As the climate debates continue we see an interesting – and familiar – pattern. Even as most now claim to accept the premise that “disaster is looming”, few are willing to take the steps needed to prevent that disaster. Although in my opinion disaster is NOT looming and many climate claims are either exaggerated or unscientific nonsense, it’s certainly clear that the planet is warming and that we’re going to experience changes – mostly negative – from that warming.
The challenges we may face that are listed below are should help shape efforts to mitigate the negative changes that are coming. They also should serve as a yardstick of how much the climate alarmists are justified in their concerns about climate catastrophe. Despite many decades of “global warming alarm” we have seen very few examples of trouble so far unless you attribute to global warming things like the Australian Wildfires (cause: arson) or Hurricane Katrina (cause: nature, faulty dikes).
Mitigation of problems is likely to be a lot more productive and less costly than trying to stop the warming, which would be hard to do even if we had the resolve to do it. And of course we do NOT have the resolve to mitigate CO2 in more than very modest and largely inconsequential ways. This should be pretty darn obvious to all by now given that even those who claim they are willing to make the needed lifestyle changes to mitigate CO2 are not making those changes, such as advocating for massive nuclear power deployment, cutting personal energy use by 80% or so, etc.
So, let’s actually do something productive by addressing water shortages *NOW* when they will do a lot more good than in the future. Millions are currently in peril from human and natural catastrophic conditions in many areas – especially in the developing world. Why fret over conditions that might threaten us in 2100 when we can easily mitigate water and crop shortages RIGHT NOW. Let’s get to work people!
Examples of some projected impacts for different regions are given in Table SPM.2.
- By 2020, between 75 and 250 million of people are projected to be exposed to increased water stress due to climate change.
- By 2020, in some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50%. Agricultural production, including access to food, in many African countries is projected to be severely compromised. This would further adversely affect food security and exacerbate malnutrition.
- Towards the end of the 21st century, projected sea level rise will affect low-lying coastal areas with large populations. The cost of adaptation could amount to at least 5 to 10% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).scenarios (TS).
- By 2080, an increase of 5 to 8% of arid and semi-arid land in Africa is projected under a range of climate
- By the 2050s, freshwater availability in Central, South,East and South-East Asia, particularly in large river basins, is projected to decrease.
- Coastal areas, especially heavily populated megadelta regions in South, East and South-East Asia, will be at greatest risk due to increased flooding from the sea and, in some megadeltas, flooding from the rivers.
- Climate change is projected to compound the pressures on natural resources and the environment associated with rapid urbanisation, industrialisation and economic development.
- Endemic morbidity and mortality due to diarrhoeal disease primarily associated with floods and droughts are expected to rise in East, South and South-East Asia due to projected changes in the hydrological cycle.
|Australia and New Zealand
- By 2020, significant loss of biodiversity is projected to occur in some ecologically rich sites, including the
- Great Barrier Reef and Queensland Wet Tropics.
- By 2030, water security problems are projected to intensify in southern and eastern Australia and, in New Zealand, in Northland and some eastern regions.
- By 2030, production from agriculture and forestry is projected to decline over much of southern and eastern Australia, and over parts of eastern New Zealand, due to increased drought and fire. However, in New Zealand, initial benefits are projected in some other regions.
- By 2050, ongoing coastal development and population growth in some areas of Australia and New Zealand are projected to exacerbate risks from sea level rise and increases in the severity and frequency of storms and coastal flooding.
- Climate change is expected to magnify regional differences in Europe’s natural resources and assets. Negative impacts will include increased risk of inland flash floods and more frequent coastal flooding and increased erosion (due to storminess and sea level rise).
- Mountainous areas will face glacier retreat, reduced snow cover and winter tourism, and extensive species losses (in some areas up to 60% under high emissions scenarios by 2080).
- In southern Europe, climate change is projected to worsen conditions (high temperatures and drought) in a region already vulnerable to climate variability, and to reduce water availability, hydropower potential, summer tourism and, in general, crop productivity.
- Climate change is also projected to increase the health risks due to heat waves and the frequency of wildfires.
- By mid-century, increases in temperature and associated decreases in soil water are projected to lead to gradual replacement of tropical forest by savanna in eastern Amazonia. Semi-arid vegetation will tend to be replaced by arid-land vegetation.
