Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Climate Crisis Update: Cause & Effects

First, in this post, an update on climate crisis related news, organized as general, related to addressing causes, and finally to addressing effects.  A post on a couple of big, impending, specific issues will follow.

heat map for this coming week from Weather Underground
May is over so the word on that month will be in soon, but the trend was clear with the April world climate data--April 2016 was the hottest April on record, the seventh straight record month.  Moreover: The latest figures smashed the previous record for April by the largest margin ever recorded.  And it was the third straight month that happened.

All this makes it more likely that 2016 will turn out to be the hottest year on record--and become the third straight time that's happened.

These and related records are so frequently broken now that the stories hardly register, like India recording its highest temperature ever (nearly 124 F) and Lake Mead, the reservoir outside Las Vegas, recording its lowest water level ever--both reported on the same day.

  Elizabeth Kolbert's story links the tar sands oil fires in Calgary that threatened to eat a city to the climate crisis, a connection Naomi Klein later made in a speech.

Among the physical effects of ongoing global heating reported in the last month were a current, serious and growing drop in the oceans' oxygen, and ice melt in Greenland accelerated by a combination of heating-caused phenomena including alterations in the atmospheric jet stream.

Stop It: Dealing With Causes

A CNN piece summarizes ways to slow down and stop the causes of future heating, including what communities can do.

A Mother's Day testimony tells a personal story about dedication to such work, again in context of the future, through the form of a letter to a child.

The Paris Agreement calls for plans to addresses causes-- such as reducing greenhouse gases through various means.  The Ontario province of Canada has stepped up with such a plan in detail.

As for existing plans, four teenagers sued the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for not living up to its promises to reduce carbon--and won.

Those means to address causes include a major increase in using clean energy over carbon polluting energy forms.  The good news, as reported by the BBC, is that: New solar, wind and hydropower sources were added in 2015 at the fastest rate the world has yet seen, a study says. Investments in renewables during the year were more than double the amount spent on new coal and gas-fired power plants, the Renewables Global Status Report found. For the first time, emerging economies spent more than the rich on renewable power and fuels."

The bad news is climate crisis denier Donald Trump and his hyper-carbon polluting energy plan.   In a typical example of Trump's hypocrisy however, he's applied for a permit for a seawall to protect his golf course project in Ireland--from "global warming and its effects."  (In some ways this is even more hypocritical than decrying illegal immigration while employing undocumented workers at his hotels.)

In Scientific American, the chair of Hillary Clinton's campaign John Podesta outlined her pragmatic plans to address the climate crisis. Podesta helped engineer President Obama's second term efforts in this regard.

Fix It: Dealing With Effects 

Because of forces already set in motion, global heating probably can't be slowed down or stopped for perhaps a decade or two.  Effects will continue and probably multiply, and these must be recognized and dealt with, even as causes are addressed to save the farther future.

Possible effects on famous world monuments, including flooding, were reviewed in a UN/UNESCO report.

resilence needed here: map from Climate Central
Dealing with sea level rise effects in coastal cities has led to a new job category in municipal government: resilience officer.

Carbon-breathing trees are known to address global heating causes.  But forests also can moderate heat at ground level--particularly, a study finds, old growth forests.  So preserve them!

The increase in high heat in already hot parts of the world is likely to force people to move permanently.  A study quantified how hot and for how long it is likely to get in the Middle East and North Africa, and forecast a huge migration crisis by the end of the century.

There is already a pretty big migration crisis now.  Though the terrible numbers of migrants due to warfare have captured most of the attention (and some of these are arguably related to the climate crisis),  there's an even bigger number of migrants causes by disasters, many of which are related to climate crisis effects: "There were 19.2 million new displacements associated with disasters in 113 countries [in 2015], more than twice as many as for conflict and violence. Over the past eight years, 203.4 million displacements have been recorded, an average of 25.4 million each year."

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