Sea Ice

This Isn’t “The New Normal #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

This Isn’t ‘the New Normal’ for Climate Change — That Will Be Worse
David Wallace-Wells

October 11, 2017 10:12 am


A Fountaingrove Village homeowner surveys her destroyed home she and her husband have owned for four years, on October 9, 2017, in Santa Rosa, California. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

It’s been a terrifying season for what we used to call natural disasters.

For the first time in recorded history, three hurricanes arose simultaneously in the Caribbean. 

Harvey and Irma ravaged a series of islands then turned north and hit the U.S. mainland. 

Days later came Maria, the third storm this season to register among the top-four most devastating hurricanes in dollar terms to ever make landfall in the U.S. (Maria seems likely to be remembered as among the worst humanitarian disasters America has ever seen, with 40 percent of Puerto Rico still without running water, power out for likely six months, and native agriculture devastated for a full year.)


 For years, we’ve conceived of climate change in terms of sea level, meaning it was often possible to believe its devastating impacts would be felt mostly by those living elsewhere, on the coasts; extreme weather seems poised to break that delusion, beginning with hurricanes. And then the unprecedented California wildfires broke out over the weekend, fueled by the Diablo Winds, killing 17 already and burning through 115,000 acres across several counties by Wednesday, casting even the sky above Disneyland in an eerie postapocalyptic orange glow and lighting up satellite images with flames visible from space.

 The smoke was visible from there, too.
It is tempting to look at this string of disasters and think, Climate change is here. 

Both hurricanes and wildfires are made worse by warming, with as much as 30 percent of the strength of hurricanes like Harvey and Maria attributable to climate change, and wildfire season both extended and exacerbated by it. 

As the journalist Malcolm Harris put it blithely on Twitter, “There didn’t used to be a major natural disaster every single day.”

What that means is that we have not, at all, arrived at a new normal. 

It is more like we’ve taken one step out on the plank off a pirate ship.

But the truth is actually far scarier than “welcome to the new normal.”

 The climate system we have been observing since August, the one that has pummeled the planet again and again and exposed even the world’s wealthiest country as unable (or at least unwilling) to properly respond to its destruction, is not our bleak future. 

It is, by definition, a beyond-best-case scenario for warming and all the climate disasters that will bring. 

Even if, miraculously, the planet immediately ceased emitting carbon into the atmosphere, we’d still be due for some additional warming, and therefore some climate-disaster shakeout, from just the stuff we’ve put into the air already. 

But of course we’re very far from zeroing out on carbon, and therefore very far from stalling climate change.

 A recent debate has centered around the question of whether it is even conceivably possible for the planet to pull up short of one-point-five degrees Celsius of warming, which means, at the absolute very least, we have 50 percent more warming to go (since we’re at about one degree already). But even most optimistic experts expect we’ll at least hit two degrees, and possibly two-point-five or even three. 

That means as much as 200 percent more warming ahead of us.

 And what that means for extreme weather and climate disasters is horrifying.

Watch: How Climate Change Is Creating More Powerful Hurricanes
Of course, there is also an enormous variance in weather, and we shouldn’t expect, say, that next year’s hurricane season will be necessarily as bad as this one, or worse, or that next year’s wildfire season will be as bad as this one, or worse, even as the planet continues to warm.

 We are probably dealing with a lot of bad luck in 2017 (and that’s not even counting the earthquakes, unrelated to climate, that shook Mexico last month, reducing whole neighborhoods to rubble). But, over time, the trend lines are inarguable: Climate change will give us more devastating hurricanes than we have now, and more horrible wildfires, as well as more tornadoes and droughts and heat waves and floods.
What that means is that we have not, at all, arrived at a new normal.

It is more like we’ve taken one step out on the plank off a pirate ship. 

Perhaps because of the exhausting false debate about whether climate change is “real,” too many of us have developed a misleading impression that its effects are binary. 

But global warming is not “yes” or “no,” it is a function that gets worse over time as long as we continue to produce greenhouse gas. 

And so the experience of life in a climate transformed by human activity is not just a matter of stepping from one stable environment into another, somewhat worse one, no matter how degraded or destructive the transformed climate is.

 The effects will grow and build as the planet continues to warm: from one degree to one-point-five to almost certainly two degrees and beyond.

 The last few months of climate disasters may look like about as much as the planet can take. 

But things are only going to get worse.

Press link for more: NYMag.com

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Sea Level 2M Higher by 2100 #StopAdani #ClimateChange #Auspol #Qldpol 

Fingerprinting’ the Ocean to Predict Devastating Sea Level Rise
Scientists are using satellites to identify where increasing sea levels could result in the most destructive storm surge as hurricanes grow more powerful due to climate change.
Sep. 18, 2017

The St. Johns River rises from storm surge flood waters from Hurricane Irma on September 11, 2017, in Jacksonville, Florida.Sean Rayford/Getty Images/AFP

Scientists are “fingerprinting” sea level rise around the world in an effort to identify coastal areas most at risk from devastating storm surge, as hurricanes grow increasingly destructive.
Warming ocean temperatures due to climate change can fuel more powerful storms. 

Hurricane-force winds push water onto land, putting lives and property at risk while rising sea levels in coastal areas have magnified the impact of such storm surge.

 Now a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters verifies the accuracy of a satellite-based monitoring tool called “sea level fingerprinting.” 

The technology detects varying patterns in regional sea levels, which can be used for predicting how climate change will affect future storm surge in flood-prone coastal areas.
“Sea level fingerprints tell us about how sea level rises regionally around the globe due to melting ice sheets and changes in water storage,” said the study’s lead author, Isabella Velicogna, a professor of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine, and a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Sea level fingerprints will provide information on where sea level rises faster and therefore the coastline is more vulnerable to storm surge.”
The bulk of the data used for the project was collected by a pair of Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites that can detect movement of water on Earth – such as sea level rise or depletion of freshwater aquifers – by measuring the resulting gravitational changes. Velicogna and her coauthor Chia-Wei Hsu, a postdoctoral scholar at U.C. Irvine, compared 12 years of sea level fingerprint data with data taken by seafloor pressure sensors that measure the overlying mass of water and ice. While the physical measurements are considered most accurate, Velicogna and Hsu found the satellite-derived measurements were very similar.
The scientists concluded that the satellite data provides a fairly accurate picture of sea level fingerprints that could create a roadmap for better placement of seafloor pressure sensors. These sensors may be used to improve sea level fingerprint calculations in the future – and help people in vulnerable coastal zones better understand the extent of storm surge when a hurricane strikes. Velicogna said that based on sea level fingerprint data, it’s already become clear which geographic regions are most vulnerable to floods.
“The greatest rise is not near the ice sheets – where sea level will actually fall – but far from the ice sheets,” said Velicogna. “So, the largest increase in sea level is going to be at low latitudes” where the water mass of melted ice is redistributed over large areas.


