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Global Warming Warning: It’s Worse Than You Thought

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This just in: a weather update for the planet Earth for the next fifty to sixty years. Famine, flooding, fires, and drought are all predicted to be on the increase unless we do something to change our current levels of greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, things are at such a state right now that even if we began to curb emissions today, the planet won't start receiving the benefits from it until 2040.

Now I know, when have you ever been able to trust the weatherman before? Well in this case it's not a moron reading a teleprompter. No: this is a 1572 page report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Some of the highlights of the report: yields in rice crops in China and Bangladesh could drop by up to ten per cent in Bangladesh, and twelve in China. Bangladesh also faces a drop of 1/3 in the yield from their wheat crop by 2050. Of course it won't just all of a sudden cut off that year, it will be a gradual decrease over the years between now and then, slowly increasing the numbers of people in those areas of the world at risk of starvation.

The drops in yield, combined with anticipated population increases, could put an extra 50 million people at risk from hunger as soon as 2020, with the numbers pretty much doubling every thirty years: 132 million in 2050 and 266 million people in 2080. In just over seventy years' time roughly an equivalent number of people to that as currently live in the United States will be at risk from starvation in one small corner of the world.

But according to people like Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper and American President George Bush our economies are more important than reducing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by businesses and cars. Far be it that the people who paid for them being elected have to do anything that will hurt business. Anyway, it's only a bunch of folk on the other side of the world who are going to suffer right away, we're okay for a while.

If it gets too hot here we'll just turn up our air-conditioning, we grow plenty of our own wheat, and be real, how many people really like rice anyway? Who ever heard of having rice with your Sunday side of beef; meat and potatoes are what every right thinking person eats anyway.

So what if water shortages will be felt in India because of glaciers melting in the Himalayan Mountains? I can't see why they're complaining about water shortages anyway when over a 100 million of them are going to be facing flooding problems from the rises in sea levels.

Africa is a lost cause anyway. We keep trying to help them out by "developing" their natural resources for them, but they get all up-tight about wanting to actually retain ownership of the product. With increased flooding and dependency on our aid to survive maybe they'll be a little more reasonable about letting us in on the oil and mineral development.

Does that sound like an overly cynical assessment of the two biggest economies in North America? The thing is that Canada and the United States are continually vying with each other for the position of who is the most wasteful consumer of non-renewable resources in the world. Along with the other developed countries of the world, we are responsible for the majority of the greenhouse gas emissions.

We may not consciously make policy that takes advantage of other people's misfortune, although if you judge by the manner in which the Bush administration has sold off or is in the process selling off Iraq's natural resources to private corporations in the United States, you have to wonder. But the countries that are suffering the most from green house gas emissions are those who actually generate the least.

The majority of the fallout, so to speak, from climate change is being felt in the developing world – specifically the continent of Africa. While the Indian sub-continent, central Asia and China are headed for hard times; it looks mild compared to what could happen in Africa if we continue at the rate we are going.

The rise of sea levels off the coast of East Africa could reduce Gross National Product (GNP) by 10% across the board. Wheat could actually be extinct as a crop across the whole continent by 2080, meaning that they will be completely dependant on foreign sources for one of the basic staples of human existence; the ability to make bread.

Even the developed world will take a hit, as the Mediterranean is close enough to Africa to get some fall out. Due to the delicate nature of the ecosystems in the area, the amount of damage will be substantial. The result would be that by 2070 as many as 44 million Europeans will be facing water shortages.

In the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand face temperature increases that will lead to heat waves, forest fires, droughts and landslides. While across the rest of the region it will create conditions that will see a rise in storms like the tsunami that hit the Solomon Islands prior to the Easter weekend.

While Australia and New Zealand can probably adapt to the changes, the smaller islands will be devastated because of intense infrastructure damage. They just don't have the capacity to recover from that amount of damage on their own, especially since so much of what would be damaged are the facilities they depend on for sources of income.

The report has two very blunt recommendations: first, while it's already too late to do anything about what's going to happen between now and 2040 we can still offset the majority of future disasters by getting serious about controlling greenhouse gas emissions right now. The second recommendation is that steps be taken now to mitigate repercussions by ensuring that public food distribution, health care, and disaster preparation are improved in those areas that will be hardest hit.

If we increase the chances of people surviving and rebuilding after the disasters that occur between now and when the effects of reduced emissions start to be felt, they will be in a better position to take advantage of the improved conditions.

It seems that nowadays you can't open a paper without seeing some politician in North America talking about how they are going to make the environment a priority and they have a plan for reducing greenhouse gasses. They talk about tax incentives for people using public transit, but mass transit in Canada is seriously under funded and expensive to use.

