Downunder, penguins are freezing in the rain. An ostensive definition of "global warming" would be to point to the South Pole -- it's winter in the Southern hemisphere ... and it rains in Antarctica.
On the other hand, an ostensive definition of "climate change" would be to point to the Bavarian alps --it's summer in the Northern hemisphere, and two runners up on the Zugspitze froze to death.
While last year was a ' year of records,' this year looks to become the 'year of consequences'. I wonder what information will emerge next year. Somehow it wouldn't surprise me if the ongoing series of empirical milestones will yield a conceptual breakthrough in 2009. I suspect such breakthrough will underscore (a) systems theory, (b) geophysiology, or (c) emergence. But I'm probably reading too much Laozi, Spinoza, and Kant ... For now, let's review the mid-year data flow. In mid-2008, here and now, three items stick out.
First, the polar melt is speeding up. It seems reasonably sure that the Arctic cap is going to be cornflower blue in a few decades. Greenland's icecap keeps melting off. The 2007 prediction of a sea level rise of a few centimeters, as per AR 4, has become unlikely. Assuming everything else holds steady and Antarctica won't slip, world sea levels will go up at least one and a half meters this century.
If you are a parent in Florida, consider showing the Everglades to your kid. Chances are the River of Grass won't make it. On average 30 cm above current sea levels, that particular biome is unique through its water mix -- fresh with a pinch of brine. By 2100 (and no Antarctic ice slip), what will be left is going to be mangroves.
Second, biological diversity is crashing. In this here Year of Corals, corals are dying. It's not just that by now, one third of reef-building coral organisms face elevated extinction risks, as Science reports. It's also the NOAA report that's so stunning. Since 2005, half of the corals in the waters around here, in the Caribbean and at Puerto Rico, have bleached into a boneyard. So ... take your kid down to Key Largo, rent the gear in the park, and go see the corals together. Looks like we're the final generation with reefs.
The third item that sticks out from the mid-2008 info is that the window of optimal opportunities has slammed shut. The chance to stay on the plus two degree centigrade track has come and gone. Now chances are climate will creep into the danger zone. Even if the Gringo Square folds into just another dumb & dead ideology; even if the Gang of Four, Bush, Cheney, Rice, & Rove, is sent to jail, and even if the Americans seize the moment -- in short, even if the evolution starts that's simulated as the "Kyoto Plus" scenario -- it'll be too late to keep the damage within safe bounds. Point is, even if Copenhagen 2009 will be a triumph and lead to maximum caps by 2012, by 2100 average temps will be up at least 3.3 C.
And that's bad, boys and girls! A runaway effect is unfolding. Conceptually, it's intriguing how an ineffable field of being - it's just weather, right? - moves through time as an inertial system gaining in momentum. Something as airy as climate is massing a runaway freight train ...
-- The next post will be a review of Heidegger, Politics, and Climate Change by Ruth Irwin at Auckland University of Technology, to be published by Continuum later this year. --
"The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk."
Al Gore, A Generational Challenge to Repower America, speech 7.17.
... ice update & unfiltered US climate report 7.17.
... Calif. fires largest on record 7.17.
... penguins freezing in antarctic rain 7.16.
... dead penguins washed up in Brazil 7.20.
... "Bertha" longest lived July storm 7.15.
... Chesapeake blue craps dwindle 7.14.
... Russian scientists flee melting floe 7.14.
... oyster seeds dying 7.13.
... Wilkins Ice Shelf hanging by thread 7.10.
... Midwest climate floods 7.1.
... A Revkin: (annotated) Gore speech 7.17.
... Gore sets 'moon shot' goal 7.17.
... Gore asks US to abandon fossil fuels 7.17.
... Gore's bold, unrealistic plan 7.17.
... the Pope: insatiable consumption 7.17.
... EPA regulates CO2 sequestration 7.15.
... W. Bello: the G8 anti-climate summit 7.15.
... Canada's Bush-made energy policy 7.15.
... Bush retarde la lutte contre les gaz à effet de serre 7.12.
... US allows all greenhouse gases 7.12.
... Schwarzenegger blasts Bush 7.11.
... G8 climate declaration 7.9.
... US climate cover up 7.9.
... China's stance on climate 7.9.
... Cheney as climate censor 7.9.
... Calif mandates vehicle CO2 scores 7.8.
... German carbon law 7.4.
... Oil tumbles 7.18.
... payback for debt-fueled growth 7.15.
... forests fall for food and fuel 7.14.
... J Jacquot: Bush on the environment 7.14.
... NYT climate editorial 7.13.
... Oil at $ 147 7.11.
... corn prices at record high 7.11.
... flat TV climate threat 7.9.
... biofuel and food crisis 7.4.
... climate and food crisis 7.4.
... Oil at $ 145 7.3.
... Oil at $ 143 6.30.
... Japan: space solar arrays (July)
... Calif.: Bush sewage plant makes ballot 7.18.
... Texas: wind power transmission lines project 7.17.
... vegetarians live longer 7.13.
... Pope: climate worries 7.12.
... Japan: solar Prius 7.11.
... Ariz. State U creates largest university solar project 7.10.
... ASU's rooftop solar grid would be among largest in nation 7.10.
... vegetarians prevent war 7.10.
... A Farago: coral reef meltdown 7.10.
... Bush to G8: "goodbye from the world's biggest polluter" 7.10.
... Spain: large solar array 7.8.
... Japan's frugal energy model 7.4.
... N Klein: state of extortion 7.1.
... A Revkin: 1988-2008 climate then & now 6.23.
... FWS: 20%-40% species could go extinct 7.19.
... EPA: poor, elderly to hurt most from climate change 7.17.
... U Texas: climate change means kidney stones 7.14.
... solar radiation holds steady 7.11.
... 33% of coral species risk extinction 7.11.
... EPA: smog could worsen 7.10.
... WWF: drought, disease in Russia 7.9.
... hot future shock: heat wave temps to soar (on Sterl, below) 7.2.
... NOAA: State of Coastal Reef Ecosystems Report 2008
... Sterl et al.: when can we expect extremely high surface temps? GRL 35 L14703
... Carpenter et al.: one third of reef building corals Science 1159196
... Prather et al.: NF3 the gas missing from Kyoto GRL 35 L12810
... Lawrence et al.: accelerated arctic land warming GRL 35 L11506
... U Ariz. Geosciences: climate and sea level maps