Global sea levels have increased by an average of 3in (8cm) globally since 1992, with some areas experiencing a rise greater than 9in (23cm), according to NASA. If climate change continues at its current pace, increased warming may melt enough of Earth’s ice caps, ice sheets and glaciers to raise average sea levels as much as 6.6ft (2m) by 2100.
The two GRACE satellites have been collecting data about Earth’s gravity field for the past 15 years, allowing scientists for the first time to calculate the depletion of freshwater supplies in aquifers around the world and the rate at which glaciers are melting. But one of the satellites has nearly exhausted its nitrogen fuel supply and its battery is failing. While NASA and its partner, the German Aerospace Center, have stabilized the failing satellite, they announced last week that both GRACE satellites would be decommissioned after a final mission ends in November. Now the space agencies are rushing to put a new pair of satellites, GRACE-Follow-On, into orbit by early 2018 to avoid an interruption in the collection of crucial data.
In the meantime, scientists will continue monitoring the seas in an attempt to predict floods before they happen, especially before major storms. “Sea level fingerprints will provide information on where sea level rises faster and therefore the coastline is more vulnerable to storm surge,” said Velicogna.

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We’re in a race against time! Demand climate action #StopAdani #auspol 

We’re in a race against time!
A most important video. Every thing is at stake & your actions will determine the future of humanity!

What should you say to a climate change skeptic? #StopAdani #auspol 

What should you say to a climate change skeptic?
Mira Abed
Climate change

Greenhouse gases are released from a factory in Australia. (Dave Hunt / European Pressphoto Agency)
We’ve all been there: The perfectly innocuous conversation you’ve been having at a friend’s party or your kid’s soccer game devolves into an argument about climate change.

 Suddenly, you realize you’re talking to a climate change skeptic.
You want to help your acquaintances see the light. But how?
We asked climate scientists and communicators how to have constructive discussions about climate change.

 They offered both general advice about how to engage and specific information to rebut doubters’ claims.
Start by looking for common ground. 

We all depend on the same planet for our survival, and all of us want a good outcome, said Richard Alley, a geoscientist at Penn State University who studies abrupt changes in the climate.
Also, recognize that there’s a grain of truth in most of the arguments put out by climate skeptics — or at least an intriguing question that climate scientists have considered at some point. 

Acknowledging the merits of these ideas often leads to more productive discussions, said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.
Read on and you’ll be ready when the next unexpected debate comes your way.
Beware of cherry-picking
In many cases, so-called evidence against climate change is drawn from a zoomed-in picture, like data taken from a short time period or a single geographical location. It’s not that the information is wrong — it may just be taken out of context.
Climate scientists emphasize the need to look at global data over long periods to understand it in context and see larger trends. For example, it’s easy to pick an exceptionally hot year — like 1998 — and point out that the average global temperature was only 0.1° Celsius warmer than in 2008, a relatively cool one. But all this example shows is that there are fluctuations from year to year.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen exponentially in the last century.


Atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen exponentially in the last century. (NASA)

What really matters, climate scientists say, is that the global average temperature is on a rising trend. 

NOAA’s 2016 climate report shows that every year since 1977 has been warmer than the 20th century average.

 This means the Earth is retaining more heat over time.
Always ask skeptics about the data their argument is based on.

 If it’s from an isolated location or a small chunk of time, it may not be representative of the bigger picture.
Greenhouse gases are the key
When looking for something to blame for rising temperatures, skeptics tend to focus on natural factors that can shift over time, such as the intensity of the sun, the amount of volcanic activity or changes in Earth’s orbit. 

They may even acknowledge the role of certain man-made pollutants like ozone or aerosols.
But all of these factors are dwarfed by the impact of greenhouse gases.
When we burn fossil fuels in cars, planes and power plants, the hydrocarbon molecules in the fuel break down to produce carbon dioxide and water. 

Both are then released into the atmosphere.
Emissions spew from a large stack at a coal-fired power plant in Newburg, Md.


Emissions spew from a large stack at a coal-fired power plant in Newburg, Md. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

Carbon dioxide (CO2) and some other small molecules, such as methane (CH4) and nitrous oxides (NOx), are known as greenhouse gases because they absorb and trap light from the sun as well as infrared radiation coming from the Earth’s surface. 

Both are converted into heat by these gases that warms the air — much like a greenhouse does.
Carbon dioxide is the most important greenhouse gas by far, Alley said. 

Every time the climate has changed in ways that scientists can measure, carbon dioxide has had something to do with it, he said.
The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York modeled the impact of a variety of natural and industrial factors on global temperature. They found that only carbon dioxide levels predicted the temperature increase we’ve seen in recent decades. This visualization from Bloomberg makes it easy to see.
Methane and nitrous oxides actually have more powerful greenhouse effects than carbon dioxide — but carbon dioxide has a larger overall influence because we’re releasing so much more of it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, carbon dioxide accounted for 82% of all greenhouse gas emissions in 2015.
Humans are responsible for the surge in carbon dioxide
Where did all that carbon dioxide come from? 

When looking at the concentrations of CO2 over time, “nothing interesting happened until we started burning coal,” Schmidt said.
That’s when atmospheric CO2 really picked up — and it’s increased exponentially ever since.
According to data compiled by the Goddard Institute, carbon dioxide was at an atmospheric concentration of 291 parts per million in 1880. 

It had risen to 311 ppm by 1950 and to 370 ppm by 2000.

 NOAA’s reported global annual average reached 402 ppm in 2016.

Carbon dioxide concentration changes throughout the year. 

