by Robert Wilkinson
Not to bring bad news, but most readers of this column already knew about this report. This is just more confirmation.
From the NBC story by John Roach, Final verdict expected Friday: Humans caused global warming we read “An international panel of scientists is expected to issue a report Friday that dismisses nearly every doubt that human activity has caused temperatures to warm, glaciers to melt, and seas to bulge since the middle of last century. If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise precipitously, the report will warn, there will be catastrophic consequences.”
This is the long-awaited Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which synthesizes the work of over 800 scientists, and states it is “extremely likely” that we humans are influencing climate change. From the story:
This is the fifth assessment from the group, issued about once every five years. The degree of confidence that human activity is the main driver of the changing climate has risen with each report.
"Another five years of observation and further research just strengthens the conclusion" that human activity is causing the climate to change, John Reilly, the co-director of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change in Cambridge, Mass., told NBC News...
Other anticipated highlights from the report include a projection that sea levels could rise nearly three feet by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked, which would pose significant adaptation challenges for some of the world's major cities, including New York, New Orleans, Miami, London and Shanghai....
Another widely anticipated change to the report reflects increased uncertainty on how much the Earth's surface will warm if concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere double. Five years ago, the climate panel put the best guess range between 3.2 and 7.1 degrees Fahrenheit. The leaked draft suggested that the final figures this time around could represent a much wider range: a lower possible low, a higher possible high.
This possible downward revision in the rise of Earth's surface temperature, along with what's termed a "hiatus" in surface warming since the unusually strong El Nino year of 1998, have been pounced upon as reason to doubt the alarm over global climate change. The climate panel is expected to dismiss these claims, explaining the slow-down in surface warming as a blip in the long-term warming trend.
"The hiatus is a denier-manufactured diversion," Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., told NBC News via email. "The 2000s are the warmest decade on record by far," he explained, adding that, though the temperature readings are accurate, their use as evidence against global warming amounts to nothing more than an accounting trick: "By choosing a start year, it appears that the recent years are not increasing quite as fast as earlier ones after 1970, in terms of global mean surface temperature."
The most compelling explanation for the so-called hiatus, in fact, is that the oceans have been warming at a faster clip over the past 15 years, according to MIT's Reilly. "Greenhouse gases are still trapping heat but instead of staying in the atmosphere" — where it would be measured in a rise in surface temperature — "it has been mixed into the ocean," he explained.
"The hiatus, if anything, may just fool us because while the ocean is taking up more heat this past decade sometime in the future it may take up relatively less heat, and then we'll see the atmosphere warming just that much more," Reilly said.
Anyway, none of this is unexpected news to regular readers of this site. By all means go to the NBC link to catch the whole story, which has a lot more than I've quoted here. You can also find the IPCC report at various sources on the web.
The only thing I’ll remind you is that this report is a VERY conservative estimate of what’s going on. And the curve is getting steeper by the year. Future developments in this impending ecological disaster (from a human standpoint, not Nature’s) clearly indicate what’s coming on multiple fronts.
While it may or may not have a huge impact on those of us in our 60s and 70s (since we cannot exactly predict the tipping point when the Greenland ice sheet falls into the Atlantic, or how much will do so), it will most definitely affect the world our children and grandchildren will inherit. Whether the oceans rise a foot at a time, or 3-10 feet all at once, it will definitely affect everyone who lives near the ocean or a river, so make a long term plan and if appropriate, get your boats in shape!!
And this doesn’t even address the issue of how we’re impacting the Gulf Stream. If the heat/cool exchange pattern in the oceans is disrupted, then Europe gets a new ice age, and life on Earth is changed forever.
If anything is going to bring down our predatory “capitalism without conscience,” it will be the Earth Herself, since trading on Wall Street and London will be affected when the ground floor is under three feet of water. And to note, the insurance industry is headed for a doomsday scenario as the oceans rise.
© Copyright 2013 Robert Wilkinson