Friday, July 20, 2012

It is going to get a lot hotter!

My cousin Carol alerted me to "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math" by BILL MCKIBBEN in Rolling Stone magazine.

June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average.
Meteorologists reported that this spring was the warmest ever recorded for our nation – in fact, it crushed the old record by so much that it represented the "largest temperature departure from average of any season on record." The same week, Saudi authorities reported that it had rained in Mecca despite a temperature of 109 degrees, the hottest downpour in the planet's history.
 Here are some numbers from the article:
  • Scientists agree that the rise in average global temperature should not exceed 2 degrees C.
  • The increase to date has been 0.8 degrees; if we were to stop emissions of greenhouse gas now, a further rise of 0.8 degrees would probably follow as the impact of what is already there goes through the system (meaning that we only have 0.4 degrees slack in the system)
  • Scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by midcentury and still have some reasonable hope of staying below the two degrees.
  • Carbon emissions continue to increase (with a brief drop in 2009 related to the Great Recession) -- the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of about six degrees.
  • CO2 emissions last year rose to 31.6 gigatons -- at that rate, we'll blow through our 565-gigaton allowance in 16 years
  • Proven coal and oil and gas reserves correspond to 2,795 gigatons of carbon dioxide.
Of course, companies extracting oil, coal and gas are making money doing so and have a lot of political power. Exporting countries want to continue profiting from their reserves. The United States and other countries with domestic reserves are working to exploit those reserves for domestic use.

We are going to see small island nations simply disappear. We are going to see coastal zones flooded and uninhabitable. We are going to see lots of crop failures like the one we are suffering in the United States this year. Good luck!

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