Climate change skeptics often point out that volcanic eruptions and decaying plants also send carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But multiple studies have shown that human activity produces at least 60 times more carbon dioxide than volcanoes do each year. And while it’s true that plants produce more carbon dioxide than humans, they clean up after themselves — and even pick up some of our slack.
This is one reason the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher in the winter than in the summer. Plants come with their own carbon sinks – they produce carbon dioxide when they die and decay, but new plants also absorb it from the air as they grow.
You can’t blame warming on the sun
Climate change deniers say the sun is the obvious source of the planet’s heat. After all, it’s constantly bathing us in 173,000 terawatts of energy. That’s about 10,000 times more than enough to meet the entire world’s annual energy needs.
But solar activity has actually decreased since 1950, experts said. This means that if nothing else had changed, we would be experiencing a cooling cycle right now.
Solar energy output varies slightly over an 11-year cycle, and that does have an effect on temperature. But these effects are much clearer in the stratosphere than in the lower atmosphere, Schmidt said, and the solar cycle doesn’t significantly affect surface temperatures on Earth.
A Salvation Army hydration station sign sits in the midday sun as the temperature climbs to a near-record high in Phoenix.

A Salvation Army hydration station sign sits in the midday sun as the temperature climbs to a near-record high in Phoenix. (Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Typically, solar activity and temperature move together: When one rises, the other does too. So when we see solar activity and temperature moving in opposite directions, as has happened recently, we know that something else is going on.
Other factors are also encouraging cooling right now, several experts said, including an increase in reflective aerosols like sulfates and nitrates in the atmosphere. These block some heat from reaching the Earth’s surface.
If not for these cooling influences, our planet would be warming even more rapidly.
This is not a normal part of a natural cycle
Climate change has occurred naturally in the past. But that doesn’t mean natural causes are responsible this time.
Alley pointed out the logical flaw in this oft-repeated argument: It’s like saying that since wildfires sometimes begin with natural events like lightning strikes they can never be caused by a wayward campfire.
The climate doesn’t change unless it’s forced to change. And during the 20th century, there weren’t any natural events powerful enough to account for the changes scientists are documenting.
“Human fingerprints are all over this,” said John Cook, a cognitive scientist who studies beliefs about climate change at George Mason University.
And just because the climate has changed before doesn’t mean we want it to happen again — especially this quickly. In the past, rapid changes were usually pretty hard on living creatures that didn’t have enough time to adapt to their new conditions. That doesn’t bode well for us.
Don’t be fooled by Antarctic sea ice
For a several years in the early part of the decade, the amount of sea ice extending from Antarctica set new records, peaking at 7.72 million square miles (an area more than twice as large as the United States).
Climate change skeptics say this is inconsistent with a warming planet. But they ignore the fact that the vast majority of sea ice is decreasing. (Remember the warning about cherry-picking?) Even in Antarctica, it has been losing ground rapidly since 2014 and has now sunk to a record low.
Arctic sea ice hasn’t varied as widely in recent years. According to a report released in 2014 by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society in London, the yearly minimum Arctic sea ice extent in the summer has decreased by 40% since 1978. This could be the least icy the Arctic has been in almost 1,500 years, the report noted. Some researchers say that Arctic summers could be completely ice-free by 2030.
Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica passes through Victoria Strait while transiting the Northwest Passage connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans earlier than had ever been recorded.

Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica passes through Victoria Strait while transiting the Northwest Passage connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans earlier than had ever been recorded. (David Goldman / Associated Press)

Richard Somerville, a climate scientist who spent many years at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, points out that sea ice is highly variable.
“It’s not simple — the ice doesn’t just melt when the temperature falls below 32° Fahrenheit,” he said. “It gets blown around by the winds and carried around by the currents, and it gets blown or carried to regions that are either more prone to melting or less prone to melting.”
He likens sea ice trends to the stock market: Although it fluctuates from year to year, the overall trend can be seen when we look at long time periods — and now it’s a downward one. Focusing on short-term changes misses this bigger truth, he said.
The take-home message is that sea ice is complicated, so be careful not to jump to conclusions — in either direction. For example, the collapse of an iceberg that broke off from Antarctica in July has not been definitively tied to climate change.
Recognize that this is a political debate, not a scientific one

Skeptics like to say that scientists don’t agree on climate change, but the truth is that the consensus is overwhelming.
A whopping 97% of climate scientists share the view that climate change is happening now and that human activity is to blame.
Greenpeace activists in Spain protest President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

Greenpeace activists in Spain protest President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. (Mariscal / European Pressphoto Agency)

It’s important to understand where science ends and politics begins. To boost your chances for success, make a point of separating the two, Somerville said. Many people are not suspicious of the science, but rather of the consequences associated with climate change.
“There’s no such thing as a Democratic or Republican thermometer,” Somerville said. We can agree on what the science says, even if we have different political ideas, he added.
Understand why people may be misinformed
According to a recent poll conducted by researchers at Yale and George Mason University, only half of the American public realizes that a majority of climate scientists agree on climate change. Only 13% of those polled were aware that the degree of scientific consensus is upwards of 90%.
A number of factors have led to this widespread misunderstanding, Cook said.
First, some industry groups who oppose environmental regulation have made a concerted effort to confuse the public about climate change.
Additionally, media reports tend to include two sides to every story, including those about climate change. But that implies that both sides have equal weight, even when they don’t.
Finally, the sheer volume of climate change information is daunting, and many Americans don’t have the time or energy to sort fact from fiction. “Because there’s so much noise, people tend to disengage,” Cook said.
And finally, know when to cut your losses
As with any contentious issue, you have to realize when you’re talking to someone who just wants to argue.
“If that’s the case, just stop.” Schmidt said.
mira.abed@latimes.com
Twitter: @mirakatherine

Press link for more: LA Times.com

Climate change denial looks a lot like psychosis #auspol #StopAdani 

New studies and new catastrophes give climate change deniers a lot to deny.

In this July 22, 2017, photo, Canadian Coast Guard Capt. Victor Gronmyr looks out over the ice covering the Victoria Strait as the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica traverses the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

 Nordica has set a new record for the earliest transit of the fabled Northwest Passage. 

The once-forbidding route through the Arctic, linking the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, has been opening up sooner and for a longer period each summer due to climate change.

David Goldman AP

August 10, 2017 7:01 PM
Denial begins to look like psychosis.
Just in the past week, a cascade of new findings and climate anomalies have added to the scientific consensus that we’re cooked. Miami in particular.
We’re seeing wildfires in Greenland, for heaven’s sake. 

Famously soggy Seattle has just gone through a record 54 consecutive days (and counting) without rain.
On Thursday, Arctic explorer Pen Hadow left Nome, Alaska, in a 50-foot sailboat intent on something unfathomable before the onset of global warming.