- There is a risk of significant biodiversity loss through species extinction in many areas of tropical Latin America.
- Productivity of some important crops is projected to decrease and livestock productivity to decline, with adverse consequences for food security. In temperate zones, soybean yields are projected to increase. Overall, the number of people at risk of hunger is projected to increase (TS; medium confidence).
- Changes in precipitation patterns and the disappearance of glaciers are projected to significantly affect water availability for human consumption, agriculture and energy generation.
- Warming in western mountains is projected to cause decreased snowpack, more winter flooding and reduced summer flows, exacerbating competition for over-allocated water resources.
- In the early decades of the century, moderate climate change is projected to increase aggregate yields of rain-fed agriculture by 5 to 20%, but with important variability among regions. Major challenges are projected for crops that are near the warm end of their suitable range or which depend on highly utilised water resources.
- Cities that currently experience heat waves are expected to be further challenged by an increased number, intensity and duration of heat waves during the course of the century, with potential for adverse health impacts.
- Coastal communities and habitats will be increasingly stressed by climate change impacts interacting with development and pollution.
- The main projected biophysical effects are reductions in thickness and extent of glaciers, ice sheets and sea ice, and changes in natural ecosystems with detrimental effects on many organisms including migratory birds, mammals and higher predators.
- For human communities in the Arctic, impacts, particularly those resulting from changing snow and ice conditions, are projected to be mixed.
- Detrimental impacts would include those on infrastructure and traditional indigenous ways of life.
- In both polar regions, specific ecosystems and habitats are projected to be vulnerable, as climatic barriers to species invasions are lowered.
- Sea level rise is expected to exacerbate inundation, storm surge, erosion and other coastal hazards, thus threatening vital infrastructure, settlements and facilities that support the livelihood of island communities.
- Deterioration in coastal conditions, for example through erosion of beaches and coral bleaching, is expected to affect local resources.
- By mid-century, climate change is expected to reduce water resources in many small islands, e.g. in the Caribbean and Pacific, to the point where they become insufficient to meet demand during low-rainfall periods.
- With higher temperatures, increased invasion by non-native species is expected to occur, particularly on mid- and high-latitude islands.
If you are interested in artificial intelligence (or even just philosophy) you’ll enjoy the discussion over at Neurdon.com and Ieee Spectrum about new computer chips that many researchers believe are a big step towards conscious computers.
Although it would take a miracle to see things pop this year, my view remains the same as it has been for some time – we tend to exaggerate the complexity of human thought and consciousnes, and machine “self awareness” is probably more a function of the quantity of activity than the quality of activity.
Processor speeds and memory capacities are in some ways already “competitive” with capabilities of human brains, though it will likely take many more years of research to build the programs that can utilize these capacities effectively enough to duplicate most human-style thinking.
Evolution used simple tools and simple constructs to create complexity. This is demonstrated especially well by some new research suggesting the importance of fractal geometry in biology, where very simple equations, acted out in the RNA and DNA code of plants and animals, effectively define certain conditions of life. Examples are tree growth and a human heartbeat.
I’ll have a lot more about this debate at Technology Report where I’ll hope to have several more guest posts by the DARPA SyNAPSE researchers.
Climatic clear thinker Bjorn Lomborg strikes again with a new film, “COOL IT”, based on his book of the same name. Blog post: coolit-themovie.com
Lomborg’s points, which suggest we need to address problems like global warming and global poverty more rationally, are so obvious as to defy intelligent objection, yet he remains one of the most controversial activists on earth, especially after offending the sensibilities of many with his remarkable book “The Skeptical Environmentalist”.
Lomborg’s views are slowly gaining the respect they deserve as alarmism about environmental issues falls prey to the facts and to common sense observations. Clearly there’s global warming, and clearly it’s not likely to be catastrophic. Dealing with massive current problems like global poverty, health, and economic issues will have a much greater return on our time and money investments than expensive and politicized mitigation programs, many of which will at best delay the effects of carbon emissions for only a few years at a staggering cost.
COOL IT serves as a counterpoint to the alarmism and denial that have characterized the climate debate for too long.