the greenhouse gas emissions in Venezuela are nothing in comparison to that of the great industrial powers, and climate change is not going to affect our geography, in may ways our has defined quotas of responsability and vulnerability. For example, our main industry is oil, and this will be seriously affected in the coming decades by the actions taken by our clients to mitigate the climate crisis.
On the other hand, part of the Amazon rainforest is located in the south of our country, so we must define urgent actions to preserve it as a lung for the planet, and as a national sources of water and energy. Finally, as we have been able to see in the recent past, our country is extremely vulnerable to extreme climatic situations like drought and inundation, epidemics of tropical disease like malaria, dengue, and chagas, all of which are increasing with the change of climate.

 

Mitigation of climate change: new technology
Juan Carlos Sánchez M.

The mitigation of climate change is going to require solutions placing new technology in an important role. There is a great challenge to find alternative sources of clean and renewable energy, and here solar energy and wind power are in the spotlight. The efficient use of energy also requires a new generation of electrical appliances and electric and hybrid cars, all of which will mean the introduction of alternatives like biofuel, and hydrogen cells, as well as batteries, engines, emission controls and intelligent materials. Since we are going to continue to use oil, gas and carbon, processes will have to become greener and more refined. And perhaps the collection and effective deposit of atmospheric carbon may become a reality.

 

Post-Copenhagen perspectives
Claudio Mendoza and Juan Carlos Sánchez M.

The 15th Conference on Climate Change of the United Nations was held in Copehagen, Denmark from December 7-18, 2009, and finished with a political agreement that satisfied neither the industrialized nor the developing countries. So there has been much speculation as to how the problem of climate change would be handled going forward, specifically regarding eventual global agreements that would decidedly mitigate the problem. In April 2010, there was a World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamaba, Bolivia, with representatives of all the developing nations, and ended with a statement of quite unrealistic terms. This contributed very little to the next round of negociations to be held in Bonn, Germany, and in Cancún, Mexico.

 

Thermic radiation and energy balance
Jorge A. Renaud and Claudio Mendoza

When one body is at a different temperature than the air that surrounds it, or from another body, there is a transfer of thermic energy (heat) between the two until a thermodynamic balance is reached; until both bodies have the same temperature. The transfer of heat is always given from the warmer body to the colder body. This occurs because the molecules of the warmer body move faster, they have more kinetic energy, while the molecules of the colder body move more slowly, they have less kinetic energy.
Thermic energy is related to the kinetic energy in the body's particles and to its temperature. This energy transfer happens through one of three processes (see figure):
• Conduction: the transfer of heat is produced by the agitation of the molecules of the matter without displacing the matter as a whole.
• Convection: in this case, the transfer of heat implies the movement of the mass of a fluid like air, gas or water.
• Radiation: each body emits electromagnetic radiation (light) thus spreading its energy.
The surface of the Earth is heated by thermic conduction from the hot interior of its core and by the radiation coming from the Sun. The oceans and lake beds are also heated by conduction from the earth's core, but the heat comes to the surface via convection. Since the effects of thermic conduction from the earth's core are practically insignificant, the warming of the surface is due mostly to solar radiation. If we assume that the Earth loses heat to outer space emitting infra-red radiation, and taking into account that the solar energy that comes to the Earth is 1,366 kW/m2, is is easy to determine the energy equation
Solar light absorbed = Infra-red radiación emitted (see figure)
and from its spherical symmetry, the temperature of the equation is about 5 ºC. Since this is not what we have observed, we have to factor in, for example, reflection.
The Earth reflects about 30 % of the solar energy it receives, fundamentally from clouds and aerosols (22%) and from the polar icecaps (see figure). Adding this factor to the previous calculations, we have an icy temperature equation of -18 ºC, far away from the moderate temperatures we enjoy. So the energy balance of the atmosphere we have not considered is key to determining the climatic conditions of the Earth's surface.
The atmosphere warms from the light of the sun and via thermic conduction once it is in contact with the surface and the seas, and also from infra-red radiation both emit. Convection also contributes to balancing the distribution of heat in the atmospheric gases. In reality, the atmosphere absorbs ver little of the radiation from the sun, not much more than the infra-red component from greenhouse gases, and ultraviolet from ozone gas, and the majority goes directly to the earth's surface. As it warms, the surface and the oceans emit infra-red radiation, part of which is absorbed by greenhouse gases; for example wator vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane, which can explain the additional 33 ºC needed to reach the true average temperature of the Earth: 15 ºC. We receive more energy from the greenhouse effect than we do from the Sun. Therefore, these gases are vital for the energy balance of the Earth. This balance, and consequently, the temperature, vary from season to season, and due to solar cycles. Also due to the content of volcanic ash that blocks the light of the Sun and tends to lower the temperature as well as the density of greenhouse gases. Actually when an increase in the density of the greenhouse gases is observed, a rise in temperature occurs.