 He and his crew intend to sail through the melting ice pack to the very North Pole. “If we can produce a visual image of a sail boat at 90 degrees north I think that could become an iconic image of the challenge that the twenty-first century faces,” Hadow wrote in his blog.
That image would nicely illustrate the National Climate Assessment draft report publicized this week by the New York Times.

 “Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” noted the assessment, based on input by scientists from 13 different federal agencies.


Scientists involved in the report were worried that Donald Trump, our climate-denier-in-chief (a Chinese hoax, he called global warming) would suppress the final report, which concluded that it was “extremely likely” that human activity accounted for more than half of the rising global temperatures since 1951.
“Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans.”
Draft report of the National Climate Assessment
The assessment makes for particularly gloomy reading in South Florida, where rising waters already plague our ritziest zip codes. “It is very likely that the accelerated rate of Arctic warming will have a significant consequence for the United States due to accelerating land and sea ice melting that is driving changes in the ocean including sea level rise threatening our coastal communities.”
Yeah, that’s us.
That ought to convince even the most obstinate politicians that unless something is done about greenhouse emissions, we’re in deep, deep (as in encroaching sea waters) trouble.
But there was more.
A young student on her bicycle carefully crosses the water logged street on Lincoln Road Court as water levels have risen on the begimming of the annual King’s Tide where certain areas of Miami Beach become flooded, on Oct. 13, 2016.

C.M. GUERRERO. cmguerrero@elnuevoherald.com

On Wednesday, researchers from the University of Florida published findings in the journal Geophysical Research Letters that sea levels along the southeast Atlantic coast, south of Cape Hatteras down to South Florida, are rising six times faster than the global averages. So if sea level rise is bad elsewhere, it’s going to be hell in Miami.
That was published the very same day that Swiss Re, a Switzerland-based reinsurance company, released an analysis that climate change and rising seas, in league with population growth and coastal development, has rendered Miami vulnerable to unimaginable losses if a Hurricane Andrew-sized storm strikes the city. “Losses in this case are estimated to be $100-$300 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster ever seen in the U.S.,” Swiss Re reported. Only $60-180 billion of Miami’s property losses would be covered by the private insurance market, “leaving a huge shortfall in funding to rebuild.”
Swiss Re added that “risk mitigation and climate adaptation are keys to strengthening community resilience.”
That ought to be obvious. Except we have a president in Washington and a governor and a speaker of the House in Tallahassee who pretend global warming is some kind of liberal invention. Two years ago, employees of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection claimed they had been barred from using the terms “climate change” or “global warming” in emails, reports or official communications. That doesn’t sound like an administration ready to confront Florida’s coming climate crisis.
Meanwhile, a dozen of Florida’s U.S. representatives and one of its U.S. senators (Marco Rubio) are essentially climate change deniers.
They’ve somehow held onto their “it ain’t happening” beliefs even during what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has described as the second-warmest year in the contiguous United States (so far) in 123 years of record keeping. In case you didn’t notice, July was the hottest month ever in Miami, according to Climate Central.
While 2016 was the second warmest year on record (after 2012) in the U.S., it was the hottest ever for the planet. NOAA reports that 16 of the 17 warmest years on record, worldwide, have occurred since 2001.


Yet our pols pretend otherwise. (They ignore a report on the effects of climate change in Architectural Digest that said rising seas have made South Florida “the worst metropolitan area in the country in regards to storm surge risk, with an estimated 780,000 homes potentially affected.”)
They just keep denying. Even during a week when a Russian tanker, without an ice breaker escort, was able to traverse the Arctic with a load of liquid natural case. In a week when the Asian Development Bank warned that, “unabated climate change” would lead to “disastrous climate impacts for the people of Asia and the Pacific.” Which echoed a study published this week in the journal Science Advances warning that “Climate change, without mitigation, presents a serious and unique risk in South Asia, a region inhabited by about one-fifth of the global human population, due to an unprecedented combination of severe natural hazard and acute vulnerability.” The journal warned that “the most intense hazard from extreme future heat waves is concentrated around densely populated agricultural regions of the Ganges and Indus river basins.”
It was a week when geologists warned that “all glaciers in Iceland are retreating at an unprecedented pace.” A week when a study published in the Lancet Planetary Health declared, “Climate change is one of the biggest global threats to human health of the 21st century.”
So much dire news in single week. Not that our steadfastly oblivious leaders in Washington and Tallahassee were deterred by melting glaciers or droughts or wildfires or record temperatures or rising seas or disappearing polar ice or threats to human health. Deniers just keep on denying.

Press link for more: App.com

Drastic Impact of #ClimateChange on U.S. #StopAdani #Auspol 

Government Report Finds Drastic Impact of Climate Change on U.S.
By LISA FRIEDMANAUG. 7, 2017

A draft report by government scientists concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. Branden Camp/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The average temperature in the United States has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, and recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years, according to a sweeping federal climate change report awaiting approval by the Trump administration.


The draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies, which has not yet been made public, concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. 

It directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet who say that the human contribution to climate change is uncertain, and that the ability to predict the effects is limited.


“Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” a draft of the report states. 

A copy of it was obtained by The New York Times.
The authors note that thousands of studies, conducted by tens of thousands of scientists, have documented climate changes on land and in the air. 

“Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change,” they wrote.


The report was completed this year and is a special science section of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years.

 The National Academy of Sciences has signed off on the draft report and the authors are awaiting permission from the Trump administration to release it.
One government scientist who worked on the report, and who spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity, said he and others were concerned that it would be suppressed.
A draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies, which has not yet been made public but was obtained by The New York Times, concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now.

The White House and Environmental Protection Agency did not immediately respond to calls and emails requesting comment on Monday night.
The report concludes that even if humans immediately stopped emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the world would still feel at least an additional 0.50 degrees Fahrenheit (0.30 degrees Celsius) of warming over this century compared with today. 

The projected actual rise, scientists say, will be as much as 2 degrees Celsius.
A small difference in global temperatures can make a big difference in the climate: The difference between a rise in global temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius and one of 2 degrees Celsius, for example, could mean longer heat waves, more intense rainstorms and the faster disintegration of coral reefs.

Among the more significant of the study’s findings is that it is possible to attribute some extreme weather to climate change. 

The field known as “attribution science” has advanced rapidly in response to increasing risks from climate change.
The E.P.A. is one of 13 agencies that must approve the report by Aug. 18.

 The agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, has said he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.
“It’s a fraught situation,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geoscience and international affairs at Princeton University who was not involved in the study. 

