Hopefully, folks are paying attention to news beyond the impeachment, even though impeachment seems to be all many news organizations seem to be concerned about. If there is one sector of the news that should be mandatory for people to pay attention to, it is what is happening in climate change.
As we celebrated Christmas, Australia continued to break heat records as their summer started. It seems like the whole Australian continent is on fire. The Amazon continues to burn. This will have some long term effects on the livability of the planet since the Amazon is one of the major sources of oxygen for the planet.
Looking beyond that a young man named Ben See posted a thread on Twitter in which he consolidated many of the expected consequences of climate change into a couple of short and very understandable statements:
1. Warming is underestimated.
2. Warming is faster than expected.
3. Warming of 2- 4°C looks certain.
4. Warming of 4°C kills 7 billion.
5. Warming of 4°C by 2045 possible.
6. Warming of 4°C by 2095 likely.
7. Warming is just 1 of 10 existential threats media ignore.
Scientists privately accept that humans stand no chance of staying below 2C of global warming.
Half of humanity (4 billion humans) and all animal & plant life in their vicinity will soon be exposed to at least 20 days of *deadly* heat extremes a year.
These are just a sample of the tweets in which Ben See paints a very scary, but probably very realistic picture of climate change.
To add insult to injury the current president is in the process of withdrawing us from all climate cooperation around the world. He has gutted the EPA on his watch and rolled back as much of the climate related actions as he could. Plans yet include logging in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska which is anther major source of oxygen for the world.
On the heals of these stories comes the news that the world population reached 7.75 billion in 2019 on its way to 8 billion in 2023. Projections for the future has human population leveling off. According to some experts the maximum human capacity of the earth is around 9 billion.
However, with climate change and the predicted disruptions (see above) the climate may step in to be a brake – albeit a very harsh brake – on continuing population rise.
Yet one more piece to the puzzle of the future of the earth came out Monday. In a more locally focused projection, climate change may be hard on midwestern farmers. From Yale environment:
Climate change is hitting the United States’ corn and soybean belt on two fronts. Warming temperatures are both increasing evaporation of soil moisture in the region and causing weaker summer rainstorms that are dropping less precipitation in the Midwest during the growing season, according to new research by scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. The researchers said this trend will only get worse as global temperatures continue to rise.
The U.S. corn belt — which includes western Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, eastern Nebraska, and eastern Kansas — accounts for more than a third of the global corn supply and is the world’s largest source of soybeans. The region typically gets most of its rainfall during summer months. But the new research, presented this month at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, found that evaporation from soils and plants in the region is exceeding net rainfall during these months. In addition, summer storms — which are shaped by temperature differences between the poles and midlatitudes — are becoming weaker, leading to less precipitation.
As global temperatures increase, the atmosphere holds more moisture, explains a press release from Columbia University. This triggers a greater moisture difference between the Central Plains and the polar regions, “so the storms are trying harder to remove the moisture from the region, to smooth out the gradient,” said atmospheric scientist Mingfang Ting, who led the research. Ting and her colleagues’ work shows that this moisture is being transported away from the corn belt to higher latitudes, including northern regions of the Great Plains.
“Our results suggest that in the future, the U.S. Midwest corn belt will experience more hydrological stress,” Ting said in a statement.
Facing the prospects outlined above, the US will need to lead the world in facing (and I believe there is still time to conquer) the coming crises. The Green New Deal has been proposed but still needs to be fleshed out. Since the GND hasn’t been fleshed out there is time to create programs and actions to directly confront some of the potential hazards coming. This will need to be an “Apollo moon shot” type program knowing that it is a life and death situation.
Lyndon Johnson first warned of the effects of climate change in 1965. We have done little to curb climate change since. We had ample warning and many predictions have come to pass. We are now in a desperate situation. If nothing else this fall please vote for candidates who understand the seriousness of climate change.