Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From ...

... well, how many more people do you need to hear it from, really? But here is something that I posted over in the forums, in response to a thread-opening question.

Re: What will happen if we do nothing about global warming[?]

As it happens, the government just released a report that addresses this question. A link to the full report is available here. Report home page here. Overall site home page here. An absolute ton of information, most of which I haven't looked at yet.

For a start, here are the the report's "Key findings:"

1. Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced.

Global temperature has increased over the past 50 years. This observed increase is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases. (p. 13)

2. Climate changes are underway in the United States and are projected to grow.

Climate-related changes are already observed in the United States and its coastal waters. These include increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the ocean and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows. These changes are projected to grow. (p. 27)

3. Widespread climate-related impacts are occurring now and are expected to increase.

Climate changes are already affecting water, energy, transportation, agriculture, ecosystems, and health. These impacts are different from region to region and will grow under projected climate change. (p. 41-106, 107-152)

4. Climate change will stress water resources.

Water is an issue in every region, but the nature of the potential impacts varies. Drought, related to reduced precipitation, increased evaporation, and increased water loss from plants, is an important issue in many regions, especially in the West. Floods and water quality problems are likely to be amplified by climate change in most regions. Declines in mountain snowpack are important in the West and Alaska where snowpack provides vital natural water storage. (p. 41, 129, 135, 139)

5. Crop and livestock production will be increasingly challenged.

Agriculture is considered one of the sectors most adaptable to changes in climate. However, increased heat, pests, water stress, diseases, and weather extremes will pose adaptation challenges for crop and livestock production. (p. 71)

6. Coastal areas are at increasing risk from sea-level rise and storm surge.

Sea-level rise and storm surge place many U.S. coastal areas at increasing risk of erosion and flooding, especially along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Pacific Islands, and parts of Alaska. Energy and transportation infrastructure and other property in coastal areas are very likely to be adversely affected. (p. 111, 139, 145, 149)

7. Threats to human health will increase.

Health impacts of climate change are related to heat stress, waterborne diseases, poor air quality, extreme weather events, and diseases transmitted by insects and rodents. Robust public health infrastructure can reduce the potential for negative impacts. (p. 89)

8. Climate change will interact with many social and environmental stresses.

Climate change will combine with pollution, population growth, overuse of resources, urbanization, and other social, economic, and environmental stresses to create larger impacts than from any of these factors alone. (p. 99)

9. Thresholds will be crossed, leading to large changes in climate and ecosystems.

There are a variety of thresholds in the climate system and ecosystems. These thresholds determine, for example, the presence of sea ice and permafrost, and the survival of species, from fish to insect pests, with implications for society. With further climate change, the crossing of additional thresholds is expected. (p. 76, 82, 115, 137, 142)

10. Future climate change and its impacts depend on choices made today.

The amount and rate of future climate change depend primarily on current and future human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases and airborne particles. Responses involve reducing emissions to limit future warming, and adapting to the changes that are unavoidable. (p. 25, 29)

Hat tip, and a good place to start: Occasional B'head Joel Achenbach. His post begins:

U.S. Climate Change Report: 11 Degrees Hotter?

The Obama Administration has put out a big climate change report, and the gist of it is that we need to do something or face a drastically hotter planet -- like maybe as much as 11 degrees hotter by the end of the century. One graph shows that only one ski resort in the East would still be in operation -- way up in Maine. (And you thought Eastern skiing was pathetic as it is!)

I noted the page on Florida's temperatures: Under the worst-case scenario, a huge chunk of the state will have high temperatures of 90 degrees or hotter for at least 180 days of the year.

On the one hand, yeah: "worst case scenarios." On the other hand, the "most probable" scenarios released by the IPCC a few years ago, IIRC, were significantly revised upward in their later reports.

So, I don't think doing nothing is an option.

(Title: cf.) ← Attn: KK, especially. I know you know where it comes from, but this is a link worth following.


James Briggs Stratton "Doghouse" Riley said...

Okay, but on the other hand, Dennis Miller says I just need to apply sunscreen more often.

bjkeefe said...

You know, I didn't think Miller could sink any lower, but if he's now reduced to cribbing lines from George HW Bush …