“This is the first case in which an analysis of climate change of this scope has come up in the Trump administration, and scientists will be watching very carefully to see how they handle it.”


Scientists say they fear the Trump administration could change or suppress the report. 

But those who challenge scientific data on human-caused climate change say they are equally worried that the draft report, as well as the larger National Climate Assessment, will be publicly released.
“The National Climate Assessment seems to be on autopilot because there’s no political that has taken control of it,” said Myron Ebell, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He was referring to a lack of political direction from the Trump administration.
The report says significant advances have been made linking human influence to individual extreme weather events since the last National Climate Assessment was produced in 2014. Still, it notes, crucial uncertainties remain.
It cites the European heat wave of 2003 and the record heat in Australia in 2013 as specific episodes where “relatively strong evidence” showed that a man-made factor contributed to the extreme weather.

In the United States, the authors write, the heat wave that broiled Texas in 2011 was more complicated. 

That year was Texas’ driest on record, and one study cited in the report said local weather variability and La Niña were the primary causes, with a “relatively small” warming contribution. Another study had concluded that climate change made extreme events 20 times more likely in Texas.
Based on those and other conflicting studies, the federal draft concludes that there was a medium likelihood that climate change played a role in the Texas heat wave. But it avoids assessing other individual weather events for their link to climate change. Generally, the report described linking recent major droughts in the United States to human activity as “complicated,” saying that while many droughts have been long and severe, they have not been unprecedented in the earth’s hydrologic natural variation.
Worldwide, the draft report finds it “extremely likely” that more than half of the global mean temperature increase since 1951 can be linked to human influence.
In the United States, the report concludes with “very high” confidence that the number and severity of cool nights has decreased since the 1960s, while the frequency and severity of warm days has increased. Extreme cold waves, it says, are less common since the 1980s, while extreme heat waves are more common.
The study examines every corner of the United States and finds that all of it was touched by climate change. The average annual temperature in the United States will continue to rise, the authors write, making recent record-setting years “relatively common” in the near future. It projects increases of 5.0 to 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.8 to 4.8 degrees Celsius) by the late century, depending on the level of future emissions.
It says the average annual rainfall across the country has increased by about 4 percent since the beginning of the 20th century. Parts of the West, Southwest and Southeast are drying up, while the Southern Plains and Midwest are getting wetter.
With a medium degree of confidence, the authors linked the contribution of human-caused warming to rising temperatures over the Western and Northern United States. It found no direct link in the Southeast.
Additionally, the government scientists wrote that surface, air and ground temperatures in Alaska and the Arctic are warming at a frighteningly fast rate — twice as fast as the global average.
“It is very likely that the accelerated rate of Arctic warming will have a significant consequence for the United States due to accelerating land and sea ice melting that is driving changes in the ocean including sea level rise threatening our coastal communities,” the report says.
Human activity, the report goes on to say, is a primary culprit.
The study does not make policy recommendations, but it notes that stabilizing the global mean temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius — what scientists have referred to as the guard rail beyond which changes become catastrophic — will require significant reductions in global levels of carbon dioxide.
Nearly 200 nations agreed as part of the Paris accords to limit or cut fossil fuel emissions. If countries make good on those promises, the federal report says, that will be a key step toward keeping global warming at manageable levels.
Mr. Trump this year announced the United States will withdraw from the Paris agreement, saying the deal is bad for America.

Press link for more: nytimes.com

5 Countries are winning the battle against #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Auspol 

These 5 Countries Are Killing It in the Battle Against Climate Change
Raya BidshahriAug 07, 2017

When it comes to climate change, government leaders and politicians must begin to think beyond their term limits and lifetimes. They must ask themselves not how they can serve their voters, but rather how they can contribute to our species’ progress.

 They must think beyond the short term economic benefits of fossil fuels, and consider the long term costs to our planet.


Climate change is considered one of the greatest threats to our species. 

If current trends continue, we can expect an increase in frequency of extreme weather events like floods, droughts and heat waves. 

All of these pose a threat to crops, biodiversity, freshwater supplies and above all, human life.
The core of the problem is that we still rely on carbon-based fuels for 85 percent of all the energy we consume every year. 

But as Al Gore points out in his latest TED talk, there is a case for optimism.

“We’re going to win this. 

We are going to prevail,” he says. “We have seen a revolutionary breakthrough in the emergence of these exponential curves.” 

We are seeing an exponential decrease in the costs of renewable energy, increase in energy storage capacity and increase in investments in renewables.

In an attempt to reverse the negative effects of climate change, we must reduce carbon emissions and increase reliance on renewable energy.

 Even more, we need to prepare for the already-emerging negative consequences of changing climates.
Winning the battle against climate change is not a venture that a few nations can accomplish alone. It will take global initiative and collaboration. Here are examples of a few countries leading the way.
Denmark
Considered the most climate-friendly country in the world, Denmark is on the path to be completely independent of fossil fuels by 2050. With the most effective policies for reducing carbon emissions and using renewable energy, it is also a top choice for international students when it comes to environmental education. The nation has also developed an extensive strategy for coping with the effects of extreme weather.
Note that while Denmark is placed fourth by many rankings, including the ‘The Climate Change Performance Index 2016′, it is actually the highest-ranking in the world. Sadly, there was no actual first, second or third place in the rankings since no country was considered “worthy” of the positions.
China
China is far from being the most environmentally friendly country. Yet the nation’s recent investments in renewable energy are noteworthy. Home to the world’s biggest solar farm, China is the world’s biggest investor in domestic solar energy and is also expanding its investments in renewable energies overseas.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the country installed more than 34 gigawatts of solar capacity in 2016, more than double the figure for the US and nearly half of the total added capacity worldwide that year.
France
Home to the international Paris Agreement and the global effort against climate change, France has for long been a global leader in climate change policy. The nation seeks to reduce its emissions by 75 percent in 2050. Thanks to the production of nuclear energy, representing 80 percent of nationwide energy production, France has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions.
President Emmanuel Macron recently announced that the French government is inviting climate change researchers to live and work in France, with all their expenses paid. The government will be providing four-year grants to researchers, graduate students and professors who are working hard on tackling climate change.
India
The world’s emerging economies have some of the greatest energy demands. India’s current leadership recognizes this and has launched several federal-level renewable energy-related policies. Consequently, the nation is on the path to becoming the third-largest solar market in the world.
As solar power has become cheaper than coal in India, the nation is leading a significant energy and economic transformation. It will be the host of the International Solar Alliance, with the objective of providing some of the poorest countries around the world with solar energy infrastructure.
Sweden
Sweden has passed a law that obliges the government to cut all greenhouse emissions by 2045. The climate minister has called for the rest of the world to “step up and fulfill the Paris Agreement.”
With more than half of its energy coming from renewable sources and a very successful recycling program, the country leads many initiatives on climate change. According to the OECD Environmental Performance Review 2014, it is one of the most innovative countries when it comes to environment-related technology.
Protecting our Home, The Pale Blue Dot
Legendary astronomer Carl Sagan said it best when he pointed out that “The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.”
On February 14 1990, as the spacecraft Voyager 1 was leaving our planetary neighborhood, Sagan suggested NASA engineers turn it around for one last look at Earth from 6.4 billion kilometers away. The picture that was taken depicts Earth as a tiny point of light—a “pale blue dot,” as it was called—only 0.12 pixels in size.
In Sagan’s own words, “The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.”
When we see our planet from a cosmic perspective and consider the fragility of our planet in the vast cosmic arena, can we justify our actions? Given the potential of climate change to displace millions of people and cause chaos around the planet, we have a moral imperative to protect our only home, the pale blue dot.

