It seems to me…
“The increasing frequency of extreme weather events, droughts and floods is in line with what climate scientists have been predicting for decades – and evidence is mounting that what’s happening is more severe than predicted, and will get far worse still if we fail to act.” ~ David Suzuki.
President Obama finally acknowledged what the scientific community has been saying for several years: climate change is for real. Hopefully, this finally will help convince the 25 percent of Americans that still do not believe there is any solid evidence supporting global climate change[i].
The White House released an 839-page report, National Climate Assessment, on 6 May 2014 detailing those conclusions to the public that largely remains apathetic and disengaged on the potentially devastating effects of global warming unless quickly mitigated. While the majority of Americans support environmental protection, everyone seems to agree that whatever is done must not affect them personally. Curtailment of power plant carbon emissions is opposed as anti-labor affecting Southern and Midwestern employment. National legislation intended to cap U.S. carbon emissions failed to pass. Everyone objects to wind power construction in their neighborhood.
There is increasing evidence unusual weather events along the eastern coast of the U.S. and in western and northern Europe shifting weather patterns during 2009-2012 are at least partly attributable to loss of sea ice in the Arctic[ii]. Natural climatic oscillations, primarily the Arctic Oscillation, is affected by loss of summer ice altering heat exchange between the ocean and atmosphere resulting in a weakened jet stream that can exhibit larger trajectory changes or lock its path for sustained periods enabling untypical severe weather in these areas. Climatic models referenced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change (IPCC) predicted this trend will continue due to the rise in greenhouse gases.
Rising sea levels resulting from global warming are expected to eventually inundate significant portions of the U.S.’s highly populated east coast. Without significant infrastructure changes, severe flooding in the New York City area forecast to occur only once a century can be anticipated to increase to about once every other year[iii] by the year 2100. While any changes would be expensive, it is estimated that every $1 spent in protective measures can prevent $4 in repairs following these types of events.
Numerous other concerns also will impact us. Sea life underwent significant diversification following the Permian mass extinction 250 million years ago probably attributable to increases in both quantity and quality of microscopic aquatic plants known as phytoplankton that provided the necessary nutrient content at the base of the marine food pyramid[iv]. Global warming could reverse those changes as oceans more closely resemble those of the Mesozoic or Paleozoic periods. Increased ocean warming will impact coccolithophores and other calcifying phytoplankton by exceeding their temperature tolerances while acidification reduces mineral availability necessary for shell formation. These conditions also favor increases in harmful algal blooms of dinoflagellates capable of disrupting avian migration routes along with marine habitats and nurseries for fish and crustaceans.
Environmental change, primarily attributable to global warming, needs to be of much greater concern throughout the world than it currently is. No one appreciates the environmental Cassandra’s predictions but overwhelming scientific evidence supports the probability of catastrophic results if current trends are not reversed.
An increase in world temperatures of 2°C (3.6°F) could result in a global output drop by 2 percent a year. Climate change will affect developing nations the most increasing poverty, malnutrition, and waterborne disease and death. It also likely will result in increased civil conflict over dwindling resources that in turn will increase the difficulty in responding to that change.
Greenhouse gas emissions primarily resulting from combustion of organic fuels is one of the major contributors to these changes. What will it take to for us to accept the seriousness of this threat and take necessary steps to reverse it?
That’s what I think, what about you?
[i] Pew Research
[ii] Greene, Charles H. The Winters of Our Discontent, Scientific American, December 2012, pp50-55.
[iii] Fischetti, Mark. Storm Of the Century Every Two Years, Scientific American, June 2013, pp58-67.
[iv] Martin, Ronald and Antonietta Quigg. Tiny Plants That Once Ruled the Seas, Scientific American, June 2013, pp42-45.