Global Warming – The Bleakest Outlook Yet
March 12, 2007
Starvation. Drought. Flooding. Lack of fresh water. Malaria and dengue fever. Extinction. Malnutrition. Dead coral reefs. Melted glaciers and ice packs. Those are some of the chilling elements of our future according to a UN IPCC report to be released in April of 2007. It sure is a bleak outlook.
I’ll take a closer look at those dire outlooks, then cover a few recent events in the Global Warming world. Finally, I’ll provide a preview to my next major post about Global Warming.
The 2007 UN IPCC Reports
The UN will publish a series of four major reports on Global Warming in 2007. A summary of first report is already out, dealing with updates to current Global Warming trends. The second summary report is due in April of 2007 covering the impacts on Earth of Global Warming. The third and forth summary reports and the full reports are due later this year.
I covered the first summary report of February 2007 in my “Politics, Scandals, Mass Committees” post. This first IPCC report really did the easy part, simply updating data and recent research. Even so, it created major attention, perhaps mostly in the European EU powers. The EU is now in the process of creating much more stringent limits on their internal greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. I discussed the impact of this proposal, now approved by the EU, in my previous “Sauerkraut” post. The current post you are reading contains some updates to the EU plan.
Here is a list of my previous Global Warming posts. There are many more in the pipeline, including one on the impact of populations to be released in a few days:
- GlobalWarming:1 – Culprits, Scoundrels and Villains
- GlobalWarming:2 – Politics, Scandals, Mass Committees
- GlobalWarming:3 – Few Like It Hot
- GlobalWarming:Europe – Sauerkraut, Bourgogne, Bangers
- GlobalWarming:4 – Disastrous Disaster Forecasts
- GlobalWarming:Coulter – To Ann Coulter
In a month (April 2007), a most likely quite controversial summary report “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” is due, dealing with what Global Warming means to Earth, you and me. Although not yet final or published, mush of the current thinking has leaked. This post covers what is known and likely to be included in the April 2007 summary.
The April 2007 UN IPCC Summary Report Preview
This preview does not guarantee anything about the content of the final report. UN reports require a broad agreement through extensive reviews which waters down conclusions and recommendations to the least common denominator. The April Report is currently in that review process. Scientific findings are balanced against national political agendas of well over a hundred nations and against the biases of thousands of scientists.
In spite of their shortcomings , the IPCC reports carry sufficient weight to attract the attentions of a worldwide press, thousands of pro and con bloggers, Skeptics, Deniers, fascists such as Ann Coulter and more importantly, a few politicians. The austerity of the first report was a contributory factor in passing an EU resolution requiring EU countries to reduce emissions by 20% and increase renewable energy sources to 20% of the total demand.
One scientist: “This is the story. This is the whole play. This is how it’s going to affect people. The science is one thing. This is how it affects me, you and the person next door.”
Another comment: Global warming soon will “affect everyone’s life . . . it’s the poor sectors that will be most affected,”
Here are some conclusions known to be in the current pre-release of the April report, according to a Seth Borenstein AP article and numerous similar reports:
Geography, Areas and Life Styles
- The effects of Global Warming are happening far faster than believed earlier. Climate changes are now impacting physical and biological systems on every continent. Global Warming will affect everyone’s lives, in particular the lives of the poorest. Life styles across the world will change, mostly for the worse.
- Africa and Asia will be hit the hardest followed by small island communities. On a relative basis, North America, Europe and Australia face the least impacts. Yet, hurricanes and wildfires already cause major disruptions to North American social, cultural and biological ecosystems. Australia is experiencing a drought partly blamed on Global Warming.
Agriculture, Starvation and Forestry
- The agriculture sector will face major upheavals as their ecosystems move north (south in the Southern Hemisphere) and existing farm land cannot follow. The forest sector faces the same issue.
- The forestry sector will see temporary improvements due to a longer growing season. It will face major upheavals later as its ecosystems move north (south in the Southern Hemisphere) and existing forests cannot follow.
- There will be temporary relief in some agricultural areas, such as soybeans and rice production in Latin America, due to longer growing seasons. Later, 200-600 million people will suffer starvation as agricultural ecosystems are destroyed.
Health and Fresh Water
- Health issues will result in higher death rates. Malnutrition, diarrhea, malaria and dengue fever will grow dramatically. Human allergies are mushrooming due to increased pollens. Smog in the US will cause severe health hazards.
