Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's looking even worse than we feared

Just received (in print):  New Scientist, issue for Nov 17-23, with the cover story "Climate change: five years ago we feared the worst.  But it's looking even worse than that."  Coming on the heals of yesterday's talk by Peter Harper (What Americans don't get about climate change), seven worrisome signs of potential catastrophe should shake-up anyone feeling complacent or uncertain about the reality of climate change.  Writer Michael Le Page outlines why things are looking very grim indeed:

  1. Arctic ice is warming faster than predicted
  2. Extreme weather is getting more extreme
  3. Food production is taking a hit
  4. Sea levels will rise faster than expected
  5. Greenhouse gas levels could keep rising even if our emissions stop
  6. We're emitting more than ever
  7. Heat stress means big trouble
This last point is particularly ominous.  Steven Sherwood, an atmospheric scientist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, concludes that "if we full 'develop' all of the world's coal, tar sands, shales and other fossil fuels we run a high risk of ending up in a few generations with a largely unlivable planet."  As Peter Harper so aptly put it, I would like my granddaughter's granddaughter to know that we tenants of the early 21st century did all that was humanly possible to keep Earth a hospitable place.

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