Too Late the Hero?

November 6, 2013

greedHigh overcast and light ground fog this early Wednesday on California’s north coast and the weekend is now within the mind’s eye sight.
As we used to say a shitload of years ago, ‘Keep on truckin’.’

But to where? This morning, the news is jammed with results from yesterday’s off-year elections — more-than-fat-headed Chris Christie wins big; Bill de Blasio’s blow-out New York mayor’s win; a complete asshole lost to a slightly-less of an asshole in Virginia; and voters in Colorado, after okaying marijuana last year, approved a tax on the bud.
An election cycle of little resounding noise.

(Illustration found here).

Except, maybe for the mid-terms next year, but that’s a long time in this crazy, up-chuck of a world. While these knuckle-headed politicians played and swayed the crowd, the ground those assholes are standing on is becoming less and less hospitable — also yesterday, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released a report that if we humans don’t do something quick, climate change is going blow even Chris Christie far, far away:

Scientists say avoiding an upper threshold of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) would help to avert the worst effects of climate change.
While still technically possible, UNEP says achieving that feat looks unlikely.
“The window of opportunity of trying to meet this two-degree target threshold is, in a sense, becoming ever-more elusive,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

We’re sitting on our hands. Or at least when we’re not clapping for them political assholes. All the alarms can sound, but if no one is listening, do these alarms actually make noise?
From the BBC:

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), atmospheric CO2 grew more rapidly last year than its average rise over the past decade.
Concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide also broke previous records
Thanks to carbon dioxide and these other gases, the WMO says the warming effect on our climate has increased by almost a third since 1990.
The WMO’s annual greenhouse gas bulletin measures concentrations in the atmosphere, not emissions on the ground.

Since the start of the industrial era in 1750, global average levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased by 141 percent.
According to the WMO there were 393.1 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 2012, an increase of 2.2ppm over 2011.
This was above the yearly average of 2.02ppm over the past decade.
“The observations highlight yet again how heat-trapping gases from human activities have upset the natural balance of our atmosphere and are a major contribution to climate change,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.
“It is a worry. The more we delay action the bigger the risk we cannot stay under the 2 degree Celsius limit that countries have agreed,” he said.

Recent research indicates that the rate of increase in emissions might be slowing down, but the gases can continue to concentrate in the atmosphere and exert a climate influence for hundreds if not thousands of years.
Scientists believe that the new data indicates that global warming will be back with a vengeance, after a slowdown in the rate of temperature increases over the past 14 years.
“The laws of physics and chemistry are not negotiable,” said Michel Jarraud.
“Greenhouse gases are what they are, the laws of physics show they can only contribute to warming the system, but parts of this heat may go in different places like the oceans for some periods of time,” he said.
This view was echoed by Prof Piers Forster from the University of Leeds.
“For the past decade or so the oceans have been sucking up this extra heat, meaning that surface temperatures have only increased slowly.
“Don’t expect this state of affairs to continue though, the extra heat will eventually come out and bite us, so expect strong warming over the coming decades.”

Last May, we topped the dreaded 400 ppm in  a nefarious milestone and yet the world keeps humming away: And Dr Butler added: “Probably next year, or the year after that, the average yearly reading will pass 400pm.

And the real shit will hit the real fan.

Elizabeth Kolbert, journalist and author of, “Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change,” has a realistic and pessimistic view toward how us humans will handle the throes of climate change in an essay at The New Yorker yesterday.
The money quote:

Meanwhile, as bad as things look for humans, the prognosis for non-humans is, in many ways, worse.
Under all the scenarios that the I.P.C.C. panel considered, including an implausible one in which the world imposes drastic limits on carbon emissions right now, a “large fraction” of terrestrial and freshwater species face elevated extinction risks.
Under the most likely scenarios, many species “will not be able to move fast enough during the 21st century to track suitable climates”, and there is a chance that some ecosystems, including the Arctic tundra and the Amazon rainforest, will undergo “abrupt and irreversible change.”
Forests are already dying back in some parts of the world because of warming-related stress, and more forests are likely to follow suit as temperatures continue to rise.
As Grist put it in a summary of the findings, “Animal Planet will get really boring.”

I posted about the report she mentions here.

Cold day in the tropics.

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