Press link for more: Singularity hub.com

What ice cores tell us about #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol 

This is what ancient, 3km long ice cores tell us about climate change

Cracks are seen on the Fourcade glacier near Argentina’s Carlini Base in Antarctica, January 12, 2017. Picture taken January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Nicolas Misculin – RTSW9RN

The speed at which CO₂ is rising has no comparison in the recorded past.

Image: REUTERS/Nicolas Misculin

There are those who say the climate has always changed, and that carbon dioxide levels have always fluctuated.

 That’s true. But it’s also true that since the industrial revolution, CO₂ levels in the atmosphere have climbed to levels that are unprecedented over hundreds of millennia.
So here’s a short video we made, to put recent climate change and carbon dioxide emissions into the context of the past 800,000 years.

The temperature-CO₂ connection
Earth has a natural greenhouse effect, and it is really important. Without it, the average temperature on the surface of the planet would be about -18℃ and human life would not exist. Carbon dioxide (CO₂) is one of the gases in our atmosphere that traps heat and makes the planet habitable.
We have known about the greenhouse effect for well over a century. About 150 years ago, a physicist called John Tyndall used laboratory experiments to demonstrate the greenhouse properties of CO₂ gas. Then, in the late 1800s, the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius first calculated the greenhouse effect of CO₂ in our atmosphere and linked it to past ice ages on our planet.
Modern scientists and engineers have explored these links in intricate detail in recent decades, by drilling into the ice sheets that cover Antarctica and Greenland. Thousands of years of snow have compressed into thick slabs of ice. The resulting ice cores can be more than 3km long and extend back a staggering 800,000 years.
Scientists use the chemistry of the water molecules in the ice layers to see how the temperature has varied through the millennia. These ice layers also trap tiny bubbles from the ancient atmosphere, allowing us to measure prehistoric CO₂ levels directly.

 

The ice cores reveal an incredibly tight connection between temperature and greenhouse gas levels through the ice age cycles, thus proving the concepts put forward by Arrhenius more than a century ago.
In previous warm periods, it was not a CO₂ spike that kickstarted the warming, but small and predictable wobbles in Earth’s rotation and orbit around the Sun. CO₂ played a big role as a natural amplifier of the small climate shifts initiated by these wobbles. As the planet began to cool, more CO₂ dissolved into the oceans, reducing the greenhouse effect and causing more cooling. Similarly, CO₂ was released from the oceans to the atmosphere when the planet warmed, driving further warming.
But things are very different this time around. Humans are responsible for adding huge quantities of extra CO₂ to the atmosphere – and fast.
The speed at which CO₂ is rising has no comparison in the recorded past. The fastest natural shifts out of ice ages saw CO₂ levels increase by around 35 parts per million (ppm) in 1,000 years. It might be hard to believe, but humans have emitted the equivalent amount in just the last 17 years.
Before the industrial revolution, the natural level of atmospheric CO₂ during warm interglacials was around 280 ppm. The frigid ice ages, which caused kilometre-thick ice sheets to build up over much of North America and Eurasia, had CO₂ levels of around 180 ppm.
Burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, takes ancient carbon that was locked within the Earth and puts it into the atmosphere as CO₂. Since the industrial revolution humans have burned an enormous amount of fossil fuel, causing atmospheric CO₂ and other greenhouse gases to skyrocket.
In mid-2017, atmospheric CO₂ now stands at 409 ppm. This is completely unprecedented in the past 800,000 years.


The massive blast of CO₂ is causing the climate to warm rapidly. The last IPCC report concluded that by the end of this century we will get to more than 4℃ above pre-industrial levels (1850-99) if we continue on a high-emissions pathway.
If we work towards the goals of the Paris Agreement, by rapidly curbing our CO₂ emissions and developing new technologies to remove excess CO₂ from the atmosphere, then we stand a chance of limiting warming to around 2℃.
The fundamental science is very well understood. The evidence that climate change is happening is abundant and clear. The difficult part is: what do we do next? More than ever, we need strong, cooperative and accountable leadership from politicians of all nations. Only then will we avoid the worst of climate change and adapt to the impacts we can’t halt.

Press link for more: weforum.org

Sea level rise’s impacts hardest to ignore. #StopAdani #auspol 

The State of Climate Science: Sea Level Rise’s Impacts Are the Hardest to Ignore – Climate Liability News
For years, politically and financially motivated campaigns have wrapped climate science in a cloak of doubt. 

Scientists, initially caught off guard, eventually responded with a relentless barrage of peer-reviewed papers producing a collection of very specific findings that together have led to irrefutable evidence of the human fingerprints on climate change. 

In this three-part series, we’ll look at the state of the science linking human-induced climate change to environmental, human and business impacts and whether the science has grown strong enough to be successful evidence in lawsuits holding fossil fuel producers accountable for those impacts.
By Amy Westervelt

Few people are clearer on the scientific evidence for anthropogenic climate change than those who study the warming, rising oceans.

 And among all of climate change’s impacts, sea level rise is the most obvious to see and quantify.
According to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global sea levels have risen by about 8 inches since 1880, the start of the industrial revolution.