Years of government neglect of mass transit systems across the country have left them with insufficient facilities to handle even the minimal demands put on it now. If people were to start using it in significant enough numbers to make a difference it would require the government to spend money it shows no signs of wanting to.

They've been far too busy giving away budget surpluses as tax breaks to the rich, corporations, and the middle class to ensure their re-election to be able to spend money on frills like maintaining mass transit, let alone upgrading it to the levels it needs to be at.

What the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes clear is that we have run out of time to prevent some disasters from occurring, but if we act quickly we can still stave off the worst damage. But we don't just need to work on controlling greenhouse gases; this panel has only looked at one symptom of a far more deep seated problem, and more then just reducing green house gases is needed for Africa.

We need to provide proper sustainable development assistance to the countries that need it, so that they can become independent. We need to work with them to help curtail the spread of sexually transmitted diseases that are decimating their populations and destroying their economies, and finally we need to work with people and governments to bring populations under control. The world cannot continue to sustain the ever-increasing number of people on the planet.

If we do not work in all three areas at once then we are deluding ourselves that we are accomplishing anything that will assist us in leaving future generations a planet similar to the one we were given at birth. In the last fifty years we have done more harm to the planet then was meted out to her by our ancestors in the length of time our species has existed.

Let's take the next fifty years to correct the mistakes we've made and redress the balance. It's the least we can do.

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About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of two books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion". Aside from Blogcritics his work has appeared around the world in publications like the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and the multilingual web site Qantara.de. He has been writing for Blogcritics.org since 2005 and has published around 1900 articles at the site.
  • everydayjoe

    poppycock. hogwash. balderdash.

    There is a whole lotta “could” “will” and “will be” in this article, that quite frankly doesn’t measure up, when equating scientific conjecture to social policies.

    Global warming is a gutter religion.

  • Dan

    Smoking ‘could’ kill you. Not wearing a seatbelt ‘could’ work against you some day. Quitting your job ‘might’ make things tougher for your children. We are ‘fairly sure’ that dropping out of science class affected your understanding of the natural world. Dreaming that scoffing at global warming ‘might’ improve your jobs prospects, but maybe not…

  • T. Michael Testi

    Lets all stop with the chicken little comments and look at some facts.

    1) According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration there have been 4 ice ages in the last 450 thousand years with the last one ending around 12,000 years ago. It was warmer 4000 years ago than it is now (it was the Pharaohs chariots no doubt) In every one, the global climate has increased to a temperature exceeding where we are now. Most likely, this is the same pattern.

    2) Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and some of their moons are also heating up. What can be the cause of that? hmmm…The Sun comes to mind!

    3) Over the last century the Sun has increased its solar irradiance which peaked around 1990. As early as 2012 and as late as 2025 the effects of this decrease in solar irradiance will be felt as global cooling. So these guys can go back to their lame predictions of the middle 70’s of global cooling.

    Sure there is “global warming”, there always has been and always will be as there will be global cooling until that day that the sun turns out its light. We can’t control that either.

    Look at who is claiming all of this “man is destroying the earth” stuff. It is the people who promote themselves as self important! Gore, Bono et. al. They perceive that they are too important to the world so therefore man must be strong enough to destroy the world.

    The world will be here and functioning long after we are hit by an asteroid. Just ask the Dinosaurs!

    T.

  • Jon

    Sounds like some of the folks commenting need do some homework. Do you really think we can change the chemical composition of our atmosphere without suffering any consequences? Changes in solar radiance have been factored into this. The increased reflection of heat back to the ground due to increased concentrations of CO2 in our atmosphere (that is carbon dioxide for the persons who dropped out of science class) have been calculated quite precisely. These predictions come from folks who study this for a living. What do you do for a living?

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Do you really think we can change the chemical composition of our atmosphere without suffering any consequences?

    Do you really think we can stop or reverse a natural process which has been building for 200 or more years just by depriving ourselves of a few day to day conveniences?

    Dave

  • STM

    “This just in: a weather update for the planet Earth for the next fifty to sixty years. Famine, flooding, fires, and drought”.

    Nice one, Scoop. That’s hardly news Richard. It’s been that way for the past, what, 50 million years?

    It’s not more serious than we thought, but I agree, it IS serious. It’s just unpopular in the US because people are still driving cars that use up three quarters of the world’s remaining fuel supplies on a trip to the office.

    Texas, especially … no oil problems down (up) there.

  • STM

    And on their tips for Australia – heat waves, forest fires, etc – we’re used to all that.

    There’s fires raging across this continent every year, the place has been in drought for six long fu.king years, there are already landslides all over the place, and every year we get flooded up to our areholes somewhere or other.

    Yeah, we’ll adapt to the changes all right.

    Those clowns no doubt got paid a fortune to come up with that stuff, and it’s already here.