 

Secondary effects: Harvest reduction
Claudio Mendoza

According to a 2007 study by the National Laboratory of Lawrence Livermore and the Carnegie Institute at Stanford University in the United States, global warming has already damaged harvests. In other words, this is not a problem that will occur in the near future, the progressively increasing temperatures we have observed over the last few decades already has consequences. It is estimated that by 2002, the combined production of wheat, corn and barley was around 40 millones tons lower than in 1981, and has caused yearly losses of US$ 5 billion.
A direct correlation has been found between temperature increase and low yield of the harvests, and this needs more attention from related government agencies. The six harvests that were analyzed: wheat, corn, barley, rice, soy and sorghum, make up 55% of the non-meat calories consumed by humans, and more than 70% of those calories consumed by animals.
Higher temperatures apparently have a more predominantly negative effect than any other possible benefits produced by the added growth of vegetation due to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Source: Food crops already feel the heat as the world warms, study finds

 

Rolando Peña
Rolando Peña is a well-known artist whose work has been frequently exhibited in the most important museums and shows in the United Staes, Europe and Latin America, during his long and varied career.
Born in Venezuela,, he originally was dedicated to the theatre and dance. In the 1960s he moved to New York, where he began to work with Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary, most notably in "The Illumination of the Buddha". He also was an actor in several of Andy Warhol's films, before deciding to dedicate himself entirely to the development of his art.
In the same way that Joseph Beuys was able to create his own style with grease and felt, Ives Klein with Monochromes, André Codere with his rainbow colored jackets, or Andy Warhol with his Brillo boxes, Rolando Peño has convertd the golden oil barrel in an icon and allegory of our times. For over 20 years he has become identified, both personally and artistically, with petroleum as a central theme. He accepts the almost mystical power we have given to this dark substance (calle "mene" by the indigenous peoples who used it quite modestly to waterproof their canoes). He connects it to the glories of scientific discovery of the material's structure, but warns us about the disastrous aspects of our relationship with it.
Oil appears throughout his work in different ways: monumental scuptures, large installations, happenings, performances, video, and computer animations. He is the author of several powerful and quite spectactular installations. Both he and his work have a complex presence: part mask, part scientific explanation, part ecological activism, and part ironic satirical in the role of the artist. His oil barrel is a schematic model with infinite possibilities of repetition, a fetish in its isolation, or a concrete block of advanced structure, and other symbols. The connection to minimalism is obvious, but instead of taking a comfortable position in the aesthetics of abstract sculpture, Rolando Peña's monuments are disturbing because they are placed in an ambivalent position between the heaven and hell.
Guy Brett. Art critic - Curator
London, 2003
Bio (Español - English - French) | Intro (Español - English - French) | Curriculum (Español - English - French)

 

Geological seizure of CO2
Juan Carlos Sánchez M.

(presentation Underground geological storage)

 

Rising Sea Levels
Claudio Mendoza

Sea levels are rising at an accelerated rate. This is due to the glaciars melting in Greenland and Antarctica. Where the melting occurs, the seas tend to expand.
Among the large cities at high risk are New York, Miami, New Orleans, Amsterdam, Alexandria, Mumbai, Calcutta, Shanghai and Tokyo.
Video: Impacto of higher sea levels in Miami, Florida.
Presentation: Climate changes impact on coastal regions.
Presentation: Coastal areas of Latin America.

 

Texts
Science and technology in the art of Rolando Peña
Science is knowledge. Technology is the practical application of that knowledge. Both disciplines have had a powerful influence on the art of Rolando Peña en at least five stages of his successful career as pioneer of contemporary vanguard art in Venezuela. (complete text: Spanish - English - French)

Chronicles of melting
A few years ago, during a course on portfolios and statements for artists I had the opportunity of teaching at the Cabrujas Hall at Culture Chacao, I proposed inviting the creators of different generations to show and share their work with the students.
(complete text: Spanish - English - French)

Make Oil Green
At the beginning of 2007, the world was reacting to an unprecedented growth in demand for goods and services. The price of oil began to increase as did the price of food, to the point of becoming a threat to the supply to several poor countries completely dependent upon importations. (complete text: Spanish - English - French)

 

Videos
Standard Model of Matter
Barrel of God
Dark Matter
Toccata and Fugue in Barrel Major I
Andy Warhol Makes a Film