 The report shows that rate is increasing, with projections of 2 to 7 more feet of rise this century, the higher number based on a high-emissions scenario in which the Greenland Ice Sheet melts completely by 2100.
A groundbreaking study led by Robert Kopp, associate professor in Rutgers’ Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, published last year in Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS) quantified the extent to which human behavior has impacted sea level rise.

Kopp and his colleagues found that without human-caused global warming, global sea level would have risen by less than half the observed 20th century increase and might even have fallen. 

“The 20th-century rise was extraordinary in the context of the last three millennia – and the rise over the last two decades has been even faster,” Kopp said when the paper was published.
Ben Strauss, vice president for sea level rise and climate impacts at Climate Central, said research conducted over the past three years has been able to precisely pinpoint the human contribution to sea level rise by stripping away all other potential drivers, including natural variability, sinking land, non-emissions-related human causes, and the global cooling of the 19th century. “You need a rigorous analysis to quantify the human contribution to sea level rise, versus just quantifying total global sea rise,” he said.  
Recent research has done just that, and the results are conclusive: humans have caused the seas to rise in addition to the increases that occurred naturally.

 On average, globally, human causes have increased sea levels between 5 and 6 inches. The potential damage threatens coastal communities and infrastructure throughout the U.S., putting millions of people in harm’s way.
“In the period since 1980, atmospheric CO2 emissions attributable to man—and it doesn’t all stay in the atmosphere, some is deposited in oceans, forests, and so forth—but cumulative emissions from that period, 1980 to now, is equal to or greater than all previous emissions, going back to the pre-industrial age,” said Dan Cayan, a climate and atmospheric science researcher at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego.
“So in this relatively short period of time, we’ve almost doubled the amount of CO2 in the ecosystem.”
Cayan, who works with the state of California to determine the impacts of sea level rise and plan mitigation strategies, said both global and regional temperatures have responded accordingly. “According to most models, doubling emissions would increase temperatures in California by about 4 degrees Fahrenheit,” he said.
That might not seem like much, but it has cascading and worrisome consequences. “In California, for every degree Fahrenheit of warming, we lose about 20 percent of the spring snowpack,” Cayan said.
California will be hard hit by global climate change, as sea levels rise and coastal flooding increases. Science linking that rise to human-related CO2 emissions is now building the foundation for legal action. Lawsuits filed in July by the counties of San Mateo and Marin and the city of Imperial Beach charge some of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions – 37 fossil fuel companies – with public nuisance and negligence in an attempt to require these companies to absorb some of the costs associated with adapting to sea level rise.
Detailing the Damage
Other coastal cities may soon follow suit, pun intended. New York City has estimated its adaptation costs with respect to sea level rise at about $19.5 billion. Recent studies have attributed about $2 billion of the $12 billion in damage inflicted by superstorm Sandy in New York City alone to human contributions. That estimate was made possible in part by the research led by Kopp.
Strauss and his team have taken that research and run with it, analyzing the frequency of nuisance floods, defined as flooding that closes coastal area roads, overwhelms storm drains, and compromises infrastructure. Strauss calculated that from 1950 through 2014, 5,809 of the 8,726 nuisance flood days— two-thirds of them— would not have taken place without human-caused global sea level rise. Even using a low estimate, more than 3,500 of the flood days would not have taken place.

“Intuitively, you could say that every coastal flood should be more damaging if it starts at a higher sea level, and most attribution science focuses on the question of whether a damaging event was made more likely by climate change,” Strauss said. “But working with sea level and coastal floods you can sidestep that question entirely. You can basically say we don’t care how or why the storm happened, in fact you can even assume climate change had no role in the strength or length of the storm, and still say it did more damage because it started at a higher sea level.”
Strauss said three out of four coastal floods over the last decade in the U.S. were tipped over the balance by human-caused climate change. “They would not have exceeded the National Weather Service’s definition of a flood if you removed that human-caused sea level rise,” he said.
Strauss and his team are now working to refine work they began in 2014, quantifying the cost of the damage inflicted by human-induced sea-level rise during superstorm Sandy. By focussing on New York City, the team initially attributed about $2 billion of the $12 billion in damages to human-related sea level rise. “That was before the Kopp et al paper came out,” Strauss said. “Now we’re working with real numbers, and we’re expanding to include the tri-state area.”
Those numbers run counter to the arguments used by fossil fuel companies for decades to justify continuing and unlimited fossil fuel burning: that climate change is not driven by human activity, and even if it was, its impacts won’t be significant and won’t be felt until far in the future.
Data and Deception
That campaign to obscure the realities of climate change has come into increasing focus in recent years.
“There is growing awareness and documentation that major fossil fuel companies knew of the impacts of their products back in the 1980s and that they invested millions of dollars and time in order to sow confusion and avoid regulation,” said Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Much of that documentation has come to light in the cases brought against ExxonMobil by the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts. A timeline included in the exhibits filed as part of the California cases reveals the impact of this deception. It shows mounting scientific evidence, and transparency, around the human drivers of climate change in the 1970s and 1980s, building to the summer of 1988 when several bills targeting greenhouse gas emissions were proposed (half by Republicans). The trends shift in the early 1990s, as fossil fuel industry trade groups like the Information Council for the Environment (ICE), formed by the coal industry, and the American Petroleum Institute, begin to fund national climate change denial campaigns. In the intervening years, scientists have worked to compile data that is hard, if not impossible, to politicize or deny.  
In addition to the work Kopp and Strauss have done to pinpoint how humans have impacted sea level rise, Frumhoff and his colleagues have worked to link human-induced climate change to natural disasters and their resulting deaths. Frumhoff also points to the work of Richard Heady, which quantified the contribution of a relatively small group of companies – what Heady calls the “carbon majors” – to climate change. “Heady’s work reveals the remarkable fact that two thirds of industrial emissions are attributable to a small number of companies,” Frumhoff said.
The amount of evidence mixed with the documented deception has many drawing parallels to the tobacco cases in the 1980s and 1990s.
“One thing I’ve been struck by is that in the early days of cases being brought against tobacco, juries and judges initially ruled for industry,” Frumhoff said. “They focused on smoking as a personal choice, and so forth. Over time that changed and by the 1980s cases were beginning to be adjudicated differently and hold companies liable. But the science didn’t change, it stayed the same. What changed was the evidence – some through legal discovery – that companies were engaging in obfuscation, and it was clear that they knew what they were doing and were deliberate in their behavior.”
Frumhoff sees a similar pattern now, with even more powerful new science strengthening the argument.
“There are changes in climate science that are germane,” he said. “The fact that we have this list of a few companies that are primary contributors to climate change coming out at the same time that we have this evidence of deception from companies on climate science … it would be ironic if it weren’t also catastrophic.”  

