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Climate Crisis: Disaster Looms

By Countercurrents.org

20 May, 2013

Citing a new study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent, The Guardian, reported [1]:

Global warming would lead to catastrophe across large swaths of the Earth, causing droughts, storms, floods and heatwaves, and drastic effects on agricultural productivity leading to secondary effects such as mass migration.

Alexander Otto, at the University of Oxford, lead author of the research, told the Guardian most of the climate change models used by scientists were "pretty accurate".

Jochem Marotzke, professor at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg and a co-author of the paper, said: "Over the past decade the world as a whole has continued to warm but the warming is mostly in the subsurface oceans rather than at the surface."

Other researchers also warned that there was little comfort to be taken from the new estimates – GHG emissions are rising at a far higher rate than had been predicted by this stage of the 21st century and set to rise even further, so estimates for how much warming is likely will also have to be upped.

Richard Allan, reader in climate at the University of Reading, said the effect of pollutants in the atmosphere, which reflect the sun's heat back into space, was particularly hard to measure.

He noted the inferred sensitivity of climate to a doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations based on this new study, suggesting a rise of 1.2C to 3.9C, was consistent with the range from climate simulations of 2.2C to 4.7C. He said: "With work like this our predictions become ever better."

No luxury of time

A Charlestown, Nevis datelined IPS report by Desmond Brown [2] said:

The Caribbean does not have the luxury of time for decisive action on climate change and global warming. It is on the brink of calamity, according to a prominent scientist.

Conrad Douglas, a Jamaican scientist who has published over 350 reports on environmental management and related matters, has warned that “urgent action at all levels [is] required now”, cautioning the region against complacency in dealing with climate change.

Douglas cited new information which put the new tipping point at 450 PPM.

“There are 445 million PPM of carbon dioxide, which is a mere five PPM of carbon dioxide away from the…limit that was projected for catastrophic global tipping points,” he told IPS.

With the projected loading rate at 2.5 PPM per year, Douglas said that within two years, the earth would reach a point where even more catastrophic events would wreak havoc on the planet, its societies and its economies.

“We’ve gotten to a juncture at which the entire planet is facing a precarious situation,” Douglas said. “We are heading towards a dangerous place on planet Earth.”

Douglas’ colleague, John Crowley, said that the planet’s nitrogen cycle had been severely thrown out of balance because of the massive overuse of inorganic fertilizers.

“That, according to the specialists, is having catastrophic and potentially irreversible consequences that require a major rethink of agricultural systems, including but not limited to fertilizer use,” he told IPS.

Both scientists are among dozens who gathered in Charlestown from May 15 to 16 for a UNESCO-sponsored sub-regional meeting on environmental policy formulation and planning in the Caribbean region.

“It was clear already in 2011 when we [first took stock of] these issues that the knowledge about climate change in the Caribbean is insufficient and insufficiently connected to the real dynamics of Caribbean societies,” said Crowley, a UNESCO representative.

In 2009, a group of Jamaican artists launched a national public education campaign on climate change. It was part of a project implemented by Panos Caribbean, a regional organization that helps journalists cover sustainable development issues, and Jamaica’s National Environment Education Committee (NEEC).

The artists produced a package of information designed to educate the Jamaican public. It consisted of a theme song titled “Global Warning”, a series of public service announcements, a mini album of songs on climate change, and a music video for the theme song.

Douglas warned: “It’s our attitudes and values, our failure to change our behavior that has led us to this critical point,” He added that the current path mankind is treading “threatens at the very least to plunge us into a perpetual cycle of poverty and misery”.

Island of death

Summer heatwaves could turn London into an ‘island of death’ this century, experts are warning. Fred Attewill reported [3]:

At the moment 2,000 people in Britain die every year as a result of heatwaves – mostly the elderly and vulnerable who find it difficult to cool down.

But, by 2080, the temperature in towns and cities could rise by 10C, peaking at up to 40C in London in the summer for several days.

The urban ‘heat island’ phenomenon relates to big cities where buildings and asphalt capture the Sun’s light resulting in higher temperatures.

A study in New York’s Manhattan used projections from 16 global climate models under two different GHG emission scenarios to predict temperature-related deaths in the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s.

In one, heat-related deaths rose by 91 percent in the 2080s, compared with the annual average of 369 in the Big Apple’s most densely populated borough in the 1980s.
Another table, using alternative calculations, predicted a 50 percent increase in heat deaths and a 22.1 percent fall in deaths from the cold.

‘The impact of warming temperatures on population health is of increasing concern to health practitioners and policy makers,’ said Prof Patrick Kinney, of Columbia University, New York.

‘Urban areas such as New York City are vulnerable to temperature extremes owing to the high concentration of susceptible populations, as well as enhancement of temperatures due to the urban heat island effects.’


[1] May 19, 2013, “Climate change: human disaster looms, claims new research”, http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/19/climate-change-meltdown-unlikely-research

[2] May 19, 2013, “Caribbean Scientist Warns of Climate Change Disaster”, http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/05/caribbean-scientist-warns-of-climate-change-disaster/

[3] Metro, May 20, 2013, “Hot summers ‘could turn London into isle of death’”, http://metro.co.uk/2013/05/20/hot-summers-could-turn-london-into-isle-of-death-3801081/





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