Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"DANGEROUS CLIMATE CHANGE" read the yellow warning sign...

The Coming Global Superstorms

In many ways, it will not be as bad as The Coming Global Superstorm or The Day After Tomorrow, but in other ways it could be ten times worse.

Scientists Warn of Perilous Climate Shift Within Decades, Not Centuries

GIANT boulder set in place in The Bahamas the last time we had global superstorms.
That was 120,000 years ago.
Source: Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post, via Getty Images, via The New York Times.

The nations of the world agreed years ago to try to limit global warming to a level they hoped would prove somewhat tolerable. But leading climate scientists warned on Tuesday that permitting a warming of that magnitude would actually be quite dangerous.
The likely consequences would include killer storms stronger than any in modern times, the disintegration of large parts of the polar ice sheets and a rise of the sea sufficient to begin drowning the world’s coastal cities before the end of this century, the scientists declared.
“We’re in danger of handing young people a situation that’s out of their control,” said James E. Hansen, the retired NASA climate scientist who led the new research. The findings were released Tuesday morning by a European science journal, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.
The basic claim of the paper is that by burning fossil fuels at a prodigious pace and pouring heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, humanity is about to provoke an abrupt climate shift.
Thing is, for the month of February, we've already peeked above the global 1.5 C temperature rise that the COP21 agreed to target to stay below sea-level rise that would be dangerous to the low-lying island and river-delta nations. And the World Meteorological Organization has noted that the extreme temperature rises and the attendant climate-related events at the beginning of this year have shocked scientists around the climate science community, and implied that dangerous climate change has arrived by noting that the events and temps that have just happened have never been seen before in our historical records.
"The alarming rate of change we are now witnessing in our climate as a result of greenhouse gas emissions is unprecedented in modern records." — Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization
The WMO notes a number of extreme and significant climate change related events in its most recent annual report. A series of events that, according to monthly monitoring by NOAA, continued on into a record hot February of 2016. Image source: NOAA. via Robertscribbler.

And a few days before, Robertscribbler noted that without a fast switch to renewables (hydro, solar, wind) and of course, to conservation, rapid climate change could be imminent: a study done in Australia notes that if we continue to increase the extraction, mining and combustion of fossil fuels as usual, we could reach and blow through in 2030 the 2C limit when the really dangerous climate change -- i.e., the coming global superstorms -- develops.

And any related shift in global policy back toward coal, while continuing to build out oil and gas production and consumption based infrastructure would rapidly re-assert the dangerous rates of atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions growth the world has seen over the past few decades. In addition, all current indicators show use of natural gas and oil continuing to expand. And without coordinate reductions in these other two big carbon emitters, a floor will be set on how far greenhouse gas emissions can fall through the, admittedly positive, apparent shift away from coal alone.

As the Australian scientists note ... — you can’t really have much hope of a milder impact from climate change unless you rapidly replace all new growth-based infrastructure with renewables (and related non-carbon emitters). Any new fossil fuel based infrastructure is basically making an already bad problem worse. And continued wholesale reliance on fossil fuels locks in catastrophic climate change over very short time horizons.

Are we -- that is, the movers, shakers and drivers of our economy -- going to do the switchover necessary to forestall this dangerous climate change? After all, the other side peak oil may not hit until 2030, and we could be at or above the limit of 2C temperature rise since the 1880s, and get cast headlong into the age of the global superstorms, with frontal systems the size of mid-size continents and the strength of Category 5 Hurricanes.

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