Water-Logged

July 30, 2013

2010HanOvercast and a bit on the chilly side this way-too-early Tuesday — a normal sort of morning for summertime up here along California’s north coast.
There’s not much distinction between seasons — a day like today could be in January instead of July, except for the rain. One longtime resident told me last week she’d never seen it this dry before.
Not much rain here, or south of here, or anywhere near here.

The weather seasons are experiencing a lobotomy.

And climate change is a bitch for vertebrate species: It’s not anything like the natural dynamism of the geologically recent past – you know, the one in which human civilization, not to mention many of the species with which we share this planet, happened to evolve.

(Illustration found here).

In fact, climate change’s impact goes way-beyond the normal evolutionary process by ‘…a factor of 10,000 times or more.’
How about them apples? Or oranges?

One aspect on all these climate change forecasts and scenarios is the initial figures always seem to be understated, or works off the old, ‘worse than it looks’ syndrome. One should keep in mind Mr. Thomas Andrews’ comment as he viewed the business-as-usual activity on-board the Titanic: Yes. In an hour or so… all this… will be at the bottom of the Atlantic.
Even worse than that, if that’s possible.

And speaking of underwater — a new study outlines a shitty and wet scenario for a not-so-distant future.
Via USAToday:

A rise in sea levels threatens the viability of more than 1,400 cities and towns, including Miami, Virginia Beach and Jacksonville, unless there are deep cuts in heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions, says an analysis out Monday.
Prior emissions have already locked in 4 feet of future sea-level rise that will submerge parts of 316 municipalities, but the timing is unclear and could take hundreds of years, according to the paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
If global warming continues at its current rate through the year 2100, at least an additional 1,100 cities and towns will be mostly under water at high tide in the distant future.
“It’s like this invisible threat,” says author Benjamin Strauss,a scientist at Climate Central, a non-profit, non-advocacy research group based in Princeton, N.J., that’s funded by foundations, individuals and federal grants.
He says these sea levels are much higher than what’s predicted this century — typically 1 to 4 feet — because climate change multiplies their impact over hundreds of years.
He says many people have the mistaken notion that if greenhouse gas emissions stop, the problem of sea levels rising will go away.
It won’t, he says, because carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for centuries — even millenniums — and contributes to two factors that raise sea levels: higher temperatures and the loss of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.
His dire projections suggest that the billions of dollars in damages from last year’s Superstorm Sandy are a harbinger of the future.
“The current trend in carbon emissions likely implies the eventual crippling or loss of most coastal cities in the world,” writes Strauss, who directs Climate Central’s program on rising sea levels.

Some of that business as usual process.

Amid Kate’s royal baby birth last week, Nafeez Ahmed, executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development, in a post at the UK’s Guardian this week takes a look at the prince’s world at age 30 — in 2050, it ain’t pretty:

Fast forward to Year 2050, and assuming Prince George takes after his environmentalist grandfather, he’ll be grappling with the reality of an increasingly uninhabitable planet for over half of the global population.
Based on the most conservative predictions for business as usual — even if we meet all our emissions reduction pledges — we are heading for about 3 degree Celsius rise in global average temperatures by that time.
Let’s not even bother thinking about the impact of amplifying feedbacks that most climate models ignore.
Before 2050, coral bleaching will hit 74 percent of the world’s reefs as ocean temperatures rise — 19 percent have already disappeared, and a recent study suggests we are well on track for coral reefs to become extinct.
Coral reefs affect the entire ocean ecosystem, and as so many fish species are dependent on them to survive, their extinction would undermine the livelihoods of an estimated one billion people who rely on fishing as source of food and income.
Effectively, we would face the complete and irreversible collapse of the marine ecosystem.
That’s just part of it.
By around this time, at least a quarter of the world’s species will be extinct due to global warming.
No wonder one study has argued that the current Holocene extinction event, proceeding over the course of decades rather than centuries largely due to the impact of industrial civilisation, may be the greatest extinction event in Earth’s history.
By 2050, the Prince would also be concerned that 4.8 billion people — over half the then global population — will suffer from severe water scarcity.
Business as usual water management practices will put at risk about $63 trillion — nearly half of the world’s projected GDP at that time.
Simultaneously, wildfires in vulnerable regions will double in destructiveness, with particular hotspots experiencing a five-fold increase in acres burned.

And for more ugly via the Independent:

But new calculations from Canadian and US scientists show that catastrophic warming can occur more easily than had been assumed.
For a planet receiving the same amount of solar radiation as the Earth, a runaway greenhouse effect is a realistic possibility.
The team, led by Colin Goldblatt from the University of Victoria in Canada, wrote in the journal Nature Geoscience: “The runaway greenhouse may be much easier to initiate than previously thought.”

The new study used a simplified model which did not take into account the effect of clouds.
But it still suggests that under certain atmospheric conditions a stable Earth could switch to a runaway greenhouse state.

And in the words of Titanic’s Brock Lovett: “Enough of that shit.”

Happy Tuesday, anyway!

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