Friday, August 2, 2013

"Hell" is Coming- Can Humans Deal With It?

Tim Holmes
A vision of our future by 2065? Very likely - as well as mass murders, terrorism, wars and mayhem - all from hotter temperatures!

In my March 11 blog post I noted that according to Shaun Marcott, a geologist at Oregon State University:

 "Global temperatures are warmer than about 75 percent of anything we've seen over the last 11,000 years or so."

Now that’s changed, and we learn warming is outpacing anything we’ve seen for the past 65 million years. A report out of Stanford University and published in the journal Science shows the extent to which the rate of climate change is going to wreak havoc and catastrophe on our human world if the projections hold up. (And with fracking and massive release of methane gas on offer in the U.S., the pace of warming will pick up if anything!)

The Stanford  researchers in their paper state that the pace will accelerate to 50 or even 100 times faster than anything we’ve seen before. If this is so, it means we are well under way to experience the dreaded runaway Greenhouse effect.  Scientific American explains:

“They looked at climate events or major transitions that have happened on Earth since the extinction of the dinosaurs. Those include the period when the Earth emerged from an ice age. Temperatures then increased between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius, similar to the amount scientists say is possible with ongoing climate change. But that change happened over about 20,000 years, the scientists said, and not decades as is happening now.”

As if this wasn’t bad enough, another study, this one from the University of Texas and published in the journal Nature, has found that the Antarctic permafrost too is melting at a rate 10 times anything seen before; in the case, in the past 11,000 years. While they don’t attribute the change to increased temperatures (it’s rather “altered weather patterns”) that won’t be much satisfaction to the small islands in the Pacific and elsewhere affected by much higher sea levels on account of the added methane released from the permafrost melt, and the more rapid sea ice melting.

The Stanford team has far less optimism and for good reason: To keep up with current pace of global warming, according to study author Christopher Field, we will need to start adapting on a considerably faster schedule (i.e. maybe get used to no a/c during heat waves since at the pinnacle our power grid won't be able to handle it anyway!). The outlook for mitigating its effects now, in his estimation, is not so good. As he put it:

To hold the temperature increase to about 1.5 degrees, the globe would need to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, and then have negative emissions, meaning the sum of all human activities is a net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere,”

The problem is that this is about as likely to transpire as our pusillanimous congress finding the balls to halt the NSA surveillance over reach. (Or  equivalently, advanced aliens from Tau Ceti landing to stop the NSA for the good of everyone on the planet.)

The other just exposed aspect to the problem, highlighted in today’s Denver Post, p. 1B, is the finding that as the planet gets warmer and affects humans more, people will get nastier, uglier, more violent. That necessarily means more wars, more terrorists, more insane blow ups and incidents of mass killings, mass murders, serial murders and genocides.  Not to mention more bar fights, more rage driving incidents, more rapes, and more assaults on hapless wives.
According to lead author Solomon Hsiang at the University of California, Berkeley:
When the weather gets bad we tend to be more willing to hurt other people.”
Hsiang and his team of researchers analyzed 60 studies on historic collapses of empires, recent wars, crime rates in the U.S. and lab simulations that tested police decisions on when to shoot.  They found that invariably extreme weather- meaning hot – translates to violence.
This means that in a world approaching greenhouse runaway we will be confronted with violence at almost every turn. Hsiang’s team actually arrived at a formula that predicts how much risk exists for various types of violence and how these risks should increase with extreme weather.
Thus, in war-torn parts of Africa, every added degree Fahrenheit increases the chance of conflict between groups- rebellion, war, civil unrest, by 14 percent. For the U.S. the formula says that for every increase of 5.4 F the likelihood of violent crime increases by 2-4 %.  This is worth noting, since as the Post article on the research notes:

“Temperatures in much of North America and Eurasia are likely to go up by 5.4 degrees by about 2065”.(According to a separate paper published Thursday in Science, this is the one from Stanford).

The same paper sees temperature increasing 3.6F in the next half-century implying 40-50% more African wars than would be expected without global warming.

Interestingly, the insurance companies and re-insurers – like Munich Re- are already making plans to cope with the upcoming disasters. Meanwhile, morons like Tom Coburn and other yokels continue to yap about “the biggest hoax ever” and bury their heads in the sand.

We can only hope saner, more intelligent heads prevail – but in this country – that’s not a given.

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