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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d97aug1

"Earth Summit North and South-Building a Safe House in the Winds of Change," J. Roddick (Ctr. Latin American & Caribbean Studies, York Univ.),Global Environ. Change, 7(2), 147-165, July 1997.

At the 1992 Earth Summit, the usual model of international environmental regulation based on binding commitments that has been favored by northern governments gave way to alternative strategies involving community-based forms of action, the participation of non-governmental actors, and voluntary reporting. However, the Commission on Sustainable Development is finding this approach hard to implement, and the old model of negotiation designed to produce more and more barely enforceable international agreements is surfacing, even as the climate convention fails to reduce northern energy consumption. This article examines the growing coalition of southern countries, recently joined by Brazil and India, and their role in negotiations on climate and sustainable development.

Item #d97aug2

"Maximum and Minimum Temperature Trends for the Globe," D.R. Easterling (Natl. Clim. Data Ctr., NOAA, Asheville NC 28801), B. Horton et al.,Science, 277(5324), 364-367, July 18, 1997.

This study expands a similar one published several years ago that examined data from the U.S., China and the Soviet Union, by including the Southern Hemisphere and by examining the data for artifacts such as might be caused by urban growth. Results indicate that the diurnal temperature range is continuing to decrease in most parts of the world, that urban effects on globally and hemispherically averaged time series are negligible, and that circulation variations in parts of the Northern Hemisphere appear to be related to the diurnal temperature range. A number of factors, such as increases in cloudiness, are probably contributing to the observed trend.

Item #d97aug3

Special section: Human Dominated Ecosystems, Science, 277(5325), 457 and 485-525, July 25, 1997. In addition to the following, this section contains articles on fisheries, biodiversity, agriculture and ecosystems, coral reefs, and ecosystem management:

"The Scientific Underpinning of Policy," G.H. Brundtland (Member of Parliament and former Prime Minister, Norway), 457. Emphasizes the need to seek scientifically sound policies nationally and internationally, particularly concerning resource management.

"Human Domination of Earth's Ecosystems," P.M. Vitousek (Dept. Biol. Sci., Stanford Univ., Stanford CA 94305), H.A. Mooney et al., 494-499. Introduces the section, demonstrating that by several measures (including greenhouse gases, nitrogen deposition, and land surface alteration), we now live on a human-dominated planet. We need to reduce the rate at which we alter the Earth system, accelerate our efforts to understand ecosystems and how they are being altered, and accept responsibility for managing the planet.

"Forests as Human-Dominated Ecosystems," I.R. Noble (Biol. Sci., Australian National Univ., Canberra 0200, Australia), R. Dirzo, 522-525. Discusses how even lightly managed or unmanaged forests are in fact human-dominated ecosystems. Management strategies for sustainable forestry are being developed, but there is a need for further interaction among foresters, ecologists, community representatives, social scientists, and economists.

Item #d97aug4

"Climate Control Requires a Dam at the Strait of Gibraltar," R.G. Johnson (Dept. Geol. & Geophys., 108 Pilsbury Hall, 310 Pilsbury Dr. SE, Univ. Minnesota, Minneapolis MN 55455),Eos: Trans. Amer. Geophys. Union, 78(27), 277, 280-281, July 8, 1997.

The title statement of this paper extends an hypothesis concerning changes in ocean circulation that triggered the most recent glaciation. By this scenario, Milankovitch (Earth orbital) variations set the stage for the last glaciation, but an essential trigger was salination of the Mediterranean as freshwater input decreased, altering the North Atlantic circulation to encourage ice sheet growth. We may be approaching a repeat of this condition, since human activities have drastically reduced freshwater input to the Mediterranean, and hydrological changes associated with CO2 warming could do so also. To avoid this possibility, the author proposes a dam across the Strait of Gibraltar that would control saline outflow. This might also stave off sea level rise from the melting of Antarctic ice sheets, which is sensitive to alterations in deep ocean circulation that would be generated by increased salinity in the Southern Ocean. Discusses social and economic implications of the proposed project and its timing.

Item #d97aug5

"The 1995 Chicago Heat Wave: How Likely Is a Recurrence?" T.R. Karl (Natl. Clim. Data Ctr., NESDIS, NOAA, 151 Patton Ave., Asheville NC 28801; e-mail:, R.W. Wright,Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 78(6), 1107-1119, June 1997.

Puts the unprecedented deadly heat wave of July 1995 into historical perspective through a statistical examination of extremes in apparent temperature (combined air temperature and humidity) in the observational record. Concludes overall it is unlikely that the macroscale climate of heat waves in the Midwest or Chicago is changing.

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