Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bill McKibben's Prediction of a Nightmare Climate Future,....Unless!

Miramar, Hollywood, and Miami, FL underwater by 2035? Heat indices for the remaining non-inundated Florida cities in the high hundreds? Florida Power & Light no longer able to keep up with the demand to stay cool....leading to incessant grid crashes? People dying of heat stroke, or drowning?

No, this is not some stoner's phantasmagoria but a reality check and likely scenario of the America we will behold ca. 2035, thanks to precise mathematical forecasts, models that disclose what will transpire if we exceed 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Already we are worrying here on Colorado's Front Range. With Thanksgiving Day tomorrow the temperatures ought to be in the mid 30s with possible precip as snow, not sitting on or near 68 the past few days with nary a sign of even sleet or drizzle. If this ominous trend continues through the winter, the snow pack will be at less than 50% come Spring, and water rationing will be in force. Worse, we will likely have tinder dry brush, trees and land setting the stage for fires rivaling those of this past summer.

Enter Bill McKibben. He is the real deal. A climate scientist who does the math to prove his point, as he did on 'Up With Chris Hayes' this past Saturday morning. To say McKibben had the 'UP' panelists fastened to the edges of their seats is to put in understatement. McKibben, for the benefit of Hayes and his guests laid out the numbers and they aren't pretty, nor can one claim to be an optimist on examining them.

The issue is whether we can avoid the 2 C tipping point, beyond which lies a REAL Hell, an Earthly climate hell,  not the supernatural fantasy world dreamed up by fundagelical psychotics who have lost their meds. Or missed their ECT treatments. McKibben's mathematical limits have been carefully parsed and worked out: we have roughly 550 gigatons (gT) left of carbon we can deposit anthropogenically into the atmosphere before earthly Hell is unleashed. As rising sea waters, hellish tempertures and heat waves, prolonged droughts and dozens of superstorms like the recent 'Sandy'.

Give a current 30 gT/year deposition rate - and assuming we don't add to it, don't increase its rate - that leaves us roughly  18 years before give or take a fraction, before we end up in a likely runaway greenhouse world. It's a world you don't want to be living in, believe me.  McKibben's point was that if we are to avoid that limit everything must be done to limit the rate of carbon deposition, including pursuing alternative energy options and imposing carbon taxes to limit demand.

The problem? The energy- and fossil fuel empires that govern most of our politicos and economic system don't see it that way. McKibben cited the fact that Exxon's share price, for example, is based on a total carbon deposition of at least 2,800 gT - which also conforms to expectations set by hedge funds, et al including Peabody Global. Thus, again, oil economics is poised against the welfare of humanity and the planet.

To put it as McKibben might: Do you want to be able to drive anywhere you wish cheaply and easily, or do you want to fry in endless 'summers' that last all year long...or ...with hundreds of F5  tornadoes to deal with -not to mention new diseases like cholera, amoebic dysentery and dengue fever? A Hobson's choice? Maybe! But the only one on offer.

Meanwhile, a new report issued by the World Bank warned that, based on current climate models, the world can expect extreme heat waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise (as depicted from the U.S. Geological survey and projected for Florida, ca. 2035).

The report says today’s climate could “warm from the current global mean temperature of 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels, to as high as 4°C by 2100, even if countries fulfill current emissions-reduction pledges.”

“A 4°C warmer world can, and must be, avoided — we need to hold warming below 2°C,”

The report titled 'Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided.' states  that  a “below 2°C” mark is achievable and to that end urges the immediate implementation of energy-efficiency initiatives; increasing the production of renewable energy; and redistributing the $1 trillion of subsidies that currently go to fossil fuel and other industries.

The study, which was developed by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics for the World Bank, predicts that the planet’s poorest regions will feel the worst effects of climate change.

Some of the most concerning climate change effects predicted in the report include:

• Sea levels rising up to three feet or more, affecting coastal cities in Mexico, India, Bangladesh, Mozambique, Madagascar, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as small island nations, which could become uninhabitable.

• Drought could affect 44 percent of global croplands, threatening the world’s food security.

• Water sources for humans could become scarce in northern and eastern Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

McKibben for his part observed that after having endured the hottest year in American records history, along with epic drought, enormous wildfires, and even a superstorm, it's time to throw the hammer down and ACT. That must also include terminating the ill-advised Keystone pipeline once and for all - an Obama promise, which he must be held to, no excuses.   Those who want to check out McKibben's blog can go to:

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