    GW is already here, and real

  • http://photographytodaynet.blogspot.com/ T. Michael Testi

    These predictions come from folks who study this for a living.

    So you belive everyting someone in an athority position tells you? Just like experts told us that Alar caused cancer and after costing Uniroyal millions+, they basicly found out the study was flawed.

    Just like Michael Mann’s study (the one that strarted this whole thing)IS flawed. But trying to prevent global warming is big business now and you have those fat cats (Gore, Bono, Sting) making big money on everyones fears.

    Its like Barnum said, theres a sucker born every minute!

    T.

  • troll

    why don’t we just figure out how to harvest carbon and make shit out of it…why I’ll bet that we could even come up with a way to weaponize it if we put our minds to it

    (not that that would prevent climate change)

  • JP

    It’s more likely than not that all the crap we burn is making the atmosphere less porous — of course we cannot prove it does, nor can we prove it doesn’t.

    Given that it’s likely, shouldn’t we take preliminary measures? Let’s save the drastic ones for when we have more proof.

    ———

    Why the hell is what I just wrote NOT what people are typically saying? Why the “gutter religion” comments, and why the “let’s panic now!” crap?

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Brother Marcus, I’m glad to see that you’ve found a religious faith that works for you. Personally, I’ve got a couple of my own that I find more entertaining.

    However, recognizing the church state separation that we value so highly down here, I hope you will not be offended that I reject any attempt to impose your global warming religion on the rest of us.

    RUN FOR THE HILLS! IT’S MANBEARPIG!!!

  • dc21

    Al Gore and company can insist all they like that’s there’s no real disagreement about global warming any more.

    Several groups of noted scientists — including multiple Nobel Prize winners — have banded together not to disavow global warming completely, but to point out that there’s far from conclusive evidence.

    Check out the Heidelberg appeal, the Leipzig Declaration, and the Oregon Petition as examples, amongst others.

  • Clavos

    Global warming IS real, and it IS occurring right now. What it is NOT, and there is solid, scientific evidence all over the world for this; is man made.

    Evidence from ice cores, tree rings, pollen fossils and other direct physical evidence (known as temperature proxies) show that the Earth has undergone alternating warming and cooling periods that together last about 1500 years for at least the last 1,000,000 years.

    This evidence and conclusions drawn therefrom are very well explained in the book, “Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years,” by Fred Singer and Dennis Avery.

    From the article above:

    The author cites the IPCC report, but fails to note that the report was NOT written by the scientists who contributed the underlying scientific data and theory; it was written by bureaucrats from nations all over the world, including USA and Canada. In fact, a number of scientists whose original work was used as a basis for parts of the report were so appalled at what the finished report said that they attempted to withdraw their contributions, but were refused by the IPCC.

    The underlying theory (and it is just a theory) of the IPCC, that anthropogenic CO2 is behind the rise in global temperatures has been disproven by several scientists who are able to show unequivocally that historical warming periods preceded the accompanying rise in atmospheric CO2 by 200-400 years. In other words, rising CO2 is a product of global warming, not a progenitor of it.

    The author takes from the report that warming will reduce crop yields. There is ample written evidence from the last warming period, called by scientists the ” Medieval Warming,” (950AD – 1300AD) that proves that crop yields increased enormously during that period. Additionally it has been proven by agricultural scientists (who were not invited to participate in the IPCC report) that increased levels of CO2 enhance plant growth.

    Someone upthread mentioned Michael Mann. Mann is the author of a study, performed and reported in 1998, wherein he studied tree rings and other temperature proxies in an effort to support the GW theory as promulgated by the IPCC. Unfortunately for Mr. Mann, his data, when graphed, clearly showed the aforementioned Medieval Warming and its accompanying “Little Ice Age”. This clearly was an embarrasment for the IPCC, so Mr. Mann took other data (specifically, twentieth century data), and grafted it onto his graph to eliminate the embarassing (and obvious) warm and cold periods from 1000 through 1900. The resulting graph resembled a hockey stick; the manipulation of data was quickly discovered and discredited, and the graph is still referred to as “The Hockey Stick” by the scientific community. It remains an embarrassment to the IPCC to this day.

    Another prediction made by the IPCC report and its proponents which doesn’t hold scientific water is the idea that GW will bring more and more severe stroms, including hurricanes. Both Dr. William Gray, of Colorado State, and Max Mayfield, the recently retired Director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, say that this wrong as far as hurricanes are concerned.

    As to “extra-tropical” (storms other than hurricanes) storms, anyone who has a even a basic knowledge of meteorology knows that storms, particularly intense ones, are formed by differences in temperature between air masses. With global warming, such differences, or gradients, will disappear, thus resulting in a decrease, not an increase in storms. Historical data collected from records and evidence from temperature proxies of previous Warmings proves this to be true.