Press link for more: climateliabilitynews

Why we are naively optimistic about #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol 

Why We Are Naively Optimistic About Climate Change
Marcelo GleiserAugust 2, 20178:36 AM ET

Sunset at Paranal Observatory in northern Chile.

S. Guisard/ESO

There is comfort in distance, especially when the distance is in time.
Things that will happen far in the future seem not to bother us much, given that we will, most likely, be out of the picture.

This is certainly true when I put on my astrophysicist hat and talk about how the sun will turn into a red giant star in about five billion years, engulfing Mercury and Venus in the process, swelling up to almost Earth’s orbit. 

Clearly, such cosmic cataclysm will mark the definitive end of our planet as we know it. A roasted chunk of stuff will remain, but nothing like we see today.
But who cares, right? 

It’s so far away in the future, that even if I say that changes in the sun will turn Earth inhospitable for life much earlier, perhaps under a billion years from now, people will still shrug. 

A billion years? 

I can’t comprehend that kind of time.
Fair enough. 

But if we could bring the cataclysmic clock a bit closer to us, what would be the timeframe that would make people start to care, hopefully fear, the horrendous oncoming destruction of our way of life? 

One million years?

 Too far out. 

One thousand years? 

Still, not really relevant. 

One hundred years? 

Okay, here it starts to get uncomfortable. 

Seventy years?

 Now we are within the lifetime of most people under 10 years old.

So, if the world as we know it would cease to be in 70 years, people should start to take notice now. 

I have an 11-year-old and a 5-year-old.

 Barring unforeseen catastrophe, they will be around in 70 years.

 I would want their world to be better than mine, not worse. 

That should be the legacy of our generation.

 Unfortunately, we are failing, and those who deny it won’t have to see the consequences of their choices. 

How comfortable.

Seventy takes us near the end of this century, when predictions from climate models describe terrifying scenarios.

 We tend to focus on the rising of the oceans, and the forced displacement of tens of millions to the interior. 

Miami, New York, Rio, Bangladesh — How is that going to work, exactly? 

Where will the people go? 

How are they going to eat, find shelter?

 Are we, or the government, doing enough to prepare, even for a just-in-case scenario?

Last month, a trillion-ton iceberg the size of Delaware broke off from the Western coast of Antarctica, part of the Larsen C shelf.

 (Make sure you watch the video too.) 

The geographical change is so dramatic that maps of the continent will have to be redrawn. 

Although it’s hard to attribute a particular weather-related event to climate change — scientific modeling of global warming describes the relative statistical possibilities of different scenarios, not sure-shot predictions — the cumulative effect of this event and others that preceded it in Larsen shelves A and B add up to a radical change in Antarctica’s landscape.

As David Wallace-Wells pointed out last month in an important article for New York Magazine, even if we enjoy watching movies and TV series about dystopian futures, such as Mad Max, The Hunger Games, and Black Mirror, we tend to dismiss such scenarios as a realistic possibility in our lifetimes. 

Unless, that is, things begin to crumble. 

As Wallace-Wells remarked: “It is unlikely that all of these warming scenarios will be fully realized, largely because the devastation along the way will shake our complacency.” We will react under pressure, even if, by then, it will be too late to reverse or even slow down, in any relevant way, the warming trend.
According to the latest report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), over the next decades the sea level will rise gradually anywhere from 0.2 meter (0.67 ft.) to 1 meter (3.3 ft.) by 2100. 


In their assessment, scientists working for the IPCC use words like “highly likely” and “high confidence,” and only rarely “virtually certain,” which are not dramatic enough for the general public or politicians. 

Models show that temperatures will fluctuate more widely, with heat waves increasing over time. 

The planet is already warming up, as recent decades have been the warmest on average over the past 150 years. 

Heat waves impact food production, increase disease, and affect those in need more directly. A European heat wave in 2003 killed 2,000 people a day, with more than total 35,000 dead. 

As Wallace-Wells summarizes from interviews with many professional scientists who have spent their careers studying the weather and climate change: “No plausible program of emissions reductions alone can prevent climate disaster.” This is a runaway train.
The list of horrors is long. Widespread famine leads to massive migration, making what’s happening in Europe today pale in comparison. As the temperature rises, the Arctic permafrost (land that is permanently frozen, or should be) has started to melt, potentially releasing enormous amounts of trapped carbon in the form of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, with an impact that can reach 34 times that of carbon dioxide by century’s end. If the melting accelerates to two decades, the impact is 86 times as powerful. While the temperature rises, diseases spread, some of them from trapped ice in high latitudes, ancient bugs we have no antibodies to fight. Even if many of these bugs may die during the thawing process, many will survive, carried by air currents and infected people to overpopulated latitudes.
Meanwhile, the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes the oceans to acidify at an alarming rate, compromising corals and fisheries. Coral reefs supply about one-quarter of marine life and feed more than half a billion people today. The dead zones spur the growth of oxygen-eating bacteria, making it impossible for fish to survive. Decomposing organic matter generates hydrogen sulfide, a highly poisonous gas that shuts down the nerves regulating breathing, killing in seconds even at low concentrations. Hydrogen sulfide played a key role in the most severe of all mass extinctions in Earth’s past, when 97 percent of all life died 252 million years ago.
Interestingly, as Wallace-Wells remarks, many climatologists remain optimistic, believing that we will find technological mechanisms to sequester the excess amounts of carbon that are slowly chocking the planet. This trust in science as savior is understandable: If we engineered this mess, we should be able to fix it. But it is also very dangerous. To trust human ingenuity alone is a risky wager, one we can’t afford to lose. The mindset needs to change, and scientists can only do so much to promote this change. People are not getting scared, and scaring tactics often backfire.
Perhaps it will be those who are now 10-years-old that will fix this, knowing that their elders messed it up for them. Shame on us.

Marcelo Gleiser is a theoretical physicist and writer — and a professor of natural philosophy, physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College. He is the director of the Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Engagement at Dartmouth, co-founder of 13.7 and an active promoter of science to the general public. His latest book is The Simple Beauty of the Unexpected: A Natural Philosopher’s Quest for Trout and the Meaning of Everything. You can keep up with Marcelo on Facebook and Twitter: @mgleiser

Press link for more: NPR.ORG