- Hundreds of millions of Africans, tens of millions of Latin Americans and more than a billion of Asians will lack sufficient fresh water.
Ecosystems and Extinctions
- We are truly standing at the edge of mass extinction. Species’ habits and habitants are changing rapidly. Half of Europe’s spaces are vulnerable to extinction.
- Polar bears will only be found in zoos, their northern habitat melted into oblivion. Other polar animals will follow into extinction. Half of Europe’s species are threatened. Pests such as fire ants will thrive.
Oceans, Flooding, Coasts, Arctic and Ice
- Oceans and coastal ecosystems face the most damages. Wetlands will be lost. 100 million people may be flooded out of their lands because of rising sea levels. Coastal flooding might eliminate millions of homes.
- Coral reefs are killed by bleaching. The Great Barrier Reef could become functionally extinct in less than 20 years.
- Transportation, e.g. the Northwest Passage, will “improve” in Arctic regions. This alone may lead to major ecological problems as newly accessible areas are exploited.
- Alpine glaciers in Europe and elsewhere will disappear. Greenland ice sheets decline. The North Pole is no longer under a solid ice pack in the summer.
The report offers some hope if nations slow and then reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, but it notes that what’s happening now isn’t encouraging. The Report states: Many, but not all, of those effects can be prevented if within a generation the world slows down its emissions of carbon dioxide and if the level of greenhouse gases sticking around in the atmosphere stabilizes. If that’s the case, the report says “most major impacts on human welfare would be avoided; but some major impacts on ecosystems are likely to occur.
I truly object to the statement that “those effects can be prevented if within a generation the world slows down its emissions”. I believe reductions in emissions must start very soon, or within a few years, for mankind to stand a reasonable chance of survival. Waiting a generation will not do it.
My previous and upcoming posts deal with all of these issues, and many more, in great detail.
Other recent comments about Global Warming
Global Warming is catching enormous amounts of publicity these days. Here is a very brief update of what people think as seen by the press.
EU Pursuing Drastic Global Warming Actions
My post GlobalWarming:Europe – Sauerkraut, Bourgogne, Bangers discussed a recent European Union proposal to reduce carbon gas emissions in a quite drastic manner. March 8, 2007, this proposal was approved by an EU Summit. Here are a few comments:
- European Union leaders agreed to fight climate change with more windmills, solar panels, nuclear power and efficient light bulbs. The plan goes beyond the 35-nation Kyoto Protocol in setting targets for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases. The deal does not yet include an enforcement mechanism.
- “We assume leadership with this unilateral reduction,” said French President Jacques Chirac. “This is part of the great moments of European history.”
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who holds both the presidency of the EU and the Group of Eight industrialized nations, will present the plans to President Bush and other G-8 leaders at a summit in June. Merkel challenged the rest of the world to follow the EU, saying there still was time to “avoid what could well be a human calamity” caused by an overheated planet.
- Merkel continued: “We are not saying they should throw out all bulbs in their house today, but everybody should start thinking about what’s in the shops”; “Most of the bulbs in my flat are energy-saving bulbs, but they’re not quite bright enough, so sometimes when I’m looking for something that’s dropped on the carpet, I have a bit of a problem.”
- The major business lobbying group BusinessEurope complained to Merkel this week about the energy targets and said it was “a step into the unknown” because no one has ever assessed the impact on European companies.
- The nations are divided over the role of nuclear energy. At French insistence, the summit agreement noted the role atomic energy could play in replacing coal- or oil-fired power plants.
- Friends of the Earth called the mention of nuclear energy in the final statement “appalling”; “Nuclear energy is too expensive. Nations should invest more cleverly in developing other energy sources,” said Jan Kowalzig, a campaigner with Friends of the Earth.
There is nothing wrong with this quite ambitious plan except it will not make much of a difference by itself. The EU may be the largest trading and political union on earth but their emissions are not large enough that even a 20% reduction will materially change the impact of Global Warming. There is no way Global Warming is defeated unless the US, China and India jumps on the band wagon.
If, on the other hand, the rest of the world follows the EU lead, then the problem of Global Warming is solved. I discussed these possible outcomes in my previous European post. Check it out.
The Plight of Skeptics
Here is from a UK Telegraph newspaper report 3/11/2007, proposing Skeptics of Global Warming are ill treated:
- Scientists who questioned mankind’s impact on climate change have received death threats and claim to have been shunned by the scientific community.