    The evidence and data also do not indicate significant changes in sea levels during the warming periods. One explanation for this is that as the Earth warms, more water evaporates from the oceans. It does not precipitate back as easily because warm air holds more water than cool air. One prediction that probably will come true is that rain patterns probably will change on a global basis. There is some evidence that this is already happening in some areas, e.g. the multi-year ongoing drought in Australia.

    Is the Earth warming? Yes. Is the warming likely to be as disastrous as the author and the IPCC claim? Not at all.

  • Billy Bob

    Since this global warming is real Im planting okra this spring.

  • timer

    There are no points gained arguing with someone who believes climate change is based on junk science. Best to give it up and make sure you vote for people who will get something done.

  • http://www.antequeravillarental.com Christopher Rose

    Clavos: I don’t actually know of anybody sensible that is saying that we as a species are causing global warming, rather that we are contributing extra input to that process.

    That extra input is a cause for concern as it looks increasingly like it could be pushing the extent of climate change to new levels beyond that of the natural cycle.

    In general terms, we as a species are producing unprecedented levels of trash of all kinds all over the planet. It is fairly easy to see that unless we start to clean up after ourselves, the future outlook for us all is less rosy than it would otherwise be.

  • Clavos

    Christopher:

    I agree that we’re (humanity) trashing much of the world, as do the scientists I’m citing.

    I disagree (as do they) that it’s likely to exacerbate the natural cycles.

    That said, there’s certainly a benefit to be gained in cleaning up pollution of all kinds. My intent, in bringing up the points I do, is to encourage people to stop and think before jumping on the bandwagon of “climate change.” My concern is the fear mongers will lead us to undertake programs that will actually wind up hurting, rather than helping the planet and humanity; whether the hurt is economical or one that rejects some of the advances we have already made.

    For example, there are those who are saying we should forsake chemical fertilizers because of the climate change controversy. To do so would be an unmitigated disaster in terms of being able to feed the population.

    The issue is too important and too scientifically complex to be left in the hands of the politicians for solution, and my greatest concern is that that’s exactly where it seems to be headed.

  • SonnyD

    Richard: It only took you 22 paragraphs to get to the real problem — overpopulation. Too many people driving too many cars. Too many people using too much electricity produced by burning oil. Too many products made from oil. Too many homes heated with oil. Too much petroleum based fertilizer used on the land to grow food for too many people.

    Now we are told we must grow more corn, sugar cane and other plant material to produce cleaner burning fuel for all those cars we drive. There are one or two little problems with that. If we use the land that is currently under production growing food for the constantly increasing population, that means less land producing food, less food available and higher food prices. All prime agricultural land is already in production. We will have to grow crops on more marginal land. Mostly that is land that does not get enough rainfall during the crop growing season. We will have to drill more wells and suck even more water out of the earth than we are already to produce the huge amount of plants that will be needed to make the fuel for the growing number of cars on the road. In addition we will be using more and more oil based fertilizer.

    You really don’t have to worry so much about global warming wiping out humanity. We are going to die off when we run out of fresh water, anyway.

  • Alex

    I get sooooo tired of the term “petroleum fertilizer” or “oil-based fertilizer.”

    There is no such thing. We get synthetic nitrogen (the only type of “synthetic” fertilizer — the rest is all mined from rock ore) by compressing air (which is 78% N) under heat and pressure and passing over a catalyst to get ammonia (NH4).

    Currently, the most economical way to get energy (and Hydrogen, too) to drive this process is from natural gas, but coal works too. But the N in the NH4 comes from the atmosphere — not oil. So to call it “oil based” fertilizer is just flat wrong and totally misleading.

    Note: We could drive the “N-fixation” process with energy from solar panels, wind, hydroelectric, hippies riding bicycles, etc. We could get the H (hydrogen) by hydrolyzing water with electricity (to make H and O).

    In short– calling synthetic N fertilizer “oil-” or “petroleum-based” is as accurate as calling flour ground from grain using electric motors as “electricity based flour”.

    Thanks, I’m off my pet peeve now.
    Alex

  • SonnyD

    Alex: Specialty end products of an oil refinery. Last item listed: petrochemicals.

    Co-plant siting. A chemical plant may be sited adjacent to an oil refinery utilizing intermediate products as feedstock for the production of specialized materials, such as plastics and agrichemicals.

    Agrichemical or Agrochemical. In most cases, agrichemical refers to the broad range of insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides, but it may also include SYNTHETIC FERTILIZERS, hormones,and other growth agents.

    You wouldn’t be the same copy and paste Alex I talked to some time ago, would you?