- Timothy Ball, a former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg in Canada, has received five deaths threats. “I can tolerate being called a skeptic because all scientists should be skeptics, but then they started calling us deniers, with all the connotations of the Holocaust. That is an obscenity. It has got really nasty and personal.”
- Richard Lindzen, the professor of Atmospheric Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology said: “Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves labeled as industry stooges. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science.”
- Dr Myles Allen, from Oxford University, agreed: “The Green movement has hijacked the issue of climate change. It is ludicrous to suggest the only way to deal with the problem is to start micro managing everyone, which is what environmentalists seem to want to do.”
- Nigel Calder, a former editor of New Scientist, said: “Governments are trying to achieve unanimity by stifling any scientist who disagrees. Einstein could not have got funding under the present system.”
Making death threats certainly crosses the border into terrorist camps by whoever made them. The trouble I have with all Skeptics is their lack of documented facts to support their positions. I’m not really concerned with who or what is hijacking grants and stifling views. It seems to me that no Skeptic views are stifled – Professor Ball is more widely published than most “pro-Global Warmers”. How come the article only deals with perceived personal slights rather than the actual issue of Global Warming?
Ann Coulter, another Skeptic, does not share Professor Ball’s concerns about name calling. Follow this link to her comments on Global Warming and various other issues.
And the Troubles of Believers
James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, and two dozen other conservative Christian leaders, including Gary L. Bauer, Tony Perkins and Paul M. Weyrich, denounced the association’s vice president, the Rev. Richard Cizik, for urging attention to global warming:
- Cizik and others are using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time, such as abortion and same-sex marriage.
- Cizik cannot be trusted to articulate the views of American evangelicals on environmental issues, then we respectfully suggest that he be encouraged to resign his position with the NAE [National Association of Evangelists].
It appears the NAE board decided to ignore the concerns of Mr. Dobson et al. Mr. Dobson, of course is a steadfast Republican right winger specializing in “family issues”. He chairs the “Focus on the Family” organization that supports school prayer and corporal punishment, a truly mind boggling combination of subjects. NAE lobbies against and opposes abortion, homosexuality, pornography and pre-martial sexual activity. It provides advice for victims of rape or child abuse and on parenting difficulties; child adoption; husband/wife roles; family history and traditions; struggles with gambling, pornography, alcohol, and drugs.
Perhaps that is all good and well if that’s what you fancy. But I can’t seem to find anything indicating insights into Global Warming here. Aren’t evangelists allowed to express concerns about the future of mankind? Why is Global Warming a religious or political issue?
Global Warming and Too many People
Here is a brief preview of my next Global Warming post discussing the impact of increasing populations. This post is scheduled for release by Mid March 2007.
“With populations up 2,000% together with huge leaps in standards of living, many raw material reserves decline simply because we consume them. Earth is no bigger than a thousand years ago. Many oil, gas and coal fields are already silent, depleted and abandoned for ever. The capacity of air, oceans and biomass to store greenhouse gases is declining.”
“Growth in populations accounted for 2/3 of the growth in emissions. A technology factor makes up the remaining 1/3 of emissions.”
“There are limits to food productivity and farm lands, especially as Global Warming reduces arable acreage. Fresh water supplies are dwindling as glaciers disappear and too much is tapped. There is only so much coal and oil left in the ground. It takes 80 years to replace the tree cut down to print an Ann Coulter article. Too many of us labor in industries that do little to sustain life, such as – come to think of it – almost all industries.”
“Tragically, organizations such as EPA, CDC and numerous think tanks, universities and industries are quite aware of these problems yet do little to resolve them, perhaps to please a famously ignorant President. This ain’t rocket science. The solutions are well known.”
“The high tech workers in strong demand cannot be supplied from the poor countries. Instead, these mainly equatorial, poor countries have a huge surplus of unskilled labor. This is where we may face a major social issue as their populations continue to explode resulting in an ever growing unskilled labor surplus. To make things even worse, Global Warming will force a migration northwards throughout the Northern Hemisphere and the reverse south of the Equator simply because of a similar migration of food supplies and life supporting ecosystems including fresh water.”
“The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the UK and, in particular, France have already seen some very ugly riots involving immigrants and the domestic population, usually the police. Many of these clashes involve Muslim immigrants frustrated by perceived or real injustices. Australia has seen its share of immigrant riots as well as Australians rioting against immigrants. These tensions are a two way street.”
Thank you, Karl